Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady, Mother of God
It would take hundreds of books to describe the life of our Lady so this just a humble presentation attempting to make us know her better.
The Blessed Vigin Mary was born to St. Joachim and St. Anne, to be the famous woman promised in the Protoevangelium who would crush the head of the serpent. By being exempt
from original sin and living a life in perfect fulfilment of the Will of God, She was visited by the Archangel Gavriel with this Message:
"Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his
father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever"
She conveived by the power of the Holy Spirit the Saviour of the world Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lady lived a humble life as the Mother of Our Saviour, and as the spouse of St. Joseph, She lived the most virtuous life, and accompanied Jesus all the way to Calvary.
The Blessed Virgin Mary didn't die in human way because She was exempt from original sin, and she was immaculate. She passed from this physical existence into the realm of the spirit in an ecstasy of love. The Fathers of the Church speak about her "dormition", and that after three days She was assumed in body and soul into Heaven.
She is the Queen of Heaven and the Queen of all Creation, her holiness surpasses the holiness of all the saints and angels put together By her dignity of being the Mother of God, She is our advocate before Him and at the foot of the cross She was given to us in hte person of John as our Mother.
"Behold your Mother"
She is the women clothed with the sun as protrayed in the Apocalypse, She is the New Jerusalem, the City of God the Mountain of Zion so spoken of in the Holy Scriptures, She is the Living Tabernacle of the Divinity. A true Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary will lead us to Jesus.
Her message is "Do Whatever He tells you"
January 1st, Mother of God
February 2nd, Purification
March 25th, Annunciation by Saint Gabriel
May 31st, Visitation by Mary to Saint Elizabeth
August 2nd, Virgin of Los Angeles
August 15th, Assumption into Heaven
September 8th, Birthday; Feast of the Virgin of Charity
September 15th, Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
November 21st, Presentation of Mary at the Temple
December 8th, Mary's Immaculate Conception
TITLES OF OUR LADY
The Blessed Virgin Mary Blessed Among Woman Mary, Help of Christians
Mary Mother of God Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth Mary, Queen of Angels Mary, Queen of Peace Mary, Queen of the Family Mary, Queen of Africa Mary, Star of the Sea
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Advocate of Eve Advocate of Sinners All Chaste All Fair and Immaculate All Good Bride of Christ
Bride of Heaven Bride of the Father Conceived Without Original Crown of Virginity
Dispenser of Grace Ever Virgin Flower of Carmel Free From Every Stain
Full of Grace Handmaid of the Lord Health of the Sick Helper of All in Danger
Immaculate Immaculate Conception Immaculate Heart Immaculate Heart of Mary
Immaculate Mary Immaculate Mother Immaculate Virgin Lady of Good Help
Lady of Guadulope Lady of Grace Lady of Mercy Lady of Peace Lady of the Rosary
Lady of Perpetual Help Lady of Sorrows Lady of Victory Mary Queen of God
Mary Queen of Angels Mary Queen of Peace Mater Dei Mediatrix Morning Star
Mother of Good Counsel Mother of Jesus Christ Mother of Our Savior Mystical Rose
New Eve Our Immaculate Queen Patroness and protectoress Queen of All Saints
Queen assumed into Heaven Queen conceived without original Sin Queen of Angels
Queen of Apostles Queen of Confessors Queen of Families Queen of Heaven and Earth
Queen of Heaven Queen of Martyrs Queen of Patriarchs Queen of peace Theotokos
Queen of Prophets Queen of the most Holy Rosary Queen of Virgins Salve Regina
Virgin Virgin by the Sea Virgin Mother Virgin of Charity Woman Clothed With the Sun
SAINT ROSE OF LIMA
Feastday: August 23
Parton of Latin America and Phillipines
1586 - 1617
Virgin, born at Lima, Peru on April 20, 1586; died there the 24th of August, 1617.
St. Rose of Lima is the patroness of Latin America and the Philippines. This American
Saint's real name was Isabel, but she was such a beautiful baby that she was called Rose,
and that name remained. As she grew older, she became more and more beautiful, and
one day, her mother put a wreath of flowers on her head to show off her loveliness to
friends. But Rose had no desire to be admired, for her heart had been given to Jesus. So
she put a long pin into that wreath and it pierced her so deeply, that she had a hard time
getting the wreath off afterward. Another time she became afraid that her beauty might
be a temptation to someone, since people could not take their eyes off her. Therefore, she
rubbed her face with pepper until it was all red and blistered.
St. Rose worked hard to support her poor parents and she humbly obeyed them, except
when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. Her love of Jesus was so
great that when she talked about Him, her face glowed and her eyes sparkled.
St. Rose had many temptations from the devil, and there were also many times when she
had to suffer a feeling of terrible loneliness and sadness, for God seemed far away. Yet
she cheerfully offered all these troubles to Him. In fact, in her last long, painful sickness,
this heroic young woman use to pray: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them
increase Your love in my heart."
Many miracles followed her death. She was beatified by Clement IX, in 1667, and
canonized in 1671 by Clement X, the first American to be so honoured. Her feast is
celebrated the 23rd of August. She is represented wearing a crown of roses.
Saint Rose of Lima was born in the City of that name, the daughter of Gaspar Flores, a
harquebusier from San German, Puerto Rico, and his wife, Maria de Olivia, who was a
native of Lima. She was part of a large family. She received the baptismal name Isabel
(Elizabeth). Her later nickname "Rose" was a testament to her evident holiness. When
she was a baby, a servant claimed to have seen her face transform into a rose. In 1597 she
was confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Turibius de Mongrovejo, who was also to be
decleared a saint. She formally took the name of Rose at that time.
