Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Aristides

St. Aristides was a convert to Catholicism living in Athens during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. He is best known as an apologist and philosopher who composed a treatise in defense of Christianity.

Persecution had once again raised its head in the Roman empire following the emperor's initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries. This act had caused a flare up of pagan zeal leading to persecution of Christians. In response to this, Aristides composed his apologetic treatise and delivered it to the emperor while he was staying in Athens in 126 a.d.

Aristides is believed to have passed away between 133 and 134 a.d.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Pammachius

Pammachius was born into the Furii family in the fourth century. As a young man Pammachius attended the schools of rhetoric where he first met his lifelong friend, St. Jerome. In 385 he married the second daughter of St. Paula, Paulina.

Pammachius was one of several people who denounced Jovinian, who was later condemned at a synod in Rome, to Pope St. Siricius. This denunciation caused St. Jerome to write his own criticism of Jovinian's teachings, however, Pammachius criticized this work "for prudential reasons." This led to a correspondence between the friends, in which Jerome thanked his friend but defended his work.

After Paulina's death in 397, Pammachius devoted his life to prayer and works of charity. With the help of St. Fabiola, Pammachius built a hospice for the poor at Porto.

He continued his correspondence with St. Jerome, urging him to translate Origen's "De Principiis." Pammachius also condemned the Donatist heresy and exhorted the people of Numidia to abandon it, for which action he received a letter of thanks from St. Augustine.

Pammachius died in Rome in the year 409.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Medericus

St. Medericus, or Merry, was born in Autun, France. Little is known of his life until, at 13, he entered a Benedictine monastery at St. Martin's in Autun. The 54 monks in this community lived lives of prayer and penance.

Merry was eventually chosen abbot of the monastery, much against his will. As abbot he preached by example and the reputation of his sanctity spread throughout the country. He was always aware of the temptation to become prideful due to his position so when he found himself becoming quite popular amongst the monks and lay people he fled to a forest four miles from Autun. He lived here for several years, living by the work of his hands.

His hideout was discovered at the same time that he fell ill, forcing him to return to the monastery. In his old age, Merry led the monks on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Germanus in Paris. He lived in Paris for some time with St. Frou (Frodulf) in a cell next to a chapel dedicated to St. Peter. It was in this cell that he suffered for 3 years from a painful illness before passing away peacefully in 700 a.d.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Augustine

Augustine was born on November 13, 354 in Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa, the son of Patricius and St. Monica. Though his mother did her best to raise the boy as a Christian, his studies in Carthage were determined to pull him in the opposite direction.

Away from the influence of his mother, Augustine began to live recklessly. He began drinking and carousing and fathered a son, Adeotadus, out of wedlock. He fell in with the Manicheaen sect, and remained in this moral state for eleven years.

When Augustine returned to his mother in this state she became alarmed and began to pray fervently for her son's conversion. After nine years of anguish, Monica's prayers were answered and her son turned to the faith and was baptised by St. Ambrose. His mother passed away shortly thereafter.

Augustine had long been noted as a scholar and orator and he now used these talents on behalf of the Gospel. After returning home and dividing his property amongst the poor he entered a monastery and began to write treatises culminating in his Confessions, a powerful autobiography, City of God, and Retractiones. He was eventually ordained a priest and, in 396, Bishop of Hippo. As bishop he fought heresies, including Manichaeism and founded religious communities.

He perished during the siege on the Roman empire by the vandals on August 28, 430. He has since been declared a Doctor of the Church.

St. Augustine is the patron saint: against sore eyes; of brewers; of the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; the diocese of Ida, Philippines; of the Isleta Indian Pueblo; of the diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; of Ponte Nizza, Italy; of printers; of the city and diocese of St. Augustine, Florida; of the diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; of theologians; of the diocese of Tucson, Arizona; and of Valletta, Malta.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Monica

Monica was born, to a Christian family, in 333 A.D. at Tagaste, North Africa. She had a pious upbringing, but, at a young age, was married to a pagan official named Patricius. Monica's prayers and endurance allowed them to have a peaceful marriage in spite of his bad-temper and adultery. Together, they had three children, Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua.

