Saint Philip Benizi, Confessor and Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin

Thursday, August 23, 2001

    "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Make to yourselves purses which do not grow old, a treasure unfailing in Heaven, where neither theif draws near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
      Luke 12: 32-34
  Saint Philip Benizi was born at Florence of the noble family of Benizi. He entered the Order of the Servites as a lay brother and later was ordained a priest. Later in life he was made Superior General of his Order and might have succeeded Pope Clement IV in 1265, but felt unworthy and retreated out of the public light to pray, not emerging until the Holy Abbot Hildebrand was chosen as Clement's successor and took the name Pope Gregory X who today is a saint. St. Benizi was a great orator, ministering throughout Italy, Germany and France as well as administrator as provincial of his Order, who, in the autumn of his life, withdrew from the active ministry to a more contemplative life of prayer and solitude. He died this day in 1285 during the pontificate of Pope Honorius IV, the thirteenth Pontiff during St. Philip's lifetime.

   Regarded as the first canonized saint of the New World, Saint Rose of Lima was born of humble Spanish parents in 1586 and baptized Isabel Flores y de Oliva. However her parents were so taken by her beauty and innocent that they gave her the "nickname" Rose from early infancy. At the turn of the 17th Century she was confirmed by Saint Turibus, the archbishop of Lima. So influenced was she by St. Turibus and three other contemporary saints - Saint Martin de Porres, Saint John Macias (both Dominicans) and Saint Francis Solano, a Franciscan, that Rose rejected a grandiose and secure marriage proposal opting to enter the Dominicans and become a Tertiary nun, politely telling her suitor who fawned over her beauty, "Only beauty of the soul is important." Marriage to this rich nobleman would have secured her and her family for life in worldly wealth, but she disdained it all for eternal wealth. Jesus had asked her to be a life-long virgin through private revelation and visions in which He requested, "Rose of My Heart, be My spouse." She dedicated her life to penance, visiting the poor with food and faith and offering her life as a victim soul while founding the first monastery of cloistered nuns in Peru, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena. Because of her total dedication to God's Will she became a serious threat to satan and was put through fierce trials by the evil one but in every instance came out smelling like God's Rose. In the mid 17th Century a fleet of Dutch ships sailed into the Peruvian harbor and all of Lima was terrified except Rose who ran to the altar before the Tabernacle in petition for her townspeople and willing to die to protect the Blessed Sacrament. Through her prayers, the Dutch mysteriously left and Rose's wish to die a martyr was denied so that God could take her home peacefully on August 24, 1617. Upon her death all of Lima immediately venerated her as a saint. It wasn't until 55 years later that she was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671 and also declared "patroness of the Americas."

       O God, Who didst give unto us a noble pattern of humility in Blessed Philip, Thy Confessor, and Blessed Rose, Thy pure servant, grant that we Thy subjects may follow their example by despising earthly prosperity and by seeking after Heavenly things. 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 Bartholomew, Apostle

Friday, August 24, 2001

    "He called unto Him His disciples; and He chose twelve of them (whom also He named Apostles), Simon whom He surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor."
      Luke 6: 13-16
   One of the Apostles chosen by Jesus, was Nathanael, better known as Saint Bartholomew. His closest friend was Saint Philip, a disciple of Saint John the Baptist whose martyrdom we commemorate later this month. Bartholomew came from Cana in Galilee. Bartholomew was renowned for his honesty and simple, strong faith. He is a great inspiration for Catholics today to hold strong to the true faith and renew our loyalty to the Holy Father and Holy Mother Church. St. Bartholomew knew implicitly that Jesus was the Messiah from his reply in John 1: 49, yet originally he is the one the famous quote in John 1: 46 is attributed to: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Jesus knew Bartholomew's heart when in John 1: 47 Christ said of Bartholomew's heart and soul, "Behold a true Israelite in whom there is no guile." This is a great tribute to this Apostle who was loyal to his Master throughout his apostolate which included India, Mesopotamia, Phrygia, and Arabia after Pentecost. He was marytred in Armenia by pagan Persians who literally skinned him alive peeling the skin from his body. His relics were brought to Rome in the 10th Century and established this day for his feast for the universal Church. His skull was also recovered and venerated in Frankfurt, Germany since 1238. This Apostle is revered as Patron of the Sick.

