July -- The Precious Blood
Precious Blood, Ocean of Divine Mercy: Flow upon us!
Precious Blood, Most pure Offering: Procure us every Grace!
Precious Blood, Hope and Refuge of sinners: Atone for us!
Precious Blood, Delight of holy souls: Draw us! Amen.
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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Blessed Junipero Serra -- July 1
Junipero Serra was born in Petra, Spain, on November 24, 1713. The boy became a student at the Franciscan school in Palma, twenty-five miles away. He joined the Franciscan order on September 14, 1730, a few months before his seventeenth birthday. During the novitiate, Junipero read a biography of Franciscan saints. The saint whose life captivated him most was St. Francis Solano, who had lived from 1549 until 1610. This missionary priest to South America- had just been declared a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. The young novice decided that, if it was God's will, he too would be a missionary. Junipero was ordained a priest in 1736. He became a professor of philosophy. After he had been in the order twenty years, he was given a wonderful opportunity. Franciscan friars were asked to volunteer for the mission territories called "New Spain" (Mexico and California). Junipero and his close friend, Friar Francisco Palou, joined the missionary band at Cadiz, Spain, a seaport city. From there they sailed the Atlantic Ocean to Vera Cruz, Mexico. They landed on December 6, 1749. Junipero and another friar walked the next part of the journey from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, a distance of 240 miles. They began on December 15, 1749, and arrived on January 1, 1750. From Mexico City, Junipero and Friar Francisco Palou were sent to work among the Pame Indians at the Franciscan Mission of the Sierra Gorda. Several of the friars were then assigned to missions in Lower California. Junipero, Francisco and a handful of other Franciscans were asked to bring the Gospel to the native peoples in Upper California. Junipero started Mission San Diego on July 16, 1769, when he was fifty-six years old. The mission was an open invitation to his beloved people to come and meet Jesus. Gradually, they trusted the friars. Some people were baptized and began to live the Christian faith. Father Serra and the friars loved and protected their people. The golden chain of new missions grew: Mission San Carlos in Monterey on June 1, 1770-1 Mission San Antonio de Padua on July 14, 1771 - Mission San Gabriel Archangel, September 8, 1771 -1 Mission San Luis Obispo, September 1, 1772-1 Mission San Francisco de Asis, October 9, 1776; Mission San Juan Capistrano, November 1, 1776; Mission Santa Clara de Asis, January 12, 1777- Mission San Buenaventura, March 31, 1782. Eventually, six thousand native peoples were baptized. Blessed Junipero made his final tour of the missions in Upper California from the last part of 1783 until July of 1784. He died peacefully at Mission San Carlos on August 28, 1784, and is buried there. In 1988, Pope John Paul 11 declared Father Junipero Serra "blessed." Advertisements keep telling us to take care of "number one. " We can be selfish or too self-centered sometimes. Then we can ask Blessed Junipero Serra to give us some of his compassion and concern for others. We can also ask him to give us a bit of his missionary spirit.
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St Otto -- July 2
Otto lived in the twelfth century. He was born in Swabia, present-day Bavaria. He became a priest and was assigned to the service of Emperor Henry IV. Eventually, Father Otto acquired a high state office. He became Henry's chancellor. Otto tried to influence the emperor to act justly and to be moderate in his decisions. But Henry committed crimes and tried to cause division in the Church. He even appointed his own pope. Otto felt very bad and worked to help Henry reform. Henry IV took it upon himself to appoint Otto a bishop. Otto refused to be consecrated until he could go to Rome and receive the approval of the true pope, Paschal 11. The pope did consecrate him. Bishop Otto became a great help to the people of Swabia, especially under Emperor Henry V. This emperor followed the ways of his father, Henry IV. But although he was harsh and severe, he respected Otto and often listened to his advice. When King Boleslaus III of Poland conquered part of Pomerania, he asked Otto to go there. Pomerania was a province of Prussia in the Baltic area. The people were pagans. Bishop Otto welcomed the opportunity to bring them the Good News. In 1124, the bishop led a group of priests and catechists into Pomerania. Many people were instructed and baptized. Some say the number of conversions was over twenty thousand. Bishop Otto assigned priests to minister to the new Christians. He returned to his own country. After a while, some of the people of Pomerania began to return to their old pagan ways. Bishop Otto went back to Pomerania in 1128. He helped the people become fervent Christians again. He died on June 30, 1139, and was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement III in 1189. It is easy sometimes to think that we can do wrong things because everyone else does. But St. Otto teaches us by his life that we have to be courageous enough to do something good when we can or to say "no" when something is wrong. We can pray to him to help us.
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St Thomas -- July 3
Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. His name in the Syriac language means "twin." St. Thomas loved Jesus greatly, even though at first his belief was not very strong. Once when Jesus was going to face the danger of being killed, the other apostles tried to keep the Master back. St. Thomas said to them, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." When Jesus was captured by his enemies, Thomas lost his courage. He ran away with the other apostles. His heart was broken with sorrow at the death of his beloved Lord. Then on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his apostles after he had risen from the dead. Thomas was not with them at the time. As soon as he arrived, the other apostles told him joyfully, "We have seen the Lord." They thought Thomas would be happy. Instead, he did not believe their message. "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails," he said, "and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Eight days later, Jesus appeared to his apostles again. This time, Thomas was there, too. Christ called him and told him to touch his hands and the wound in his side. Poor St. Thomas! He fell down at the Master's feet and cried out, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus said, "Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." After Pentecost, Thomas was strong and firm in his belief and trust in Jesus. It is said that he went to India to preach the Gospel. He died a martyr there, after making many converts. When the priest lifts the sacred Host at Mass, we too can pray the words of St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"
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St Elizabeth of Portugal -- July 4
Elizabeth, a Spanish princess, was born in 1271. She married King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve. Elizabeth was beautiful and very lovable. She was also devout and went to Mass every day. Elizabeth was a charming wife. Her husband was fond of her at first, but soon he began to cause her great suffering. Though a good ruler, he did not have his wife's love of prayer and virtue. In fact, his sins of impurity were well-known scandals throughout his kingdom. St. Elizabeth tried to be a loving mother to her children, Alphonso and Constance. She was also generous and loving with the people of Portugal. Even though her husband was unfaithful, she prayed that he would have a change of heart. Elizabeth refused to become bitter and resentful. She strengthened her own prayer life and followed the Franciscan spirituality. Gradually, the king was moved by her patience and good example. He began to live better. He apologized to his wife and showed her greater respect. In his last sickness the queen never left his side, except for Mass. King Denis died on January 6, 1325. He had shown deep sorrow for his sins and his death was peaceful. Elizabeth lived eleven more years. She performed loving acts of charity and penance. She was a wonderful model of kindness toward the poor. This gentle woman was also a peacemaker between members of her own family and between nations. St. Elizabeth of Portugal died on July 4, 1336. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Urban VIIl in 1626. St. Elizabeth found the strength for daily living at morning Mass. We can ask her to help us appreciate the great treasure of the Mass. She will also help us to participate often and devoutly at Mass.