As a young girl in emulation of Saint Catherine of Siena she began to fast three times a
week and performed severe penances in secret. When she was admired for her beauty,
Rose cut off her hair, against the objections of her friends and her family, upset that
suitors were beginning to take notice of her. Despite the censure of her partnts, she
spent many hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily. She
was determined to take a vow of virginity, in opposition to her parents, who wished her
to marry. Finally, out of frustration, her father gave her a room to herself in the family
Daily fasting turned to perpetual abstinence from meat. Her days were filled with acts of
charity and industry. Rose helped the sick and hungry around her community. She
would bring them to her room and take care of them. St.Rose sold her fin needlework,
grew beautiful flowers, and would take them to market to help her family. Her exquisite
lace and embroidery also helped to care for the poor, while her nights were devoted to
prayer and penance in a little grotto which she had built. Otherwise, she became a
recluse, leaving her room only for her visits to church.
The fame of her holiness became so widespread among the populace of the colonial city,
that she attracted the attention of the friars of the Dominican Order. She wanted to
become a nun, but her father refused to allow this. Out of obedience to him, instead she
entered the Third Order of St. Dominic, remaining in her parents' home. In her twentieth
year she donned the habit of tertiary and took the vow of perpetual virginity for which
she had longed.
For eleven years this self-martyrdom continued without relatation, with intervals of
ecstasy, until she died on August 24th, 1617, at the age of 31, having prophesied the date
of her death exactly. Her funeral was held in the Cathedral, attended by all the public
authorities of Lima, and it was the archbishop himself gave her eulogy.
St.Rose was beatified by Pope Clement IX on April 15, 1667, and canonized on April 12,
1671 by Pope Clement X, the first Catholic in the Americas to be delcared a saint. Her
shrine, alongside those of her friends, St. Martin de Porres and Saint John Macias, is
located inside the convent of St. Dominic in Lima. The Roman Catholic Church mentions
the many miracles that followed her death. Stories have been heard that she was cured a
leper. Many places are named Santa Rosa in the New World and pay homage to this
saint. Pope Benedict XVI is especially devoted to her.
"The Convent of Saint Rose in Lima"
Her liturgical feast was inserted into the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1729 for
celebration initially on August 30, because August 24 is th anniversary day of her death,
is the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle and August 30 was the closest date not
already occupied by a well-known saint. Pope Paul VI's 1969 reform of the Roman
Catholic calendar of saints, made August 23 available, the day on which her feast day is
now celebrated throughout the world, including Spain, but excluding Peru and some
other Latin American countries, where August 30 is a public holiday in her honor.
She is honored together with St. Martin de Porres and St.Toribio de Mogrovejo with a
feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on August 23.
She is the patroness of native Indian people of the Americas and their beneficence, of
gardeners, of florists, of Lima, of Peru, of the New World, and of Sittard, the Netherlands,
of India, of people misunderstood for their piety and of the resolution of family quarrels.
Early Lives of Santa Rosa with written by the Dominican Father Hansen, "Vita Sanctae
Rosae" (vols., Rome, 1664 - 1668), and Vincente Orsini, afterward. Pope Benedict XIII
wrote "Concentus Dominicano, Bononiensis ecclesia, in album Sanctorum Ludovici
Bertrandi et Rosae de Sancta Maria, ordinero praedictatorum" (Venice, 1674).
There is a park named for her in downtown Sacramento, California. A plot of land at 7th
and K streets was given to the Roman Catholic Church by Peter Burnett, first governor of
the state of California. Father Peter Anderson built one of the first two churches in the
diocese to be consecrated in honor of St.Rose.
In the caribbean twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago, the Santa Rosa Carib
Community, located in Arima, is the largest organization of indigenous peoples on the
island. The second oldest parish in the Diocese of Port-of-Spain, is also named after this
Saint. The Santa Rosa Church, which is located in the town of Arima, was established on
April 20, 1786 as the Indian Mission of Santa Rosa de Arima by on the foundations of a
Capuchin Mission previously established in 1749.
The public may see the cranium of Santa Rosa, in the Basilica in Lima, Peru. It was
customary to keep the torso in the Basilica and pass the cranium around the Country,
inviting all to venerate and gaze. She has a crown of roses on her cranium. She is also
displayed with San Martin de Porres, who also has the cranium separate from the torso.
On the last weekend in August the Fiesta de Santa Rosa is celebrated in Dixon,
The Shrine of Saint Rose of Lima
The Basilica in Lima Peru
Venerated as a Saint in many Christian sects, St. Joseph was a biblical figure who is believed to have been the corporeal father of Jesus Christ.
Everything we know about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus, comes from the bible, and mentions of him are underwhelming. The 13 New Testament books written by Paul (the epistles) make no reference to him at all, nor does the Gospel of Mark, the first of the Gospels. Joseph first appears in the Bible in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, one of which (Matthew) traces Joseph's lineage back to King David.
To add to the problem of not knowing enough about St. Joseph, some apocryphal writings - such as the second century protevangelium of James and the fourth century History of Joseph the carpenter -- muddy the historical waters further, presenting him as a widower with children when he met Mary and claiming that he lived to the age 111. These claims, however, are spurious and are not excepted by the church.
Marriage to Mary.
After marrying Mary, Joseph found that she was already pregnant, and being "a just man and unwilling to put her to shame" (matthew 1:19), he decided to divorce her quietly, knowing that if he did so publicly, she could be stoned to death. An angel, however, came to Joseph and told him that the child Mary carried was the Son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph kept Mary as his wife.
After Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, an angel came to Joseph again, this time to warm him and Mary about King Herod of Judaea and the violence he would bring down upon the child. Joseph then fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and the angel appeared again, telling Joseph that Herod had died and instructing him to return to the Holy Land.
