Posted in MARIAN DEVOTIONS, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, MORNING Prayers, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, SACRED and IMMACULATE HEARTS, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, VATICAN Documents, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 13 October – The Memorial of the Sixth and Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima 1917

Thought for the Day – 13 October – The Memorial of the Sixth and Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima 1917

Excerpt from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith – 26 June 2000
The Message of Fatima (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)

“As the second millennium gives way to the third, Pope John Paul II has decided to publish the text of the third part of the “secret of Fatima”.

“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of Himself to the Father:   ‘For their sake’, He said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19).  We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this His consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, peoples and nations.   It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history.

How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ Himself!   For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church.

The present Year of the Redemption shows this – the special Jubilee of the whole Church.

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call!

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!

Mother of the Church!   Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope and love!   Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting.   Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart.

Immaculate Heart!   Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!

From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin – individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption – the power of merciful Love!   May it put a stop to evil   May it transform consciences!   May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”.

Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished (“Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984”:  “Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984”:   Letter of 8 November 1989).    Hence any further discussion or request is without basis…vatican.va 

read the entire Message here:  http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html

Immaculate Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!our lady of fatima pray for us no 2 - 13 oct 2018

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Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 5 October – Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. (1819-1867)

Saint of the Day – 5 October – Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. (1819-1867) Priest, Religious, Missionary, Preacher, Catechist, Spiritual Director, Apostle of Charity – known as the “The Cheerful Ascetic” – born on Francesco Saverio Seelos on 11 January 1819 at Füssen, Bavaria, Germany and died on 4 October 1867 in New Orleans, Louisiana of yellow fever.   Patronage – against Cancer.header - POS-F490_Blessed-Francis-Xavier-Seelos___84782.1491928544

Francis Xavier Seelos, one of 12 children born to Mang and Frances Schwarzenbach Seelos, entered the world on 11 January 1819, in Füssen (Bavaria, Germany).   He was baptised on the same day in the parish church of Saint Mang where his father, after having been a textile merchant, would, in 1830, become the sacristan.

Having completed his primary education in 1831, he expressed a desire to become a priest and, with the encouragement of his Pastor, he attended middle school at the Institute of Saint Stephen in Augsburg.   Receiving his diploma in 1839, he went on to the University in Munich, Bavaria, where he completed his studies in Philosophy.
He then began to study theology in preparation to enter the seminary where he was admitted on 19 September 1842.bl francis xavier glass

It was during this time that through his acquaintance with the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he came to know both the charism of the Institute, founded to evangelise the most abandoned and its apostolic works, especially those among the immigrants in the United States of America.   Moved by a profound apostolic zeal and deeply touched by the letters published in the Catholic newspaper Sion, from the Redemptorist missionaries describing the lack of spiritual care for the thousands of German speaking immigrants, Seelos decided to enter the Congregation, asking to be allowed to work as a missionary in the United States.

Receiving the necessary approval on 22 November 1842, he sailed the following March  from the port of Le Havre, France, arriving in New York on 20 April 1843.
On 22 December 1844, after having completed his theological studies and novitiate, Seelos was ordained a Priest in the Redemptorist Church of St James in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.bl francis xavier snip

A few months after his ordination, he was transferred to St Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he remained nine years.   His first six years there were spent as assistant pastor with St John Neumann (1811-1860), who was also the superior of the Redemptorist comm  unity. The remaining three years, Francis Seelos served as superior of that same community.   It was during these years that he was appointed Master of Novices for the Redemptorists.

In addition to his work as assistant pastor, Seelos, together with Neumann, dedicated himself to preaching missions.   Regarding his relationship with St John Neumann, Seelos said:  “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as spiritual director and confessor”.st john neumann and bl francis xavier seelos - 5 october 2018

His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director so much so that people came to him even from neighbouring towns.   In both Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Seelos made Confession become, rather than a torment, the locus of a life-giving experience of an encounter with Christ Patient and Merciful.   His confessional was open to all:  “I hear confessions in German, English, French, of Whites and of Blacks”.
The faithful described him as the missionary with the constant smile on his lips and a generous heart, especially towards the needy and the marginalised.
It is no coincidence that in Pittsburgh, after his death, the people began to attribute to his intercession many favours received.

Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practised a simple life style and a simple manner of expressing himself.   The themes of his preaching, rich in biblical content, were always heard and understood even by the simplest people.   A constant endeavour in his pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith.   He not only favoured this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the Parish.Beato_Francesco_Saverio_Seelos

In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to a number of cities in the state of Maryland:  Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry.   In Cumberland and Annapolis, he also served in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students.   Even in this post, he was true to his character remaining always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation.   Above all, he strove to instil in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.
In 1860, His Excellency Michael O’Connor, Bishop of Pittsburgh, upon leaving his diocese, recommended Father Seelos as the Priest most qualified to succeed him.   Francis Seelos wrote Pope Paul IX explaining his inadequacy to accept such a responsibility and asking “to be liberated from this calamity”.   He was overjoyed when another Priest was named Bishop of Pittsburgh.bl francis xavier seelos lg

Following the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, new laws were enacted in 1863 which required every able bodied male to make himself available for military duty. Seelos, as Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, travelled to Washington to meet with President Abraham Lincoln and ask him to exempt the Redemptorist seminarians from military service.   Lincoln, according to Seelos himself, was not only extremely receptive of the petition but promised to do everything in his power to bring it about. In fact, the students were exempted from going off to war.

Relieved from his office as Prefect of Students because, according to a zealous confrere, he was too obliging and not severe enough with the seminarians, from 1863 to 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana.   Here also, as pastor of the of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.   As in other cities, his prayers were considered very powerful in obtaining favours from God.bl francis xavier_sample

In God’s plan, however, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief.   In the month of September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of Yellow Fever, he contracted the dreaded disease.   After several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he passed on to eternal life on 4 October 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months…. vatican.va

The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is located in St Mary’s Assumption Church, the first German Catholic Church in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. The Shrine contains the official portrait of Father Seelos, which was used in Rome for his beatification, as well as photographs that depict Father Seelos and his life as a missionary.

St Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Francis in St Peter’s Square on 9 April 2000.   In the beatification homily, the pope stated:  “Today, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.   Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God’s people be encouraged and strengthened in their task.”blessed francis xavier

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – St Thérèse of Lisieux O.C.D. (1873 – 1897) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – St Thérèse of Lisieux O.C.D. (1873 – 1897)  – also known as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face/The Little Flower/Sacred Keeper of the Gardens – Virgin, Religious Nun, Mystic, Writer – born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin on 2 January 1873 at Alcon, Normandy, France – died on 30 September 1897 at Lisieux, France of tuberculosis.   Patronages – Universal Patron of the Missions, African missions, sick people; against bodily ills, illness or sickness, AIDS patients, air crews or pilots; aviators, Australia, black missions, florists and flower growers, foreign missions (proclaimed on 14 December 1927 by Pope Pius XI), loss of parents, missionaries, parish missions, restoration of religious freedom in Russia, tuberculosis, World Youth Day 2013, France (1944 by Pope Pius XII), Russia, Anchorage, Alaska, archdiocese of, Cheyenne, Wyoming, diocese of, Churchill – Baie d’Hudson, Manitoba, diocese of, Fairbanks, Alaska, diocese of, Fresno, California, diocese of, Hamilton, Bermuda, diocese of, Juneau, Alaska, diocese of, Kisumu, Kenya, diocese of, Corner Brook and Labrador, Newfoundland, diocese of, Pueblo, Colorado, diocese of, Witbank, South Africa, diocese of, Apostleship of Prayer.st therese info

THÉRÈSE MARTIN was born at Alençon, France on 2 January 1873.   Two days later, she was baptised Marie Françoise Thérèse at Notre Dame Church.   Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin (now Saints, Canonised on 18 October 2015, Memorial 12 July).  After the death of her mother on 28 August 1877, Thérèse and her family moved to Lisieux.Thérèse_Martin-Histoire_d'une_âme-A02

Towards the end of 1879, she went to confession for the first time.   On the Feast of Pentecost 1883, she received the singular grace of being healed from a serious illness through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories.   Taught by the Benedictine Nuns of Lisieux and after an intense immediate preparation culminating in a vivid experience of intimate union with Christ, she received First Holy Communion on 8 May 1884.   Some weeks later, on 14 June of the same year, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, fully aware of accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit as a personal participation in the grace of Pentecost.