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St Anthony Mary Zaccaria -- July 5
Anthony was born in Italy in 1502. While he was still young, his father died. His mother encouraged Anthony in the special love he felt for the sufferings of poor people. Mrs. Zaccaria sent her son to the University of Padua so that he could become a doctor. He was only twenty-two when he graduated. The young doctor was very successful. Yet he did not feel satisfied. He realized that he wanted to become a priest. Anthony began to study theology. He also continued to care for the sick, to comfort and inspire the dying. He started to use all his spare moments to read and meditate on the letters of St. Paul in the Bible. He had read the life of the great apostle Paul many times, and had given much thought to his virtues. Now Anthony was burning with a strong desire to become a saint and to bring everyone to Jesus. After he was ordained a priest, St. Anthony Mary moved to the great city of Milan. There he would be able to help many more people. He also started an order of priests. They are the Clerks Regular of St. Paul. People call them "Barnabites" after their headquarters at the Church of St. Barnabas in Milan. In imitation of the apostle Paul, St. Anthony and his priests preached everywhere. They repeated the words and sentences of Paul. They explained Paul's message with words that were easy to understand. The people loved and appreciated this. St. Anthony also had a great love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, he started the practice of the Forty Hours Devotion. St. Anthony Mary was only thirty-seven when he died on July 5, 1539. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him a saint in 1897. St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria used to say, "I have never asked St. Paul for a grace without having received it. " In imitation of St. Anthony Mary, let us ask St. Paul for the grace we need the most.
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St Maria Goretti -- July 6
Maria was born in 1890. Her father died when she and the other five children in her family were small. At twelve, Maria was already very pretty. She helped her mother on the farm, in the house and with the care of the other children. She never complained because they were so poor. In fact, she cheered up her poor mother and was a great comfort to her. She went to Mass regularly even though it meant a two-hour walk. Maria also received the sacrament of Reconciliation as often as she could. A young neighbor, Alexander, tried a few times to make Maria sin. She absolutely refused. She did her best to avoid him. July 5, 1902, was a hot summer day. Maria was alone in the cottage mending clothes. Alexander came again to try to make her sin. He dragged her into a room. When she tried to scream, he stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth. Yet Maria managed to keep saying, "No, no! It is a mortal sin. God doesn't want it. If you commit it, you will go to hell." And she struggled as much as she could. Alexander panicked. He stabbed her furiously with a dagger. Then he ran away. Maria was taken to a hospital, where she died about twenty-four hours later. During her last hours, she forgave her murderer. Her only worry was for her mother. With great joy, the girl received Jesus in Holy Communion. Then she went to heaven. Alexander was sent to prison. For a long time, he did not repent of his horrible crime. Then one night he had a dream or vision of Maria offering him flowers. From that moment on, he was a changed man. When he was freed from prison after twenty-seven years, his first visit was to the Goretti home. He asked Maria's mother for forgiveness. Then Alexander spent the rest of his life as the gardener in a nearby monastery. Maria was declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XII on April 27, 1947. He appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's with Maria's eighty-two-year-old mother, Assunta. Three years later, on July 25, 1950, the same pope declared Maria a saint. He called her "a martyr of holy purity." We can help ourselves live our Christian values if we participate in the Mass and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. We can also choose good movies, videos, books and magazines. When we feel weak, we can ask St. Maria Goretti to help us be the kind of Christian she was.
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Blessed Roger Dickenson, Blessed Ralph Milner, Blessed Lawrence Humphrey -- July 7
These three martyrs lived in England during the time of Church persecution by Queen Elizabeth 1. "Mr." Roger Dickenson was an undercover diocesan priest. Ralph Milner was a husband and father. He worked as a farm laborer and was brought into the Church through the good example of his neighbors. The day he made his First Communion he was put into prison for being a Catholic. The jailer liked Mr. Milner so his prison confinement was not strict at first. For several years, he went on "parole" to find supplies of food and whatever the other prisoners needed. While on parole, he was of great help to "Mr." Dickenson and Father Stanney, a Jesuit. The day came when Father Dickenson, too, was caught. He and Mr. Milner were brought to trial together. Father Dickenson was tried for the crime of being a Catholic priest. Mr. Milner was tried for helping Father Dickenson perform his ministry. The judge looked at the crowd in the courtroom. He thought of Mrs. Milner and the couple's eight children. He wanted to free Milner at all costs. "All you have to do," he said, "is visit a Protestant church, just for a few minutes, to say you have been there. I'll let you go free to be with your family." Mr. Milner quietly and firmly refused. He and Father Dickenson went bravely to their deaths. It was July 7, 1591. The third martyr, Lawrence Humphrey, had been brought into the Church by Father Stanney, S.J. He would not give up the faith he had so recently acquired. Lawrence was just twenty-one years old when he was martyred. Every martyr reminds us that a treasure is worth defending. The martyrs recognized the value of their Catholic religion. They would not give it up for any reason. We can pray to Blessed Roger, Blessed Ralph and Blessed Lawrence. They will lead us to love and cherish our beliefs as they did.
