Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Mary MacKillop, Australia’s First Saint

St Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary MacKillop (1842-1909)
Image: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born in Australia Melbourne, Mary was the eldest child of Alexander and Flora MacKillop poor Scottish immigrants–Alexander had studied for the Priesthood according to SQPN but was never Ordained. Mary was educated in private schools and bu her father. To help support her family which struggled financially, Mary worked as a ‘Nursery Governess’ while in her teens, together with tutoring and teaching–subsequently Mary established a ‘Seminary for Young Ladies’ in her home.

Mary felt called to a religious life but felt obligated to continue Teaching to help support her family, however a scandal caused by a jealous and corrupt education official, caused Mary to resign her teaching position and to leave the school without guilt with the support of her family. –Mary and her sister moved to South Australia Penola, there they met Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods in 1860 who became Mary’s spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of Women, ‘The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart’ (becoming known as the Josephite Sisters) its members were to staff schools, especially for poor children, orphanages and do other charitable work.

As the ‘Josephite Sisters’ grew so did Mary’s problems. Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods proved unreliable in many way and his responsibilities for the direction of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local Bishop’s as she and her Sisters went out their work but the Bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary, charging her with disobedience and dispensed 50 of Mary’s Sisters from their vows. — In truth, the Bishop’s quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom? The Bishop ultimately rescinded his Order of excommunication.

Mary had insisted that the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should be governed by an elected mother answerable to Rome and not to the local Bishop — There was also a dispute whether or not the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary’s best source of support. After a long wait, official approval of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ and how it was to be governed came from Pope Leo XIII

Despite Mary’s struggles with Church authorities, she along with her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any government agencies in Australia could. The ‘Josephite Sisters’ served both Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the indigenous (aborigines) Australians, they taught in schools and orphanages together with serving unmarried mothers.

Finances, or the lack thereof was a continual worry but the Sister’s who sought charity door-to-door, were bolstered by faith and conviction that their struggles were merely opportunities to draw closer to God.

By the time that Mary was approaching the twilight, the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were thriving. Mary passed away in 1909 in Sydney of a stroke. In 1995 Mary was Beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II and was Canonized in 2010 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI becoming the first Saint of Australia.

More here from American Catholic and here from Sisters of St. Joseph

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Benedict of Norcia, Patron Saint of Benedict XVI Pontificate

St BenedictSaint Benedict of Norcia (480-543) Image: Pinterest

(CNA) Born into the Nobility of Italy Rome, there is not much known of Benedict’s early childhood — In 2008 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI speaking of St. Benedict said:

“…Young Benedict was put off by the dissolute lifestyle of many of his fellow students and did not wish to make the same mistakes — he wanted only to please God…Thus even before he finished his studies, Benedict left Rome and with drew to the solitude of the mountains east of Rome. After a short stay in the village of Enfide (now Affile) where for a time he lived with a ‘religious community’ of Monks (and) he became a Hermit in the neighboring locality of Subiaco.”

There Benedict spent three years in solitude with God which was a time of maturity to him, facing and overcoming three fundamental temptations of every human being:

  • (1) the temptation of self affirmation–putting oneself at the center of everyone else;
  • (2) the temptation of sensuality;
  • (3) the temptation of anger and revenge.

Pope Emeritus Benedict said, “In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first Monasteries in the Valley of Anio, near Subiaco.”

Benedict’s Monasteries became centers of education for children, in tradition which would continue in the order during his lifetime and beyond. — Benedict’s monastic movement like its forebears in the Christian East, attracted large numbers of people who were looking to live their Christian faith more deeply.

During 529 Benedict left Subiaco for Monte Cassino (about 80 miles South of Rome) this move was geographically and spiritually significant, making a more public emergence of the Western Monastic movement. Benedict destroyed a Pagan Temple atop a mountain and constructed two Oratories in its place.

It was most likely at Monte Cassino that Benedict drew up a Rule for Life (known as the famous ‘Rule of St. Benedict’ which emphasized prayer, work, simplicity and hospitality–though known as a ‘Rule for Monks’ it is addressed to all those who seek ‘to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.’

