September -- Our Lady of Sorrows
I compassionate thee, O most sorrowful Mother! Thy heart was pierced with a sword of grief when Simeon foretold to thee in the Temple the ignominious death and the desolation of thy divine and most dear Son, which thou west destined one day to witness.
By the great anguish of thy suffering heart, O gracious Queen of the universe, impress upon my mind, in life and in death, the sacred Passion of Jesus and shine own sorrows. 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. Giles -- September 1
Giles was born in Athens, Greece, in early times. When his parents died, he used the large fortune they left him to help the poor. For this reason and especially because he worked many miracles, Giles found himself a greatly admired young man. He did not want this praise and fame at all. So, to be able to serve God in a hidden life, he left Greece and sailed to France. There he went to live alone in a dark forest. He made his home in a rough cave behind a thick thorn bush. Giles lived there contented, safe from the danger of becoming conceited at hearing himself praised. But one day, a certain king and his men went hunting the forest. they chased the deer that often came to Giles' cave. The deer lost them by going into Giles' cave, which was hidden behind the large thorn bush. One of the men shot an arrow into the thorn bush, hoping to hit the deer. When they forced their way in, they discovered Giles sitting wounded by the arrow. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" demanded the king. St. Giles told them the story of his life. When they heard it, they asked his forgiveness. The king sent his doctors to take care of the saint's wound. Although Giles begged to be left alone, the king felt such respect for him that he came often to se him. Giles never would accept the king's gifts. Finally, however, he agreed to let the king build a large monastery. Giles became its first abbot. This monastery became so famous that a whole town grew up there. When the saint died, his grave at the monastery became a great pilgrimage. St. Giles realized that only God can make us really happy. the next time we are tempted to be selfish and self-centered, we can pray to St. Giles. He will help us become God -centered and generous with our lives and our time.
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Blessed John Du Lau and the September Martyrs -- September 2
Blessed John was the archbishop of Arles, France. He and his companions are celebrated today because they died heroic martyrs' deaths during the French Revolution. The new constitution of 1790 was against the Church. The people were being forced to sign their agreement with an oath. If they did not, they were punished. By 1792, the punishment was more than a prison term. Now it meant death. Many brave bishops, priests, religious and lay people would not sign the oath supporting the French constitution. They knew they would be betraying God and his Church. Pope Pius VI told them that they were right. It was a sad time for the people of France. On September 2, 1792, a crowd of several hundred people rioted and broke into a former monastery. It was now a prison for priests and religious. The mob approached several priests and told them to sign the oath. Each priest definitely refused. Each was slain on the spot. Among the martyrs was Blessed Alexander Lenfant, a Jesuit. Just a few minutes before he died, he had been hearing the confession of a fellow priest. Both were killed moments later. The rioters then went to the Carmelite church which was also being used as a prison. Blessed John, archbishop of Aries, and other bishops and priests were being held there. All refused to take the oath and all were murdered. On September 3, the same mob went to the Lazarist seminary. It was also a temporary prison, with ninety priests and religious. Only four escaped death. By the time the terrible Revolution had ended, 1,500 Catholics had been killed. Several were bishops, priests and religious. The martyrs we celebrate today number 191. They were proclaimed "blessed" in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. We can ask today's martyrs to help us understand that the precious gift of our Catholic faith has to be cherished. We never want to take our religion for granted.
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St. Gregory the Great -- September 3
St. Gregory was born in 540 in Rome. His father was a senator. His mother is a saint, St. Celia. Gregory studied philosophy and while still young, became governor of Rome. When his father died, Gregory turned his large house into a monastery. For several years he lived as a good and holy monk. Then Pope Pelagius made him one of the seven deacons of Rome. When the pope died, Gregory was chosen to take his place. He did not want that honor at all. He was so holy and wise, however, that everyone knew he would be a good pope. Gregory even disguised himself and hid in a cave, but he was found and made pope anyway. For fourteen years he ruled the Church. Even though he was always sick, Gregory was one of the greatest popes the Church has ever had. He wrote many books and was a wonderful preacher. He cared for people all over the world. In fact, he considered himself the servant of all. He was the first pope to use the title "servant of the servants of God." All the popes since have used this title. St. Gregory took special, loving care of poor people and strangers. Every day he used to feed them a good dinner. He was also very sensitive to the injustices people suffered. Once, when he was still a monk, he saw some blond boys up for sale in the slave market of Rome. He asked where they were from and was told that they were from England. The saint felt a great desire to go to England to bring the love of Jesus to those pagans. When he became pope, one of the first things he did was to send some of his best monks to convert the English to Christ. The last years of this holy pope's life were filled with great sufferings, yet he continued working for his beloved Church until the very end. St. Gregory died on March 12, 604. Every morning we can decide to do at least one good deed of kindness during the day.