Monica's constant prayers for her husband led to his deathbed conversion, giving his wife much consolation. However, her prayers were immediately turned to her eldest son, Augustine. He confesses in his writings to having been a lazy and troublesome youth. Throughout the time he spent in school, first in Madaura and then in Carthage, his mother was concerned for the state of his soul. When he returned to her, at the age of 19, as a heretic, having entered the Manichaean sect, she became greatly alarmed and increased in her efforts for his salvation.

Augustine records in his Confessions a dream which Monica received around this time. "In her dream she saw herself standing on a sort of wooden rule, and saw a bright youth approaching her, joyous and smiling at her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But when he inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (not to learn from her, but to teach her, as is customary in visions), and when she answered that it was my soul's doom she was lamenting, he bade her rest content and told her to look and see that where she was there I was also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule."

Not long after receiving this dream, Monica approached a bishop who had also been a Manichaean before entering the Church. She pleaded with him to intercede with her son but he saw that, at this time, anything he might say would only make the situation worse, since Augustine was not yet open to hearing the truth. However, this bishop assured Monica that "the child of those tears shall never perish."

Monica spent 9 years in anguished prayer for her son, even following him to Rome and Milan. While in Milan, she encountered Bishop Ambrose who assisted in her efforts to bring Augustine to the faith.

The two eventually succeeded and, a few months after Augustine's conversion, Monica passed away in the ancient port city of Ostia where she was buried. Augustine recounted her in his Confessions: "I will not speak of her gifts, but of Thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of Thy Christ, the discipline of Thy only Son, that trained her in Thy fear, in the house of one of Thy faithful ones who was a sound member of Thy Church."

St. Monica is the patroness of: abuse victims; alcoholics; the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers; Bevilacqua, Italy; difficult marriages; disappointing children; homemakers; housewives; Mabini, Bohol, Philippines; married women; mothers; victims of adultery; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse; widows; and wives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Doctor Zhivago***

"This tale of revolutionary Russia is rich with detail and the character of Lara is almost more fascinating than that of Zhivago himself."

Well . . . I love the Russian writing style! This is only the second Russian novel I've read but they both shared a uniquely Russian style that I really appreciated. This does include some jumping around which can be confusing at first but it all comes together eventually. I also love all the beautiful Russian names, which also can be confusing but the main characters are the ones that keep turning up and the others don't matter as much so don't worry about them.

Now, in terms of the actual story. It literally took me until the last page of the epilogue to decide whether or not I liked the book. In the end I definitely liked it. The book is really more about how people's lives intertwine than about Zhivago or Lara specifically. There is one passage from the book that really illustrates this: "The man who had just died was Private Gimazetdin; the excited officer who had been shouting in the wood was his son, Lieutenant Galiullin; the nurse was Lara. Gordon and Zhivago were the witnesses. All these people were together, in one place. But some of them had never known each other, while others failed to recognize each other now. And there were things about them which were never to be known for certain, while others were not to be revealed until a future time, a later meeting."

On the last page of the epilogue the idea is also put forth that main character of the book is not actually Zhivago but, rather, the city of Moscow. "But Moscow, right below them and stretching into the distance, the author's native city, in which he had spent half his life - Moscow now struck them not as the stage of the events connected with him but as the main protagonist of a long story, the end of which they had reached that evening, book in hand." As a matter of fact, Zhivago, himself, is not a particularly likeable character. Even Lara is not nearly as good as she's painted. By far the best character in the book is Tonia. And poor Pasha is just pitiable.

I think I would have discovered that I enjoyed the book much earlier had I had those two ideas, that the book was about the intertwining of people's lives and that Moscow was the main character, in mind. In fact, I would like to re-read the book and see if I enjoy it any better now that I understand that.

Some great quotes:

  • "She must stop all this nonsense. Once and for all. Stop playing at being shy, simpering and lowering her eyes - or it would end in disaster. There loomed an imperceptible, a terrifying borderline. One step and you would be hurtled into an abyss."

  • "and she merely wondered: 'Does one always humiliate those one loves?'

  • "The intended revolver shot had already gone off in her heart - and it was a matter of complete indifference whom the shot was aimed at. This shot was the only thing that she was conscious of. She heard it all the way to Petrovka Street, and it was aimed at Komarovsky, at herself, at her own fate, and at the wooden target on the Duplyanka oak tree."

