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Saint John of Capistrano

16 hours 4 min ago
Saint John Capistrano | Stained glass window in the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC. | photo by Lawrence OPImage: Saint John Capistrano | Stained glass window in the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC. | photo by Lawrence OP Saint John of Capistrano Saint of the Day for October 23 (June 24, 1386 – October 23, 1456) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct23.mp3

 

Saint John of Capistrano’s Story

It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events.

Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times.

John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later.

John’s preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion.

The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the “Spirituals” were freed from interference in their stricter observance.

John of Capistrano helped bring about a brief reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches.

When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, John was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died on October 23, 1456.

Reflection

John Hofer, a biographer of John Capistrano, recalls a Brussels organization named after the saint. Seeking to solve life problems in a fully Christian spirit, its motto was: “Initiative, Organization, Activity.” These three words characterized John’s life. He was not one to sit around. His deep Christian optimism drove him to battle problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by a deep faith in Christ.

Saint John of Capistrano is Patron Saint of:

Judges

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Saint John Paul II

10/22/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Pope John Paul II</em> | old Yankee Stadium, New York City, in October 1979 | Library of CongressImage: Pope John Paul II | old Yankee Stadium, New York City, in October 1979 | Library of Congress Saint John Paul II Saint of the Day for October 22 (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct22.mp3 Saint John Paul II’s Story

“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass where he was installed as pope in 1978.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father, and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.

Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon Fr. Wojtyla earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.

Communist officials allowed Wojtyla to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!

Bishop Wojtyla attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later.

Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations.

John Paul II promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s main synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations, and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria.

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his papacy.

“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of John Paul II’s 1979 encyclical, Redeemer of the Human Race. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.”

His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. John Paul II began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union, but the governments in those countries prevented that.

One of the most well-remembered photos of John Paul II’s pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983, with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.

In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.

Reflection

Before John Paul II’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square, hundreds of thousands of people had waited patiently for a brief moment to pray before his body, which lay in state inside St. Peter’s for several days. The media coverage of his funeral was unprecedented.

Presiding at the funeral Mass, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—then dean of the College of Cardinals and later Pope Benedict XVI—concluded his homily by saying: “None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi (‘to the city and to the world’).

“We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Click here for a closer look at Saint John Paul II!

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Saint Paul of the Cross

10/20/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Paul of the Cross</em> | Engraving | Wellcome ImagesImage: Saint Paul of the Cross | Engraving | Wellcome Images Saint Paul of the Cross Saint of the Day for October 20 (January 3, 1694 – October 18, 1775) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct20.mp3

 

Saint Paul of the Cross’ Story

Born in northern Italy in 1694, Paul Daneo lived at a time when many regarded Jesus as a great moral teacher but no more. After a brief time as a soldier, he turned to solitary prayer, developing a devotion to Christ’s passion. Paul saw in the Lord’s passion a demonstration of God’s love for all people. In turn that devotion nurtured his compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners. He was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy.

In 1720, Paul founded the Congregation of the Passion, whose members combined devotion to Christ’s passion with preaching to the poor, and rigorous penances. Known as the Passionists, they add a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ’s passion among the faithful. Paul was elected superior general of the Congregation in 1747, spending the remainder of his life in Rome.

Paul of the Cross died in 1775, and was canonized in 1867. Over 2,000 of his letters and several of his short writings have survived.

Reflection

Paul’s devotion to Christ’s passion must have seemed eccentric if not bizarre to many people. Yet it was that devotion that nurtured Paul’s compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day, known for both his words and his generous acts of mercy.

Saint Paul of the Cross is the Patron Saint of:

Hungary

Another Saint of the Day for October 20 is Blessed Contardo Ferrini.

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Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions

10/19/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Martyrdom of Father Isaac Jogues S.J.</em> | Engraving by A. Malaer | Wellcome Images Image: Martyrdom of Father Isaac Jogues S.J. | Engraving by A. Malaer | Wellcome Images Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions Saint of the Day for October 19 (d. 1642 – 1649) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct19.mp3

 

Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions’ Story

Isaac Jogues and his companions were the first martyrs of the North American continent officially recognized by the Church. As a young Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, a man of learning and culture, taught literature in France. He gave up that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World, and in 1636, he and his companions, under the leadership of Jean de Brébeuf, arrived in Quebec. The Hurons were constantly warred upon by the Iroquois, and in a few years Father Jogues was captured by the Iroquois and imprisoned for 13 months. His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured, and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed.

