Today Christians Celebrate Life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Patron Saint of Devotees of the Sacred Heart

St Margaret Mary AlacoqueSt. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Born in France at L’Hautecourt Burgundy, Margaret Mary was chosen by Christ to arouse the Church to a realization of the love of God symbolized by the Heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary’s early years were marked by sickness and a painful home situation. “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering.” — After considering marriage for some time, Margaret Mary entered the ‘Order of Visitation Nuns’ at the age of 24

A Visitation Nun was ‘not to be extraordinary except by being ordinary.’ The young Margaret Mary was not to enjoy this anonymity , a fellow Novice (shrewdest of critics) termed Margaret Mary humble, simple and frank but above all kind and patient under sharp criticism and correction. Sister Margaret Mary could not mediate in the formal way expected, though she would try her best to give up her ‘prayer of simplicity’ — Slow, quiet and clumsy, Sister Margaret Mary was assigned to help an Infirmarian (one who cares for those who become ill and older Nuns in a Monastery) who was a bundle of energy.

In December 1674 three years a Nun, Sister Margaret Mary received the first of her many revelations, she felt ‘invested’ with God though always fearful of deceiving herself in such matters. — The request from Christ was that His love for mankind be made evident through her. During the next 13 months, Christ would appear to Sister Margaret Mary at intervals. Christ’s human heart was to be the symbol of His divine human love.

By Sister Margaret Mary’s own love, she was to make up for the coldness and ingratitude of the world–by frequent and loving Holy Communion, especially on the first Friday of each month, together with an hour’s vigil of prayer every Thursday night in memory of His agony and isolation at Gethsemane. — Christ also asked that a ‘Feast of Reparation’ be instituted. 

In 1275 according to SQPN Sister Margaret Mary received 12 Promises to her and to those who practiced a true devotion to His Sacred Heart whose ‘Crown of Thorns’ represented His sacrifices. This devotion encountered violent opposition especially in Jansenist areas but has now become widespread and popular.

Like all Saints, Sister Margaret Mary had to pay for her gift of holiness–Some of her fellow Sisters were hostile. Theologians who were called in declared her visions delusions and suggested that she eat more heartily. Later parents and children that she taught called her an impostor, an unorthodox innovator however a new Confessor and Jesuit St. Claude de la Colombiere (Feast Day: 15 February) recognized Sister Margaret Mary’s genuineness and supported her.

Against Sister Margaret Mary’s great resistance, Christ called her to become a sacrificial victim of the shortcomings of her own Sisters and make this known.

After her service to  God as a Novice Mistress and Assistant Superior, Sister Margaret Mary facing her last illness with courage according to Catholic News Agency Sister Margaret Mary would frequently pray the words of Psalm 73 she would pass away in October 1690 at the age of 43

Loyal Servant of God, Sister Margaret Mary was Beatified in 1864 by Pope Blessed Pius IX and Canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV

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Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Patron Saint of People in Religious Orders

St Theresa of AvilaSt. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) Image Courtesy: Fr. Brad Sweet

(CNA) Born in Spain at Avila Castile City, Teresa Sanchez Capeda, was the third in a Jewish family who converted to Christianity during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella — Teresa’s father Alphonsus became a very religious Catholic and owned a collection of spiritual books of the type Teresa would later compose herself.

As a child, Teresa was fascinated by stories of the Saints and Martyrs for Christ as was her brother Roderigo according to EWTN who was near her age and her childhood friend. Once when Teresa was just 7, the trio of friends made a plan to run away to Africa where they may be Martyred by the Muslim inhabitants. — They set out on their way secretly, expecting to beg their way there like the poor Friars but only had gone a short distance from home when the three friends were met by an Uncle and returned to their anxious Mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. Subsequent to this, both Teresa and her brother Roderigo now thought they may like to become ‘Religious Hermits’ they attempted to construct little stones from stones they found in the garden.