Saint Benedict’s life was marked by various intrigues and miraculous incidents which are described in his biography, written by Pope Saint Gregory the Great — One of the most remarkable was Benedict’s meeting in 543 King Totila of the Goths, in which he rebuked the king’s lifestyle and prophesied his death.

Saint Scholastica (Feast Day: 10 February) Benedict’s sister also embraced a religious life as a Nun, she likely died just before or after her brother Saint Benedict. During his final years, it is reported that he had a profound mystical experience, which is said to have involved a supernatural vision of God and the whole of creation.

Around the age of 63 Benedict became ill, he was carried into the Church at Monte Cassino by his fellow Monks, where he received the Eucharist for the final time–Held up by his disciples, he raised up his hands in prayer before dying in their arms.

Benedict was Canonized in 1220 by Pope Honorius III

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Veronica Giuliani

St Veronica Guliani

Saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)
Image: Enrosadira

(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Mercatell and given the name Ursula at Baptism, she showed marvelous signs of sanctity at an early age. — When but 18 mos old, she uttered her first words according to EWTN to a shopman who was serving a false measure of oil saying distinctly to him: “Do justice, God sees you.”

By the age of 3 , Ursula began to be favored with ‘Divine Communications’ and to show great compassion to the poor and would set apart a portion of her food and some of her clothing for poor, scantly clad children. These traits together with a great love of the Cross developed as she grew older.

When Ursula was 17 she joined the Capuchin ‘Poor Clares’ her father had preferred she would marry but she instead convinced him that she wanted to become a Nun — During this time in her life, Ursula took the name ‘Veronica’ in memory of the Passion. At the conclusion of the ceremony of her reception, the Bishop said to the Abbess, “I commend this new daughter to your special care for she will one day be a great Saint.”

During Veronica’s first years at the monastery,she became absolutely submissive to her directors, though her Novitiate was marked by extraordinary interior trials and temptations to leave the monastery and return to the world.

At Veronica’s profession in 1678 she conceived a great desire to suffer in union with Our Savior crucified for the conversion of sinners. — About this time she had a vision of Christ bearing His Cross and henceforth suffered an acute physical pain in her heart.

Following Sister Veronica’s death, the figure of the Cross was found impressed upon her heart.

In 1693 Sister Veronica entered upon a new phase in her spiritual life, when she had a vision of the Chalice symbolizing the ‘Divine Passion’ which was to be reenacted in her own soul. At first, Sister Veronica shrank from accepting it and only by great effort eventually submitted, she then began to experience intense spiritual suffering. — One year later, Sister Veronica received the impression of the ‘Crown of Thorns’ the wounds becoming visible and the pain permanent.

By Order of the Bishop, Sister Veronica submitted to medical treatment but received no relief from the pain. While Sister Veronica lived in this supernatural mystical life, she remained a practical Woman of her affairs.

Foe 34 years, Sister Veronica was the ‘Novice Mistress’ (trainer of the novices that came to the monastery) guiding them with great prudence. In 1716 Sister Veronica was elected Abbess and during her tenure, she enlarged the convent and had a good system of plumbing laid down.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said of Saint Veronica Giuliani in December 2010 that she proved “a courageous witness of the beauty and power of Divine Love,” who received the divine gift of intimate unity with Christ in his suffering, death and a “true image” of  Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Saint Veronica placed Christ above all things in her life, as could be seen in her diary (which spans more than 22,000 handwritten pages) — In her writings, she described a relationship with Christ that saw him as a Divine spouse to whom she sought to be more and more united in love. — Sister Veronica, “also experienced  a relationship of profound intimacy with the Virgin Mary, attested by the words she heard Our Lady say one day which she reports in her diary:

“I made you rest on my breast, you were united with my soul and from it you were taken as a flight to God.”

Saint Veronica Giuliani invites us to develop in our Christian life, our union with the Lord in living for others, abandoning ourselves to His will with complete and total trust and the union with the Church, the Bride of Christ.

