Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph of Arimathea & Saint Nicodemus

Joseph of ArimatheaSaint Joseph of Arimathea Asking Pilate for the Body of Jesus
Painting By: James Tissot –Image Courtesy: Pinterest

(Franciscan Media) The actions of these two influential Jewish leaders give insight to the charismatic power of Jesus, His teachings and the risks that may be involved in following our Blessed Redeemer.

Saint Joseph of Arimathea was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus–Following Jesus’ death, Joseph obtained Jesus’ body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried Him in the tomb. —John 19:38-42 For these reasons Joseph is the ‘Patron Saint of Funeral Directors and Pallbearers’ — More importantly, is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus’ body. Jesus who had been condemned a criminal was publicly executed.

Jesus and NicodemusJesus and Nicodemus –Image: Wikipedia

Saint Nicodemus was a Pharisee and we know from Scripture that he was a ‘Member of the Jewish Ruling Council’ and that he went to Jesus secretly at night to better understand salvation and what is meant by being born again? —John 3:1-21

Later Nicodemus spoke up for Jesus when the Chief Priests and Pharisees were accusing Him of blasphemy —John 7:32-51 and subsequently assisted Saint Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’ burial.

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Jeanne Jugan, Founder “Little Sisters of the Poor”

St Jeanne JuganSaint Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879) Image: Catholic Online

(CNA) In his homily for the Canonization of Saint Jeanne Jugan on the 11 October, 2009 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI praised St. Jeanne as a “beacon to guide our societies” adding:

“Jeanne Jugan was concerned with the dignity of her brothers and sisters in humanity whom age had made more vulnerable, recognizing in them the Person of Christ Himself. ‘Look upon the poor with compassion,’ she would say, ‘and Jesus will look kindly upon you on your last day.’ Pope Benedict recalled how Jeanne, “lived the mystery of love, peacefully accepting obscurity…Her charism (good gift that flows from God) is ever timely while so many elderly people are suffering from numerous forms of poverty, solitude and are sometimes abandoned by their families.”

Born in France Brittany, Jeanne grew up during the political and religious upheavals of the French Revolution. Four years following her birth, her father was lost at sea. Jeanne’s mother struggled to provide for Jeanne and her 3 siblings, while also providing them ‘secretly’ with religious instruction amid the ant-Catholic persecutions of the day.

At the age of 15 or 16 Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own family members according to Franciscan Media but also served the poor and elderly people nearby. When Jeanne was 18 and again 6 yrs later, she declined two marriage proposals from the same man, telling her mother, that God had other plans and was calling her to “a work which is not yet founded.”

When Jeanne was 25 yrs old she would join a religious order founded by St. John Eudes (Feast Day: 19 August) Jeanne became a Nurse at the hospital at Le Rosais for six years but later had to resign her position due to health issues, subsequently she became a servant and a friend of a Woman she met through the religious order. They would pray together, visit the poor and taught Catechism to children.

Following Jeanne’s friend’s death, she and two other Women (one an older Woman and a orphaned young lady) carried on a similar life of charity in the city of Saint-Sevran — During 1839 it was a year of economic hardship, Jeanne and the other two Women met Anne Chauvin, an elderly, blind Woman, partially paralyzed and had no one to care for her, she became the first permanent guest of Jeanne and the other two Women.

Soon thereafter Jeanne and her two companions, took in two more elderly Women in need of help and by 1841 Jeanne had rented a room to provide housing for a dozen elderly men and women. — The following year, Jeanne acquired an unused Convent building that could house 40 people.

During the 1840s many other young Women joined Jeanne in her mission of service to the elderly poor, by soliciting charitable gifts by others, Jeanne was able to establish 4 additional homes for the elderly poor by the end of the decade.

By 1850 over 100 Women joined Jeanne’s religious order which today is known as the Little Sisters of the Poor and by 1853 the association numbered 500 Women and had houses as far away as England.

Pope Leo XII would give final approval of the Little Sisters of the Poor constitutions in 1879 which by then had 2,400 houses for the elderly poor. Jeanne would later pass away on this date that same year.

