Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Mama Mary!

Today is the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother!!!!! In the eloquent words of Fr. Conrad "Happy your mother's birthday!"

Mary was the only child of Sts. Anne and Joachim. The couple were growing old and it seemed impossible that they would ever have children. They both prayed fervently and each received a vision of angel telling them that Anne would bear a child and they were to name her Mary. Nine months later our blessed mother was born!

So happy your mother's birthday! Go make a cake and get her some flowers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Regina

Regina was born in Autun, France in the 200's. Her parents were pagans but when her mother died in childbirth, Regina's Christian nurse had the child baptised. Regina's father was furious and disowned the girl, who went to live with her nurse as a shepherdess.

Regina grew into a beautiful young woman who soon caught the eye of Olybrius, the prefect of the province. Having dedicated her life to God, Regina rebuked him. Before leaving on a journey, Olybrius threw the girl in prison where she remained until he returned.

The head jailer was Regina's father, who had offered to reconcile with his daughter when he discovered that she had an important suitor. But she rebuked him as well and so, to prove his indifference to his daughter, Regina's father guarded her extra closely, locking her in an iron belt chained to the wall.

When Olybrius returned from his journey he once again approached Regina and she once again refused him. He then had her scourged and tortured. Lying in her cell that night, Regina had a vision of the cross and heard a voice telling her that her release would be soon. The next day she was again tortured and when she still refused to relent Olybrius had her beheaded. Many were converted when they witnessed a dove hovering over Regina's head.

St. Regina is the patroness: of poor people; of shepherdesses; and of victims of torture.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saint of the Day - Blessed Bertrand

Bertrand was born around 1195 at Garrigue, in the diocese of Nimes, France. Not much is known about his early life, other than that he was a Cistercian priest who was fighting the heresy of Albigensianism.

He met St. Dominic while the saint was traveling with Bishop Diego. The two became lifelong friends and Bertrand assisted in convincing Dominic to join him in fighting heresy. Bertrand was one of the first to join the new Dominican order, taking the habit at Toulouse in 1216. He served as St. Dominic's right hand man, even taking charge of the order while Dominic travelled to Rome to seek papal approval for the order.

Bertrand was later sent on mission to Paris with Matthew of France. These two established and governed the first Dominican foundation at Paris where they developed the Dominican scholarly tradition.

In his later years Bertrand was appointed provincial of Provence. He was known for working miracles, for his austerity and holiness, and his humility. So great were his gifts that some began to refer to him as a second Dominic.

In 1230, Bertrand had travelled on mission to Garrigue to preach to the Cistercian sisters of St. Mary of the Woods. While on this trip he fell ill and passed away. The sisters buried him in their cemetery until it became clear from the vast number of pilgrims coming to visit his tomb, that Bertrand needed a more suitable burying place. Unfortunately, his relics were destroyed during the protestant revolution. Bertrand was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on July 14, 1881.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Bertin

Bertin was born around 615 near Constance in France. He spent his childhood studying at the Abbey of Luxeil, France. The monks of this abbey followed the austere rule of St. Columban. Though, being only a student, Bertin was not obliged to follow this rule, he chose to do so anyway and was thus prepared when, upon reaching adulthood, he entered the order.

In 639 Bertin led two other monks in joining his relative, Bishop St. Omer, in the region of Pas-de-Calais in northern France. Their's was a missionary journey, to evangelize to the heathens of this desolate region.

The evangelization did not initially proceed very well. However, the monks took advantage of the opportunity to establish a monastery, which they placed under the patronage of St. Mommolin. Bertin was appointed abbot, a position in which he served until his death.

The new monastery, and the example of the holy monks, served as a beacon for the pagans and soon brought many to the faith. Bertin's example was especially inspiring and he soon had one hundred and fifty monks in his care. Twenty-two of these monks have since been canonized.

Bertin went on frequent missionary trips along with sending other monks on similar trips to England and other parts of France. When, due to old age, he was no longer able to make these trips, Bertin devoted his time to prayer and fasting, preparing himself for a holy death. He passed away of natural causes in 709.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Rosalia

Rosalia, a descendant of Charlemagne, was born in 1130 at Palermo, Sicily, the daughter of Duke Sinibald and his wife Quisquina. From a young age Rosalia was aware that she was called to dedicate her life to God.