Saint Veronica was Beatified in 1804 by Pope Pius VII and Canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI

More here from EWTN and here from Catholic News Agency

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria

St Anthony Mary Zaccaria

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria (1502-1539)

(CNA) Born into an Italian family of nobility in Cremona, Anthony’s father died shortly after his birth, his mother Antonietta though only 18 yrs old, chose not to remarry, preferring instead to devote herself to works of charity and Anothny’s education.

Antonietta’s son, took after her in devotion to God and generosity towards the poor. As a youth, Anthony studied Latin and Greek and later was sent to Pavia to study Philosophy subsequently studying Medicine and earning his degree by the age of 22 and then returned to Cremona.

Despite Anthony’s noble background and secular education, the young Physician had no interest in marrying or accumulating wealth. While caring for the physical infirmities of his patients, Anthony would also encourage that they find spiritual healing through repentance and the sacraments.

Anthony began teaching Catechism to children and went on to participate in the religious formation of young adults subsequently he decided to withdraw from medicine altogether and with the encouragement of his spiritual director, he went on to study for the Priesthood.

Ordained by the age of 26 now Fr. Anthony Zaccaria, is said to have experienced a miraculous occurrence during the Celebration of his first Mass as a young Priest–Being surrounded by a supernatural light and a multitude of Angels during the consecration of the Eucharist. — Contemporary witnesses marveled at the event and testified to it after Fr. Anthony’s death.

Church life in Cremona suffered a decline in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Fr, Anthony encountered a widespread ignorance and religious indifference among the Laity, while many of the clergy were either weak or corrupt. — In these dire circumstances, Fr. Anthony devoted his life to proclaiming the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ both clearly and charitably. Within the span of just two years, his eloquent preaching and tireless pastoral care is said to have changed the moral character of the city dramatically.

In 1530 Fr. Anthony moved to Milan, where a similar spirit of corruption and religious neglect prevailed, there he decided to form a priestly society, the ‘Clerics Regular of St. Paul’ — Inspired by the Apostle’s life and writings, the new Order was founded on a vision of humility, asceticism, poverty and the ministry of preaching. Subsequently Fr. Anthony also founded a Women’s religious Order, ‘The Angelic Sisters of St. Paul” an organization the Laity of St. Paul, geared toward the sanctification of those outside the priesthood and religious life; Later Fr. Anthony pioneered the ’40 Hours’ of devotion, involving continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Less than 10 years after moving to Milan, Fr. Anthony became seriously ill, returning to his mother’s home in Cremona — The founder of the ‘Clerics Regular of St Paul’ subsequently died on this date in 1539 during the liturgical octave of the Feast of Saint’s Peter & Paul (Feast Day: 29th June) at the age of just 36 Fr. Anthony the young Physician later Ordained a Priest, was buried at St. Paul’s Convent of the Angelics in Milan.

In 2001 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the future Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote the preface for a book on St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria ‘Igniting the Flame of Faith: St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria’ praising him as “one of the great figures of Catholic reform in the 1500s” who was involved “in the renewal of Christian life in an era of profound crisis.”

Fr. Anthony Zaccaria was Beatified in 1849 by Pope Pius IX and Canonized in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII

More here Igniting the Flame of Faith: St. Anthony Zaccaria –Amazon

Related: The Reformer: St. Anthony Zaccaria by Andrea Erba –Amazon

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Feast of St Thomas

Saint Thomas the Apostle
Image Courtesy: Catholic Online@Facebook

(Franciscan Media) Poor Thomas, he made one poor remark and was branded as ‘Doubting Thomas’ ever since but if he doubted, he also believed. Thomas made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God.” —John 20:28 and in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said until the end of time. — Thomas also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians:

“Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
John 20:29

Saint Thomas should be equally well known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuous–since he ran, like the rest at the showdown but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die for Jesus.

The occasion when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other Apostles: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” —John 11:16

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us that the “Apostle Thomas’ life is important to us for at least three reasons:

  • First, it comforts us in our own insecurity;
  • Second it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty;
  • Lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him, reminds us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourages us to persevere, despite the difficulty along our journey of adhesion to him.

Saint Thomas’ example will never fail to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Our God.”