  • "I don't know a movement more self-centered and further removed from the facts than Marxism. Everyone is only worried about proving himself in practical matters, and as for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of their infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore the truth."

  • "People must be drawn to good by goodness."
  • "There are limits to everything. In all this time something definite should have been achieved. But it turns out that those who inspired the revolution aren't at home in anything except change and turmoil, they aren't happy with anything that's on less than a world scale. For them, transitional periods, worlds in the making, are an end in themselves."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crazy Time

So it's getting to that crazy time of year known as back-to-school. Due to this I am rather behind in my posting. I will catch up on all the amazing saints and feasts I've missed this weekend but it may not be until next week when I'm settled in Steubenville. Actually, don't hold your breath for posts this week either. I'm a little overwhelmed with packing and other such things that need to get done before next Sunday. So I'll try to catch up and keep up but don't count on it. In the meantime, God Bless!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Clare

St. Clare was born on July 16, 1194 in Assisi, Italy. She was the daughter of a count and countess, her mother being Blessed Orsolana. In her childhood Clare was greatly influenced by the piety of her mother and was known to save food from her plate to give to the poor.

As she grew older Clare was recognized as a beautiful girl and many men sought her hand in marriage. However, Clare had long sought to follow God wherever he called her and she discovered this calling upon hearing the preaching of St. Francis.

On the night of Palm Sunday, 1212, Clare fled her family's home to meet St. Francis in the Portiuncula Chapel, one of three churches that St. Francis had literally rebuilt. There, she cast aside her fine garments for a simple dress of sackcloth and a veil, along with parting from her beautiful golden hair. With these simple acts she offered her life to God as the first woman to enter the Franciscan order.

Clare, her cousin Pacifica who had fled with her, and her sister Agnes who joined them the next day, lived for a time with a community of Benedictine nuns at San Paolo delle Abadesse until Francis finished the convent of San Damiano which was being rebuilt for their use. While with the Benedictines, Clare's uncle, her guardian since the death of her father, came with a group of soldiers to bring the girls home. They all refused and when the soldiers attempted to carry Agnes away she cried to Clare to help her. Clare immediately fell to her knees in prayer and Agnes suddenly became too heavy for the soldiers to lift. When they found they were unable to carry any of the girls they gave up for the time being, though Clare's uncle continued in his attempts to bring the girls home, but was never succesful.

The girls eventually moved into San Damiano where they were joined by other ladies, including Clare's mother, many of whom were from Assisi's noble families. Francis, himself, presided over the "Poor Ladies," for a time, before Clare was assigned the role of abbess.

The cloistered sisters devoted their lives to work and prayer. Every Franciscan, both the friars and the sisters, had a task assigned especially to them. Clare's task was embroidery, making the altar cloths used at Mass along with garments for Francis, the friars, and sisters and, eventually, the special bandages for Francis' stigmata wounds.

As abbess Clare defied all attempts to impose a "watered-down" rule on her sisters. She had designed her own rule for the ladies, central to which, was a radical poverty. It was not until two days before her death that Pope Innocent IV confirmed this rule and granted Clare's ultimate desire, that she, and each of the sisters, own nothing.

Throughout their lives Francis and Clare remained close friends. Francis was Clare's "spiritual father," and the two relied on each other for advice, encouragement, and prayers. Clare's intercession was greatly valued by Francis and numerous others. When Francis was discerning whether to live out the remainder of his life as a hermit or continue with his preaching it was Clare to whom he turned for advice and prayers. In his final illness, he came to San Damiano where Clare nursed him until his death and after his funeral at the Portiuncula the friars brought his body to San Damiano for a short time so that Clare and her sisters could pay their last respects.

Many miracles are attributed to St. Clare, two of which are particularly impressive. At one time, while Clare was ill, the Saracens attacked Assisi and were upon the walls of San Damiano. The sisters rushed to Clare's bedside in terror. The abbess calmly rose, took the monstrance, containing the Blessed Sacrament, from the chapel, emerged from the convent, and held out the monstrance over the enemy. The Saracens, for no apparent reason, fell into a panic and rushed in terror from Assisi.

