“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”… Luke 12:56
REFLECTION – “The gospel tells us that some people were rebuked by the Lord because, clever as they were at reading the face of the sky, they could not recognise the time for faith when the kingdom of heaven was at hand. It was the Jews who received this reprimand but it has also come down to us. The Lord Jesus began His preaching of the gospel with the admonition: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17). His forerunner, John the Baptist, began his in the same way: “Repent,” he said, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2). Today, for those who will not repent at the approach of the kingdom of heaven, the reproof of the Lord Jesus is the same… As for when the end of the world will be, that is God’s concern… Even so, the time is very near for each of us, for we are mortal. There are hazards all around us. We should be in less danger from them were we made of glass. What more fragile than a vessel of glass? And yet it can be kept safe and last indefinitely. Of course it is exposed to accidents but it is not liable to old age and the suffering it brings. We, therefore, are the more frail and infirm. In our weakness we are haunted by fears of all the calamities that regularly befall the human race and if no such calamity overtakes us, still, time marches on. We may evade the blows of fortune but shall we evade death? We may escape perils from without but shall we escape what comes from within us? Now, suddenly, we may be attacked by any malady. And if we are spared? Even so, old age comes at last and nothing will delay it.”… St Augustine (354-430) – Father & Doctor of the Church – Sermon 109
PRAYER – Lord God, You fill us with Your grace and teach us true faith. Strengthen in our hearts that faith that no trials may quench the fire, that we may seek Your face in every moment and accept AND LIVE all of Your will. Send us Your Spirit to keep the fire blazing. By the inspiration and prayers of Blessed John Angelo Porro, may we grow in sanctity and may the humble love and intercession of Mary Mother of our faith, be our succour. Through Jesus Your Son our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 23 October – Blessed John Angelo Porro OSM (1451-1505) Priest, Religious of the Order of Servants of Mary, Penitent, Catechist, Hermit – born in 1451 in Seveso, Duchy of Milan and died on 23 October 1505 (aged 54) Milan, Italy. Patronage – Sick children. Blessed John’s tomb became a place of pilgrimage where miracles were said to have occurred. One mother bought her ill son, Charles Borromeo, for a cure to his illness and he was cured. Borromeo removed a small bone from Porro’s foot – he was incorrupt – and St Charles always carried it as a reminder of that miracle.
John Angelo was born in 1451 in the Duchy of Milan of Protasio Porro and Franceschina de Guanzate, good Christians from Barlassina near Seveso. In 1468 he received the habit of the Servants and lived for five years in the Priory of Saint Mary in Milan. According to some of the Order’ s writers, he then retired to the solitude of Cavacurta on the right bank of the River Adda to lead a life of contemplation and penance.
In 1474 John Angelo was sent to the Annunziata in Florence where he was noted for his regular observance. During this period he completed his studies and was Ordained to the Priesthood. He continued to consider the possibility of a hermit’s life and eventually went to Monte Senario which had been restored at the beginning of the fifteenth century by a group of friars who had desired the solitary life.
Blessed John Angelo’s stay on Monte Senario was of such particular importance in his life and spiritual development, he even came to be known as “John of the Mountain.” Whenever he had to leave Senario for reasons of health or obedience he would always return to its solitude with great personal joy.
In 1484 Antonio Alabanti, the Prior of the Annunziata, called John Angelo to Florence to instruct the novices for whom he seems to have written some “useful instructions.” Three years later, Alabanti, who was now Prior General, named John Angelo Rector of the hermitage of Monte Senario, a position which he filled with responsibility, competence and holy wisdom. The Prior General greatly esteemed his prudence and religious spirit and often sought his help in directing the hermitage in Chianti as well.
After Alabanti’s death, John Angelo returned to Milan about 1495 and it seems that he was elected Prior. Even in the centre of that famous city, he managed to preserve something of the solitary life which he so loved. His biographer Fra Filippo Ferrari tells us that “he lived in a room a little removed from the others.”
It was during this period that another important aspect of John Angelo’s apostolate developed – the education of children in Christian doctrine. Ippolito Porro writes that “even though he was Prior, every feast day he would stand at the church doors or wander through the streets attracting the children to himself that he might teach them Christian doctrine.”
Corroboration for this comes from the marble bas-relief of the mid-sixteenth century which shows the Blessed in church teaching children.
John Angelo died on 23 October 1505, in the priory of Milan and was mourned by both friars and laity.
In Blessed John Angelo we see the image and model of a life centred on contemplation and the knowledge of God, which has found a way to express itself throughout the Order’s history. John Angelo had a special love for prayer and silence. He sought an ever deepening intimacy with God in prayer and was, therefore, drawn to solitude and away from associations which “wasted time.”
Not infrequently, though, his fraternal charity won out over his love for solitude. He loved the Order and was always concerned for it’s individual members. Though somewhat frail physically, he gained control over his body through constant renunciation. Poverty and simplicity of life were especially important for him. He had great reverence for Our Lady and composed a prayer in her honour, which he recited daily.
On 15 July 1737 Pope Clement XII proc1aimed John Angelo blessed. His incorrupt body is venerated in Milan in the Church of San Carlo, formerly known as the Church of Saint Mary of the Servants. Following a very old custom, sick children are still brought to his tomb to ask his intercession for their cure.
Prayer O Lord, John Angelo was faithful in his religious life and zealous in teaching Christian doctrine. May he pray for us, that we may always be close to You, observe the counsels of the gospel and be fervent in apostolic work. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
St Benedict of Sebaste St Clether St Domitius St Elfleda St Ethelfleda St Gratien of Amiens St Henry of Cologne St Ignatius of Constantinople Blessed John Angelo Porro OSM (1451-1505) Bl John Buoni St John of Syracuse St Oda of Aquitaine St Phaolô Tong Viet Buong St Romanus of Rouen Bl Severinus Boethius St Severinus of Cologne Syra of Faremoutiers St Theodoret of Antioch Bl Thomas Thwing St Verus of Salerno — Martyrs of Cadiz – 2 saints Germanus Servandus Martyrs of Hadrianopolis – 2 saints Dorotheus Severus Martyrs of Nicaea – 3 saints Euerotas Socrates Theodota
Martyrs of Valenciennes – 6 beati: A group of Urusuline and Briggittine nuns murdered together in the anti-Christian excesses of the French Revolution. They were guillotined on 23 October 1794 in Valenciennes, Nord, France and Beatified on 13 June 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. • Anne-Joseph Leroux • Clotilde-Joseph Paillot • Jeanne-Louise Barré • Marie-Augustine Erraux • Marie-Liévine Lacroix • Marie-Marguerite-Joseph Leroux
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War including Martyrs of Manzanares (7 beati): • Agapit Gorgues Manresa • Agustín Nogal Tobar • Andrés Navarro Sierra • César Elexgaray Otazua • Cristóbal González Carcedo • Dorinda Sotelo Rodríguez • Eduardo Valverde Rodríguez • Felipe Basauri Altube • José María Fernández Sánchez • Juan Nuñez Orcajo • Leonardo Olivera Buera • Manuel Navarro Martínez • Roque Guillén Garcés • Toribia Marticorena Sola
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.” – Luke 12:35-36
REFLECTION – “God, the Word, stirs up the lazy and arouses the sleeper. For indeed, someone who comes knocking at the door is always wanting to come in. But it depends on us if He does not always enter or always remain. May your door be open to Him who comes; open your soul, enlarge your spiritual capacities, that you may discover the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace and sweetness of grace. Expand your heart; run to meet the Sun of that Eternal Light that “enlightens everyone” (Jn 1,9). It is certain that this true Light shines for all but, if anyone shuts their windows, then they themselves shut themselves off from this Eternal Light.
