March -- St Joseph
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary ever Virgin, my loving protector St. Joseph, that never has it been heard that anyone invoked your protection or besought your aid without being consoled. In this confidence I come before you; I fervently recommend myself to you. Despise not my prayer, foster father of the Redeemer, but graciously deign to hear it. 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 Godâ€™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. Felix II -- March 1
This pope is an ancestor of the future Pope St. Gregory the Great who lived from 540 to 604. Gregory wrote that when his aunt, St. Tharsilla, was dying, Pope Felix appeared to her. He beckoned her to heaven. Who was Pope St. Felix? And what events unfolded in his life that had led him to sainthood? Although there are not many details, we know that Felix was a Roman. He was honest and courageous in troubled times. Felix became pope in 483. Groups of people within the Church were divided because of false teachings. Political factors complicated the ministry of this pope. But Felix proved himself a brave defender of the truths of our faith and the rights of the Church. Many compared him to Pope St. Leo the Great who had died in 461. Pope Felix was truly universal in outlook. He tried to grasp and solve the problems of the Church in various parts of the world. Felix spent nine years of his life as pope. He will be remembered as totally dedicated to Jesus and his Church. Pope St. Felix died in 492. We all find soon enough that life has its share of responsibilities. Sometimes we might think we want to be free of anyone or anything that can tie us down. Then we can pray to St. Felix and ask him for the generosity and courage to be faithful to our commitments.
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Blessed Charles the Good - March 2
Count Charles of Flanders, was called "the good" by the people of his kingdom. They named him for what they found him to truly be. He was the son of St. Canute, king of Denmark. Charles was just five years old when his father was murdered in 1086. When Charles grew up, he married a good young woman named Margaret. Charles was a mild and fair ruler. The people trusted him and his laws. He tried to be an example of what he expected the people to be. Some nobles accused Charles of unjustly favoring the poor over the rich. He answered kindly, "It is because I am so aware of the needs of the poor and the pride of the rich." The poor of his realm were fed daily at his castles. Charles ordered the abundant planting of crops so that the people would have plenty to eat at reasonable prices. Some wealthy men tried to hoard grain to sell at very high prices. Charles the Good found out and forced them to sell immediately and at fair prices. An influential father and his sons had been reprimanded by Charles for their violent tactics. They joined the little group of enemies who now wanted to kill him. The count walked every morning barefoot to Mass and arrived early at the Church of St. Donatian. He did this in a spirit of penance. He longed to deepen his own spiritual life with God. His enemies knew that he walked to church and also that he prayed often alone before Mass. Many people who loved Charles feared for his life. They warned him that his walks to St. Donatian could lead to his death. He replied, "We are always in the middle of dangers, but we belong to God." One morning, as he prayed alone before the statue of Mary, his attackers killed him. Charles was martyred in 1127. If we want to make a difference in this world, we can imitate Blessed Charles. He let his love for Jesus influence his daily life. When he left the church each morning, he really set out to live the Mass. We can ask him to help us do the same.
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St Katharine Drexel -- March 3
Blessed Katharine was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858. Katharine's mother died when she was a baby. Her father married a wonderful woman named Emma. She raised their own child, Louise. She was also a loving mother to Mr. Drexel's two little girls by his former marriage. They were Elizabeth and Katharine. The girls had a wonderful childhood. Even though their family was wealthy, they were taught to be loving toward their neighbors. They were taught to be especially concerned about the poor. This was how they could show their love for God. When Katharine grew up, she was a very active Catholic. She was generous with her time and her money. She realized that the Church had many needs. She turned her energies and her fortune to the poor, the forgotten. Her work for Jesus would be among the African American and Native American people. In 1891, Katharine began a new religious community of missionaries. They were called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Katharine would become known as Mother Katharine. The sisters of her order center their life around Jesus in the Eucharist. They devote their love and talents to African and Native Americans. Mother Katharine inherited her family's fortune. She poured the money into wonderful works of charity. She and her sisters started schools, convents and missionary churches. In 1925, they established Xavier University in New Orleans. During her long, fruitful lifetime, Mother Katharine spent millions of dollars of the Drexel fortune for the wonderful works that she and her sisters accomplished for the poor. She believed that she found Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. So, too, she found him in the African and Native Americans whom she lovingly served. Mother Katharine died on March 3, 1955, at the age of ninety-seven. She was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul 11 on November 20, 1988. Mother Katharine teaches us a valuable lesson. We can spend our lives looking after ourselves and our own comfort. How much better, though, to be like Mother Katharine Drexel. This way we can do as much as we can to help others. Declared Saint by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.
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St. Casimir -- March 4
St. Casimir was born in 1458, son of Casimir IV, king of Poland. Casimir was one of thirteen children. With the help of his virtuous mother and his dedicated teacher, Casimir received an excellent education. When he was thirteen, Casimir had the chance to become king of neighboring Hungary, but he refused. He spent the rest of his life trying to live his Christian ideals. He went out of his way to be cheerful and friendly with everybody. Beneath the surface of his busy life, he made the effort to help himself to grow spiritually. He often fasted and slept on the floor of his room as penance. He prayed daily, sometimes even during the middle of the night. He loved to think and pray about the passion of Jesus. He recognized this as a good way to learn to love God. Casimir also loved the Blessed Virgin Mary with a special love. In her honor, he recited a beautiful hymn very often. The name of the hymn is "Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary." His hand-written copy of it was buried with him. Casimir was never healthy, yet he was courageous and strong in character. He would always do what he knew was right. Sometimes he would even advise his father, the king, to rule the people fairly. He always did this with great respect and his father listened to him. St. Casimir had a great love and respect for virginity. His parents found a very beautiful and virtuous young woman for him to marry. However, Casimir chose to give his heart to God alone. While in Lithuania on an assignment of service for that country, Casimir became ill with tuberculosis. He died at the age of twenty-six. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo X in 1521. St. Casimir helps us see that even if our bodies are not strong or healthy, we can still be strong in character. We can always stand up for what is right, but in a kind way.