Full text here of Pope Benedict XVI on St. Thomas

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

St IrenaeusSt. Irenaeus “The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive” –Image: Patheos

(CNA) Born in Smyrna (Asia Minor — Modern Day Turkey Izmir) Irenaeus was a Bishop and Writer in what is present day France, he is best remembered for defending Christian orthodoxy, especially the reality of Jesus Christ’s human Incarnation against the set of heresies known as Gnosticism an ancient cult that believed in salvation by knowledge; Gnostics were people that believed that the faith taught in the Church was merely symbolism for the simple-minded that were unable to grasp difficult concepts.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke admiringly of Saint Irenaeus in March, 2007, recalling how this early Church Father, “refuted the Gnostic dualism and pessimism which debased corporeal realities. He (St. Irenaeus) decisively  claimed the original holiness of matter, of the body, of the flesh no less than of the spirit but his works went far beyond the confutation of heresy: in fact one can say that he emerges as the first great Theologian who created systematic theology; he himself speaks of the system of theology, that is, of the internal coherence of all faith. At the heart of his doctrine is the question of the ‘rule of faith’ and its transmission. For Irenaeus the ‘rule of faith’ coincided in the practice with the ‘Apostles Creed’ which gives us the key for interpreting the Gospel, for interpreting the Creed in light of the Gospel. The Creed, which is a sort of Gospel synthesis , helps us understand what it means and how we should read the Gospel itself.”

While some of Saint Irenaeus most important writings have survived, the details of his life are not well preserved.

We do know that Saint Irenaeus  became a Priest in served in the Church of Lyons during a difficult time in the late 170s During this time of state persecution and doctrinal controversy, Fr. Irenaeus was sent to Rome to provide Pope Saint Eleutherius with a letter about the heretical movement known as ‘Montanism’ — After returning to Lyons, Fr. Irenaeus, became the city’s second Bishop, following the Martyrdom of Saint Pothinus (Feast Day: 02 June)

Bishop Irenaeus refuted the ‘Gnostic’ errors in his concise book “Against Heresies’ which is still studied to this day for its historical value and theological insights.

Saint Irenaeus earthly life ended around 220, some have speculated that he was Martyred however as with his birth and youth, the details of his death are not definitively known.

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph Cafasso, Patron Saint of Prisoners & Chaplains

St. Joseph Cafasso

Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811-1860)
Image: Newman Connection

(EWTN) Born in Italy at Castelnuovo d’Asti, Joseph was born physically challenged with a deformed spine according to SQPN he was short in stature and handicapped throughout his life but that didn’t stop him, Joseph Cafasso, loved attending Mass as a young man and was known for his humility and passionate prayers.

Following Joseph’s Cafasso’s completion of high school and two years studying philosophy at Chieri College according to NC Register he then transferred to seminary to study theology in 1830 and was Ordained a Priest three years later.

Subsequent to Fr. Joseph Cafasso Ordination, he was sent to the place that would be the main and the only ‘stage’ in his life as a Priest, the Ecclesiastical Institute of St. Francis in Italy Turin, to perfect his skills in pastoral care but it was there, he was able to put to use his gifts as a spiritual director and his devotion to charity.

The ‘Ecclesiastical Institute of St. Francis’ was not merely a school of moral theology where young Priests coming mainly from the countryside learned to hear confessions and minister effectively, it was truly a school of Priestly life, where Priests were formed in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Feast Day: 31 July) and in the moral and pastoral theology of the well known Bishop St. Alphonsus Liguori (Feast Day: 01 August) The Priests that Fr. Joseph Cafasso encountered at the institute and that he helped to strengthen–especially when he was Rector, were those Priests that truly were shepherds, with a rich interior life and a deep zeal for Pastoral care: Faithfulness to prayer, commitment to ministry and catechesis, dedication to celebrating the Eucharist and the sacrament of penance.

A few well chosen words by St. John Bosco (Feast Day: 31 January) summarize the educational activity of the institute: “At the institute, men learned to be Priests.”

Fr. Joseph Cafasso, sought to establish this model for the formation of young Priests so that they in turn could also form other Priests, religious and Laypersons, thereby creating a unique and an effective chain.