So even Christ remains outside, if you shut the door of your soul. It is true that He could enter but He doesn’t want to use force, He doesn’t put those who refuse under pressure. Descended from the Virgin, born from her womb, He shines throughout the universe to give light to all. Those who long to receive the light, that shines with an everlasting brightness, open up to Him. No night comes to intervene. Indeed, the sun we see each day gives way to night’s darkness but the Sun of justice (Mal 3,20) knows no setting for Wisdom is not overcome by evil.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan and Father and Doctor of the Church – 12th Sermon on Psalm 118
PRAYER – All-powerful, eternal God and Father, grant us the grace of Your Spirit and fill us with the light of understanding and love. May we learn to truly pray and by our prayers to entreat You to bless us in Your goodness and lead us to true faith in Your eternal light and Word sent to redeem us. May we always be waiting and prepared to open the door of our hearts to Jesus Christ our Lord, who comes in light, love and peace. Grant that by the prayers of Blessed James Strepar we may be strengthened. Holy Mother, be our protection and our guide. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 20 October – Blessed James Strepar OFM (c 1340-1409) Archbishop, Religious Priest of the Order of Friars Minor, Missionary, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Rosary. He founded Churches, Monateries, Schools, Hospitals, apostolates of Eucharistic Adoration and promoted the prayer of the Holy Rosary, apostle of the poor and needy. He was given the title of “Protector of the Kingdom, Defender and Guardian of the Homeland” – born as Jakub Strzemię in c 1350 in Galacia, Poland and died on 1 June 1411 (aged 69) at Lviv, Poland (in modern Ukraine) of natural causes. Patronages – Archdiocese of Lviv, Diocese of Zamość-Lubaczów, against headaches and on 16 March 1910, St Pius X proclaimed Blessed James, along with St Anthony of Padua, the Patrons of the Conventual Franciscan Order of Krakow Province. He is also known as Jakob/James Strepa or Strzemie. He served as the Archbishop of Halicz from 1392 until his death, when the Archdiocese was incorporated into that of the Archdiocese of Lviv. He was an indefatigable Apostle of Poland and Russia during the fourteenth century, who, rich by birth, put into practice, the invitation addressed by Jesus to the rich young man of the Gospels – to leave all his possessions and follow Him. His body is incorrupt.
James was born in the Diocese of Krakow, to a Polish noble family, around the year 1340. He was very young when, fascinated by and, devoted to Saint Francis of Assisi and by the Franciscan ideal, he entered a convent of Friars Minor.
He joined the Society of Pilgrim Friars, made up of both Franciscans and Dominicans and, with a strong missionary yearning, set Ukraine as his goal. He was elected Superior of the convent of Lviv (a city founded around 1250) in a troubled moment in the ecclesiastical history of that city. There were in fact, contrasts between the Diocesan clergy and the religious and between Catholics and Orthodox. Furthermore, holding the position of inquisitor of the faith in Ruthenia, for ten years his apostolate was tireless.
At the height of his maturity, a new great mission appeared to him – to preach the Word of Christ in Russia. Such was his success, that he was appointed Vicar General and then Bishop of Halicz, a bishopric that was later transferred to Leopoli. Fr James was fifty-two years old.
Tirelessly, the new Bishop employed all his strength, with an extraordinary commitment, for the good of the Diocese. He built Churches in the most remote places and erected Parishes, entrusting them to Priests of proven virtues, who sometimes came especially from Poland.
Attentive to the needs of the poor and places of worship, he donated the income of the Bishopric to these purposes. He engaged in the construction of Monasteries, schools and hospitals.
On foot, without any honour, in the simple Franciscan habit, he visited every community. He was an example of humility, accompanying the active apostolate with personal penances. In every action he was driven by a great interior faith, transmitting his devotions to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. He instituted Perpetual Adoration and depicted the Virgin in the bishop’s coat of arms, inviting people to recite the Rosary everyday. So much zeal bore the fruits of a widespread religious awakening of the people. The Friar Bishop maintained unchanged, his missionary character towards atheists and towards the Orthodox, strongly desiring the unity of Christians while, due to his high moral authority, he was appointed senator of the Council of the Fatherland. In this capacity he gave practical suggestions for the administration of the city, one day finding himself facing even the incursions of the barbarians.
He died on 20 October 1409, receiving the title of “Protector of the Kingdom, Defender and Guardian of the Homeland” for his exceptional merits, including civil ones. Such was he considered by all.
His body, with the Habit and the Bishop’s insignia, was buried in the Church of the Franciscans. The fame of holiness was vast, pilgrimages to his tomb continued endlessly, while miracles occurred through his intercession. Ten years after his death, the body was exhumed and appeared uncorrupted. The cult, widespread in Poland, Lithuania and Russia, was confirmed by Pope Pius VI on 11 September 1791.
Today his relics are venerated in the Cathedral of Lviv (L’viv), the important Ukrainian city rich in history and culture, which has among it’s fathers the noble Friar who came from Poland.
Blessed James encouraged the faithful to donate books, liturgical garments, kitchenware to Monasteries. In everyday life, Bishop James was noted for his simplicity and Franciscan poverty – King Władysław II Jagiełło donated to James an estate in the centre of Lviv but he decided to live in a modest wooden house wearing a Franciscan habit. Bl James was sensitive to the needs of the poor and sick – he donated his episcopal income to the hospital of the Holy Spirit and to a shelter for the poor, sick and pilgrims. In his will he asked to give a mitre, silver ecclesiatical vessels, a Franciscan habit, books and all his belongings to the poor and use them for acts of mercy and for the celebration of Masses for his soul.
PRAYER O God, that with the apostolic labours of Bishop Blessed James Strepar you have placed the seeds of faith in the Church of Poland and Russia, through his intercession grant us to live our Christian vocation in an authentic way . Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 16 October – The Memorial of St Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) “Apostle of the Sacred Heart”
“Announce it and let it be announced to the whole world, that I set neither limit nor measure to my gifts of grace, for those who seek them in my Heart.”
Revelations of Our Lord to St Margaret Mary Alacoque
“The Sacred Heart is the symbol of that boundless love which moved the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take our sins upon Himself and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and sacrifice to the eternal Father.”
“O Heart of love, I put all my trust in Thee, for I fear all things, from my own weakness, but I hope for all things, from Thy Goodness.”
“Let every knee bend before You, O greatness of my God, so supremely humbled in the Sacred Host. May every heart love You, every spirit adore You and every will be subject to You!”
The Twelve Promises of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary or those Devoted to His Sacred Heart:
I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
I will establish peace in their families.
I will console them in all their troubles.
They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
Tepid souls shall become fervent.
Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honoured.
I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
From Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s Vision of Jesus
St Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) “Apostle of the Sacred Heart“
Quote/s of the Day – 27 September – The Memorial of St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all, how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”
“Free your mind from all that troubles you; God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God because He sees that you do not honour Him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in Him, I beg you and you will have the fulfilment of what your heart desires.”
“He who allows himself to be ruled or guided by the lower and animal part of his nature, deserves to be called a beast, rather than a man.”
“Perfection consists in one thing alone, which is doing the will of God. For, according to Our Lord’s words, it suffices for perfection to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. Now who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows Christ better, than he who seeks not to do his own will but always that of God? Behold, now, how little is needed to become as Saint? Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing, on every occasion, what God wills.”
“Our business is, to gain heaven; everything else, is a sheer waste of time.”