Avoiding Bethlehem and possible actions by Herod's successor, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settled in Nazareth, in Galilee. The Gospels described Joseph as a "tekton," which traditionly has meant "carpenter," and it is assumed that Joseph taught his craft to Jesus in Nazareth. At this point, however, Joseph is never mentioned again by name in the Bible -- although the story of Jesus in the temple includes a reference to "both his parents."
Death and Sainthood.
The circumstances of Joseph's death are not known, but it is likely he died before Jesus' ministry began, and it is implied that he was dead before the crucifixion(John 19:26-27). Already a patron saint of Mexico, Canada and Belgium, in 1870 Joseph was declared partron of the universal church by Pope Pius IX, and in 1955 Pope Pius XII established May 1 as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to counter the Communists' May Day.
St. Jude (Judaeus) was an Apostle and Martyr who lived in the first century. His Feast Day, with St. Simon the Zealot, is celebrated on October 28th each year.
St. Jude is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus as indicated in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13. He was traditionally believed to have been the author of the Epistle of Jude and is often identified as Thaddaeus, the apostle mentioned in Mark 3:18 and Matthew 10:3. In Luke's Gospel and in Acts, he is called "Judaeus, the son of James." Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. The gospel of John does not name him. Jude is generally thought to be the brother of another apostle, St. James the Less.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia for a period of ten years, preaching and converting many to christianity. He probably returned to Jerusalem for the Council of the Apostles, and then he and St. Simon visited Libya and Persia where many more converts were made.
St. Jude died a martyr's death. Details are very skimpy. Tradition tells he could of been clubbed and killed with an ax. Others believe he was martyred with arrows or javlins, or on a cross. Sometime after his death, St. Jude's body was brought to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica.
There were communities who had Jude as the patron in the middle ages, but his popularity (and clear record of history) suffered. The reason is simple enough - his name was too often confused with Judas Iscariot, Christ's betrayer. Because of this confusion, only the most desparate would pray that St. Jude would intervene for them. Hence by the 19th century he became popularity known as the Patron Saint of Lost Cause or of Desparate situations.
The simple truth is that because of the confusion with Iscariot, very little is known now for certain about St. Jude. That being said, St. Jude is looked at as a powerful reminder of Christ's faithfulness to us in all things. Even in the most difficult circumstances that life can present, St. Jude is seen as one who affirms for us that God is still present, still loving, still creating, still making all things new.
Statues of St. Jude often depict him carrying an oar and an anchor. Although the anchor is a Christian symbol of hope - fitting enough for the Patron Saint of lost causes - the anchor and oar may allude to the belief that Jude's eary life was spent as a fishermen.
The boat, the symbol most often associated with St. Jude, may allude to Jude's earlier life, or to Jude's voyages in his part in the mission of founding the early church. A ship is also a well-known symbol of Christian Church; this is often reflected in obvious ways in church architecture.
Ship of St. Jude is depicted in the Rose Window immeditately behind our main alter.
Saint Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei.
Saint Josemaria Escriva was born in Spain on January 9th, 1902 and died in Rome on June 26th, 1975. On October 2nd, 1928. God gave him to see Opus Dei.
1902 - 1914 A Christian Family; St. Josemaria recalled gratefully how his parents introduced him step by
step by step to the Christian way of life.
1914 - 1918 Foot Prints in the Snow; It may seem surprising that a little thing like some footprints in the
snow was enough to make a teenager take the great decision to give his life to God. But that is
the language God often uses to call people , and that is how generous souls who seek God
sincerely are capable of responding with faith.
1918 - 1925 The Seminary Years; Why am I becoming a priest? Our Lord wants something: what is it?
And in Latin - not very elegant Latin - ...I kept repeating, Domine, ut videam! Ut sit! Ut sit! The
thing that you want , and that I don't know - make it happen!"
1925 - 1928 Among the Poor and the Sick; Among the poor, the sick, and the children, he sought the
strength needed to set in motion the immense project that God had placed on his shoulders
that day. It was a school of suffering where his soul would tempted to his mission.
1928 The Founding of Opus Dei; " I was 26, had God's grace and good humor and nothing else.
And I had to do Opus Dei"
1928 - 1936 The First Years of Opus Dei; 1928, 1929, 1930... St. Josemaria had to fulfil God's will, but
had no trained assistants, no money, and no partons.
1936 - 1939 The Civil War; The Spanish Civil War has broken out, together with one of the most violent
periods of religious persecution in the history of the church.
1938 - 1945 Beginning Again; After escaping to the other side of Spain and staying briefly in Pamplona,
St. Josemaria settled in Burgos. From there, in conditions of great deprivation, in a
country devastated by war, he carried out an intense apostolate.
1939 - 1946 Helping Priests; "I began to give many, many retreats -- they used to last seven days at a
time -- in a number of spanish dioceses. I was very young and it embarrassed me."
1946 Traveling to Rome; Christ, Mary, and the Pope had always been the great loves of my life. And
now at last he was there, very close to the Vicar of Christ, on the night of June 23-24, 1946.
1946 - 1951 Joy, Sorrow, Hope; "Do you know why the Work has developed so much? Because it's been
treated like a sack of wheat; it's been beaten and battered about. But the seeds are so small
that they haven't broken. On the contrary, they've been scattered to the four winds..."
Hence the Father's joy when he discovered the canonical way for married people to join
1946 - 1951 Expansion; Between 1946 and 1960 Opus Dei began apostolate in several new countries,
including Portugal, Italy, Great Britain, France, Ireland, the US, Kenya, and Japan. These were
years of pysical suffering. The Father's diabetes was the cause of great discomfort: he lived
with a constand headache, suffered chronic thirst, and gained too much weight, in addition
to the other problems that can arise in connection with this illness.
1952 - 1970 Of a hundred souls, we are interested in a hundred; October 2nd, 1928, St. Josemaria had seen
that Opus Dei was for all kinds of people.