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St. Rose of Viterbo -- September 4
Rose was born in 1235 in Viterbo, Italy. She lived at the time when Emperor Frederick had conquered land that belonged to the Church. Rose's special mission was to make the people of her own city and nearby cities remain faithful to the Holy Father. And this she did when she was just a teenager. In fact, Rose was only eight years old when our Blessed Mother told her while she was sick that she was to wear the habit of St. Francis. Our Lady also told Rose to give good example by her words and actions. Slowly the girl gained her health. She began to think more and more about how much Jesus suffered for us and how much sinners hurt him. She prayed and made sacrifices to show Jesus how much she loved him. Later on, this daring girl began to preach in the streets of the city. She told people to stand up to the emperor who had taken land from the Church. So many people listened to the saint that Rose's father became frightened. He told her he would beat her if she did not stop preaching. She was only about thirteen, but she answered gently, "If Jesus could be beaten for me, I can be beaten for him. I do what Jesus has told me to do, and I must not disobey him." Two years more Rose preached with such success that the enemies of the pope wanted her killed. In the end, the ruler sent Rose and her parents out of the city. But she said that the emperor was going to die soon and that is just what happened. Back in Viterbo, the saint was not permitted to become a nun, so she returned to her own home. There she died in 1252, when she was only seventeen. Her body is still preserved and venerated in Viterbo. In her very short life St. Rose did much good. We can ask her to help us be as energetic and courageous every day as she was.
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St.Teresa of Calcutta -- September 5
The remarkable woman who would be known as Mother Theresa began life named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, she was the youngest child born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, Receiving her First Communion at the age of five, she was confirmed in November 1916. Her father died while she was only eight years old leaving her family in financial straits.Gonxha's religious formation was assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was very involved as a youth.Subsequently moved to pursue missionary work, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 at the age of 18 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. She received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. In December of 1929, she departed for her first trip to India, arriving in Calcutta. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary's School for girls.Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, On May 24, 1937, becoming, as she said, the "spouse of Jesus" for "all eternity." From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary's and in 1944 became the school's principal. Mother Teresa's twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy. It was on September 10, 1946 during a train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat,Mother Teresa received her "inspiration, her call within a call." On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus' thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. By means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for "victims of love" who would "radiate His love on souls." "Come be My light,'"He begged her. "I cannot go alone." Jesus revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor. After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On December 21, she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and tuberculosis. She started each day with communion then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him amongst "the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for." After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students. On October 7, 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresaopened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba. In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Mother Theresa's inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with who she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a "little way of holiness" for those who desire to share in her charisma and spirit. During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honored her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention 'for the glory of God and in the name of the poor." There was a heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, the darkness. The "painful night" of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresato an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor. In spite of increasingly severe health problems towards the end of her life, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa's Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters. On September 5, Mother Teresa's earthly life came to an end. She was given the honor of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus' plea, "Come be My light," made her a Missionary of Charity, a "mother to the poor," a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God. As a testament to her most remarkable life, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On December 20, 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles. Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003. On the occasion of her beatification, the Missionaries of Charity issued the following statement: "We, the Missionaries of Charity, give thanks and praise to God that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has officially recognized the holiness of our mother, Mother Teresa, and approved the miracle obtained through her intercession. We are filled with joy in anticipation of the Beatification that will take place in Rome on Mission Sunday, 19 October 2003, the closest Sunday to the 25th anniversary of the Holy Father's Pontificate and the end of the Year of the Rosary. "Today, after three and a half years of investigation and study, the Church confirms that Mother heroically lived the Christian life and that God has lifted her up as both a model of holiness and an intercessor for all. "Mother is a symbol of love and compassion. When Mother was with us, we were witnesses to her shining example of all the Christian virtues. Her life of loving service to the poor has inspired many to follow the same path. Her witness and message are cherished by those of every religion as a sign that "God still loves the world today." For the past five years since Mother's death, people have sought her help and have experienced God's love for them through her prayers. Every day, pilgrims from India and around the world come to pray at her tomb and many more follow her example of humble service of love to the most needy, beginning in their own families. "Mother often said, 'Holiness is not the luxury of the few, it is a simple duty for each one of us. May her example help us to strive for holiness: to love God, to respect and love every human person created by God in His own image and in whom He dwells, and to care for our poor and suffering brethren. May all the sick, the suffering, and those who seek God's help find a friend and intercessor in Mother." Following her beatification, a long wait for a second miracle then followed. On December 17, 2015 Pope Francis announced a second miracle had been attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa. The miracle involved a Brazilian man who was afflicted with tumors who was miraculously cured. This cleared the way for Mother Teresa's canonization. Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis.
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Blessed Bertrand -- September 6
Bertrand lived in the last half of the twelfth and first part of the thirteenth centuries. His country, France, was troubled by religious wars. There was great confusion about Church teaching. Bertrand's parents managed to live a peaceful life and they taught the true faith to their son. In 1200, the Cistercian monasteries were attacked by an army led by Raymond of Toulouse. He believed in a heresy called Albigensianism. He attacked people who did not believe as he did. He especially persecuted the Cistercian monks. They were trying very hard to help people know about the true Catholic faith. Bertrand became a Cistercian and a priest. Around 1208, he met St. Dominic. This was God's invitation to him to begin a very important ministry. He was one of the six men who joined Dominic in 1215 to form a new religious congregation, the Order of Preachers. They are often called "Dominicans" after their founder. Blessed Bertrand was sent to Paris to start the order there. After a short while, St. Dominic called for Friar Bertrand to go to Bologna to establish the order there. Bertrand obeyed happily. Meanwhile, the Order of Preachers was growing. They preached the Gospel message in the towns and countryside. They wanted people to know and love their Catholic faith. In 1219, Blessed Bertrand accompanied St. Dominic on a trip to Paris. He loved and admired St. Dominic very much. The Dominicans had a big meeting in 1221, called a General Chapter. Bertrand was there. The order was divided into eight provinces so that the religious and their ministries could be more effective. Bertrand was made the superior or provincial of southern France. He spent the rest of his life preaching and helping people grow closer to God. He died in 1230 and was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Leo X111 in 1881. When we wonder about what we will do with our lives, we can ask Blessed Bertrand to help us become aware of God's plan for us.
