Thought for the Day – 13 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621)
The fierce, passionate “muscular” Christianity of John Berchmans seems unreal, even horrifying to many of today’s Catholics brought up on soft-focus posters, self-affirming books and the belief that Christian love means primarily kindness – but let us not be deceived. It seems we have 3 ‘handles’ ‘don’t judge’, God is love and God is merciful – He will understand. All true but it doesn’t leave us free to live, as if we have no responsibility and no commandments and rules, which we MUST obey to gather those amazing graces of God’s love and mercy and judgement. We need to walk the narrow road, preferably barefoot, to excel in holiness and fulfil our mission, ‘to love God, to serve God and to live with Him forever in heaven.’ Holy Mother Church guides and leads us and best of all, our Lord Jesus Christ walks with us, before us, behind us, in us and He is barefoot too!
The seventeenth century was a cruel time all round, with no punches pulled and no anaesthetics. But Catholics, like John, had the hardest feet imaginable and besides fortitude (“guts”) and self-sacrifice, they excelled in virtues that the 21st century West ignores or treats almost as a joke, such as humble obedience, temperance, diligence and chastity.
Hence St John’s value to us as a guide today lies in his youthful, clear vision in areas where our own times have gaping blind spots.
Let us go forward, barefoot and become the Saints we are called to be!
One Minute Reflection – 13 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 and the Memorial of St John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621)
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”…Matthew 18:3
REFLECTION – “God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realised, so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.”…St Thérèse de Lisieux (1873-1897) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – God, our Father, Your promised Your Kingdom to the little ones and the humble of heart. Let us ask St John Berchmans to give us some of his great attention to the little things in life being so important in the eyes of God. Lord God, grant us grace to walk confidently in the way of St John Berchmans, so that helped by his prayers, we may see Your eternal glory. Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 13 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St John Berchmans (1599-1621)
An Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary By St John Berchmans (1599-1621)
Mother of God and Virgin,
I choose you this day
for my queen, patron and advocate
and firmly resolve and purpose
never to abandon you,
never to say or do anything against you,
nor to permit that aught be done
by others to dishonour you.
Receive me, then, I beg you,
as thy perpetual servant,
assist me in all my actions
and do not abandon me
at the hour of my death.
Saint of the Day – 13 August – Saint John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621) Jesuit Novice – born Jan Berchmans on 13 March 1599 at Driest, Brabant, Belgium and died on 13 August 1621 at Rome, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Altar Servers, Jesuit novices and students. He had a special devotion to God’s Mother and to him is owed the Little Rosary of the Immaculate Conception.
Born in 1599 in Diest, a town of northern Belgium near Brussels and Louvain, this angelic young Saint was the oldest of five children. Two of his three brothers became priests and his father, after the death of John’s mother when he was eleven years old, entered religion and became a Canon of Saint Sulpice.
John was a brilliant student from his most tender years, manifesting also a piety which far exceeded the ordinary. Beginning at the age of seven, he studied for three years at the local communal school with an excellent professor. And then his father, wanting to protect the sacerdotal vocation already evident in his son, confided him to a Canon of Diest who lodged students aspiring to the ecclesiastical vocation. After three years in that residence, the family’s financial situation had declined owing to the long illness of the mother and John was told he would have to return and learn a trade. He pleaded to be allowed to continue his studies. And his aunts, who were nuns, found a solution through their chaplain, he proposed to take John into his service and lodge him.
Saint John was ordinarily first in his classes at the large school, a sort of minor seminary, even when he had to double his efforts in order to rejoin his fellow students, all of excellent talent, who sometimes had preceded him for a year or more in an assigned discipline. He often questioned his Superiors as to what was the most perfect thing to say or do in the various circumstances in which he found himself. Such was the humility which caused the young to advance without ceasing on the road to heaven. Later he continued his studies at Malines, also not distant from Diest, under the tutelage of another ecclesiastic, who assigned to him the supervision of three young boys of a noble family. In all that John did he sought perfection and he never encountered anything but the highest favour for his services, wherever he was placed.
