May -- The Blessed Virgin Mary
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto You, O virgin of virgins, my Mother. To You I come, before You I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer me. 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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St Joseph the Worker -- May 1
This is St. Joseph's second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint. He is the husband of Our Lady and the foster-father of Jesus. Today we celebrate his witness of hard work. He was a carpenter who worked long hours in his little shop. St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is important. Through it we give our contribution and our service to our family and society. But even more than that. As Christians we realize that our work is like a mirror of ourselves. That is why we want our work to be done with diligence. Many countries set aside one day a year to honor workers. This encourages the dignity and appreciation of work. The Church has given us a wonderful model of work, St. Joseph. In 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed this feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated every year. We can ask St. Joseph to help us become more diligent in our study and work.
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St Athanasius -- May 2
Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God. This is important because some people called Arians denied it. Even before he became a priest, Athanasius had read many books on the faith. That is why he could so easily point out the false teachings of the Arians. This saint became the archbishop of Alexandria when he was not yet thirty years old. For forty-six years, he was a brave shepherd of his flock. Four Roman emperors could not make him stop writing his clear and beautiful explanations of our holy faith. His enemies persecuted him in every way. Five times he was sent out of his own diocese. His first exile lasted two years. He was sent to the city of Trier in 336. A kindly bishop, St. Maximinius, welcomed him warmly. The feast of St. Maximinius is celebrated on May 29. Other exiles lasted longer. Athanasius was hunted by people who wanted to kill him. During one tense exile, monks kept him safe in the desert for seven years. His enemies just could not find him. Once the emperor's soldiers were chasing Athanasius down the Nile River. "They are catching up to us!" cried the saint's friends. Athanasius was not worried. "Turn the boat around," he said calmly, "and row toward them." The soldiers in the other boat shouted, "Have you seen Athanasius?" Back came the answer: "You are not far from him!" The enemy boat sped by them faster than ever, and the saint was safe! The people of Alexandria loved their good archbishop. He was a real father to them. As the years passed, they appreciated more and more how much he had suffered for Jesus and the Church. It was the people who stepped in and saw to it that Athanasius had some well-deserved peace. He spent the last seven years of his life safe with them. His enemies hunted but could never find him. During that time, St. Athanasius wrote The Life of St Anthony the Hermit. Anthony had been his personal friend when Athanasius was young. St. Anthony's feast is celebrated on January 17. St. Athanasius died quietly on May 2, 373. He remains one of the greatest, bravest saints of all time. This saint challenges us to be more energetic about studying our faith. We can ask St. Athanasius to give us some of his enthusiasm and love for Jesus.
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St Philip and St James -- May 3
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve apostles. Philip was one of the first apostles chosen. He was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee. Our Lord found him and said, "Follow me." Philip was so happy to be with Jesus. He wanted to share his happiness with his friend, Nathaniel. "We have found the one Moses and the prophets wrote about," Philip explained. "He is Jesus of Nazareth." Nathaniel was not at all excited. Nazareth was just a little village. It was not big and important like Jerusalem. So Nathaniel said, "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" But Philip did not become angry at his friend's answer. He just said, "Come and see." Nathaniel went to see Jesus. After he had spoken with him, he, too, became a zealous follower of the Lord. St. James was also one of Jesus' twelve apostles. He was the son of Alpheus and a cousin of Our Lord. After Jesus ascended into heaven, James became the bishop of Jerusalem. People thought so much of him that they called him "James the Just," which means "James the Holy One." He is also called "James the Less," because he was younger than the other apostle named James. The other James was called "James the Greater" because he was older. The saint of today's feast was very gentle and forgiving. He prayed very much. He kept begging God to forgive the people who persecuted the followers of Jesus. Even when Our Lord's enemies were putting him to death, he asked God to pardon them. St. James died a martyr in the year 62. We can all be apostles of Jesus in our own way. We can share the Good News of what faith in Jesus does for our lives. That is the way to imitate St. Philip and St James.
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Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis -- May 4
Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840. Her parents were poor but devout Catholics. They loved their little girl. When Elodie was nine, her parents decided to send her to a boarding school. They wanted her to have an excellent education. The Sisters of Notre Dame warmly received the new student. But Elodie and her family missed each other very much. Mr. Paradis worked hard running a mill. But times were bad, and the mill did not produce enough to support his wife and children. He heard wonderful reports of the gold rush in California. He was so desperate that he decided to go. In California, Mr. Paradis did not find the wealth he hoped for. When he returned to L'Acadie, he was shocked to find that his Elodie had joined the convent. She had entered the Holy Cross congregation on February 21, 1854. Mr. Paradis went to the convent. He begged his daughter to return home, but she chose to remain. Finally, her father accepted it. She pronounced her vows in 1857. Blessed Marie-Leonie taught school in different cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on, Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun in 1880. These loving sisters are devoted to the priesthood. They serve priests in the household care so important to their ministry. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have sixty-seven convents in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras. Mother Marie-Leonie worked for her sisters until the last few hours of her life. She was always frail and often ill. But she never stopped caring for God's people. She put the last corrections on the pages of the book of rules she had written. She had it sent to the print shop. That book world give her sisters the guidance they would need for their life. It was Friday, May 3, 1912. Mother Marie-Leonie said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours later. She was seventy-one years old. Mother Marie-Leonie was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul 11. The joyful event took place at Jarry Park, Montreal, Canada, on September 11, 1984. Sometimes we are afraid of failure or worried about our future. We can ask Blessed Marie-Leonie to help us be ready to listen to God's voice as she was.
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St Judith of Prussia -- May 5
St. Judith lived in the thirteenth century. She was born in Thuringia. This was in what is now central Germany. She wanted to model her life on the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. This saint's feast is celebrated on November 17. St. Elizabeth of Hungary had lived from 1207 until 1231. She had been proclaimed a saint in 1235. In St. Judith's time, many Christian women were influenced by her inspiring example. Judith of Prussia was married at fifteen to a wealthy young nobleman. Judith tried to be a good Christian wife. She was especially generous with the poor. Her husband was a good man, but he was satisfied with his wealthy lifestyle. He expected his wife to dress and live like a rich woman. He felt that their well-dressed look would win them respect. But Judith gently persuaded him to live and dress more simply. By doing this, they would have more to give to people less fortunate than themselves. Judith's husband died suddenly while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The young widow raised her children alone. When the children grew up, Judith listened to a longing that had been in her heart during the busy, happy days of her life. She gave away everything and lived as a hermit. She moved to Prussia where people would not know that she was from a wealthy family. There she spent her time praying and taking care of weary travelers who passed by her little hut. She prayed especially for the conversion of nonbelievers. She prayed also for the newly baptized Christians to be true to their faith. "Three things can lead us close to God," she once said. "They are painful physical suffering, being in exile in a foreign land, and being poor by choice because of love for God." St. Judith died of fever in 1260. Whenever we start to worry about the impression we are making, we can pray to St. Judith. We can ask her to help us keep our sights on God. That is more important than worrying over what people say about us.