An unexpected chance for escape came to Isaac Jogues through the Dutch, and he returned to France, bearing the marks of his sufferings. Several fingers had been cut, chewed, or burnt off. Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: “It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ not be allowed to drink the Blood of Christ.”

Welcomed home as a hero, Father Jogues might have sat back, thanked God for his safe return, and died peacefully in his homeland. But his zeal led him back once more to the fulfillment of his dreams. In a few months he sailed for his missions among the Hurons.

In 1646, he and Jean de Lalande, who had offered his services to the missioners, set out for Iroquois country in the belief that a recently signed peace treaty would be observed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party, and on October 18, Father Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded. Jean de Lalande was killed the next day at Ossernenon, a village near Albany, New York.

The first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred was René Goupil who with Lalande, had offered his services as an oblate. He was tortured along with Isaac Jogues in 1642, and was tomahawked for having made the sign of the cross on the brow of some children.

Father Anthony Daniel, working among Hurons who were gradually becoming Christian, was killed by Iroquois on July 4, 1648. His body was thrown into his chapel, which was set on fire.

Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who came to Canada at the age of 32 and labored there for 24 years. He went back to France when the English captured Quebec in 1629 and expelled the Jesuits, but returned to his missions four years later. Although medicine men blamed the Jesuits for a smallpox epidemic among the Hurons, Jean remained with them.

He composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron, and saw 7,000 converted before his death in 1649. Having been captured by the Iroquois at Sainte Marie, near Georgian Bay, Canada, Father Brébeuf died after four hours of extreme torture.

Gabriel Lalemant had taken a fourth vow—to sacrifice his life for the Native Americans. He was horribly tortured to death along with Father Brébeuf.

Father Charles Garnier was shot to death in 1649 as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack.

Father Noel Chabanel also was killed in 1649, before he could answer his recall to France. He had found it exceedingly hard to adapt to mission life. He could not learn the language, and the food and life of the Indians revolted him, plus he suffered spiritual dryness during his whole stay in Canada. Yet he made a vow to remain in his mission until death.

These eight Jesuit martyrs of North America were canonized in 1930.

Reflection

Faith and heroism planted belief in Christ’s cross deep in our land. The Church in North America sprang from the blood of martyrs, as has been true in so many places. The ministry and sacrifices of these saints challenges each of us, causing us to ask just how deep is our faith and how strong our desire to serve even in the face of death.

Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions are the Patron Saints of:

North America
Norway

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Saint Luke

10/18/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Apostle Luke</em> | Andrey MironovImage: The Apostle Luke | Andrey Mironov Saint Luke Saint of the Day for October 18 (d. c. 84) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct18.mp3

 

Saint Luke’s Story

Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him “our beloved physician.” His Gospel was probably written between 70 and 85 A.D.

Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem, and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion.

Luke’s unique character may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles:
1) The Gospel of Mercy
2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation
3) The Gospel of the Poor
4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation
5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit
6) The Gospel of Joy

Reflection

Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. His Gospel and Acts of the Apostles reveal his expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources. There is a warmth to Luke’s writing that sets it apart from that of the other synoptic Gospels, and yet it beautifully complements those works. The treasure of the Scriptures is a true gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.

Saint Luke is the Patron Saint of:

Artists/Painters
Brewers
Butchers
Notaries
Physicians/Surgeons

For more on Saint Luke, click here!

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Saint Ignatius of Antioch

10/17/2018 - 12:00am
Detail | <em>Saint Ignatius with Madonna and Child</em> | Lorenzo LottoImage: Detail | Saint Ignatius with Madonna and Child | Lorenzo Lotto Saint Ignatius of Antioch Saint of the Day for October 17 (d. c. 107) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct17.mp3

 

Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s Story

Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.

Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. Five of these letters are to churches in Asia Minor; they urge the Christians there to remain faithful to God and to obey their superiors. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the solid truths of the Christian faith.

The sixth letter was to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was later martyred for the faith. The final letter begs the Christians in Rome not to try to stop his martyrdom. “The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation 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 immaculate bread of Christ.”

Ignatius bravely met the lions in the Circus Maximus.

