During this week we celebrate a plethora of saints including the feasts of Saint Maximilian Kolbe on Saturday, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary on Sunday, the Feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary on Monday, the Feast of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal on Wednesday, the Feast of Saint John Eudes on Thursday, the Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux on Friday, the Feast of Pope Saint Pius X on Saturday and, though it is superceded by Sunday's Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on all these feasts, click on LITURGY
Friday, August 13, 1999
Friday August 13: Nineteenth Friday in Ordinary Time Feast of Pope Saint Pontian and Saint Hippolytus, Martyrs
FEAST OF POPE SAINT PONTIAN AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, MARTYRS
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, is recognized as an important theologian to the early Church, 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. Both saints died of exhaustion in 235, Hippolytus in Sardinia, and Pontian on the tiny isle of Tavolara. It was the twentieth Vicar of Christ Pope Saint Fabian who oversaw the return of both saints' bodies to Rome for a proper burial in 237.
FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN MARY KOLBE, PRIEST AND MODERN MARTYR
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
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 DeusPius 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).' For prayers to Our Lady on her Assumption, please see Devotions on the Assumption.
Monday, August 16, 1999
Monday August 16: Twentieth Monday in Ordinary Time and Feast of Saint Stephen of Hungary, Husband, Father and Ruler
FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF HUNGARY, HUSBAND, FATHER AND RULER
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.
SAINT JANE FRANCIS DE CHANTAL, WIFE, MOTHER AND RELIGIOUS FOUNDER
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.
Thursday, August 19, 1999
Thursday August 19: Twentieth Thursday in Ordinary Time and Feast of Saint John Eudes, Priest, Educator and Religious Founder
SAINT JOHN EUDES, PRIEST, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER AND EDUCATOR
Known for his tremendous devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, Saint John Eudes was born in 1601 in Normandy, France. The first born of seven children, John was given an excellent Catholic education by his parents who sent him to the Jesuit schools and later the Congregation of the Oratory in Paris. At the youthful
age of 24 John was ordained an Oratorian priest and later became the superior general of the Order in Caen. It
was a good training ground for this saint who at the age of 42 left the Oratorians so he could begin a new order
- the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, dedicated to the Two Hearts with the principal purpose of fostering
vocations and establishing reputable seminaries for forming virtuous future priests who would reach out to all -
the sick, poor and dying included. A year later John founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of
Charity which later became the Institute of the Good Shepherd. Throughout his life, St. John Eudes preached relentlessly in the cities and seminaries. During the time of plague he spent two solid months with very little rest ministering to infirm and dying souls. He became a spiritual physician of the highest degree with total
dedication and consecration to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts which became the symbol for his Order,
commonly called Eudists. On August 19, 1680 this French saint died at the age of 79, his earthly mission
SAINT BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, ABBOT AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
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.
Born Joseph Sarto in 1835 near Treviso, Italy at Riese, this young parish priest went on to become one of the greatest Popes ever - Pope Saint Pius X - the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. Prior to his elevation to the papacy he was ordained Bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became Cardinal Sarto in 1893. Against his own wishes he was unanimously elected the 257th pontiff in the line of Peter at the conclave on August 9, 1903. His pontificate was one of great accomplishments from his liturgical reforms in the Breviary, Mass, and Gregorian Chant to his establishing that all children who had reached the age of reason could receive Holy Communion. He promulgated a new Catechism and the Code of Canon Law and established the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.) He decreed the elevation of the Holst and Chalice at the Consecration of the Mass and was known for his staunch defense of the conservative Church and opposed staunchly to liberalism. He deplored diplomacy in the face of all of the hypocrism and false dealings between nations and many believe the loss of so many lives at the outbreak of World War I contributed to his early death on August 21, 1914, 22 days after war had broken out. His last words were: "To restore all things in Christ, so that Christ may be all in all." That was his motto throughout his eleven year papacy. Today his body is still incorrupt, having been moved from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1959 to his home diocese of Venice, thus bringing true his last words to the Venetians before Cardinal Sarto headed off to the conclave in 1903, "Living or dead, I shall return." Venice sent the Church a great pontiff, now Holy Mother Church was returning a great saint.
First Reading:Isaiah 22: 19-23 Psalms:Psalm 138:1-3, 6, 8 Second Reading:Romans 11: 33-36 Gospel Reading:Matthew 16: 13-20
Though Ordinary Time supersedes the feast, August 22nd is traditionally the Feast of the Queenship of Mary:
QUEENSHIP OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
This special feast is the natural progression of what took place after Mary's Assumption into Heaven. Like our
present pontiff Pope John Paul II, his Holiness Pope Pius XII was a devotee of the Blessed Mother and proclaimed four years after decreeing the Assumption dogma that the Queenship of Mary would be celebrated henceforth on May 31. This was accomplished through his encyclical Ad Coeli Reginam in commemoration of the one hundred anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In the Canticle of Mary recited on the feast of the Assumption there is theological substantiation for this feast as we read, "Today the Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven; rejoice, for she reigns with Christ forever." After Vatican II it was moved to August 22nd as the octave day of the Assumption so Holy Mother Church could properly link her elevation to this glory with the crowning glory of Mary as Queen of the Angels and the Saints. In Lumen Gentium it says "The Immaculate Virgin...was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf Apocalypse 19: 16) and conqueror of sin and death." In AAS 38, Pius declared: "Mary is queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest and by singular election." He also proclaimed in Ineffabilis Deus that her queenship should be venerated "as something extraordinary, wondrous, [and] eminently holy." There is no record of a demand for this feast prior to the 20th Century but medieval hymns proclaim often Mary's title as Queen such as Salve Regina, Regina Coeli, and Ave Regina Coelorum. In the Litany of the BVM or Litany of Loreto she is proclaimed Queen in 12 instances beginning with "Queen of angels" to "Queen of peace." There is also the fifth mystery of the Rosary: The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. For a special prayer to the Queen of Heaven and Earth, see Devotions.