She wished to embrace the contemplative life, as her sisters Pauline and Marie had done in the Carmel of Lisieux but was prevented from doing so by her young age.   On a visit to Italy, after having visited the House of Loreto and the holy places of the Eternal City, during an audience granted by Pope Leo XIII to the pilgrims from Lisieux on 20 November 1887, she asked the Holy Father with childlike audacity to be able to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen.   On 9 April 1888 she entered the Carmel of Lisieux.   She received the habit on 10 January of the following year and made her religious profession on 8 September 1890 on the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.popeleo and st therese

In Carmel. she embraced the way of perfection outlined by the Foundress, Saint Teresa of Jesus, fulfilling with genuine fervour and fidelity the various community responsibilities entrusted to her.   Her faith was tested by the sickness of her beloved father, Louis Martin, who died on 29 July 1894.   Thérèse nevertheless grew in sanctity, enlightened by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the centre of everything.   In her autobiographical manuscripts she left us, not only her recollections of childhood and adolescence but also a portrait of her soul, the description of her most intimate experiences.  She discovered the little way of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices entrusted to her care.   She considered it a special gift to receive the charge of accompanying two “missionary brothers” with prayer and sacrifice.   Seized by the love of Christ, her only Spouse, she penetrated ever more deeply into the mystery of the Church and became increasingly aware of her apostolic and missionary vocation to draw everyone in her path.SaintTherese3

On 9 June 1895, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God.   At this time, she wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on 21 January 1896.

Several months later, on 3 April, in the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, she suffered a haemoptysis, the first sign of the illness which would lead to her death – she welcomed this event as a mysterious visitation of the Divine Spouse.   From this point forward, she entered a trial of faith which would last until her death; she gives overwhelming testimony to this in her writings.   In September, she completed Manuscript B;  this text gives striking evidence of the spiritual maturity which she had attained, particularly the discovery of her vocation in the heart of the Church.saint-therese-of-the-child-jesus-belita-william

While her health declined and the time of trial continued, she began work in the month of June on Manuscript C, dedicated to Mother Marie de Gonzague.   New graces led her to higher perfection and she discovered fresh insights for the diffusion of her message in the Church, for the benefit of souls who would follow her way.   She was transferred to the infirmary on 8 July.   Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings. Meanwhile her sufferings and trials intensified.   She accepted them with patience up to the moment of her death in the afternoon of 30 September 1897.   “I am not dying, I am entering life”, she wrote to her missionary spiritual brother, Father M Bellier.   Her final words, “My God…, I love you!”, seal a life which was extinguished on earth at the age of twenty-four;  thus began, as was her desire, a new phase of apostolic presence on behalf of souls in the Communion of Saints, in order to shower a rain of roses upon the world.

She was Canonised by Pope Pius XI on 17 May 1925.   The same Pope proclaimed her Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside Saint Francis Xavier, on 14 December 1927.

Her teaching and example of holiness has been received with great enthusiasm by all sectors of the faithful during this century, as well as by people outside the Catholic Church and outside Christianity.therese-painting

On the occasion of the centenary of her death, many Episcopal Conferences have asked the Pope to declare her a Doctor of the Church, in view of the soundness of her spiritual wisdom inspired by the Gospel, the originality of her theological intuitions filled with sublime teaching and the universal acceptance of her spiritual message, which has been welcomed throughout the world and spread by the translation of her works into over fifty languages.

Mindful of these requests, His Holiness St Pope John Paul II asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has competence in this area, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with regard to her exalted teaching, to study the suitability of proclaiming her a Doctor of the Church.

