Thought for the Day – 28 September – The Memorial of St Wenceslaus
Good example lives on. St Wenceslaus’ generosity to the poor was legendary and his sanctity known everywhere.
He made peace with his mother so that he could govern and with the surrounding monarchs. He worked with the Church, ended the persecution of the Christians, brought back exiled priests and built churches. Wenceslaus set an example all could follow. He gave alms to those who were poor and was just to those who were rich, he visited prisoners and promoted the religious and educational improvement of his people.
“Good King Wenceslaus” was able to incarnate his Christianity in a world filled with political unrest. While we are often victims of violence of a different sort, we can easily identify with his struggle to bring harmony to society. The call to become involved in social change and in political activity is addressed to Christians; the values of the gospel are sorely needed today, the example of St Wenceslaus is still an inspiration to us all.
“Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven and holy humility opens it.”
“Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.”
One Minute Reflection – 28 September – The Memorial of St Wenceslaus
There will …be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous who have no need to repent.…Luke 15:7
REFLECTION – “Nothing makes God happier than a person’s amendment of life,
conversion and salvation.
This is why He sent His only Son to this earth.”…St Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Holy God, help me to amend my life constantly and be sincerely converted to You. Let me seek Your interests rather than my own and be ever more closely united with You.
St Wenceslaus, who was assassinated by his own brother but who, by his holiness opened his brother’s eyes to repentance, please pray for us, that we may always seek the forgiveness of God. Amen
My God, I give You this day.
I offer You, now,
all the good that I shall do
and I promise to accept
for love of You,
all of the difficulty that I shall meet.
Help me to conduct myself during this day,
in a manner pleasing to You, Amen.
Saint of the Day – 28 September – St Wenceslaus (907-935) King of Bohemia, Martyr – also known as Vaceslav, Vaclav, Wenzel, Wenceslas, Václav. (907 at Prague, Bohemia (in Czech Republic) – 28 September 929 by assassination). Patronages – brewers, Bohemia, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Moravia, Prague, Czech Republic, archdiocese and the city. Attributes – banner, crown, eagle, staff, soldier, horse, armour.
St Wenceslaus was born around the year 907. His father Duke Wratislaw was a Catholic but his mother Princess Dragomir practiced the native pagan religion. She would later arrange the murders of both Wenceslaus and his grandmother Ludmilla, who is also a canonised saint. During his youth, Wenceslaus received a strong religious education from Ludmilla, in addition to the good example of his father. He maintained a virtuous manner of living while attending college near Prague, making significant progress both academically and spiritually. But with the death of his father Wratislaw, the devout young nobleman faced a spiritual and political crisis.
His mother Dragomir, who had never accepted the Catholic faith, turned against it entirely. She seized her husband’s death as a chance to destroy the religion his parents had received from Sts Cyril and Methodius, through methods that included purging Catholics from public office, closing churches and preventing all teaching of the faith. Dragomir’s Catholic mother-in-law Ludmilla urged Wenceslaus to seize power from his mother and defend their faith. His attempt to do so resulted in the division of the country into two halves: one ruled by Wenceslaus, advised by Ludmilla; the other ruled by Wenceslaus’ younger brother Boleslaus, who had absorbed his mother’s hatred of the Church.
Wenceslaus, who would have preferred to become a monk and not a duke, fortified himself in this struggle through fervent prayer, extreme asceticism, charitable service and a vow of chastity. Meanwhile, his mother carried out a plot to kill Ludmilla, having her strangled in her private chapel. St Ludmilla’s liturgical feast day is 16 September.
The Bohemian duke also faced the threat of invasion from abroad, when Prince Radislaus of Gurima demanded that Bohemia submit to his rule. When Wenceslaus sought to avoid a war by challenging him in single combat, two angels are said to have appeared, deflecting the javelin thrown at Wenceslaus and immediately inspiring Radislaus to drop to his knees in surrender.
During his period of rule, Wenceslaus received the relics of several saints from the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, who also conferred on him the title of “King Wenceslaus.” But some noblemen of his own country resented the saintly king’s strict morals and allied themselves with Dragomir and Boleslaus. Wenceslaus’ brother sought to appear as a peacemaker, inviting the king to his realm for a celebration. When Wenceslaus was praying in a chapel during the visit, Boleslaus’ henchmen attacked and wounded him. Boleslaus himself delivered the final blow, killing his brother by running him through with a lance. St Wenceslaus died on 28 September 935.