Jeanne was Beatified in 1982 by Pope Saint John Paul II and Canonized in 2009 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Remember the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Martyrdom St John the BaptistMartyrdom of St. John the Baptist –Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(EWTN) St. John the Baptist was called by God to be the forerunner of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless and improve the extraordinary graces which he had received, he was directed by the Holy Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness and in the continual exercises of devout prayer and penance, from his infancy until he was 30 yrs of age.

Subsequently this faithful minister began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the weeds of penance, John the Baptist announced to all mankind the obligation they lay under of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere contrition and proclaimed the Messiah–Who was then coming to make His appearance among them.

John the Baptist was received by the people as the true Herald of the Most High God and his voice was as it were, a trumpet sounding from Heaven to summon all mankind to avert the divine judgments and to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of divine mercy that was offered them.

The Roman Emperor Herod Antipas (who bore the title ‘Tetrarch’ meaning Ruler of a Quarter) having in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias. the wife of his brother Philip was was yet living.

John the Baptist boldly reprimanded the Tetrarch Herod and his accomplice for such a scandalous and indecent act of adultery– Herod urged on by his lust and anger cast John the Baptist into prison.

About one year later, Herod gave a lavish party for the nobility of Galilee. Salome, daughter of Herodias (of her lawful husband) pleased Herod by her dancing so much that he promised to grant her whatever she wanted. — Salome consulted with her mother of what to ask for? Herodias instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist and his head be brought to her in a dish.

This most peculiar request even startled the tyrant Herod but he agreed, sending a Soldier of his guard to behead John the Baptist in prison, with an Order to deliver his head in a charger (large dish) and present it to Salome who would later deliver it to her mother — St. Jerome relates that the wrathful Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the sacred tongue bodkin (thick needle) hence, John the Baptist died. The great forerunner of our Blessed Savior a little more than 2 years after his entrance in his public ministry and about a year before the death of our Blessed Redeemer.

More here by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, Patron Saint of Theologians

St Augustine of HippoSaint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Born in Tagaste (modern day Algeria) Augustine was the eldest of three siblings, a brother Nagivius and a sister Perpetua, his father Patritius (or Patricius) was a pagan with a bad temper and had a disdain for anything Christian (he would later in life become a Christian and was Baptized into the Church a year before his death) while his mother Saint Monica (Feast Day: 27 August) was a God-fearing Woman, that believed prayer would change lives and spent many years praying for her family.

Augustine a Christian by the age of 33, Priest by 36 and Bishop by the age of 41 many people know the biographical sketch of Augustine, one time follower of the Manichaeism heresy who later converted and became a Saint but to really get to know this man is a rewarding experience.

There quickly surfaces the intensity how Augustine lived his early years, abandoning his mother, his path in life away from God, later boarding a ship bound for Rome (an event that would serve God’s greater purpose) when Augustine left to become a teacher in the place he was destined to become Catholic and instruction of Saint Ambrose of Milan (Feast Day: 07 December) which turned his life around.

Augustine having earlier in his life being so deeply immersed in a cycle of pride, fathering a child out of wedlock and later disciple of Manichaeism heresy, it isn’t surprising that Augustine should have turned with a holy fierceness against the many demonic thrusts that were rampant in his day, which were truly decadent–politically, socially and morally.

Following Augustine’s conversion and Baptism soon after his mother Saint Monica died with the knowledge that all she had hoped for in this world had been fulfilled, Augustine returned to his hometown of Tagaste, according to Catholic News Agency “having now cast off from himself the cares of the world, he lived for God.”

Augustine would sell off his property donating the proceeds to the poor, founded a Monastery in Hippo where he would become a Priest in 391 according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and with a few companions began a Monastic life dividing his time in prayer, study and ministry. Four years later Fr. Augustine was Ordained a Bishop, following which he continued to deepen his study in Scripture, texts of the Christian tradition, ministered to the faithful, supported the poor and orphans, supervised the formation of the Clergy together with both the Men and Women Monasteries.