       Almighty, everlasting God, Who hast given us a reverent and holy joy in this day's festival of Thy Blessed Apostle Bartholomew, grant, we beseech Thee, that Thy Church may ever love what he believed, and may preach that which he taught. 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 Louis of France, King and Confessor

Saturday, August 25, 2001

    "And I say to you that to everyone who has shall be given; but from him who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away. But as for these My enemies, who did not want Me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them in My presence."
      Luke 19: 26-27
   Born into royalty on April 25, 1214 in Poissy, France, Saint Louis was crowned King of France in 1226 on the death of his father King Louis VIII. He had been raised in a staunch Catholic atmosphere by his mother Blanche of Castile, who became regent upon her husband's death until her son reached adulthood. The youthful Louis, one of the youngest rulers in French history, weaned on his faith by his mother exemplified his Catholicity throughout his life. It served him well in his long reign which was frought with great crisis including fending off those who would usurp his throne such as Thibault of Champagne. At the age of 20, Louis married the daughter of the Count of Provence, Margaret Berenger and they populated the royal court with eleven children. At the age of 28 Louis quelled rebellion in the south of France and followed that up by soundly defeating the English and King Henry III at the Battle of Taillebourg. With that accomplished, he turned his attention to bringing all the provinces in line with the king, securing this with victories over Guienne, Poitou and Toulouse. Satisfied that France was safe, Louis set his sights on his life-long goal to lead the Crusades in liberating the Holy Land in 1248. His ambitions, at first successful with victory over the Saracens at Damietta in 1249 met harsh reality at the Massacre of El Mansura when he was soundly defeated by the infidels. Historians have not been kind to Louis, claiming his crusade was ill-timed and poorly planned, but they overlook the fact Louis was a peacemaker evidence in Louis' ability to convince his Saracen captors to release him and his troops in order to reach the Holy Land. It was not a cheap gesture as he ransomed many treasures and emptied many a coffer to assure their safety. There in Jerusalem he stayed until 1254 when his beloved mother Blanche died, prompting him to return to France. Always opting for peaceful measures he brought calm to Flanders in 1256 and assured, through the Treaty of Paris with Henry III that the provinces of Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Poitou and Touraine would remain part of France in exchange for Cahors, Limoges and Perigueux as Brit territory. He followed that up with the Treaty of Corbeil in 1258 by giving up Roussillon and Barcelona in order to secure Provence and Languedox from Aragon. Once a crusader, always a crusader and in 1270 he set out once again on an expedition to the Holy Lands. However he would not reach his promised land this time, succumbing to typhus, as well as his dear son Philip, at Tunis on the North African coast where he died on August 25, 1270 at the age of 56 leaving a legacy of peace and fairness to posterity. His last words were "Into Thy hands I commend my soul." Throughout his life he forged numerous peace treaties for allies and foes alike. He was a close friend of the great Doctor of the Church Saint Thomas Aquinas and endowed and founded the Sorbonne University as well as building impressive cathedrals drawing on the Gothic theme which flourished during his reign. He was a friend to vassals whom he protected, forbidding fighting between feudal lords and assuring they would not mistreat their subjects. Louis was a master of streamlining government while remaining always true to his word no matter what he said. He built France's first Naval operations and, despite his defeats in the Holy Land, was considered a master military technician. But war was only a last resort for this saintly king who desired, above all, peace at home and with his neighbors. He was greatly loved by all who prospered during his glorious reign of 44 years of peaceful coexistence with the other countries of Europe as France gained in prestige and profit through peace. One of his other goals was to reunite the Eastern Church with Rome, calling on the Greek Ambassadors to work with him toward reunion. What might have been never materialized for death deprived history of even greater accomplishments. History, however, cannot deny the fact that Louis, a Franciscan Tertiary, lived his faith and preached through example. In fact, this stately king lived the austerity of a monk, praying daily the Divine Office and attending Daily Mass. He received from the Latin emperor in Constantinople the priceless gift of the authentic Crown of thorns that pressed against Our Lord's skull. To honor this sacramental relic, Louis built the renowned Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Thirty seven years after his death Pope Boniface VII canonized Louis, who was a champion of both the poor and privileged classes.
        O God, Who didst remove Blessed Louis, Thy Confessor, from an earthly throne to the glory of the Heavenly kingdom, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his merits and prayers we may have fellowship with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, August 26, 2001