When Teresa was just 14 yrs old, her mother died causing Teresa to suffer much grief, prompting her to embrace an even deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Together with this good resolution, Teresa also developed immoderate interests in reading popular fiction and caring for her personal appearance.

Though Teresa’s ‘Spiritual Directors’ later in life would just these thoughts and ideas relatively minor, they still would represent a noticeable loss of her Childhood zeal for God. — A little later in Teresa’s life, her father Alphonsus decided that his teenage daughter needed a change of environment and he sent Teresa to be educated in a Convent of Augustinian Nuns. While Teresa found their life dull at first she soon came to understand and realize its spiritual advantages.

After about a year-and-a- half in the Convent, Teresa fell ill what according to EWTN seems to have been a “malignant type of malaria” and her father Alphonsus brought her home to recover. After Teresa recuperated, she went to stay with her eldest sister who had married and gone to live in the country but insisted that she’d return to the Carmelite Convent as soon as she was able.

After about 3 yrs, Teresa returned to the Convent, her intelligence, warmth and charm made her a favorite and she found much joy and pleasure being with the others. It was a custom in Spain during those days for the young Nuns to receive their acquaintances  in the Convent’s parlor and Teresa spent much time their, chatting with friends.

Teresa became especially attracted to one of the visitors whose company was disturbing to her, though she told herself there could be no question of sin, since she was doing what so many others better than her were doing. During this relaxed time, she gave up her habit of ‘mental praying’ using as a pretext the poor state of her health.

“This excuse of bodily weakness,” she would write afterwards, “was not a sufficient reason why I should abandon so good a thing, which required no physical strength but only love and habit. In the midst of sickness the best prayer may be offered and its a mistake to think it can only be offered in solitude.”

Teresa would subsequently return to the practice of ‘mental prayer’ and never abandoned it again.

For the next 3 years Teresa made remarkable progress in her spiritual life, developing the practice of recalling herself into the presence of God though quiet contemplation. When Teresa was nearly 40, she experienced profound changes within her own soul together with remarkable visions that appeared only could come from God.

Under the direction of Teresa’s Confessors, she would write about some of these experiences in an autobiography The Life of Teresa of Jesus that she completed in 1565

Teresa had always been accustomed to contemplate Christ’s presence within her after Him in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Now however she understood that the presence she received did not simply fade:

God was in-fact, with her always and had been all along. It was simply a matter of putting herself in God’s presence with love and attention–as anyone can do at any moment.

This revolution in Teresa’s spiritual life, enabled her to play a significant role in the renewal of the Church that followed the ‘Council of Trent’ — Teresa proposed the Carmelite Nuns return to their original rule of life, a simple and austere form of monasticism that was founded on silence and solitude which had received Papal approval during the 12th century and was believed to date back to the Old Testament Prophet of Elijah.

Together with Teresa’s close collaborator, the Priest and writer who would later be Canonized St. John of the Cross (Feat Day: 14 December) she founded what is known today as the Order of Discalced Carmelites ‘discalced’ meaning barefoot, symbolizing the simplicity which they chose to return the Order after a period of corruption. The reform met with fierce opposition but later resulted in the founding of 30 Monasteries during her lifetime.

Teresa’s health failed her for her last time while she was traveling through Salamanca in NW Spain in 1582 Teresa accepted her final dramatic illness as God’s chosen means of calling her into His presence forever.

“O my Lord and my Spouse, the desired hour is now come,” Teresa stated. “The hour is at last come, wherein I shall pass out of this exile and my soul shall enjoy in Thy company what it hath so earnestly longed for.”

Teresa died in October 1582 in the arms of her Secretary and close friend Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew according to SQPN

St. Teresa was Beatified in 1614 by Pope Paul V and Canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV together with three of her great contemporaries: Saint Ignatius of Loyola  Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Philip Neri

In 1970 Pope Paul VI proclaimed St Teresa of Avila as one of the first two Women ‘Doctors of the Church’ together with the 14th century Dominican St. Catherine of Siena

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Pope Saint Callistus I, Martyr For Christ

Pope St Callistus IPope Saint Callistus I –Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(Franciscan Media) The most reliable information about today’s Saint, Pope Callistus I that we have to rely upon comes from his one time enemy Saint Hippolytus (Feast Day: 13 August) an early Antipope, who later was reconciled with the Church and Martyred for Christ.