In more than 35 years of Augustine’s Episcopate, he exercised a vast influence in his guidance of the Catholic Church in Roman Africa and more generally in Christianity of his time, coping with religious tendencies and tenacious, disruptive heresies such as Manichaeism, Donatism and Pelaegianism which endangered the Christian faith, in the one God, rich in mercy.

Augustine entrusted himself to God everyday until the very end of his life which came on this date in 430 at the age of 76 as he calmly resigned his spirit to God. — Augustine, a man of tremendous gifts and vital personality, who had piloted the African Church through some of the worlds darkest years, never doubted the ultimate victory of that ‘most Glorious City of God.’

More here and here from EWTN & here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Monica, Patron Saint of Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Saint MonicaSaint Monica (322-387) Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(CNA) Born of Christian parents in Souk Ahrus (modern day Algeria) one knows little of Monica’s childhood and youth according to EWTN other than than she was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius) a pagan with a bad-temper, disdain for Christianity, who held an official position Tagaste a rather prominent municipality in its day.

Monica would strive to be patient with Paritius’ distressing behavior–which included infidelity of their marriage vows but experienced even greater grief when he would not permit their three children: Augustine, Nagivius and a daughter Perpetua to receive Baptism–When Augustine became ill and in danger of dying. Patritius gave consent for his Baptism but withdrew it when he recovered.

Following years of long suffering, prayers and penance by Monica, eventually Patritius did see the error in his ways and was Baptized into the Church one year prior to his death.

Unfortunately for Monica, Augustine would embrace a lifestyle that brought her further grief, fathering a child outside of marriage and a year later began to practice  Manichaeism a (now distinct) dualistic religion of Persian origin founded in the latter half of the 3rd century.

In her distress and grief, Monica initially shunned Augustine however after experiencing a mysterious vision in which a messenger assured her: “Your son is with you,” this strengthened her hope for Augustine, which she permitted back into her home as she begged God that he would seek forgiveness and conversion. –This however would not occur for 9 years, in the meantime Monica sought out the Counsel of the local Clergy, wondering what they would do to persuade her son away from the Manichaeism heresy? One Bishop who had once belonged to the cult himself, assured Monica that it was “impossible that the son of such tears should perish.”

Monica’s tears and prayers would intensify when Augustine at the age of 29 abandoned her without warning as she passed the night praying for him in a nearby Chapel. Without saying good-bye to his mother, Augustine boarded a ship bound for Rome–Yet even this painful event would serve God’s greater purpose, when Augustine left to become a teacher in the place where he was destined to become Catholic.

Under the influence of Bishop of St. Ambrose of Milan (Feast Day: 07 December) Augustine renounced the ‘Manichaeism Heresy’ around 384 — Monica subsequently went to Italy Milian and was encouraged by Augustine’s growing interest in the Saintly Bishop’s ministry. After three years of struggle against his own desires and perplexities, Augustine succumbed to God’s grace, converted and was Baptized in the Church of ‘St. John the Baptist’ in Milan

Shortly before Monica’s death, she shared a profound mystical experience of God with her sons Nagivius and Augustine who later became St. Augustine of Hippo (Feast Day: 28 August) chronicling the event in his book Confessions penned as a result of the emotion he experienced.

Monica told Augustine: “Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here. — The only thing I ask of you both (Nagivius and Augustine) is that you make remembrance of me at the Alter of the Lord wherever you are.”

Saint Monica died in 387 in Italy — In modern times, she has become the inspiration for the St. Monica Sodality which encourages prayer and penance among Catholics whose children have departed from the faith.

More here from EWTN and here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Joseph Calasanz, Patron Saint of Schools & Students

St Joseph CalasanzSaint Joseph Calasanz (1556-1648) Image: Introibo

(Franciscan Media) Born in Spain Aragon, Joseph was the youngest of five children according to SQPN his mother and brother died while he was still in school. Joseph studied at Estadilla, at the University at Lereda Valencia where he would obtain degrees in Canon Law and Theology.