1962 - 1965 Vatican II; On January 26, 1959, on hearing that an ecumenical council had been convened,
the founder of Opus Dei welcomed the news with great hope and asked everyone to pray "for
the happy outcome of this great initiative of an ecumenical council."
1970 - 1971 Difficult Times; "If we all pray together, if we just add a bit of good will, our Lord will give us
his grace and end this dark, terrible night. Then will come the dawn, the morning filled with
1970- 1975 Catechetical Trips; St. Josemaria decided to put his shoulder to the wheel in the task of
strengthening peoples Faith. Starting in 1970, he went on long catechetical trips to various
countries around the world.
1975 I Seek Your Face; St. Josemaria's soul burned with desire to see God's face. "Lord, I long to see
your face, to contemplate you in wonder!"
1975 I Will Help You More; On June 26th, 1975, at 12 noon, St. Josemaria died in his office. The
news of his death traveled quickly around the world.
Saint Anthony Of Padua
" I'll put St. Anthony in the window," my grandmother would say, when my brother couldn't find his wallet , picking up a faded and chipped statue of the saint holding the Child Jesus in his left arm. " St. Anthony, please come around; something is lost that cannot be found," she would chant under her breath. And so it went everytime someone in our house couldn't find something. Once the object was located, my Grandmother would pursue the one who had benefited from St. Anthony's intercession, shaking her finger , "Now don't forget to give five dollars in his name!"
The Catholic Saint Anthony of Padua, also venerated as Saint Anthony of Lisbon, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, which was then a part of spain, in 1195 A.D., and named Fernando de Bulhoes. He is one of the most beloved Cathoic saints today, and he was much loved even in his own time. Saint Anthony's physical appearance was unremarkable; he short and slightly plump, but everyone who heard him speak was drawn to him. St. Anthony was known to have a winning smile, a loud voice and a prodigious memory. His fervent faith must of been apparent for a young age, for by fifteen, he had entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Vincent at Lisbon against his will to do family's wishes.
Then, in 1219, St. Anthony had a portentous meeting with five Franciscans who were on their way to preach to the Muslims of Morocco. The friars were martyred during their mission and their mutilated bodies brought back to Spain where they were carried in solemn procession. St. Anthony was apparently very moved by the Franciscan's sacrifice and their simple lifestyle. He asked his order for permission to join the Franciscans, and in the summer of 1220, received his habit. He took the name Anthony, after St. Anthony the Great.
Saint Anthony greatly desired to follow in the footsteps of the five Franciscans who had so affected him, and preach in Morocco, but ill health forced him to return soon after his arrival there. However, homebound ship was never to reach spain; a storm forced it to land instead on the coast of Italy. Franciscans there had pity on the ailing Anthony and assigned him to the rural hospice of San paolo outside of Bologna. In that location, St. Anthony lived as a hermit and worked in the kitchen, his educated background either unknown or ignored.
The Hermitage was, in time, visited by a gathering of Dominicans. As that order was known for its preaching, the Franciscans did not prepare a homily themselves. When it was found that the Dominicans had expected their host to provide a preacher, the head of the hermitage, in desperation, called upon Anthony to speak some simple words from his heart. The Friars were probably hoping at most for a minimal amount of embarrassment in front of the more learned Dominicans. Instead, the whole company was awestruck by the brilliant words emanating from the mouth of St. Anthony. It was the beginning of his fame as a preacher. St. Francis himself learned of St. Anthony's extraordinary speaking abilities and sent Anthony a note exhorting him to preach to the other Franciscans.
In 1226 the Franciscans chose St. Anthony as an envoy to Pope Gregory IX from the general chapter, and on May 30, 1227 he was elected minister provincial of part of Italy. St. Anthony humbly served as directed but in June of 1230 he asked for release from his duties to order to devote himself to preaching. His request was granted, and from then on, St. Anthony resided in the monastery at Padua where he wrote, among other things, his famous sermons on the saints.
The beloved preacher became ill with dropsy in 1231 and on June 13, now his feast day, he died at the Poor Clare convent in Arcella at the young age of 36. Legend has it that children cried and angels rang bells when St. Anthony died. His body was buried in a chapel, which is now enclosed by the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua. In 1263, when his relics were transferred to the Basilica, his tongue was found to be still fresh and red in color. Saint Anthony's was the second fastest canonization in history; he was declared a saint 352 days after his death, by the same Pope Gregory he had met in life.
Saint John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests
The Secret of His Holiness - A Lesson for Priests and Parents Alike.
Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney was a religious personality of unusual force. To the incomparable exclusion of everything else he addressed himself to the greater honor and glory of God and the salvations of souls. He excepted his obligation to holiness at an early age, and it took complete possession of him. Every word he uttered was spoken out of the world of religiousness. He brought to a conclusion an achievement which it would be hard for anyone to imitate. From this man there emanated an influence which cannot be overlooked, and the results which cannot be contested.
St. John Vianney's Mother was a women of great piety, and she led him into the way of religion at an early age. "I owe a debt to my Mother," he said, and added, "virtues go easily from mothers into the hearts of their children, who willingly do what they see being done." He was a good-natured boy, with blue eyes and brown hair. In spite of his lively dispostion, he admitted much later on in life that "when I was young, I did not know evil. I was first acquainted with it in the confessional, from the mouths of sinners."
