August -- The Immaculate Heart Of Mary
O Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Heavenly beauty and splendor of the Father,
You are the most valued Heavenly treasure.
New Eve, immaculate in soul, spirit and body,
Created of the godly seed by the Spirit of God,
You are the spiritual Mother of mankind.
Pure Virgin, full of grace then and now,
Your whole being was raised Heavenly in full glory,
To be elevated above all the hosts within the Kingdom of God.
O Heavenly Mother, Queen of Heaven and earth,
I recognize the glory of your highest title,
The Immaculate Heart of Mary!
Loving Mother, dispenser of endless blessings,
You who continuously intercedes on our behalf,
You, in your heart, know all that I need and want,
Please present my needs before your loving Son Jesus.
O Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I know that you are now presenting my needs before Jesus,
For you have never turned away those in need.
Mother dearest, I await your favorable answer,
Submitting myself to the Divine will of the Lord,
For all glories are His forever and ever.
Sunday -- The Holy Trinity
Praise to you, O Lord, who in the beginning created us in freedom.
Praise to you, O Lord, who endowed us with reason and free will.
Praise to you, O Just Father, who in your love has desired to have us for your very own.
Praise to you, O Holy Son, who for our salvation did put on a human body like ours.
Praise to you, O Spirit of Life, who has enriched us with your gifts.
Praise to you, O Lord, who has brought us to know your divinity.
Praise to you, Lord, who has made us worthy to join with the angels in praising you.
From every mouth, let praise rise up to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
On the heights and in the depths, let there be praise to the Holy Trinity, on earth and in heaven, from beginning to the end of time, world without end. Amen.
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Monday -- The Holy Spirit
We beseech Thee, O Holy Spirit, descend with Thy light and consolation into our souls; enlighten out understanding, and consecrate the hearts which Thou hast sanctified as Thy temples. O Holy Spirit, come and bring us God’s blessings and peace; console us and all the afflicted; encourage and strengthen the weak; instruct and support the wavering ; arouse sinners to penance, and enkindle in their cold hearts the fire of divine love and filial confidence in Thee, that all men, in peace and joy, may thankfully praise and adore Thee, together with the Father and the Son, one God, world without end. Amen.
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Tuesday -- The Holy Angels
Bless the Lord, all you His angels. You who are mighty in strength and do His will, intercede for me at the throne of God. By your unceasing watchfulness protect me in every danger of soul and body. Obtain for me the grace of final perseverance, so that after this life I may be admitted to your glorious company and with you may sing the praises of God for all eternity. All you holy angels and archangels, thrones and dominations, principalities and powers and virtues of heaven, cherubim and seraphim, and especially you, my dear guardian angel, intercede for me and obtain for me the graces and favors I need while on this journey in life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen.
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Wednesday -- St. Joseph
O blessed Joseph, faithful guardian of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, protector of thy chaste spouse, the virgin Mother of God, I choose thee this day to be my special patron and advocate and I firmly resolve to honor thee all the days of my life. Therefore I humbly beseech thee to receive me as thy client, to instruct me in every doubt, to comfort me in every affliction, to obtain for me and for all the knowledge and love of the Heart of Jesus, and finally to defend and protect me at the hour of my death. Amen
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Thursday -- Holy Eucharist
Lord Jesus Christ, you gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of Your suffering and death. May our worship of this Sacrament of Your Body and Blood help us to experience the salvation You won for us and the peace of the Kingdom where You live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
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Friday -- The Sacred Passion
O Jesus! Heavenly Physician, raised aloft on the Cross to heal our wounds with Thine, remember the bruises which Thou didst suffer and the weakness of all Thy Members which were distended to such a degree that never was there pain like unto Thine. From the crown of Thy Head to the Soles of Thy Feet there was not one spot on Thy Body that was not in torment, and yet, forgetting all Thy sufferings, Thou didst not cease to pray to Thy Heavenly Father for Thy enemies, saying: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Through this great Mercy, and in memory of this suffering, grant that the remembrance of Thy Most Bitter Passion may effect in us a perfect contrition and the remission of all our sins. Amen.
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Saturday -- The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Magnificat, Prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary
My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior, For he has looked upon his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed. God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is his name; His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm; he has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts. He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry he has given every good thing, while the rich he has sent empty away. He has upheld Israel his servant, ever mindful of his mercy; Even as he promised our fathers, promised Abraham and his descendants forever. (Lk 1:46-55)
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St Alphonsus Liguori -- August 1
Alphonsus was born near Naples, Italy, in 1732. He was a hard-working student. He received his degree in law and became a famous lawyer. A mistake he made in court convinced Alphonsus of what he had already thought he should give up his law practice and become a priest. His father tried to persuade him not to do it. However, Alphonsus had made up his mind. He became a priest. His life was filled with activity. He preached and wrote books, and he started a religious congregation called "Redemptorists." Alphonsus offered wise spiritual direction and brought peace to people through the sacrament of Reconciliation. He also wrote hymns, played the organ and painted pictures. St. Alphonsus wrote sixty books. This is incredible considering his many other responsibilities. He also was often sick. He had frequent headaches, but would hold something cold against his forehead and keep doing his work. Although he was naturally inclined to be hasty, Alphonsus tried to control himself. He became so humble that when Pope Pius VI wanted to make him a bishop in 1798, he gently said "no." When the pope's messengers had come in person to tell him of the pope's choice, they called Alphonsus "Most illustrious Lord." Alphonsus said, "Please don't call me that again. It would kill me." The pope helped Alphonsus understand that he really wanted him to be a bishop. Alphonsus sent many preachers all over his diocese. The people needed to be reminded again of the love of God and the importance of their religion. Alphonsus told the priests to preach simple sermons. "I never preached a sermon that the simplest old woman in the church could not understand," he said. As he got older, St. Alphonsus suffered from illnesses. He had painful arthritis and became crippled. He grew deaf and almost blind. He also had disappointments and temptations. But he had great devotion to the Blessed Mother as we know from his famous book called the Glories of Mary. The trials were followed by great peace and joy and a holy death. Alphonsus died in 1787 at the age of ninety-one. Pope Gregory XVI proclaimed him a saint 1839. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1871. Let us increase our devotion to the Blessed Mother We can ask St. Alphonsus to help us love Mary as he did.