During her final illness, Clare was bedridden and, therefore, unable to attend the first Mass in the newly built Basilica of St. Francis. While praying in her cell an image of the Mass appeared on the wall of her cell so that she was able to witness the entire celebration.

Clare died of natural causes on August 11, 1253. Just two years later, on September 26, 1255, Clare was canonized by Pope Alexander IV. The "Poor Ladies" then changed their name to the Poor Clares, by which title they are still known today. St. Clare is the patroness: against eye disease; of Assisi, Italy; of embroiderers; of eyes; for good weather; of gilders; of gold workers; of goldsmiths; of laundry workers; of needle workers; of Santa Clara Indian Pueblo; of telegraphs; of telephones; of television; of television writers; of this blog; and of me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence was born at Huesca, Spain around 225 A.D. Little is known about his early life.

He held the post of Roman archdeacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Emperor Valerian ruled the Roman Empire during Sixtus' pontificate, and executed a harsh persecution of Christians.

Pope St. Sixtus II was arrested on the orders of Valerian while he was celebrating Mass in the Cemetery of Praetextatus. When St. Lawrence became aware of this, he immediately rushed to the Pope's side crying, "Where are you going, father, without your son? Where are you going, O priest, without your deacon?" The Pope replied, "My son, you I am not abandoning. Greater strife awaits you. Stop weeping; you will follow me in three days."

Following the execution of the Pope and six other deacons Lawrence was left as the ranking Church official. One of his roles as Roman archdeacon was "keeper of the treasures of the Church." Lawrence used his last three days to disperse what material wealth the Church had amongst the poor of Rome. On August 10 Lawrence was commanded to appear before the Prefect of Rome and bring with him the wealth of the Church. St. Lawrence brought to the Prefect all the beggars he could find on the Roman streets, presenting them as the Church's treasure.

For his insolence, Lawrence was sentenced to be slowly and painfully roasted to death. He was lain on a large, scorching grill where he was to be left until dead. After a period of time St. Lawrence requested that the executioner turn him over, for he was quite well done on that side.

St. Lawrence passed away on August 10, 258. He is buried in the cemetery of Saint Cyriaca in Italy and the grill on which he was killed is kept in San Lorenzo in Lucina. He is the patron saint: against fire; against lumbago; of archives; of armories; of armorers; of brewers; of butchers; of chefs; of comedians; of comics; of confectioners; of cooks; of cutlers; of deacons; of glaziers; of laundry workers; of librarians; of libraries; of paupers; of poor people; of restauranteurs; of schoolchildren; of seminarians; of stained glass workers; of students; of tanners; of vine growers; of vintners; of wine makers; and of multiple towns and dioceses.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Edith Stein/Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 at Breslaw, Dolnoslaskie, Germany. She was the youngest of seven children in a Jewish family.

At the age of 13, after finishing grammar school, Edith proclaimed that she no longer believed in God and "consciously stopped praying." By 1907 she had begun "a serious search for truth."

In 1911, Edith completed high school and began studies at the University of Breslau where she was a brilliant student and philosopher. It was during this time that she had her first encounter with the Gospel. However, in the summer of 1912, she began to suffer from severe depression stemming from an inability to discern any meaning in life.

In 1913, Edith went to the University of Gottingen to continue her studies. At this time she began to entertain religious questions and obtained the first relief for her depression upon witnessing a presentation of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Between her first encounter with Catholicism in 1914 and the year of 1918, Edith's atheism began to fall away, until, in her own words, "my unbelief collapsed." During these years, Edith had served as a Red Cross nurse in World War I and received her PhD in philosophy summa cum laude. It was not until 1921 that Edith began to entertain the idea of Catholicism. Her study of the life of St. Teresa of Avila led her to purchase a missal and catechism and begin "reading herself into" Catholicism before finally working up the courage to approach the parish priest in order to request baptism.