On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, St Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997…Vatican.vast-therese-of-lisieux-iii-sheila-diemert

Posted in MARIAN DEVOTIONS, MARIAN TITLES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 28 September – St Simón de Rojas O.SS. (1552-1624)   “Father Ave Maria”/”Apostle of the Ave Maria”

Saint of the Day – 28 September – St Simón de Rojas O.SS. (1552-1624)   “Father Ave Maria”/ “Apostle of the Ave Maria”, Religious Priest of the Trinitarian Order, Founder of the Lay Apostolate of the Congregation of the Slaves of the Sweet Name of Mary, Marian Devotee, Theologian, Philosopher, Spiritual Writer, Apostle of Charity, Apostolic Visitor – born on 28 October 1552 in Valladolid, Spain and died on 28 September 1624 in Madrid, Spain of natural causes.   He was Beatified on 19 March 1766 by Pope Clement XIII and Canonised on 3 July 1988 by St Pope John Paul II.st simon de rojas full

ave maria - for the memorial of st simon de rojas - 28 sept 2018

Father SIMON DE ROJAS of the Trinitarian Order was born at Valladolid, Castilla, Spain, 28 October, 1552.   At twelve years of age, he entered the Trinitarian monastery of the city where he was born and there made his religious profession on 28 October 1572.   He studied at the University of Salamanca from 1573 to 1579 and was ordained a priest in 1577.   Thereafter, he taught philosophy and theology at Toledo from 1581 to 1587 and from 1588 until his death he fulfilled with much prudence the office of superior in various monasteries of his province and was sent as apostolic visitor twice to his own province of Castilla and once to that of Andalusia.

On 14 April 1612 he founded the Congregation of the Slaves of the Sweet Name of Mary and in  1619 he was named tutor to the royal princes of Spain and in 1621 he was elected Provincial of Castilla and the following year he was chosen confessor of Queen Isabel of Borbon.01-st-simon-de-rojas.2

His Canonisation during this Marian year (1988), worthily rewards him for his tender devotion to Mary.    He has been a compared to St Bernard of Clairvaux and to St Ildefonso of Toledo, for this immense understanding and devotion of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mother.

It was his mother, the virtuous Constanza, who instilled and helped grow in the soul of Simon the love of Mary.   The veneration that she and her husband Gregorio constantly gave to Mary, makes it easily understandable why the first words that Simon, who had been a slow learner and stuttered, said at the age of fourteen months, were “Ave, Maria”. He was only repeating the prayer so frequently recited by his parents.

His greatest joy was to visit Marian shrines, to pray to Mary and with Mary, to imitate her virtues, to sing her praises, to acknowledge her importance in the mystery of God and of the Church.   Through profound theological studies, he came to understand even better the mission of Mary in cooperation with the Trinity for the salvation of the human race and the sanctification of the Church.   He lived his religious vows in the imitation of Mary. He held that, for everyone to be completely of God, as Mary had been, it was necessary to become her slaves, or better, slaves of God in Mary;  for this reason he established the Congregation of the Slaves of Mary for the greater glory of the Trinity, in praise of the Virgin, in the service of the poor.   For him, to be a slave of Mary meant belonging totally to her:  “Totus tuus” in order to unite oneself more intimately to Christ and in Him through the Spirit, to the Father.

The Congregation founded by him was intended for the laity, persons of every social class could join.   The members, who included the King and his children, dedicated themselves to honour Mary by giving maternal help to her favourite children – the poor. This work still continues in Spain.   Fr Simon, who is held to be one of the greatest contemplatives of his time and who in his work, “The Greatness of Prayer” is clearly a great instructor of prayerful souls, wanted the contemplative dimension joined to the active through works of mercy.

Faithful to the Trinitarian charism, he promoted the ransom of captives, he helped relieve the many needs of the poor, he consoled the sick, the destitute and the left-out of every kind.   He accepted duties at the Court, only on the condition that he be able to continue his work with the poor, whom he helped in a thousand ways, always with a smile on his face and at any hour of the day or night.San_Simon_de_Rojas

The expressions of his love of Mary are manifold.   The painters who depicted him, put the greeting “Ave Maria” on his lips, words he uttered so frequently that he was familiarly called:  “Father Ave Maria”.