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St Eusebius -- August 2
Eusebius was born on the island of Sardinia, Italy, around 283. His parents were dedicated Christians. It is believed that his father died a martyr. Eusebius was always active in the Christian community. He was called to serve the people of Rome and then went to northern Italy, to Vercelli. He was chosen to be the first bishop of Vercelli. He and some of his priests lived a common life modeled on a monastery. The priests received wonderful preparation for growing in the spiritual life. They also learned how to direct other people who would come to them for guidance. The priests trained by St. Eusebius became fervent and happy ministers of Jesus. Many were ordained bishops. During this time, the Arian heresy was widespread. Many people were confused about it and believed it to be true. Emperor Constantius was an Arian, too, and he wanted to win everybody to his side. Bishops who would not give in were sent away from their diocese. St. Athanasius was condemned in 355. Eusebius was at the Council of Milan that condemned him. But Eusebius would not cast his vote against Athanasius, so he was banished too. Eusebius was exiled to Palestine. At first, a kind man kept him as a respected guest in his house. But then the man died and the Arians kidnapped the bishop. They insulted him, dragged him through the streets and kept him in a small room for four days. Then when representatives from the diocese of Vercelli demanded that he be released and returned to his former lodging, he was. But a short time later, the bishop was beaten and harassed again. When Constantius died in 361, the next emperor permitted the exiled bishops to return to their own dioceses. St, Eusebius was a champion of truth. Other great bishops of that time were too, such as St. Athanasius and St. Meletius. It is believed that St. Eusebius is one of the persons who contributed to the preparation of the "Athanasian Creed." This is one of the precious creeds that states what we as Catholics believe. He spent the rest of his years in Vercelli among the people of his diocese. Bishop Eusebius died on August 1, 371. From St. Eusebius we can learn that our faith is a great treasure. Like him, we should love and appreciate it. We might want to ask ourselves: Am I willing to sacrifice for what I believe? It means being willing to make upright choices,- avoiding movies, videos and songs that are not sensitive to Christian values.
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St Peter Julian Eymard -- August 3
In 1811, Peter was born in a small town in the diocese of Grenoble, France. He worked with his father making and repairing knives until he was eighteen. Peter spent his free hours studying. He taught himself Latin and received instruction in the faith from a helpful priest. In the back of Peter's mind was a longing to become a priest. When he was twenty, he began his studies at the seminary of Grenoble. Peter Julian became a priest in 1834 and served in two parishes during the next five years. The people realized what a gift he was to them. When Father Eymard asked his bishop's permission to join a new religious order called the Marists, the bishop gave his consent. Father Eymard served the Marists as spiritual director of the seminarians. In 1845, he became the superior of Lyons, France. But even though Father Eymard fulfilled many diligent responsibilities all his life, he is remembered especially for something else. Father Eymard had a glowing love for the Holy Eucharist. He was very attracted to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He loved to spend time daily in adoration. One feast of Corpus Christi (the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus), Father Eymard had a powerful religious experience. As he carried the sacred Host in procession, he felt the presence of Jesus like warmth from a fireplace. The Host seemed to surround him with love and light. In his heart, he spoke to the Lord about the spiritual and material needs of all people. He begged that the mercy and love of Jesus touch everyone as he had been touched through the Eucharist. In 1856, Father Eymard followed an inspiration that he had prayed about for several years. With the approval of his superiors, he started a religious order of priest-adorers of the Holy Eucharist. They became known as the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament. Two years after the order of priests was begun, Father Eymard began an order of sisters, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Like the priests, these sisters had a special love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. They devoted their lives to adoration of Jesus. Father Eymard started parish organizations to help people be prepared to receive First Communion. He wrote several books on the Eucharist that were translated into different languages. The books are still available in English today. Father Eymard lived at the same time in history as the saint we celebrate tomorrow, August 4--St. John Vianney. The two men were friends and each highly admired the other. Father Vianney said that Father Eymard was a saint and added, "Adoration by priests! How fine! I will pray for Father Eymard's work every day. " St. Peter Julian Eymard spent the last four years of his life in severe pain. He also suffered because of difficulties and criticism. But Father Eymard continued his life of adoring the Eucharist. His witness and his sacrifice helped many others find their call in his religious orders. He died on August 1, 1868, at the age of fifty-seven. Pope John XXIII proclaimed him a saint on December 9, 1962. We can ask St. Peter Julian Eymard to give us some of his love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We can ask him to help us learn from him how to adore the Holy Eucharist.
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St John Vianney -- August 4
John Mary Vianney was born in Lyons, France, in 1786. As a child he took care of his father's sheep. He loved to pray but he also loved to play horseshoes. When John was eighteen, he asked his father's permission to become a priest. His father was worried because John had become a big help on the family farm. After two years, Mr. Vianney agreed. At twenty, John studied under Father Balley. The priest was very patient but Latin soon became a major problem for John. He became discouraged. It was then that he decided to walk sixty miles to the shrine of St. John Francis Regis, a popular saint in France. We celebrate his feast on June 16. John prayed for help. After that pilgrimage, he had as much trouble as ever with his studies. The difference was that he never again grew discouraged. John was finally able to enter the seminary. Studies were hard. No matter how much he tried, he never did very well. When the final examinations came, they were spoken, not written. John had to face a board of teachers and answer their questions. He was so upset that he broke down in the middle of the test. Yet, because John was a holy man, he was full of common sense and he understood what the Church taught about the subjects. He knew the right answers when asked what should be done in this case or that. He just couldn't say those answers in the complicated style of Latin text books. John was ordained anyway. He understood what the priestly vocation was and his goodness was beyond question. He was sent to a little parish called Ars. Father Vianney fasted and did hard penance for his people. He tried to stop them from sinning. They drank too much, worked all day Sunday and never went to church. Many used terrible language. Eventually, one tavern after another closed down because business became so slow. People began to worship regularly on Sundays and attended weekday Mass. The swearing was not so frequent. What had happened in Ars? "Our priest is a saint," the people would say, "and we must obey him." God gave John the power to see into people's minds and to know the future. Because of this gift, he converted many sinners and helped people make the right decisions. Pilgrims began to come to Ars. In time, it was hundreds a day. St. John Vianney spent twelve to sixteen hours daily hearing confessions. He wanted so much to spend the rest of his life in a monastery. Instead, he stayed forty-two years at Ars and died there in 1859 at the age of seventy-three. St. John Vianney was proclaimed a saint in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. St. John Vianney teaches us by his example to pray when things are hard. The Lord will help us overcome our difficulties. He will use us as his instruments to bring his love and joy.