On January 1, 1922, Edith Stein was baptized into the Catholic faith. She began that very day to request permission to enter Carmel, the religious order which her spiritual mother, St. Teresa of Avila, had reformed. On February 2 that same year, Edith was confirmed in the faith. She spent the next ten years teaching and writing, especially about women and the Church. On June 19, 1933, about six months after Hitler's ascension to power, Edith was finally accepted into Carmel. Beginning on July 16 she spent one month as an extern at Carmel before making a final visit to her mother. She officially entered Carmel on October 14, 1933, taking the name Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and received the habit on April 15, 1934. During her novitiate, the Carmelite provincial requested that Edith continue to compose her autobiography, which she had begun writing the year before. Edith made her first profession of vows as a Carmelite on Easter 1935, her Final Profession of vows on April 21, 1938, and received the Black Veil in Public Ceremony on May 1, 1938.

Seven months later, on November 8, Germany was rent by the horror of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, in which Nazis throughout the country went on a rampage against Jewish citizens. Edith, being of Jewish heritage, was in great danger. Negotiations immediately began to transfer her to Echt Carmel in Holland. On the night of December 31 she was smuggled across the border.

On March 26, 1939, Edith asked permission of her superiors to offer herself to the Lord in prayer as a "victim for real peace."
In 1940 Edith's sister, Rosa, who had also converted to Catholicism and entered Carmel, joined her sister in Holland. However, the two were not long safe. In 1941 an edict was passed demanding the deportation of all non-Aryan Germans residing in Holland by December 15 of that year. Negotiations again began for Edith and Rosa to be transferred to the Carmel of Le Paquier in Switzerland. On September 1 the government ordered that all Jews, including those of Jewish heritage, wear the Star of David on their clothing. In response to these oppressive edicts the Dutch Bishops issued their Pastoral on Racism and Antisemitism.
The Nazis swiftly retaliated with a move for the deportation of all Catholics of Jewish heritage by the end of the week. At five p.m. on August 2, Edith and Rosa were arrested by the SS while they were at meditation in the Carmel and brought to Amersfoort Prison Camp. On August 5 they were transferred to Westerbork Concentration Camp and on August 7 they began the journey to Auschwitz.

On August 9, 1942 Edith and Rosa Stein were led to their deaths in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Edith offered this final sacrifice "for real peace."

Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was canonized on October 11, 1998 by Pope John Paul II. She is the patron saint: against the death of parents; of Europe; and of martyrs.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Dominic

Dominic de Guzman was the son of Blessed Joan of Aza and her husband. The couple had long been childless when Blessed Joan prayed to St. Dominic of Silos, a patron of this problem. She soon became pregnant and decided to name the child Dominic in honor the saint.

While pregnant with her son, Blessed Joan had a dream of her child as a dog "who would set the world on fire with a torch" he carried in his mouth. St. Dominic came to be known as the "watchdog of the Lord," and a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol of the Dominican religious order.

Dominic was born in the year 1170 at Calaruega, Burgos, Old Castille. At his baptism his mother had a vision of a star shining from her son's chest. This star became another symbol of the Dominican order and led to St. Dominic's patronage of astronomy.

St. Dominic studied at the University of Palencia, was ordained to the priesthood, and became a canon of St. Augustine. In 1203, Dominic passed through southern France while on a journey with his bishop. In this place, Dominic witnessed firsthand the horrors wrought by the Albigensian heresy. It was then that Dominic discovered his vocation to work amongst heretics. In order to fulfill this calling, the young canon founded the Order of Friars Preachers, now known as Dominicans.

Dominic offered constant penance for the heretics, fasting, holding all-night prayer vigils, and walking barefoot. He is known to have performed many miracles including healing the sick, raising the dead, and multiplying food.

Once, while discouraged in his ministry, Dominic received a vision of Our Lady presenting him with a wreath of roses which represented the rosary. She exhorted him to pray the rosary daily and teach it to all he met. If he did this, she said, true faith would win out. He is believed to have received other visions of Our Lady and Christ as well.

Dominic journeyed to Rome where he received the confirmation of his order from Pope Honorius III, who also bestowed on him two convents, that of St. Sixtus for the Dominican sisters and of Santa Sabina for the friars.

According to legend, St. Dominic dreamt of a beggarman who would also do great things for the faith. The next day Dominic met the beggar, embraced him, and exclaimed "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was St. Francis of Assisi. The two men shared a lifelong friendship.