It was only after much toil and trouble that St. John Vianney was admitted to the priesthood. At the age of 20 , he was having great difficulty in his studies for the priesthood. Mathias Loras, perhaps the most intelligent of Jean-Marie's fellow seminarians, who was assigned to help him in his lessons, was of a nervous and excitable temperament. One day his patients was exhausted by the sheer incapacity of the big young man, and he boxed his ears before all the others. Jean-Marie was also excitable, but he knelt down before the boy of twelve who had treated him so outrageously and humbly ask his forgiveness. Mathia's had a golden heart. Suddenly he felt smitten with grief and, his face bathed in tears, he threw himself into the arms of Jean-Marie who was still on his knees. This incident marked the beginning of an abiding friendship. Mathia's Loras subsequently became a missionary in the United States, and eventually Bishop of Dubuque, but never could he forget the action of Jean-Marie and the accent with which he spoke on that occasion.
In his assignment at parish priest of Ars, St. John achieved something which many priest would like to have done, but which is scarcely granted to any. Not over night, but little by little, the tiny hamlet underwent a change. The people of Ars were unable to remain aloof for long from the grace which radiated from the remarkable personality of their priest. When a man attacks inveterate disorders and popular vices, he challenges opposition. St. John was not unprepared - he knew the enemy would raise his head. "If a priest is determined not to lose his soul," he exclaimed, "so soon as any disorder arises in the parish , he must trample underfoot all human considerations as well as the fear of the contempt and hatred of his people. He must not allow anything to bar his way in the discharge of duty, even were he certain of being murdered on coming down from the pulpit. A pastor who wants to do his duty must keep his sword in hand at all times. Did not St. Paul himself write to the faithful Corinth: "I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls, although loving you more, I be loved less."
In the early sermons, he thundered against the privalent vices of the village of Ars: Blasphemies, cursing, profanation of Sundays, dances and gatherings at taverns, immodest songs and conversation. "The tavern,"he would say, "is the devil's own shop, the school where hell retails its dogmas, the market where souls are bartered, the place where families are broken up, where health is undermined, where quarrels are started and murders committed."
Saint John Marie would never consider Ars converted until all of the 200 villagers where living up to the ten commandments of God, the six precepts of the Church and the fulfillment of their duties in life. Was this asking to much in exchange for Heaven? Complete enforcement of the third commandment took eight long years. "You labor, but what you earn proves the ruin of your soul and your body. If we ask those who work on Sunday, "What have you been doing?" they might answer, "I have been selling my soul to the devil and crucifying our Lord...I am doomed to hell..."When I behold people driving carts on Sunday, it seems to me I see them carting their souls to hell"
Undoubtedly though, the most heinous crime in the eyes of this saint, the one that made him weep whenever he heard it or spoke against it, was the taking of the most Holy Name of Jesus in vain. He used to say that it was an astounding miracle that people who did this where not struck dead on the spot. But he warned them, "Modesty was absolutely required, not only when in church but at all times - no low necks or bare arms.
It took St. John Vianney ten whole years to renew Ars, but the community changed so noticeably and to such an extent that it was observed even by outsiders. There was no more working on Sundays, the Church was filled more and more every year, and drunkenness fell off. In the end the taverns had to close their doors since they had no more customers; and even domestic squabbles abated. Honesty became the principal characteristic . "Ars is no longer Ars," as St. John Vianney himself wrote; for it had undergone a fundamental change. Under his guidance the little village became a community of pious people, to whom all his labors were directed. He delighted in teaching the children their catechism and he did this daily. After a while the grown-ups came too and he found that those who were children during the Revolution were incomplete ignorance of their religous duties. He taught the people love for the Rosary and wanted everyone to carry on around at all times. It is truly astounding to reflect upon what St. John Vianney, with a staff of trained assistants, was able to acheive in the village in the space of afew years. What an immense amount of endeavor underlay his work will best be appreciated by anyone who has had to convert only afew drunkards to sanity.
Jean-Marie sanctified himself whilst at work in the field or in the house. The supernatual world was ever present to him, but for all that he was neither a slacker nor a dreamer, his being a healthy and active temperament. "O what a beautiful thing it is to do all things in union with the good God!" he would say. "Courage, my soul, if you work with God, you shall, indeed, do the work, but He will bless it. You shall walk and he will bless your steps. Everything shall be taking account of - the forgoing of a look, of some gratification - all shall be recorded. There are people who make capital out of everything, even the winter. If it is cold they offer their little sufferings to God. Oh! What a beautiful thing it is to offer oneself, each morning, as a victim to God!"
In the letters of consolation to a cousin, Frere Chalovet, whom obedience had sent to the Hotel-Dieu of Lyons and who was greatly tempted, he wrote: "My good friend, I write these lines in haste to tell you not to leave, in spite of all the trials that the good God wishes you to endure. Take courage! Heaven is rich enough to reward you. Remember that the evils of this world are the lot of good Christians. You are going through a kind of martyrdom. But what a happiness for you to be a martyr of charity! Do not lose so beautiful a crown. "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for my sake, " says Jesus Christ, our model. Farewell, my most dear friend. Persevere along the way on which you have so happily entered and we shall see each other again in Heaven. Soon there will be no more cross for us! What devine bliss! To see that good Jesus Who has loved us so much and Who will make us so happy!"
Often when the Cure was returning to Ars from missionary expeditions, Mayor Mandy, who was anxious about the safety of his holy pastor, would send his son Antoine to accompany him in his journey home. "Even amid the snows and cold winters," Antoine afterwards related, "we rarely took the shortest and best road. M. le Cure had invariably to visit some sick person. Yet the tramp never seemed very long, for the servant of God well knew how to shorten it by relating most interesting episodes from the lives of the saints. If I happened to make some remark about the sharpness of the cold or the ruggedness of the road, he was always ready with an answer: "My friend, the saints have suffered far more; let us offer it all to the good God." When he ceased from speaking of holy things we began the Rosary. Even today I will cherish the memory of those holy conversations."