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Blessed Frederic Janssoone -- August 5
Blessed Frederic Janssoone was born in Flanders in 1838. His life took many interesting turns. His was not an ordinary nineteenth-century way of life. Frederic was born of wealthy farm parents and he was the youngest of thirteen children. He was just nine when his father died, so the boy left school to help support his mother. He soon realized that he had a "knack" for selling. He enjoyed people. He liked meeting new people and he knew how to explain his products. Frederic's mother died in 1861. It was then that the twenty-three-year-old reached into his heart in search of his own life's call. He realized that he was experiencing a strong desire to join the Franciscan order. After his seminary studies were finished, Frederic was ordained a Franciscan priest. He became a military chaplain for a time. Then in 1876, he was sent to the Holy Land. Father Frederic preached the Gospel in the places made sacred by Jesus himself. He used his skills to help various groups of Christians cooperate in the upkeep of two sacred churches. He built a church in Bethlehem. Blessed Frederic is also remembered for reviving an old custom of having pilgrims make the Stations of the Cross throughout the streets of Jerusalem. Father Frederic's ministry in Canada began when he was transferred there in 1881. He was sent on a fundraising tour. His many talents served him well. His joyful spirit of self-giving made him much loved immediately. His sermons and talks were filled with interesting facts about the Holy Land. He looked into the faces and hearts of the people and prayed that they would grow in the richness of God's life. In 1888, he returned to Canada to stay and was to spend the rest of his life there. Father Janssoone was an interesting person and a fascinating writer. He wrote several articles and biographies of saints. They are reminders of the enthusiasm that filled his own soul. They reflect the joy of Jesus that he so willingly shared with others. Father Frederic died on August 4, 1916. He was declared "blessed" in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. We can learn from Blessed Frederic Janssoone how to be joyful givers and happy followers of Jesus. We can use our gifts to spread joy and to be images of Jesus, the way Blessed Frederic did.
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The Transfiguration -- August 6
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record the marvelous event of the Lord's Transfiguration. Before he suffered and died, he let three of his apostles see him shining with great glory. He did this to make their belief in him stronger. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up Mount Tabor which stands in the middle of Galilee. When they were by themselves, suddenly the Lord's face began to shine bright like the sun. His robes became white as snow. The apostles were speechless. As they watched, two famous prophets of old, Elijah and Moses, appeared. They were talking with Jesus. Imagine the joy those apostles felt. "Lord," said St. Peter, "it is good for us to be here. If you want, let us set up three tents here--one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Peter really did not know what to say, because he was trembling with wonder and fear. As he was talking, a bright cloud overshadowed them. From it the voice of God the Father came, saying, "This is my beloved Son-, hear him." When they heard that, the apostles were so struck with fear that they fell on their faces. Then Jesus came near and touched them. "Arise," he said. "Do not be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus. As they came down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until he had risen from the dead. They did not understand what he meant by these words then. But after his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday, they would realize what Jesus had meant. Let us listen to what Jesus tells us through his vicar, the pope, and through our bishops and priests.
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St Sixtus II & Companions -- August 7
The Roman emperors who persecuted Christians were trying to wipe out belief in Jesus and a religion they hated and feared. Although they did not know it, every time they murdered a saint, they gave Christians one more reason for belief. From the bloody Roman persecutions came the martyrs. The martyrs' gift of faithfulness to Jesus, even at the cost of their lives, will bless the Church until the end of time. The persecution of Emperor Valerian caused the martyrdom of Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons in one day. The persecution was fierce. Many in the Christian community gathered in the underground catacombs. They participated in the Mass and encouraged each other. Sixtus, a priest of Rome, became pope in 257. That same year Valerian's persecution began. Sixtus carried on bravely for a year, mostly from hiding, encouraging the Christians. With tact and gentleness, he even settled issues about Christian beliefs. Then on August 6, 258, Roman soldiers broke into a room in the catacombs as Sixtus sat peacefully. He was preaching a sermon about Jesus' love and forgiveness. Some say he was killed right there in his chair, along with four of the six deacons. Others say he and the deacons were taken away for trial. Then they were brought back to that very room, where they were killed. The two remaining deacons were killed later in the day. A century later, Pope St. Damasus wrote a beautiful inscription on the tomb of St. Sixtus which is in the catacombs of St. Callistus in Rome. St. Sixtus II was so highly thought of by the early Christians that he is among the saints listed in the Church's First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. We can ask St. Sixtus II to help us appreciate our gift of faith and grow in our love for Jesus. When we are afraid to stand up for what Jesus expects of us, we can pray to St. Sixtus and his companion martyrs for courage.
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St Dominic -- August 8
Dominic was born in Castile, Spain, in 1170. He was a member of the Guzman family and his mother is Blessed Joan of Aza. When Dominic was seven, he began to go to school. His uncle, a priest, directed his education. After years of study, he became a priest too. Dominic lived a quiet life of prayer and obedience with other virtuous priests. But God had amazing plans for Dominic. He was meant to begin a new religious order. It would be called the Order of Preachers or "Dominicans," after St. Dominic. The Dominicans preached the faith. They helped correct false teachings called heresies. It all began when Dominic was on a trip through southern France. He realized that the heresy of Albigensianism was doing great harm. St. Dominic felt such pity for the people who had joined it. He wanted to help them. The Dominicans conquered that dangerous heresy with prayer, especially the Holy Rosary. Dominic also encouraged the people to be humble and to make sacrifices. Once someone asked St. Dominic what book he used to prepare his wonderful sermons. "The only book I use is the book of love," he said. He always prayed to be filled with true love of neighbor. He urged the Dominicans to be devoted to the study of the Bible and to prayer. No one did more than St. Dominic and his preachers to spread the beautiful practice of saying the Rosary. St. Dominic was a brilliant preacher, while St. Francis of Assisi was a humble beggar. Yet, they were close friends. Their two orders of Dominicans and Franciscans helped Christians become holier. Dominic's friars opened centers in Paris, France-, Madrid, Spain,- Rome and Bologna, Italy. He lived to see his order spread to Poland, Scandinavia and Palestine. The friars also went to Canterbury, London, and Oxford, England. Dominic died in Bologna on August 7, 1221. His great friend, Cardinal Ugolino of Venice became Pope Gregory IX He proclaimed Dominic a saint in 1234. We can ask St. Dominic to help us grow in our love for our Catholic faith, We can also ask him to teach us how to be as devoted to the Rosary as he was.
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Blessed John of Rieti -- August 9
Blessed John lived in the first half of the fourteenth century. He has a sister who is also "blessed," Blessed Lucy of Amelia. They were members of the Bufalari family from the Umbria region of Italy. John felt a call to religious life. He was attracted to the order of St. Augustine and wanted to be a brother. John was accepted into the order and found himself immediately at home. He loved to pray and to meditate about Jesus, Mary and the saints. He learned how to talk to God, his Father, and he especially took the opportunities to serve at Mass. People from the neighboring towns came to Mass at the church of the Augustinians. They noticed the brother who was always there. He was so peaceful and kind. Brother John went out of his way to welcome them. He made them feel at home. When people came to the monastery in need, Brother John was there to greet and welcome them. For those who were staying overnight, he would bring them to the guest rooms and wait on them. He would make sure they had food, medicine and whatever else the monastery could give. The years passed. Brother John continued his religious life with the quiet rhythm of a clock. He was steady and stable. Blessed John remained joyful in his vocation until his death in 1350. It was no surprise to anybody who had come to the monastery when miracles started to be reported at his tomb. Brother John was not going to let his death stop him from performing his ministry for Jesus. Fun and excitement will not keep us happy for very long. What really fills us with happiness is what is Inside of us--our faith and love for Jesus. We can ask Blessed John to help us find the happiness he found.