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Blessed Eugene III -- July 8
Blessed Eugene III was born near Pisa, Italy, in the twelfth century. He was baptized Peter. St. Antoninus, whose feast day is May 10, called Pope Eugene "a great pope with great sufferings." Pope Eugene had been Father Peter, a priest in Pisa, when he felt the call to become a Cistercian monk. He went to Clairvaux, France, and joined the monks there. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was the superior. His feast day is August 20. Peter chose "Bernard" for his religious name. He did this because of his great esteem for St. Bernard. St. Bernard sent his namesake, Bernard, to become the superior of a monastery in Rome. Pope Lucius II died in 1145. That is when a most unusual thing happened. The cardinals elected Abbot Bernard to be pope. The abbot was not at the meeting because he was not a cardinal. He was shocked. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was surprised too. He felt sorry for Bernard. He wrote an open letter to the cardinals- "May God forgive you for what you have done," he said. "You have involved in responsibilities and placed among many people a man who fled them both." Bernard chose to be called Eugene III. His time as pope brought him many difficulties. The Roman senate threatened to oppose him if he did not let them keep stolen property. A man who had been previously excommunicated went to Pope Eugene and asked forgiveness. Soon after, he fell back into his old ways. He even joined a faction that was directly against the pope. Pope Eugene had to leave Rome a few times because of the dangers surrounding him. When this happened, he would find peace and strength at a monastery. Then he would have the courage to go back and face his difficult task again. He wore his Cistercian habit and lived simply. No matter how hectic his life was, he always had the heart of a monk. One of his fellow monks wrote to St. Bernard of Clairvaux about Pope Eugene: "There is no arrogance or domineering way in him." Pope Eugene died on July 8, 1153. Some people want high positions because they like the power and glory. But those who are successful are people like Blessed Eugene who do not seek praise. When we want everyone to notice and praise us, we can ask Blessed Eugene to show us how to be humble.
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The Martyrs of Orange -- July 9
The martyrs of Orange lived in the eighteenth century, They were thirty-two nuns. During the French Revolution, these sisters, from different religious orders, were jailed in Orange, France. There were sixteen Ursuline sisters, thirteen Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, two Bernardine sisters and one Benedictine sister. While the French Revolution raged, these nuns were told that they had to take an oath of loyalty to the leaders of the Revolution. The sisters believed that the oath was against God and the Church. Each refused to sign it and were taken to the Orange jail. Some of the sisters had lived in the same convents before they came to jail. Others did not know any of the sisters until they met in prison. The nuns formed a community in that dark, damp room. They prayed together at particular times during the day. They cheered up and consoled each other and bonded as the early persecuted Christian Church had. On July 6, the first sister was taken to trial and condemned to the guillotine. She never returned. Every day another sister, some days two sisters, were taken. No one knew who would be next. The group diminished in size, but the remaining sisters prayed especially for those who would die that day. Then they would sing a hymn of praise to God called the Te Deum. By the end of July, 1794, thirty-two sisters had been condemned by the people's court at Orange, France. Thirty-two sisters were martyrs. When the French Revolution was over, the judges of Orange were convicted for what they had done. The thirty-two sisters called the martyrs of Orange were declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Sometimes we hear talk or see things going on that we know are not right. We can ask the martyrs of Orange to give us the courage to behave the way they would if they were in our place.
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St Felicity and her Seven Sons -- July 10
Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. She lived during the second century. After her husband's death, she served God by prayer and works of charity. Her good example led others to become Christians, too. This angered the pagan priests, who complained to Antoninus Pius, the emperor. They said Felicity was an enemy of the state because she was making the gods angry. So the emperor ordered Felicity arrested. Seven young men were arrested with her. It is believed that they were her sons. Like the mother of the Maccabees in the Old Testament, Felicity remained calm. The governor tried in vain to make her sacrifice to the gods. He ended with the words, "Unhappy woman, if you wish to die, die! But do not destroy your sons. My sons will live forever if, like me, they scorn the idols and die for their God," Felicity answered. This brave woman was forced to watch her sons being put to death. One was whipped, two were beaten with clubs, three beheaded and another drowned. Four months later, Felicity, too, was beheaded. Her strength came from her great hope that she would be with God and her sons in heaven. St. Felicity, it could be said, was martyred eight different times. This is because she had to watch each of her sons die. Then she too gave up her life for Jesus. Let us pray every day that God will bless our family and friends. May we all meet again in heaven.
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St Benedict -- July 11
St. Benedict was born in 480. He was from a rich Italian family. His life was full of adventure and wonderful deeds. As a boy, he was sent to Rome to study in the public schools. When he was a young man, he became disgusted with the corrupt lifestyle of pagan Rome. Benedict left the city and went looking for a place where he could be alone with God. He found the right spot. It was a cave in the mountain of Subiaco. Benedict spent three years there alone. The devil often tempted him to go back to his rich home and easy life. However, Benedict overcame these temptations by prayer and penance. One day, the devil kept making him think of a beautiful lady he had once seen in Rome. The devil tried to make him go back to look for that lady. Benedict almost gave in to the temptation. Then he felt so sorry that he threw himself into a bush of long, sharp thorns. He rolled around in the thorns until he was covered with scratches. From then on, his life was calm. He did not feel powerful temptations like that again. After three years, people started coming to Benedict. They wanted to learn how to become holy. He became the leader of some men asked for his help. But when he tried to make them do penance, they grew angry. It is said that the men even tried to poison Benedict. He made the Sign of the Cross over the poisoned wine and the glass shattered to pieces. Later, Benedict became the leader of many good monks. He started twelve monasteries. Then he went to Montecassino where he built his most well-known monastery. It was here that St. Benedict wrote the wonderful rules for the Benedictine order. He taught his monks to pray and work hard. He taught them especially to be humble always. Benedict and his monks greatly helped the people of their times. They taught them how to read and write, how to farm, and how to work at different trades. St. Benedict was able to do good because he prayed all the time. He died on March 21, 547. In 1966, Pope Paul VI proclaimed him the patron of Europe. In 1980, Pope John Paul 11 added St. Cyril and St. Methodius as patrons of Europe along with St. Benedict. St. Benedict reminds us that there is a deep need in us to have some time for God. We don't have to go to a mountain cave, though. We can stop in at church and make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We can also have a prayer comer in our room. We will grow close to God through our daily conversations with Jesus.