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St. John Joseph of the Cross -- March 5
St. John Joseph of the Cross was born in southern Italy on the feast of the Assumption, 1654. He was a young noble, but he dressed like a poor man. He did that because he wanted to be as poor as Jesus had been. At the age of sixteen, John Joseph entered the Franciscan order. He wanted very much to live a self-sacrificing life as Jesus had. This led him to cheerfully make many sacrifices. He slept just three hours a night and ate very plain food. Later he was ordained a priest. Father John Joseph became the superior at Santa Lucia's in Naples where he spent most of his long life. He always insisted on doing the hardest work. He cheerfully chose to do the duties that no one else wanted. St. John Joseph had a very loving nature. But he did not try to be the center of attention. Instead of waiting for people to recognize his gifts and reach out to him, he would reach out to others. All the priests and brothers thought of him as a loving father. He greatly loved the Blessed Virgin, too, and tried to help others love her. This good priest loved God so much that even when he was sick, he kept on working. St. John Joseph died on March 6, 1734, at the age of eighty. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius VIII in 1839. St. John Joseph was generous with his love for God and people. He invites us to overcome the selfishness that holds us back in our journey to God. Let us make it a point to treat everyone with equal respect and kindness, even if we might like some people better than others.
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St. Colette -- March 6
Born in 1380, Nicolette was named in honor of St. Nicholas of Myra. Her loving parents nicknamed her Colette from the time she was a baby. Colette's father was a carpenter at an abbey in Picardy. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a big help to her mother with the housework. Her parents noticed the child's liking for prayer and her sensitive, loving nature. When Colette was seventeen, both her parents died. The young woman was placed under the care of the abbot at the monastery where her father had worked. She asked for and received a hut built next to the abbey church. Colette lived there. She spent her time praying and sacrificing for Jesus' Church. More and more people found out about this holy young woman. They went to see her and asked her advice about important problems. They knew that she was wise because she lived close to God. She received everybody with gentle kindness. After each visit, she would pray that her visitors would find peace of soul. Colette was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. She knew that the religious order of women who followed St. Francis' lifestyle are the Poor Clares. They are named after St. Clare, their foundress, who was a follower of St. Francis. During Colette's time, the Poor Clares needed to go back to the original purpose of their order. St. Francis of Assisi appeared to Colette and asked her to reform the Poor Clares. She must have been surprised and afraid of such a difficult task. But she trusted in God's grace. Colette traveled to the Poor Clare convents. She helped the nuns become more poor and prayerful. The Poor Clares were inspired by St. Colette's life. She had a great devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. She also spent time frequently meditating on the passion and death of Jesus. She loved Jesus and her religious vocation very much. Colette knew exactly when and where she was going to die. She died in one of her convents in Ghent, Flanders, in 1447. She was sixty-seven. Colette was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius VI in 1807. St. Colette teaches us that even if what we are asked to do is hard, we can find joy just the same. We can do this by keeping in close touch each day with God.
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St. Perpetua and St. Felicity -- March 7
Perpetua and Felicity lived in Carthage, North Africa, in the third century. It was the time of the fierce persecution of Christians by Emperor Septimus Severus. Twenty-two-year-old Perpetua was the daughter of a rich nobleman. While growing up, she had received everything she wanted. But she realized that she loved Jesus and her Christian faith more than anything the world could offer. For this she found herself a prisoner on the way to execution. Perpetua's father was a pagan. He did everything possible to persuade his daughter to give up her Christian faith. He tried to convince her of the importance of saving her life. But the woman would not give in, even though she knew that she would have to leave behind her husband and baby. Felicity, Perpetua's Christian maid, had been a slave. She and Perpetua were great friends. They shared their belief in and love for Jesus. Felicity, too, was willing to sacrifice her life for Jesus and for her faith. For this she also found herself a prisoner on the way to execution. Felicity was also a young wife. While in prison for her faith, she became a mother as well. Her little baby was adopted by a good Christian woman. Felicity was happy because now she could die a martyr. Hand in hand, Perpetua and Felicity bravely faced martyrdom together. They were charged by wild animals and then beheaded. They died around the year 2O2. The martyrs were so faithful to Christ that they made great sacrifices. They even gave up their lives for him. Let us ask Perpetua and Felicity to help us make cheerfully the little sacrifices that come our way.
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St. John of God -- March 8
St. John was born in Portugal on March 8, 1495. His parents were poor, but deeply Christian. John was a restless boy. For a while he was a shepherd, then a soldier, then a storekeeper. During his adult years he was not religious. He and his friends had lost any awareness of God. By the time John was forty, he began to feel empty. He was sad about the life he was wasting away. In church he heard a homily by the holy missionary, John of Avila. The impact of his life hit John of God. He began to weep right out loud. During the days ahead, St. John of Avila helped John begin his life again with hope and courage. John of God began to live differently. He put prayer and penance into his daily life. It is believed that a bishop gave John his name because he changed his selfish life completely and truly became "of God." Gradually, John of God realized how much poverty and suffering filled the lives of people. He began to spend his time nursing the sick in the hospitals and asylums. Then he realized sadly that many people were too poor to have hospital care. Who would take care of them? He decided that, for the love of God, he would. When he was forty-five, John obtained a house for the care of the sick poor. The house became a small hospital where every person in need was welcomed. Those who came to help John gradually formed a religious order for the care of the poor. They are called Brothers of St. John of God. Some people must have wondered if John was as holy as he seemed. Once, a marquis disguised himself as a beggar. He knocked on John's door, asking for alms. John cheerfully gave him everything he had, which amounted to a few dollars. The marquis did not reveal his identity at the time but went away very impressed. The next day a messenger arrived at John's door with a letter of explanation and his money returned. In addition, the marquis sent 150 gold crowns. He also had fresh bread, meat and eggs delivered every morning to the hospital--enough for all the patients and staff. After ten years of hard work in his hospital, St. John became sick himself. He died on his birthday in 1550. John of God was proclaimed a saint by Blessed Pope Innocent XI in 1690. St. John of God listened to the advice of St. John of Avila and other spiritual people. They helped him make good choices. We all need the good advice of people we trust.