St. John Vianney had loved Mary from the cradle. As a priest he had exerted all his energy in spreading her glory. To convince themselves of it, the pilgrims had but to look at the small statues of her that adorned the front of every house in the village. In each home there was also a colored picture of the Mother of God, presented and signed by M. le Cure. In 1814 he had erected a large statue Mary Immaculate on the pediment of his Church. Eight years earlier, on May 1, 1836, he had dedicated his parish to Mary Conceived Without Sin. The picture with perpetuates this consecration, says Catherine Lassagne, is placed at the entrance to our Lady's Chapel. Shortly afterwards he ordered a heart to be made, in vermeil (color), which is, even to this day, suspended from the neck of the miraculous Virgin. This heart contains the names of all the parishioners of Ars, written on a white silk ribbon. On the feasts of Our Lady, Communions were numerous, and the Church was never empty. On the evening of those festivals the nave and the side chapels could barely contain the congregation, for no wished to miss M. Vianneys homily in honor of Our Blessed Lady. The hearers were entralled by the enthusiasm with which he spoke of holiness, the power, and the love of the Mother of God.
The explanation of this mysterious transformation of the village of Ars can only be grapsed in the remarkable manner that simple priest realized that a man must always begin with himself, and that even the rebirth of a community can only be achieved by its renewing itself. We must expect nothing of men which is not already embodied within them. On the basis of this perception St. John Vianney set to work, in the first place, upon himself, so that he could attain the ideal which he demanded of his parishioners in his own person. He took his own religious obligations with the greatest seriousness, and did not care whether the people noticed this or not. And finally the inhabitants of Ars said to each other: "Our priest always does what he says himself, he practices what he preaches. Never have we seen him allow himself any relaxation."
The priest of Ars subjected himself to a strict fast. In his way he sought to reduce the requirements of his life to minimum. One meal sufficed him for the whole day. He abstained from alcohol except for wine at holy mass and normally ate only a little black bread and one or two potatoes cooked in water: he would prepare sufficient of these to last him the whole week, keeping them in an earthenware pan, and often they were covered with a coating of mold. Frequently he fasted for a whole day until, overcome, he would collapse from physical weakness. In view of this mode of life he had no need, of course, of a housekeeper - apart from the fact that his house stood almost empty anyway. Since he considered that his self mortification was all too inadequate, he had a special penitential garment made, which he wore next to his skin, and which, by reason of the constant friction against his body, was soon stained a reddish brown. For the most part he slept on a bare mattress when he was not sleeping on a bundle of wood down in the cellar.
St. John Vianney's assiduity in the confessional and the hardships entailed thereby would, of themselves, have sufficed to raise him to high sanctity. However, he thirsted for mortifications as others thirst for pleasure, and he never had his fill of penance. He laid on himself the sacrifice never to enjoy the fragance of a flower, never to taste fruit nor to drink, were it only afew drops of water, during the height of the summer heat. He would not brush away a fly that importuned him. When on his knees he would not rest his elbows on the kneeling bench. He made a law unto himself never to show any dislike, and to hide all natural repugances. He modified the most legitmate curosity: thus he never expressed so much as a wish to see the railway which passed by Ars at a distance of afew kilometers, and which daily brought him so many visitors. During the whole of his priestly life he never indulged in any light reading, not even that of a newspaper. The Annals of the propagation of the Faith are the only periodical that he ever perused.
Regarding modification, he once said, "My friend, the devil is not greatly afraid of the discipline and other instruments of penance. That which beats him is the curtailment of one's food, drink and sleep. There is nothing the devil fears more, consequently, nothing is more pleasing to God. Oh! How often have I experienced it! Whilst I was alone - and I was alone during eight or nine years, and therefore quite free to, yeild my attraction - it happened at times that I refrained from food for entire days. On those occasions I obtained, both for myself and for others, whatsoever I asked of Almighty God."
St. John Vianney read much and often the lives of saints, and became so impressed by their holy lives that he wanted for himself and others to follow their wonderful examples. The ideal of holiness enchanted him. This was the theme which underlay his sermons. "We must practice modification. For this is the path which all Saints have followed," he said from the pulpit. He placed himself in that great tradition which leads the way to holiness through personal sacrifice. "If we are not now saints, it is a great misfortune for us: therefore we must be so. As long as no love in our hearts , we shall never be Saints."The saint, to him, was not an exceptional man before whom we should marvel, but a possibility which was open to all Catholics. Unmistakably did he declare in his sermons that "to be a Christian and to live in sin is monstrous contradiction. A Christian must be holy." With his Christian simplicity he had clearly thought much on these things and understood them by devine inspiration, while they are usually denied to the understanding of educated men.
The conversion of the whole parish was too unuasal an occurance for it to remain unknown. From the year 1827, there began the famous stream of pilgrams to Ars. People went to Ars from all parts of france, from Belguim, from England and even from America. The principal motive that led to all these crowds of pilgram to the priest of Ars was purely the desire for him to hear their confession by the longing to meet once and for all the priest who knew all about the reality of the soul. The priest of Ars possessed the abiltiy to see the human soul and its nakedness, freed of its body. This grace is only rarely bestowed on men. He never put his nose into the spiritual affairs of other people. He was entirely free from inquisitiveness Like St. Francis de sales, he had the gift of "seeing everything and not looking at anyone." In confessing people his holy man, who had a fundamental knowledge of sin, strove after one thing only - to save souls. This was his ardent desire, and for the sake of it he suffered all the tortures of his day long confinement in the confessional. This great saint heard confessions from 13 to 17 hours a day, and could tell a penitent's sins even when they were withheld. In order to save souls one must be possessed of that holy love of men which consumed the priest of Ars. He would often weep in the confessional and when he was asked why he wept, he would reply: "My friend, I weep because you do not weep."
