This weekend we celebrate four saints - Saint Hedwig, wife, mother and religious; Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious and Mystic; Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr; and on Sunday, even though it is superseded by the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist. For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on the above feasts for this weekend, click on LITURGY
Friday, October 16, 1998
Friday October 16: Twenty-eighth Friday in Ordinary Timeand Feast of Saint HedwigWife, Mother and Religious and Feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious and Mystic
This little known saint Saint Hedwig, who was known as the Duchess of Silesia, was the daughter of Count Berthold IV of Bavaria. Hedwig was born in 1174 into a very devout Catholic family with royal ties. Her two brothers were both bishops and one sister was an abbess while another, the mother of Saint Elizabeth was the queen of Hungary, and still another who was married to King Philip II of France. Hedwig had been educated by the Benedictine nuns in the Kitzengen Monastery in Franconia and developed a great love for the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. But the religious life was not meant for Hedwig and, at the age of 12, she was married to Duke Henry I of Silesia . They had seven children. When Henry's father died in 1202 he succeeded to the dukedom and at Hedwig's urging he built a Cistercian Monastery in Polish Trebnitz, which became the first monastery for nuns in Silesia. Hedwig, who was a devoted wife and mother and totally giving in her generosity of time and money, along with her husband, founded many more monasteries as well as hospitals. Two of their children Henry II and Conrad came to bitter blows over the division of territories made by their father in 1112. Though Hedwig prayed and tried to counsel them, they still resisted and war brokeout between Henry I and Swatopluk of Pomerania for territorial rights. Siding with Henry I was Duke Ladislaus while Conrad sided against Ladislaus, lusting after the latter's lands. When Ladislaus was slain by Ladislaus' men in 1227, Henry II waged war against his brother Conrad. It was only through Hedwig acting as a peacemaker that the two brothers were reconciled. Hedwig's husband Henry I died in 1238 and three years later her son Henry II was felled on the battlefield near Wahlstadt at the hands of the ruthless Mongol Tartars. With both her husband and son gone, Hedwig retired to the Monastery at Trebnitz in Poland where she lived for another three years, passing away peacefully on October 15, 1243. She was canonized less than a quarter of a century later by Pope Clement IV in 1267 with many miracles attributed to her. She is considered the Patroness of Silesia which is today western Poland.
Feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious and Mystic
This simple Visitation nun was born Margaret Mary Alacoque on July 22, 1647 to Claude Alocoque and his wife Philiberte Lamyn Alacoque at L'Hautecour in Burgundy, France. When Claude died in 1655, Margaret was sent by her mother to the Poor Clares' school in Charolles where she stayed with her uncle who mistreated her badly. This in turn translated into rheumatic fever that found her bedridden for five years until she was 15. During this time she developed a special devotion for the Blessed Sacrament. Though she was courted by suitors, she declined all invitations to marriage and instead longed to be a bride of Christ as a Visitation nun at their convent at Paray-le-Monial and became a professed nun the following year. In 1667 she experienced her first mystical vision of Jesus. On December 27, 1673, when she was 26, Our Lord began the series of revelations to her that would last over a year and a half. Jesus confided to her that she was His chosen instrument to convey to the world all He revealed to her including Devotion to His Sacred Heart and the devotion of Nine First Fridays and Holy Hour and the graces inherent from observing these as well as establishing a feast specifically for His Most Sacred Heart. St. Margaret Mary in obedience went to her superior Mother de Saumaise but she was strongly rebuffed as all this being superstitious. Sr. Margaret was obedient but continued to pray that Mother Superior would see the light as Jesus continued to appear to her offering her guidance and a reassurance she was doing the right thing. Even though a group of theologians were called in to investigate, they refused to accept any of it as valid and this further alienated her from the members of her community and Mother de Saumaise who all thought Sr. Margaret was making a circus out of all of this. The only one who believed was her confessor Blessed Father Claud La Colombiere, who declared the visions genuine and valid. Sr. Margaret's prayers were answered when Mother de Saumaise was replaced in 1683 by Mother Melin, a dear friend who believed. She in turn selected Sr. Margaret as her assistant. Because of this appointment and the support of both the Father Confessor and Mother Superior the rest of the community changed their tune and began to believe. Shortly after that Sr. Margaret Mary was appointed Mistress of Novices and was overjoyed to see Mother Melin ordain that the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be officially celebrated at the convent on June 21, 1686. Two years later a chapel honoring the Sacred Heart was built at Paray-le-Monial with a beautiful painting commissioned to be painted on the standard of the king of France King Louis XIV. This was later adopted in France, Spain and in the western Alps. Soon the observation of this feast was spread to other convents throughout the Visitandine network and to other Orders. On October 17, 1690, with her work for Jesus complete, and at the fairly early age of 43, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, while in prayer at her convent, closed her eyes for the final time on this earth to be forever with Jesus in Heaven. 75 years later devotion to the Sacred Heart was officially recognized by Holy Mother Church and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765. In 1920 Pope Benedict XV canonized Sr. Margaret Mary along with her spiritual advisor and Saint John Eudes, all of whom the Holy Father proclaimed as "Saints of the Sacred Heart." Her visions and the subsequent embracing of all Jesus conveyed is another example of how private revelation is so slow to be received, yet when surviving the test of time and bearing good fruit, can add greatly to Holy Mother Church as God wills.
Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
Considered a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Ignatius of Antioch was converted to Christianity around 50 AD. Many accounts report that he was consecrated a bishop by Saint Peter (first bishop of Antioch) to replace his dear friend Bishop Evodius (second bishop) in the See of Antioch shortly after that. He ruled Antioch as the Diocese's third bishop for around 40 years. Legend has it that he was persecuted by the notorious Emperor Trajan at the turn of the first century and the Roman ruler ordered him to be brought to him in Rome by ship. This ship stopped often on its route to Rome, docking at various coastal towns in Asia Minor, Smyrna and Greece. At each port Ignatius was greeted with enthusiasm and love by Christians, but further persecuted by the Roman soldiers on the ship. He wrote four letters to the churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralies and Rome as well as to the churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna and to Saint Polycarp. His final letter to the Christians in Rome beseeched them not to try to stop his martyrdom for that was the will of God and his blood, along with countless other Christians, would nourish the seed of Christianity as he so eloquently stated: "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the sacrifice of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the pure bread of Christ." Historians report he reached Rome on December 20, 107 and was immediately led into the great colosseum and fed to the lions who had been starved for days in anticipation of his coming. That's how much Trajan feared and despised Ignatius. Two companions were with him during his final days, Agathopus and Philo who transcribed seven letters of instruction Ignatius dictated to them on the Church, the Sacrament of Marriage, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Redemption, the Incarnation and on the Holy Trinity. They became some of the most important and inspiring works passed down among the early Christians. His feast was first celebrated in 360, celebrated in the Syrian Church. His tomb, which is believed to be on the outskirts of Antioch, was venerated since the second century according to Church Doctors Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Jerome. When Antioch was conquered by the Saracens, there are reports his body was exhumed by faithful followers and smuggled to Rome where it was re-buried in the catacombs beneath the church of St. Clement. Whether this is true or not, Ignatius is venerated in both places today.
