Pope St. Pontian Feast of the Martyrs Saint Hippolytus, Saint Cassian and Pope Saint Pontian

Monday, August 13, 2001

    "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing hidden that shall not be known. For whatever things you have spoken in darkness shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops. And I say to you, My friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you shall fear: Fear ye him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you: Fear him."
      Luke 12: 1-5
  The eighteenth in the line of Peter was Pope Saint Pontian who was born in Rome and elected to the papacy on August 28, 230. He is known for ordering the chanting of the psalms which many mendicant orders still do today. He also instituted the use of the salutation "Dominus vobiscum" in the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which, of course, in the vernacular means "The Lord be with you" to which the congregation replies "and also with you." Saint Hippolytus, a Roman priest, and guardian of Saint Lawrence is recognized as an important theologian to the early Church and considered one of the most learned men of his time. In the Ambrosian rite he is venerated in the canon of the Mass. Both saints were exiled to Sardinia by the Emperor Maximus to a life of hard labor in the mines where Pontian was forced to vacate rule over Holy Mother Church because of his remote and isolated situation. While Pontian died of exhaustion on the tiny isle of Tavolara in 235. Hippolytus lived on in Sardinia and was killed in 260 A.D. when his captors tied his legs behind wild horses and he was dragged and battered over the streets and rocks. Saint Cassian was a schoolmaster in Imola who was pierced to death sixty years later by pagan pupils who were armed with sharp stilettos.

       Grant we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the honored festival of Thy Blessed Martyrs Pontian, Hippolytus and Cassian, may both increase our devotion and set forward our salvation. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption and Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

    "Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts that nursed Thee. But He said: 'Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.'"
      Luke 11: 27-28
   One of the most recent martyrs in modern Church history, Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe was a 47 year-old Franciscan priest from Poland who gave his own life through starvation at the notorious Auschwitz death camp on August 14, 1941 so that a young Jewish husband and father could live. He was born Raymond Kolbe in the Polish village of Zdunska Wola. At the age of 13 he entered the Conventual Franciscans, receiving the name "Maximilian." Twelve years later he was ordained a priest. Having survived World War I, Maximilian could easily discern that this truly was the age Our Lady had prophesied at LaSalette and Lourdes and just a few years after Fatima. Thus he formed an organization entitled "Militia of the Immaculate", devoted to recruitting loyal members to Mary's army. The fruits were a community of over 800 Franciscan men devoted totally to the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With their help he constructed a city in Poland from the ground up which he called the "City of the Immaculate." In his zeal to spread this devotion and movement, Maximilian journeyed to the Far East where, in 1930, he built a similar city close to Nagasaki, Japan. Due to failing health, Maximilian was forced to relinguish his plans there and return to his native Poland in 1936. There his heart sank for the Gestapo had confiscated all his organization's possessions and turned his beloved City of the Immaculate into a dreaded concentration camp. Three years later the Nazis invaded his homeland and he was immediately captured. However, he was freed by the Germans in hopes that he would not interfere with their cruel agenda. But this holy Franciscan, like his founder Saint Francis and countless other Franciscans after, realized God's agenda is above all else and thus Maximilian became a thorn in the Nazis' side. Consequently he was arrested again in 1941 and sentenced to Auschwitz. On July 31, 1941 one of the prisoners escaped. In retaliation the angry Germans sentenced ten innocent men to die for this transgression. Maximilian was not one of them, however he willingly offered to take the place of a young Jewish husband with a family. The Nazi commander accepted this trade and Maximilian was added to the list with nine others all of whom were deprived of all food and water and held in isolation. Two weeks later, on August 14 Maximilian passed on to his Heavenly reward with Our Lady guiding the way for her priest-son who had been so loyal during life.

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - Holy Day of Obligation

    "And Mary said: My doul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear Him."
      Luke 1: 46-50
   This feast celebrates the glorious Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was first called the "Dormition of Mary" in reference to Our Lady having supposedly "died" at her home in Ephesus. She was obeying the law of death, howver her death was not truly death as we know it but a 'gentle separation of the soul from the body' where her soul had reached such a level of love that it could no longer rest unless it was truly in the celestial bliss of the Triune Divinity. Thus her soul vacated her immaculate body to be reunited with her Son Jesus. But God so deigned that her immaculate body would be reunited with her immaculate soul so that He could raise her up body and soul into Heaven to be accorded the honors she had merited. The Apostle Saint John discovered her veil wafting to the earth from the sky and where her body had been lain were only beautiful flowers with heavenly music enveloping her tomb. He, along with the other Apostles and disciples, assumed correctly that she had been assumed into Heaven to be with her Divine Son. There is nothing in Sacred Scripture regarding thisspecific event but the Church has relied heavily on 2 Corinthians 5: 1 as well as tradition and private revelation to document her Assumption. This is specially true from the messages received by Saint Gregory of Tours in 549 and further substantiated by Saint Bridget of Sweden and Blessed Catherine Emmerich. The feast was first commemorated in 451 in the East and established as a feast for the entire Roman empire in 602 by the Emperor Maurice. It was grouped together with the feast of the Theotokos, Mother of God on January 1. In the 8th Century it was first given the official title of "Assumption of Mary" as found in the Gregorian Sacramentary. The Church commemorated this feast with a midnight procession from St. Adrian's in Rome to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. It wasn't until this century however, that the Church officially proclaimed Our Lady's Assumption as Dogma. That was done by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 after a four-year study in which the pontiff had polled all the Catholic Bishops of the world. Their response was overwhelmingly favorable. In his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus Pius XII stated, "The august Mother of God...gained at last the supreme crown of her privileges - to be preserved immune from the corruption of the tomb and, like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of Heaven." Pius XII's decree put the exclamation mark on what Pope Alexander II had stated in the 12th Century: "Mary conceived without detriment to her virginal modesty, brought forth her Son without pain, passed hence without decay, according to the word of the angel, or rather God speaking by the angel, that she might be shown to be full, not half-full of grace." This was a confirmation of Luke 1: and 1 John 3: 9 that the 'Mother of God was "full of grace" and could not be perfect as God foretold unless she remained incorruptible (cf 1 Corinthians 15: 54-57).'