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Blessed Francois de Montmorency Laval -- May 6
Blessed Francois was the first bishop of Quebec City, Canada. He was born in 1623 in a small town in France. Francois received a good, Catholic education. He studied with the Jesuits and then went to Paris to complete his preparation for the priesthood. Francois became a priest in May, 1647. He was consecrated a bishop on December 8, 1658, and arrived in New France in 1659. Bishop Laval had a missionary spirit. He accepted the pioneer life of his people. Even more, Francois had the courage to take on a huge task. He was to organize the Church in Canada which was still mission territory. Bishop Laval asked the Jesuit missionaries to minister to the native people. He created new parishes for the French-speaking Catholics. He started the seminary of Quebec in 1663. This was of great importance because a good seminary would train future priests for God's people. Bishop Laval loved the people of his vast territory. He was a caring bishop and a prayerful man. His particular cross was the constant interference by civil authorities. He was particularly outspoken about the harm of alcohol trafficking. In 1688, he retired and was replaced by Bishop de Saint-Vallier. Bishop Laval devoted the last twenty years of his life to charitable and spiritual works. He died in 1708. Pilgrims prayed at his tomb and miracles were reported. Pope John Paul 11 declared Bishop Laval "blessed" on June 22, 1980. Bishop Laval helps us become aware of what it means to be a missionary. He had the courage to leave his own country to go to Canada when it was still a mission land. We can ask Bishop Laval to make us aware of the Church all around the world. We can include people everywhere in our prayers.
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Blessed Rose Venerini -- May 7
Blessed Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father was a physician. Rose entered the convent but returned home after a few months. Her father had died and she felt the responsibility for taking care of her widowed mother. Rose, who was to remain single, recognized her own leadership qualities. She gathered the young women in her neighborhood. They prayed the Rosary together in the evenings. As they all got to know each other, Rose became aware of how little the young people knew about their faith. Rose and two helpers opened a free school for girls in 1685. The parents who sent their daughters there were very pleased with the quality of education and the atmosphere. Rose was a gifted educator. Above all, she was able to teach others to teach. In 1692, Cardinal Barbarigo invited Rose to his diocese. He wanted her to organize his schools and train his teachers. It was in his diocese that she became a friend and teacher of a future saint. That person was St. Lucy Filippini who started a religious order. Sister Lucy was proclaimed a saint in 1930. Rose organized schools in various places. Some people resented her work and harassed her and her teachers. But the teachers held on to their belief in the value of education. Rose even opened a school in Rome in 1713. Pope Clement XI congratulated Rose for starting such a wonderful school. This dedicated teacher died in Rome on May 7, 1728, at the age of seventy-two. After her death, Blessed Rose's lay teachers became religious sisters. The Venerini sisters continue to perform their teaching ministry the way Blessed Rose would. Rose Venerini was declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1952. Blessed Rose realized the value of education. If we need to put more effort into our school work, we can ask Blessed Rose to help us.
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Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine -- May 8
Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day. Catherine's family were devout Catholics. Her grandparents set the example especially because of their genuine care for the poor. Catherine watched wide-eyed as her grandmother invited a handicapped beggar into her home. She offered him a bath, clean clothes and a delicious meal. As Catherine and her grandparents sat around the fire that night, they prayed the Our Father out loud. They thanked God for his blessings-Because there was no hospital in their small French town, the sick were nursed back to health in the home of Catherine's grandparents. Catherine began to realize that sickness and suffering take patience. She was just a little girl but she prayed to ask Jesus to make people suffer less. When she was still quite young, she joined a new order of Sisters of St. Augustine. They took care of the sick in hospitals. She received the religious habit on October 24, 1646. That was the same day her older sister pronounced her vows. In 1648, Catherine listened to the missionary priests begging sisters to come to New France or Canada. It was missionary territory. Catherine's sister was chosen to be one of the first of their order to go as a missionary to Canada. Sister Catherine was just sixteen, but she begged to be chosen too. She pronounced her vows on May 4, 1648. Then she sailed for Canada the next day. It was the day before her sixteenth birthday. Life was hard in Quebec, Canada. Sister Catherine loved the people. The Indians were so grateful for her cheerful ways. She cooked and cared for the sick in the order's poor hospital building. But Sister Catherine learned about fear, too. The Iroquois Indians were killing people and burning villages. She prayed to St. John Brebeuf, one of the Jesuit priests who had just been killed by the Iroquois in 1649. She asked him to help her be true to her calling. She heard him speaking in her heart, telling her to remain. Food became scarce and the winters were terribly cold. Some of the sisters could not take the harsh life and constant fear of death. Sadly they returned to France. Sister Catherine was afraid, too. Sometimes she could hardly pray. And while she smiled at all the dear people she cared for in the sick wards, she grew sad. It was then, when things were darkest for her, that she made a vow never to leave Canada. She promised to remain, performing her works of charity until death. When she made that vow she was just twenty-two years old. Despite the hard pioneer life of the French colony, more people came. The Church grew. God blessed the new land with more missionaries. In 1665, Sister Catherine became the novice mistress of her community. She kept up her life of prayer and hospital ministry until her death. Sister Marie Catherine of St. Augustine died on May 8, 1668. She was thirty-six years old. She was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II in 1989. Jesus never promised us that our lives would be easy and without pain or trouble. He did promise to be with us always. When we become afraid or downhearted, we can ask Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine to give us some of her courage.
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Blessed Nicholas Albergati -- May 9
Blessed Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. Nicholas' family could afford to send him to the university where he began to study law. But then after a few years, he decided not to become a lawyer. At the age of twenty, Nicholas joined the Carthusian order. In 1417, this Carthusian monk was chosen to be bishop of his native diocese. He had not counted on that at all. He could not even believe it could be God's will. But his superiors assured him it was. People liked Bishop Nicholas. He lived in a small, plain house. He was like them. He began to visit the people of his diocese. He went to the poorest families first. He talked with them and helped them with their needs. He blessed their homes. The people were very grateful. Bishop Nicholas became a cardinal in 1426. He was known to be wise and spiritual. Two popes, Martin V and Eugene IV, consulted him about important Church matters. Blessed Nicholas also encouraged learning. In fact, he wrote several books himself. He died while on a visit to Siena, Italy. Pope Eugene IV had his body brought back to Bologna. The pope himself participated in the funeral Mass and burial. Blessed Nicholas died in 1443. Do you ever feel upset when you don't get attention? That is the time to pray to Blessed Nicholas. He kept receiving attention that he did not even want. Blessed Nicholas will show us how much better it is to spend our time praising God.