Callistus was born a slave according to SQPN owned by Carpophorus a Christian in the household of Caesar. — Callistus was put in charge of the bank of his Master which took in several deposits, he had made several loans to people that refused to pay back their loans and the bank went broke. Knowing that he would be blamed and punished, Callistus fled but was subsequently caught and returned to Carpophorus. Several depositors begged for Callistus’ life believing that he had not lost thew money but just hid it–they were wrong. Callistus was not a thief, just a victim but nevertheless, he was sentenced to work in the Tin Mines.

By a quirk of Roman Law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the State and when he was subsequently ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians he became a Free man, later residing in Anzio, which was the site of the famous WW II beachhead.

After Callistus was Freed from slavery, he was made Superintendent of the public Christian burial grounds in Rome (to this day its still called the Cemetery of St. Callistus) probably the first land owned by the Church.

Pope Zephrinus Ordained Callistus a Deacon, together with making him his friend and advisor. — Callistus was subsequently elected Pope by a majority vote of the Clergy and Laity of Rome. 

During his Papacy, Pope Callistus I was on more than one occasion accused of heresy by St. Hippolytus for such actions such as permitting a return to Communion for those who had sinned, repented and done penance or for declaring that differences in economic class were no barrier to marriage. This last, put in him conflict with Roman Civil Law but Pope Callistus argued that in matters concerning the Church and the Sacraments, Church Law trumped Civil Law.

In both cases, Pope Callistus taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today and though a whole host of Schismatics wrote against him, his alleged crimes appear to have been the practice of Christianity — Pope Callistus was subsequently Martyred for Christ during the persecutions of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235) and is the first Pope (except for St. Peter) to be commemorated as a Martyr of the Church.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England

St Edward the ConfessorSt. Edward King of England (1003-1066) Image: Aidan Hart

(CNA) Son of Ethelred II and Emma, daughter of Duke Richard of Normandy according to EWTN when hardly 10 yrs old, Edward was sent with his brother Alfred into Normandy to be brought up by the Court of the Duke, when the Danes seized control of England–this early experience of loss and his earnest religious convictions, caused him to renounce worldly ambition and devote himself to the love of God.

Upon the death of the Danish King Canute, Edward was called to the throne of England which he accepted dutifully and held the rest of his life.

King Edward’s Saintly bearing made him a popular sovereign and his actions even more so, he abolished an unjust tax and was known to cure people with his touch. — Having made a vow of chastity, he accepted marriage to the virtuous Editha according to New for the sake of his kingdom but lived with her in celibacy by agreement as a sister.

Unable to fulfill a vow to embark on a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb without leaving England’s subjects vulnerable to attack, his vow was commuted by the Pope into the rebuilding at Westminster of St. Peter’s Abbey, the dedication of which took place but a week before his death.

King Edward was Canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar

Our Lady of the PillarOur Lady of the Pillar — Pray For Us –Image: Catholic News Agency

(CNA) The first Marian apparition in history appeared to St. James the Apostle, the Brother of St. John the Evangelist on the bank of the river Ebro in Spain Saragossa — Unlike every other recorded apparition, this one took place during the earthly life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

According to tradition, Mary promised St. James, that when he needed it most during his difficult mission to what is now Spain, that the Blessed Virgin Mary would appear to him and encourage him.

In the year 40 AD while St James was praying one night, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared with the ‘Child Jesus’ standing on a pillar and asked St. James together with his eight disciples to construct a Church on the site, promising him that “it will stand that moment until the end of time in order that God may work miracles and wonders through my intercession for all those who place themselves under my patronage.”