St. Dominic passed away of sheer exhaustion at the age of fifty-one. In his last moments he instructed his distraught friars, "Do not weep, my children, I shall be more useful to you where I am going than I have ever been in this life." He died at noon on August 6, 1221 at Bologna, Italy. St. Dominic was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on July 13, 1234. He is the patron saint: of astronomers; of astronomy; of the prelature of Batanes-Babuyanes, Philippines; of the diocese of Bayombong, Philippines; of the Dominican Republic; of falsely accused people; of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; of Santo Domingo Indian Pueblo; of scientists; and of Valletta, Malta.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saint of the Day - Pope St. Sixtus II

Sixtus was born a Greek but nothing else is known about his early life. He appears to have been an adult convert to Christianity. He then became a deacon in Rome and, on August 30, 257, was elected Pope amidst the persecutions of Valerian.

As Pope, Sixtus upheld Pope St. Stephen's teaching that baptism by heretics was legitimate. However, where Pope St. Stephen had threatened to excommunicate the bishops who refused to adhere to this doctrine, Sixtus did not break off relations with these bishops, instead trying to communicate with them.

Mass was often celebrated in the catacombs, literally underground, to avoid capture by the authorities during the persecutions. The Cemetery of Calixtus was most frequently used, however, by the time of Pope Sixtus' reign, this place had become known to the authorities. Therefore, Sixtus relocated the celebration of Mass to the Cemetery of Praetextatus. However, despite these precautions, the authorities located the Pope and, in early August 258, arrested the Pope and his deacons at the cemetery while they were celebrating Mass. They were taken to the prefect for a formal judgment.

St. Lawrence, the chief deacon, had not been present during the arrest and, upon hearing the news, rushed to Sixtus' side, desiring to die with him. He said to the Pope, "Where are you going, father, without your son? Where are you going, O priest, without your deacon?" Sixtus replied, "My son, you I am not abandoning. Greater strife awaits you. Stop weeping; you will follow me in three days."

On August 6, Pope Sixtus was brought back to the Cemetery of Praetextatus where he was beheaded. He was buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus. He had been Pope for less than a year.

Pope St. Sixtus II is the patron saint of Bellegra, Italy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord as recorded in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Both evangelists state that Christ took Sts. Peter, James, and John "up a high mountain," "to pray." While there "His face changed in appearance," so that it "shone like the sun," "and His clothes became white as light." "And behold, two men were conversing with Him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem." "As they were about to part from Him, Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'" "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.' When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and do not be afraid.' And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone."

This event occurred soon after Christ had begun to reveal to his disciples that He must die and rise. The presence of Moses and Elijah signify the testimony of the Law and the Prophets that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

There are two explanations of the arigin of the Transfiguration as a feast. One tells how St. Gregory the Illuminator "substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called Vartavarh (roseflame), retaining the old appellation of the feast, because Christ opened His glory like a rose on Mount Thabor." However, it is more likely that the feast of the Transfiguration replaced a pagan nature-feast, "somewhere in the highlands of Asia." Many dioceses adopted the feast in the liturgy around the tenth century. Pope Callixtus II extended the feast to the Universal Church in 1456.

St. Peter himself emphasizes the importance of this feast in his second letter, saying, "We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to Him from the majestic glory, 'This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice come from Heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain."


O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in His beauty; who with Thee, O Father, and Thee, O Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Saint of the Day - Our Lady of the Snows

Today marks the dedication of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. A popular legend tells of a Roman patrician, named John, and his wife who were childless. In their old age they age they asked Our Lady to make known to them how to dispose of their money for when they died. That night they both received a dream in which Our Lady requested that they use their wealth to pay for the construction of a church in her honor. She directed them to the Esquiline Hill, instructing that they would know the exact spot for the church by the area in which the snow had fallen. Pope Liberius received a similar dream, also directing him to the Esquiline Hill.

The next day, August 5, 352, John and his wife and the Pope all arrived at Esquiline hill to find "a large area marked by freshly, thick snow!" "The men immediately staked off the area," and, in two years, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore was completed. It was consecrated by Pope Liberius and an eight line dedicatory inscription was later added by Pope Sixtus III.

Today's feast was originally celebrated only at Santa Maria Maggiore but, in the fourteenth century, it was extended to all the churches in Rome and, eventually, at the instruction of Pope Pius V, extended to the universal Church.

