Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury

St. Augustine of CantenburySt. Augustine of Canterbury
Image: Longbows & Rosary Beads

(EWTN) When Pope Gregory began to plan for the evangelism of England, the land was still largely pagan although in the Southwest, there were remnants of earlier missionary efforts. To lead this important mission, Pope Gregory chose Augustine–Nothing much is known of him until the year 596 when with a party of 40 Benedictine Monks, he set out Northwards from Rome according to Franciscan Media to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England.

Upon reaching Provence, the Monks accompanying Augustine grew fearful of the dangers that lay ahead, alarming stories were being told of the ferocity of the Pagans and the hazards of crossing the treacherous waters of the English Channel.

Augustine subsequently returned to Rome and to Pope Gregory only to be assured by him that the fears of the Monks were groundless–Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha Ethelbert who received them kindly and set up a residence for them in Canterbury.

After King Ethelbert listened carefully to the Monks teaching, he gave them permission to evangelize his subjects–One year later on Pentecost in 597 King Ethelbert converted and was baptized.

Subsequent to this promising start, Augustine returned to Provence to be consecrated Bishop in France and then returned to Canterbury where he set up his See.

Now a Bishop,  in 603 Augustine constructed a Church and Monastery on property given by King Ethelbert–these structures formed the nucleus for the metropolitan cathedral–they were destroyed by fire in 1067 and the present cathedral begun by Lanfranc in 1070 stands on its site. As the Christian faith spread, additional Sees were established at London and Rochester.

Work was often slow and Bishop Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the Briton Christians (who had been driven into Western England by the Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure.

While the Briton Christians were sound in fundamental doctrine, Bishop Augustine failed to convince them to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness with the Anglo-Saxon Christians.

Laboring patiently, Bishop Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles–quite enlightened for his time, suggested by Pope Gregory:

  • Purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs;
  • Allow pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian Feasts;
  • Retain local customs as far as possible.

Bishop Augustine’s last years were spent in spreading and consolidating the Christian faith in the short eight years since his arrival, which would eventually bear great fruit, leaving the continuation of his work to others long after his death in 604 — Bishop Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the ‘Apostle of England’ for which he is the Patron Saint.

More here from EWTN and here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Philip Neri

St Philip NeriSaint Philip Neri (1515-1595) Image Courtesy: Christian Forums

(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Florence, his family was poor. Philip Neri’s family moved to San Germano in 1533 according to SQPN to help some relatives with their businesses, while there, Philip would escape to a local Dominican Chapel in the mountains–Philip abandoned any chance to go into business like his relatives and moved to Rome with the resolve to devote his life and individuality to God.

While in Rome, Philip studied philosophy and theology and for the next 13 years his time was unusually spent as a lay person in his day, Philip actively engaged in prayer and evangelism.

As the ‘Council of Trent’ was reforming the Church on a doctrine level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society–from Beggars to Cardinals. Philip rapidly gathered around himself a group of other laypersons, won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group and also served the poor in Rome.

At the urging of Philip’s Confessor, he was ordained a Priest in 1551 and soon became an outstanding Confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke.

Fr. Philip Neri would arrange talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the Church, he would on occasion lead ‘excursions’ to other Churches, often time with music and a picnic along the way.

Some of Fr. Philip Neri’s followers would later become Priests, living together in a community–this was the beginning of the ‘Congregation of the Oratory’ which Fr. Philip Neri founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks together with vernacular hymns. — Cardinal Newman founded the first English speaking house of the Oratory, three centuries later.

Fr. Philip Neri’s advice was sought by many prominent figures. Fr. Neri became one of the most influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church. — Fr. Neri died at the Church of San Maria in Italy Vallicella at the age of eighty.

In 1615 Fr. Philip Neri was Beatified by Pope Paul V and was Canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

More here from American Catholic

Related: Pope Francis Sends Message to Mark 5th Centenary of St. Neri

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Bede the Venerable, Patron Saint of Lectors

St BedeSaint Bede the Venerable (672-735) Image: Catholic Fire

(CNA) Born in England Wearmouth, Bede’s parents sent him at a young age to study at the Monastery of St. Paul in Jarrow, that was founded by Benedictine Abbot Benedict Biscop (later be Canonized in his own right) Biscop’s extensive library may have sparked a curiosity in young Bede, who would grow up to be a voracious reader and prolific writer.

Bede’s teachers could see in their pupil that his life exhibited a remarkable devotion to prayer and study–Later when Bede returned to Jarrow and continued his studies with Abbot Ceolfrid (a companion of Benedict Biscop) the Abbot and a group of other Monks instructed Bede not only to study scripture and theology but also sacred music, poetry and Greek –Bede would continue his studies for 11 more years before entering the Priesthood at the age of 30 around the beginning of the 8th Century.