Reflection

Ignatius’s great concern was for the unity and order of the Church. Even greater was his willingness to suffer martyrdom rather than deny his Lord Jesus Christ. He did not draw attention to his own suffering, but to the love of God which strengthened him. He knew the price of commitment and would not deny Christ, even to save his own life.

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Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

10/16/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass, depiction Christ appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and showing her His Sacred Heart | St. Francis Xavier Basilica, Vincennes, INImage: Stained glass, depiction Christ appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and showing her His Sacred Heart | St. Francis Xavier Basilica, Vincennes, IN Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque Saint of the Day for October 16 (July 22, 1647 – October 17, 1690) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct16.mp3

 

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s Story

Margaret Mary was chosen by Christ to arouse the Church to a realization of the love of God symbolized by the heart of Jesus.

Her early years were marked by sickness and a painful home situation. “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering.” After considering marriage for some time, Margaret Mary entered the Order of the Visitation nuns at the age of 24.

A Visitation nun was “not to be extraordinary except by being ordinary,” but the young nun was not to enjoy this anonymity. A fellow novice termed Margaret Mary humble, simple, and frank, but above all, kind and patient under sharp criticism and correction. She could not meditate in the formal way expected, though she tried her best to give up her “prayer of simplicity.” Slow, quiet, and clumsy, she was assigned to help an infirmarian who was a bundle of energy.

On December 21, 1674, three years a nun, she received the first of her revelations. She felt “invested” with the presence of God, though always afraid of deceiving herself in such matters. The request of Christ was that his love for humankind be made evident through her.

During the next 13 months, Christ appeared to her at intervals. His human heart was to be the symbol of his divine-human love. By her own love Margaret Mary was to make up for the coldness and ingratitude of the world—by frequent and loving Holy Communion, especially on the first Friday of each month, and by an hour’s vigil of prayer every Thursday night in memory of his agony and isolation in Gethsemane. He also asked that a feast of reparation be instituted.

Like all saints, Margaret Mary had to pay for her gift of holiness. Some of her own sisters were hostile. Theologians who were called in declared her visions delusions and suggested that she eat more heartily. Later, parents of children she taught called her an impostor, an unorthodox innovator. A new confessor, the Jesuit Claude de la Colombière, recognized her genuineness and supported her. Against her great resistance, Christ called her to be a sacrificial victim for the shortcomings of her own sisters, and to make this known.

After serving as novice mistress and assistant superior, Margaret Mary died at the age of 43, while being anointed. She said: “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

Reflection

Our scientific-materialistic age cannot “prove” private revelations. Theologians, if pressed, admit that we do not have to believe in them. But it is impossible to deny the message Margaret Mary heralded: that God loves us with a passionate love. Her insistence on reparation and prayer and the reminder of final judgment should be sufficient to ward off superstition and superficiality in devotion to the Sacred Heart while preserving its deep Christian meaning.

Other Saints of the Day for October 16 are Saint Gerard Majella and Saint Hedwig.

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Saint Teresa of Avila

10/15/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila</em> | Gian Lorenzo Bernini | photo by Tybo | flickrImage: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila | Gian Lorenzo Bernini | photo by Tybo | flickr Saint Teresa of Avila Saint of the Day for October 15 (March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct15.mp3

 

Saint Teresa of Avila’s Story

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social, and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer; a holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline, and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, and opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical, and graceful. She was a woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.

In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.

Reflection

Ours is a time of turmoil, a time of reform, and a time of liberation. Modern women have in Teresa a challenging example. Promoters of renewal, promoters of prayer, all have in Teresa a woman to reckon with, one whom they can admire and imitate.

Saint Teresa of Avila is the Patron Saint of:

headaches

Click here for Saint Teresa of Avila’s thoughts on prayer!

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Saint Callistus I

10/14/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Pope Callistus I on the Saints portal | Northern transept of Our Lady cathedral of Reims, Marne, France | photo by Fab5669Image: Statue of Pope Callistus I on the Saints portal | Northern transept of Our Lady cathedral of Reims, Marne, France | photo by Fab5669 Saint Callistus I Saint of the Day for October 14 (d. 223) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct14.mp3

 

Saint Callistus I’s Story

The most reliable information about this saint comes from his enemy Saint Hippolytus, an early antipope, later a martyr for the Church. A negative principle is used: If some worse things had happened, Hippolytus would surely have mentioned them.

Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled, and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. Through the influence of the emperor’s mistress he was released and went to live at Anzio.

After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome—still called the cemetery of Saint Callistus—probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.

Callistus was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, Saint Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.

Hippolytus is venerated as a saint. He was banished during the persecution of 235 and was reconciled to the Church. He died from his sufferings in Sardinia. He attacked Callistus on two fronts—doctrine and discipline. Hippolytus seems to have exaggerated the distinction between Father and Son—almost making two gods—possibly because theological language had not yet been refined. He also accused Callistus of being too lenient, for reasons we may find surprising: 1) Callistus admitted to Holy Communion those who had already done public penance for murder, adultery, and fornication; 2) he held marriages between free women and slaves to be valid—contrary to Roman law; 3) he authorized the ordination of men who had been married two or three times; 4) he held that mortal sin was not a sufficient reason to depose a bishop; 5) he held to a policy of leniency toward those who had temporarily denied their faith during persecution.

Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope—except for Peter—to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church.

Reflection

The life of this man is another reminder that the course of Church history, like that of true love, never did run smooth. The Church had to—and still must—go through the agonizing struggle to state the mysteries of the faith in language that, at the very least, sets up definite barriers to error. On the disciplinary side, the Church had to preserve the mercy of Christ against rigorism, while still upholding the gospel ideal of radical conversion and self-discipline. Every pope—indeed every Christian—must walk the difficult path between “reasonable” indulgence and “reasonable” rigorism.

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Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher

10/13/2018 - 12:00am
Blessed Marie Rose Durocher | <i>Achona</i>, The Online Newspaper of Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa | photo by Keri Kelly/Achona OnlineImage: Blessed Marie Rose Durocher | Achona, The Online Newspaper of Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa | photo by Keri Kelly/Achona Online Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher Saint of the Day for October 13 (October 6, 1811 – October 6, 1849) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct13.mp3

 

Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher’s Story

Canada was one diocese from coast to coast during the first eight years of Marie-Rose Durocher’s life. Its half-million Catholics had received civil and religious liberty from the English only 44 years before.

She was born in a little village near Montreal in 1811, the 10th of 11 children. She had a good education, was something of a tomboy, rode a horse named Caesar, and could have married well. At 16, she felt the desire to become a religious, but was forced to abandon the idea because of her weak constitution. At 18, when her mother died, her priest brother invited Marie-Rose and their father to come to his parish in Beloeil, not far from Montreal.

For 13 years, Marie-Rose served as housekeeper, hostess, and parish worker. She became well-known for her graciousness, courtesy, leadership, and tact; she was, in fact, called “the saint of Beloeil.” Perhaps she was too tactful during two years when her brother treated her coldly.

When Marie-Rose was 29, Bishop Ignace Bourget—who would be a decisive influence in her life—became bishop of Montreal. He faced a shortage of priests and sisters and a rural population that had been largely deprived of education. Like his counterparts in the United States, Bishop Bourget scoured Europe for help, and himself founded four communities, one of which was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Its first sister and reluctant co-foundress was Marie-Rose Durocher.

As a young woman, Marie-Rose had hoped there would someday be a community of teaching sisters in every parish, never thinking she would found one. But her spiritual director, Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Pierre Telmon, after thoroughly—and severely—leading her in the spiritual life, urged her to found a community herself. Bishop Bourget concurred, but Marie-Rose shrank from the prospect. She was in poor health and her father and brother needed her.

Finally Marie-Rose agreed, and with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, entered a little home in Longueuil, across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal. With them were 13 young girls already assembled for boarding school. Longueuil became her Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Gethsemane. Marie-Rose was 32 and would live only six more years—years filled with poverty, trials, sickness, and slander. The qualities she had nurtured in her “hidden” life came forward—a strong will, intelligence and common sense, great inner courage, and yet a great deference to directors. Thus was born an international congregation of women religious dedicated to education in the faith.

Marie-Rose was severe with herself and by today’s standards quite strict with her sisters. Beneath it all, of course, was an unshakable love of her crucified Savior.

On her deathbed, the prayers most frequently on her lips were “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus!” Before she died, Marie-Rose smiled and said to the sister with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here—let me go.”

Marie-Rose Durocher was beatified in 1982. Her Liturgical Feast Day is October 6.