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Blessed John Duckett & Blessed Ralph Corby -- September 7
This is the second time the name Duckett appears as we go through the calendar of saints and blesseds. James Duckett, an English martyr, is celebrated on April 19. He was related in some way to one of today's martyrs, John Duckett. Both John Duckett and Ralph Corby were priests. They lived in the seventeenth century and died as martyrs for the faith in 1644. Father John studied at the English college of Douay and became a priest in 1639. He studied for three more years in Paris, and spent several hours each day in prayer. Before being sent back to his persecuted England, he spent two months with the Cistercian monks, devoting that time to prayer and retreat. The young priest labored for a year in England. He was caught with holy oils and a book of rites. When his captors threatened harm to his family and friends if he did not confess his identity, he admitted that he was a priest. He was brought to prison in London. There he met a fellow priest, Ralph Corby, a Jesuit. Father Corby had been laboring in England for twelve years before he was caught celebrating Mass. The Jesuit order tried feverishly to save Father Corby. When the "reprieve" came, he insisted that Father John Duckett who was younger, use it. But Father John would not allow himself to walk away and leave his friend. Actually, neither priest would have been allowed to take advantage of the reprieve. The judges ignored it and condemned both priests to death. On September 7, 1644, at ten o'clock, the two men mounted the cart that would take them to Tyburn, the scene of execution. Their heads were shaved and they wore their cassocks. Each made a short speech, then embraced each other. They would meet again in the presence of the Lord of glory. Who can ever really understand why injustices take place? It is hard to forgive when innocent people suffer When we are angered by injustice, we can pray to Blessed John Duckett and Blessed Ralph Corby. We can ask them to help us be forgiving as they were.
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Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- September 8
We do not usually celebrate the birthdays of the saints. Instead we celebrate the day they died, because that is the day they were born into the joys of heaven. But the birthday of Mary, our Blessed Mother, is an exception. We do celebrate her birthday because she came into this world full of grace and because she was to be the Mother of Jesus. The birth of Our Lady was like a dawn. When the sky starts to turn a rosy pink early in the morning, we know the sun will soon come up. In the same way, when Mary was born, she brought great happiness to the world. Her birth meant that soon Jesus, the Sun of justice, would appear. Mary was the wonderful human being whose privilege it was to bring the Lord Jesus to all people. Even today, if we have Mary, we have Jesus. Whoever is very devoted to her is very close to the heart of Jesus. We can make Mary's birthday special by whispering a Hail Mary often throughout the day.
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St. Peter Claver -- September 9
This Spanish priest of the Society of Jesus was born in 1580. He is known as the "apostle of the slaves." While he was still studying to become a Jesuit, he felt a burning desire to go to South America as a missionary. He volunteered and was sent to the seaport of Cartagena. There great shiploads of African slaves were brought to be sold. At the sight of those poor people all crowded together, sick and suffering, Peter felt great pity. He made up his mind to help them and to convert them. As soon as a shipload arrived, he would go among the hundreds of sick slaves. He gave them food and medicine. He baptized the dying and the little babies. He nursed the ill. It was hard work in terrible heat. One man who went once with St. Peter could never face the heart-breaking sight again. Yet Peter did it for forty years. He baptized some three hundred thousand people. He was there when the ships came in. He cared for and loved those who were treated so unjustly by society. Although the slave owners tried to stop Father Claver, he taught the faith to the slaves anyway. It was slow, discouraging work. Many people criticized him, saying it was all a waste of time. They thought the slaves would never keep the faith. But St. Peter was patient and he trusted that God would bless his people. He also went to visit his converts after they left Cartagena. The priest never stopped urging the slave owners to take care of the souls of their slaves and to be better Christians themselves. During the last four years of his life, Father Claver was so sick that he had to stay in his room, He could not even celebrate Mass. Most everyone forgot about him, but he never complained. Then suddenly at his death on September 8, 1654, it was like the whole city woke up. They realized that they had lost a saint. From then on he was never forgotten again. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him a saint in 1888. Prejudice against people because of their race, religion, culture or birthplace offends God, the good Father of us all. We can ask St. Peter Claver to help us love everybody as God's children. We can also ask him to help us get rid of any prejudice that could be in our hearts.