First Reading: Exodus 17: 8-13 Psalms:Psalm 121: 1-8 Second Reading:2 Timothy 3: 14-17; 4:1-2 Gospel Reading:Luke 18: 1-8
Even though it is superseded by Sunday in Ordinary Time, today is traditionally the feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist:
Feast of SAINT LUKE, EVANGELIST
Historians differ on whether Saint Luke the Evangelist, author of the Third Gospel, was martyred or died a natural death around the year 84 AD in Boetia. Also unknown is his exact origin though many believe he was Greek hailing from Antioch which is substantiated by Saint Jerome and Saint Eusebius. Others surmise Luke was one of 70 disciples and a close associate of the teacher and prophet Lucius of Cyrene (cf. Acts 13:1) which would more likely confirm Luke's Grecian heritage. Whether this Lucius was the same one who was Paul's companion at Corinth (cf. Romans 16:21) is open to conjecture. We do know he was a physician and a Gentile (cf. Colossians 4: 10-14) and traveled with Saint Paul on his second missionary journey around 51 AD. He stayed on at Philippi in charge of the Christian community there until about 57 when he rejoined Paul on his third journey and accompanied him to Rome where he was during Paul's imprisonment from 61 to 63 AD. After Paul's martyrdom in 66, Luke went back to Greece. There, is is assumed, he wrote his Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles as a sort of epilogue so to speak. While Sts. Eusebius and Jerome claim he wrote it before Paul's death while in Rome, their counterpart Saint Iraneaeus maintains it was afterwards. Without a doubt Luke's Gospel was written for Gentile Christians and his account in Acts depicts the growth of the new Church from around 35 to 63 AD, all under the inspiration of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity which was founded by the Second Person of the Trinity Jesus Christ. Whether Luke ever met Jesus is open to conjecture though the evangelist was believed to have been born the same year of Our Lord. While Luke is venerated as the Patron Saint of Doctors, along with Saints Cosmas and Damian, he is also associated with painters for another legend from the sixth century on has him as an accomplished master of various paintings including several icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary for he is believed to have visited Our Lady in Jerusalem before her Assumption into Heaven. There is also the possibility this could have occurred after her Assumption and she appeared to him much in the same manner she appeared to Saint James and countless visionaries throughout the centuries right up to the present day. Luke's writings exhibit an extraordinary literary flow and these, too, could easily have been dictated largely by Heavenly means as so much of Sacred Scripture is. His Gospel shows a steady movement from Nazareth to Jerusalem and Acts shows a direction away from Jerusalem to Rome. His Gospel describes the announcement of good tidings and is broken into six sections: the narrative of Christ's infancy, the Messianic attributes of Jesus, His carrying out these attributes in Galilee, Christ's preaching, His Passion and Death, and the fruits of Jesus' salvific act through His Resurrection and Ascension. In addition, none of the evangelist painted more pictures with words as Luke who is credited with the most parables as related by Our Lord. In paintings Luke is associated with the ox which symbolizes strength as well as sacrifice which introduces his Gospel with the history of Zechariah or Zachary the father of Saint John the Baptist, who offered sacrifice to God (cf. Luke 1:9-25).
Monday, October 19, 1998
Monday October 19: Feast of Saint Isaac Jogues, SJ and Saint John de Brebeuf and their companion North American Martyrs
Feast of Saint Isaac Jogues, SJ and Saint John de Brebeuf and their companion North American Martyrs
Born into a wealthy family in Orleans, France in 1607, Saint Isaac Jogues was enrolled by his parents in the Jesuit school there and became a priest of the Society of Jesus in 1636. Longing to work with the Huron Indians in the foreign missions, Isaac requested and received the assignment to go to Quebec, Canada almost immediately after ordination. The Jesuits had established missions there as the first missionaries in Canada and the upper United States after French explorer J. Cartier discovered this land in 1534. For six years he was very successful and effected many conversions among the Hurons traveling between Nova Scotia and Maryland. But in 1642 a band of Iroquois, who were the natural enemy of the Hurons, captured Isaac along with Rene Goupil and another group of Jesuits. Rene was martyred but Isaac and his companions allowed to live though they underwent hideous and inhumane torture which included mutilation. Isaac's fingers were severed and he was left to die in the wilderness but the Dutch rescued him and he was able to return to France in 1644. However he longed to be a martyr and finally secured a transfer back to Quebec in 1646. Once they had arrived Isaac and new companion Saint Jean Brebeuf set out for Iroquois country for a peace treaty had been signed. But warmongers among the Mohawks intercepted the missionaries and cruelly tomahawked them and scalped them from the neck up at Auriesville, New York on October 18 and 19, 1646. Isaac died on the 18th and Jean the next day. Over the next three years five other missionaries would join Isaac, Rene and Jean on the list of the 8 Jesuit martyrs: Noel Chabanel, Anthony Daniel, Charles Garnier, John de Lalande, and Gabriel Lallemant. Exactly ten years after Isaac's death a young Indian girl was born in the same village where Fr. Jogues was murdered. Her name: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. In 1930 Pope Pius XI canonized the group proclaiming them the Martyrs of North America and patron saints of Canada.