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.

Feast of Saint Hyacinth, Confessor

Friday, August 17, 2001

    "But this know ye, that if the householder did know what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be you then ready, for at what hour you think not the Son of Man will come. "
      Luke 12: 39-40
   Hyacinth Ronksi, a Pole, was originally a canon of the Cathedral of Cracow. Having gone to Rome, he became acquainted with Saint Dominic and was admited into the Order of Friars Preachers by the holy Founder himself. He returned to Poland where he labored for the establishment of the Dominicans in Poland and died there in 1257.

       O God, Who dost make us to rejoice in the yearly solemnity of Blessed Hyacinth, Thy Confessor; mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his Heavenly birthday, may likewise imitate his deeds. 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.
Saint Jane de Chantal, Wife, Mother and Religious Foundress

Saturday, August 18, 2001

    "He that loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal. If any man minister to Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall My minister be. If any man minister to Me, him will My Father honor."
      John 12: 24-25
   She was born in Dijon, France in 1572, the daughter of Benigne Fremyot, president of the parliament in Burgundy, and married at twenty to Baron Christopher de Chantal who died in 1601. Nobility and riches were there for the asking for Saint Jane Francis de Chantal, but she used them wisely for the honor and glory of God. After nine years of marriage and seven children, Jane became a widow when her husband was killed in a hunting accident. Three years later she was touched in the deepest way by a sermon of Saint Francis de Sales for it was he who she had seen in a previous vision and because of this spiritual experience, persuaded him to be her spiritual director. After securing stability for her children, she turned to religious life. Though she had a strong desire to become a Carmelite nun, Francis realized her mission lay elsewhere and through his wise counsel she, along with three other women Charlotte de Brechard, Anne Coste, and Mary Favre began the Congregation of the Visitation, dedicated to helping young girls and widows consider a traditional, contemplative religious life. Satan did all in his power to discredit this fledgling order and dissuade Jane from her appointed mission by tormenting her soul greatly but God's Will won out and the Order spread throughout France and beyond over the next three decades. Jane died on December 13 at Moulins shortly after a meeting with Queen Anne in Paris. She was buried by Lake Annecy near her dear spiritual director Francis, who had passed away nineteen years earlier. Jane was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767.

Feast of Saint Agipitus, Martyr

Saturday, August 18, 2001

   Saint Agapitus was only fifteen years when he was subjected to great torture by the vile Roman emperor Diocletian. After brutal beatings, he was beheaded in 275 at Praesneste outside Rome.

       Graciously hear us, O God or our salvation; that even as we commemorate the martyrdom of Thy Blessed Apapitus, Thy loyal servant, we may likewise possess the fortitude to resist all temptations and direct our hearts to Thee alone. 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.
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, August 19, 2001

    "He put His fingers into his ears, and spitting, He touched his tongue; and looking up to Heaven, He groaned and said to him: 'Ephpheta', that is, 'Be thou opened:' and immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right. And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them so much the more a great deal did they publish it; and so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well; He hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."
      Mark 7: 33-37
  On this eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, the Church puts her hope in God from Whom she receives her help. Our Lord has healed the wounds of mankind and has given us strength, Infinite charity and mercy of God. gives us a true notion of Christian humility.

        When thou art troubled and afflicted, then is the time of merit. Thou must pass through fire and water before thou come to refreshment.
    Daily Thought from The Following of Christ

Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Monday, August 20, 2001

    "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, Who is in Heaven."
      Matthew 5: 13-16
   A rebirth of the Cistercian Order can be attributed to a great Cistercian saint born in Burgundy, France in 1090: Saint Bernard. He entered the Cistercian abbey in Citeaux, France in 1113, convincing thirty friends and relatives to join him. Naturally, this influx led to the revival of the Cistercian Order and within three years of becoming a priest, Bernard was sent with twelve others to establish a new monastery at Clairvaux which was to be the daughter house of Citeaux. Bernard was chosen Abbot and as word of his devotion and knowledge grew the people sought him out from the poorest peasants to bishops, kings and Popes. One of them, Pope Blessed Eugene III commissioned Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe which also enabled Bernard to found many monasteries in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Sicily and even Syria. Kings beseeched him to serve as a peacemaker whenever possible and Bernard was revered not only for his holy life, but for his great writings. One of the greatest prayers he wrote was the Memorare to Our Lady. He was devoted heart and soul to his Crucified Lord and received many visions and messages through private revelation, one of which was his zeal to help the suffering Christ so that he offered to help Him bear the terrible suffering of the cross. Christ comforted Bernard and inspired him to carry His word and faith to all parts of Europe and the mideast, entreating the saint to defend the true pontiff Pope Innocent II as opposed to the antipope Anaclete II. Bernard died peacefully on August 20, 1153 five weeks after the death of his pontiff Blessed Eugene III. Bernard, also known as "Hammer of heretics", was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1174 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1830 by Pope Pius VIII.

    Memorare   Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence we fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins our Mother. To thee do we come, before thee do we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.
    Memorare Prayer composed by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
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