One Minute Reflection – 27 September – Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Readings: Ezekiel 18:25-28, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9, Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 21:28-32 and the Memorial of St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ … Matthew 21:28
REFLECTION – “My brethren, this is the time for each one of us to go out, for our part, from the place our sin. Let us go out from our Babylon to meet God our Saviour, as the prophet warns us: “Prepare to meet God our Saviour, O Israel, for he comes!” (cf Am 4:12). Let us leave the depth of our sin and consent to set out towards the Lord, who assumed “the likeness of our sinful flesh” (cf Rm 8:3). Let us leave sin’s will and set out to do penance for our sins. Then we shall find Christ – He Himself made expiation for the sin He had certainly not committed. Then He who saves the repentant will grant us salvation: “He shows mercy to those who are converted” (Sir 12:3).
But you are going to say to me (…): “Who is able to depart from sin by himself?” Indeed, it is true, the greatest sin is the love of sin, the desire to sin. Therefore, leave this desire (…), hate sin and see yourself departed from sin. If you hate sin, you have met Christ where He is to be found. To whoever hates sin, (…) Christ forgives their fault while waiting to root out our evil habits.
But you will say that even this is a great deal for you and that, without the grace of God, it is impossible to hate one’s sin and desire justice: “Let them thank the Lord for his mercy, such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam!” (Ps 106:8). (…) O Lord, with a mighty hand, Jesus all-powerful, come to free my captive reason from the demon of ignorance and snatch my sick will, from the plague of it’s lusts. Free my capacities, so that I may act with strength as I desire to do with all my heart.”… Bl Isaac of Stella O.Cist (c 1100 – c 1170) Cistercian Monk, Abbot, Theologian, Philosopher – Sermon for Lent
PRAYER – Lord God, You hold out the Light of Your Word to those who do not know You. Strengthen in our hearts, the faith You have given us and the Credo we profess, so that no trials may quench the fire Your Spirit has kindled in us. May the intercession of St Vincent de Paul, grant us the grace of following the way of the Cross, to stand beneath it with our Mother, the Mother of God, Ave Maria! We make our prayer through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 15 September – The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows and of St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
‘By the cross of our salvation Mary stood in desolation While the Saviour hung above All her human powers failing, Sorrow’s sword, at last prevailing, Stabs and breaks her heart of love… Virgin Mary, full of sorrow, From your love I ask to borrow Love enough to share your pain. Make my heart to burn with fire, Make Christ’s love my own desire, Who for love of me was slain.’
“The spear which opened His side passed through the soul of the Virgin, which could not be torn from the heart of Jesus.”
St Bernard (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“Whoever you are, who love the Mother of God, take note and reflect with all your innermost feelings, upon her, who wept for the Only-Begotten as He died… The grief she felt in the Passion of her son, goes beyond all understanding.”
St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159)
“Near the cross stood His mother, speechless; living she died; dying she lived.”
“Any time spent before the Eucharistic presence, be it long or short, is the best-spent time of our lives.”
“We must not wish anything other than what happens from moment to moment, all the while, however, exercising ourselves in goodness.”
“And when I hear it said, that God is good and He will pardon us and then see, that men cease not from evil-doing, oh, how it grieves me! The infinite goodness with which God communicates with us, sinners as we are, should constantly make us love and serve Him better but we, on the contrary, instead of seeing in His goodness an obligation to please Him, convert it into an excuse for sin, which will, of a certainty, lead in the end, to our deeper condemnation.”
“The one sole thing, in myself, in which I glory, is that I see in myself, nothing, in which I can glory.”
“Oh, what peril attaches to sin, wilfully committed! For it is so difficult for man to bring himself to penance and without penitence, guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged, the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.”
“I see clearly with the interior eye, that the sweet God loves, with a pure love, the creature that He has created and has a HATRED for nothing but SIN, which is more opposed to Him, than can be thought or imagined.”
Saint of the Day – 15 September – St Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) Married laywoman, Mystic, Apostle of the sick, the poor and the needy, Writer – born in 1447 at Genoa, Italy as Caterina Fieschi Adorno and died on 15 September 1510 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Brides, Childless People, Difficult Marriages, People Ridiculed For Their Piety, Temptations, Victims Of Adultery, Victims Of Unfaithfulness, Widow, Hospitals in Italy (declared by Venerable Pope Pius XII). Her body is incorrupt and rests in a glass reliquary at the Capuchin Church in Genoa.
Catherine was born in Genoa in 1447. She was the youngest of five. Her father, Giacomo Fieschi, died when she was very young. Her mother, Francesca di Negro provided such an effective Christian education that the elder of her two daughters became a religious. When Catherine was 16, she was given in marriage to Giuliano Adorno, a man who after various trading and military experiences in the Middle East had returned to Genoa in order to marry.
Married life was far from easy for Catherine, partly because of the character of her husband who was given to gambling. Catherine herself, was at first induced to lead a worldly sort of life in which, however, she failed to find serenity. After 10 years, her heart was heavy with a deep sense of emptiness and bitterness. A unique experience on 20 March 1473 sparked her conversion. She had gone to the Church of San Benedetto in the monastery of Nostra Signora delle Grazie [Our Lady of Grace], to make her confession and, kneeling before the Priest, “received,” as she herself wrote, “a wound in my heart from God’s immense love.” It came with such a clear vision of her own wretchedness and shortcomings and at the same time of God’s goodness, that she almost fainted.
Her heart was moved by this knowledge of herself — knowledge of the empty life she was leading and of the goodness of God. This experience prompted the decision that gave direction to her whole life. She expressed it in the words: “no longer the world, no longer sin” (cf. Vita Mirabile, 3rv). Catherine did not stay to make her Confession. On arriving home she entered the remotest room and spent a long time weeping. At that moment she received an inner instruction on prayer and became aware of God’s immense love for her, a sinner. It was a spiritual experience she had no words to describe ( cf. Vita Mirabile, 4r).
It was on this occasion that the suffering Jesus appeared to her, bent beneath the Cross, as he is often portrayed in the Saint’s iconography. A few days later she returned to the Priest to make a good Confession at last. It was here, that began the “life of purification” which for many years caused her to feel constant sorrow for the sins she had committed and which spurred her to impose forms of penance and sacrifice upon herself, in order to show her love to God.
On this journey Catherine became ever closer to the Lord until she attained what is called “unitive life,” namely, a relationship of profound union with God. In her Vita it is written, that her soul was guided and instructed from within, solely by the sweet love of God, which gave her all she needed. Catherine surrendered herself so totally into the hands of the Lord that she lived, for about 25 years, as she wrote, “without the assistance of any creature, taught and governed by God alone” (Vita, 117r-118r), nourished above all by constant prayer and by Holy Communion which she received every day, an unusual practice in her time. Only many years later did the Lord give her a Priest who cared for her soul.
Catherine was always reluctant to confide and reveal her experience of mystical communion with God, especially because of the deep humility she felt before the Lord’s graces. The prospect of glorifying Him and of being able to contribute to the spiritual journey of others, alone spurred her, to recount what had taken place within her, from the moment of her conversion, which is her original and fundamental experience.
The place of her ascent to mystical peaks was Pammatone Hospital, the largest hospital complex in Genoa, of which she was director and animator. Hence Catherine lived a totally active existence despite the depth of her inner life. In Pammatone a group of followers, disciples and collaborators formed around her, fascinated by her life of faith and her charity. Indeed her husband, Giuliano Adorno, was so so won over, that he gave up his dissipated life, became a Third Order Franciscan and moved into the hospital to help his wife.
Catherine’s dedication to caring for the sick continued until the end of her earthly life on 15 September 1510. From her conversion until her death there were no extraordinary events but two elements characterise her entire life – on the one hand her mystical experience, that is, the profound union with God, which she felt as spousal union and on the other, assistance to the sick, the organisation of the hospital and service to her neighbour, especially the neediest and the most forsaken. These two poles, God and neighbour, totally filled her life, virtually all of which she spent within the hospital walls.