"The great miracle of the Cure d Ars," someone has said, "was his confessional ,besieged day and night."It might be said with equal truth that his greatest miracle was the conversion of sinners: "I have seen numerous and remarkable ones, "the Abbe Raymond assures us, and they form the most beautiful chapter of the life of the Cure d Ars." Oh, my friend, he often told me, "only at the last judgement will it become known how many souls have here found their salvation." "In reality," Jeanne-Marie Chanay writes, "he made but small account of miraculous cures. 'The body is so very little,' he used to repeat. That which truly filled him with joy was the return of souls to God. "How many occasions he had for such joy! M. Prosper des Garets relates: "I asked him one day how many big sinners he had converted in the course of a year. 'Over seven hundred,' was his reply." Hence it is easy to understand the wish expressed by a Cure who made the pilgramage to Ars: "Those of my parishioners who go to M. Vianney becomes models. I wish I could take my whole parish to him."
One day, under the pretext of sending him on an errand, the Baronne de Belvey dispatched to M. Vianney a hardened sinner, who only set foot in the church at Christmas and Easter. It would seem he had not been to confession since his first communion. "How long is it since you were last at confession?", M. le Cure asked. "Oh, forty years." "Forty-four," the saint replied. The man took a pencil and made a hasty calculation on the plastering of the wall. "Yes, it is quite true," he admitted, overcome with amazement. The sinner was converted and died a good death.
St. John Vianney possessed a gift of being able to understand the soul of a man in an instant, and, without any lengthy explanations, to feel at once what spiritual trouble was afflicting it. He had a clear sighted vision which enabled him to foretell to a man what would happen to him in the future. This gift of God overpowered the people who visited his confessional, and to whom he granted a word of pardon. The words and advice of the Cure were like darts; they penetrated deeply. He said little, but his little was enough. To a priest who complained about the indifference of people in his parish. St. John Vianney answered: "You have preached , you have prayed, but have you fasted? Have you taken the dicipline (a self imposed scourge)? Have you slept on the floor? So long as you have done none of these things, you have no right to complain." To a mother of a large family, who was expecting another child, he said with fatherly kindness and consideration: "Be comforted, my child. If you only knew the women who will go to Hell because they did not bring into the world the children they should have given to it."
Miracles are signs of devine approval, though sanctity may exist without them. Had he wrought not a single miracle, the Cure d'Ars would yet call for our admiration. His life was in itself a daily prodigy. Ribadeneira , writing of St. Bernard in that volume of the Lives of the Saints which the Cure d'Ars was forever reading, says that, "Abbot of Clairvaux was himself the first and greatest of all his miracles." This sentiment of the old hagiographer has been reechoed with no less felicity by one of M. Vianney's contemporaries - namely, the worthy Jean Peretinand, the village schoolmaster, who was likewishe the saint's friend and his occastional nurse. "The most arduous, most extraordinary and most prodigious work that the Cure d'Ars accomplished was his own life." And his neighbor of Fareins, the Abbe Dubouis declares that "without supernatural assistance M. Vianney would have sunk under the crushing weight of his work." "It is humanly inconceivable that, for the space of thirty years, he should have been equal to a task under the weight of which any other priest , however strong he might have been, would have quickly succumbed," says Canyon Gardette. "He was visably helped by physicians who attended the holy Cure. "Knowing , as I do, his mode of life, I look upon his existence as extraordinary and beyond the range of a natural explanation," was the verdict of Doctor Michel , of Coligny. Hence we may conclude in the words of Paul Bourget: "No, the era of miracles is not over, but to produce them saints are required - and they are too few."
In the process of his canonization, Mgr. Mermod, who was Cure of dex at the time, relates the following incident: "An incorrigible drunkard of Chaleins, my former parish, was converted by M. Vianney. During the three years that he lived afterwards that man never drank a drop of wine, and led an extemplary life. Now a striking thing happened . One day the good man called at the priest's residence; he was quite well, yet he wished to go to confession, giving as his reason that he was going to die. As he presisted in his request, I gave him absolution and holy communion. An hour later he was dead."
Mlle. Claudine Venet, of Viregneux, a small village of the canton of Saint-Galmier, in the Loire, was taken to Ars of February 1, 1850. In consequence of an attack of brain fever, she had become completely deaf and blind. M. Vianney had never seen her; no one had introduced him to her. On that February 1, she happened to be standing outside the church as he went by. Without speaking a word, he took her hand, led her into the sancristy and made her kneel down in the confessional. He had hardly given her his blessing when her sight and hearing returned. It seemed to her that she had awakened from a long dream. After her confession, the servant of God made the following amazing prophecy: "Your eyes are healed, but you will become deaf for another twelve years. It is God's will that I should be so!" On leaving the sancristy, Claudine Venet felt her ears closing once more, As a matter of fact, she could no longer hear anything. The infirmity lasted twelve years as foretold on this February 1,1850. Calm and resigned, enjoying the sight that had been restored to her, the stricken woman awaited the day of her deliverance. Great was her emotion when, on January 18, 1862, she felt perfectly cured.
In 1854, a girl of Montchanin (Saone-et-Loire) of the name Farnier, came to Ars to beg from M. Vianney the cure of her paralyazed leg. "My child, "the saint told her, "you disobey your mother far too often, and answer back in a disrespectful manner. If you wish the good God to cure you, you must correct that ugly defect. Oh! what a task lies before you! But remember one thing: you will indeed get well but by degrees, according as you try to correct that defect." As soon as Mlle. Farnier returned home she endeavored to show more obedience and respect to her mother. Her crippled leg, which had been four inches shorter than the other, insensibly grew longer , and at the end of afew years her infirmity had wholly vanished.
His cousin, Marguerite Humbert, came one day to beg his prayers for one of her little daughters who was dangerously ill. "She is ripe for heaven," he said without hesitation. "As for you, my cousin, you need crosses to make you think of God."