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St. Frances of Rome -- March 9
St. Frances was born in 1384. Her parents were wealthy, but they taught Frances to be concerned about people and to live a good Christian life. She was an intelligent little girl. Frances informed her parents when she was eleven that she had made up her mind to be a nun. Her parents encouraged her to think of marriage instead. As was the custom, they selected a good young man to be Frances' husband. The bride was just thirteen. Frances and her husband, Lorenzo Ponziano, fell in love with each other. Even though their marriage was arranged, they were happily married for forty years. Lorenzo admired his wife and his sister-in-law, Vannozza. Both women prayed every day and performed penances for Jesus' Church, which had many trials at that time. Frances and Vannozza also visited the poor. They took care of the sick. They brought food and firewood to people who needed it. Other wealthy women were inspired by their example to do more with their lives too. All the while, Frances became more and more prayerful. She really grew close to Jesus and Mary in her everyday life. Frances and Lorenzo were compassionate people. They knew what it was like to suffer. They lost two of their three children from the plague. This made them even more sensitive to the needs of the poor. During the wars between the legitimate pope and the anti-popes, Lorenzo led the armies that defended the true pope. While he was away at battle, his enemies destroyed his property and possessions. Even then, Frances cleaned up a part of the family villa that had been wrecked and used it for a hospital. As hard as things were for her family, the people out on the street were in greater need. Lorenzo was wounded and came home to be nursed back to health by his loving wife. He died in 1436. Frances spent the remaining four years of her life in the religious congregation she helped to start. St. Frances of Rome died on March 9, 1440. She was declared a saint by Pope Paul V in 1608. Frances truly loved Jesus and his Church. She knew that the best way to show that love was to pray for the Church. Other ways were to take good care of her family and to look after the interests of the poor. We, too, can ask St. Frances to help us know how to show our love for Jesus and his Church.
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St. Simplicius -- March 10
St. Simplicius became pope in 468. Sometimes it seemed to him that he was all alone in trying to correct evils that were everywhere. Conquerers had taken over vast territories. Even Rome itself was occupied by invaders. The people were hungry and poor. They had been taxed and robbed by former Roman officials. Poverty prowled the streets and removed all joy. The new Conquerers at least had not asked for taxes. Pope Simplicius tried in every way to uplift his people and to work for their good. He was always there for them, no matter how small his efforts seemed to him. And because he was holy, he never gave up. More than by words, he taught with the example of his holy life. St. Simplicius had to suffer greatly as pope for another reason as well. Some of his own Christians stubbornly held on to their wrong opinions. Then with great sorrow, St. Simplicius had to put them out of the Church. When he corrected people who were doing wrong, he was kind and humble. Simplicius was pope for fifteen years and eleven months. Then the Lord called him to receive the reward of his labors. St. Simplicius died in 483 and was buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. From St. Simplicius we are reminded that taking responsibility requires courage. Not everything in life will happen the way we might like it. We can learn to accept unpleasant or painful circumstances as opportunities to grow. It will seem that some people deliberately put obstacles to block the good things we do. Then we can pray to St. Simplicius. We can ask him to help us be like him and never give up.
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St. Eulogius of Spain -- March 11
St. Eulogius lived in the ninth century. His family was well-known and he received an excellent education. While he learned his lessons, he also learned from the good example of his teachers. Eulogius loved to read about and study the Bible. His Bible-reading helped him love the Word of God. He wanted to bring God's message to everyone. When he grew up, he became a priest and the head of a famous school. At this time the Muslims had taken over Spain. They were opposed to Christianity. At first they tried to make the people give up their faith. When the people refused to change their religion, they were put in prison. Some were even killed. Eulogius and his bishop were put in prison along with many other Christians. In the prison, Eulogius read the Bible out loud to encourage the prisoners. As they listened, they no longer felt afraid to die for Jesus. During this time, St. Eulogius wrote a book encouraging Christians to die rather than give up their holy faith. The saint himself wanted to be a martyr more than anything else. Instead, he was let out of prison. As soon as he was free, St. Eulogius began to preach and he converted many. His former captors were so angry that they arrested him again. In front of the judge, he bravely declared that Jesus is God. Eulogius was condemned and offered his life for Jesus. He died in 859. We are proud of our country's war heroes. We dream of doing the great deeds they did. St. Eulogius' life reminds us that we can be very proud of the heroes of our faith, too. We can try to be like them.