He had thousands of images of the Most Holy Virgin printed with the inscription:  “Ave Maria”, which he also sent abroad.   He had rosaries made with seventy-two blue beads on a white cord, symbols of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception and also a reminder that Mary, according to the belief of the time, lived to the age of 72 years.   He sent these rosaries everywhere, even to England.   Using his influence at Court, he had the angelic greeting so dear to him, “Ave Maria”, engraved in letters of gold on the facade of the royal palace in Madrid.   On June 5th, 1622, he petitioned the Holy See for the approval of his liturgical text composed in honour of the Sweet Name of Mary, which later, Pope Innocent XI extended to the universal Church.PWOL0815_ave_maria_gratia_mexico_front_l

After his death on 29 September 1624, the honours bestowed on him at his funeral, took on the aspect of an anticipated canonisation.   For twelve days, the most re-known preachers of Madrid exalted his virtues and his holiness.   Impressed with this unanimous veneration, on 8 October shortly after Fr Simon’s death, the Papal Nuncio ordered the beginning of the process leading to his glorification by the Church.   His heroic virtues were recognised by PopeClement XII on 25 March 1735 and he was beatified on 19 March 1766.   And today, 3 July, 1988, just before the close of the Marian Year, Pope John Paul II, enters the name of this great servant of Mary and Father of the poor on the list of the Saints.”…Vatican.vadeath of st simon de rojas

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 19 September – St Alonsus de Orozco Mena O.S.A. (1500 – 1591)

Saint of the Day – 19 September – St Alonso de Orozco Mena O.S.A. (1500 – 1591) Religious Priest, Preacher, Writer, Apostle of Charity, Spiritual Director, Marian Devotee, Ascetic – born on 17 October 1500 at Oropesa, Toledo, Spain and died on 19 September 1591 in the College of the Incarnation, Madrid, Spain of natural causes.st alonso de orozco 2 snip

Alphonsus de Orozco was born in Oropesa, Province of Toledo, Spain, on the 17th of October 1500, where his father was governor of the local castle.   He began his studies in the nearby Talavera de la Reina and for three years he was a choir boy in the Cathedral of Toledo, where he made progress in the study of music.   At the age of fourteen his parents sent him to the University of Salamanca, where an elder brother was already studying.

During the Lenten sermons preached by Thomas of Villanova in 1520, on the psalm “In exitu Israel de GYPTO”, his vocation to the religious life was brought to maturity and a little later, attracted by the religious atmosphere of the Friary of Saint Augustine, he entered that community and there made his profession of vows at the hands of Saint Thomas of Villanova (1486-1555).

When ordained a priest in 1527 his superiors detected in him such deep spirituality and a capacity for proclaiming the Word of God, that very soon they appointed him to the ministry of preaching.   From the age of thirty he held many offices but in spite of his own austere life, his style of governing always showed him to be full of understanding. Inspired by a desire for martyrdom, he set off for Mexico as a missionary in 1549 but on his way, in the Canary Islands, he suffered a severe bout of arthritis and the doctors, fearing for his life, forbade him to continue his journey.ALONSO

In 1554, when he was Prior of the Convent in Valladolid, a city which was for many decades the seat of the royal court, Alphonsus was appointed “royal preacher” to the court of the emperor Charles V.   When the court was moved to Madrid in 1561, Alphonsus also had to move to the new capital of the Kingdom and he took up his residence in the convent of Saint Philip the Royal.

In spite of the fact that he was now exercising an office which was outside the jurisdiction of his superiors and which also carried a stipend, he renounced all privileges and only wished to live as a humble friar in obedience to his superiors.   He lived in austere poverty.   He took only one daily meal at midday, he slept no more than three hours, because he said that was enough for the tasks of the new day.   A table was his bed;  cut vines his pillow.   His room had just one chair, a candle, a broom and some books.   By choice, the room was near the door so that he could better attend to the poor who used to come there to ask his help.   Without neglecting his daily attendance in choir for prayer, he used to visit the sick in hospitals, the prisoners in the goals and the poor in the streets and in their homes.   He spent the day in prayer, in writing his books and preparing his sermons.   He was very popular with members of every social class. Personages of society and culture were witnesses in his process for Canonisation, such as the Princess Isabel Clara Eugenia, the Dukes of Alba and of Lerma, the writer Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and González Dávila. Association with the upper classes did not divert him from his simple lifestyle.   His fame spread throughout Madrid.   The people who used to call him, much to his displeasure, the “saint of Saint Philip’s”, loved him for his gentle sensitivity in getting close to everyone without distinction.