Reflection

We have seen a great burst of charity, a genuine interest in the poor. Countless Christians have experienced a deep form of prayer. But penance? We squirm when we read of terrible physical penance done by people like Marie-Rose Durocher. That is not for most people, of course. But the pull of a materialistic culture oriented to pleasure and entertainment is impossible to resist without some form of deliberate and Christ-conscious abstinence. That is part of the way to answer Jesus’ call to repent and turn completely to God.

Join us as we celebrate 14 female saints starting October 15!

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Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

10/12/2018 - 12:00am
Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, St Magn Basilica, Füssen, Germany | photo by Myke RosenthalImage: Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, St Magn Basilica, Füssen, Germany | photo by Myke Rosenthal Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Saint of the Day for October 12 (January 11, 1819 – October 4, 1867) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct12.mp3

 

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos’ Story

Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well.

Born in southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to Saint John Neumann. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community, and began his service as novice master.

Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War Fr. Seelos went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service, although eventually some were.

For several years, he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Mid-Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, Fr. Seelos served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867, he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000. The Liturgical Feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is October 5.

Reflection

Father Seelos worked in many different places but always with the same zeal: to help people know God’s love and compassion. He preached about the works of mercy and then engaged in them, even risking his own health.

Another Saint of the Day for October 12 is Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro.

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Saint John XXIII

10/11/2018 - 12:00am
Pope John XXIII begins the Mass | Saint Peter's Basilica, October 11, 1959 | photo by Medici con l'Africa CuammImage: Pope John XXIII begins the Mass | Saint Peter’s Basilica, October 11, 1959 | photo by Medici con l’Africa Cuamm Saint John XXIII Saint of the Day for October 11 (November 25, 1881 – June 3, 1963) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct11.mp3

 

Saint John XXIII’s Story

Although few people had as great an impact on the 20th century as Pope John XXIII, he avoided the limelight as much as possible. Indeed, one writer has noted that his “ordinariness” seems one of his most remarkable qualities.

The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo’s diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Roncalli returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop’s secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary, and as publisher of the diocesan paper.

His service as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army during World War I gave him a firsthand knowledge of war. In 1921, Fr. Roncalli was made national director in Italy of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He also found time to teach patristics at a seminary in the Eternal City.

In 1925, he became a papal diplomat, serving first in Bulgaria, then in Turkey, and finally in France. During World War II, he became well acquainted with Orthodox Church leaders. With the help of Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli helped save an estimated 24,000 Jewish people.

Named a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953, he was finally a residential bishop. A month short of entering his 78th year, Cardinal Roncalli was elected pope, taking the name John after his father and the two patrons of Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. Pope John took his work very seriously but not himself. His wit soon became proverbial, and he began meeting with political and religious leaders from around the world. In 1962, he was deeply involved in efforts to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.

His most famous encyclicals were Mother and Teacher (1961) and Peace on Earth (1963). Pope John XXIII enlarged the membership in the College of Cardinals and made it more international. At his address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he criticized the “prophets of doom” who “in these modern times see nothing but prevarication and ruin.” Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said, “The Church has always opposed… errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

On his deathbed, Pope John said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.”

“Good Pope John” died on June 3, 1963. Saint John Paul II beatified him in 2000, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.

Reflection

Throughout his life, Angelo Roncalli cooperated with God’s grace, believing that the job at hand was worthy of his best efforts. His sense of God’s providence made him the ideal person to promote a new dialogue with Protestant and Orthodox Christians, as well as with Jews and Muslims. In the sometimes noisy crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, many people become silent on seeing the simple tomb of Pope John XXIII, grateful for the gift of his life and holiness. After his beatification, his tomb was moved into the basilica itself.

Minute Meditations

Saint Francis Borgia

10/10/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Carlos V receives a visit from Saint Francis Borgia in Yuste</em> | Joaquín María Herrer y RodríguezImage: Carlos V receives a visit from Saint Francis Borgia in Yuste | Joaquín María Herrer y Rodríguez Saint Francis Borgia Saint of the Day for October 10 (October 28, 1510 – September 30, 1572) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct10.mp3

 

Saint Francis Borgia’s Story

Today’s saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events—including the death of his beloved wife—made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions, and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus.

Religious life proved to be the right choice. Francis felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination, he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges.

At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members, and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico, and Peru.

Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.

Reflection

Sometimes the Lord reveals his will for us in stages. Many people hear a call in later life to serve in a different capacity. We never know what the Lord has in store for us.