Subsequently Fr. Bede took on the responsibility of celebrating daily Mass with the members of his Benedictine community, while also farming, baking and doing other works at the Monastery.

Fr. Bede gave absolute priority to prayer, fasting, charity and hospitality, he regarded all other works as ‘valueless’ without the love of God and one’s neighbor. — Fr. Bede also possessed outstanding intellectual gifts, which he used to survey and master a wide range of subjects according to an all-encompassing vision of Christian scholarship.

Later, Fr. Bede declined a request to become Abbot at his Monastery, instead he concentrated on writing and produced more than 45 books during his lifetime–primarily about Theology and the Bible but also on Science, Literature and History. Fr. Bede would go on to teach hundreds of students at the Monastery and its school, which would become renowned throughout Great Britain.

During Fr. Bede’s lifetime, his spiritual and intellectual gifts garnered wide recognition. his writings on scripture were considered so authoritative, that a Church council ordered them to be publicly read in English Churches.

Some of the most illustrious members of English society made pilgrimages to Fr. Bede’s Monastery to seek his guidance and he was personally invited to Rome by Pope Sergius.

Fr. Bede was unfazed by these honors, perhaps inspired by the Benedictine monastic ethos, which emphasizes ones absolute commitment to the monastic community–Fr. Bede chose not to visit Rome or travel any significant distance beyond the Monastery of St. Paul during his entire lifetime.

Instead the world would come to Fr. Bede, through the visitors that he received according to the Benedictine tradition of hospitality and through his voluminous reading. Fr. Bede in-turn reached the world without leaving his monastery, writing books that were copied with reverence for centuries and still read to this day. Fr. Bede is one of the last Western Christian writers to be numbered among the Church Fathers.

Fr. Bede understood that love rather than learning was his life’s purpose saying:

“It is better to be a stupid and uneducated Brother who, working at the good things he knows, merits life in heaven, than to be one who–though being distinguished for his learning in the Scriptures or even holding the place of a teacher, lacks the bread of love.”

Fr. Bede died on this date on the Vigil on the Feast of the Ascension of Christ in 735 shortly after finishing the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospel of John.

In 1899 Fr. Bede was declared ‘Doctor of the Church’ and was Canonized by Pope Leo XIII

More here from EWTN and here from American Catholic

Memorial Day 2015: Remembering Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army Most Decorated Chaplain

Most Decorated ChaplainA Wounded Soldier is Assisted by Most Decorated Army Chaplain
Capt. Emil J. Kapaun –Image Courtesy: Pinterest 

(U.S. Army) Catholic Priest/Army Chaplain  Capt. Emil Kapaun while assigned to Headquarters Co. 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism and selfless service during the ‘Battle of Unsan’ 01-02 November, 1950 while serving with the 3rd Battalion, Fr. Kapaun of the 8th Cavalry Regiment.

As Communist forces encircled the battalion, Fr. Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole-to-foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers, repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety.

When Fr. Kapaun could not drag them, he dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire–As Communist forces closed in, Fr. Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded. On the 02 November, 1950 Fr. Kapaun was taken prisoner by Communist forces.

After being taken prisoner, Fr. Kapaun and other POWs were marched for several days northward toward POW camps. During the march, Fr. Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded, while encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal POW camp. Fr. Kapaun risked his own life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and humanity.

On at least one occasion, Fr. Kapaun was brutally punished by Communists for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any clothing. When Communist forces instituted a mandatory reeducation program, Fr. Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later in 1951 Fr. Kapaun openly flouted his captors by celebrating Easter Sunrise Mass with Soldiers.

When Fr. Kapaun began to suffer from the physical toll of his captivity, the Communist forces transferred him to a filthy, unheated hospital–while being carried there, Fr. Kapaun asked God’s forgiveness for his captors and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith. Capt Emil J. Kapaun died on the 23 May, 1951 alone as a POW in captivity.

Chaplain Kapaun, repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans, his extraordinary courage, faith and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, resist the enemy indoctrination and retain their faith in God and country.

For Fr. Kapaun’s heroic, patriotic and selfless military service in both WW II and the Korean War, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor posthumously, becoming known as the ‘Soldiers Chaplain’ by the men her served throughout his life, devoted to the service of others.

More here from the U.S. Army

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Image: Catholic Online

(CNA) Born in Italy Florence, the future ‘Mary Magdalene’ was given the name of Caterina at the time of her baptism, she came of noble, prominent parents and was their only daughter.

Caterina was drawn to the Holy Eucharist from a young age and made her first Communion at the age of 10 according to EWTN and shortly thereafter vowed her virginity to God. At the age of 14, Caterina was sent to school at the ‘Convent of Cavalaresse’ where she lived in such a disciplined and fervent manner as to make the Sister’s prophesy that one day she would become a great Saint.