Dear friends, we must never forget that the more we love God and the more constantly we pray, the better we will succeed in truly loving those who surround us, who are close to us, so that we can see in every person the Face of the Lord whose love knows no bounds and makes no distinctions. The mystic does not create distance from others or, an abstract life but, rather approaches other people, so that they may begin to see and act with God’s eyes and heart.
Catherine’s thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly well known, is summed up in the last two parts of the book mentioned above – The Treatise on Purgatory and the Dialogues between the body and the soul. The first original passage concerns the “place” of the purification of souls. In her day, it was depicted mainly using images linked to space – a certain space was conceived of, in which purgatory was supposed to be located. Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth – for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire. This is purgatory – an inner fire. The Saint speaks of the Soul’s journey of purification on the way to full communion with God, starting from her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in comparison with God’s infinite love (cf. Vita Mirabile, 171v).
We heard of the moment of conversion when Catherine suddenly became aware of God’s goodness, of the infinite distance of her own life from this goodness and of a burning fire within her. And this is the fire that purifies, the interior fire of purgatory. Here too, is an original feature in comparison with the thought of her time. In fact, she does not start with the afterlife in order to recount the torments of purgatory — as was the custom in her time and perhaps still is today — and then to point out the way to purification or conversion. Rather our Saint begins with the inner experience of her own life on the way to Eternity.
“The soul,” Catherine says, “presents itself to God, still bound to the desires and suffering that derive from sin and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the beatific vision of God.” Catherine asserts that God is so pure and holy, that a soul stained by sin, cannot be in the presence of the Divine Majesty (cf. Vita Mirabile, 177r).
We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently, suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love and, love for God itself, becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin.
In Catherine we can make out the presence of theological and mystical sources on which it was normal to draw in her time. In particular, we find an image typical of Dionysius the Areopagite – the thread of gold that links the human heart to God Himself. When God purified man, he bound him with the finest golden thread, that is, His love and draws him toward Himself with such strong affection, that man i,s as it were “overcome and won over and completely beside himself.” Thus man’s heart is pervaded by God’s love that becomes the one guide, the one driving force of his life (cf. Vita Mirabile, 246rv). This situation of being uplifted towards God and of surrender to His will, expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of divine light on the souls in purgatory, a light that purifies and raises them to the splendour of the shining radiance of God (cf. Vita Mirabile, 179r).
With her life, St Catherine teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimacy with Him in prayer the more He makes Himself known to us, setting our hearts on fire with His love. In writing about purgatory, the Saint reminds us of a fundamental truth of faith that becomes for us an invitation to pray for the deceased, so that they may attain the beatific vision of God in the Communion of Saints.
Moreover, the humble, faithful and generous service in Pammatone Hospital that the Saint rendered throughout her life, is a shining example of charity for all and an encouragement, especially for women who, with their precious work enriched by their sensitivity and attention to the poorest and neediest, make a fundamental contribution to society and to the Church.
Catherine’s writings were examined by the Holy Office and declared to contain doctrine that would alone be enough to prove her sanctity and she was accordingly Beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X and Canonised in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. Her writings also, became sources of inspiration for other religious leaders such as Robert Bellarmine and Francis de Sales and Cardinal Henry Edward Manning. Pope Pius XII declared her Patroness of the hospitals in Italy.
When she died, her body was placed in a coffin in the Chapel of the hospital where she had served so selflessly. The wooden coffin unfortunately suffered water damage, yet after it was removed, a year later, the body itself was found to be incorrupt. Her body was later transferred to the Capuchin Convent Annunziata di Portoria, near the centre of Genoa and can be viewed by the public, in the Church attached to the Convent.
Saint of the Day – 22 August – Blessed Timoteo da Monticchio OFM (1444-1503) Priest and Friar of the Franciscan Order,he ws endowed with mystical gifts, especially of the Blessed Virgin and of St Francis of Assisi – born in 1444 in Monticchio, L’Aquila and died on 22 August 1504 in the San Angelo convent in Ocra, L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy of natural causes. He was distinguished for his austerity of life, his visions and his fervour of prayer. His body is incorrupt.
Blessed Timoteo was born in 1444 in Monticchio, therefore, in a period of great affirmation of the Franciscan Order, so much so, that in the same L’Aquila, not far away, the reformer St Bernardine of Siena, the great Franciscan preacher, preached and lived.
He was born into a peasant family and while growing up poor, he was completely absorbed by the spirit of prayer. As a young man he entered the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, where he studied and was Ordained a Priest.
After his Ordination he was sent to Campli in the province of Teramo as the Master of Novices. His life was a succession of mystical phenomena – he had frequent visions of the Blessed Virgin and the holy founder Francis of Assisi. It was said that Timoteo’s life was more celestial than earthly.
He faithfully adhered to the spirit of those Franciscan saints, who restored observance in the Order, such as the aforementioned St Bernardine of Siena, St Giacomo della Marca, St John da Capestrano and the Blessed Bernardino da Fossa.
From Campli, he was transferred to the small Convent of St Angelo d’Ocre, here too, he led a life interwoven with prayer and contemplation, becoming for his brothers an example of the active and contemplative Priesthood and of heroic fidelity to the Franciscan Rule.
He died holy in the latter convent on 22 August 1504. For his reputation for holiness, already known in life and continued after his death, in the lands of Abruzzo, especially in the Aquila and Teramo area, he was given a cult of blessed, which continued uninterruptedly over the centuries, until on 10 March 1870, his Beatification was confirmed by Pope Pius IX. His feast is celebrated today, 22 August.
Saint of the Day – 20 August – Saint Oswine of Deira (Died 651) King, Martyr, King of Deira in northern England. Also known as Osuine, Oswin. Born a Prince, the son of King Osric of Deira in Northumbria and died by being murdered on 20 August 651 at Gilling, Yorkshire, England on the orders of his cousin Oswy. Patronage – betrayal victims (his location was betrayed to his murders by a one of his supposedly loyal nobles).
“King Oswine was of a goodly countenance and tall of stature, pleasant in discourse and courteous in behaviour; and bountiful to all, gentle and simple alike.
[…] He had given a beautiful horse to Bishop Aidan, to use either in crossing rivers, or in performing a journey upon any urgent necessity, though the Bishop was wont to travel ordinarily on foot. Some short time after, a poor man meeting the Bishop and asking alms, he immediately dismounted and ordered the horse, with all his royal trappings, to be given to the beggar; for he was very compassionate, a great friend to the poor and, in a manner, the father of the wretched.
This being told to the King, when they were going in to dinner, he said to the Bishop, “What did you mean, my lord Bishop, by giving the poor man that royal horse, which it was fitting that you should have for your own use? Had not we many other horses of less value, or things of other sorts, which would have been good enough to give to the poor, instead of giving that horse, which I had chosen and set apart for your own use?”
Thereupon the Bishop answered, “What do you say, O King? Is that son of a mare more dear to you than that son of God?”
Upon this they went in to dinner and the Bishop sat in his place but the King, who had come in from hunting, stood warming himself, with his attendants, at the fire. Then, on a sudden, whilst he was warming himself, calling to mind what the Bishop had said to him, he ungirt his sword and gave it to a servant and hastened to the Bishop and fell down at his feet’ beseeching him to forgive him:
“For from this time forward,” said he, “I will never speak anymore of this, nor will I judge of what or how much of our money you shall give to the sons of God.” […] The King, at the Bishop’s command and request, was comforted but the Bishop, on the other hand, grew sad and was moved even to tears. His Priest then asking him, in the language of his country, which the King and his servants did not understand, why he wept.