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St Lawrence -- August 10
This famous martyr of Rome lived in the third century. He was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus II was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping. "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the pope. "In three days you will follow me." Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand. He even sold expensive church vessels to have more to give away. The prefect of Rome, a greedy man, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. He ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. He showed them to the prefect and said: "This is the Church's treasure." The prefect was furious. In his anger he condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted him. God gave him so much strength and joy that Lawrence is said to have joked. "Turn me over," he said to the judge. Before he died, he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus. He prayed that the Catholic faith would spread all over the world. Lawrence died on August 10, 158. His feast spread throughout Italy and northern Africa. Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Lawrence's honor. St. Lawrence is among the saints mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. When we feel like complaining about something that bothers us, we can whisper a prayer to St. Lawrence. We can ask him to help us be patient.
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St Clare -- August 11
Clare was born around 1193 in Assisi, Italy. She lived at the time of St. Francis of Assisi. Clare became the foundress of an order of nuns called the "Poor Clares." When she was eighteen, she heard St. Francis preach. Her heart burned with a great desire to imitate him. She also wanted to live a poor, humble life for Jesus. So one evening, she ran away from home. In a little chapel outside Assisi, she gave herself to God. St. Francis cut off her hair and offered her a rough brown habit to wear. She stayed with the Benedictine nuns until more nuns would join her. Her parents tried in every way to make her return home, but Clare would not- Soon her fifteen-year-old sister Agnes joined her. Other young women wanted to be brides of Jesus, too. Before long there was a small religious community. St. Clare and her nuns wore no shoes. They never ate meat. They lived in a poor house and kept silent most of the time. Yet they were very happy because they felt that Jesus was close to them. Once an army of rough soldiers came to attack Assisi. They planned to raid the convent first. Although very sick, St. Clare asked to be carried to the wall. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed right where the soldiers could see it. Then she knelt and begged God to save the nuns. "O Lord, protect these sisters whom I cannot protect now," she prayed. And a voice within her seemed to say: "I will keep them always in my care." At the same time, a sudden fright struck the attackers. They fled as fast as they could. St. Clare was abbess of her convent for forty years. Twenty-nine of those years she was sick. But she said that she was joyful anyway because she was serving the Lord. Some people worried that the nuns were suffering because they were so poor. "They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly poor?" St. Clare died on August 11, 1253. Just two years later she was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander IV. Sometimes we forget to give enough time to the Lord. We might be so excited about certain things that we drown out the voice of Jesus. That is when we can ask St. Clare to show us how to keep in touch with Jesus who lives in our hearts.
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St Porcarius & Companions -- August 12
In the fifth century, a large abbey for monks was built off the coast of Provence, which is southern France today. It was called the abbey of Lerins. The abbey was filled with many holy monks. By the eighth century, the community of Lerins was made up of monks, novices, students and young men interested in becoming monks. There were over five hundred men. Around 732, Abbot Porcarius had some kind of a revelation or premonition. The monastery was about to be attacked by barbarian invaders. Abbot Porcarius packed all the students and thirty-six of the younger monks onto a boat. He sent them off to safety. Because there were no more boats, he gathered the remainder of the community around him. Nobody complained about being left behind. Instead, they prayed together for courage. They asked the Lord for the gift to forgive their enemies. Soon Saracens from Spain or North Africa landed their ships. They attacked the monks, just as the abbot had predicted. The monks prayed and encouraged one another to bravely suffer and die for Christ. The attackers pounced on their prey and killed all but four who were carried off as slaves. St. Porcarius and the monks of Lerins had become brave martyrs for Jesus. We can pray every day for those who persecute Jesus and his Church. We can also ask St. Porcarius and the monks of Lerins to inspire all people to value and protect human life from the moment of conception until death.
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St. Pontian And St. Hippolytus -- August 13
A man named Maximinus became the emperor of Rome in 235. Almost immediately, he began a persecution of the Christians. One of the frequent punishments of bishops and priests was to be sent into exile to the dangerous and unhealthy mine fields in Sardinia, Italy. It was this very persecution that joined the two martyrs celebrated today. St. Pontian became pope after the death of Urban I in the year 230. When Maximinus became emperor, Pontian served the Church with his sufferings in the mines of Sardinia. The other saint on today's calendar is St. Hippolytus. He was a priest and a scholar in the church of Rome. He wrote many excellent works of theology and was a great teacher. Hippolytus had become frustrated with Pope St. Zephyrinus, who had been martyred in the year 217. Hippolytus felt that the pope had not been quick enough to stop people who were teaching errors. St. Zephyrinus' successor had been St. Callistus I. Hippolytus had not been pleased with the choice of the new pope. Hippolytus himself had a large following, and he gave in to their suggestion that he be appointed pope. So he agreed. He broke ties with the Church and became a false pope. When the persecution began, he was arrested and sent to Sardinia. There in that sad environment, while the enemies of Christianity laughed, a miracle of healing took place. Pope Pontian and Hippolytus met in exile. The priest was touched by the humility of the pope. He asked to return to the Church and felt the anger lifted from his heart. Pope Pontian understood the priest and loved him. He realized their need to help and encourage each other in their love for Jesus. Both became martyrs and remain for all time witnesses of forgiveness and Christian hope. If we should ever become angry and frustrated about something, we have these two saints to help us. We can ask St. Pontian for his understanding heart and St. Hippolytus for his loving obedience.
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St. Maximilian Kolbe -- August 14
Raymond Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. He joined the Franciscan order in 1907 and took the name that we know him by- Maximilian. Maximilian loved his vocation very much, and he especially loved the Blessed Mother. He added the name "Mary" when he pronounced solemn vows in 1914. Father Maximilian Mary was convinced that the world of the twentieth century needed their Heavenly Mother to guide and protect them. He used the press to make Mary more widely known. He and his fellow Franciscans published two monthly newsletters that soon went to readers around the world. The Mother of God blessed Father Maximilian's work. He built a large center in Poland. This center was called "City of the Immaculate." By 1938, eight hundred Franciscans lived there and labored to make the love of Mary known. Father Kolbe also started another City of the Immaculate in Nagasaki, Japan. Still another was begun in India. In 1938, the Nazis invaded the Polish City of the Immaculate. They stopped the wonderful work going on there. In 1941, the Nazis arrested Father Kolbe. They sentenced him to hard manual labor at Auschwitz. He was at Auschwitz three months when a prisoner successfully escaped. The Nazis made the rest of the prisoners pay for the escape. They chose ten prisoners at random to die in the starvation bunker. All the prisoners stood at attention, while ten men were pulled out of line. One chosen prisoner, a married man with a family, begged and pleaded to be spared for the sake of his children. Father Kolbe, who had not been picked, listened and felt deeply moved to help that suffering prisoner. He stepped forward and asked the commander if he could take the man's place. The commander accepted his offer. Father Kolbe and the other prisoners were marched into the starvation bunker. They remained alive without food or water for several days. One by one, as they died, Father Kolbe helped and comforted them. He was the last to die. An injection of carbolic acid hastened his death on August 14, 1941. Pope John Paul 11 proclaimed him a saint and a martyr in 1982. St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe is the kind of person we all want to be. He was a hero who gave up his life that someone else might live. He was such a special person because he was a great friend of the Blessed Mother. We can be friends of Mary, too, if we honor her and pray to her.