In December 1582 Caterina entered the ‘Carmelite Convent of Santa Maria Degl’ where Holy Communion was administered daily (unusual for the time period) which was the chief reason for her choosing this convent.

The following year, Caterina received her religious habit and took the name Mary Magdalene, being then so ill that they feared she would not recover, she was professed.

Sister Mary’s recovery marked the start of an extended mystical experience which lasted 40 days and involved extraordinary experiences that were taken down by her Sister’s in a set of manuscripts. — Sister Mary served the monastery in a series of teaching and supervisory positions, while also contributing to her community through manual labor, her fellow Camelites respected Sister Mary’s strict sense of discipline which was accompanied by profound charity and practical wisdom, her experiences of suffering and temptation helped her to guide and inspire others.

Extraordinary spiritual occurrences were a frequent feature of Sister Mary, to a much greater degree than is typical in the tradition of Catholic mysticism–while she often disliked the attention and would seemingly have preferred for these events to remain private.

Sister Mary did wish however to call attention to God’s love, which she saw as tragically under appreciated and unreciprocated by mankind. –Sister Mary is remembered for making dramatic gestures, running through the halls of her monastery or ringing the bells at night, while proclaiming the urgent need for all people to awaken to God’s love and respond in kind.

In 1607 when Sister Mary Magdalene was just 41 yrs of age, she passed away from an excruciating illness, borne with heroic joy to the end.

Innumerable miracles followed Sister Mary’s death and the process for her Beatification was begun in 1610 under Pope Paul V and finished under Pope Urban VIII in 1626 — Sister Mary Magdalene was Canonized by Pope Clement IX in 1669

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Pope Saint Gregory VII

St Gregory VII

Pope Saint Gregory VII (1020-1085)
Image: –Spread Jesus.org

(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Sovama and named Hildebrand, he was educated in Rome and subsequently went to France according to Catholic News Agency and became a Monk at Cluny.

During the 10th century and the first half of the 11th century, these were dark days for the Church partly because the Papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049 these things began to change when Pope Leo IX a reformer, was elected and brought a young Monk Hildebrand, to Rome as his Counselor and special representative on important missions; he would later become Pope Gregory VII

Three Evils Plagued the Church at That Time:

  • Simony: The buying/selling of Sacred offices and things);
  • Concubinage: The practice of keeping a concubine and the unlawful marriage of the clergy;
  • Investiture: Kings and Nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials.

To all of these Hildebrand directed Pope Leo XI attention to as his Counselor and would never ceased to condemn.

When Hildebrand was elected Pope (taking the name Gregory VII) in 1073 his Papal letters stressed the role of ‘Bishop of Rome’ as the Vicar of Christ and the visible center of the unity in the Church — Pope Gregory is well known for his long dispute with Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of Bishops and Abbots.

Pope Gregory subsequently excommunicated the Emperor Henry IV, his subjects turned against him and at last he sough absolution of Pope Gregory at Canossa but the Emperor did not persevere and set up an anti-Pope and besieged Pope Gregory at the castle of St. Angelo resulting in the aged Pontiff attempt to flee, fiercely resisting any attack on the liberty of the Church –Pope Gregory subsequently died in exile saying: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

His faithful attendant answered: “Vicar of Christ, an exile thou canst never be, for to thee God has given the Gentiles for an inheritance and the uttermost ends of the earth for thy possession.”

Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggles against Lay Investiture.

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Rita of Cascia, Patron Saint of the Abused & Widows

St Rita of Cascia

Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457)
Image: Patheos

(CNA) Born in Italy Umbria, Rita’s parents Antonio and Amato Lotti were known as ‘Peacemakers’ of Jesus. From her earliest of days, Rita visited the Augustine Nuns at Cascia and showed interest in a religious life but at the age of 12, she was married off to a violent and hot tempered husband Paolo Mancini, he was murdered some 18 yrs later. Rita forgave his murderers and prayed that her two sons that promised to avenge their father’s death may also forgive. — Rita was given this grace, her son’s who died while young men had reconciled with God.

Subsequent to the death’s of Rita’s sons, she again felt called to a religious life and went to the Augustine Convent at Cascia but initially was refused entry. Rita prayed and sought the intercession of Saint’s Augustine, Mary Magdelene and John the Baptist — Rita was finally permitted to enter the convent and lived a life of prayer, penance and service to the people of Cascia. Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary.

When Sister Rita received a stigmata like thorn wound in answer to her prayers to be more profoundly conformed to the passion of the Lord Jesus. Sister Rita’s care for ill Nuns was especially loving and she would counsel lay persons who came to the Monastery.