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St. Nicholas of Tolentino -- September 10
Nicholas was born in 1245 in Ancona, Italy. His parents had waited long and anxiously for a child. Nicholas was the answer to prayer and a pilgrimage the couple had made to the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari. The couple was so grateful to the saint that they named their baby after him. When the boy grew up, he talked about becoming a priest. He was prayerful and wanted to live close to God. Friends of his family wanted him to be a priest in a wealthy parish where Nicholas would be promoted. Nicholas didn't say much, but he quietly searched and prayed. One day he slipped into a church. A fervent Augustinian priest was preaching a sermon. He said: "Don't love the world or the things of this world because this world is passing away." Nicholas thought about this. He went away with the words dancing in his head. He realized how God had used that preacher to touch his own life. He became convinced of the importance of preaching God's Word. He made up his mind to ask to join the same order to which that priest belonged. The order was the Augustinian Friars and the priest was Father Reginald who became his novice master. Friar Nicholas professed his vows when he was eighteen. Then he began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained around 1270. Father Nicholas performed his preaching ministry with love in various parishes. Then while praying in church one day, he seemed to hear a voice saying: "To Tolentino, to Tolentino. Stay there." Shortly afterward, he was assigned to the town of Tolentino. He spent the remaining thirty years of his life there. There was great political unrest in those times. Many people did not come to church to hear the Word and to worship the Lord. The friars of St. Augustine decided that street-preaching was necessary. St. Nicholas was chosen to be part of this initiative. He preached outside and in gathering places willingly. People listened and many repented of their sins and lack of caring. They led better lives. Father Nicholas spent hours in the slum areas of Tolentino. He visited the lonely. He brought the sacraments to the sick and dying. He took care of the needs of children and visited prisoners. Miracles were reported while St. Nicholas was still alive. He touched a diseased child and said, "May the good God make you well," and the child was cured. St. Nicholas of Tolentino was sick for about a year before he died on September 10, 1305. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Eugene IV in 1446. St. Nicholas of Tolentino had been an answer to the prayer of his parents. Because he listened to the call of God in his heart, he could help many people find the Lord. When we would rather "do our own thing," we can ask St Nicholas of Tolentino to help us be good listeners to the voice of God as he was.
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Blessed Louis of Thuringia -- September 11
This German prince lived during the last part of the twelfth and first part of the thirteenth centuries. He married St. Elizabeth of Hungary when he was twenty-one and she was just fourteen. The marriage had been arranged by their parents. This was the custom. But they both loved God, and he gave them a great love for each other. So it was that they were very happy together. Their joy increased when God sent them their three children. The youngest was Blessed Gertrude. Louis helped his wife in her many works of charity for the poor. He also joined her in devout prayer. Time after time, the people saw their handsome prince and his lovely wife helping the poor. It is said that once Elizabeth brought a leper into their castle and nursed him in their bed. For a moment, when Louis saw that, he was angry. Then, suddenly, instead of the leper, he saw our crucified Lord lying there. After that proof of how much Jesus appreciated Elizabeth's charity, Louis had a hospital for lepers built. One long, bitter cold winter, Louis had to be away from his land. When he returned, Elizabeth was overjoyed. The next year Louis left on a Crusade to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. But on the way, he caught malaria, and soon was dying. Because he had always lived in close union with Jesus, the brave ruler felt no fear of death. He received the Last Sacraments and died peacefully in 1227. We can ask Blessed Louis to help us recognize occasions today when we can do something good for our family, a friend or a neighbor.
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St. Eanswida -- September 12
Eanswida lived in the seventh century. She was the granddaughter of St. Ethelbert, the first Christian king of England. Eanswida's father was Prince Edbald. He was not a religious man at first, but he learned a great deal about Christianity from his little daughter. The girl was devout as well as attractive. Her father had a fine husband selected for her, a pagan prince from Northumbria. Eanswida was not at all pleased. She refused to marry him with good humor so as not to offend her father. He respected her wish and surprised everyone when he permitted his daughter to start a monastery of nuns. Princess Eanswida was a very happy nun. She lived simply and prayerfully like the rest of the sisters. She spent the rest of her life in penance and prayer for herself and for all the people of her homeland. Eanswida died on the last day of August in 640. The Danes eventually destroyed her convent, but Benedictine monks started the monastery again in 1095. Saints remind us that there are lasting values more important than the things of this world. We can ask St Eanswida to give us some of her wisdom and courage so that we, too, can make wise choices for eternity.
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St. John Chrysostom -- September 13
St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch around 344. His father died when he was a baby. His mother chose not to marry again. She gave all her attention to bringing up her son and daughter. She made many sacrifices so that John could have the best teachers. He was very intelligent and could have become a great man in the world. When he gave speeches everyone loved to listen to him. In fact, his name, Chrysostom, means "Golden-mouthed." Yet John wanted to give himself to God. He became a priest and later was made bishop of the great city of Constantinople. St. John was a wonderful bishop. Although he was always sick, he accomplished a tremendous amount of good. He preached once or twice every day, fed the poor and took care of orphans. He corrected sinful customs and stopped bad plays from being performed. He loved everyone, but he was not afraid to tell even the empress when she did wrong. Because he fought sin, St. John had enemies. The empress herself was one. She had him sent away from Constantinople. On the trip he suffered greatly from fever, from lack of food and sleep. Yet, he was happy to suffer for Jesus. Just before he died, he cried out, "Glory be to God!" St. John died in Turkey on September 14, 407. A terrible hailstorm fell on Constantinople when he died. Four days later, the evil empress died too. Her son honored St. John's body and showed how sorry he was for what his mother had done. God sees us all the time. If we do everything as well as we can for him then we do not have to be afraid of what others say or do against us. We can ask St. John Chrysostom to give us some of his courage.