“I know,” said he, “that the King will not live long, for I never before saw a humble King, whence I perceive that he will soon be snatched out of this life, because this nation is not worthy of such a ruler.” Not long after, the Bishop’s gloomy foreboding was fulfilled by the King’s sad death….”
The Venerable Bede (673-735): Ecclesiastical History of England, 3
St Oswine ruled as King of Deira (southern Northumbria) from 644-651, in the second generation after England’s conversion to Christianity by St Augustine of Canterbury. His father had been murdered by the warlord Cadwalla and young Oswine had been spirited away to safety in Wessex shortly afterwards. Following the death of his kinsman, Oswald, at the hands of King Penda of Mercia in 642, he returned to Deira and became King around 644 . His kinsman Oswy ruled Bernicia, the northern part of Northumbria.
Oswine had a great reputation for sanctity and justice and for seven years the kingdom of Deira enjoyed great happiness and prosperity. But his kinsmen Oswy, jealous of his power, made war upon Oswine. Oswine found himself unable to best the armies of Oswy and so he disbanded them and fled to Humwald of Gilling, whom had recently pledged allegiance to Oswine. But the unscrupulous Humwald quickly betrayed the saintly King Oswin to some of Oswy’s officers who murdered him at Gilling in 651. The slain king was immediately venerated as a Saint as St Bede explained above.
He was buried at Gilling, but his remains were lost during the Danish troubles. Only one year before the Norman Conquest (1065), St Oswine appeared in a vision to a monk named Edmund and revealed the location of his body. On 20 August 1103 his body was transferred solemnly to its final resting place. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries during Henry VIII’s reign, his body was found to be intact in the tomb but it was sacrilegiously destroyed. Only a fragment remained, which is now kept at Durham Cathedral.
As a side note, Eanfleda, the wife of Oswine’s murderer Oswy and daughter of St Edwin, persuaded her husband to do penance for Oswine’s murder by endowing a Monastery at Gilling, which he promptly did. Some remains of the Monastery can still be seen today, though it was destroyed by the Danes in the 11th century.
Saint of the Day – 18 August – Blessed Rinaldo of Concorezzo (c 1245 – 1321) Bishop of Vicenza from 1296 until his 1303 appointment as the Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia holding that until his death, Doctor of Canon Law, Papal envoy, Arbitrator and peace-maker. Rinaldo served as a close confidante to Pope Boniface VIII before the latter was elected as Pontiff and is known for attempting to secure the rehabilitation of the Knights Templar. Archbishop Rinaldo was also a close friend of Dante Alighieri.
Rinaldo was a son of the noble Da Concoregio family, he was born in Milan between 1240 and 1250. Nothing is known about his youth, we have first knowledge of him in Bologna at the University. In his adolescence he completed his studies in Bologna and began to teach Canon law in Lodi from October 1286. In May 1287, the Bishop of Lodi asked him for legal opinions, this makes us understand that he enjoyed a reputation as a jurist and in fact had the academic title of ‘Doctor’ in 1295. We presume that during this time he completed his theological studies and was Ordained.
In 1289 he entered the staff of the Vice Chancellor of the Roman Curia Cardinal Pietro Peregrosso and he became an heir of the Cardinal in the latter’s will after he died in 1295. Rinaldo became a private aide and later the Chaplain to Cardinal Benedetto Caetani who became Pope Boniface VIII in 1294.
On 13 October 1296 the Pope appointed him Bishop of Vicenza, a See which he reached in a stormy way because in the meantime, the Vicentines had elected another bishop. In the end, the Pope’s authority prevailed and Rinaldo received his Episcopal Consecration and was installed as Bishop.
In that period he had special diplomatic and arbitration posts in the disputes that stirred between France and England. He was appointed by King Charles of Valois (1270-1325), called by the Pope to Florence to act as Arbirtrator and as Papal Nuncio (1302) in Romagna, later becoming the spiritual and temporal rector of the Region.
And in this function he found himself involved in the known turbulence of the area in continuous guerrilla warfare, in Forlì his headquarters, he took to the streets to bring peace but was attacked and seriously wounded, miraculously healed from deep wounds and continued his mission but sadly, without success.
The death of Boniface VIII came as a slight blow to the Bishop though Pope Benedict XI appointed him on 19 November 1303 as the Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia and Rinaldo was installed in his new Archdiocese in October 1305.
He convoked a provincial council in 1307 and then resumed the old practice of visiting all parishes contained within the Archdiocese. He held a second in 1309 and another in 1311 all in Ravenna. He visited northern Italian cities in tumult to reconcile them with the empire’s monarch Henry VII. In 1314 he called the fourth council in Argenta in order to restore discipline to priests and liturgical matters. He called for the fifth and last in Bologna in 1317.
He attempted to defend and secure the rehabilitation of the Knights Templar at the Council of Ravenna. He was the architect of the acquittal of the Italian Templars in the Council of Ravenna, which was under investigation and threatened with the dissolution of the Order at the behest of Philip the Beautiful. Together with his suffragan Bishops. He condemned torture and terror as a means of obtaining confessions, not accepting them if extorted with these methods and in this he also opposed the will of Pope Clement V who wanted them to be dissolved.
Moreover, in the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) while dissolving the Order of the Templars by authority, Pope Clement V, together with the King of France, had to admit, that none of the accusations had been proven and Rinaldo who participated in the Council, had thus a total and complete confirmation to his right action.
He travelled a great deal due to the heavy assignments he received from both the Pope and the King of France. He travelled around the various Lombard cities to try to make peace on behalf of Henry VII, King of Germany.
In 1314, he convened the fourth provincial council in Argenta, with the aim of recovering the assets of the Church, restoring the discipline of the clergy, the faithful and worship. A fifth and last Provincial Council was held in Bologna in 1317.
With impressive works he restored the Cathedral of St Bear, increasing preaching in the vernacular. From 1314, now ill in health, he settled in the castle of Argenta and governed the Episcopal See of Ravenna through Vicars, gradually estranging himself from political action and limiting himself to the care of the Diocese.
He died in that castle on 18 August 1321 and was interred in the Ravenna Cathedral. He was exhumed in 1566 and found incorrupt with his long beard still intact.
The cult of Rinaldo has always been a constant tradition of the Ravenna Church – in a document of 1340 he was given the title of ‘blessed’; in 1413 the Franciscan Niccolò da Rimini wrote his ‘Acts and miracles’.
His relics are in Lodi, Concorezzo and Vicenza, places where he is also venerated. The official cult was granted to the Diocese of Ravenna on 15 January 1852. Pope Pius IX approved his Beatification on 18 August 1852.