    "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I say to you, many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and they have not seen it; and to hear wht you hear, and they have not heard it."
      Luke 10: 23-24
  On this twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, we have been initiated into spiritual life by the Sacrament of Baptism, and strengthened, perfected, by the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Feast of Pentecost has celebrated the efficaciousness of Baptism and Confirmation: the graces and fruits given by the Holy Ghost. The law of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect development of the Law of Moses in which we are asked to not follow a pharisaical interpretation of the law which reduces our religious duties to a few outward practices, but rather to heed Christ's words in the parable of the good Samaritan. That shows us that our neighbor is every man, known or unknown, friend or enemy, to whom we are united by the bonds of Christian charity taught us by Jesus in healing our wounds.

        A great thing is love - a great good every way; which alone lighteneth all that is burdensome, and beareth equally all that is unequal. For it carrieth a burden without being burdened, and maketh all else that is bitter sweet and savory.
    Daily Thought from The Following of Christ

Feast of Pope Saint Zephyrinus, Martyr

Sunday, August 26, 2001

  Pope Saint Zephyrinus was the 15th successor of Peter whose pontificate lasted from 199 until 217 when he suffered martyrdom under the Roman emperor Heliogabalus. Zephyrinus decreed that all those faithful 14 and over should receive Holy Communion at Easter. He wrestled with many theological struggles during his papacy, the most painful was the excommunication of Tertullian. It was Zephyrinus who introduced the use of the paten into the Liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

        Look graciously upon Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and through Blessed Zephyrinus, Thy Martyr and Supreme Pontiff, whom Thou didst appoint as Pastor of the Universal Church, preserve the same under Thy continual protection. 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 Monica, Mother of Saint Augustine

Monday, August 27, 2001

    "Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in My Name, receiveth Me."
      Matthew 18: 2-5
   Born into a Christian family in the village of Tagaste, Northern Africa in 332, Saint Monica learned at an early age the virtues of patience and obedience which she exhibited throughout her lifetime. When she reached womanhood her parents married her off to a nobleman by the name of Patricius who was a kind husband, but possessed a terrible temper and a wanderlust which Monica tolerated because of her marriage vows. She tried to calm and win him over through her obedience and patience, always praying that he would realize the error of his ways and come to see the only answer was God. Her prayers were answered in 371 when Patricius received Baptism as he lay dying. This patient love and total faith in God's Providence was transfered from Patricius to their son Augustine who was 17 when his father died, leaving Monica a widow. Though Augustine had begun studying as a catechumen his father's genes took hold and her son opted for the world, also being led down the wrong path by Manichean heresy rationalizing that he wasn't responsible for his own free will. Oh, how wrong he was and Monica knew it, but rather than alienating her son she opened her arms to him using the psychology of catching more flies with honey than vinegar. But her loving protection backfired as Augustine fled to Italy to do his own thing. Monica would not see her son for 15 more years when, under the influence of Saint Ambrose, Augustine's heart and mind finally discovered the truth and invited his mother to Ostia, Italy in 387 where, on Easter Sunday at the age of 33, Augustine was finally baptized into the true faith and a mother's patient prayers were finally answered. It had been her dying wish to see him come back to the Church and shortly after she passed on to her heavenly reward in the same year. Little did Monica realize how powerful were her prayers and what a gift her son would give back to Holy Mother Church as a great Doctor who had been tutored by another great Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose. Monica has become the role model for mothers everywhere especially mothers who have wayward children or offspring that have fallen away. Persevering prayer does indeed pay off, not necessarily in our timetable but in God's time. That is where patience and obedience play such a vital role. In 1586 St. Monica was officially added to the Roman Calendar by Pope Sixtus V and her relics were moved from Ostia to the church of St. Augustine where her son's relics rested and once again mother and son were reunited on earth as they were reunited in Heaven on Augustine's death in 430 AD.