Francoise Lebeau, a poor girl of Saint-Martin-de-Commune in the Seoneet-Loire, had become quite blind. She went with her mother on a pilgramage to Ars. They begged their bread the whole way and slept in stables or sheds. To this poor girl M. Vianney did not fear to disclose something of devine mystery of suffering, for his inspired gaze had fathomed her valiant spirit. "My child, "you can be cured, but if the good God restores your sight, your salvation will be less assured; if,on the contrary, you consent to keep your infirmity, you will go to heaven, and I even guarantee that you will have a high place there. "The blind girl understood; she no longer asked for a cure and left Ars in a state of perfect resignation to God's will. Nor had M. Vianney the courage to pity the mothers whose children died in infancy. "I had the misfortune to lose one of my children aged five years," relates Mme. des Garets. "This is what M. Vianney replied to my brother-in-law who brought the news to him: 'Happy mother, Happy child! What a grace for both of them! How is it this innocent little one has merited that its time of probation should have been shortened, to enable it to enter so soon into eternal bliss?"
Even in the purely material order Ars appeared to be under a special protection. "I have heard my mother say," Madeleine Mandy-Scripiot relates, "that since 1825, the year she came to live in the parish, until the death of M. Vianney, there never was a hail storm. She ascribed this protection to the merits of the servant of God, the more so as he himself was in the habit of asking for prayers that we might be spared the scourge.
Saint Francis Of Assisi
Saint Francis is call the poor little man of Assisi. He was born in the year 1182 in the town of Assisi in Italy. His father's name was Bernadone. Bernadone was a very wealthy merchant of Assisi. Francis was a very good-looking boy. He was merry and soft-hearted. So he had many friends. All the noble men's son were his companions.
Francis was brought up in luxury and gaiety. He spent a considerable portion of his wealth in extravagant pleasures. He used to drink with young princes of the land.
One day Francis was laughing and joking with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis, who was soft hearted, gave whatever he had in his pocket to the beggar. His companions mocked at him for his charitable act. Dispassion dawned in his heart. The sight of the beggar set him thinking about proverty and misary of mundane life. He gave much money to the poor. His father thought Francis was wasting his money and rebuked him.
Sometime after this, Francis was laid up in bed for many months on account of some serious disease. He was about to die. But the Lord saved him as he had to carry out a definite mission in his life. The nature of Francis was entirely changed. Francis prayed to the Lord for light and guidance as to his future. He had a vision of Lord Jesus. He made a strong determination to renounce his old way of living to tread a life of purity and to dedicate his life to the service of humanity.
As soon as Francis got well, he informed his parents of his determination. They were disappointed. They became angry with Francis. Francis gave up his old ways and habits and set up to serve God. He distributed clothes, goods and money to the poor. His father was very much annoyed towards his son. He said, "Is this the gratitude you show to me? I laboured hard and amassed wealth. You are lavishly wasting it on these miserable wretches".
Francis' friends mocked at him and teased him. His father turned him out of the house. Francis lived like a beggar. His old friends even pelted him with stones and mud. He bore everything with patience. He wore a coarse dress and ate simple food.
Francis lived in a cave in the mountains of Assisi and spent his time in prayer and meditation for two years. Some kind people gave him food, but very often he had to starve.
Francis called the body 'brother ass'. He kept his brother ass under perfect discipline and control. Sometimes he kept his brother ass without food and water and denied it some special food that it liked very much.
Francis was humble. He loved God's creatures. He loved birds and beasts. He loved the depressed and the outcastes. He treated the birds, the beasts and all beings as brothers and sisters.
Francis went from village to village preaching the love of God. He invited people to join him in his life of service if they were willing. Bernard, a rich man of Assisi, was very much attracted by the saintliness of Francis. He joined Francis. He was the first follower of Francis. He placed all this wealth at the alter of God. Eleven others also joined Francis . They distributed all their wealth to the poor. Francis and his followers went all over Italy preaching, teaching, healing, and blessing wherever they went.
The gospel of kindness and love of francis soon spread all over Europe and earned for him the name St. Francis. People called him the little man of Assisi. He lived forever in the hearts of all men.
St. Francis collected many followers and founded the Order of Mendicant Friars or Franciscans. The members of this Order have to take a vow of proverty, chasity, love and obedience.
St. Francis gave up his mortal coil in 1228.
The followers of St. Francis built a beautiful church around him on a hill of Assisi, the hill he so dearly loved. The influence of St. Francis and the sweet aroma of the life he lived will last forever.
Glory to St. Francis, the poor litte man of Assisi, but an illustrious saint!
St. Francis feast day is October 4th and he is a patron saint of animals, ecologists and merchants.
St. Francis died on October 4th, 1226 at the age of 45.
Habit of Francis of Assisi
A Garden Statue of St. Francis of Assisi with birds.
Francis considered his stigmata part of the imitation of Christ.
St. Therese Of Lisieux, The Little Flower
Therese Martin was born to Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin on January 2nd, 1873. At the age of 15, she entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, France. With the religious name of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, she lived a hidden life of prayer. She was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and darkness, she remained faithful, rooted in God's powerful love. She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.
The world came to know her through her autobiography, "The Story of A Soul." She described her life as "a little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with unshakable confidence in God's love. What matters in life is "not great deeds, but great love."
The inspiration of her life and her powerful presence from heaven touched so many people so quickly that she was solemnly canonized on May 17th, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Had she lived, she would have only been 52 years old at the time of her canonization. In 1997 St. Therese was declared a Doctor of the church by Pope John Paul II.
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses. "Countless lives have been touched by her intercession, and millions have imitated her "little way." She has been acclaimed the "greatest saint of modern times. "Everywhere in the world, her roses continue to fall.
Carmelite convent in Lisieux,France
"I will let fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses" The Feast Day of St. Therese is October 1st