In 1583 Joseph was Ordained into the Priesthood — As a Priest trained both in Canon Law and Theology, he was well respected for his wisdom and administrative expertise but would put aside his career because of his concerns with the need if education of poor children.

When Fr. Joseph Calasanz was unable to get other institutes to accept poor children, many of them orphans and homeless into school according to SQPN he and several companions personally provided a ‘Free School’ for needy children.

So overwhelming was the response that Fr. Joseph Calasanz and his companions received, that there was a constant need for larger-and-larger facilities to house their free school.

Soon thereafter, Pope Clement VIII gave support to the school and this financial aid continued under Pope Paul V — Soon other schools were opened and other men attracted to their work joined them. — In 1621 Fr. Joseph Calasanz ‘Free School” received Papal recognition as a religious order called ‘Le Sciole Pie’ (Religious Schools) and became known as the Piarists — Fr. Joseph Calasanze was subsequently appointed Superior for life.

A combination of prejudices, political ambition and maneuvering caused Fr. Joseph Calasanz ‘Free School’ great turmoil. Some people did not favor educating poor children rationalizing that education would still leave them poor but likewise dissatisfied with their lowly opportunities in society. — Others were shocked that some students were being sent to Astronomer Galileo (a friend of Fr. Joseph Calasanz) for instruction.

Repeatedly investigated by Papal Commissions, Fr. Joseph Calasanz was demoted and when the political struggles persisted, ‘Le Sciole Pie’ were suppressed.

Only subsequent to Fr. Joseph Calasanz death, was ‘Le Sciole Pie’ or Piarists formally recognized as a religious community.

Fr. Joseph Calasanz was Beatified in 1748 by Pope Benedict XIV and Canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XII

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Louis IX King of France, Patron Saint of Builders & Masons

St Louis IX of France

St. Louis IX of France (1226-1270)
Image Courtesy: Brogilbert

(Franciscan Media) Born in France at Poissy, Louis was the son of King Louis VII and Blanche of Castile according to SQPN and was crowned King at the age of 11 according to Catholic News Agency at his father’s death. King Louis’ mother reigned during her son’s youth.

King Louis IX was known to lead an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother’s words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” King Louis’ biographers wrote about the long hours that he spent in prayer, fasting and penance, without the knowledge of the people in the kingdom.

At the age of 19 King Louis was wed to Marguerite of Provence and the couple had a loving marriage though not without challenge as the couple had 11 children.

King Louis IX loved justice according to Catholic News Agency and took great measure to ensure the jurisprudence was carried out fairly, replacing the trial by battle with an examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in Court proceedings. All of 13th century Christian Europe looked upon him as an international judge.

While King Louis IV of France was always respectful of the Papacy, he defended the royal interests against the Pope’s and refused to acknowledge Pope Innocent IV sentence against Emperor Frederick II.

King Louis IX was devoted to the people of his kingdom, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and like his Patron Saint Francis of Assisi (Feast Day: 04 October) he cared for people with leprosy. King Louis united France, Lords, Townsfolk, Peasants, Priests and Knights–by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years, France was at peace.

Everyday King Louis would invite 13 ‘Special Guests’ among the poor to dine with him together with a large number of the poor that were served meals near the palace–During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were provided with a meal which King Louis served them in person.

Disturbed by Jerusalem’s fall to the warring Muslim in 1245, King Louis IX set sail with his Naval forces to win back the Holy Land according to Catholic Herald but by late 1249 with his military was bogged down by the Nile and the following year his capture by the Egyptian Army, he was ransomed back  to France for 1/3 of his kingdoms annual income.