The church of Santa Maria Maggiore was the first, and the largest, church in Rome to be dedicated to Our Lady. It also houses the "Salus Populi Romani" (The Protectress of the People of Rome) painting, depicting the Madonna and Child. This painting was brought to Rome from the Holy Land by St. Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine and several miracles have been attributed to it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman**

"This early feminist work is full of insights into the perception of women in nineteenth-century England. Read it for a renewed appreciation of simply having access to higher education and for a contrast to feminism of the lipstick variety."

It's actually more like 2 1/2 stars but I don't know how to make a half star so we'll just leave it at 2.

Well . . . it was decent. I thought I was going to hate it. Because this is pretty much the original feminist work so I naturally assumed it was gonna be a little crazy. But it was definitely not as bad as I expected.

The author, Mary Wollstonecraft, made some good points especially regarding marriage and motherhood. However she also made some bad statements regarding marriage and motherhood and some other stuff. Most of her problems lie in one of three things: #1 - in combating the "subjugation" of women she swings too far in the opposite direction; #2 - she advocates certain actions which we now know, having implemented many of them, do not work in the way she predicted and often created a worse problem than the one we started with; #3 - she suffers from a flawed theology which leads to her having a flawed philosophy.

Mary Wollstonecraft was raised as an Anglican protestant but as an adult became good friends with a man named Richard Price, one of the leaders of another group of protestants, the Rational Dissenters. She began attending his chapel and was greatly influenced by the ideas of the Dissenters, later the Unitarians, including a rejection of the concept of original sin and eternal punishment. These ideas are weaved throughout her writing. (As a sidenote, the founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, was not a fan of Mary's)

Another theme I found was a very puritan attitude, on the part of Miss Wollstonecraft, in her idea of love. This book being the foundation of modern feminism, I would not be surprised if this attitude has helped to form society's current detachment of love from sex. The woman seriously could've used some Theology of the Body.

The book also proves to be rather confusing because Miss Wollstonecraft uses certain words, particularly "innocence" and "virtue," in a different sense than that in which we understand them.

However, there is truth in everything, and this book does contain some very truthful quotes:

- "But what a weak barrier is truth when it stands in the way of an hypothesis!"

- "Educated in slavish dependence, and enervated by luxury and sloth, where shall we find men who will stand forth to assert the rights of man, or claim the privilege of moral beings, who should have but one road to excellence?"

- "people are never respected, though filling an important station, who are not respectable"

- "viewing education in a false light; not considering it as the first step to form a being advancing gradually towards perfection; but only as a preparation for life"

- "for children will never be properly educated till friendship subsists between parents. Virtue flies from a house divided against itself - and a whole legion of devils take up their residence there."

Saint of the Day - St. John Vianney

John Vianney was born into a farming family in Dardilly, Lyons, France on May 8, 1786. As a child John spent much of his time teaching the other children their prayers and catechism. Then, as a young man, he served in the French army under Napoleon. When his term in the army was finished, John entered the seminary to begin his studies for the priesthood. John struggled greatly with his studies, especially Latin, having had very little schooling. Many doubted that he would ever become a priest.

However, in 1815, John Vianney was ordained priesthood. The new priest was assigned to the tiny parish of Ars-sur-Formans, France, where the bishop felt this un-talented priest would be out of the way.

Once in Ars, Fr. Vianney zealously performed his duties, visiting parishioners, caring for the poor and sick, hearing confessions, and celebrating Mass. He showed great care for his parishioners, doing penance and spending hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for them.

Fr. Vianney came to be known for his work with penitents so that, by the end of his life, hundreds of people would come to him for confession so that he was spending 14 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. He is known to have been blessed with the gifts of discernment of spirits, prophecy, and hidden knowledge in addition to having performed several miracles. Evil spirits tormented St. John throughout his life, especially when he tried to get his 2 to 3 hours of sleep.