Upon entering adulthood she abandoned her family home and all worldly possessions to live out her life as a hermitess. A popular legend tells how Rosalia was led by two angels to a cave near her parents home. It was in this cave that she would spend the rest of her life, alone with her Lord. Rosalia expressed this desire when she etched into the wall of the cave the words "I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ."

Rosalia spent the rest of her life in this cave, dedicating her life to prayer and fasting. She died alone in this cave, apparently of natural causes, in 1160.

In the year 1625, the plague was raging in Sicily. A man received a vision of this forgotten young woman who implored him to search for her remains. He led a group of monks who discovered Rosalia's cave and, in it, her relics. They paraded these relics through the city of Palermo and within three days the plague had vanished. The intercession of Rosalia was credited for this miracle and she was quickly declared the patroness of Palermo and all of Sicily.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Saint of the Day - Pope St. Gregory the Great

Gregory was born in in 540 in Rome, Italy the son of Gordianus, a Roman senator. Gregory came from a family of saints, his mother being St. Silvia of Rome, his aunts Sts. Emilia and Tarsilla, and his great-grandfather Pope St. Felix III (who entered the priesthood following the death of his wife).
Gregory began his adult life by following his father in a political career. He served as prefect of Rome for a year before discerning a religious vocation. Upon this realization he sold all his worldly possessions and entered the Benedictine monastery of St. Andrew. He was eventually selected to be abbot of St. Andrew's. The Holy Father also recognized Gregory's talents and named him one of the seven deacons of Rome along with appointing him papal legate and sending him on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople where he remained for five years.

Upon the death of Pope Leo the Great in 590 Gregory was unanimously elected to be the next successor of Peter. Gregory, the first monk ever to be selected as pope, desired nothing more than to remain in his monastery but, after much prayer, he discerned that this was the Lord's will and accepted the invitation to ascend to the chair of Peter. This ascension occured on September 3, 590.

As Pope, Gregory had to deal with civil, as well as spiritual, matters, due to the helplessness of the Byzantine empire. In this role he negotiated a "separate peace" with the Lombards, a tribe of barbarians set on invading Rome and appointed governors to Italian cities. Gregory used the material possessions of the Church to relieve the sufferings of the poor and sent missionaries to France, Spain, Africa, and Britain which he had been particularly devoted to since witnessing the sale of English children in the Roman forum. Gregory insisted on the primacy of the Pope and promoted devotion to the liturgy especially sacred music. From this emerged a style of music known as Gregorian chant.

Gregory also composed numerous theological writings for which, after his death, he was declared one of the four great doctors of the Church.

Pope Gregory I passed away in Rome on March 12, 604 of natural causes. He is the patron saint: against gout; against plague; of choir boys; of educators; of England; of Kercem, Malta; of the diocese of Legazpi, Philippines; of masons; of Montone, Italy; of musicians; of the papacy; of Popes; of San Gregorio nelle Alpi, Italy; of schoolchildren; of singers; of stone masons; of stonecutters; of students; of teachers; and of the West Indies.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Ingrid of Sweden

Ingrid was born in Skanninge, Sweden in the 13th century. She spent much of her young life under the spiritual direction of the Dominican priest Father Peter of Dacia.

Upon entering adulthood, Ingrid became the first Swedish woman to take the Dominican habit. In 1281 she founded the first Dominican convent in Sweden, St. Martin's, located in her hometown of Skanninge. She lived a cloistered life in St. Martin's until her death of natural causes in 1282.

Throughout her life, Ingrid was known for her sanctity, and a devotion to her sprang up almost immediately following her death and many miracles have been reported at her tomb.

Ingrid's cause for canonization, which had been brought by the Swedish bishops before the Council of Constance, was disrupted by the reformation. In the upheaval of the reformation St. Martin's was destroyed along with St. Ingrid's relics and her cause for canonization was never again taken up, so she has never been formally canonized, but is regarded as a saint by many and has her feast listed on the liturgical calendar.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to September!

In the liturgical year each month is assigned a special devotion. Due to her feast on September 15, the month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. There are seven sorrows of Our Lady, all of which are bound up in her supreme sorrow at the foot of the cross. The seven sorrows are as follows:

1) the prophecy of Simeon - "and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

2) the flight into Egypt - "When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.' Joseph rose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt."