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Triumph of the Cross -- September 14
Today we celebrate our gratitude and love for Jesus through our respect for the cross. The cross was once the greatest symbol of shame. Criminals who died by the sword were spared the "branding" of crucifixion. Jesus chose to do the most for us to obtain our salvation. He took on the suffering of the cross. With that suffering came the shame. The cross has become the most sacred Christian symbol. When the cross has the image of the suffering Christ on it, that cross is called a crucifix. The crucifix on our bedroom wall and the crucifix or cross around our neck are important. They remind us that Jesus paid a price for us. For centuries relics of the true cross have been cherished by devout Christians. It is believed that Emperor Heraclius recovered pieces of wood from the cross of Jesus in 629. He and his group of pilgrims honored the relics and invited all the people in the area to join them. Even before that time, Christians honored and loved the symbol of the cross. The word "cross" can also mean the sufferings that come our way. When we accept them lovingly and with patience as Jesus did his cross, we become "cross-bearers" like Jesus. We consider what the symbol of the cross means to us Christians. We might like to say the following short prayer today: We adore you, 0 Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
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Our Lady of Sorrows -- September 15
Our Lady had many great joys as the mother of Jesus, but she had much to suffer, too. Her great love for her divine Son caused Mary to suffer when she saw Jesus treated cruelly by his enemies. Mary is the queen of martyrs because she went through spiritual torments greater than the bodily agonies of the martyrs. Her heart was like an altar when on Calvary she offered up her beloved Jesus to save us. What a terrible suffering it was for so loving a mother to see her Son die on the cross. There are seven times of great suffering in Mary's life. The first was when she took Baby Jesus to the temple. There the prophet Simeon told her that a sword of suffering would pierce her heart. This would be when Jesus would be put to death. Her second sorrow was when she and St. Joseph had to flee to Egypt with Jesus. Herod's soldiers were trying to kill him. The third suffering came when Mary searched three days in Jerusalem for Jesus. She finally found him in the temple. Our Lady's fourth sorrow was when Jesus was whipped and crowned with thorns. Her fifth great pain was caused by his being lifted on the cross, where he died after three hours of agony. Mary's sixth sorrow was the moment when Our Lord's sacred body was placed in her arms. And her seventh suffering came when he was buried in the tomb. Mary did not pity herself or complain because she had to suffer so much during her life. Instead, she offered her sorrows to God for our sakes. She is Our Mother. Because she loves us dearly, she was happy to suffer that we might some day share her joy with Jesus in heaven. In honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, today we can offer up some little sacrifice without complaining. We can also think about each of the seven sorrows of Mary and thank her for her great love for us.
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St. Cornelius & St. Cyprian -- September 16
In the middle of the third century, the Church was still being persecuted. The fierce persecution of Emperor Decius claimed the life of Pope St. Fabian. The Church was without a pope for nearly a year. A holy priest of Rome, Cornelius, was elected in 251. He accepted because he loved Christ. He would serve the Church as pope even if his ministry would cost him his life. That is why Pope Cornelius was so greatly admired throughout the world. The bishops of Africa were especially outspoken in their love and loyalty to the pope. Bishop Cyprian of Carthage sent him letters of encouragement and support. Cyprian had been a convert at the age of twenty-five. He had astonished the Christians of Carthage by pledging a vow of perpetual chastity right before his baptism. He had eventually become a priest and in 249 a bishop. Bishop Cyprian greatly encouraged Pope Cornelius by reminding him that during the present persecution in Rome not a single Christian had given up the faith. St. Cyprian's writings explain the love that Christians should have for the whole Church. This love should be for the pope as well as for the local diocese and parish. Cyprian wrote a scholarly work on the unity of the Church. This remains an important topic for all times, including our own. Pope St. Cornelius died in exile at the port of Rome in September, 253. Because he suffered so much as pope, he is considered a martyr. St. Cyprian died five years later during the persecution of Valerian. He was beheaded at Carthage on September 14, 258. Together they share a feast day to remind us of the unity that the Church should always enjoy. This unity is a mark of the presence of Jesus who is the Center. We can ask Pope St. Cornelius and Bishop St. Cyprian to help us grow in our love for the Church--for the pope, bishops, priests, lay people everywhere.
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St. Robert Bellarmine -- September 17
Robert was born in Italy in 1542. As a boy, he was not interested in playing games. He liked to spend his time repeating to his younger brothers and sisters the sermons he had heard. He also liked to explain the lessons of the catechism to the little farm children of the neighborhood. Once he had made his first Holy Communion, he used to receive Jesus every Sunday. Robert's father hoped to make a famous gentleman out of his son. For this reason, he wanted him to study many subjects and music and art, too. Whenever a song had words that were not nice, Robert would make up decent words of his own. It was his great desire to become a Jesuit priest, but his father had different plans for him. For a whole year, Robert worked to persuade his father. At last, when he was eighteen, he was permitted to join the Jesuits. As a young Jesuit, he did very well in his studies. He was sent to preach even before he became a priest. When one good woman first saw such a young man, not even a priest yet, going up into the pulpit to preach, she knelt down to pray. She asked the Lord to help him not become frightened and stop in the middle. When he finished the sermon, she stayed kneeling. This time, however, she was thanking God for the magnificent sermon. St. Robert Bellarmine became a famous writer, preacher and teacher. He wrote thirty-one important books. He spent three hours every day in prayer. He had a deep knowledge of sacred matters. Yet even when he had become a cardinal, he considered the catechism so important, that he himself taught it to his household and to the people. Cardinal Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. He was proclaimed a saint in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. In 1931, the same pope declared St. Robert Bellarmine a Doctor of the Church. We can ask St. Robert to help us realize how important our religious instruction classes are. He will help us to be on time for classes, do our homework and put our whole selves into the study of our faith.