Saint Francis Borgia is the Patron Saint of:

Earthquakes

Another Saint of the Day for October 10 is Saint Daniel and Companions.

Saint of the Day

Saint Denis and Companions

10/09/2018 - 12:00am
Detail | <em>Louis XII of France Kneeling in Prayer</em> | Jean BourdichonImage: Detail | Louis XII of France Kneeling in Prayer | Jean Bourdichon Saint Denis and Companions Saint of the Day for October 9 (d. 258?) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct09.mp3

 

Saint Denis and Companions’ Story

This martyr and patron of France is regarded as the first bishop of Paris. His popularity is due to a series of legends, especially those connecting him with the great abbey church of St. Denis in Paris. He was for a time confused with the writer now called Pseudo-Dionysius.

The best hypothesis contends that Denis was sent to Gaul from Rome in the third century and beheaded in the persecution under Emperor Valerius in 258.

According to one of the legends, after he was martyred on Montmartre—literally, “mountain of martyrs”—in Paris, he carried his head to a village northeast of the city. Saint Genevieve built a basilica over his tomb at the beginning of the sixth century.

Reflection

Again, we have the case of a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one whose cult has been a vigorous part of the Church’s history for centuries. We can only conclude that the deep impression the saint made on the people of his day reflected a life of unusual holiness. In all such cases, there are two fundamental facts: A great man gave his life for Christ, and the Church has never forgotten him—a human symbol of God’s eternal mindfulness.

Saint Denis is the Patron Saint of:

France

Saint of the Day

Saint John Leonardi

10/08/2018 - 12:00am
Body of Saint John Leonardi | Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli, RomeImage: Body of Saint John Leonardi | Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli, Rome Saint John Leonardi Saint of the Day for October 8 (1541 – October 9, 1609) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct08.mp3

 

Saint John Leonardi’s Story

“I am only one person! Why should I do anything? What good would it do?” Today, as in any age, people seem plagued with the dilemma of getting involved. In his own way, John Leonardi answered these questions. He chose to become a priest.

After his ordination, Fr. Leonardi became very active in the works of the ministry, especially in hospitals and prisons. The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him. They later became priests themselves.

John lived after the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. He and his followers projected a new congregation of diocesan priests. For some reason the plan, which was ultimately approved, provoked great political opposition. John was exiled from his home town of Lucca, Italy, for almost the entire remainder of his life. He received encouragement and help from Saint Philip Neri, who gave him his lodgings—along with the care of his cat!

In 1579, John formed the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century.

Father Leonardi and his priests became a great power for good in Italy, and their congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement in 1595. John died at the age of 68 from a disease caught when tending those stricken by the plague.

By the deliberate policy of the founder, the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God have never had more than 15 churches, and today form only a very small congregation. The Liturgical Feast of Saint John Leonardi is October 9.

Reflection

What can one person do? The answer is plenty! In the life of each saint, one thing stands clear: God and one person are a majority! What one individual, following God’s will and plan for his or her life, can do is more than our mind could ever hope for or imagine. Each of us, like John Leonardi, has a mission to fulfill in God’s plan for the world. Each one of us is unique and has been given talent to use for the service of our brothers and sisters for the building up of God’s kingdom.

 Saint John Leonardi is the Patron Saint of:

Pharmacists

Minute Meditations

Our Lady of the Rosary

10/07/2018 - 12:00am
Our Lady of the Rosary | St. Nicholas Church, Osgood, OhioImage: Our Lady of the Rosary | St. Nicholas Church, Osgood, Ohio Our Lady of the Rosary Saint of the Day for October 7 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct07.mp3

 

The Story of Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

The development of the rosary has a long history. First a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

Reflection

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.

The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.

Click here for a reflection on the rosary.

Pray the rosary like never before!

Saint Bruno

10/06/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Bruno</em> | Girolamo MarchesiImage: Saint Bruno | Girolamo Marchesi Saint Bruno Saint of the Day for October 6 (c. 1030 – October 6, 1101) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct06.mp3

 

Saint Bruno’s Story

This saint has the honor of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint’s intense love of a penitential life in solitude.

Bruno was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims, and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII in his fight against the decadence of the clergy, and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains.

He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse”—from which comes the word Carthusians. The climate, desert, mountainous terrain, and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty, and small numbers.

Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts.