        Mary, Queen Assumed into Heaven, I rejoice that after years of heroic martyrdom on earth, you have at last been taken to the throne prepared for you in Heaven by the Holy Trinity.
          Lift my heart with you in the glory of your Assumption above the dreadful touch of sin and impurity. Teach me how small earth becomes when viewed from Heaven. Make me realize that death is the triumphant gate through which I shall pass to your Son, and that someday my body shall rejoin my soul in the unending bliss of Heaven.
        From this earth, over which I tread as a pilgrim, I look to you for help. In honor of your Assumption into Heaven I ask for this favor: (Mention your request here).

        When my hour of death has come, lead me safely to the presence of Jesus to enjoy the vision of my God for all eternity together with you.
        Mary, my dear Mother and mighty Queen, take and receive my poor heart with all its freedom and desires, all its love and all the virtues and graces with which it may be adorned. All I am, all I might be, all I have and hold in the order of nature as well as of grace, I have received from God through your loving intercession, my Lady and Queen. Into your sovereign hands I entrust all, that it may be returned to its noble origin.
       Mary, Queen of every heart, accept all that I am and bind me to you with the bonds of love, that I may be yours forever, and may be able to say in all truth: "I belong to Jesus through Mary."
          My Mother, assumed into Heaven, I love you. Give me a greater love for Jesus and for you.
        Mary, Assumed into Heaven and Queen of the Universe, ever-Virgin Mother of God, obtain peace and salvation for us through your prayers, for you have given birth to Christ the Lord, the Savior of all mankind.
        Almighty, ever-living God, You raised to eternal glory the body and soul of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Your Son. Grant that our minds may always be directed Heavenward and that we may deserve to share in her glory. Amen.

        Mary, Assumed into Heaven, I venerate you as the Queen of Heaven and earth. Your own Son led you to a throne of glory in Heaven next to His own. As you tasted the bitterness of pain and sorrow with Him on earth, you now enjoy eternal bliss with Him in Heaven. I thank Jesus for having put a most beautiful crown upon your head, while all the Angels and Saints acclaim you as their Queen.
        Because here below you shared in all the mysteries of our Redemption, Jesus has crowned you not only with glory but with power. He placed you at His right hand that you may dispose of the treasures of grace by a singular title - that of Mother of God.
        In the midst of all the Saints you stand as their Queen and ours - dearer to the Heart of God than any creature in God's Kingdom. You pray for your children and distribute to us every grace won by our loving Savior on the Cross.
        Queen Assumed into Heaven, may your glorious beauty fill my heart with a distaste for earthly things and an ardent longing for the joys of Heaven.
        May your merciful eyes glance down upon my struggles and my weakness in this vale of tears. Crown me with the pure robe of innocence and grace here, and with immortality and glory in Heaven. Amen.

Feast of Saint Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary

Thursday, August 16, 2001

    "Blessed is the man that is found without blemish, and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting."
      Wisdom 31: 8-10
   The holy Patriarch Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne, and the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast, originally kept on March 20, was transferred to the day following the Assumption, in order to associate the Blessed Daughter and her father in their triumph. The new liturgy lumped him together with Anne on July 26th.

       O God, Who, of all Thy Saints, didst choose Blessed Joachim to be the father of the Mother of Thy Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that we who celebrate his festival may ever experience his advocacy with Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary

Thursday, August 16, 2001

  He was born to be a king, but he strove to be a saint and, in so doing, gave birth to a new nation that would be rooted in Catholicism. That is the epitaph of Saint Stephen of Hungary whose rule spanned the first and second millennium. Born as Vaik in Asztergom, Hungary in 970 of a pagan Magyar king and Christian queen mother, her influence won out and Stephen was baptized at the age of ten, being given the Christian name of Stephen. In an effort to strengthen the monarchy, Stephen was married to Gisela, sister of the duke of Bavaria who happened to be the future Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor. In 977 Stephen's father died and he fended off those who would overthrow the family. Through prayer and perseverance he strengthened the Christian union with Germany, and through the influence of Henry II, was crowned the first king of all of Hungary in 1002 by Pope Silvester II who had personally sent Stephen a special crown. Incidentally this same crown was recovered by the U.S. troops druing World War II and returned to Hungary in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. Stephen not only unified the entire country but was most instrumental in bringing the faith to his constituents, establishing episcopates in various areas of his country while building monasteries and churches to serve the new converts. He is considered the father of Hungary - the father of Catholicism in this land, long ruled by pagans. His only son, who became Saint Emeric, was killed in a hunting accident in 1031 and for the next seven years of Stephen's life he mourned greatly for his beloved son while fending off those who would usurp his power. At the age of 68 Stephen died on August 15, 1038 in Szekesfehervar, Hungary and was canonized as Hungary's patron saint forty five years later by the great reformer Pope Saint Gregory VII.

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