St Hermas of Rome
St John of Rome
St Juliana of Myra
St Juliana of Stobylum
St Laurus of Illyria
St Leo of Myra
Bl Leonard of Cava St Macarius the Wonder-Worker (Died 850) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2019/08/18/saint-of-the-day-18-august-saint-macarius-the-wonder-worker-died-850/
Bl Martín Martínez Pascual (1910-1936) Martyr
St Maximus of Illyria
Bl Milo of Fontenelle
St Polyaenus of Rome
St Proculus of Illyria Blessed Rinaldo of Concorezzo (c 1245 – 1321) Bishop
St Ronan of Iona
St Serapion of Rome
Massa Candida: Also known as –
• Martyrs of Utica
• White Company
Three hundred 3rd century Christians at Carthage who were ordered to burn incense to Jupiter or face death by fire. Martyrs. Saint Augustine of Hippo and the poet Prudentius wrote about them. They jumped into a pit of burning lime c 253 at Carthage, North Africa.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Martyred Carmelites of Carabanchel Bajo – 8 beati:
Martyrs of La Tejera – 4 beati:
• Blessed Adalberto Vicente y Vicente
• Blessed Agustín Pedro Calvo
• Blessed Angelo Reguilón Lobato
• Blessed Atanasio Vidaurreta Labra
• Blessed Aurelio García Anton
• Blessed Celestino José Alonso Villar
• Blessed Daniel García Antón
• Blessed Eliseo María Camargo Montes
• Blessed Eudald Rodas Saurina
• Blessed Fermín Gellida Cornelles
• Blessed Francisco Arias Martín
• Blessed Francisco Pérez y Pérez
• Blessed Gregorio Díez Pérez
• Blessed Jaume Falgarona Vilanova
• Blessed José María Ruiz Cardeñosa
• Blessed José Sánchez Rodríguez
• Blessed Joseph Chamayoux Auclés
• Blessed Liberio González Nombela
• Blessed María Luisa Bermúdez Ruiz
• Blessed Micaela Hernán Martínez
• Blessed Nicomedes Andrés Vecilla
• Blessed Patricio Gellida Llorach
• Blessed Rosario Ciércoles Gascón
• Blessed Santiago Franco Mayo
• Blessed Silvano Villanueva González
• Blessed Vicente María Izquierdo Alcón
Quote/s of the Day – 11 August – The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
“Our labour here is brief but the reward is eternal. Do not be disturbed by the clamour of the world, which passes like a shadow. Do not let false delights of a deceptive world deceive you.”
“Love God, serve God, everything is in that.”
“Totally love Him, who gave Himself totally, for your love.”
“Love that cannot suffer is not worthy of that name.”
“Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ … For He is the Brightness of eternal glory, the Splendour of eternal light, the Mirror without spot.”
“O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her!”
“Never forget that the way which leads to heaven is narrow; that the gate leading to life is narrow and low; that there are but few who find it and enter by it and, if there be some who go in and tread the narrow path for some time, there are but very few who persevere therein.”
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”… Matthew 18:3
REFLECTION – “Beside this obvious explanation let another be given as well.
As an act of theological and ethical reflection, let us ask what sort of a child Jesus called to Himself and has set in the midst of the disciples.
Think of it this way – the child called by Jesus is the Holy Spirit, who humbled Himself.
He was called by the Saviour and set in the middle of the disciples of Jesus. The Lord wants us, ignoring all the rest, to turn to the examples given by the Holy Spirit, so that we become like the children — that is, the disciples — who were themselves converted and made like the Holy Spirit. God gave these children to the Saviour according to what we read in Isaiah: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me.”
To enter the kingdom of heaven is not possible for the person who has not turned from worldly matters and become like those children who had the Holy Spirit.
Jesus called this Holy Spirit to Himself like a child, when He came down from His perfect completeness, to mankind and set it in the middle of the disciples.” … Origen Adamantius (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Father – Commentary on Matthew, 13
PRAYER – Holy God, grant we pray, Your Holy Spirit of love and divine grace to grow ever more in faith. By our prayers and love for You and our neighbour, may we merit Your divine assistance. Lord Jesus, help us to dwell often on the manner in which we are following You. Let us strive each day to become more and more like You in all things and, to become beacons of Your Light, to all the world. St Clare of Assisi, you who were a light to all, pray for us, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 11 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time and The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi(1194-1253)
I Come, O Lord By St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
I come, O Lord,
unto Thy sanctuary
to see the life and food of my soul.
As I hope in Thee, O Lord,
inspire me with that confidence
which brings me to Thy holy mountain.
Permit me, Divine Jesus,
to come closer to Thee,
that my whole soul may do homage
to the greatness of Thy majesty,
that my heart,
with its tenderest affections,
may acknowledge Thy infinite love,
that my memory may dwell
on the admirable mysteries
here renewed everyday
and that the sacrifice,
of my whole being,
may accompany Thine.
“As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty and in another thirty.”...Matthew 13:23
REFLECTION – “And yet, if both the land be good and the Sower one and the seed the same, wherefore did one bear a hundred, one sixty, one thirty?
Here again the difference is from the nature of the ground, for even where the ground is good, great even therein, is the difference.
Understand that not the Sower is to be blamed, nor the seed but the land that receives it? not for its nature but, for its disposition.
And herein too, great is His mercy to man, that He does not require one measure of virtue.
… And these things He says, lest they that followed Him should suppose that hearing is sufficient for salvation.
… Yes, both vainglory and all the rest belong to this world and to the deceitfulness of riches, such as pleasure and gluttony and envy and vainglory and all the like.
But He added also the “way” and the “rock,” signifying that it is not enough to be freed from riches only, but we must cultivate also the other parts of virtue.
But what if you are free indeed from riches, yet are soft and unmanly? and what if you are not indeed unmanly but are remiss and careless about the hearing of the word?
No one part is sufficient for our salvation but there is required first, a careful hearing and a continual recollection, then fortitude, then contempt of riches and deliverance from all worldly things.” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor
PRAYER – A pure heart create for me O God, put a steadfast spirit within me! (Ps 50) Lord God, bestow a full measure of Your grace to us. Keep us within in the path of Your commandments, help us to work on the earth of our souls, rooting out the weeds and casting forth the stones of malice. Grant that by the prayers of St Charbel Makhluf, who by Your grace triumphed in all virtues, we may succeed in attaining sanctity. Through Christ, our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 11 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Saturday of the Fourteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 93:1-2, 5, Matthew 10:24-33 and the Memorial of St Benedict of Nursia OSB (c 480-547) Patron of Europe and Founder of Western Monasticism and St Olga Queen of Kiev (c 890-969)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” … Matthew 10:29-30
REFLECTION – “If God shows such a solicitous care even for things of modest value (grass and flowers, for example), how can He forget you, that you are the most excellent of His creatures? Why then did He create such beautiful things? To manifest His wisdom and the greatness of His power, so that we might know all His glory.
Not only the heavens narrate the glory of God (Ps 18,2) but also the earth, as David points out, when he sang: Praise the Lord, fruit trees and all cedars (Ps 148,9). In fact, some creatures praise the Creator with their fruits, others with their greatness, still others with their beauty.
Another demonstration of the great wisdom and power of God resides in the fact that He adorns even the most vile objects of such beauty (what is, in fact, more vile than what exists today but tomorrow will no longer be?) If, then, God has also given hay to what was not necessary at all (what good is it, in fact, it’s beauty? To feed the fire?) how can He not give you what you need? If the Lord has generously decorated the most vile thing of all and not for some purpose but only for beauty, much more He will honour you, the most precious of His creatures, in those things that are necessary to you. ” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew, 22.1
PRAYER – Loving Father, grant me to have a true fervour in Your service. Let me never tire of following Your Son’s example and avoiding evil. Teach me to reside in total peace in Your wisdom and power and thus to trust You above all. Grant that by the intercession of St Benedict and St Olga, we may grow in holiness and attain our eternal home with You. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Olga Queen of Kiev (c 890-969) Queen of the Ukraine – born c 890 at Pskov, Russia and died on 11 July 969 in Kiev, Ukraine of natural causes. Also known as Olga Prekrasa, Olga the Beauty, Helena, Helga, Olha. Patronage – Kiev, converts, widows. Her body was incorrupt, though it was lost in the early 18th century.