Hearing of Bruno’s holiness, the pope called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and after refusing a bishopric, spent his last years in the wilderness of Calabria.

Bruno was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. However, Pope Clement X extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.

Reflection

If there is always a certain uneasy questioning of the contemplative life, there is an even greater puzzlement about the extremely penitential combination of community and hermit life lived by the Carthusians. May we mirror Bruno’s quest for holiness and unity with God.

Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

10/05/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Faustyna and Jesus, I Trust in You sculpture</em> | Piotrków TrybunalskiImage: Saint Faustyna and Jesus, I Trust in You sculpture | Piotrków Trybunalski Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska Saint of the Day for October 5 (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct05.mp3

 

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Story

Saint Faustina’s name is forever linked to the annual feast of the Divine Mercy, the Divine Mercy chaplet, and the Divine Mercy prayer recited each day at 3 p.m. by many people.

Born in what is now west-central Poland, Helena Kowalska was the third of 10 children. She worked as a housekeeper in three cities before joining the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925. She worked as a cook, gardener and porter in three of their houses.

In addition to carrying out her work faithfully, generously serving the needs of the sisters and the local people, Sister Faustina also had a deep interior life. This included receiving revelations from the Lord Jesus, messages that she recorded in her diary at the request of Christ and of her confessors.

At a time when some Catholics had an image of God as such a strict judge that they might be tempted to despair about the possibility of being forgiven, Jesus chose to emphasize his mercy and forgiveness for sins acknowledged and confessed. “I do not want to punish aching mankind,” he once told Saint Faustina, “but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart.” The two rays emanating from Christ’s heart, she said, represent the blood and water poured out after Jesus’ death.

Because Sister Maria Faustina knew that the revelations she had already received did not constitute holiness itself, she wrote in her diary: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God.”

Sister Maria Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow, Poland, on October 5, 1938. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1993, and canonized her seven years later.

Reflection

Devotion to God’s Divine Mercy bears some resemblance to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In both cases, sinners are encouraged not to despair, not to doubt God’s willingness to forgive them if they repent. As Psalm 136 says in each of its 26 verses, “God’s love [mercy] endures forever.”

Click here or below to sign up for our Sisterhood of Saints campaign beginning October 15!

Sisterhood of Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi

10/04/2018 - 12:00am
Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 7)Image: Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis (Scene 7) | Benozzo Gozzoli Saint Francis of Assisi Saint of the Day for October 4 (September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct04.mp3

 

Saint Francis of Assisi’s Story

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit, and without a sense of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father—who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor—so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evoking sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (Luke 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no intention of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

Francis was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life, he died at 44, Francis was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, Francis said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior’s permission to have his clothes removed when the last hour came in order that he could expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.

Reflection

Francis of Assisi was poor only that he might be Christ-like. He recognized creation as another manifestation of the beauty of God. In 1979, he was named patron of ecology. He did great penance—apologizing to “Brother Body” later in life—that he might be totally disciplined for the will of God. Francis’ poverty had a sister, Humility, by which he meant total dependence on the good God. But all this was, as it were, preliminary to the heart of his spirituality: living the gospel life, summed up in the charity of Jesus and perfectly expressed in the Eucharist.

Saint Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of:

Animals
Archaeologists
Ecology
Italy
Merchants
Messengers
Metal Workers

Click here for more on Saint Francis of Assisi!

 

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Theodora Guérin

10/03/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Theodora Guerin | Image courtesy and © Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-WoodsImage: Saint Theodora Guerin | Image courtesy and © Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Saint Theodora Guérin Saint of the Day for October 3 (October 2, 1798 – May 14, 1856) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct03.mp3

 

Saint Theodora Guérin’s Story

Trust in God’s Providence enabled Mother Theodore to leave her homeland, sail halfway around the world, and found a new religious congregation.

Born in Etables, France, Anne-Thérèse Guerin’s life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years, she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister Saint Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health, but that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.

At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, Sr. Saint Theodore and five sisters were sent in 1840 to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had already decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership.

Mother Theodore and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings, and separation from their original religious congregation. She once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”

Mother Theodore is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was beatified in 1998, and canonized as Saint Theodora Guerin eight years later.

Reflection

God’s work gets done by people ready to take risks and to work hard—always remembering what Saint Paul told the Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” Every holy person has a strong sense of God’s Providence.

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Sisterhood of Saints