3) having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem - "After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Thinking that He was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple"

4) meeting Jesus on His way to Calvary

5) standing at the foot of the cross - "Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala."

6) Jesus being taken from the cross - "After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took His body."

7) the burial of Christ - "They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where He had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by."
Our Lady is described as having a "martyrdom of the heart" at the foot of the cross. Pope Pius XII states that "She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever more closely united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and motherly love. As a new Eve, she made this offering for all the children of Adam contaminated through his unhappy fall. Thus she, who was the mother of our Head according to the flesh, became by a new title of sorrow and glory the spiritual mother of all His members."

Also, important as we begin September, are the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month. First, the Holy Father asks that we pray "that in less developed parts of the world the proclamation of the Word of God may renew people's hearts, encouraging them to work actively toward authentic social progress." Secondly, the Holy Father prays "that by opening our hearts to love we may put an end to the numerous wars and conflicts which continue to bloody our world."

Saint of the Day - St. Giles

St. Giles was born to a wealthy family in Aegidus, Greece in the 6th century. When his parents passed away Giles distributed his wealth amongst the poor. This action brought him to the attention of many people who desired to follow him. Having no desire for followers, Giles moved to France in 683 to seek the quiet life of a hermit.

Giles settled in a cave in the diocese of Nives, France, where he lived in peace for some time. Giles life was one of extreme poverty so that, legend has it, God sent a hind (female deer) to provide milk for Giles. One day a royal hunting party chased the hind into Giles cave and shot at it, missing and, instead, hitting Giles in the leg. The king sent physicians to care for Giles and became himself a frequent visitor of the hermit, despite Giles protestations.

The king's admiration of Giles caused his fame to spread throughout France. The king built for Giles and his new followers a monastery on the spot of his cave. After Giles death the monastery was deemed the monastery of Saint Gilles du Gard. During his life, Giles served as abbot of the monastery for which he wrote his own rule.

St. Giles died of natural causes in the monastery sometime between 710 and 724. He is the patron saint: against breast cancer; against epilepsy; against fear of night; against insanity; against leprosy; against mental illness; against noctiphobia; against sterility; of beggars; of blacksmiths; of breast feeding; of cancer patients; of cripples; of disabled people; of Edinburgh, Scotland; of epileptics; of forests; of handicapped people; of hermits; of horses; of lepers; of mentally ill people; of noctiphobics; of physically challenged people; of paupers; of poor people; of rams; of spur makers; of Tolfa, Italy; and of woods.

Saint of the Day - St. Fiacre

St. Fiacre grew up in a monastery in his native Ireland during the 7th century. Monasteries, at this time, were centers of learning so that by the time he reached adulthood, Fiacre was a well educated man. He was especially knowledgeable in the areas of healing and gardening. Gardening, at this time, was not simply a nice pastime for little old ladies but was a necessity to provide the people, and particularly the monks, with food and medicine. Fiacre was well versed in the art of healing which required him to know which herbs ought to be used to treat specific diseases.

Fiacre's reputation as a holy man and accomplished physician spread far and wide. Flocks of people came seeking his assistance, thereby disturbing the peace which he cherished. Fiacre, therefore, fled to France where he established a hermitage.

A famous legend about St. Fiacre recounts how he requested a plot of land from the bishop in order to establish a garden to grow his food and healing herbs. The bishop, St. Faro of Meaux, told Fiacre that he was welcome to take as much land as he could entrench in one day. The following day Fiacre walked around the perimeter of the land he wanted, dragging his spade behind him. In the wake of his spade trees toppled, bushes were uprooted, and all manner of obstacles were removed. A local woman accused Fiacre of sorcery but St. Faro was of the opinion that it was a miracle.

In addition to being a gifted physician, Fiacre is also known to have performed miraculous healings.

Fiacre passed away on August 18, 670 of natural causes. His miraculous garden remained a place of pilgrimage for centuries and his relics have been distributed to cathedrals around Europe. St. Fiacre is the patron saint: against barrenness; against fistula; against haemorrhoids; against piles; against sterility; against syphilis; against venereal disease; of box makers; of cab drivers (Fiacre cabs are named for him); of costermongers; of florists; of gardeners; of hosiers; of pewterers; of taxi drivers; and of tile makers.