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St John Gaulbert -- July 12
St. John was born in Florence, Italy, at the end of the tenth century. He and his father were devastated when John's only brother, Hugh, was murdered. The man who did it was supposed to have been Hugh's friend. Urged on by his father and by his own anger, John began looking for a way to avenge his brother's death. He felt that his personal honor depended on it. One Good Friday, he came face to face with the murderer in a narrow passageway. John drew his sword and started toward the man. Hugh's killer fell to his knees. He crossed his arms on his chest and begged forgiveness for love of Jesus who died on the cross. With a tremendous effort, John dropped his sword. He embraced his enemy and moved on down the road. When he came to a monastery church, he went in and knelt before the crucifix. He asked forgiveness for his sins. Then a miracle happened! Christ on the cross bowed his head. It was as if to tell John that he was pleased with him for forgiving his enemy. John felt that his own sins were forgiven. Such a change came over him that he went straight to the abbot of that monastery. He asked if he could join the monks. When John's father heard about it, he said he would burn the whole monastery if his son did not come out. The monks did not know what to do. John solved the problem by cutting off his hair and borrowing a habit from one of the monks. Even his father was so impressed that he let him remain. St. John later went off to live a stricter life. He started his own community of monks. John became a model for imitating the poor lifestyle of Jesus. He also took wonderful care of all the poor people who came to the monastery gate. God granted him power to work miracles and to give wise guidance. Even Pope St. Leo IX went to St. John to seek his advice. St. John died on July 12, 1073. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Celestine III in 1193. Even the greatest sins can be forgiven by God. If we forgive those who do wrong to us, God will also forgive our sins. We can ask St. John Gaulbert to help us have forgiving hearts like his.
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St Henry II -- July 13
Henry was born in 972. He became the duke of Bavaria in 995. One night he had an unusual vision. St. Wolfgang, who had been his beloved teacher when he was a boy, appeared to him. Wolfgang pointed to the words, ,"after six" written on the wall. What could that mean? Perhaps Henry was to die in six days? With that thought, he prayed with great fervor for six days. At the end of the six days, however, he was in perfect health. Perhaps it meant six months? The duke devoted himself to doing good more than ever. At the end of six months, he was healthier than before. So he decided he had six years to get ready for death. But instead of dying after that time had passed, he was elected emperor of Germany. Then he understood what the vision had meant. Henry worked hard to keep his people happy and at peace. To defend justice he had to fight many wars. He was honest in battle and insisted that his armies be honorable too. Henry married a very gentle and loving woman named Cunegundes (or Kunigunda) around 998. She, too, has been proclaimed a saint. Henry and Cunegundes went to Rome in 1014. They were crowned emperor and empress of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a great honor because Pope Benedict VIII himself crowned them. Emperor Henry was one of the best rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. He promoted Church reform. He encouraged the growth of new monasteries and built beautiful churches. He showed his own love for Jesus and the Church with sincerity and love. He was a man of prayer and was greatly attracted to religious life. But he accepted his role as husband and ruler and fulfilled his responsibilities generously. Henry was just fifty-two when he died in 1024. He was proclaimed a saint by Blessed Eugene III in 1146. Pope St. Pius X named Emperor Henry the patron of Benedictine Oblates. Emperor Henry reminds us that we can never say we are too busy to give time to God. Who was more busy than Emperor Henry? We can ask him to help us keep our priorities straight.
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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha -- July 14
Between the years 1642 and 1649, St. Isaac Jogues and the North American martyrs came from France. They were killed while evangelizing the Indians. Ten years after the death of St. Isaac Jogues, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in the same village where he had died. (We celebrate the feast of St. Isaac and the North American Martyrs on October 19.) Kateri means Katherine. Kateri was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin. Her father was a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Kateri's parents died of smallpox when the girl was fourteen. A Mohawk uncle raised her. This is how Kateri met the missionaries. On one occasion, her uncle had three Jesuit missionaries as his guests. Kateri began to receive instructions in the faith. She was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676. That is when she took the name Kateri. The village in which she lived was not Christian. In fact, in her lodge there was not one other Christian. The Indians did not appreciate her choice to remain unmarried. They insulted her and some resented that she did not work on Sunday. But Kateri held her ground. She prayed her Rosary every day, even when others made fun of her. She practiced patience and suffered quietly. Kateri's life grew harder. Some people were so harsh that their treatment was a persecution. She fled to a Christian village near Montreal. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she received her First Communion. It was a wonderful day. Father Pierre Cholonec, a Jesuit, guided her spiritual life for the next three years. She and an older Iroquois woman named Anastasia lived as joyful, generous Christians. Kateri made a private vow of virginity on March 25, 1679. She was just twenty-four when she died on April 17, 1680. Exactly three hundred years later, on June 22, 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul 11. Kateri Tekakwitha has been formally declared a saint by the Catholic Church. Saint Kateri received the gift of belief in Jesus because of the sacrifices of the missionaries. We can thank Jesus for those who brought the Catholic religion into our lives, too. Who are they? Our parents? Grandparents? Other relatives? Parish priest? Religion teacher? We can ask Saint Kateri to teach us how to be grateful by sharing our faith with others.