He found his vocation through his acquaintance with the Jesuits of that city and manifested his determination to pursue his course, although his father and family opposed it for a time. It had been decided that he would continue his studies at the Jesuit novitiate of Malines, with about 70 other novices. With another young aspirant, he was waiting in the parlour to be introduced, when he saw in the garden a coadjutor Brother turning over the ground in the garden. He proposed to his companion to go and help him, saying: Could we begin our religious life better than with an act of humility and charity? And with no hesitation, both went to offer their assistance. How many young persons in that situation would have thought of such an offer? This incident reveals the profound charity and interior peace which characterised this young religious at all times.
As a novice he taught catechism to the children in the regions around Malines. He made his instructions so lively and interesting that the country folk preferred his lessons to the ordinary sermons. The children became attached to him and in a troop would conduct him back to the novitiate, where he distributed holy pictures, medals and rosaries to them. At the end of his novitiate in 1619 he was destined to go to Rome to begin serious application to philosophy but his superiors decided to send him home for a few days first. A shock awaited him at the train station of Malines, where he was expecting to meet his father, he had died a week earlier. John was given time to take the dispositions necessary to provide for the younger brothers and sister. When he departed, it was apparently with a premonition that he would perhaps never see them again, for he said in a letter to the Canon of Diest with whom he had dwelt, to tell the younger ones for him – “Increase in piety, in fear of God and in knowledge. Adieu.”
With a fellow novice he began the two months’ journey on foot to Rome, by way of Paris, Lyons and Loreto, where the two assisted at the Christmas Midnight Mass. Both of these two young Jesuits would die within three years’ time, his companion in a matter of several months. John had time during these three years to give unceasing proofs of his already perfected sanctity, nothing that he did was left to chance but entrusted to the intercession of his Heavenly Mother, to whom his devotion continued to increase day by day.
He made an extraordinary effort during an intense heat wave in the summer of 1621, participating splendidly in a debate, which took place at a certain distance from the Jesuit residence, despite the fact he did not feel well. Two days later he was felled by a fever, which continued implacably to mine his already slight resistance, and he died in August of that year, after one week of illness. The story of his last days is touching indeed, in a residence of several hundred priests and students, there was none who did not follow with anxiety and compassion the progress of his illness. When the infirmarian told his patient that he should probably receive Communion the next morning — an exception to the rule prescribing it for Sundays only, in those times — John said, In Viaticum? and received a sad affirmative answer. He himself was transported with joy and embraced the Brother, the latter broke into tears. A priest who knew John well went to him the next morning and asked him if there was anything troubling or saddening him and John replied, Absolutely nothing.
He asked that his mattress be placed on the floor and knelt to receive his Lord, when the Father Rector pronounced the words of the Ritual – Receive, Brother, in viaticum, the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, all in attendance wept. Their angelic, ever joyous and affectionate young novice was called to leave them, no clearer tribute than their tears could have been offered to the reality of his sanctity, his participation in the effusive goodness of the divine nature.
Devotion to his memory spread rapidly in Belgium, already in 1624 twelve engraving establishments of Anvers had published his portrait. He was Canonised in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, at the same time as two other Jesuits who lived during the first century of that Society’s existence, so fruitful in sanctity — Peter Claver and Alphonsus Rodriguez. … (Saint Jean Berchmans, by Hippolyte Delehaye, SJ (J. Gabalda – Paris, 1922)
At the time of Berchmans’s death, his heart was returned to his homeland in Belgium where it is kept in a silver reliquary on a side altar in the church at Leuven (Louvain).
Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners/Refugium Peccatorum: St John Damascene calls Mary a city of refuge to all who flee to Her.
Blessed Antonio Baldinucci SJ (1665-1717) had a particular devotion to the Refugium Peccatorum image of Virgin Mary in the Church of the Gesu (Frascati) in Italy and commissioned a copy which he considered miraculous and carried it with him in his travels. The Jesuits spread copies of the image of the Madonna of Refuge in Mexico by the 19th century and it began to be depicted in missions there, often with clouds surrounding the lower portion of the image of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus.