Sister Rita was bedridden the last 4 yrs of her life, consuming almost nothing except for the Eucharist, she passed away on this day in 1457 at the Augustinian Convent xxx at Cascia of tuberculosis.

In 1627 Sister Rita was Beatified by Pope Urban VIII and Canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII

On the 100th Anniversary of Saint Rita’s Canonization, Pope Saint John Paul II, noted  her remarkable qualities as a Christian Woman saying:

“The Saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian Women who have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as society — Rita well interpreted well the feminine genius by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.”

More here from the Vatican and here from American Catholic

Related: National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, Philadelphia, PA

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Cristobal Magallanes & Companion Martyrs for Jesus Christ

St Cristoobal Magallanes and CompanionsSaint Cristobal Magallanes & Companion Martyrs –Image: Pierced Hearts

(CNA) Born into a farm family in 1869 in Mexico Totatiche, Cristobal (or Christopher) worked as a shepherd during his youthful days according to SQPN entering the seminary at Guadalajara at the age of nineteen.

In 1899 at the Church of St. Teresa of Guadalajara, Cristobal was Ordained a Priest according to Pierced Hearts and was given the responsibility of Chaplain, Vice Principal of a school of arts and trades in Guadalajara.

For 17 years Fr. Cristobal worked in the Parish of Totalice, establishing Catechism centers and schools for those living in the countryside, together with constructing a dam to aid irrigation, founded homes for orphans, together with organizing a program of small plots of lands were provided to help poor farmers, which the government of Mexico had instituted  and enforced laws against the Church in an absurd attempt to eradicate Catholicism, going so far as to ban all foreign clergy and the celebration of the Mass.

On this date in 1927 Fr. Cristobal went to celebrate a religious feast on a local ranch where a fight ensued between the Cristeros and federal Roces commenced by General Goni — Fr. Cristobal was arrested and taken to Totalice, where he was imprisoned together with his Vicar Fr. Caloca, subsequently the pair were moved to the municipal palace in Colotitlan to face execution where Fr. Cristobal said:

“I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive the authors of my death from my heart and ask God that my blood would serve to bring peace to divided Mexicans.”

Fr. Cristobal together with 21 other Priest and 3 Lay-Companions were Martyred in Mexico, between 1915 and 1937 by either an assassins bullet or hanging.

In 1992 Fr. Cristobal was Beatified and 73 years to the day of his execution/martyrdom he was Canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II

More here from American Catholic

McDonald’s Protesters Demand $15 Hour, Why Not $20? Maybe $50? Why Not a Cool $100 Per Hour?

McDonalds...McDonald’s Protesters Demand $15 Per Hour –Image: Demos@Twitter

(Chicago Tribune) After marching to McDonald’s headquarters today, 10 protesters from a crowd of more than 1,000 were allowed on McDonald’s property to deliver a petition–calling for a $15 per hour wages for the company’s front line workers.

“We want a fair share,” workers protesters and agitators chanted.

What is fairness? What maybe is ‘fair’ for you isn’t ‘fair’ for me? Maybe McDonald’s workers should be just happy to have a job?

When government mandates a ‘minimum wage’ then businesses make adjustments to pay for the added costs writes CATO Institute such as reducing hiring, cutting employee work hours, reducing benefits and charging higher prices. Some policymakers believe that companies simply absorb the costs of minimum wage increases through reduced profits…

  • If $15 per hour is a so called ‘living wage’ why not $20 per hour?
    Better yet, maybe $50 per hour or why not a cool $100.00 per hour?

Say Hello to Your ReplacementMcDonald’s Former Workers: No ObamaCare, No Protesting,
No Overtime, No Work Slow Downs, No Vacations…
Image: Krispy Konservative

Flashback: On the 28 October I wrote here that Lowe’s debuts its ‘Robotic Shopping Assistants’ at its Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose — No ObamaCare, Not Demanding Higher Wages, No Work Stoppages, No Sick Leave, No Missed Days…

Related: Restaurants Close Doors After Seattle Hikes Minimum Wage

Seattle’s $15 Wage Law a Factor in Restaurants Closings

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Obama: Private Sector Doing Fine; Climate Change Natl Security Threat — 109 Million+ Americans Receiving Food Assistance

Obamanomics...(WFB) The taxpayers spent $100 Million providing food assistance last year to 109,930,000 Americans, up from 47,102,780 just 2.50 yrs ago or from 45,794,474 in 2011

  • Flashback: Remember when Obama claimed the private sector is doing fine.

On Wednesday, President Obama told Coast Guard Academy graduates “that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security…”

Riiight… If one is so naive and self-delusional to forget about ISIS committing genocide against Christians, the U.S. labor participation rate is an anemic 62.8% and the federal deficit is $18.234 Trillion+ up from $6.991 Trillion when Obama first took office.