Emperor Otto responded to St Wenceslaus’ death by invading Bohemia and making war against Boleslaus for several years. He succeeded in conquering the region and forced Boleslaus to reverse the anti-Catholic measures he and his mother had taken. There is no evidence that Dragomir, who died soon after the murder of St.Wenceslaus, ever repented of killing her family members. Boleslaus, however, came to regret his sin when he learned of the miracles that were taking place at his brother’s tomb. He moved St Wenceslaus’ body to a cathedral for veneration by the faithful.
St Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades of Wenceslas’ death, four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualisation of the rex justus, or “righteous king”, that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his princely vigour.
Referring approvingly to these hagiographies, the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states:
But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.
Several centuries later the legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II.
The hymn “Svatý Václave” (Saint Wenceslas) or “Saint Wenceslas Chorale” is one of the oldest known Czech hymns in history. Its roots can be found in the 12th century and it still belongs to the most popular religious songs to this day. In 1918, in the beginning of the Czechoslovak state, the song was discussed as one of the possible choices for the national anthem. His feast day is celebrated today while the translation of his relics, which took place in 938, is commemorated on 4 March.
Since 2000, the feast day of Saint Wenceslas is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, celebrated as the Czech Statehood Day.
Good King Wenceslaus
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.
“Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.
“Sire, the night is darker now and the wind blow stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.
St Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila (Optional Memorial)
St Wenceslaus of Bohemia (Optional Memorial) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raxyo8yRYwE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1EW1MSFfpE – Msgr Charles Pope – My recitation of the old carol
Bl Aaron of Auxerre
St Alodius of Auxerre
St Annemond of Lyons
Bl Bernardine of Feltre
St Chariton of Palestine
Bl Christian Franco
St Conval of Strathclyde
St Exuperius of Toulouse
St Faustus of Riez
St John of Dukla
St Laurence of North Africa
St Lioba of Bischofsheim
St Martial of North Africa
St Martin of Moyenmoutier
St Paternus of Auch
St Privatus of Rome
St Salonius of Geneva
St Silvinus of Brescia
St Solomon of Genoa
St Tetta of Wimborne
St Willigod of Moyenmoutier
St Zama of Bologna
Augustinian Martyrs of Japan: The first Augustinian missionaries arrived in Japan in 1602 and met with immediate success; many were brought to the faith; many of them became Augustinians; and many of them were martyred in the periodic persecutions of Christians. This memorial commemorates all of them, whether they have a sanctioned Cause for Canonisation or not. They include:
• Blessed Bartolomé Gutiérrez Rodríguez
• Blessed Ferdinand Ayala
• Blessed Francisco Terrero de Ortega Pérez
• Blessed Ioannes Mukuno Chozaburo
• Blessed Laurentius Kaida Hachizo
• Blessed Mancius Yukimoto Ichizaemon
• Blessed Martín Lumbreras Peralta
• Blessed Melchor Sánchez Pérez
• Blessed Michaël Ichinose Sukezaemon
• Blessed Pedro de Zúñiga
• Blessed Petrus Sawaguchi Kuhyoe
• Blessed Thomas Jihyoe of Saint Augustine
• Blessed Thomas Terai Kahyoe
• Blessed Vicente Simões de Carvalho
• Saint Magdalena of Nagasaki
Martyrs of Antioch – 37 saints: A group of 30 soldiers and 7 civilians who were murdered together for their faith. The names that have come down to us are – Alexander, Alphinus, Heliodorus, Mark, Neon, Nicon and Zosumus. c 303 at Antioch, Pisidia (in modern Turkey).
Martyrs of China – 120 saints: A common memorial for the hundreds of the faithful, lay and clergy, who have died for their faith in the last couple of centuries in China. They were Canonised on 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Francesc Xavier Ponsa Casallach
• Blessed Josep Casas Juliá
• Blessed Josep Casas Ros
• Blessed Josep Tarrats Comaposada
• Blessed María Fenollosa Alcaina
• Blessed Santiago Mestre Iborra