He wrote many works, both in Latin as well as in Spanish.   The simplicity of the titles indicate that they were written with a view to pastoral ministry:   Rule for a Christian life (1542), Garden of prayer and the mount of contemplation (1544), Memorial of holy love (1576), Spiritual treasury (1551), The art of loving God and neighbour (1567), The book of the gentleness of God (1576), Tract on the crown of Our Lady (1588).   Like his own life, these writings sprung from a spirit of contemplation and a study of sacred scripture. Such was his great devotion to the Virgin Mary, that he was convinced that he was writing in obedience to her command.

He was also fervently attached to the love of his own religious Order, writing about its history and spirituality, in the hope of encouraging good men to imitate the Augustinian way of life.   Along these lines, led by a desire of internal reform, which would later develop into a movement of recollection in the Order, he was responsible for the foundation of Augustinian monasteries, both of friars and of contemplative nuns.

In August 1591, Friar Alphonsus fell ill of a fever but this did not prevent him from celebrating his daily Mass, as he never, in spite of any illness, failed to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, saying with a certain humour, “God does no harm to anybody”.   During his illness, he was visited by the king, Philip II, by the heir to the throne and Princess Isabel and by the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, Gaspar de Quiroga, who personally fed him and then asked for his blessing.

News of his death, which occurred on the 19 of September 1591 in the College of the Incarnation, which he had founded two years before and which today is the seat of the Spanish Senate, brought sadness to the whole city.   The people of Madrid, as testified by Quevedo, filed past the chapel of rest and rushed the doors of the church of the college, knocking down the doors seeking some relic, a splinter of the bed, or a fragment of his clothes, his shoes or of his hair shirt.   For many years the Cardinal Archbishop kept for himself the wooden cross which the “saint of Saint Philip’s” used to carry with him.

He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on the 15th January of 1882 and Canonised on 19 May 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed”

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed” – (c 347 at Antioch, Asia Minor – 407 of natural causes) Bishop, Father and Doctor, Preacher, Orator, Writer, Theologian, Confessor.

Listening to Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily,
General Audience, 19 September 2007

st john chryosotom info

“This year (2007) is the 16th centenary of St John Chrysostom’s death (407-2007).  It can be said that John of Antioch, nicknamed “Chrysostom”, that is, “golden-mouthed“, because of his eloquence, is also still alive today because of his works.   An anonymous copyist left in writing that “they cross the whole globe like flashes of lightening”.beautiful - SaintJohnChrysostom-790x480

Chrysostom’s writings also enable us, as they did the faithful of his time whom his frequent exiles deprived of his presence, to live with his books, despite his absence.   This is what he himself suggested in a letter when he was in exile (To Olympias, Letter 8, 45).

He was born in about the year 349 in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other – in 403 and 407.   Let us limit ourselves today to examining the years Chrysostom spent in Antioch.   He lost his father at a tender age and lived with Anthusa, his mother, who instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.   After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time.   At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.st john chrysostom - engraving

He was baptised in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371.   This event marked Chrysostom’s official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus.   From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius.   He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an “old hermit”.   In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on “the laws of Christ”, the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul.   Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation.   In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7):  it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.   It was here that he reached the crucial turning point in the story of his vocation:  a full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation.   The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire.

ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city.   He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386 and became a famous preacher in his city’s churches.   He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.   The year 387 was John’s “heroic year”, that of the so-called “revolt of the statues”.   As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor’s statues.   It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor’s impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion.   This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).my snip - st john chrysostom 4

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers – 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant.   He was not a speculative theologian.   Nevertheless, he passed on the Church’s tradition and reliable doctrine in an age of theological controversies, sparked above all by Arianism or, in other words, the denial of Christ’s divinity.   He is, therefore, a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development achieved by the Church, from the fourth to the fifth centuries.

His is a perfectly pastoral theology in which there is constant concern for consistency between thought expressed via words and existential experience.   It is this in particular that forms the main theme of the splendid catecheses with which he prepared catechumens to receive Baptism.