In 1267 together with his three sons, King Louis led a second crusade against Muslims, this time in Syria but when plague broke out, it decimated the troops and King Louis, sickened by disease died on this date near Tunis in 1270

King Louis IX was was Canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VII 

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

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Today Christians Honor Saint Bartholomew, Apostle & Martyr for Christ

Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew
Image: Fr. Doyle.com

(CNA) Saint Bartholomew is one of Christ’s Twelve Apostles, mentioned sixth in the three Gospel lists: Matthew 10:2-3  Mark 3:18  Luke 6:14 and seventh in the lists of Acts 1:13

Besides being listed as an Apostle, Bartholomew is not otherwise mentioned in the New Testament at least not under the name Bartholomew. Many ancient writers and Catholic traditions have identified Bartholomew as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John: John 1:45-51 and John 21:2

The Gospel passage read at Mass on today’s ‘Feast of St. Bartholomew’ is precisely the passage from John 1:45-51 where Nathaniel is introduced to Jesus by his friend Phillip and Jesus says of him: “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” —John 1:47

We are presented with the Apostle’s character in this brief and dialogue with the Lord Jesus: “Nathaniel said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” —John 1:48 Nathaniel responded, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” —John 1:49

Being a true child of Israel, Nataniel was a man well read in the Scriptures, knew what they said of the Messiah and where He would come from. This is why he was skeptical of Philip’s claim that Jesus is the Messiah: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” —John 1:46  Nathaniel heart was undivided and his intentions pure–his openness to reality was always ready to recognize and surrender to the truth whenever he encountered it.

In encountering Jesus and hearing His words, Nathaniel found himself face-to-face with the Truth himself and like ‘John the Baptist’ leap in his mother’s womb at the Lord’s presence, Nathaniel’s words leaped out of his own heart in a clear and simple confession of faith: ” Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” —John 1:49

Jesus in Matthew 5:8 says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” In Nathaniel we have an example of a pure man who sees–recognizes God when confronted with Him and on seeing Him believes in Him and upon believing in Him, follows Him.

Nothing for certain is known of the life of Nathaniel/Bartholomew after the Ascension of Jesus but tradition holds that he ministered in the East and died a Martyrs death in Armenia Albanopolis being flayed alive and then crucified head downward by Order of Astyages, for having converted his brother Polymius to the Lord Jesus.

More here on Saint Bartholomew from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Rose of Lima, Patron Saint of Florists & Gardeners

Saint Rose of LimaSaint Rose of Lima (1586-1617)
Image: Catholic Online

(EWTN) The child who became St. Rose has a special claim for she was the first person in the Western hemisphere to be Canonized by the Church–Only a little more than a half a century before Isabel’s birth, the fabulous land of Peru had been discovered and seized for Spain by the great explorer Francisco Pizaaro who would found Lima in 1535 where he would die just six years later.

Born in Peru, Lima and was one of ten children she was baptized ‘Isabel’ after her Aunt–her baptism occurred at home for as a baby, Isabel was just too weak–several weeks later, tiny Isabel was carried to San Sabastian a nearby Church for baptism by the Parish Priest, Fr. Don Antonio Polanco–by the time that the name ‘Isabel’ was confirmed by Archbishop Toribio of Lima, her name had been changed to ‘Rose’ and this name was bestowed on her.

As the years passed, Rose seemed to take as her roll-model St.Catherine of Siena (Feast Day: 29 April) and like the earlier Saint, Rose experienced an ardent love of God whenever she was in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, that exaltation completely filled her soul.

Rose who had become a practical young lady, when her family fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day according to Franciscan Media raising beautiful flowers and sewed at night, selling her fine needlework in the local market. 

Ten years of struggle began for Rose when against her parents wishes, she refused to get married, finally to end the arguments and marriage proposals, Rose joined the ‘Third Order of St. Dominic’ donning a habit and took her perpetual vows of chastity. — So deep her desire to live her life pleasing to Christ, Rose would spend much of her time at home in prayer and solitude. 

During the final years of Rose’s life, she would care for the homeless children, the elderly and the sick in a little room in the house where she lived. — This was the beginning of ‘Social Services’ in Peru.

Not until after Rose’s death this month in 1617 was it known how widely her beneficent influence had extended and how deeply venerated she was by the everyday people of Peru Lima — Though secluded in life, her work was brought to the attention of government officials who could only say of Rose, that she was influenced by grace.

Rose was Beatified in 1668 by Pope Clement IX and Canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X

More here from American Catholic