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St. Joseph of Cupertino -- September 18
Joseph was born on June 17, 1603, in a small Italian village to poor parents. He was very unhappy as a boy and a teenager. His mother considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly. Joseph soon became very slow and absent-minded. He would wander around as if he were going nowhere. But he had a temper, too, and so he was not very popular. He tried to learn the trade of shoe-making, but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they would not accept him. Next, he joined the Capuchin order, but eight months later he was advised to leave. He could not seem to do anything right. He dropped piles of dishes and kept forgetting to do what he was told. His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again. She finally got him accepted as a helper at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the Franciscan habit to wear and was assigned to care for the horses. About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew more humble and gentle. He became more careful and successful at his work. He also began to do more penance. It was decided that he could become a member of the order and could start studying to become a priest. Although he was very good, he still had a hard time with studies. But Joseph trusted in God's help and he was ordained a priest. God began to work miracles through Father Joseph. Over seventy times people saw him rise from the ground while saying Mass or praying. He would be suspended near the ceiling like a star at the top of a Christmas tree. Often he went into ecstasy and would be completely wrapped up in talking with God. He became very holy. Everything he saw made him think of God. Father Joseph became so famous for his miracles that he was kept hidden. This made him happy for the chance to be alone with his beloved Lord. Jesus never left him alone and one day came to bring him to heaven. Joseph died in 1663 at the age of sixty. He was proclaimed a saint in 1767 by Pope Clement XI II. Maybe we feel that our parents, our teachers and even we ourselves think we are not very special. We might put ourselves down. That is when we can pray to St. Joseph Cupertino. He will help us have confidence in ourselves. He will remind us that Jesus lives in our hearts and that we are very special to him.
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St. Januarius -- September 19
Januarius lived in the fourth century. He was born either in Benevento or Naples, Italy. He was the bishop of Benevento when Diocletian's persecution began. The people of Naples have claimed a special love for and devotion to Bishop Januarius. He is popularly called "San Gennaro." According to common belief, San Gennaro learned that some Christian deacons had been put in prison for their faith. The bishop was a gentle, compassionate man. He truly cared about his people and went to the prison to visit them. The jailer reported him to the governor who sent soldiers to find San Gennaro. The bishop was arrested along with a deacon and a lector. They joined the other prisoners. San Gennaro and the six others were martyred for their faith. Their deaths took place near Naples in 305. The people of Naples have claimed a special love for and devotion to "San Gennaro." In fact, he is considered their patron saint. The people of Naples remember San Gennaro for another special reason: his martyr's blood was preserved centuries ago in a vile. The blood has become dark and dry. But at certain times of the year, the blood liquefies. It becomes red, sometimes bright red. At times, it even bubbles. The special case containing the vile of blood is honored publicly on the first Saturday of May, on September 19 (the feast of San Gennaro), within the octave (or eight days after the feast), and at times on December 16. The liquified blood has been seen and honored since the thirteenth century. We can ask San Gennaro to give us loving, compassionate hearts so that we can bring joy and comfort to the people around us as he did.
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St. Andrew Kim Taegon & St. Paul Chong Hasang -- September 20
St. Andrew Kim Taegon was a priest and St. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay person. These two martyrs represent 113 Catholics who died for their faith in Korea. They were proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Korea in 1984. Christianity reached Korea in the seventeenth century. It was brought there by lay people. The believers nourished their faith on the Word of God. They quietly grew and flourished. Missionary priests came from France. The Korean people were introduced to the sacramental life of the Church. Government persecutions took place, off and on, throughout the nineteenth century. A total of 103 Koreans were killed between 1839 and 1867. Ten members of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris were martyred, too, three bishops and seven priests. This brought the total to 113. St. Andrew Kim Taegon and St. Paul Chong Hasang represent the glorious and courageous Korean Catholics who paid the price for their love for Christ. St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean priest. He was martyred on September 16, 1846, just a year after his ordination. Andrew's father had been martyred in 1821. St. Paul Chong Hasang was a heroic lay catechist. He was martyred on September 22, 1846. Today the Church is growing rapidly in Korea. The gift of faith is being received because of the sacrifice of the martyrs who paved the way. Every martyr preaches a lesson without ever saying a single word. We look at the death of a martyr and we hear the message. We want to ask the Korean martyrs to help us love Jesus and his Church as much as they did.
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St. Matthew -- September 21
Matthew was a tax collector in the city of Capernaum, where Jesus was living. He was a Jew but he was working for the Romans, who had conquered the Jews. For this reason, his countrymen disliked him. They would not have anything to do with these "public sinners," as tax collectors like Matthew were called. But Jesus did not feel that way about Matthew. One day, Jesus saw Matthew sitting in his office and he said, "Follow me." At once, Matthew left his money and his position to follow Jesus. He seemed so holy and king-like. Matthew gave a big supper for Jesus. He invited other friends like himself to meet Jesus and listen to him teach. Some people found fault with Jesus for sharing a meal with those whom they considered sinners. However, Jesus had a ready answer. "They who are well do not need a doctor; the sick do. I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance." When Jesus went back to heaven, St. Matthew stayed in Palestine. He remained there for some time to preach about the Lord. We are familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, which is the story of Jesus and what he taught. St. Matthew presents Jesus to his own people. The Lord is the Messiah whom the prophets had said would come to save us. After preaching the Gospel to many people, St. Matthew ended his life as a glorious martyr for the faith. When we start to label people as "bad" or as "sinners," it's time for us to say a prayer to St. Matthew. We can ask him to help us avoid labels. We don't want to imitate the wrong things people might do, but we don't want to look down on them either. We just say no to sin and we leave the judgment of people up to God.