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St Bonaventure -- July 15
Bonaventure's name means "good luck." He was born in 1221 in Tuscany, Italy, and was baptized John. Bonaventure joined the Franciscan order, which was still new. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi who started the Franciscans lived from 1181 until 1226. Francis was still alive when Bonaventure was born. As a young Franciscan, Bonaventure left his own country to study at the University of Paris in France. He became a wonderful writer about the things of God. He loved God so much that people began to call him the "Seraphic Doctor." Seraphic means angelic. One of Bonaventure's famous friends was St. Thomas Aquinas. His feast day is January 28. Thomas asked Bonaventure where he got all the beautiful things he wrote. St. Bonaventure took his friend and led him to his desk. He pointed to the large crucifix which always stood on his desk. "it is he who tells me everything. He is my only Teacher." Another time when Bonaventure was writing the life of St. Francis of Assisi, he was so full of fervor that St. Thomas exclaimed- "Let us leave a saint to write about a saint." St. Bonaventure always kept himself humble even though his books made him famous. In 1265, Pope Clement IV wanted him to become an archbishop. Bonaventure begged the pope to accept his refusal. The pope respected his decision. However, Bonaventure did agree to be master general of his order. This difficult task was his for seventeen years. In 1273, Blessed Pope Gregory X made Bonaventure a cardinal. The two papal messengers found Bonaventure at the large wash tubs. He was taking his turn scrubbing the pots and pans. The papal messengers waited patiently until Bonaventure finished the last pot. He rinsed and dried his hands. Then they solemnly presented him the large red hat which symbolized his new honor. Cardinal Bonaventure was a great help to this pope who had called the Council of Lyons in 1274. Thomas Aquinas died on his way to the Council, but Bonaventure made it. He was very influential at the assembly. Yet he, too, died rather suddenly on July 14, 1274, at the age of fifty-three. The pope was at his bedside when he died. Bonaventure was proclaimed a saint in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V declared him a Doctor of the Church. We, too, should have a crucifix on our desk or in our room. Then we can turn often to Jesus for help and strength as St. Bonaventure did.
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Our Lady of Mount Carmel -- July 16
Mount Carmel is a mountain overlooking the plain of Galilee. It became famous when the prophet Elijah, who lived before Our Lord, was born. Elijah worked a miracle there. Chapter 18 of the Bible's First Book of Kings tells how Elijah stood up to the 450 prophets of the false god Baal. Through his prayers, Elijah obtained a miracle from God to prove that Elijah's God was the true God. Centuries later, in the 1200s, a group of European monks began to live on Mount Carmel. They honored Mary the Mother of God as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For this reason the people began to call them friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. This was the way the Carmelite order began. Pope Honorius III approved the order's rule in 1226. Simon Stock, an Englishman, became the superior of all the Carmelites in 1247. He helped the order expand and adapt to the times. He patterned the order on the Dominicans and Franciscans. On July 16, 1251, Mary appeared to St. Simon and gave him the brown scapular. She promised her protection to all those who would wear the blessed habit. Many miracles proved her words. St. Pius X was pope from 1903 until 1914. He said that people could have the same blessings if they would wear the scapular medal. This medal has a picture of Our Lady of the Scapular on one side and the Sacred Heart on the other. Simon Stock died in Bordeaux, France, in 1265. Let us wear the scapular or scapular medal. We will be protected by Our Lady in life and helped by her in death. And after death, she will bring us to heaven.
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St Leo IV -- July 17
St. Leo lived in the ninth century. He was a Roman by birth and spent his life in that city. Leo was educated in the Benedictine monastery near St. Peter's Basilica. He was ordained a priest and performed his ministry at St. John Lateran's, a large, famous basilica. Leo was well-known and loved by two popes, Gregory IV who died in 844, and Sergius II who died in 847. The death of Pope Sergius II was to have an immediate effect on Leo. Rumors of a barbarian invasion of Saracens had Romans terrified. They did not want to be left without a pope. Neither did the cardinals. They quickly elected the successor to Sergius. He is known to history as Leo IV. As pope, Leo had the city walls repaired. The walls had been damaged the previous year by a Saracen attack. He beautified churches and brought many relics to Rome. He started a renewal program for the clergy. In fact, in 853 he called a synod for all Roman priests. He passed forty-two rules which helped priests live more fervent, prayerful and joy-filled lives. A few bishops caused Leo great suffering because of their lives. They confronted the pope openly and would not change their ways. No matter how much Pope Leo was insulted, he remained just, patient and humble. He never let his troubles get the best of him. Leo kept giving his time and energy for Jesus and his Church. He loved the beautiful prayers of the liturgy and encouraged liturgical chant and music. People loved St. Leo. Even during his lifetime, he was considered a miracle worker. It is said that he was responsible for stopping the terrible fire in the English quarter of Rome. Pope Leo IV continued serving the Church with cheerfulness right up to the end of his life. He died on July 17, 855. Pope St. Leo IV lived during frightening times. He had many troubles and challenges. But he always kept calm and joyful. When we get upset, we can ask St. Leo IV to help us keep calm.
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St Frederick -- July 18
Frederick lived in ninth-century Utrecht, in the central part of the Netherlands. When he was ordained a priest, Bishop Ricfried put him in charge of instructing converts. Around 825, he was chosen to succeed Ricfried as bishop of Utrecht. Bishop Frederick became acquainted with the people of his diocese. He really cared about them. He gave high priority to missionary work too. In fact, he sent St. Odulf and other brave priests to areas where the people were still pagan. He wanted them to hear the Good News. Because of his position as bishop, Frederick made a few enemies. The emperor's sons were very outspoken about their stepmother's immoral living. They asked Bishop Frederick to speak to Empress Judith. The bishop approached her gently but honestly. The empress did not take the advice well. She grew angry and was insulted. Another challenge was the people who lived in the northern part of Frederick's diocese called Walcheren. St. Frederick sent priests to bring the people there the love of Jesus. Frederick knew the area was dangerous and unfriendly. He kept close to the priests whom he sent. He encouraged them and tried to help the people receive Christianity. But they were not ready to listen in any way. They resented the bishop's concern for them. St. Frederick continued his care of the diocese with love and diligence. Then on July 18, 838, a tragedy happened. The bishop had just celebrated Mass. He was quietly making his thanksgiving when two men lunged at him with knives. A sentence from Psalm 116 came to mind. Slowly, the dying bishop prayed- "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living." A few minutes later he died. Some say Empress Judith sent the hired killers because of her hatred for the bishop. Others think the guilty party was the people from Walcheren. The murderers were never caught and convicted. But Bishop Frederick is honored as a martyr and a saint. When we stand up for what is right, we will have to pay a price. St. Frederick's example shows us the kind of courage saints are made of We can ask him to give us some of his courage.