While Olga’s birthdate is unknown, it could be as early as 890 and as late as 925 but she was born and lived in Pskov. Little is known about her life before her marriage to Prince Igor I of Kiev and the birth of their son, Svyatoslav. Igor was the son and heir of Rurik, founder of Rurik dynasty. After his father’s death Igor was under guardianship of Oleg, who had consolidated power in the region, conquering neighbouring tribes and establishing a capital in Kiev. This loose tribal federation became known as Kievan Rus’, a territory covering what are now parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The Drevlians were a neighbouring tribe with which the growing Kievan Rus’ empire had a complex relationship. The Drevlians had joined Kievan Rus’ in military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire and paid tribute to Igor’s predecessors. They stopped paying tribute upon Oleg’s death and instead gave money to a local warlord. In 945, Igor set out to the Drevlian capital, Iskorosten (today known as Korosten in northern Ukraine), to force the tribe to pay tribute to Kievan Rus.’ Confronted by Igor’s larger army, the Drevlians backed down and paid him. As Igor and his army rode home, however, he decided the payment was not enough and returned, with only a small envoy, seeking more tribute. Upon his arrival in their territory, the Drevlians murdered Igor. According to the Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon, Igor’s death was caused by a gruesome act of torture in which he was “captured by them, tied to tree trunks and torn in two.”
When Igor was murdered in 945, Princess Olga assumed the regency for her son, Svyatoslav. Olga served as regent until her son was of age in 964. She was known as a ruthless and effective ruler. She resisted marrying Prince Mal of the Drevlians, who had been the killers of Igor, killing their emissaries and burning their city in revenge for her husband’s death. She resisted other offers of marriage and defended Kiev from attacks.
During her son’s prolonged military campaigns, she remained in charge of Kiev, residing in the castle of Vyshgorod with her grandsons.
In the 950s, Olga travelled to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, to visit Emperor Constantine VII. Once in Constantinople, Olga converted to Christianity with the assistance of the Emperor and the Bishop. While the Primary Chronicle does not divulge Olga’s motivation for her visit or conversion, it does go into great detail on the conversion process, in which she was baptised and instructed in the ways of Christianity
“When Olga was enlightened, she rejoiced in soul and body. The Bishop, who instructed her in the faith, said to her, ‘Blessed art thou among the women of Rus’, for thou hast loved the light and quit the darkness. The sons of Rus’ shall bless thee to the last generation of thy descendants.’ He taught her the doctrine of the Church, and instructed her in prayer and fasting, in almsgiving and in the maintenance of chastity. She bowed her head and like a sponge absorbing water, she eagerly drank in his teachings. The Princess bowed before the Bishop, saying, ‘Through thy prayers, Holy Father, may I be preserved from the crafts and assaults of the devil!’ At her Baptism she was named Helena, after the ancient Empress, mother of Constantine the Great. The Bishop then blessed her and dismissed her.”
By her example, she influenced her grandson, Vladimir I. He was the third son of Svyatoslav and brought Kiev (Rus) into the official Christian fold.
Olga died from illness in 969. When Svyatoslav announced plans to move his throne to the Danube region, the ailing Olga convinced him to stay with her during her final days. Only three days later, she passed away and her family and all of Kievan Rus’ wept.
At the time of her death, it seemed that Olga’s attempt to make Kievan Rus’ a Christian territory had been a failure. Nonetheless, Olga’s Christianising mission would be brought to fruition by her grandson, Vladimir, who officially adopted Christianity in 988. The Primary Chronicle highlights Olga’s holiness in contrast to the pagans around her during her life as well as the significance of her decision to convert to Christianity:
“Olga was the precursor of the Christian land, even as the day-spring precedes the sun and as the dawn precedes the day. For she shone like the moon by night and she was radiant among the infidels like a pearl in the mire, since the people were soiled and not yet purified of their sin by holy baptism. But she herself was cleansed by this sacred purification…. She was the first from Rus’ to enter the kingdom of God and the son of Rus’ thus praise her as their leader, for since her death she has interceded with God in their behalf.”
Her relics were found to be incorrupt and translated to the Church of the Tithes in Kiev, the first time relics were displayed in Rus-Ukraine, however, her relics were lost forever in the early 18th century.
Saint of the Day – 8 July – Blessed Giulio of Montevergine (Died 1601) Hermit, Scholar,Penitent, Apostle of Prayer and Charity. Born in the 16th century Nardò, Lecce, Italy and died on 8 July 1601 at the Abbey of Montevergine of natural causes. His body is incorrupt.
For centuries, people referred to Friar Giulio as “Blessed”, although the Church has never officially Beatified this Servant of God.
The renowned Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montevergine, a famous Benedictine Abbey, founded by Saint William of Vercelli in the Twelfth Century, has been a noted Pilgrimage Site, for centuries. Apart from the Effigy of Our Lady of Montevergine, the Shrine also houses the incorrupt remains of Blessed Giulio.
Giulio was born in the Sixteenth Century in Nardò, Lecce, to a wealthy family and studied Letters, Science and Music, in which he distinguished himself through his impeccable talent.
At an early age, he distributed all his material possessions to the poor and lived as a Hermit, dressed in a Pilgrim’s Habit, together with another saintly Hermit, by the name of Giovanni.
The Carafa Nobles, noting their keen life of mortification and contemplation, built for them a Hermitage and a Church, dedicated to the Crowned Virgin Mary, known among the locals to these days as L’Incoronata.
Pope Gregory XIII (1502 – 1585), understanding the fact that several Pilgrims visited the Hermitage for prayer, sent the Benedictine Camaldolese Monks, to establish a Community there.
But, by now, the “Blessed” Giulio had become too well known and moreover the possibility of becoming Superior was proposed. He chose rather to return to hiding and remain unknown to all. He left the Hermitage and went knocking at the Abbey of Montevergine – images below, not so far away and was welcomed with joy by the Monks. Here he passed his remaining years under the shade of the Virgin Mary, serving as the Monastery Organist for 24 years.
Again through his profound humility, he never wanted to be Ordained to the Priesthood and asked his Superiors to bury him under the pavement of Our Lady’s Chapel, so that Pilgrims would pass over his Vault, as if he was a great sinner, trampled on by everyone.
His wish was granted when he died on 8 July 1601. Twenty years later, in 1621, when the pavements where undergoing restorations, his body was found remarkably preserved and, even today, over over four centuries later, his remains, preserved in an glass cask, are still visibly incorrupt.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls…” … Matthew 11:29
REFLECTION – “You are to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all things visible and invisible, nor to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its erection, rises up high but he who digs its foundation, must first go down very low. So then, you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised, only after humiliation.”… St Augustine (354-430) Fater & Doctor (Sermon 69)
PRAYER – Holy God, our Father, we turn to You in confidence as children and pray, give us meekness of heart, make us “poor in spirit” that we may recognise that we are not self-sufficient, that we are unable to build our lives on our own but need You, we need to encounter You, to listen to You, to speak to You. Help us to understand that we need Your gift, Your wisdom, which is Jesus Himself, in order to do the Your will in our lives and thus to find rest in the hardships of our journey. May the prayers of Saint Anthony Zaccaria help us to learn the true humility of Your divine Son. Grant this, we pray, through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.
St Agatho of Sicily
St Athanasius the Athonite
St Athanasius of Jerusalem
St Cyprille of Libya
St Cyrilla of Cyrene
St Domitius of Phrygia
St Edana of West Ireland
Bl Edward Cheevers
Bl Elias of Bourdeilles
Bl George Nichols
St Grace of Cornwall
Bl Humphrey Pritchard Blessed Joseph Boissel OMI (1909-1969) Priest and Martyr
St Marinus of Tomi
St Mars of Nantes
Bl Matthew Lambert
St Numerian of Treves
Bl Patrick Cavanagh
St Philomena of San Severino
St Probus of Cornwall
Bl Richard Yaxley
Bl Robert Meyler
St Rosa Chen Aijieh
St Sedolpha of Tomi
St Stephen of Reggio
St Teresia Chen Qingjieh
St Theodotus of Tomi
Bl Thomas Belson
St Thomas of Terreti
St Triphina of Brittany
St Triphina of Sicily
St Zoe of Rome
Quote/s of the Day – 4 July – The Memorial of Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Priest and Martyr“A Christian Walking Through the World” and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati TOSF (1901-1925) “Man of the Beatitudes”
“Let us hoist our sails trusting in the wind of God’s grace.”
Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe (c 1587-1639)
Priest and Martyr
“A Christian Walking Through the World”
“All around the sick and all around the poor, I see a special light which we do not have.”
“In prayer, the soul rises above life’s sadnesses.”
“The faith given to me in Baptism suggests to me surely – by yourself you will do nothing but, if you have God as the centre of all your action, then you will reach the goal.”
“The times we are going through are difficult because cruel persecution of the Church is raging. But you, bold and good young people, should not be afraid of this small thing, remember, that the Church is a divine institution and cannot come to an end. She will last till the end of the world. Not even the gates of hell can prevail against her.”
“To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live but to ‘get along,’ we must never just ‘get along’.”
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925)
“Man of the Beatitudes”
One Minute Reflection – 4 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Saturday of the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Amos 9:11-15, Psalm 85:11-14, Matthew 9:14-17 and the Memorial of Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Prist and Martyr and Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati TOSF (1901-1925)
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.” … Matthew 9:15
REFLECTION – “However, our mourning is right if we burn with desire to see Him. How happy they were who were able to enjoy His presence before His Passion, to question Him as they wished and listen to Him as necessary… As for us, we see the fulfilment of what He said: “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it” (Lk 17:22)… “A little while and you will no longer see me and again a little while and you will see me” (Jn 16:19).
But now this is the hour of which He said: “You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice… But, He added, I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no-one will take your joy away from you” (v.22). The hope thus given us by Him, who is faithful in His promises, never now leaves us, without a certain joy — until that overwhelming joy comes on the day when we will be like Him because we will see Him as he is (1Jn 3:2)… “When a woman is in labour, she has pain because her hour has come,” says the Lord, “but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world” (Jn 16:21). This is the joy no-one can take away from us and with which we will be satisfied when we pass to eternal light from our present conception in faith. So let us fast and pray since we are still on the threshold of birth.“…St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor
PRAYER – Father almighty, as we wait and work and pray and fast in joyful hope of our eternal life with You, grant we pray that we may always remain steadfast in Your love. Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe, you of intrepid perseverance and faith and Pier Giorgio Frassati, you whose faith could move mountains, pray for us, that we will fully utilise the many gifts our Almighty God has bestowed on us as we journey home. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, in union with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
4 July – Our Lady of Refuge, Nuestra Señora del Refugio, is Patroness of California and parts of Mexico.
This painting is from the hands of the artist, Joseph de Paez, 1750, Mexico.
The Franciscan missionary Francisco Diego Garcia y Moreno was the first Bishop of Baja, California. He proclaimed Nuestra Señora del Refugio, as Patron on 4 January 1843, at Mission Santa Clara in Alta California.
His proclamation included the following:
The entire text of Bishop Garcia Diego’s declaration is recorded in Mission Santa Clara’s Libro de Patentes. After citing the early Fathers of the Church on the practice and spiritual benefits of naming patron Saints, the first Bishop of the Californias stated: “We make known to you that we hereby name the great Mother of God in her most precious title, ‘del Refugio, ‘ the principal patroness of our Diocese . . . With so great a patroness and protectress, what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?”
The Liturgical Feast:
In 1981 the California Catholic Conference of Bishops petitioned the Vatican Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship for authorisation to observe the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge on 5 July as an obligatory memorial. This was approved by official document dated 15 January 1982 and signed by Archbishop Giuseppe Casoria.
The Diocese of Baja California celebrate this Patronal Feast on 4 July.
Paintings of Our Lady of Refuge are, with few exceptions, quite similar in design and execution. The heads of the Infant Jesus and his Mother Mary lean together with no background between them. Both figures wear a crown. Mary’s eyes are turned toward the observer, while the gaze of the child seems to turn left of the viewer.
In the Santa Clara Mission church the painting of Our Lady of Refuge is found above the larger picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side altar niches on the left as one nears the sanctuary. Another painting by Eulalio, a local Native American, is on display in Santa Clara University’s De Saisset Museum near the mission church.
The above image is darker than the Eulalio painting, which has a wood-tone background. The flower motif is almost the same, the two figures are almost identical in both images.
Bl Agatha Yun Jeom-Hye
St Albert Quadrelli
St Andrew of Crete
St Anthony Daniel
St Aurelian of Lyons
St Bertha of Blangy
St Carileffo of Anille
Bl Catherine Jarrige
St Cesidio Giacomantonio
Bl Damiano Grassi of Rivoli
St Donatus of Libya
St Edward Fulthrop
St Elias of Jerusalem
St Finbar of Wexford
St Fiorenzo of Cahors
St Flavian of Antioch
Bl Giovanni of Vespignano
St Haggai the Prophet
Bl Hatto of Ottobeuren
Bl Henry Abbot
St Henry of Albano
St Hosea the Prophet
St Innocent of Sirmium
Bl John Carey
Bl John Cornelius
Bl Jozef Kowalski
St Laurian of Seville
St Lauriano of Vistin
Bl Maria Crocifissa Curcio
St Namphanion the Archmartyr
Bl Natalia of Toulouse
St Odo the Good
Bl Odolric of Lyon
Bl Patrick Salmon
Bl Pedro Romero Espejo Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Priest and Martyr The first of the 188 Japanese Martyrs
One Minute Reflection – 15 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Monday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 1 Kings 21:1-16, Psalm 5:2-3, 4-7, Matthew5:38-42 and the Memorial of St Germaine Cousin (1579–1601)
“Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” … Matthew 5:41
REFLECTION – “Do you grasp the excellence of a Christian disposition? After you give your coat and your cloak, even if your enemy should wish to subject your naked body to hardships and labours, not even then, Jesus says, must you forbid him. For He would have us possess all things in common, both our bodies and our goods, as with them that are in need, so with them that insult us. For the latter response comes from a courageous spirit, the former from mercy. Because of this, Jesus said, “If any one shall compel you to go one mile, go with him two.” Again He leads you to higher ground and commands you to manifest the same type of aspiration. For if the lesser things He spoke of at the beginning receive such great blessings, consider what sort of reward awaits those who duly perform these and what they become even before we hear of receiving rewards. You are winning full freedom from unworthy passions in a human and passible body.” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop, Father & Doctor (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily 18)
PRAYER – King of heaven and earth, Lord God, rule over or hearts and bodies this day. Sanctify us and guide our every thought, word and deed according to the commandments of Your law, so that now and forever, Your grace may free and save us. Teach us Lord to walk in the ways of the Cross of Your Son, our Saviour, as St Germaine Cousin so lovingly and willingly inspires us to do. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God, forever, amen
St Constantine of Beauvais
St Domitian of Lobbes
St Edburgh of Winchester
St Eutropia of Palmyra
St Fortunatus of Corinth St Germaine Cousin (1579–1601) Incorrupt
St Hadelinus of Lobbes
St Hesychius of Durostorum
St Hilarion of Espalion
Bl Juan Rodriguez
St Julius of Durostorum
St Landelin of Crespin
St Leonides of Palmyra
St Libya of Palmyra
St Lotharius of Séez
St Melan of Viviers
Bl Pedro da Teruel
Bl Peter Snow
St Pierre de Cervis
Bl Ralph Grimston
St Tatian of Cilicia
Bl Thomas Scryven
St Trillo of Wales
St Vaughen of Ireland St Vitus (c 290-c 303) – Martyr, One of the Seven Holy Helpers His very short life: https://anastpaul.com/2017/06/15/saint-of-the-day-15-june-st-vitus/