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St. Fina (Seraphina) -- March 12
Fina was born in a little Italian town called San Geminiano. Her parents had once been well off, but misfortune had left them poor. Seraphina, or Fina, as her family called her, was their daughter. Fina was pretty and lively. She had a generous nature. Each day she saved half of her dinner for someone in the town poorer than she. During the day she sewed and spun cloth to help pay the family debts. At night, she usually spent a long time praying to Jesus and Mary. When she was still quite young, her father died. Fina was struck with an illness that deformed and paralyzed her. Movement became almost impossible and Fina lay for six years on wooden planks. Pain rushed through her whole body. The only way she could bear it was to concentrate on Jesus as he was nailed to the cross. "I unite my sufferings to yours, Jesus," she would whisper. Sometimes, when the pain was horrible, she would say, "It is not my wounds but yours, 0 Christ, that hurt me." Fina was left alone for many hours every day because her mother had to go out to work or beg. The neighbors knew about Fina, but her sores had become so foul-smelling that people made excuses for not going to visit her. Unexpectedly, Fina's mother passed away. Now the girl was left alone. Only one neighbor, her good friend Beldia, came to care for her. Beldia tried to give Fina as much attention as she could, but Fina was usually left alone. It was obvious that she could not live much longer. She refused to lose heart. Someone mentioned to her about the tremendous sufferings St. Gregory the Great had endured. Fina became devoted to him. It is said that one day, as she groaned in pain, St. Gregory appeared to her. He said kindly, "Child, on my feast day God will grant you rest." His feast day in older calendars had been celebrated on March 12, because he had died on March 12, 604. So on March 12, 1253, St. Gregory came to take Fina home to heaven. St. Fina helps us appreciate the Christian meaning and value of suffering. We can also realize the value of visiting shut-ins, the elderly, the ill. We can ask St. Fina to give us a sensitive heart for people who are lonely or suffering.
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St. Euphrasia -- March 13
St. Euphrasia was born in the fifth century to deeply Christian parents. Her father, a relative of the emperor, died when she was a year old. The emperor looked after her mother and her. When the girl was seven, her mother took her to Egypt. There they lived in a large house near a convent of nuns. Euphrasia was fascinated by the nuns. She begged her mother to let her serve God in the convent in which the holy nuns lived. She was just a little girl, but she wasn't about to give up the idea or forget her request. Soon after, Euphrasia's mother took her to the convent and put her in the care of the abbess. Years passed. When Euphrasia's mother died, the emperor reminded the young woman that her parents had promised her in marriage to a rich young senator. Of course Euphrasia wanted to belong to no one but Jesus. So she wrote a respectful letter to the emperor. In it she said, "I belong to Jesus, and I cannot give myself to anyone else. My only desire is that the world should forget about me completely. I humbly beg Your Majesty to take all the riches my parents left me and give them to the poor. I ask Your Majesty to free all the slaves of my family. Please cancel all the debts people owe me." The emperor thought her letter was so beautiful that he read it out loud to all the senators. Then he did everything she had asked. Euphrasia spent the rest of her life as a nun. She never regretted that the Lord had chosen her to be a religious. Euphrasia died in 420. It is all right to be happy with the nice clothes and many good things we have. But we should never forget that there is more to life than that. We can ask St. Euphrasia to help us appreciate people for who they are, not for what they have.
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St. Matilda -- March 14
St. Matilda was born about 895, the daughter of a German count. When she was still quite young, her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman named Henry. Soon after their marriage, Henry became king of Germany. As queen, Matilda lived a simple lifestyle with times for daily prayer. Everyone who saw her realized how good and kind she was. She was more like a mother than a queen. She loved to visit and comfort the sick. She helped prisoners. Matilda did not let herself be spoiled by her position, but tried to reach out to people in need. King Henry realized that his wife was an extraordinary person. He told her many times that he was a better person and a better king because she was his wife. Even though their marriage had been arranged, Henry and Matilda really loved each other. Matilda was free to use the treasures of the kingdom for her charities and Henry never questioned her. In fact, he became more aware of the needs of people. He realized that he had the power to ease suffering because of his position. The couple were happily married for twenty-three years. Then King Henry died quite suddenly in 936. The queen suffered the loss very much. She decided then and there to live for God alone. So she called the priest to celebrate Mass for King Henry's soul. Then she gave the priest all the jewels she was wearing. She did this to show that she meant to give up the things of the world from then on. Although she was a saint, Matilda made a big mistake. She favored her son, Henry, more than her son, Otto, in the struggle to be king. She was sorry for having done this. She made up for it by accepting without complaint the sufferings that came her way. After years spent in practicing charity and penance, St. Matilda died peacefully in 968. She was buried beside her husband. From St. Matilda we can learn to offer up little sufferings to make up for our sins and mistakes.
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St. Zachary -- March 15
St. Zachary was a Benedictine monk from Greece who lived in the eighth century. He became a cardinal and then pope. In his time, there was fighting all over Italy. Pope St. Zachary kept making peace and saving people from terrible wars. At times he risked his life to do it. It was because the saint was so gentle and kind that the leaders did what he asked. Even for his enemies he would do favors and give them the kindest treatment possible. He never took revenge on them. When Pope Zachary learned that the Lombards were about to attack Rome, he asked to have a meeting with their leader. The pope and Liutprand of the Lombards met. Whatever they said to each other, the results were impressive. Liutprand canceled his attack. He also returned all territory taken in that area over the previous thirty years. He even released all prisoners. Liutprand signed a twenty-year treaty in which the Romans would be guaranteed freedom from attacks from the Lombards. St. Zachary was also known as a real father toward the poor. He built homes for the poor and for travelers. His loving heart could not bear to see people suffer. Once he heard that some businessmen had bought poor slaves in Rome and were going to sell them in Africa. He called those men and scolded them for being so cruel. Then he paid them the price they were asking for the slaves and set the slaves free. When St. Zachary died in 752, all the people were saddened to have lost such a good and saintly father. St. Zachary was loved and respected by everyone because he was not looking out for himself. He was concerned about the needs of everybody else. Let us ask him to show us how we can be as generous and unselfish with our lives.
