Feast of the Vigil of Saint Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon.

Thursday, August 9, 2001

    "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it. "
      Matthew 16: 24-25
  In the past this feast was reserved for Saint John Vianney, Confessor and Cure d'Ars whose feast was moved back to the day of his death on August 4th, 1859. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1925. St. Lawrence is one of the most famous Martyrs of the innumerable Roman persecutions and we will detail his life in the next issue.

       Almighty and most merciful God, Who didst endow Blessed John Mary with wondrous pastoral zeal and great fervor in prayer and penitence, grant, through his example and intercession, we beseech Thee, that we may gain the souls of our brethren for Christ and, with them, may arrive at everlasting glory. 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.
Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Friday, August 10, 2001

    "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels: and then will He render to every man according to his works. "
      Matthew 16: 26
   Considered the first deacon of the Church, Saint Lawrence was born in Spain. He was summoned from Toledo to Rome by Pope Sixtus II in 257 and appointed a deacon with the responsibilities of assisting the Holy Father in celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and helping distribute Holy Communion. He was also placed in charge of Church property dispensing the offerings given by Christians to the poor and needy. Present when the Romans seized Pope Sixtus II, Lawrence wept bitterly, sad that he could not join his holy pontiff, but Sixtus consoled him as he was being led off, "Do not cry, my son; in three days you will follow me." True to his word, Lawrence was arrested on the third day and the governor ordered Lawrence turn over the coffers of the Church to him. Escorted by Roman soldiers, Lawrence headed out to retrieve the treasures for the governor. Little did the governor know that Lawrence was not gathering the monetary wealth, but rather the poor and the sick who he herded into the governor's palace and proclaimed: "These are the real treasures of the Church." Incensed, the governor ordered Lawrence to be placed on a gridiron and slowly roasted over burning coals, surmising that the young deacon would fess up where the monetary treasures were once he got singed. But to his dismay, Lawrence offered it all up in joyful gratitude that he could die for Jesus. Always witty, Lawrence infuriated the governor even further when he replied jovially, "Turn me over; I'm done on this side." He joined Sixtus II in Heaven on August 10th, 258 with a smile and a prayer on his lips.

Saint Clare, Virgin and Religious Foundress

Saturday, August 11, 2001

    "Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. But at last came also the other virgins, saying 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But He answering, said: 'Amen, I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour."
      Matthew 25: 10-13
  So impressed was Saint Clare of Assisi by the Lenten sermon of Saint Francis of Assisi that she fled her wealthy home at the age of 18. Rather than submitting to her parents' wishes to be married to an influential nobleman, she submitted to Christ and on Palm Sunday in 1212 received the habit from Francis at the Portiuncula. Because Francis had no convent, Clare became a Benedictine nun at St. Paul in Bastia. Her life of edification and example convinced her own sister Agnes and mother to join her in the convent. This catapulted into more aristocratic women joining and soon Francis decided to build a house next to the church at San Damiano where he appointed Clare in 1215 the Mother Superior, a position she held for forty years. Thus the Order of the Poor Clares were founded, though they were at first called "The Poor Ladies of San Damiano." At Francis' request, Pope Gregory IX drew up the first Rule for Clare and her fellow sisters in 1228. The nuns were so intent on practicing an austere life that Francis several times had to step in and reprimand them for being too severe on themselves. Yet Clare insisted on the strict vow of poverty and sought out Pope Innocent IV to receive from him assurance that this vow would be upheld and respected by the Church which his namesake Pope Innocent III and successor Gregory IX had assured. She did this knowing full well the temptations of receiving property and gifts from noble families who sought to bestow their wealth on the Church by lavishing the clergy and religious with gifts in return for favors. Clare wanted this vow to be pure and free from any tainting. Some of the popes rescinded this vow and many of the orders as well as some of those under Francis opted for modification of the rule which relaxed the vow of poverty. Clare would have none of it and she drew up a stricter rule in the spirit of Francis' rule guaranteeing absolute poverty for the Order.

    Throughout her life Clare sought from the supreme pontiffs the privilege of not receiving any privileges except the grace of God. This dedication to shunning everything of the world to embrace God and His Will paid off in dividends as vocations multiplied a hundredfold while the other orders suffered in recruiting. It was an omen of what has happened today in the religious orders. Those who have stuck by the strict rule their founders established have flourished while those who have slacked off, turning their back on the traditions of their orders, are closing their doors for lack of vocations and inspiration.

    Clare's dedication and persistence was an inspiration to priests, bishops and even popes during her lifetime. They sought her out for consultation and often offered generous remuneration for her time, but always she refused. Clare grieved greatly at the death of Francis but realized God had much more work for her to finish before He called her home to be with the humble founder of the Franciscans. Clare always had a deep and abiding love for Jesus, especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament and, in 1241 when the Emperor Frederick II threatened at the walls of Assisi, she confidently climbed to the top of the fortress and there held aloft the Eucharist within the Monstrance. She is often depicted in this manner. In the same miraculous way Pope Leo the Great had stopped Attila the Hun at the gates of Rome, Clare's heartfelt prayers were answered and Frederick retreated. Twelve years later, on August 11, 1253 Clare closed her eyes in Assisi for the final time. It was time to join Francis in Heaven. Less than two years after her death Pope Alexander IV canonized this holy foundress of the Poor Clare nuns.

Feast of the Martyrs Saint Tiburtius and Saint Susanna, Virgin

Saturday, August 11, 2001

   The Roman deacon Tiburtius, son of the prefect of Rome, was beheaded after suffering many cruel torments in 286 A.D. Nine years later the vile emperor Diocletian continued his onslaught, reacting in outrage that the holy virgin of high lineage Susanna refused to marry his son. For that she was grieviously tortured and then beheaded in 295.

       Graciously hear us, O God or our salvation; that even as we rejoice in the festival of Blessed Clare, Thy Virgin, so likewise we may be taught to be loving and devout toward 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.
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, August 12, 2001

    "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one was a pharisee and the other a publican. The pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give Thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; as also is this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his eyes towards Heaven, but struck his breast saying: 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
      Luke 18: 10-14
  On this tenth Sunday after Pentecost, the Church gives us a true notion of Christian humility. The liturgy reminds us that the humble soul is pleased to recognize its nothingness; only on this condition (and the soul knows it), will the virtute of Our Lord Jesus Christ dwell in us.

       Think not thyself wholly forsaken, though for a time I have sent thee some tribulation, or withdrawn from thee thy wished-for consolation; for this is the way to the kingdom of Heaven.
    Daily Thought from The Following of Christ

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.
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