        O God, the Comforter of thoses who mourn and the Salvation of all who hope in Thee, Who didst mercifully regard the loving tears of Blessed Monica by willing the conversion of Augustine, her son, grant us, through their united intercession, grace to deplore our sins and so to find Thy pardon and favor. 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 Joseph Calasanctius, Confessor, Religious Founder and Educator

Monday, August 27, 2001

   Like Saint Louis, the holy priest Saint Joseph Calasanz was born into royalty. Joseph was the youngest son of the Count Pedro Calasanz from the Castle of Peralta de la Sal in Aragon, Spain. Having the wherewithal to persue his studies, Joseph studied in the finest universities and went on to teach civil and canon law at the University of Alcala before becoming a priest in 1584, despite his father's vocal desire that Joseph become a career soldier. His career was indeed as a soldier, but as a special soldier of Christ. He was appointed Vicar General of his diocese and was soon summoned to Rome where he became theologian for Cardinal Ascanio Colonna. It was in the eternal city that Joseph became renowned for his work with the poor and the sick during the plague of 1595, as well as educating the underprivileged children. In 1597, with the aid of two other priests, he opened a school with no tuition for poor students. Some competitive institutions, who charged great sums to educate, mounted a smear campaign to discredit Fr. Calasanz and his fellow priests as well as their curriculum. It became so vicious that Pope Clement VIII conducted a thorough investigation and found Joseph's school and all parties involved above reproach. So impressed was the Holy Father that he put the school under papal protection which created more schools throughout Italy as well as Bohemia, Germany, Moravia and Poland. This subsequently resulted in the recognition of the religious order of the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools where St. Calasanz served as the first superior general. However, as is so often the case with new religious communities, satan tries his darndest to divide and conquer. So also with Fr. Calasanz' organization as some of his close associates within the order decided to follow their own agenda and the bickering and backbiting provided a tremendous cross for this holy, dedicated priest. One of his great friends Fr. Mario Sozzi turned on Joseph which resulted in the latter being removed as superior general and Sozzi being appointed. Shortly after Sozzi died and his successor Fr. Cherubini followed Sozzi's policies, much to the detriment of the order which was placed under investigation by Pope Innocent X and dissolved in 1646. In its place the pontiff ordered all priests who wished to continue to form a new society of secular priests that they would be subject to their local bishop. He called upon Fr. Cherubini to draw up a new constitution, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forging of a new order; Fr. Cherubini was caught skimming funds from Nazarene College where he was rector. He was forced to resign and, after a period of repentance, reconciled with Joseph who he realized had been greatly maligned by Sozzi and his cohorts. Shortly thereafter Joseph (also known as Saint Joseph Calasanctius), still broken hearted but trusting in God, died on August 25, 1648 in Rome at the ripe age of 92. He would not live to see the fruits of his labors as eight years later his order was reformed and recognized in 1669 as a religious order known as the Piarists by Pope Clement IX. Ninety eight years later he was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767 and proclaimed patron saint of popular Christian schools by Pope Pius XII in 1948.

        O God, Who, by means of Holy Joseph, Thy Confessor, didst provide Thy Church with new assistants for the training of the young in a spirit of love and understanding, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his teaching and example we may so strive and so teach as to win rewards eternal. 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.

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