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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- August 15
This feast of Mary celebrates a special privilege of Mary, Our Mother. The Assumption means that she entered into the glory of heaven not only with her soul, but also with her body. The Son of God took his body from Mary's pure womb. It was fitting, then, that her body should be glorified as soon as her life here on earth was ended. Now Mary is in heaven. She is queen of heaven and earth. She is the Mother of Jesus' Church and queen of apostles. Every time Mary asks Jesus to give us graces, he listens to her request. After the resurrection from the dead, we, too, can go to heaven with our bodies. If we use our bodies now to do good, those bodies will share in our heavenly reward. After the resurrection, our bodies will be perfect. They will not be subject to illness anymore. They will not need any more food and drink to keep alive. They will be able to go every place without time or effort. They will be beautiful and splendid! Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven is a dogma of faith. This wonderful truth was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. It is so wonderful to be able to think that we have a special Mother in heaven. She really does love us. She is there for us whenever we call to her in prayer We can whisper a Hail Mary often throughout the day.
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St. Stephen of Hungary -- August 16
St. Stephen was born around 969 in Hungary. This saint's name had been Vaik. When he became a Christian at the age of ten, he was given the name of Stephen. At the same time, his father, the duke of Hungary, and many nobles also became Christians. However, when Stephen himself became king, the country was still quite pagan. Some people were violent and fierce. So he decided to establish the Church solidly in Hungary. His efforts were blessed by God. The secret of St. Stephen's amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his devotion to Mary. He placed his whole kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor. Pope Sylvester 11 sent a beautiful king's crown to Stephen. This treasure became known as the crown of St. Stephen. During the Second World War, American soldiers captured the crown. However, it was returned to Hungary in 1978. Stephen was a strong, fearless ruler. He enforced just laws. But he was also gentle and kind to the poor. He tried to avoid war as much as he could. He loved to give gifts of money to beggars without letting them know who he was. Once he was giving these gifts in disguise when a crowd of rough beggars knocked him down and struck him. They pulled his hair and beard, and stole his money pouch. They never could have imagined they were bullying their king. And they never found out from him. He took the insult quietly and humbly. He forced his thoughts to turn to Mary and prayed- "See, Queen of heaven, how your people have treated him whom you made king. If they were enemies of the faith, I would know what to do with them. But since they are your Son's subjects, I will take this joyfully. I say thank you for it." In fact, King Stephen made a promise then and there to give more than ever to beggars. Stephen was king of Hungary for forty-two years. He died on August 15, 1038. St. Stephen was proclaimed a saint by Pope St. Gregory VII in 1083. We don't have to be kings or presidents to realize the powerful impact of example. Some people preach wonderful sermons every day by the way they live. When we need more courage to imitate the good example of people, we can ask St. Stephen of Hungary to help us.
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Blessed Joan Delanque -- August 17
The youngest of twelve children, Joan Delanoue was born in 1666. Her family had a small but successful business. When her widowed mother died, she left the store to Joan. She was not an evil girl, but she thought only of making money. She committed many little sins to do it. She had once been devout, but now there was little love in her heart. Her mother had always been generous to beggars. Joan, instead, would buy food only just in time for dinner. This way she could tell any beggars who came to the door during the day, "I have nothing to give you." Joan was not happy living like this. At last, when she was twenty-seven, a good priest helped her start living up to her faith with love and fervor. Then she finally saw that her "business" was to give away money, not hoard it. Joan began taking care of poor families and orphans. Eventually, she closed her shop entirely to devote her time to them. People called her house full of orphans, "Providence House." Later, she persuaded other young women to help her. They became the Sisters of St. Anne of Providence in Saumur, France, Joan's town. Joan lived a very self-sacrificing life. She performed hard penances. St. Grignon de Montfort met Joan. He thought at first that her pride was causing her to be so hard on herself. But then he realized that her heart was really full of love of God. He said- "Go on in the way you have begun. God's Spirit is with you. Follow his voice and fear no more," Joan died peacefully on August 17, 1736. She was seventy years old. The people of Saumur said, "That little shopkeeper did more for the poor of Saumur than all the town councilors put together. What a woman! And what a holy person!" Joan was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1947, the same year St. Grignon de Montfort was declared a saint. Many people die every day of hunger We can realize the importance of not wasting food. Even if something is put on our plate that we don't like, we can it. We can ask Blessed Joan to give us her self-sacrificing spirit.
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St. Helena -- August 18
Helena, mother of Constantine I, called the Great, was born of humble parents in the Roman province of Moesia, a land on the western shore of the Black Sea. Constantine's father, Constantius Chlorus, who had risen to the throne by way of military success, was also a native of that region. According to St. Ambrose, Helena was an inn-keeper when Constantius lifted her from her lowly position and made her his consort. There exists a legend that she was the daughter of a British king, but there is no historical foundation for this. It is, however, true that Constantius spent some time in Britain putting down a rebellion among the Picts and Scots, and died at York, but it is thought that he had cast off Helena and taken a new wife long before this time. On the death of his father, the young Constantine brought his mother to live at court at Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Empire. He honored her by giving her the Roman title of Augusta and also had coins struck bearing her image. Everyone knows the story of Constantine's dramatic conversion. The Church historian, Eusebius, whose is a chief source of information for the period, relates that on the eve of a great battle in the year 312 Constantine had a dream (by some accounts the dream was preceded by a day-time vision) of a flaming cross in the sky, and beneath it were the words, in Greek, "In this sign conquer." He thereupon embraced Christianity and proceeded south to the Tiber, where his victory over the Emperor Maxentius gave him control of the Western Empire. Constantine now effected his mother's conversion, and had his children reared as Christians. Helena became zealous for the faith, using her influence and wealth to extend Christianity. She built many churches and restored shrines; her name is particularly associated with churches at Rome and at Trier, in Gaul. But it is in the Holy Land itself that we have the most authentic record of her activities, which included the construction of great basilicas at Bethlehem and Jerusalem. To clear the Holy Places of the accumulated debris of three centuries was Helena's dearest aim. According to some of the chroniclers, when she was an old woman of nearly eighty, with the help of St. Judas Cyriacus, she cleared the mound that covered the Holy Sepulchre, and in doing so uncovered the True Cross, on which Jesus was crucified.