On approaching death, he wrote that the value of the human being lies in “exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” (Letter from Exile).   Both these things, knowledge of truth and rectitude of life, go hand in hand – knowledge has to be expressed in life.   All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of faith.st-John-chrysostom-02-featured-w740x493

John Chrysostom was anxious to accompany his writings with the person’s integral development in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions.   The various phases of his growth are compared to as many seas in an immense ocean:  “The first of these seas is childhood” (Homily, 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Indeed, “it is precisely at this early age that inclinations to vice or virtue are manifest”.   Thus, God’s law must be impressed upon the soul from the outset “as on a wax tablet” (Homily 3, 1 on John’s Gospel).   This is indeed the most important age.   We must bear in mind how fundamentally important it is that the great orientations which give man a proper outlook on life truly enter him in this first phase of life.   Chrysostom therefore recommended – “From the tenderest age, arm children with spiritual weapons and teach them to make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with their hand” (Homily, 12, 7 on First Corinthians).   Then come adolescence and yout –  “Following childhood is the sea of adolescence, where violent winds blow…, for concupiscence… grows within us” (Homily 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Lastly comes engagement and marriage – “Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature person who assumes family commitments – this is the time to seek a wife” (ibid.).

He recalls the aims of marriage, enriching them – referring to virtue and temperance – with a rich fabric of personal relationships.  Properly prepared spouses therefore bar the way to divorce, everything takes place with joy and children can be educated in virtue. Then when the first child is born, he is “like a bridge, the three become one flesh, because the child joins the two parts” (Homily 12, 5 on the Letter to the Colossians) and the three constitute “a family, a Church in miniature” (Homily 20, 6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).

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Chrysostom’s preaching usually took place during the liturgy, the “place” where the community is built with the Word and the Eucharist.   The assembly gathered here expresses the one Church (Homily 8, 7 on the Letter to the Romans), the same word is addressed everywhere to all (Homily 24, 2 on First Corinthians), and Eucharistic Communion becomes an effective sign of unity (Homily 32, 7 on Matthew’s Gospel).

His pastoral project was incorporated into the Church’s life, in which the lay faithful assume the priestly, royal and prophetic office with Baptism.   To the lay faithful he said: “Baptism will also make you king, priest and prophet” (Homily 3, 5 on Second Corinthians).

From this stems the fundamental duty of the mission, because each one is to some extent responsible for the salvation of others:  “This is the principle of our social life… not to be solely concerned with ourselves!” (Homily 9, 2 on Genesis).   This all takes place between two poles – the great Church and the “Church in miniature”, the family, in a reciprocal relationship.

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, Chrysostom’s lesson on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is still more timely than ever today.   Let us pray to the Lord to make us docile to the teachings of this great Master of the faith.”

“I would like to end this writing with a final word of the great Doctor, in which he invites his faithful – and also us, of course – to reflect on the eternal values:

“For how long will we be nailed to the present reality?   How much longer will it be before we can meet with success?   How much longer will we neglect our salvation? ” 

Let us remember what Christ considered we deserved, let us thank Him, glorify Him, not only with our faith but also with our effective actions, in order to obtain future goods through the grace and loving tenderness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom and with whom glory be to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.  Amen”

(Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2007)

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Posted in MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 5 September – The Memorial of St Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Thought for the Day – 5 September – The Memorial of St Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.   She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”.   She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity, she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created.   For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.   Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers, may she be your model of holiness!   I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her “Saint Teresa”, her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continual to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa”.

May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.   In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness…… Excerpt from the Homily of His Holiness, Pope Francis on the Canonisation of St Teresa of Calcutta, Sunday, 4 September 2016 (it was also the Jubilee of Workers of Mercy and Volunteers)

Virgin Mary, Queen of all the Saints, help us to be gentle and humble of heart like this fearless messenger of Love.   Help us to serve every person we meet with joy and a smile. Help us to be missionaries of Christ, our peace and our hope.   Amen!…mary regina angelorum - queen of the angels - pray for us - 11 may 2018

St Mother Teresa, Pray for Us!st mother teresa - pray for us.2