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St Antoninus -- May 10
St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed that he had good sense and will power. The story is told that when he was fifteen, he asked to join the Dominican order. He looked young, and he was small. The prior studied him for a moment and then said, "I'll accept you when you know Gratian's Decree by heart." "Gratian's Decree" was a book, several hundred pages long. So, in other words, the prior was telling Antoninus "no." But Antoninus accepted the challenge. One year later he returned. It would be hard to describe the prior's amazement when he found that Antoninus had memorized the whole decree! Needless to say, he was accepted at once. (it was not his ability to memorize that changed the prior's mind, though. It was because he had proved he was serious about his vocation.) Though just sixteen, Antoninus continued to surprise everyone by the way he lived the life of his order. As he grew older, he was given one important position after another. He was a good influence on his fellow Dominicans. They loved and respected him. This is proved powerfully in the life of Blessed Anthony Neyrot whose feast is April 1 0. In March, 1446, Antoninus became the archbishop of Florence, Italy. "The father of the poor" was the name given this saint. He never refused to help anyone. When he had no more money, he would give his clothes, his shoes, his furniture or his one mule. Many times this mule was sold to help someone. Then it would be bought back for him by wealthy citizens. Of course, he would sell it again to help someone else! Often St. Antoninus would say, "A successor of the apostles should not own anything except the wealth of virtue." St. Antoninus died in 1459. He was proclaimed a saint in 1523. St. Antoninus will help us keep our priorities straight. He knew where he was going in life. He wanted to be true to his ideals until death. We can ask him to help us be as faithful to Jesus as he was.
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St Ignatius of Laconi -- May 11
Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701. When he was about seventeen, he became very ill. He promised to be a Franciscan if he would get better. But when the illness left him, his father convinced him to wait. A couple of years later, Ignatius was almost killed when he lost control of his horse. Suddenly, however, the horse stopped and trotted on quietly. Ignatius was convinced, then, that God had saved his life. He made up his mind to follow his religious vocation at once. Brother Ignatius never had any important position in the Franciscan order. For fifteen years he worked in the weaving shed. Then, for forty years, he was part of the team who went out from house to house. They requested food and donations to support the friars. Ignatius visited families and received their gift. But the people soon realized that they received a gift in return. Brother Ignatius consoled the sick and cheered up the lonely. He made peace between enemies, converted people hardened by sin and advised those in trouble. They began to wait for his visits. There were some difficult days, too. Once in a while, a door was slammed in his face, and often the weather was bad. Always, there were miles and miles to walk. But Ignatius was dedicated. Yet people noticed he used to skip one house. The owner was a rich moneylender. He made the poor pay back much more than they could afford. This man felt humiliated because Ignatius never visited his home to ask for donations. He complained to Brother Ignatius' superior. The superior knew nothing about the moneylender so he sent Ignatius to his home. Brother Ignatius never said a word, but did as he was told. He returned with a large sack of food. It was then that God worked a miracle. When the sack was emptied, blood dripped out. "This is the blood of the poor," Ignatius explained softly. "That is why I never ask for anything at that house." The friars began to pray that the moneylender would repent. Brother Ignatius died at the age of eighty, on May 11, 1781. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1951. Brother Ignatius was a happy, dedicated Franciscan. He makes us realize that the best gift we can give anyone is a good example.
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St Nereus, St Achilleus and St Pancras -- May 12
Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who died around 304. They were probably Praetorian guards under Emperor Trajan. We know little else about them. But what we do know comes from two popes who lived in the fourth century, Pope Siricius and Pope Damasus. In 398, Pope Siricius built a church in their honor in Rome. Pope Damasus wrote a brief tribute to the martyrs. He explained that Nereus and Achilleus were converted to the Christian faith. They left behind their weapons forever. They were true followers of Jesus even at the cost of their own lives. Nereus and Achilleus were sent into exile to the island of Terracina. There they were beheaded. In the sixth century, a second church was built in another part of Rome to honor these two martyrs. St. Pancras, a fourteen-year-old orphan, lived at the same time. He could possibly have been killed on the same day. Pancras was not a native of Rome. He was brought there by his uncle who looked after him. He became a follower of Jesus and was baptized. Although just a boy, he was arrested for being a Christian. Pancras refused to give up his faith. For that, he was sentenced to death. Pancras was beheaded. He became a very popular martyr in the early Church. People admired him for being so young and so brave. In 514, a large church was built in Rome to honor him. In 596, the famous missionary, St. Augustine of Canterbury, went to bring the Christian faith to England. He named his first church there after St. Pancras. The martyrs of Rome remind us of the importance of our Catholic faith. It should mean as much to us as it did to each of them. If we need our faith strengthened, we can ask Nereus, Achilleus and Pancras to help us.
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Our Lady of Fatima -- May 13
In the year of 1916 three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos, age nine and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, age eight and six respectively tended their parents flock of sheep. It was a fine spring morning for grazing sheep on Lucia’s father property. The children played as the sheep feasted on the grass. Suddenly there was a change in the weather. A steady drizzle fell and the breeze was chilling from a northwest wind. Quickly gathering the sheep they lead them to a small wooded area where they took shelter in a cave. The drizzle proved to be just a passing shower. While still at play without warning a light whiter than the driving snow appeared. As it approached, the light took the shape of a transparent young man. He began to speak, "Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." The figure of light knelt on the ground, bowing low and three time recited this prayer: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You." Then he arose and said: "Pray this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications." Then the transparent young man disappeared. The man of light appeared to the children three time. On the second visit the children were playing as usual when they were startled by a voice saying, "What are you doing? Pray, pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy for you. Offer unceasingly to the Most High prayer and sacrifices." Lucia asked, "But how are we to make sacrifices?" "Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which he is so much offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners. Thus bring down peace upon your country. I am the Guardian Angel of Portugal. More than all else, accept and bear with resignation the sufferings that God may send you." On the third visit the Angel came holding aloft a chalice with a host suspended above it. From the host drops of blood fell into the chalice cup. Leaving both chalice and host suspended in air, he prostrated himself upon the ground and three times prayed: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners." The Angel arose and gave Lucia the Host and the contents of the chalice was given to Francisco and Jacinta. Again he spoke: "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God." Once more the Guardian Angel of Portugal prostrated himself upon the ground and again recited three times the Holy Trinity, than disappearing once again. On May 13, 1917 the children were tending the sheep on the same piece of land known as the Cova da Iria. They had finished praying a Rosary, ate some lunch and were beginning to play. Abruptly there was a brilliant flash of light. Fearing a storm they excitedly herded the sheep to head for shelter. Again, there was another flash of light and there before the children appeared the vision of a beautiful Lady. The Lady majestically floated above the branches of a small oak tree. She was all dressed in white and was as radiant like the sun. The children first impulse was to run away but the Lady beckoned them to draw near. Here is the conversation on May 13, 1917. (Lady) "Do not be afraid, I will not hurt you," (Lucia)‘Where do you come from?’(Lady) "I come from Heaven" (Lucia) ‘And why have you come down here?' (Lady) "Because I want you children to come here on the thirteenth of each month at the same hour. In the month of October I shall tell you who I am and what I want you to do." (Lucia) ‘Do you really come from Heaven, and shall I go to Heaven too?’ (Lady) "Yes, you will go there." (Lucia) ‘And Jacinta?’ (Lady) "Yes Jacinta will go to Heaven, too" (Lucia) ‘And Francisco?’ (Lady) "Yes Francisco, too, will go to Heaven, but he will first have to say many Rosaries." Lucia now confident asked about two childhood playmates. (Lady) "one is in Heaven, and the other is in Purgatory." (Lucia) ‘And Amelia?’ (Lady) "Amelia will be in Purgatory till the end of the world" (Lady) "Do you wish to offer yourselves to God in order to accept all the suffering he wishes to send you, in reparation for sin and for the conversion of sinners?" (Children) ‘Yes, we are willing.’ (Lady) "Than you will suffer much but the grace of God will be your comfort." Here the children receive rays of penetrating light comming from the Lady’s hands and as Lucia writes, "it penetrated our hearts and the innermost depth of our soul making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors." After this the children fell to their knees repeating over and over, "O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!" After a few moments the Lady spoke again saying, "Pray the Rosary, every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war." The Lady drifted off to the East and disappeared. In the following days and months there was great concern in the little village of Fatima. People from near and far poured into the tiny hamlet. As news of the apparition spread it reached authorities of the communistic ruled government. The three shepherd children were beginning to experience the sufferings the Lady had spoken of. Note to the reader: From hear I will tell you only the messages of this beautiful Lady. I could go on and write a whole book but I suggest you read a book called "Fatima in Lucia’s own words." Lucia who is still alive today is a Carmelite closeted nun in Coimbra, Portugal. Fatima in Lucia’s own words, was written by Lucia as she was instructed to do so by her superiors. The book is most enlightening and the sacrifices of Jacinta nearly beyond belief. If however you are not so inclined to read. You could either rent or purchase a copy of the 1952 Warner Bros. Film, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima staring Angela Clark. The retail cost, about $20.00. Hollywood has added a few characters that did not exist for the sake of sensationalism but over all the movie is a very good account of the events in Fatima Portugal in 1917. The second apparition, June 13, 1917 (Lucia) "What do you want of me?" (Lady) ‘I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want.’ Lucia asked for the cure of a sick person. (Lady) ‘If he is converted, he will be cured during the year.’ (Lucia) "I would like to ask you to take us to heaven." (Lady) ‘Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. (Lucia) "Am I to stay here alone?" (Lady) ‘No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God." Once again the children were to receive the ray of light as before. Lucia writes; Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose toward heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth. In front of the palm of the Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity and seeking reparation. The third apparition, July 13, 1917 (Lucia) "What do you want of me?" (Lady) ‘I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.’ (Lucia) "I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us." (Lady) ‘Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe. Here Lucia makes some requests which she does not recall. The Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.’ (Lady) ‘Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus it is for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in the reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ At this time the Lady opened her hands once more and Lucia writes; and the rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.) The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coal. Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at the Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly: (Lady) ‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius Xl. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.’(Lady)‘To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc.… Do not tell this to anyone.’(Lucia)"To Francisco?" (note: Francisco was only able to see the Lady not hear her words) (Lady) ‘Yes, you may tell him.When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery, O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need. After this there was a moment of silence, (Lucia) "Is there anything more that you want of me?" (Lady) ‘No I do not want anything more of you today.’ Then, the Lady ascended towards the East and disappeared. The forth apparition, August, 1917 Note: The apparition did not take place on the 13th as the children were taken into custody by the local authorities. Lucia recalls the date as being August 15. At the time of the apparition the children were tending sheep on a piece of land called, Valinhos. (Lucia) "What do you want of me?" (Lady) ‘I want you to continue going to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and to continue praying the Rosary every day. In the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.’ (Lucia) "What do you want done with the money that the people leave in the Cova da Iria?" (Lady) "Have two litters made. One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one it to be carried by Francisco and three other boys. The money from the litters is for the festa of Our Lady of the Rosary, and what is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.’ (Lucia) "I would like to ask you to cure some sick persons." (Lady)‘Yes, I will cure some of them during the year. Than looking very sad the Lady said, (Lady) ‘Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.’ And the Lady disappeared as before. The fifth apparition, September 13, 1917 Lady) "Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel, Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices. He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime." (Lucia) ‘I was told to ask you many things, the cure of some sick people, of a deaf-mute….'(Lady)"Yes, I will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracles so that all may believe." And the Lady disappeared into the East as usual. The sixth and final apparition, October, 13, 1917. (Lucia) "What do you want of me?" (Lady) ‘I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.’ (Lucia) "I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…’ (Lady) ‘Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins." Looking very sad Our Lady said, (Lady) ‘Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.’ Lucia write; "Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continue to be projected on the sun itself. Here, Your Excellency, is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse. After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel." The promised miracle of Oct. 13, 1917 This account is take from a book called, "A Woman Clothed with the Sun," Gradually the sun grew pale, lost its normal color, and appeared as a silver disk at which all could gaze directly without even shading their eyes. Then, to the astonishment of all present, rays of multicolored light shot out in every direction; red, blue, yellow, green, every color of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the very heavens seemed to be revolving as the sun spun madly on its axis like a gigantic wheel of fire, painting the rocks, the trees, the faces of the people with sunshine such as human eyes has never seen before. Three times it stopped and three times the mad dance was resumed. Then, while the crowd went to its knees in abject terror, the sun suddenly seemed to be torn loose from its place in the heavens. Down it hurtled, closer and closer to the earth, staggering, "drunkenly" as it zigzagged through the skies while from all parts of the now terrified multitude arose cries of repentance and appeals for mercy. "Its the end of the world," Shrieked one woman hysterically." "Dear God, don’t let me die in my sins," cried another." "Holy Virgin, protect us," implored a third." Suddenly, as if arrested in its downward plunge by an invisible Heavenly hand, it poised from a moment and then, in the same series of swirling motions it began to climb upward till it resumed its accustomed place in the heavens. Gone was the silver disk with the brilliant rays. It was once more a ball of fire at which nobody could look directly with unshaded eyed. During that day drenching rains had left an estimate 70,000 pilgrims soaking wet. The apparition site, was a pit of mud. After the miracle the weather was beautiful. While the people looked at one another, still trembling from their terrifying experience and not yet sure that some further disaster would not overtake them, a cry of astonishment was heard on every side. The rain-sodden garment had suddenly dried, someone said outloud, and the muddy pit of land was also dry. This is the story of The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
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St Matthias -- May 14
St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples. He had been a follower of Jesus during his public life. St. Peter asked the 120 people gathered in prayer to choose an apostle to replace Judas. This was very important because that man would be a bishop, as the other apostles were. He said it should be someone who had been with Jesus from his baptism in the Jordan until the resurrection. The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles explains that the group proposed two names. One was Matthias, the other, Joseph, called Barsabbas. Joseph was also called Justus. Both men--Matthias and Joseph--were very well thought of by Jesus' followers. So now they had two replacements for Judas. But they only needed one. So what could they do? It was very simple. They cast lots. Matthias' name was chosen. St. Matthias was a very good apostle. He preached the Good News in Judea. Then he continued to Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey). Many people listened to Matthias. They believed his wonderful message. The enemies of Jesus grew furious to see how people listened to Matthias. They decided to stop him. Matthias died a martyr. St. Matthias reminds us that we are fortunate to be followers of Jesus and members of his Church. Let us ask St. Matthias to show us how to be more grateful for what we have received.