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St. John Eudes -- August 19
John Eudes was born in Normandy, France, in 1601. He was the oldest son of a farmer. Even as a child, he tried to copy the example of Jesus in the way he treated his family, friends and neighbors. When he was only nine, another boy slapped his face. John felt himself becoming angry. Then he remembered Jesus' words in the Gospel: to turn the other cheek. So he did. John's parents wanted him to marry and have a family. He gently but firmly convinced them that he had a priestly call. He joined the congregation of the Oratory and studied for the priesthood. After John was a priest, the plague hit Normandy. It brought terrible suffering and death. Father Eudes volunteered to help the sick, caring for both their souls and bodies. Later, he became a popular preacher of missions in parishes. In fact, during his lifetime he preached 1 10 missions. St. John is responsible for the establishment of important religious congregations- the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd nuns. Father Eudes also started the Congregation of Jesus and Mary for priests. This congregation was dedicated to training young men to become good parish priests. St. John was very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Holy Heart of Mary. He wrote a book about these devotions. John became sick after he preached an outdoor mission in very cold weather. He never fully recovered. John died in 1680. He was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope St. Pius X in 1908. This pope called John Eudes the apostle of devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925. We can ask St. John Eudes to show us how to grow in love of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. We can also find out about devotion to the Nine First Fridays and the Five First Saturdays so that we can practice them.
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St. Bernard -- August 20
Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France. He and his six brothers and sisters received an excellent education. His heart was broken when his mother died. He was just seventeen. He might have let sadness get the best of him had it not been for his lively sister Humbeline. She cheered him up and soon Bernard became a very popular man. He was handsome and intelligent, full of fun and good humor. People enjoyed being with him. Yet one day, Bernard greatly surprised his friends by telling them he was going to join the very strict Cistercian order. They did all they could to make him give up the idea. But in the end, it was Bernard who convinced his brothers, an uncle and twenty-six friends to join him. As Bernard and his brothers left their home, they said to their little brother Nivard, who was playing with other children: "Good-bye, little Nivard. You will now have all the lands and property for yourself." But the boy answered: "What! Will you take heaven and leave me the earth? Do you call that fair?" And not too long after, Nivard, too, joined his brothers in the monastery. St. Bernard became a very good monk. After three years, he was sent to start a new Cistercian monastery and to be its abbot. The new monastery was in the Valley of Light and became known by that name. In French, the Valley of Light is "Clairvaux." Bernard was the abbot there for the rest of his life. Although he would have liked to stay working and praying in his monastery, he was called out sometimes for special assignments. He preached, made peace between rulers, and went to advise popes. He also wrote beautiful spiritual books. He became the most influential man of his time. Yet Bernard's great desire was to be close to God, to be a monk. He was not trying to become famous. This saint had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. It is said that he often greeted her with a "Hail Mary" when he passed her statue. One day, the Blessed Mother returned his greeting: "Hail, Bernard!" In this way, Our Lady showed how much his love and devotion pleased her. St. Bernard died in 1153. People were saddened because they would miss his wonderful influence, He was proclaimed a saint in 1174 by Pope Alexander III. He was also named a Doctor of the Church in 1830 by Pope Pius VIII. St. Bernard reminds us that every individual makes a difference. We can all give a wonderful gift of our talents and our energy to make the world better. If you wonder what gifts the Lord is asking of you, you can pray to St. Bernard for help.
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St. Pius X -- August 21
This great pope's name was Joseph Sarto. He was born in 1835, the son of a mailman in Riese, Italy. Joseph was given the affectionate nickname of "Beppi." When Joseph felt that God wanted him to be a priest, he had to make many sacrifices for his education. But he didn't mind. He even walked miles to school barefoot to save his one good pair of shoes. After he was ordained a priest, Father Sarto labored for the people in poor parishes for seventeen years. Everybody loved him. He used to give away everything he had to help them. His sisters had to hide his shirts or he would have had nothing to wear. Even when Father Joseph became a bishop, and a cardinal, he still gave away what he owned to the poor. He kept nothing for himself. When Pope Leo XIII died in 1903, Cardinal Sarto was chosen pope. He took the name of Pius X. He became known as the pope who loved the Holy Eucharist. Pope Pius X encouraged everyone to receive Jesus as often as they could. He also made a law permitting young children to receive Holy Communion too. Before that time, boys and girls had to wait many years before they could receive the Lord. He is also the pope of religious instruction. He believed in and loved our Catholic faith. He wanted every Catholic to share in the beauty of the truths of our faith. He really cared about every single person and their spiritual and material needs. He encouraged priests and religion teachers to help everyone learn about their faith. When the terrible World War I broke out, St. Pius X suffered greatly. He knew so many people would be killed. He had said: "I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this horrible suffering." Toward the end of his life, he also said "I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor." He did so much to help the poor that people wondered where all the money came from. He never kept anything for himself, right to the end of his life. Pope Pius X died on August 20, 1914. The last pope before him to be declared a saint was Pope St. Pius V. Pope Clement X had canonized him in 1672. We celebrate the feast of St. Pius V on April 30. Joseph Sarto, Pope St. Pius X, was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1954. When we want to deepen our love and reverence for the Holy Eucharist, we can pray to St. Pius X. He was so kind and understanding. He can lead us to love Jesus, Mary and our Catholic faith as he did.
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Mary, Our Queen -- August 22
We can think of today's feast as connected with Mary's Assumption, which we celebrated on August 15. Today we think of Mary with her Son in heaven. She is there with her body as well as her soul. Even though governments today are often democracies, we can still understand the importance of kings and queens in the history of many countries. A good queen was greatly loved and served with joy. That is the kind of queen Mary, our Mother, is. She is a kind and loving queen. She is our Mother and teacher, too. As our Mother, Mary takes care of us. We never have to be ashamed to ask her for anything. She will give us spiritual gifts. She will help us with our physical needs. She is also our teacher, because she left us examples of how to be true disciples of Jesus. If we invite Mary to be our queen, she will teach us many wonderful things about the life of Jesus in us. She will take us to her Son. We can honor Mary every day in several ways. We can whisper a Hail Mary when we are walking along or doing a chore. We can spend some quiet time in our room or another location and say the Rosary. We can keep a little statue or picture of Mary near our bed to remind us to honor her with prayer. This is the way we make Mary the center and queen of our hearts. We can say the Hail Mary often throughout the day. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
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St. Rose of Lima -- August 23
This South American saint was born in Lima, Peru, in 1586. Her real name was Isabel, but she was such a beautiful baby that she was called Rose. She received the sacrament of Confirmation from St. Turibius, archbishop of Lima. We celebrate his feast on March 23. As Rose grew older, she became more and more beautiful. One day her mother put a wreath of flowers on her head to show off her loveliness to friends. But Rose was not impressed. She only wanted Jesus to notice her and love her. Rose did not think she was special because of her own beauty. She realized that beauty is a gift from God. She even became afraid that her beauty might be a temptation to someone. She noticed people staring at her with approval. She heard them say that her complexion was smooth and beautiful. So she did an unusual thing. She rubbed her face with pepper until her skin became all red and blistered. She certainly did not have to worry about receiving compliments for a while. St. Rose worked hard to support her parents who were very poor. She humbly obeyed them, too, except when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. Her love for Jesus was so great that when she talked about him, her face glowed. Rose prayed that her parents would be more accepting of her way of life. She wanted to live for Jesus alone. She had many temptations from the devil. There also were times when she had to suffer terrible loneliness and sadness. During those times, God seemed far away. Yet she cheerfully offered all these troubles to him. She kept praying for her trust to grow stronger. In her last long, painful sickness, this heroic young woman used to pray: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase your love in my heart." She was just thirty-one when she died on August 24, 1617, in Lima. St. Rose of Lima was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement X in 1671. He also named her patroness of the Americas, Philippines and West Indies. St. Rose of Lima was not footed by her own physical beauty. She tried to grow spiritually beautiful for Jesus. When we are worried about our looks or our personality, we can ask St. Rose to help us focus on what is really important in our lives.