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St. Torello -- March 16
Torello was born in 1202, in Poppi, Italy. His life as a child in the village was ordinary and uneventful. But after his father's death, Torello started to change his whole way of life. He got involved with companions who drank. They hung around town all day instead of working. Torello liked his new friends and was trying hard to win their approval. Then while he was playing an outdoor sport one day, a rooster flew down from its roost. It landed on Torello's arm and crowed three times, long and loud. Torello was speechless. He walked away and wouldn't finish the game. He couldn't help but think that what the rooster had done was no coincidence. He was being warned, just as St. Peter had once been warned. Torello's irresponsible way of living would lead him away from Jesus. Torello decided then and there to change his life. He went to see the abbot of San Fedele who helped him make a good confession. Then Torello went out to a quiet, wooded area and selected a spot near a big tree. He spent eight days in prayer. At the end of that time he decided that he would be a hermit. He went back to Poppi and sold all his property. He kept only enough money to buy the small square plot of land around the big tree he had found in the woods. Next to that tree he built a shack where he spent the rest of his life. He grew his own vegetables for food and got water from the stream. He prayed and performed penances, the hardest of which was sleeping only three hours a night. Torello felt that being a hermit was what God wanted of him. This is how he peacefully spent his life. While he was alive, very few people knew of his hermit's life. Only one friend was aware of Torello's hidden life in the forest. He died at the age of eighty after spending over fifty years as a hermit. Blessed Torello died in 1282. Torello teaches us by his life to take our eternal destiny seriously. Every human being has to die and be judged by God. The way we choose to spend our lives is the way we will spend eternity.
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St. Patrick -- March 17
It is believed that St. Patrick was born in fifth-century Britain to Roman parents. When he was sixteen, he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland. There he was sold as a slave. His owner sent him to tend his flocks on the mountains. Patrick had very little food and clothing. Yet he took good care of the animals in rain, snow and ice. Patrick was so lonely on the hillside that he turned often in prayer to Jesus and his Mother Mary. His life was hard and unfair. However, Patrick's trust in God grew stronger all the time. Later, when he escaped from Ireland, he studied to become a priest. But Patrick always felt that he had to go back to Ireland to bring that pagan land to Christ. At last his wish came true. He became a priest and then a bishop. It was while St. Celestine I was pope that Patrick went back to Ireland. How happy he was to bring the Good News of the true God to the people who once had held him a slave. Right from the start, Patrick suffered much. His relatives and friends wanted him to quit before the pagan Irish killed him. Yet the saint kept on preaching about Jesus. He traveled from one village to another. He seldom rested, and he performed great penances for those people whom he so loved. Before he died, the whole nation was Christian. Despite such great success, St. Patrick never grew proud. He called himself a poor sinner and gave all the praises to God. Patrick died in 461. Many missionaries are laboring today to bring the Good News to our world just as Patrick did. We can pray and make sacrifices that their hard work will lead many people to belief in and love for Jesus.
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St. Cyril of Jerusalem -- March 18
Cyril was born around 315 when a new phase was beginning for Christians. Before that date, the Church was persecuted by the emperors. Thousands of Christians had been martyrs. In 315, Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity as a legal religion. That was a wonderful thing, but it didn't end all the problems. In fact, during the years that followed the Edict of Milan in 315, Christians learned about an entirely new difficulty. There was confusion about what Christians believe and don't believe. There were many false teachings called "heresies." Some priests and bishops became brave defenders of Church teaching. One such bishop was Cyril of Jerusalem. When St. Maximus, bishop of Jerusalem, died, Cyril was chosen to take his place. Cyril was the bishop of Jerusalem for thirty-five years. Sixteen long years of that time were spent in hiding and exile. Three times he was run out of town by influential people who wanted him removed. They were trying to force Cyril to accept false teachings about Jesus and the Church. But he would not bend. The reign of Emperor Julian the apostate began in 361. Julian decided to rebuild the famous Temple of Jerusalem. He had a definite purpose in mind- he wanted to prove that Jesus had been wrong when he declared that the Temple of Jerusalem would not be rebuilt. He decided to prove it. So he spent much money and sent all the materials for a new Temple. Many people helped by giving jewels and precious metals. Yet St. Cyril faced the difficulty with outward calm. He was sure that the Temple could not be built, because Jesus, who is God, had said so. The bishop looked calmly at all the materials and said, "I know that this will fail." And sure enough, first a storm, then an earthquake, then a fire stopped the emperor. He finally abandoned the project. St. Cyril died in 386 when he was around seventy. This gentle, kindly man had lived in times of upheaval and sadness. But he never lost his courage because it came from Jesus. He was faithful to the Lord all his life. Cyril was heroic in teaching the truth about Jesus and his Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem teaches us that the Lord gives each of us opportunities to do good. We can ask St. Cyril for the courage to make our contribution no matter how great the challenge.
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St. Joseph -- March 19
St. Joseph is a great saint. He was Jesus' foster-father and Mary's husband. Joseph was given the great privilege of taking care of God's own Son, Jesus, and his Mother, Mary. Joseph was poor all his life. He had to work very hard in his carpenter shop, but he did not mind. He was happy to work for his little family. He loved Jesus and Mary so much. Whatever the Lord wanted him to do, St. Joseph did at once, no matter how difficult it was. He was humble and pure, gentle and wise. Jesus and Mary loved him and obeyed him because God had placed him as the head of their family. What a joy for St. Joseph to live with the Son of God himself. Jesus obeyed him, helped him, and loved him. We pray to St. Joseph as the protector of the dying for a special reason. It is believed that Joseph died peacefully in the arms of Jesus and Mary. St. Teresa of Avila chose St. Joseph as the protector of her order of Carmelite sisters. She had a great trust in his prayers. "Every time I ask St. Joseph for something," she said, "he always obtains it for me." Pope Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph the patron of the Universal Church. As Jesus obeyed and helped St. Joseph in his hard and humble work, let us, too, willingly help our parents with the work to be done at home.