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St Isidore the Farmer -- May 15
This saint was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were deeply religious. They named their son after the great St. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, Spain. We celebrate his feast on April 4. Isidore's parents wanted to offer their son a first-rate education, but they could not afford it. They were tenant farmers. Their son would spend his life in the same occupation. Isidore went to work for a rich land owner in Madrid. The man's name was John de Vargas. Isidore worked all his life for Mr. de Vargas. He married a good girl from a family as poor as his own. The couple loved each other very much. They had one child, a boy, who died as a baby. Isidore and his wife offered to Jesus their sadness over the child's death. They trusted their son was happy with God forever. St. Isidore began each day at Mass. Then he would go to his job. He tried to work hard even if he didn't feel like it. He plowed and planted and prayed. He called on Mary, the saints and his guardian angel. They helped him turn ordinary days into special, joyful times. The world of faith became very real to St. Isidore, as real as Mr. de Vargas' fields. When he had a day off, Isidore made it a point to spend extra time adoring Jesus in church. Sometimes, on holidays, Isidore and his wife would visit a few neighboring parishes on a one-day pilgrimage of prayer. Once the parish had a dinner. Isidore arrived early and went into the church to pray. He arrived in the parish hall late. He didn't come in alone. He brought a group of beggars, too. The parishioners were upset. What if there wasn't enough food for all those beggars? But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for everybody else. St. Isidore said kindly, "There is always enough for the poor of Jesus." Stories of miracles began to circulate about this farm-worker saint. Isidore was totally unselfish. He was a loving and compassionate human being. He is one of Spain's most popular saints. Isidore died on May 15, 1130. In March, 1622, Pope Gregory XV proclaimed five great saints together. They were St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri and St. Isidore the Farmer. St. Isidore let his faith in Jesus and the Church light up his whole life. We can ask him to help us love the Lord as he did.
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St Ubald -- May 16
This saint lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education. When he finished his schooling, he had the chance to marry. But he became a priest instead. Eventually, the pope made him bishop of Gubbio, the city of his birth. St. Ubald became well-known for his mild and patient disposition. One time, for example, a worker was repairing the city wall. He badly damaged the bishop's vineyard. The saint gently pointed it out to him. The workman must have been very tired. He probably did not even recognize the bishop. He shoved Bishop Ubald so hard that he fell into a pile of wet cement. He was covered with it. He got up, cleaned himself off and went into the house. Some people saw the whole thing and demanded that the worker be brought to court. Bishop Ubald appeared in the courtroom and obtained the man's freedom. The holy bishop loved peace and he had the courage it takes to keep it. Once, when the people of Gubbio were fighting in the streets, he threw himself between the two angry crowds. He seemed unafraid of the swords clashing and the rocks flying. Suddenly he fell to the ground. The people stopped fighting at once. They thought the bishop had been killed. But he got up. He showed them he was not even hurt. The people thanked God. They stopped fighting and went home. Another time, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was on his way to attack Gubbio. St. Ubald did not wait for him and his army to come to the city. He went out on the road to talk to him. No one knows what he said. All they know is that he convinced the emperor to leave Gubbio alone. The saint had a great amount of physical pain. Yet he never talked about it. On Easter Sunday, 1160, he rose for Mass. He gave a beautiful sermon and blessed the people. Then he had to go back to bed. He was not able to get up again. He died on May 16, 1160. All the people came to pay their respects. They cried and prayed to St. Ubald to take care of them from heaven. It is easy to become angry at times. And it is hard to forgive others when they hurt us. We can pray to St. Ubald. We can ask to be meek and forgiving as he was.
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St Paschal Baylon -- May 17
Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity to go to school. Yet he taught himself to read and write. He did this mainly by asking everyone he met to help him. This he did so that he could read from religious books. He used to whisper prayers often during the day as he took care of the sheep. When he was twenty-four, the shepherd became a Franciscan brother. His companions liked him. Paschal was easy to get along with and kind. The community noticed that he often did the most unpleasant and hardest chores. He practiced penances that were even more strict than the rule required. Yet he was a happy person. When he had been a shepherd, he had wished he could be in church praying to Jesus. But he couldn't. Now he could. He loved to keep the Lord company in the Blessed Sacrament. He was also honored to be a server at Mass. St. Paschal's two great loves were the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Every day Paschal prayed the Rosary with great love. He also wrote beautiful prayers to our Heavenly Mother. Out of some scraps of paper, St. Paschal made himself a little notebook. In it, in nice handwriting, he wrote down some beautiful thoughts and prayers. After he died, his superior showed the little book to the local archbishop. He read the book and said, "These simple souls are stealing heaven from us!" Paschal died in 1592 at the age of fifty-two. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690. What does it take to be a saint? Pascal Baylon lived his religious vocation as best he could. He had the strength to do that, though, because of his devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother We can ask St. Pascal to help us grow closer to Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary.
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St John I -- May 18
John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy's ruler, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. (The Arians did not believe that Jesus is God.) Theodoric let Catholics alone at the beginning of his reign. Later, however, he changed and became arrogant and suspicious of everyone. He imagined there was a conspiracy against him. After a while, he believed the whole world was out to get his throne and his power. The one person who most certainly did not want either was the pope. Theodoric was trying to get Pope John involved in his political problems. The emperor was having trouble with Emperor Justin I of Constantinople. It had been reported that Justin was being too hard on the Arians in the east. Theodoric sent a delegation to negotiate with Justin. The delegation was headed by Pope John 1. Emperor Justin received the pope and his companions with rejoicing. Justin was very willing to change his harsh policy. Pope John's mission went very well. But Emperor Theodoric was not pleased. He imagined that Pope John and Justin I were against him. The pope was returning to Rome and got as far as Ravenna, Theodoric's capital. Pope John was kidnapped and thrown into prison by Theodoric's soldiers. There the pope died of thirst and starvation in 526. Do you ever find yourself thinking mean thoughts about people? That is when we can pray to Pope St John I. He will help us avoid Theodoric's terrible mistake of letting our actions follow from jealous, untrue thoughts. Pope St. John I will lead us to be heroic Christians as he was.