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St. Bartholomew -- August 24
"Bartholomew" was one of the first followers of Jesus. This apostle's other name was Nathaniel. He came from Cana in Galilee. He became a disciple of Jesus when his friend Philip invited him to come and meet the Lord. Nathaniel received high praise from Jesus, who said, as soon as he saw him, "Here is a man in whom there is no guile-" Jesus meant that Nathaniel was an honest, sincere man who would never deceive anyone. His one desire was to know the truth. Nathaniel was very surprised to hear those words from the Lord. "How do you know me?" he asked. "Before Philip called you," Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree." That was a favorite praying-place. Nathaniel must have realized then that Jesus had read his heart as he prayed. "Master!" he cried, 'You are the Son of God, the King of Israel." And Nathaniel became one of the Lord's faithful apostles. Like the other apostles, Nathaniel, or Bartholomew, preached the Gospel of Jesus at the risk of his life. It is believed that he went to India, Armenia and other lands. He preached with great zeal, until he gave his life for the faith. And so, to the reward of an apostle, St. Bartholomew added the martyr's crown. Jesus admired the honesty of St. Bartholomew. Even though Bartholomew had his opinions, he was not stubborn. So Jesus praised him. He also gave Bartholomew the grace of faith and the vocation to be an apostle.
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St Louis of France -- August 25
Louis was born on April 25, 1214. His father was King Louis VIII of France and his mother was Queen Blanche. The story is told that when Prince Louis was small, his mother hugged him tightly. She said, 'I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child. But I would rather see you dead at my feet than ever to have you commit a mortal sin." Louis never forgot those words. He grew to cherish his Catholic faith and his upbringing. When he was twelve, his father died and he became the king. Queen Blanche ruled until her son was twenty-one. Louis became a remarkable king. He married Margaret, the daughter of a count. They loved each other very much. They had eleven children. Louis was a good husband and father. And as long as his mother, Queen Blanche lived, he showed her full respect. Busy as he was, the king found time for daily Mass and the recitation of the Divine Office. He was a Third Order Franciscan and lived a simple lifestyle. He was generous and fair. He ruled his people with wisdom, charity and true Christian principles. There was no separation between what he believed as a Catholic and how he lived. He knew how to settle arguments and disputes. He listened to the poor and the underprivileged. He had time for everybody, not just the rich and influential. He supported Catholic education and built monasteries. The historian, Joinville, wrote a biography of St. Louis. He recalls that he was twenty-two years in the king's service. He was daily in the king's company. And he could say that he never heard King Louis swear or use any kind of profanity in all those years. Nor did the king permit bad language in his castle. St. Louis felt an urgent obligation to help the suffering Christians in the Holy Land. He wanted to be part of the Crusades. Twice he led an army against the Turks. The first time, he was taken prisoner. But even in jail, he behaved as a true Christian knight. He was unafraid and noble in all his ways. He was freed and returned to take care of his kingdom in France. Yet as soon as he could, he started back to fight the enemies of the faith again. On the way, however, this greatly loved king contracted typhoid fever. A few hours before he died, he prayed, "Lord, I will enter into your house, worship in your holy temple, and give glory to your name." St. Louis died on August 25, 1270. He was fifty-six years old. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface Vill in 1297. It isn't easy to live up to our Christian values at any time in history. St. Louis IX teaches us by his example that we have to make time for God and for prayer If we are ever tempted to think that we are too busy to pray, we can ask King St. Louis to convince us otherwise.
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St. Elizabeth Bichier -- August 26
Elizabeth was born in 1773. As a little girl, her favorite game was building castles in the sand. Many years later, this holy French woman had to take charge of building convents for the order of nuns she founded. "I guess building was meant to be my business," she joked, "since I started it so young!" In fact, by 1830, eight years before her death, Elizabeth had already opened over sixty convents. During the time of the French Revolution, Elizabeth's family lost everything they owned. This was because the republicans were taking property from the nobility. But this intelligent young woman of nineteen studied law so she could fight her family's case in court. When she won and saved her family from ruin, the village shoemaker exclaimed- "All you have to do now is marry a good republican!" Elizabeth, however, had no intention of marrying anyone--republican or noble. On the back of a picture of Our Lady, she had written: "I dedicate and consecrate myself to Jesus and Mary forever." With the help of St. Andrew Fournet, Elizabeth started a new religious order called the Daughters of the Cross. We celebrate St. Andrew Fournet's feast on May 13. This new order taught children and cared for the sick. Elizabeth would face any danger to help people. Once she found a tramp lying sick in a barn. She brought him to the convent hospital and did all she could for him until he died. The next morning the police chief came to tell her she could be arrested for sheltering a man believed to be a criminal. Elizabeth was unafraid. "I only did what you yourself would have done, sir," she said. I found this poor sick man, and took care of him until he died. I am ready to tell the judge just what happened." Of course, the saint's honesty and charity won her great respect. People admired her straight, clear answers. The order's co-founder, St. Andrew Fournet, died in 1834. St. Elizabeth wrote to the sisters, "This is our greatest and most sad loss." St. Elizabeth died on August 26, 1838. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1947. St. Elizabeth Bichier was courageous and energetic. We can pray to her if we realize that we are not as generous in our Christian vocation as we should be. She will help us be generous followers of Jesus.