The term “Refugium peccatorum” is also used other works of Roman Catholic Marian art. For instance, there is a marble statue representing the Virgin Mary, on the grand staircase of the old municipal palace in Venice, Italy. The name came from the fact that the convicts were allowed to stop in front of the Virgin Mary’s statue to pray for their soul on the way to the scaffold.
The traditional feast day of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners is today, 13 August.
St Anastasius the Monk
St Anastasius the Priest
St Cassian of Imola
St Cassian of Todi
St Conn O’Rourke
Bl Gertrude of Altenberg
St Helen of Burgos
St Herulph of Langres
Bl Jakob Gapp
Bl John of Alvernia St John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621)
St Junian of Mairé
St Ludolph Bl Marco d’Aviano/Mark of Aviano OFM Cap (1631-1699) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2018/08/13/saint-of-the-day-13-august-blessed-mark-of-aviano-ofm-cap-1631-1699/
St Maximus the Confessor
St Nerses Glaietsi
St Patrick O’Healy
Bl Pierre Gabilhaud
St Wigbert of Fritzlar
Bl William Freeman
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Francesc Castells Areny
• Blessed Inocencio García Díez
• Blessed José Bonet Nadal
• Blessed José Boher y Foix
• Blessed José Juan Perot y Juanmarti
• Blessed Jose Tàpies y Sirvant
• Blessed Josep Alsina Casas
• Blessed Luciano Hernández Ramírez
• Blessed Maria de Puiggraciós Badia Flaquer
• Blessed Mateo Despóns Tena
• Blessed Modesto García Martí
• Blessed Pascual Araguàs y Guàrdia
• Blessed Pedro Martret y Molet
• Blessed Silvestre Arnau y Pascuet
Martyred Claretians of Barbastro – 51 beati:
• Blessed Agustín Viela Ezcurdia
• Blessed Alfons Miquel Garriga
• Blessed Alfons Sorribes Teixidó
• Blessed Antolín Calvo y Calvo
• Blessed Antoni Dalmau Rosich
• Blessed Atanasio Vidaurreta Labra
• Blessed Eduardo Ripoll Diego
• Blessed Esteve Casadevall Puig
• Blessed Eusebi Maria Codina Millà
• Blessed Felipe de Jesús Munárriz Azcona
• Blessed Francesc Roura Farró
• Blessed Francisco Castán Meseguer
• Blessed Gregorio Chirivas Lacamba
• Blessed Hilario Llorente Martín
• Blessed Jaume Falgarona Vilanova
• Blessed Joan Baixeras Berenguer
• Blessed Joan Codinachs Tuneu
• Blessed José Amorós Hernández
• Blessed José Blasco Juan
• Blessed José Figuero Beltrán
• Blessed José Pavón Bueno
• Blessed Josep Maria Badía Mateu
• Blessed Josep Ormo Seró
• Blessed Josep Ros Florensa
• Blessed Juan Díaz Nosti
• Blessed Juan Echarri Vique
• Blessed Juan Sánchez Munárriz
• Blessed Leoncio Pérez Ramos
• Blessed Lluís Escalé Binefa
• Blessed Lluís Lladó Teixidor
• Blessed Lluís Masferrer Vila
• Blessed Manuel Buil Lalueza
• Blessed Manuel Martínez Jarauta
• Blessed Manuel Torras Sais
• Blessed Miquel Masip González
• Blessed Nicasio Sierra Ucar
• Blessed Pedro García Bernal
• Blessed Pere Cunill Padrós
• Blessed Rafael Briega Morales
• Blessed Ramon Illa Salvia
• Blessed Ramon Novich Rabionet
• Blessed Salvador Pigem Serra
• Blessed Sebastià Riera Coromina
• Blessed Sebastián Calvo Martínez
• Blessed Secundino Ortega García
• Blessed Teodoro Ruiz de Larrinaga García
• Blessed Tomàs Capdevila Miró
• Blessed Wenceslau Clarís Vilaregut
They were martyred on 2 August through 18 August 1936 in Barbastro, Huesca, Spain and Beatified on 25 October 1992 by Pope John Paul II.