John Vianney spent 40 years as a parish priest at Ars before passing away in his parish on May 8, 1786 of natural causes. He was entombed in the Basilica of Ars where his body remains. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 31, 1925. St. John Vianney is the patron saint: of confessors; of the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney; of priests, especially parish priests; of the archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; of the diocese of Kamloops, British Colombia; of the archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas; and of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Lydia

Lydia's early life is unknown to us, though we can guess that she was born in Thyatira in Asia Minor, the town where she lived as an adult. Our knowledge of Lydia comes from the Acts of the Apostles in which we learn that she was a businesswoman dealing in dyed cloth, the trade of the town. Lydia dealt specifically in purple cloth which earned her the title "Purpuria," meaning "purple-seller." Due to this she is sometimes referred to as St. Lydia Purpuria.

Lydia was the first person we know of who was converted by St. Paul. As St. Luke states: "On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, 'If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,' and she prevailed on us." (Acts 16:13-15)

Following her conversion Lydia appears to have opened her home to her fellow Christians and received Paul and Silas into her home following their escape from prison. St. Luke records, "When they had come out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and then they left." (Acts. 16:40)

St. Lydia is the patroness of dyers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saint of the Day - Pope St. Stephen I

Stephen was born in the third century A.D., the son of Jovius, a Roman. Little is known about Stephen's life until he became Archdeacon under Pope Lucius I. Tradition holds that, when about to be martyred, Lucius directed that care of the Church be handed on to Stephen.

Stephen ascended to the pontificate on May 12, 254. As the twenty-third Pope, Stephen "explicitly proclaimed the primacy of the diocese of Rome in matters of theology, and the current understanding of Christ's statement to St. Peter: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.'" Stephen instructed that special clothing, which came to be our modern-day vestments, must be used for celebrating Mass. These vestments were not to be worn outside of the Eucharistic celebration and street clothes were not to be worn while celebrating Mass.

Pope Stephen also clarified that there was no need to re-baptize heretics, as the Carthagnians were doing. He also made clear that baptisms performed by heretics are valid baptisms so long as none of the essential rites of the sacrament were ommited or changed. This is why a person who is baptized into the Lutheran faith, for example, and subsequently converts to Catholicism, does not need to be re-baptized into the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: 'For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.' 'Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.'"

Old documents have stated that Stephen died as a martyr but no evidence has been found to substantiate this theory. We do know that Stephen died on August 2, 257 and was buried in the Papal crypt of Callistus on the Appian Way. His body was later transferred to St. Stephen's monastery on the orders of Pope St. Paul I. Pope St. Stephen I is the patron saint of Fiano, Romano, Italy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Alphonsus Liguori

The oldest of the seven Liguori children was born on September 27, 1696 at Marianelli, near Naples, Italy. The child was baptised Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori (but you can call him Alphonsus). His was a pious and Remove Formatting from selectionwell-to-do family, the father being a naval officer and captain of the Royal Galleys.

Alphonsus proved to be a child prodigy, graduating from the University of Naples with his doctorate at 16 years old. At 21 the young man had his own legal practice and was one of the most sought-after lawyers in Naples. Continuing in his pious lifestyle, Alphonsus never went to court without attending Mass first.

However, despite his fame as a lawyer, Alphonsus found that he was more and more drawn to religious. This call became clear to him during a visit to the local Hospital for Incurables. He faced opposition from his family, who had already arranged a marriage for their son. But Alphonsus overcame their objections and, at the age of 29, was ordained to the priesthood.

He served for six years as a "home missionary" in Naples. He was known for his writing and preaching and as a master theologian. In 1730 Alphonsus founded the Redemporistines women's group and in 1732 finally succeeded in founding the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or Redemptorists.

Alphonsus was ordained a bishop, by the orders of Pope Clement XIII, in 1762. He was assigned to the Diocese of St. Agatha of the Goths. He performed his duties as bishop, teaching, caring for the poor and sick, and instructing the faithful, while beginning to suffer from rheumatism. He was left paralyzed after an attack of rheumatoid fever but remained bishop for 6 more years.

Due to his failing sight, Alphonsus was tricked into signing a document which altered the rule for the Redemptorists and excluded him from his own order. Alphonsus suffered great agony due to this but by the time of his death on August 1, 1787 he was at peace with himself and God.

Alphonsus Liguori was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26, 1839. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. St. Alphonsus is the patron saint: against arthritis; against scrupulosity; of confessors; of final perseverance; of moralists; of scrupulous people; of theologians; of vocations; of Pagani, Italy; and of St. Agatha of the Goths, Italy.