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St Celestine V -- May 19
Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he was small. The family was poor, but Peter's mother raised her children with great love. She sent Peter to school because he showed such promise and an eagerness to learn. Once she asked as usual, "Which one of you is going to become a saint?" Little Peter who was to become Pope Celestine answered with all his heart, "Me, Mama! I'll become a saint!" And he did. But it wasn't easy. When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit. He spent his days praying, reading the Bible and doing his work. Other hermits kept coming to him and asking him to guide them. Eventually, he started a new order of monks. When Peter was eighty-four years of age, he was made pope. It came about in a very unusual way. For two years there had been no pope. This was because the cardinals could not agree on whom to choose. Peter sent them a message. He warned them to decide quickly, because God was not pleased with the long delay. The cardinals did as the monk said. Then and there, they chose Peter the hermit to be pope! The poor man wept when he heard the news. He accepted sadly and took the name Celestine V. He was pope only about five months. Because he was so humble and simple, people took advantage of him. He could not say "no" to anyone. Soon there was great confusion. Pope Celestine felt very responsible for all the trouble. He decided that the best thing he could do for the Church was give up his position. He did so. He asked forgiveness for not having governed the Church well. All St. Celestine wanted was to live in one of his monasteries in peace. But the new pope, Boniface VIII, thought it would be safer to keep him hidden in a small room in one of the Roman palaces. St. Celestine spent the last ten months of his life in a plain cell-like room. But he became his cheerful self again. "All you wanted was a cell, Peter," he would repeat to himself. "Well, you've got it." He died on May 19, 1296. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement VI in 1313. St. Celestine was a great monk. The way he handled his painful time as pope proved that he really was holy. He shows us that when we do our best at something, we can leave the results up to God and be in peace.
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St Bernardine of Siena -- May 20
St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor. His parents died when he was seven. His relatives loved him as if he were their own. They also gave him a good education. He grew up to be a tall, handsome boy. He was so much fun that his friends loved to be with him. Yet they knew better than to use any dirty words when he was around. He would not put up with it. Twice when a man tried to lead him into sin, Bernardine punched him and sent him on his way. The saint had a special love for the Blessed Mother. She was the one who kept him pure. Even when he was a teenager, Bernardine would pray to her as a child talks with his mother. Bernardine was tender-hearted. He felt great pity for the poor. Once, his aunt had no extra food to give a beggar. The boy cried, "I'd rather go without food myself than leave that poor man with none." When a plague struck the area in 1400, Bernardine and his friends volunteered their services at the hospital. They helped the sick and dying day and night for six weeks until the plague had ended. Bernardine joined the Franciscan order when he was twenty-two. He became a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns and cities to preach. The people needed to be reminded about the love of Jesus. In those days, bad habits were ruining both young and old people. "How can I save these people by myself?" Bernardine asked the Lord in prayer. "With what weapons can I fight the devil?" And God answered, "My Holy Name will be enough for you." So Bernardine spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He used this Name a great many times in every sermon. He asked people to print Jesus' Name over the gates of their cities, over their doorways--everywhere. Through devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bernardine brought thousands of people from all over Italy back to the Church. St. Bernardine spent forty-two years of his life as a Franciscan. He died at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy. It was May 20, 1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V. Bernardine really cared about people. He turned all his joy and energy into serving Jesus and making everyone love his Holy Name. We can pray often, "Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
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St. Constantine the Great -- May 21
Junior Emperor and emperor called the Thirteenth Apostle in the East. The son of Constantius I Chlorus, junior emperor and St. Helena, Constantine was raised on the court of co-Emperor Diocletian. When his father died in 306, Constantine was declared junior emperor of York, England, by the local legions and earned a place as a ruler of the Empire by defeating of his main rivals at the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. According to legend, he adopted the insignia of Christ, the chi-rho, and placed it upon his labarum - the military standards that held the banners his armies carried into battle to vanquish their pagan enemies. His purple banners were inscribed with the Latin for In this sign conquer. Constantine then shared rule of the Empire with Licinius Licinianus, exerting his considerable influence upon his colleague to secure the declaration of Christianity to be a free religion. When, however, Licinius and Constantine launched a persecution of the Christians, Constantine marched to the East and routed his opponent at the battle of Adrianople. Constantine was the most dominating figure of his lifetime, towering over his contemporaries, including Pope Sylvester I. He presided over the Council of Nicaea, gave extensive grants of land and property to the Church, founded the Christian city of Constantinople to serve as his new capital, and undertook a long-sighted program of Christianization for the whole of the Roman Empire. While he was baptized a Christian only on his deathbed, Constantine nevertheless was a genuinely important figure in Christian history and was revered as a saint, especially in the Eastern Church.
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St Rita of Cascia -- May 22
Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child. They brought Rita up well. Rita wanted to enter the convent when she was fifteen, but her parents decided that she should marry instead. The man they chose for Rita turned out to be a mean and unfaithful husband. He had such a violent temper that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of him. Yet, for eighteen years, his wife patiently took all his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her and he returned to God. Rita's happiness over her husband's conversion did not last long. One day, shortly after, he was murdered. Rita was shocked and heart-broken. But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her two sons forgive them, too. She saw that the boys, instead, were determined to avenge their father's death. Rita prayed that they would die rather than commit murder. Within several months, both boys became seriously ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she pursuaded them to forgive, and to ask God's forgiveness for themselves. They did and both died peacefully. Now her husband and her children were dead. Left alone in the world, Rita tried three times to enter the convent in Cascia. The rules of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join even if her husband had died. Rita did not give up, however. At last, the nuns made an exception for her. In the convent, Rita was outstanding for her obedience and charity. She had great devotion to the crucified Jesus. Once, while praying, she asked him to let her share some of his pain. One thorn from his crown of thorns pierced her forehead and made a sore that never healed. In fact, it grew so bad and gave off such an odor that St. Rita had to stay away from the others. She was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus. St. Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like St. Jude, St. Rita is often called "Saint of the Impossible." Maybe someone we know and love is not living close to God. We can ask St. Rita to help that person. We can ask her also to help us know how to pray for that person.