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St Monica -- August 27
It was in Tagaste, northern Africa, that this famous mother of St. Augustine was born in 332. She was brought up as a good Christian. Her strong training was a great help to her when she married the pagan Patricius. Patricius admired his wife, but he made her suffer because of his bad temper. Still Monica never answered back and never complained about him to anyone. Instead she prayed for him fervently. Patricius admitted his belief in Christianity in 371. He was baptized on his deathbed in 372. His mother, too, became a Christian. St. Monica's joy over the holy way in which her husband had died soon changed to great sorrow. She found out that her son Augustine was living a bad, selfish life. This brilliant young man of nineteen had turned to a false religion and to immoral habits. Monica prayed and cried and did much penance for her son. She begged priests to talk to him. Augustine was brilliant, yet very stubborn. He did not want to give up his sinful life. But Monica would not give up either. When he went to Rome without her, she followed him. At Rome, she found he had become a teacher in Milan. So Monica went to Milan. And in all those years, she never stopped praying for him. What love and faith! After years of prayers and tears, her reward came when Augustine was converted. He not only became a good Christian, as she had prayed. Augustine also became a priest, a bishop, a great writer and a very famous saint. St. Monica died in Ostia, outside Rome, in 387. Augustine was at her bedside. We should not become discouraged if our prayers are not answered right away Like St. Monica, we must keep praying. Jesus tells us in the Gospel to ask and we shall receive.
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St. Augustine -- August 28
St. Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria on November 13, 354. This famous son of St. Monica spent many years in wicked living and in false beliefs. He was one of the most intelligent persons who ever lived. Augustine was brought up in a Christian atmosphere by his mother. Unfortunately, he became so proud and immoral that eventually he could not see or understand spiritual truths anymore. His mother Monica prayed daily for her son's conversion. The marvelous sermons of St. Ambrose made their impact too. Finally, Augustine became convinced that Christianity was the true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted after reading the life of St. Anthony of the Desert. We celebrate his feast on January 17. Augustine felt ashamed. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are taking heaven by force. Yet we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!" Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine went into the garden and prayed, "How much longer, Lord? Why don't I put an end to my sinning now?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!" Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on St. Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13. It was just what Augustine needed. Paul says to stop living immoral lives and to live in imitation of Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life. He was baptized and ordained a priest and bishop. He was a famous Catholic writer and founder of the Augustinian order. He became one of the greatest saints who ever lived. On the wall of his room, he had the following sentence written in large letters: "Here we do not speak evil of anyone." St. Augustine overcame strong heresies, lived simply and supported the poor. He preached very often, and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. "Too late have I loved you," he once cried to God. But Augustine spent the rest of his life in loving God and leading others to love him, too. Thinking over the lives of the saints, we should tell ourselves, "Can we not do what these men and women did?" We can become saints, too, if we pray for strength to do God's will.
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Beheading of St John the Baptist -- August 29
St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus. His mother was St. Elizabeth and his father was Zechariah. The first chapter of Luke's Gospel tells of the wonderful event of John's birth. Mark's Gospel, chapter 6:14-29, records the cruel details of John the Baptist's death. What harsh consequences John accepted for teaching the truth. King Herod and his wife refused to hear how they stood with God. They wanted to make their own rules and live their own lives. St. John the Baptist had to pay the price for his honesty. Yet he would have had it no other way. He would never have kept silent while sin and injustice were happening. He called people to repentance and wanted everyone to be reconciled to God. He recognized that true happiness comes from God. John had preached a baptism of repentance, preparing people for the Messiah. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and watched with quiet joy as the Lord's public ministry began. John encouraged his own disciples to follow Jesus. He knew that Jesus' fame would grow, while his would fade away. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, St. John the Baptist calls himself a voice crying in the desert to make straight the path of the Lord. He invited people to get ready, to prepare themselves to recognize the Messiah. His message is the same to each of us. We can ask St. John the Baptist to help us be always ready to recognize the coming of Jesus into our lives.
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St Pammachius -- August 30
Pammachius was a distinguished Christian layman who lived in the fourth century. As a young student, he had become friends with St. Jerome. They remained friends all their lives and kept an ongoing correspondence. His wife was Paulina, the second daughter of St, Paula, another good friend of St. Jerome. When Paulina died in 397, St. Jerome and St. Paulinus of Nola wrote deeply moving letters filled with sympathy, support and the promise of prayers. Pammachius was heart-broken about his wife's death. He spent the rest of his life serving in the hospice he and St. Fabiola built. There pilgrims coming to Rome were welcomed and made comfortable. Pammachius and Fabiola willingly accepted and even preferred the poor, the sick and the handicapped. Pammachius felt that his deceased wife was with him as he performed his works of mercy. Paulina had been known for her love for the poor and suffering. Her husband now believed that by caring for them, he was paying the best possible tribute to her memory. St. Pammachius was much more gentle with his words and ways than the fiery St. Jerome. He often suggested to Jerome that he soften or reword his letters, but Jerome usually did not. For example, a man named Jovinian was teaching serious errors. Jerome wrote a harsh essay exposing Jovinian's errors. Pammachius read the essay and made some good suggestions about rewording the overpowering expressions. St. Jerome thanked his friend for his concern, but did not make the corrections. Pammachius also tried to heal a quarrel between his friend St. Jerome and a man named Rufinus. But it does not seem that he could move Jerome to become more mild in his handling of the person or issues. St. Pammachius had a church in his house. Today it is the Passionist church of Saints John and Paul- St. Pammachius died in 410 as the Goths were taking over Rome. St. Pammachius knew how to be a good friend. He was supportive and honest. We can ask him to help us be true to our friends as he was.
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St Aidan -- August 31
Aidan was a seventh-century Irish monk. He lived at the great monastery of Iona, which St. Columban had founded. St. Oswald became king of North England in 634. He asked for missionaries to preach to his pagan people. The first missionary to go soon came back complaining that the English were rude, stubborn and wild. The monks got together to talk about the situation. "it seems to me," St. Aidan said to the returned monk, "that you have been too harsh with those people." He then explained that, as St. Paul says, first easy teachings are to be given. Then when the people have grown stronger on the Word of God, they can start to do the more perfect things of God's holy law. When the monks heard such wise words, they turned to Aidan. "You should be the one to go to North England to preach the Gospel," they said. Aidan went willingly. He took on his new assignment with humility and a spirit of prayer. He began by preaching. King St. Oswald himself translated Aidan's sermons into English until the saint learned the language better. St. Aidan traveled all over, always on foot. He preached and helped the people. He did much good and was greatly loved by the people. After thirty years of St. Aidan's ministry, any monk or priest who came into the village was greeted with great joy by all the villagers. On the island of Lindisfarne, St. Aidan built a large monastery. So many saints were to come from there that Lindisfarne became known as the Holy Island. Little by little, the influence of these zealous missionaries changed North England into a civilized, Christian land. St. Aidan died in 651. We can learn from St. Aidan's life that the witness of a joyful, kind person is a powerful influence on others. When we need help seeing the good in people, we can whisper a prayer to St. Aidan.
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