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St. Thomas of Villanova -- September 22
Thomas was born in Spain in 1488. From his kind parents, he learned to be very charitable with the poor. He did well in school and became a teacher of philosophy when he finished his studies. Next he joined the Augustinian order. After he became a priest, he was given many important responsibilities. Finally, he was made archbishop of the city of Valencia. His priests tried to convince him to change his old, mended habit for more dignified robes. However, St. Thomas told them his old clothes had nothing to do with his duty. He would take good care of the spiritual needs of his people. Every day he fed hundreds of poor people. When he received a large sum of money to buy furniture for his house, he gave it to a hospital, saying, "What does a poor monk like me want with furniture?" No wonder he was called the "father of the poor"! St. Thomas was very gentle with sinners at a time when most people were not. Once when he tried to encourage one man to change his sinful ways, the man angrily insulted him and stormed out of the room. "It was my fault," said the humble archbishop. "I told him a little too roughly." Never would he permit anyone to criticize someone who wasn't there. "He may have had a good reason for doing what he did," the saint would say. I, for one, believe he did." Before he died, St. Thomas of Villanova gave to the poor everything he had. He even directed that his bed be sent to the jail for prisoners to use. St. Thomas died in 1555. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VII in 1658. We can remember St Thomas of Villanova's words when we need to be more generous. He used to say: "If you want God to hear your prayers, you should help those who are in need.
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St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) -- September 23
He was born Francesco Forgione to a Southern Italian farm family, the son of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15 he entered the noviciate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, and joined the order at age 19. Suffered several health problems, and at one point his family thought he had tuberculosis. Ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910. While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on 20 September 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. Reportedly able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920's he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide. His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo founded by Padre Pio. On the night of 20 June 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy´s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo´s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio´s monastery, the child's condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: "Don´t worry, you will soon be cured." The miracle was approved by the Congregation and Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2001. On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. His feast day is September 23.
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St. Pacificus -- September 24
A little Italian boy born in 1653 was named Charles Anthony. He was just five years old when his loving parents died. He was sent to live with his uncle. This uncle was a cross, mean man. He treated Charles worse than a servant. Yet the boy took this hard treatment quietly and patiently. When he was seventeen, Charles entered a monastery. He chose the name Pacificus, which means "peaceful." After he became a priest, he was made a teacher, but his great desire was to become a preacher. How happy he was when his superior sent him on a preaching mission to many little towns and villages. St. Pacificus was very popular with people in the country because his talks were simple and gentle. Besides that, he had the marvelous gift of reading consciences. Once, he reminded a man in confession that he had been unkind to his mother. He had also kept impure thoughts in his mind. What Father Pacificus said was true. The man was very sorry for his sins. Everywhere the priest went to preach and hear confessions, he did much good. But when he had been preaching only about six years, Pacificus had to give it up because of ill health. He became blind, deaf and crippled. He spent his time praying and doing penance in his monastery. He helped others in any way he could. God was always very close to him. He gave him the gift of prophecy. St. Pacificus foretold the great victory of the Christian armies over the Turks at Belgrade. He also said to a bishop, "Your Excellency--heaven! Heaven! And I will follow you soon!" About two weeks later, the bishop died. Not long after, just as he had said, St. Pacificus died, too. It was the year 1721. Many miracles took place at his grave. Father Pacificus was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839. St. Pacificus had a sad childhood. He could have let himself become an angry, frustrated adult. Instead, he prayed to Jesus for a forgiving, patient heart. His hard times were turned into moments of growing in his love for God and people. Because he had suffered, he could sympathize with the hurts of others and help them to find God in their lives. When we are upset or hurt, we can ask St. Pacificus to help us be like him.
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St. Sergius -- September 25
This famous Russian saint lived in the fourteenth century. He was given the name of Bartholomew when he was baptized. He was not as bright as his two brothers, but he did learn to read and write. This made him very happy because he greatly desired to read the Bible. Bartholomew's parents were nobles. While he was still a boy, the family had to flee from enemies. They had to go to work as peasants. After his parents died, Sergius and his brother Stephen went off to live as hermits. They built a little church from trees they had cut down. The church was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. When his brother went to Moscow to enter a monastery, Bartholomew lived alone. He wore the habit of a monk and took the name Sergius. He was a tall, husky young man. He was strong enough to stand the biting cold and fierce winds of his forest home. He was happy praying to God and loving him with all his heart. He called fire and light his companions, and even made friends with bears. Before too long, other young men came to share St. Sergius's holy life. They asked him to be their abbot and he did. He was ordained a priest and ruled his monastery very wisely Once when some of the monks together with his own brother Stephen--who had come back--disagreed with Sergius, he went away so as to keep peace. Four years later, he was asked to return. The monks were so happy to see him that they kissed his hands, his feet and even his robe. Powerful rulers often went to ask St. Sergius for advice. He became so famous that he was asked to become bishop of the greatest Russian diocese. But he was too humble to accept. The prince of Moscow was not sure if he should try to fight the terrible pagan Tartars. St. Sergius said, "Do not fear, sir. Go forward with faith against the foe. God will be with you." And the Russians were victorious. It was not great learning that made people trust and love St. Sergius. It was his confidence in God and his desire to help everybody. St. Sergius died in 1392. When someone disagrees with us or starts an argument, we can remember that the same thing happened to St. Sergius. We can ask him to help us keep calm and remain peaceful.