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St Macrina -- July 19
St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia had ten children. They raised their family in Caesarea. Their first child, Macrina, was born around 330. Macrina was engaged when she was twelve. This was a custom of the time. But the young man died suddenly and Macrina told her parents she wished to remain unmarried. Macrina was the big sister to nine brothers and sisters. Along with her parents and herself, three of her brothers are saints. St. Basil the Great (January 2), St. Peter of Sebaste and St. Gregory of Nyssa were all bishops. Macrina helped raise the children and they loved her. St. Peter of Sebaste remembers her especially with gratitude because she took loving care of him when he was a baby. Peter had been born the year his father died. The children grew up and St. Basil the Great found an estate for his mother and Macrina. It was like a convent and many women in the area came to live a spiritual life there. After St. Ernmelia died, Macrina continued to live the kind of life a nun would lead. She worked hard and gave away everything the family owned except what she really needed. Her brother Basil died in 379. She, too, became ill later that year. Her brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, came home to visit her. He had been away for eight years. He found Macrina near death. Her frail body rested on two boards. His sister died within hours. St. Gregory, the local bishop and two priests carried Macrina's coffin to the grave. The funeral procession was long and many people wept. St. Gregory wrote about Macrina and that is how the beauty of her life became known. St. Macrina was kind and patient with her younger brothers and sisters. She was a wonderful big sister. She can give us the strength to be the same toward our family members if we ask her.
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St Joseph Barsabbas -- July 20
Today's saint is named in the Bible's Acts of the Apostles. St. Peter wanted to replace Judas after Jesus' resurrection. Peter asked the community to suggest someone. He wanted a person who had been among the disciples from the time Jesus was baptized by John until the Lord's death/resurrection. The first Christians proposed two men, both of whom were qualified to be apostles. One was Joseph, called Barsabbas, and the other was Matthias. "One of these men must become a witness with us of Jesus' resurrection," Peter said. The community prayed. "Lord," they said, "you are familiar with each of us here. Help us to know the person who should take the place of Judas." Then they "cast lots." The man selected was Matthias. He was added to the company of apostles. Not much is known of Matthias or Joseph Barsabbas. The early Church writer, Eusebius, considered Joseph one of the seventy-two disciples. Soon the disciples spread out and went to other places. This was necessary to avoid persecution. It is believed that Joseph Barsabbas preached in many places. He spent his energy to spread the Good News. Little else is known. In fact, his death is not even recorded. But his love for the Church and his dedication whether he was chosen or not, are his gift to us. St. Joseph Barsabbas focused on living an honest life. He was not interested in positions of power and esteem. That is easier said than practiced. The next time we feel upset because we did not receive the praise we felt we deserved, we can pray to St. Joseph Barsabbas. We can ask him to help us give generously, even when the "other person" is chosen.
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St Lawrence of Brindisi -- July 21
Caesar Rossi was born in Brindisi, Italy, in 1559. Brindisi was part of the Kingdom of Naples, Italy. Caesar took the name Lawrence when he became a Capuchin Franciscan at the age of sixteen. He was sent to the University of Padua to study theology. Lawrence surprised everyone by learning six languages also. His first language was Italian. But he could also speak French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac and Hebrew. St. Lawrence had a wonderful knowledge of the Bible, too. After he was ordained a priest, he became a popular preacher. Because he could speak Hebrew, he worked among the Jews living in Rome. Later, St. Lawrence was sent to establish his order in Austria. The emperor, Rudolph II, did not want them to come. But Lawrence's tender care for victims of a plague won Emperor Rudolph to his cause. Next, the emperor asked Lawrence to persuade the German princes to fight the Turks. The Turks were trying to wipe out Christendom. Lawrence did convince the princes. However, the leaders insisted that he go with the army into battle to make the victory certain. When the soldiers saw how large the Turkish army was, they wanted to quit. So St. Lawrence himself rode in the lead. He was armed only with the crucifix. The Christian soldiers took heart and fought bravely. The Turks were completely defeated. St. Lawrence received the praise. But he never prided himself for success. He put his trust in God and gave him the glory. In 1602, St. Lawrence became the master general of his order. He worked, preached and wrote to spread the Good News. He went on important peace missions to Munich, Germany, and Madrid, Spain. The rulers of those places listened to him and the missions were successful. But St. Lawrence was very sick. He had been tired out by the hard traveling and the strain of his tasks. He died on his birthday, July 22, in 1619. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. He was honored as "apostolic doctor" by Pope John XXIII in 1959. Prayer is the secret of success in life. We can ask St. Lawrence of Brindisi to help us set aside time each day for conversation with God.
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St Mary Magdalene -- July 22
Mary Magdalene was from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. Some people identify her as a well-known sinner when she first saw Our Lord. It seems that she was very beautiful and very proud. But after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at his feet. Then, with her long, beautiful hair, she wiped his feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch him. Our Lord knew why. He could see into Mary's heart. He said, "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much." Then to Mary he said kindly, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and his apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of his cross. She stayed with the Blessed Mother and St. John, unafraid for herself. All she could think about was that her Lord was suffering. No wonder Jesus said of her "She has loved much." After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. She was shocked when she saw that the tomb was empty. Not finding the sacred body, she began to weep. Suddenly she saw someone she thought was the gardener. She asked him if he knew where the body of her beloved Master had been taken. Then the man spoke in a voice she knew so well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, standing right there in front of her. He was risen from the dead. And he had chosen to reveal himself first to her. The Gospels show Mary as being sent by the Lord himself to announce the Good News of the resurrection to Peter and the apostles. In the early centuries of the Church, Mary Magdalene's feast was celebrated with the Mass of an apostle. We can ask St. Mary Magdalene to give us grateful hearts. We want to appreciate what Jesus has done for us because he loves us.