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St. Cuthbert -- March 20
St. Cuthbert lived in England in the seventh century. He was a poor shepherd boy who loved to play games with his friends. He was very good at them, too. One of his friends scolded him for loving to play so much. In fact, his playmate said words that he didn't seem to be saying himself. The child said, "Cuthbert, how can you waste your time playing games when you have been chosen to be a priest and a bishop?" Cuthbert was confused and very impressed. He wondered if he really was going to be a priest and a bishop. In August, 651, fifteen-year-old Cuthbert had a religious experience. He saw a totally black sky. Suddenly a bright beam of light moved across it. In the light were angels carrying a ball of fire up beyond the sky. Sometime later, Cuthbert learned that the same night of the vision, the bishop, St. Aiden, had died. Cuthbert did not know how this all involved him, but he made up his mind about his life's vocation and entered a monastery. Cuthbert became a priest and a bishop. From one village to another, from house to house, St. Cuthbert went, on horse or on foot. He visited the people to help them spiritually. Best of all, he could speak the dialect of the peasants because he had once been a poor shepherd boy. He did good everywhere and brought many people to God. Cuthbert was cheerful and kind. People felt attracted to him and no one was afraid of him. He was also a prayerful, holy monk. When Cuthbert was ordained a bishop, he worked just as hard as ever to help his people. He visited them no matter how difficult the travel on poor roads or in very bad weather. As he lay dying, Cuthbert urged his monks to live in peace and charity with everyone. He died peacefully in 687. St. Cuthbert went out of his way to be kind and loving with his people. We can ask him to help us be the same so that no one will find it hard to get along with us.
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St. Serapion -- March 21
Serapion lived in Egypt in the fourth century. Those were exciting times for the Church and for St. Serapion. As a young man, he received an impressive education in Christian theology and secular subjects. For a while, he directed the famous Christian school that taught the faith in Alexandria. Then Serapion went out into the desert and became a monk. He met the famous hermit, St. Anthony of Egypt. Serapion tried very hard to learn from and imitate him. When he died, Anthony left Serapion one of his cloaks, which he treasured for the rest of his life. Serapion became bishop of Thmuis, a city in lower Egypt. He went to a very important meeting of bishops in Sardica in 347. Serapion proved to be a very brave bishop. He loved the truths of the faith and tried to protect them from those who wanted to change Christian beliefs. He worked with St. Athanasius, another brave bishop. Both were outstanding for their courage. They combated false teachings or heresies with their homilies and with their writings. Most of St. Serapion's writings were lost. They were letters full of instruction about the faith and an explanation of the Psalms. His most important work, called the "Euchologion," was lost for hundreds of years. It was found and published at the end of the nineteenth century. Another famous saint of that time, Jerome, said that Emperor Constantius sent Serapion into exile. It seems that Serapion died around the year 370 in the place where he was exiled. St. Serapion shows us by the way he lived that being a good Christian takes courage and honesty. Often people may not understand or agree with our choices. But if we want to be true to Jesus and his Church, we will have to risk being unpopular at times. We can ask St. Serapion to give us some of his courage.
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St. Deogratias -- March 22
The city of Carthage was taken over by barbarian armies in 439. The conquerors were the Vandals. They arrested the bishop and priests and put them on a large, old wooden raft and set it adrift at sea. Incredible as it may seem, they reached the port of Naples and were rescued. But the city they left behind was without a bishop for fourteen years. Emperor Valentinian in Rome asked Genseric, the leader of the Vandals, to permit the ordination of another bishop for Carthage. Genseric agreed and a young priest of that city was chosen. He was respected by the conquerors and loved by the Christians. His name in Latin was "Deogratias," which, in English, means "thanks be to God." Bishop Deogratias labored for the faith and wellbeing of the people of Carthage. Then Genseric sacked Rome. He returned to Africa with hundreds of slaves--men, women and children. Whole families were kidnapped and divided up among the Vandals and Moors. Genseric totally disregarded natural ties. Family members were sold individually and separated from their loved ones. Bishop Deogratias heard about the tragedy. When the slave ships docked at Carthage, he bought back as many slaves as he could. He raised the money by selling the church vessels, vestments and ornaments. He was able to free many families. He found living quarters for them. When the houses were filled up, he used two large churches for this purpose. He bought bedding and other necessary items so that the people could feel at home in their new surroundings. Bishop Deogratias died after only three years as Carthage's bishop. He was totally worn out from his life of self-sacrifice and loving service. The people he helped would never forget him. He died in 457. Bishop Deogratias helps us realize that we can never put a price on a human life. Each person is valuable because we are all children of God, our loving Father We can pray to St. Deogratias so that human life will be more respected. We can especially pray for media presentations that influence people so much.