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St. Cosmas & St. Damien -- September 26
These two martyrs were twin brothers from Syria who lived in the fourth century. They were very famous students of science and both became excellent doctors. Cosmas and Damien saw in every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed great charity to all and treated their sicknesses to the best of their ability. Yet no matter how much care a patient required, neither Cosmas nor Damien ever accepted any money for their services. For this reason, they were called by a name in Greek which means "the penniless ones." Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened to them willingly. Cosmas and Damien often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help. When Diocletian's persecution of Christians began in their city, the saints were arrested at once. They had never tried to hide their great love for their Christian faith. They were tortured, but nothing could make them give up their belief in Christ. They had lived for him and had brought so many people to his love. So at last, they were put to death in the year 303. These holy martyrs are named in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. In honor of St. Cosmas and St. Damien, we can perform a work of mercy today--either spiritual or material.
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St. Vincent De Paul -- September 27
Vincent, the son of poor French peasants, was born in 1581. When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school. And after finishing his studies, Vincent became a priest. At first, he was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. Then one day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones. Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor. The charities of St. Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much. He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships. He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity with St. Louise de Marillac. He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people. He collected large sums of money for poor areas, sent missionaries to many countries, and bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans. Even though he was such a charitable man, however, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace." Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. He was proclaimed a saint in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. Jesus asks us to be good to others, especially to those who suffer. He says to us too, 'As long as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me. "
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St. Lawrence Ruiz & Companions -- September 28
Today's celebration honors a lay person from the Philippines, St. Lawrence Ruiz, and his fifteen companions. These sixteen martyrs were killed for their faith in 1637, in Nagasaki, Japan. Born in Manila, St. Lorenzo was the father of a family. He joined the Dominican priests, brothers and lay volunteers who were going to Japan to preach the Gospel. The group was made up of nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two single lay women, and three other lay persons. All were associated with the Dominican order and all died rather than give up their faith in Jesus. They were missionaries who had originally come from five nations--France, Italy, Japan, the Philippines and Spain. What a wonderful reminder they are that the Church reaches out to the whole world. These martyrs suffered greatly before they died, but they would not give up their Catholic religion. It is recorded that St. Lawrence Ruiz told his judges that if he had a thousand lives to give for Christ, he would. This group of heroes was proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul 11 on October 18, 1987. Let us ask St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companion martyrs to inspire the people who are living now to be fervent and generous followers of Jesus.
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St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael -- September 29
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are called "saints" because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They are angels. They are protectors of human beings and we know something about each of them from the Bible. Michael's name means "who is like God?" Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We can ask St. Michael to make us strong in our love for Jesus and in our practice of the Catholic religion. Gabriel's name means "the power of God." He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke's Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our Savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We can ask him to help us be good communicators as he was. Raphael's name means "God has healed." We read the touching story of Raphael's role in the Bible's book of Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God's throne. We can ask St. Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to school. We can also ask him to help when illness strikes us or someone we love. We can say a short prayer to these three archangels often throughout the day.- St. Michael, St Gabriel, St. Raphael, be with me today. Protect me from whatever could cause spiritual or physical harm. Help me be faithful to Jesus and a good communicator of his divine love. Amen. (Or, you may prefer to make up your own prayer).
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St. Jerome -- September 30
Jerome was a Roman Christian who lived in the fourth century. father taught him his religion well, but sent him to a famous pagan school. There Jerome grew to love pagan writings and lost some of his love for God. Yet, in the company of a group of holy Christians, with whom he became great friends, his heart was turned completely to God. Later, this brilliant young man decided to live alone in a wild desert. He was afraid that his love for pagan writings would lead him away from the love of God. He welcomed the hard penance and the scorching hot desert. Yet even there, he suffered terrible temptations. The immoral entertainment held in Rome seemed fresh in his imagination and memory. Jerome did not give in, however. He increased his acts of penance and wept for his sins. He also went to study Hebrew with a monk as his teacher. This he did to get rid of the bad thoughts that kept attacking his mind. He became such a great scholar of Hebrew that he could later translate the Bible into Latin. Many more people were then able to read and enjoy it. St. Jerome spent long years of his life in a little cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born. There he prayed, studied the Bible, and taught many people how to serve God. He wrote a great many letters and even books to defend the faith from heretics. St. Jerome had a bad temper, and his sharp tongue made him many enemies. Yet he was a very holy man who spent his life trying to serve Jesus in the best way he could. And so, despite his temper, he became a great saint. He died in 419 or 420. To overcome his strong temptations, St. Jerome worked and studied hard. He also read the Bible. We can imitate Jerome's wonderful habits of hard work, serious study, and frequent reading of the Bible.
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