As a professor of moral theology, Fr. Joseph Cafasso, educated his Priests to be good Confessors and spiritual directors who were concerned with the spiritual well being of each individual, yet mindful of the necessary balance, so that each person would have an acute, vivid sense of sin while experiencing at the same time God’s mercy.

Fr. Joseph Cafasso who passed many hours in the confessional, ‘loved the Lord totally, he was animated by a well rooted faith and supported by profound and prolonged prayer, he showed sincere charity to everyone–he knew moral theology but was equally well aware of the condition of peoples hearts for which, like the Good Shepherd, he took responsibility.’

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI further related, ‘St. Joseph Cafesso was St. John Bosco’s spiritual director from 1835 to 1860–that at no time did the former seek to make the latter “a disciple in  his image and likeness.” While St. John Bosco, never copied his teacher, “he imitated him in the human and Priestly virtues–defining him as a ‘model of priestly life’ but maintained his own attitudes and his own specific vocation…This is a precious lesson from those involved in the formation and education of young generations,” said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Another element that characterized the ministry of Fr. Joseph Cafasso was “his concern for the lowest–especially for prisoners who lived in inhuman and dehumanizing conditions.’ If at first in his ministry to prisoners, Fr. Joseph Cafasso, ‘often delivered great sermons that came to involve almost the entire prison population. With the passage of time, he came to favor individual catechesis made up of conversations and personal meetings. While respecting the individual situation of each individual, he tackled the great themes of Christian life, speaking of trust in God, adherence to His will, the utility of prayer and the Sacraments, the culmination of which is Confession, the meeting with God Who, for us becomes infinite mercy.”

Fr. Joseph Cafasso passed away in 1860 of pneumonia and complications of his congenital medical issues — Saint John Bosco, presided over his funeral Mass and delivered the Homily — Fr. Cafasso was Beatified in 1925 by Pope Pius XI and Canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII

More here from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and here American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of the Poor & Pregnant Women

Saint Anthony of Padau...

St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)
Image: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born in Portugal Lisbon into a wealthy family, at his baptism he was given the name ‘Fernando’ according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and was educated by a group of Priests writes Catholic News Agency until the age of 15 when he made a decision to enter a religious life.

Fernando moved into St. Vincent’s Monastery in Lisbon which followed the monastic Rule of St. Augustine — Fernando however disliked the constant visits and interruptions of  his friends and subsequently moved to a more remote house of the same Order, there he dedicated himself to solitude study of the Bible and of the Church Fathers, acquiring theological knowledge that was to bear fruit according to Pope Emeritus Benedict, later in life in his teaching and ministry activities.

In 1220 when the remains of Saint Berard and Companions (Feast Day: 16 January) the first Franciscan Martyrs were brought to Portugal for burial and veneration, Fernando was inspired by their lives and commitment to the Gospel. — Later when a group of Franciscan’s later visited the Monastery, Fernando told them that he wanted to adopt their humble lifestyle. Some of the Augustine Monks criticized and mocked Fernando’s interest in the Franciscans which had only been established recently before in 1209 but prayers, confirmed his desire to follow the example of St. Francis (Founder of the Franciscan Order) who was still living at the time.

Fernando eventually obtained permission to enter the Franciscans. At that time, he took the name ‘Anthony’ after the 4th century Monk St. Anthony of Egypt (Feast Day: 17 January)

Anthony desired to emulate the commitment of St. Berard and Companions the Franciscan Martyrs that gave their life to God while ministering to the Muslims. Traveling by ship, Anthony became seriously ill and could not carry out his intended work–the ship was supposed to take him to Spain for treatment but was blown off course and ended up in Italy.

Through this series of mishaps,  Anthony ended up near Assisi, where St. Francis was holding a major meeting for members of his Order of Franciscans. Despite Anthony’s poor health, he resolved to stay in Italy to be closer to St. Francis himself, initially concealing his deep knowledge of Theology and Scripture, offering to serve in the kitchen among the Brothers, together with reading scriptures and performing other menial tasks.