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St Bridget of Sweden -- July 23
Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a child, she was greatly devoted to the passion of Jesus. When she was only ten, she seemed to see Jesus on the cross and hear him say, "Look at me, my daughter." "Who has treated you like this?" cried little Bridget. "They who despise me and refuse my love for them," answered Jesus. From then on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus. When she was fourteen, she married eighteen-year-old Ulf. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget and Ulf served the Swedish court. Bridget was the queen's personal maid. Bridget tried to help King Magnus and Queen Blanche lead better lives. For the most part, they did not listen to her. All her life, Bridget had marvelous visions and received special messages from God. In obedience to them, she visited many rulers and important people in the Church. She explained humbly what God expected of them. After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes. She lived as a poor nun. Later, she started the order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own busy life, traveling about doing good everywhere. And through all this activity, Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her. These she received without the least bit of pride. Shortly before she died, the saint went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in that place. All St. Bridget's revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death. St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface IX in 1391. St. Bridget of Sweden had a deep appreciation for Jesus' suffering and death on the cross. We can ask her to help us be sensitive and grateful followers of Jesus.
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St Boris and St Gleb -- July 24
These two brothers were born toward the end of the tenth century. They were sons of St. Vladimir of Kiev, the first Christian prince in Russia. Their father had had many wives before he became a Christian. Afterwards, he had lived as Jesus teaches us in the Gospel. Boris and Gleb were his sons by his Christian wife Anne. They were true Christians, too. In an attempt to acquire more power when King Vladimir died, his oldest son planned to kill Boris and Gleb. Boris was warned as he was coming back with his soldiers from a battle against some wandering tribes. His men at once prepared to defend Boris from his older brother, but he would not permit it. "it is better for me to die alone," he said, "than to be the occasion of death to many." So he sent them away and sat down to wait. During the night, he thought about the martyrs who had been put to death by their own close relatives. He thought of how empty life becomes if we make the things of earth too important. What really counts, he thought, is good deeds, true love and true religion. When in the morning, his brother's hired murderers arrived and began striking him with spears, Boris did nothing but call down peace on them. St. Gleb was killed soon after. The wicked older brother invited him to come to his palace for a friendly visit. As he was sailing down the river, Gleb's boat was boarded by fierce, armed men. He was terrified at first and begged them not to kill him. Yet he would not defend himself by fighting, not even when he saw that they were determined to kill him. Instead, St. Gleb quietly prepared himself to die. "I am being killed," he said, "and for what I do not know. But you know, Lord. And I know you said that for your name's sake brother would bring death to brother." Only a few years after their deaths, the people of Russia began going on pilgrimages to the tomb of the two brothers. Miracles took place. St. Boris and St. Gleb are called martyrs because they accepted death as Christ did, without defending themselves. They died in 1015. Pope Benedict XIII proclaimed them saints in 1724. When someone hurts our feelings today, we can whisper a prayer to St. Boris and St. Gleb. They will help us be patient and forgiving.
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St James the Greater -- July 25
James was a fisherman like his father Zebedee and his brother John. He was on his father's boat mending his nets when the Lord passed by. Jesus called each of them, James and John, to become fishers of men, to join him in spreading the Good News. Zebedee watched as his two sons left the boat to follow Jesus. With St. Peter and St. John, James was a special companion of Jesus. With them James was permitted to see what the other apostles did not see. With them he watched as Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus to life. With them he was taken up the mountain to see Jesus shining like the sun, with his robes white as snow. This event is called Jesus' Transfiguration. On Holy Thursday, the night before he died, Jesus led the apostles into the garden of Gethsemane. Matthew's Gospel tells us he invited Peter, James and John to accompany him to a secluded area to pray. They watched as the Master's face became saddened with grief. Then drops of blood began to form on his brow. It was a very sad moment, but the apostles were exhausted. They fell asleep. Then St. James ran in fear when the enemies of Jesus took him away. And James was not near the foot of the cross on Good Friday. But the Lord met up with him on Easter Sunday evening in the upper room. The resurrected Jesus came through the locked door and said, "Peace be to you." St. James and the other apostles would find that peace after the Holy Spirit's coming on Pentecost. St. James began his ministry as an impulsive, outspoken man. He asked Jesus bluntly for a seat of honor in his kingdom. He demanded that Jesus send fire down on the villages that did not receive the Lord. But he had great faith in Jesus. Eventually, James learned to become humble and gentle. And he did become "first" in a way he could never have imagined. He was given the honor of being the first apostle to die for Jesus. Chapter 12 of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that King Herod Agrippa had St. James put to death by the sword. As a martyr James gave the greatest witness of all. We can ask St. James to help us recognize our weaknesses. He will obtain from Jesus the graces we need to improve.
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St Joachim and St Anne -- July 26
St. Anne and St. Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They spent their lives worshiping God and doing good. They had one great sorrow, however God had not sent them any children. For years and years, Anne had begged the Lord to give her a child. She promised to consecrate the baby to him. When she was already old, God answered her prayer in a far better way than she could ever have dreamed. The child born to St. Joachim and St. Anne was the Immaculate Virgin Mary. This holiest of all women was to become the Mother of God. Anne took tender care of little Mary for a few years. Then she gave her to the service of God, as she had promised she would. Mary went to live in the holy Temple of Jerusalem. St. Joachim and St. Anne continued their lives of prayer until God called them home to heaven. Christians have always been especially devoted to St. Anne. Many beautiful churches have been built in her honor. Perhaps one of the most famous is the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre in Canada. Great crowds go there all year around to ask St. Anne's help in their sufferings. St. Anne and St. Joachim were the parents of Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. We can ask them to bring us closer to Jesus and Mary.
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St Pantaleon -- July 27
Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He lived in the fourth century. He was such a famous doctor that Emperor Galerius Maximian chose him for his personal doctor. There, at the wicked, pagan court, Pantaleon got into trouble. He was a Christian, but little by little, he let the bad example around him ruin him. He began to agree with the false wisdom praised by the pagans. At last, he committed the great sin of giving up his Christian faith entirely. A holy priest named Hermolaos was deeply saddened to see the famous doctor desert Jesus. He went to him. With his wise, kind words, he made Pantaleon realize what a sin he had committed. Pantaleon listened to him and admitted that he had been very wrong. He detested his sin and joined the Church once more. To make up for what he had done, he greatly desired to suffer and die for Jesus. In the meantime, he imitated Our Lord's charity by taking care of poor sick people without any charge. When Emperor Diocletian began his persecution, Pantaleon at once gave away everything he owned to the poor. Not long afterward, some jealous doctors accused him of being a Christian. He was given the choice of denying his religion or of being put to death. Pantaleon absolutely refused to say he was not a Christian and no torture could make him do it. There has been strong devotion in past ages to this saint. In the East he is called the "great martyr and wonderworker." We can ask St. Pantaleon to give us the strength to avoid companions who are leading bad lives. We can also ask him to strengthen us to avoid TV and radio programs, books and magazines that could threaten our faith in Jesus.