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St. Turibius of Mongrovejo -- March 23
St. Turibius was born in 1538 in Leon, Spain. He became a university professor and then a famous judge. He was a fine Christian with a reputation for being honest and wise. An unusual thing happened to him that changed his whole life. He was asked to become the archbishop of Lima, Peru. First of all, he was not a priest. Second, Peru was in far-away South America. This happened because Lima needed an archbishop. Many people in the Church realized that Turibius had the qualities for such a trusted position. He begged to be excused from the honor. But when he learned about the miserable condition of the native people of Peru, he could not refuse. He wanted to help them and to bring them the faith. He was ordained a priest and set out for Peru. As archbishop, St. Turibius traveled all over the country. He made his way over the snowy mountains on foot. He walked over the hot sands of the seashore. He built churches and hospitals. He started the first school in Latin America for the training of priests. Such a school is called a seminary. He learned the different native languages. He wanted the people to be able to listen to homilies at Mass and go to confession in their own language. He protected the natives who were often cruelly treated by their Conquerers. St. Turibius loved the people of Peru. He spent the rest of his life as a priest and bishop for them. He died on March 23, 1606, at the age of sixty-eight. St. Turibius was proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. We don't want to be fooled into judging the importance of people by the amount of money they have or the expensive things they own. Each one is important because God is the Father of us all. We can ask St. Turibius to help us treat every person with respect and kindness as he did.
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Blessed Didacus -- March 24
Blessed Didacus Joseph was born on March 29, 1743, in Cadiz, Spain. He was baptized Joseph Francis. His parents loved their faith and practiced it. They were delighted when their child constructed an altar and decorated it. He would kneel and pray to Jesus, to Our Lady and to St. Joseph. When he was old enough, Joseph learned how to serve Mass at the Capuchin Franciscan church just down the street. Joseph learned to love the Mass. He used to get up early enough to be at the church each morning to wait for the doors to be unlocked. He never missed a day. One of the Capuchin priests or brothers gave Joseph a book about the lives of the Capuchin saints. He read it and read it again. Joseph learned every story. He grew to love the holy men who were poor and humble like Jesus. The day came when he asked to join the order. He was accepted and went to Seville, Spain, for his training, called a novitiate. He began a new life with a new name, Brother Didacus. After years of preparation, Brother Didacus was ordained a priest. He was sent out to preach to the people the Good News of Jesus. He loved doing this. His homilies were so clear and kind that people listened. They even brought friends to listen. Soon an ordinary church was too small for the crowds. When Father Didacus was preaching, the talks were held outdoors, usually in the town square or in the streets. Father Didacus loved to preach about the Blessed Trinity. He was always available to hear confessions, too. He was happy when people came to the sacrament of Reconciliation. Whenever he had some free time, he visited prisons and hospitals. He also would pay calls at the homes of shut-ins. Father Didacus died in 1801 and was declared "blessed" by Pope Leo XIII in 1894. Father Didacus lived a wonderful life for God's people. We can ask him to help us use wisely the good influences in our lives. Such influences can be holy people, religious instruction, the Mass and good books or magazines.
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Annunciation of the Lord -- March 25
The time arrived for Jesus to come down from heaven. God sent Gabriel to the town of Nazareth where Mary lived. The glorious angeI entered Mary's little house and found her praying. "Hail Mary, full of grace!" said the angel. "The Lord is with you, and you are blessed among women." Mary was surprised to hear the angel's words of praise. "Do not be afraid, Mary," said Gabriel. Then he told her that she was to be the mother of Jesus, our Savior. Mary understood what a great honor God was giving her. Yet she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord!" At that very moment, she became the Mother of God. And still she called herself his handmaid, his servant. Mary knew, too, that as the mother of Jesus, she would have many sorrows. She knew she would have to suffer when her Son suffered. Yet with all her heart, she said, "Be it done to me according to your word." On this occasion, our Blessed Mother gave us a wonderful example of humility and obedience. Let us, too, show God our love by obeying those who represent him--our parents and teachers.
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St. Ludger -- March 26
St. Ludger was born in northern Europe in the eighth century, After he had studied hard for many years, he was ordained a priest. Ludger began to travel far and wide preaching the Good News. He was very happy to share all that he had learned about God with everyone who listened to him. Pagans were converted and Christians began to live much better lives. St. Ludger built many churches and monasteries. Then suddenly barbarians called Saxons attacked his land and drove the priests out. It seemed as though all St. Ludger's work would be lost. But he would not give up. He first found a safe place for his disciples. Then he went to Rome to ask the Holy Father what he should do. For over three years, Ludger lived in the Benedictine monastery as a good, holy monk. But he did not forget his people at home. As soon as he could get back into his country, Ludger returned and continued his work. He labored very hard and converted many of the pagan Saxons. When he was made a bishop, Ludger gave an even better example by his great kindness and piety. Once, jealous men spoke against him to King Charlemagne. The king ordered him to come to court to defend himself. Ludger went obediently to the castle. The next day, when the king sent for him, Ludger said he would come as soon as he had finished his prayers. King Charlemagne was angry at first. But St. Ludger explained that although he had great respect for the king, he knew that God came first. "Your Majesty will not be angry with me," he said, "for you yourself have told me always to put God first." At such a wise answer, the king realized that Ludger was very holy. From then on, Charlemagne admired and loved him very much. St. Ludger died on Passion Sunday in 809. He performed his duties in the service of God even on the day he died. St. Ludger poured all his energy into his priestly calling. Jesus used him to bring many people closer to him. We can pray often that Jesus will help priests be as holy and generous as St. Ludger was.