The Church of Our Lady of the Pillar (photo gallery) in Spain, Zaragoza, is the very first Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in history and is standing to this day, having survived invasions and wars. — During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 three bombs were dropped on the Church and not one of them exploded.

Our Blessed Lady is also said to have given the small wooden statue of the apparition to St. James which now stands on a pillar in the Church.

Nuestra Senora Del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) is the Patron Saint of Spain and all Latino people — On this day in 1492 the ‘Feast of the Virgin Pillar’ is the day Christopher Columbus first sighted American land and when the first Holy Mass was first celebrated in America.

More here on Spain’s Natl Holiday & the Feast of the Virgin of Pillar

Related: Saint of the Day — St. Seraphin of Montegranaro -Franciscan Media

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Pope Saint John XXIII

Pope St John XXIIIPope Saint John XXIII (1881-1963) Image Courtesy: Pinterest

(CNA) Born Angelo Giusppo Roncalli in Italy Sotto il Monte, Angelo was the 4th child of 14 of a peasant but deeply religious family–Angelo’s Christian education was entrusted to his Godfather, who instilled into young Angelo a deep love and admiration of the mystery of God.

Angelo would enter the minor seminary at the age of 11 and became a ‘Secular Franciscan’ just 4 yrs later. By the age of 20, Angelo would enter the ‘Pontifical Roman Seminary’ and was Ordained into the Priesthood just 3 years later, subsequently he was appointed Secy to the Bishop of Bergamo and would teach in the Seminary. — Angelo’s great friends during this formative period were St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales two outstanding intellectuals and also formidable pastors.

Fr. Angelo served as a military Chaplain during WW I following the war he would serve as a spiritual director at a Seminary and in 1921 served as the Italian President of the ‘Society for the Propagation of the Faith’ — In 1925, Pope Pius XI made him a Bishop and sent him to Bulgaria as the ‘Apostolic Visitator’ in 1935 he was assigned to Turkey and Greece where he would minister to Catholics and engaged in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity and Muslims.

During WW II Bishop Angelo Roncalli used his diplomatic skills to save as many Jews as he could by obtaining safe passage for them. Following WW II he was made Cardinal in 1953 and Patriarch  of Italy Venice, three day later–In  1958 he was elected the 261st Pope following the death of Pope Pius XII

As Pope John XXIII he stressed his own ‘pastoral duties’ and became an example of a ‘Pastoral Pope’ a Good Shepherd who cared deeply for people. — Pope John XXIII manifested this concern in his social encyclicals, especially “Pacem in Terris” (On Peace in the World) Pope John XXIII greatest act however was undoubtedly the inspiration to convoke the ‘Second Vatican Council’ which he opened on this date in 1962

 Pope John XXIII 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.”

In 1963 “Good Pope John” passed away of stomach cancer according to SQPN — Pope John XXIII was Beatified in 2000 by Pope Saint John Paul II and Canonized in 2014 by Pope Francis, alongside the man who Beatified him Pope Saint John Paul II

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Borgia

St Francis Borgia

St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572)
Image Courtesy: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born in Spain Valencia, Francis grew up in an important 16th century family, serving early in the Imperial Court and quickly advancing in his career but a series of events–including the death of his beloved wife, made Francis reconsider his priorities. — Francis would subsequently give away all of his possessions and would join the new and little known ‘Society of Jesus.’

A religious life proved to be the correct decision for Francis, he felt drawn to spend time in prayer and seclusion however his administrative talents also made him a natural for other vital tasks.

Francis would help in the establishment of what is know Gregorian University in Rome–Not long after his Ordination in 1551 now Fr. Francis Borgia, served as political and spiritual advisor to the Emperor in Spain, he would likewise go on to found a dozen colleges. At the age of 55, Fr. Francis Borgia was elected head of the Jesuits, he would focus on the growth of the ‘Society of Jesus’ together with the spiritual preparation of its new members and ministering throughout Europe. –Fr. Francis Borgia was likewise responsible for the founding of Jesuit Missions in Florida, Mexico and Peru.