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St Botvid -- July 28
Botvid was born in Sweden. He lived near the end of the eleventh century. The young man was brought up a pagan. But when he went to England, he became a Christian. He felt a great desire to spread the Gospel with his own countrymen. He would be a lay missionary. For this reason, St. Botvid returned to Sweden to work for the Lord there. But he was not even satisfied then. He wanted the Gospel to be preached in Finland, too. So he bought a Finnish slave and taught him the Catholic religion. Then he set the slave free to go back to his own country and catechize there. That man repaid the saint for his goodness by a terrible act of ingratitude. St. Botvid set out in a boat to take him across the Baltic sea to Finland. When they went ashore and the saint was asleep, the wicked slave killed Botvid and sailed away with the boat. When the saint did not return, friends searched for him until they found his body. He died in 1100. St. Botvid is honored as a martyr of charity and as one of the apostles of Sweden. Today we should show appreciation and gratitude to our parents and teachers. We need to let them know how much their care means.
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St Martha -- July 29
Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They lived in the little town of Bethany near Jerusalem. They were dear friends of Jesus, and he often came to visit them. In fact, the Gospel tells us- "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary and Lazarus." It was St. Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples, She realized that the task would be easier if her sister would help. She watched Mary sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, listening to him. "Lord, tell my sister to help me," Martha suggested. Jesus was very pleased with Martha's loving service. However, he wanted her to know that listening to God's Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part." St. Martha's great faith in Jesus was seen when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She trusted Jesus and felt the freedom to say: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Then Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, "He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. Do you believe this?" And Martha answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world." Jesus worked a great miracle and raised Lazarus from the dead! Later, Jesus came again to have supper with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. St. Martha served them at table as always. This time, though, Martha had a much more loving attitude. She served with a joyful heart. Sometimes we don't like to do certain chores. They seem heavy and unpleasant. At those times, we can ask St. Martha to give us a joyful attitude. We can ask her to show us that the littlest thing we do becomes beautiful when we do it for Jesus.
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St Peter Chrysologus -- July 30
Peter was born in the small town of Imola, Italy. He lived in the fifth century. Bishop Cornelius of Imola educated him and ordained him a deacon. Even as a boy, Peter understood that a person is truly great only if he can control his passions and put on the spirit of Christ. When the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy, died, Peter was appointed by Pope St. Leo the Great to succeed him. This was around 433. As a priest and bishop, St. Peter was effective. He worked hard to wipe out the paganism still practiced in his diocese. He helped his people grow in faith. It was as a preacher that St. Peter became famous. Indeed, "Chrysologus" means "golden word." Yet his sermons or homilies were all short. He was afraid his audience would get bored. Besides that, these sermons were not especially unusual or beautiful. But St. Peter's message was more valuable than gold. He preached with such enthusiasm and fire that people listened to him breathlessly. In his sermons, St. Peter urged everyone to receive Jesus often in Holy Communion. He wanted people to realize that the Body of the Lord should be the daily food for their souls. This good archbishop also worked for the unity of all the members of the Catholic Church. He tried to prevent people from getting confused about what Catholics believe. He also tried to keep peace. St. Peter Chrysologus died on December 2, 450, in his hometown of Imola, Italy. For his wonderful sermons, so rich in teaching, Pope Benedict X111 declared St. Peter to be a Doctor of the Church in 1729. When we find it hard to pay attention at Mass, we can ask St. Peter Chrysologus to be near us. He will help us receive God's Word with loving hearts. He will also help us prepare our hearts for Holy Communion.
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St Ignatius of Loyola -- July 31
This famous founder of the Jesuits was born in 1491. He was from a Spanish noble family. As a boy, he was sent to be a page at the royal court. There he lived on the desire to someday become a great soldier and marry a beautiful lady. Later, he did, indeed, win honor for his courage in the battle of Pamplona. However, a wound from a cannon ball forced him to spend months in bed at Loyola Castle. Ignatius asked for some books to read. He preferred stories of knights, but only biographies of Jesus and the saints were available. Having nothing else to do, he read them. Gradually, the books began to make an impression on him. His life began to change. He said to himself: "These were men and women like me, so why can't I do what they have done?" All the glory he had wanted before seemed worthless now. He began to imitate the saints in their prayers, penances and good works. St. Ignatius had to suffer temptations and humiliations. Before he could begin his great work of starting the Society of Jesus, he had to go back to school. He had to study Latin grammar. The rest of the students were little boys and Ignatius was thirty-three. Yet Ignatius went to the class because he knew he would need this knowledge to help him in his ministry. With patience and even a laugh now and then, he took the boys' jeers and taunts. During this time, he tried to teach and encourage people to pray. For this he was suspected of heresy and put in jail for a while! But that was not going to stop Ignatius. "The whole city does not contain as many chains as I desire to wear for love of Jesus," he said. Ignatius was forty-three when he graduated from the University of Paris. With six other students, he professed religious vows in 1534. Ignatius and his companions who were not yet priests were ordained in 1539. They promised to work for God in whatever way the Holy Father thought best. In 1540 their order was officially recognized by the pope. Before Ignatius died, there were one thousand members of the Society of Jesus or "Jesuits." They were doing much good work teaching and preaching. Ignatius often prayed, "Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask." St. Ignatius died in Rome, on July 31, 1556. Pope Gregory XV proclaimed him a saint in 1622. St. Ignatius read biographies of Jesus and the saints. These books gave him a deeper awareness of Jesus, Mary and the Church. We, too, can choose books of lives of saints for the encouragement we need to be generous followers of Jesus.
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