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St John Baptist Rossi -- May 23
John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were proud when a wealthy couple visiting their town offered to educate him. His parents knew the couple and trusted them. John was happy to be able to go to their house in Genoa because then he could attend school. Everything was going well for John. He became a student for the priesthood at the Roman College. He realized that studies were easy for him and took on more and more of a load.John became very sick and had to stop his studies for a while. After he recovered enough, he completed his preparation and became a priest. Even though his health was always poor, Father John did so much good for the people of Rome. He knew what it was like not to feel well, so Father Rossi took a special interest in sick people. He was a frequent visitor in Rome's hospitals. He especially loved to spend time with the poor people at the Hospice of St. Galla. This was a shelter for the poor and homeless. But Father Rossi became aware of poor people who had no one to look after their spiritual needs. He noticed those who brought cattle and sheep to sell in the Roman forum. What hard lives they had. They came in the morning with their herds. Father Rossi would walk among them and stop and talk with them. When possible, he would teach them about the faith and offer them the sacrament of Reconciliation. Father Rossi's priestly ministry made a big difference in their lives. The priest also felt deep compassion for the homeless women and girls. They wandered through the streets day and night begging. This was dangerous and very sad. The pope gave Father Rossi money to open a shelter for homeless women. It was right near the Hospice of St. Galla. Father Rossi placed the house under the protection of one of his favorite saints, Aloysius Gonzaga. The feast of St. Aloysius is June 21. Father Rossi became best known for his kindness and gentleness in confession. People formed lines near his confessional and waited patiently for their turn. He once said to a friend that the best way for a priest to reach heaven was to help people through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Another favorite assignment given him by Pope Benedict XIV was to teach courses of spiritual instruction to prison officials and state employees. Father Rossi suffered a stroke in 1763. He never regained his health. He was able to celebrate Mass but he suffered greatly. This wonderful priest died at the age of sixty-six. It was May 23, 1764. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. We can learn from the life of St. John Baptist Rossi to be grateful for priests. We can also pray to this saint and ask him to console priests for all the good they do.
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St David I of Scotland -- May 24
David was born in 1080. He was the youngest son of St. Margaret, queen of Scotland .,and her good husband, King Malcom. David himself became king when he was about forty. Those who knew him well saw how little he wanted to accept the royal crown. But once he was king, he was a very good one. St. David ruled his kingdom with great justice. He was very charitable to the poor. All of his subjects were free to visit him whenever they desired. He gave everyone a good example with his own love of prayer. Under this holy king, the people of Scotland united more closely into one nation. They became better Christians. King David established new dioceses. He built many new monasteries. He gave much money to the Church during his rule of about twenty years. Two days before he died, he received the last sacraments. He spent his time praying with those attending him. The next day, they urged him to rest. King David answered, "Let me think about the things of God, instead, so that my soul may be strengthened on its trip from exile to home." By home, the saint meant our heavenly home. "When I stand before God's judgment seat, you will not be able to answer for me or defend me," he said. "No one will be able to deliver me from his hand." So he kept on praying right up until he died. St. David died on May 24, 1153. We can be tempted to excuse our faults by saying "Everyone else does it. " But we know that this excuse will not count when we stand before God to be judged. We can ask St. David to help us be as honest as he was in our relationship with God.
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St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi -- May 25
Catherine de Pazzi was born in Florence, Italy, in 1566. She was the only daughter of very rich parents. When she was fourteen, Catherine became a boarder at a convent school. There she grew to love life in a religious house. But about a year later, her father took her home. He began to think of choosing a rich husband for her. However, Catherine's heart was set on becoming a nun. She shocked her parents by telling them she had already made a vow of chastity. They could not believe it. Finally, they let her enter the Carmelite convent. Only fifteen days later, however, they came and took her home. They hoped to make her change her mind. After three months of trying, they gave up. They let her go back for good, with their blessing. It was 1582, the year St. Teresa of Avila died in Spain. As a novice, St. Mary Magdalen became very sick. The nuns feared she might die. She was permitted to pronounce her religious vows. Since she was suffering greatly, one of the sisters asked her how she could stand that pain without a word. T'he saint pointed to the crucifix. She said: "See what the great love of God has suffered for my salvation. This same love sees my weakness and gives me strength." St. Mary Magdalen had great sufferings her whole life. She also had very strong temptations to impurity and to greed for food. She overcame everything by her great love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and for Mary. Often she ate only bread and water. She practiced other acts of self-denial, too. Moreover, her love for Jesus became so great that she would say, "Love is not loved, not known by his own creatures." With tears, she would pray and offer her pains for sinners and unbelievers, right up until she died. She once said: "O my Jesus, if I had a voice loud and strong enough to be heard in every part of the world, I would cry out to make you known and loved by everyone!" St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi died on May 25, 1607, at the age of forty-one. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement IX in 1669. We can find it helpful to look at a crucifix from time to time. This makes us grow convinced of Jesus' love for us. We can pray, "My Jesus, I love you. Thank you for dying for me."
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St Philip Neri -- May 26
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child, his nickname was "Good little Phil." He was always so jolly and friendly that everyone he met loved him. Philip went to Rome as a teenager. He studied theology and philosophy for three years and was a good student. Above all, Philip was a very active Christian. He lived simply and worked hard. But he also did much good for the people around him. He helped poor children. He donated his time to the sick. He was a friend to people who were troubled and lonely. In fact, he reached out to everybody he could for the love of Jesus. Philip helped start an organization of lay people to take care of needy pilgrims. That ministry gradually continued as a famous Roman hospital. The priest who guided him realized that Philip was doing so much to help the Christians of Rome become fervent again. But it became obvious when Philip was thirty-six that he had the call to be a priest. It was then that he began his most wonderful ministry for others. He started to hear confessions. He was available for the sacrament of Reconciliation for several hours every day. The lines of people who came to him grew longer. But Father Philip was never in a hurry. He never ran out of patience and gentleness. People began to notice that he could read their minds at times. He could, in some circumstances, foretell the future. The Lord even worked miracles through him. But all Philip wanted to do was bring Jesus to the people. To avoid their admiration, he acted silly once in a while. He wanted people to laugh and forget that they thought he was holy. St. Philip was making a difference, though. Because of him, the whole city of Rome was becoming better. Once he started to think about being a missionary to far-off lands. He was very impressed by the life of St. Francis Xavier, who had died in 1552 at the gate of China. Philip had just been one year a priest at the time of St. Xavier's death. Should he leave Rome and volunteer for the missions? A holy Cistercian monk told him "Rome is to be your mission land." After that, Father Philip was at peace. St. Philip spent the last five years of his life offering the sacrament of Reconciliation to the people. He died at the age of eighty in 1595. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. How can we become more cheerful and generous? Isn't that what we all really want to be? We can say a little prayer to St. Philip Neri. He will share with us his secret of how to be happy.
