LITURGY OF THE SAINTS: August 27-29, 2001

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.

Feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

    "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: 15-16
   It was the combined efforts of two saints who had the greatest effects on the life of one of the great Doctors of the Church Saint Augustine of Hippo. As we saw from the previous day, Augustine's mother Saint Monica played a major behind the scenes role in his conversion, while Saint Ambrose was on the front line with Augustine, who had become a great skeptic, teaching, influencing and converting him. Augustine was born in Tagaste in what is today Algeria on November 13, 354. By the time he was 30 he was preaching rhetoric, interspersed with Manichean heresy, at the university of Milan. It was there he met St. Ambrose and sat in on his lectures where he was enthralled with Ambrose's explanation of Sacred Scripture. In 356 Augustine heard a voice while he was embroiled in abandoned tears of helplessness searching for answers. The child-like voice chanted, "Take and read." Without thinking Augustine opened the Bible to the words of Saint Paul in Romans 13:13-14 which said, "Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts." He was so moved that he asked Ambrose if he could be baptized and then immediately told his mother Monica that he wanted to be baptized. Both she and Ambrose were delighted beyond belief. Monica firmly insisted that in order to be in full union with the Church he had to abandon his Manichean beliefs and forsake living with his girl friend and their three children illegitimately conceived. Augustine agreed, was baptized and then buried his mother the same year. Shortly after Monica's death he returned to Africa and was ordained a priest at the age of 36. During this time he dedicated full time to righting and writing the wrongs he had wrought to so many through his Manichean ideas. At the young age of 41 Augustine was consecrated the Bishop of Hippo where he preached and served the people for the rest of his life, defending the Church against all types of heresies. Even though a bishop, he still lived in community with fellow priests and wrote constantly beginning with his major works Confessions which was basically a catechism for all catechumens along with his great work Christian Doctrine. In 410, as the Goth Alaric was laying siege to Rome Augustine wrote his most famous opus - City of God. His great words, "Too late have I loved You, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You" show how God became the end-all and be-all in his life which ended at the age of 76 on August 28, 430 as the Vandals were storming the gates of Hippo. To preserve his body from the Vandals, the Augustinians stole him away to Sardinia where he was laid to rest, and later transferred to Pavia. Though Augustine's works were appreciated during his lifetime, it wasn't until after his death that his words really took root and was celebrated as a Doctor of the Church from the eighth century on, becoming official in the eleventh century. Today St. Augustine is revered as one of the greatest and learned scholars of the Church. His conversion proves the power of God's love and the power of the Word of God.

        Give ear to our supplications, almighty God; and at the intercession of Blessed Augustine, Thy Confessor and Bishop, bestow upon us, who hope and trust in Thee, Thy loving kindness, the fruit of Thine unfailing mercy. 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.

Martyrdom and Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

    "Be not afraid in their presence; for I will make thee not to fear their countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land to the king of Juda, to the princes thereof and to the priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee."
      Jeremias 1: 16-19
  The first martyrdom of the New Testament is attributed to Saint John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod at the urging of Herodius' daughter Salome who demanded the head of the baptist on a plate (cf. Matthew 14: 1-12). John had been thrown in prison because he would not reneg on his assertion that Herod could not marry his brother's wife Herodius, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Herod had feared doing anything to John for he knew John was a just and holy man and there would be great repercussions if any harm came to the man they called "the Baptist." But in a weak, lustful moment Herod backed himself into a corner by granting Salome anything she wanted and Herodius talked her into demanding that John be beheaded. Though Herod did not want to do this, he would be publicly humiliated if he went back on his promise and therefore relented. Within moments he commanded the executioner to do the dastardly deed and shortly thereafter presented the decapitated head on a dish to Salome who immediately discarded it, giving it to her mother Herodius who had gotten her temporal revenge but would be forever condemned. When the disciples heard of this they came and took John's body away and gave him a proper burial as Jesus wept. John's skull was venerated in a Samarian crypt where the skull was discovered around the 4th Century. The feast of his martyrdom was first celebrated in the East a century later and then in the 7th Century celebrated by Rome for the universal Church as the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. There are reports that John's skull was moved to the church of St. Sylvester in Rome, but this cannot be fully authenticated.

       O Lord, we beseech Thee that the honored festival of Holy John Baptist, Thy Forerunner and Martyr, may be to us an aid to our salvation. Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Feast of Saints Felix and Saint Adauctus, Martyrs
and Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin

Thursday, August 30, 2001

    "But He said to them, 'I was watching satan fall as lightning from Heaven. Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the might of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. But do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; rejoice rather in this, that your names are written in Heaven."
      Luke 10: 18-20
   Saint Felix, a Roman priest, was martyred under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian. As he was dying an unknown Christian joined him at the last moment. Both were beheaded in 303 A.D. Because the Church did not know the name of the young man who joined Felix they called him Adauctus - Latin for the "added one." Though he was not known on earth, he and Felix are well known in Heaven.

       Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who acknowledge the courage of Thy glorious Martyrs in confessing Thy Name, may enjoy their loving intercession for us before 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.

   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."

August 27-29, 2001
volume 12, no. 146
Return to Homeport Page