At the time, no one realized that Anthony was anything but a kitchen assistant and obedient Franciscan Priest according to Catholic News Agency however around 1224 Anthony became obligated to deliver an improvised speech before an assembly of Dominicans and Franciscans, none of who had prepared any remarks. Anthony’s eloquence stunned the crowd and St. Francis himself soon learned what kind of man the ‘Dishwashing Priest’ really was.

Subsequently St. Francois gave Fr. Anthony permission to teach theology in the Franciscan Order, “provided however, that as the Rule prescribes the spirit of prayer and devotion may not be extinguished.”

Fr. Anthony taught theology in several Italian and French cities, while strictly following his Franciscan vows while also preaching regularly–Later he dedicated himself entirely to the work of preaching as a Missionary in France, Italy and Spain, teaching an authentic love of God to many people–whether they be Royalty or Peasants who had fallen away from the Christian faith, Catholicism and morality.

Known for his bold preaching and austere lifestyle, Fr. Anthony also had a reputation as a worker of miracles which often came about in the course of disputes with heretics.

Fr. Anthony’s biographers related stories of a few of the miracles:

  • The first being of a horse which refused to eat for three days, accepting food only after it had been placed in Adoration before the Eucharist  that Fr. Anthony brought in his hands;
  • Another miracle involved poisoned meat which Fr. Anthony ate without any harm after making the sign of the Cross over it;
  • A final miracle recounted a group of fish which rose out of the sea to hear Fr. Anthony’s preaching where heretical residents of a city refused to listen.

Following Lent in 1231 Fr. Anthony’s health was in decline–he retreated to a remote location, taking along two companions for assistance. When his worsening health persisted, Fr. Anthony was carried back to the Franciscan Monastery in Padua, where crowds of people converged in groups, in hopes of paying their homage to the Holy Priest–After receiving last rites, Fr. Anthony prayed the Church’s seven traditional penitential psalms, sung a hymn to the Virgin Mary and died on this date at the age of 36 in 1231

Fr. Anthony’s well established holiness, combined with many miracles working during his lifetime, so moved Pope Gregory IX who knew Fr. Anthony personally to Canonize him just 1 year following his death adding:

“St. Anthony, residing now in heaven is honored on earth by many miracles daily seen at his tomb, which we are certified by authentic writings.”

More here from EWTN and here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Saint Barnabas, Martyr for Jesus Christ

Saint Barnabas and PaulSaint Barnabas and Apostle Paul in Lystra –Image Courtesy: 33 Knots

(EWTN) Barnabas (originally named Joseph) was born Jewish in Cyprus around the time of the Birth of Jesus according to Catholic News Agency — Later on when Jesus’ public ministry began, Barnabas may have been one of those who heard Him minister in person.

Barnabas comes as close as anyone outside the original 12 disciples to being an Apostle according to Franciscan Media and was closely associated with Saint Paul (Feast Day 29 June) serving as a kind of mediator of the suspicious Jewish converts to Christianity of his day.

When a Christian community developed at Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the Church of Jerusalem, to incorporate them into the community, subsequently both Barnabas and Paul stayed in Antioch for about one year and were remembered for their charismatic ministry together with their enormous success.

Following a miracle at Lystra, the people desired to offer a sacrifice to them as ‘gods’ — Barnabas being ‘Zeus’ and Pail being ‘Hermes’ but the two told the multitudes:

“Men why are you doing this? We also are men of like nature with you and bring you Good News, that you should turn away from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways,  yet he did not leave himself without witness, for He did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” —Acts 14:8-17

Barnabas and Paul subsequently departed Antioch together with Barnabas’ cousin John Mark, according to CatholicNewsAgency xxx (who would later compose the most concise account of Jesus Christ life and be Canonized as Saint Mark — Feast Day: 25 April) The group’s first forays into the pagan world met with some success however Mark became discouraged and returned to Jerusalem. The question of Mark’s dedication to the mission would arise again later and resulted in a significant personal disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

The remarkable success of Barnabas and Paul led to one of the earliest controversies in Church history, regarding whether or not Christian converts would continue to have to observe Jewish traditions?

During the landmark ‘Council of Jerusalem’ (outline courtesy of the Vatican) around the year 48 the assembled Apostles confirmed Paul’s earlier proclamation that the Laws of the Torah would not be mandatory for Christians.