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St Augustine of Canterbury -- May 27
St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for a mission dear to his heart. They were to preach the Gospel to the people of England. Abbot Augustine and the monks started on their journey. When they reached southern France, people warned them that the English were fierce. The monks felt discouraged. They asked Augustine to go back to obtain the pope's permission to give up the whole idea. They did, but the pope asked them to go to England just the same. He said that the people wanted to accept the Christian faith. The monks went to England. They arrived in 596. The missionaries were well received by King Ethelbert, whose wife was a Christian princess from France. The monks formed a procession when they landed. They walked along singing psalms. They carried a cross and a picture of Our Lord. Many people received the monks' message. King Ethelbert himself was baptized on Pentecost, 597. Abbot Augustine became a bishop that same year. St. Augustine often wrote to ask the pope advice. And Pope St. Gregory gave him much holy advice, too. Speaking about the many miracles St. Augustine worked, the pope said: "You must rejoice with fear and fear with joy for that gift." He meant that Augustine should be happy that through the miracles the English were being converted. But he should be careful not to become proud. At Canterbury, St. Augustine built a church and a monastery, which became the most important in England. It was there that he was buried. St. Augustine died seven years after his arrival in England, on May 26, 605. When we are told to do something by our parents or those in authority, we should do it. If the task seems hard or we don't like it, we can ask St Augustine of Canterbury to help us.
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Blessed Margaret Pole -- May 28
Blessed Margaret was born in 1471. She was the niece of two English kings, Edward IV and Richard Ill. Henry VII arranged her marriage to Sir Reginald Pole. He was a brave soldier and a friend of the royal family. By the time King Henry VIII came into power, Margaret was a widow with five children. The young Henry VIII was new to the throne and new to power. He called Margaret the holiest woman in England. He was so impressed with her that he returned some property her family had lost in the past. He also made her a countess. Henry trusted her so much that Countess Margaret was appointed the governess of Princess Mary, his and Queen Catherine's daughter. But then Henry tried to marry Anne Boleyn although he already had a wife. Margaret did not approve of the king's behavior. The king made her leave the court. He let her know he was very displeased with her. The king was even more upset when one of Margaret's sons, a priest, wrote a long article against Henry's claim to be head of the Church in England. (Her son was to become the famous Cardinal Reginald Pole.) Henry was out of control. He had become cruel and hateful. He threatened to get rid of Margaret's whole family. Henry sent people to question Countess Margaret. They were supposed to prove that she was a traitor. They questioned her from noon until evening. She never made any mistakes. She had nothing to hide. Margaret was kept under house arrest at the castle of a nobleman. Then she was moved to the huge tower of London. She never even had a trial. During the long winter months, she suffered very much from the cold and dampness. She had no fire and not enough warm clothing. Finally, on May 28, 1541, Blessed Margaret was led out of the tower to the place of execution. She was tired and sick, but she stood tall and proud to die for her faith. "I am no traitor," she said courageously. Margaret was beheaded. She was seventy years old. When we feel cowardly about a decision we have made for God, that's the time to call on Blessed Margaret Pole. We can ask her to make us courageous as she was.
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St Maximinius -- May 29
Maximinius was a bishop who lived in the fourth century. It is believed that he was born in Poitiers, France. As a young man, he heard of a saintly bishop of Trier, in Gaul. He traveled to that city and became a disciple of St. Agritius. This holy bishop saw to it that Maximinius received a thorough education. After several years of study and preparation, Maximinius became a priest and then bishop. He took over the diocese of Trier. Bishop Agritius could not have been more pleased. He knew that his people would have a wonderful bishop. Maximinius lived in exciting times. All you have to do is read the May 2 saint's life to understand. When St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, was sent into exile to Trier, it was St. Maximinius who welcomed him. He did everything to help Athanasius and to make his time away from his people less painful. Another brave bishop of those times, St. Paul, bishop of Constantinople, was also protected by Maximinius from the wrath of Emperor Constantius. St. Athanasius wrote that Maximinius was courageous and holy. He said that Maximinius was even well known as a miracle worker. Although it is believed that this bishop wrote much, his works have been lost. But what remains is the memory of his dedication to Jesus and to the Church. Because he was a great man, he was willing to stand up against those who persecuted the Church. He was willing also to protect those brave bishops who fell out of favor with the political powers. Maximinius put his own life on the line even if it meant loss of position or even his life, if necessary. He died around the year 347. Did you ever see someone at school being picked on or left out? If you want to imitate St. Maximinius, be a friend to that person. You will find that God will treat you the same way.
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St Joan of Arc -- May 30
Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer. Her mother was gentle and loving. She taught Joan many practical things. "I can sew and spin as well as any woman," she once said. Joan loved to pray, especially at the shrines of our Blessed Mother. This honest little peasant girl was to become a heroine. One day while she was watching her sheep, St. Michael the Archangel, the patron of her country, told her, "Daughter of God, go save France!" For three years she heard the voices of saints calling her to action. When she was sixteen, she began her mission. At that time, there was a war going on between France and England. It was called the Hundred Years' War. England had won so much French land that the king of England called himself the king of France, too. The real French king was weak and fun-loving. He thought the French armies would never be able to save the country. With his permission, St. Joan led an army into the city of Orleans, which the English had almost captured. In her white, shining armor, this young heroine rode with her banner flying above her. On it were the names of JESUS and MARY. She was hit by an arrow in the great battle of Orleans, but she kept on urging her men to victory. At last they won! St. Joan and her army won more and more battles. The English armies had to retreat. After the victories, Joan's time of suffering began. She was captured by the enemy. The ungrateful French king did not even try to save her. She was put in prison and after an unfair trial, was burned at the stake. Joan was not even twenty. She had a great horror of fire. Yet she went bravely to her death on May 29, 1431. Her last word was "Jesus." Four hundred and eighty-nine years later, on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Joan a saint. Joan was asked by God to accomplish a very difficult, nearly impossible, task. Joan was heroic. When we have to do something hard, we can ask St. Joan to help us.
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The Visitation of Mary -- May 31
Visitation means "visit." The Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby. Elizabeth was an older woman. Mary knew that she might appreciate some help. She started out at once on the journey. Mary's trip was long and dangerous. It was uncomfortable, too. But that could not stop her. She rode on a donkey. Mary reached her cousin's house. She was the first to greet Elizabeth. At that moment, God revealed to Elizabeth that Mary had become his mother. Elizabeth asked joyfully, "How have I deserved that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" Mary remained humble. She quickly gave all the credit to God. He had blessed her so richly. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior," she said. "For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid, and holy is his name." What graces the Blessed Mother brought to the home of her cousin! St. John, while still hidden in his mother's womb, was cleansed of original sin. Zachary was able to speak again. St. Elizabeth was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary stayed three months at her cousin's home. With great kindness and love, she helped Elizabeth. Elizabeth's home was filled with grace through Mary's visit. We will be blessed, too, if we are devoted to our Heavenly Mother.
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