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St. John of Egypt -- March 27
A man who desired to be alone with God was to become one of the most famous hermits of his time. St. John of Egypt was born around 304. Not much is known about his childhood except that he learned the carpenter's trade. When he was twenty-five, John decided to leave the world for good to spend his life in prayer and sacrifice for God. He was one of the famous desert hermits of that time. For ten years he was the disciple of an elderly, seasoned hermit. This holy man taught him the spiritual life. St. John called him his "spiritual father." After the older monk's death, St. John spent four or five years in various monasteries. He wanted to become familiar with the way monks pray and live. Finally, John found a cave high in the rocks. The area was quiet and protected from the desert sun and winds. He divided the cave into three parts: a living room, a work room and a little chapel. People in the area brought him food and other necessities. Many also came to seek his advice about important matters. Even Emperor Theodosius asked his advice twice, in 388 and in 392. Such well-known saints as Augustine and Jerome wrote about the holiness of St. John. When so many people came to visit him, some men became his disciples. They stayed in the area and built a hospice. They took care of the hospice so that more people could come to benefit from the wisdom of this hermit. St. John was able to prophesy future events. He could look into the souls of those who came to him. He could read their thoughts. When he applied blessed oil on those who had a physical illness, they were often cured. Even when John became famous, he kept humble and did not lead an easy life. He never ate before sunset. When he did eat, his food was dried fruit and vegetables. He never ate meat or cooked or warm food. St. John believed that his self-sacrificing life would help him keep close to God. He died peacefully in 394 at the age of ninety. We can ask St. John the hermit to show us how to keep close to God. He will help us make a personal effort to let God work in and through us.
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St. Tutilo -- March 28
Tutilo lived in the late ninth and early tenth century. He was educated at the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Gall. Two of his classmates have been declared "blessed." All three gradually became monks in the monastery where they had gone to school. St. Tutilo was a person of many talents. He was a poet, a portrait painter, sculptor, an orator and an architect. He was also a mechanic. His greatest talent was music. He could play all the instruments known to the monks for their liturgies. He and his friend, Blessed Notker, composed tunes for the liturgy responses. Only three poems and one hymn remain of all Tutilo's works. But his paintings and sculptures are still found today in several cities of Europe. The paintings and sculptures are identified with St. Tutilo because he always marked his works with a motto. But Tutilo was not proclaimed a saint because of his many talents. He was a humble person who wanted to live for God. He praised God the way he knew how: by painting, sculpting and composing music. Tutilo was proclaimed a saint because he spent his life praising and loving God. St. Tutilo died in 915. Whether we have many talents or few, whether we are practical or not so practical, the important thing is to do the best we can with our lives. This is the way to show our love for God.
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St. Jonas and St. Barachisius -- March 29
King Sapor of Persia reigned in the fourth century. He hated Christians and persecuted them cruelly. He destroyed their churches and monasteries. Two brothers named Jonas and Barachisius heard of the persecutions. They learned that many Christians had been put to death. They decided to go to help them and to encourage them to remain faithful to Christ. Jonas and Barachisius knew that they, too, might be captured. But that did not stop them. Their hearts were too full of love of others to have room for a thought of themselves. At last the two brothers were taken prisoner. They were told that if they did not worship the sun, the moon, the fire and water, they would be tortured and put to death. Of course, they refused to worship anything or anyone except the one true God. They had to suffer greatly, but they prayed. They kept thinking of how Our Lord had suffered for them. The two brothers endured terrible tortures but would not give up their faith. They were finally condemned to death and joyfully gave up their lives for Jesus. Jonas and Barachisius were martyred in 327. When we have some little pain, we can ask these martyrs to help us offer it to Jesus. They will show us how to be brave and cheerful.
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St. John Climacus -- March 30
It is believed that St. John was born in Palestine in the seventh century. He seems to have been a disciple of St. Gregory Nazianzen. He could have become a famous teacher, but he decided to serve God with his whole heart. He joined a monastery on Mount Sinai when he was sixteen. Then he went to live for forty years by himself. He spent all his time praying and reading the lives of the saints. At first, St. John was tempted by the devil. He felt all kinds of bad passions trying to make him give in and sin. But he put all his trust in Jesus and prayed harder than ever. So the temptations never made him fall into sin. In fact, he only grew holier. He became so close to God that many heard of his holiness. They came to ask him for advice. God gave St. John a wonderful gift. He was able to bring peace to people who were upset and tempted. Once a man came to him who was having terrible temptations. He asked St. John to help him and said how hard it was for him to fight these temptations. After they had prayed together, peace filled the poor man's soul. He was never again troubled with those temptations. When the saint was seventy-four years old, he was chosen abbot of Mount Sinai. He became the superior of all the monks and hermits in the country. Another abbot asked St. John to write the rules which he had lived by all his life. This way the monks could follow his example. With great humility, St. John wrote the book called The Ladder of Perfection, or The Climax of Perfection. And that is why he is called "Climacus." St. John died in 649. It is very wise to keep a good book handy in our room. We can read from it a little bit each day or before we go to bed.
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Blessed Joan of Toulouse -- March 31
In 1240, some Carmelite brothers from Palestine started a monastery in Toulouse, France. The great Carmelite priest, St. Simon Stock, passed through Toulouse twenty-five years later. A devout woman asked to see him. She introduced herself simply as Joan. She asked the priest earnestly, "May I be part of the Carmelite order as an associate?" St. Simon Stock was the head of the order. He had the authority to grant the woman's request. He said "yes." Joan became the first lay associate. She received the habit of the Carmelite order. In the presence of St. Simon Stock, Joan made a vow of perpetual chastity. Joan continued her quiet, simple life right in her own home. She tried to be as faithful as possible to the rules of the Carmelites for the rest of her life. Joan went to daily Mass and devotions at the Carmelite church. She filled the rest of the day with visits to the poor, the sick and the lonely. She trained the altar boys. She helped the elderly and infirm by performing useful tasks and running errands. Joan prayed with them and brightened many lives with her cheerful conversations. Blessed Joan carried a picture of the crucified Jesus in her pocket. That was her "book." Every now and then, she would pull out the picture and gaze at it. Her eyes would light up. People said that Joan read some new and wonderful lesson every time she studied the picture. When Blessed Joan died, she was buried in the local Carmelite church. She had been so much a part of the parish family during her lifetime. We can ask Blessed Joan to show us how to spread the love of Jesus in our parish and neighborhood.
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