Barnabas and Paul later separated in their ministries while remaining Apostles. — Little is known of the subsequent career of Barnabas according to EWTN except that we know that he was still living and laboring as an Apostle in 56 or 57 when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 9:5-6 from which we learn that Barnabas like Paul earned his own living though on an equality with other Apostles.

With the exception of Saint Paul and certain of the Twelve Disciples, Barnabas appears to have been the most esteemed man of the first Christian generation. Saint Luke breaking his habit of reserve, speaks of Barnabas with affection:

“For he was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith and a large company was added to the Lord.” —Acts 11:24

Barnabas is said to have died a Martyrs death by stoning in 61 at Cyprus Salamis and is the Patron Saint of Antioch and is invoked as a peacemaker.

More here from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and here from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate Saint’s Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Visionaries of Portugal Fatima

Blessed Jacinta Marto and Francisco MartoBlessed Jacinta (1910-1920) Blessed Francisco Marto (1908-1919)
Image Courtesy:
Ensina me a Rezar

(Franciscan Media) Between the 13 May and 13 October, 1917 three little shepherd children from Portugal Fatima, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, a city about 110 miles from Lisbon.

At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war and Portugal was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910 — the government had disbanded religious organizations soon thereafter.

Fatima ChildrenJacinta Marto, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos & Francisco Marto

The three children (Jacinta, Francisco and their cousin Lucia de Jesus dos Santos) were raised in homes where the catechism  was their daily bread, stories from the Bible their recreation and the word of the village Priest was law.

In the Spring of 1916 while the children were watching over their lambs an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove, asking the children to pray with him.

According to EWTN she appeared again in the mid Summer of that same year at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance at the end of the Summer of that same year, the children were given a secret including a vision of hell, which so changed them they became like adults than children.

Jacinta talkative sometimes to a fault became quiet, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy but Jacinta bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who had told the village. While the news was received by skepticism by many, mockery by some and anger by Lucia’s mother, Jacinta was so contrite that she promised never to reveal another secret.

Jacinta reluctance to reveal anything more of their experience was increased by the vision of hell, given the children in the third apparition seemed to have affected her the most. To rescue sinner from hell she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortification, whether it was giving up their lunches (sometimes to their lambs) refusing to drink in the heat of the day or wearing a knotted rope around their waists–involuntary penances included for her. Jacinta’s brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy and  cajoling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.

In August 1918 when W.W. I was ending, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza, in April the following year he passed away. When Jacinta became ill, she was taken to a hospital where she stayed for two months before returning home, only subsequently to contract tuberculosis and sent to Lisbon where she later died.

Lucia at the age of 14 was admitted as a border to the school of the ‘Sisters of St. Dorthy in Vilar and in 1925 entered the institute, making her first vows in 1928 and her perpetual vows in 1934 receiving the name, Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother.

In 1946 seeking a more contemplative life, Lucia entered the ‘Carmelite Convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she made her profession as a declared Carmelite in 1949 and took the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

On the 50th anniversary in 1967 of the apparitions she received as a child, Sister Lucia traveled back to Fatima, the event was presided over by Pope Paul VI in 1982 she returned again, when Pope Saint John Paul II came to the shrine to give thanks for the saving of his life during an assassination attempt a year earlier, subsequently she returned twice more in 1991 and on 13 May, 2000 when Pope Saint John Paul II beatified Jacinta and Francisco Shepherd’s of Fatima

Sister Lucia and Saint John Paul IISister Lucia and Pope Saint John Paul II –Courtesy of: Unam Sanctam

Sister Lucia mission in life came to an end in 2005, her funeral Mass was held at the Cathedral of Coimbra and was laid to rest at the convent where she spent many years until a place  for permanent entombment for her body at the Basilica in Fatima, where Francisco and Jacinta were laid to rest.

In 2008 Sister Lucia was Beatified by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI waiving the traditional 5 year waiting period, this rule was also waived for Sister Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Saint John Paul II

More on Blessed Jancita here on Blessed Francisco here and on Blessed Sister Lucia here from EWTN