Often regarded as the ‘Second Founder of the Jesuits’ Fr. Francis Borgia passed away in 1572 in Italy Ferrara; Beatified in in 1624 by Pope Gregory XV in Spain Madrid and Canonized in 1670 by Pope Clement X

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Happy Columbus Day 2017

Happy Columbus DayHappy Columbus Day –Image Courtesy: Seton Catholic Central

(KOFC) What You May Not Know About Christopher Columbus…

When the Knights of Columbus was founded in New Haven, CT in 1882 by Fr. Michael J. McGivney, its namesake ‘Christopher Columbus’ was a symbol of the idea that there is no contradiction in being Catholic and an American. In recent decades however (thanks in large measure to the PC crowd, I digress) Columbus has become a figure of controversy leaving conflicting opinions about his legacy.

Carol Delaney, a Cultural Anthropologist and long-time Professor at Stanford Univ had little knowledge or interest in Columbus that is, until she was teaching a course called ‘Millennial Fever’ in 1999 and came across a reference to the Explorer Columbus apocalyptic beliefs. Delaney was intrigued and set out to research ‘Christopher Columbus’ at Brown Univ in the Summer of 2003

Two years later Delaney retired from Stanford to devote herself to research which launched a remarkable journey into the footsteps of Columbus

Columbia Online spoke to Delaney about the fruits of her research published in her book, ‘Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem’ available at what Delaney’s research uncovered was indeed fascinating and may not be what you learned in school about Christopher Columbus but may so now…

Rest here from Columbia Online

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Denis and Companions, Martyrs for Christ

St Denis & CompanionsSaint Denis Pray For Us –Image Courtesy: Pinterest

(Franciscan Media) Martyr for Christ and Patron Saint of France.

Saint Denis is regarded as the first Bishop of Paris, his  popularity is in part due to legends, especially those connecting him with the great Basilica of St. Denis in France Paris.

Saint Denis’ success reportedly roused the ire of the pagans, he was imprisoned by the Roman Governor and Martyred for Christ during the persecutions of Valerius together with St. Rusticus and St. Eleutherius in 258

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint John Leonardi

St John Leonardi

Saint John Leonardi (1541-1609)
Image Courtesy: 365 Rosaries

(Franciscan Media) “I am only one person. Why should I do anything? What good would it do?” — Today, as in any age, people seemed plagued by the dilemma of getting involved. In his own way, Saint John Leonardi answered these questions for himself–he chose to become a Priest.

Born in Italy Lucca, John Leonardi worked as a Pharmacist’s apprentice according to SQPN while studying for the Priesthood, following his Ordination, Fr. Leonardi became very active in the ministry especially working to care for prisoners and the sick in hospitals. The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him–they too, later became Priests themselves.

Fr. Leonardi lived after the ‘Protestant Reformation’ and the ‘Council of Trent’ (1545-1563) he together with his followers established a new Congregation of Diocesan Priests ‘Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca’ for some reason, the new group of Priests provoked a huge political firestorm, resulting in Fr. Leonardi being exiled from his hometown for almost the remainder of his life. — Fr. Leonardi received encouragement and help from St. Philip Neri (Feast Day: 26 May) who provided him with lodging along with the care of his kitty.

In 1579 Fr. Leonardi formed the ‘Confraternity of the Christian Doctrine’ and likewise published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century.

Fr. Leonardi and his companion Priests became a great power for good in Italy, their congregation of Diocesan Priests was confirmed in 1595 by Pope Clement — Fr. continued working with the sick through the remainder of his life and passed away on this date in 1609 after becoming ill after caring for victims of the plague.

Declared Venerable in 1701 by Pope Clement XI — Fr. Leonardi was Beatified in 1861 by Pope Blessed Pius IX (Feast Day: 07 February) and Canonized in 1938 by Pope Pius XI

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