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Quote/s of the Day – 27 April – St Peter Canisius

Quote/s of the Day – 27 April – The Memorial of St Peter Canisius SJ (1521-1597) Doctor of the Church

Better that only a few Catholics
should be left,
staunch and sincere in their religion,
than that they should,
remaining many,
desire as it were,
to be in collusion
with the Church’s enemies
and in conformity with the open foes
of our faith.

Prayer of a Catechist
to Jesus, Lover of Children

O Jesus, Friend of children,
Who from Thy most tender years
did grow visibly in wisdom
and in grace before God and men.
Who at the age of twelve,
was seated in the Temple,
in the midst of the doctors,
listening to them attentively,
humbly asking them questions
and exciting their admiration
by the prudence and wisdom
of Thy discourse.
Who didst receive, so willingly,
the children, blessing them
and saying to Thy disciples:
Let them come to Me,
for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Inspire me as Thou did inspire
the blessed Peter Canisius,
model and guide of the perfect Catechist,
with a profound respect
and a holy affection for childhood,
a taste and a marked devotion
for instructing them in Christian doctrine,
a special aptitude, in making them understand
its mysteries and love its beauties.
I ask this of Thee,
through the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and Saint Peter Canisius.
Amen.

St Peter Canisius (1521-1397)
Doctor of the Church

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Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius SJ (1521-1397) The “Second Apostle of Germany” – Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius SJ. (1521-1397) The “Second Apostle of Germany” – Doctor of the Church

Catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI – 9 February 2011saint-peter-canisius glass lg

He was born on 8 May 1521 in Wijmegen, Holland.   His father was Burgomaster of the town.   While he was a student at the University of Cologne he regularly visited the Carthusian monks of St Barbara, a driving force of Catholic life and other devout men who cultivated the spirituality of the so-called devotio moderna [modern devotion].

He entered the Society of Jesus on 8 May 1543 in Mainz (Rhineland — Palatinate), after taking a course of spiritual exercises under the guidance of Bl (now Saint) Pierre Favre, Petrus [Peter] Faber, one of St Ignatius of Loyola’s first companions.   He was ordained a priest in Cologne.   Already the following year, in June 1546, he attended the Council of Trent, as the theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsberg, where he worked with two confreres, Diego Laínez and Alfonso Salmerón.   In 1548, St Ignatius had him complete his spiritual formation in Rome and then sent him to the College of Messina to carry out humble domestic duties.

He earned a doctorate in theology at Bologna on 4 October 1549 and St Ignatius assigned him to carry out the apostolate in Germany.   On 2 September of that same year he visited Pope Paul III at Castel Gandolfo and then went to St Peter’s Basilica to pray.   Here he implored the great Holy Apostles Peter and Paul for help to make the Apostolic Blessing permanently effective for the future of his important new mission.   He noted several words of this prayer in his spiritual journal.

He said:  “There I felt that a great consolation and the presence of grace had been granted to me through these intercessors [Peter and Paul].   They confirmed my mission in Germany and seemed to transmit to me, as an apostle of Germany, the support of their benevolence.   You know, Lord, in how many ways and how often on that same day you entrusted Germany to me, which I was later to continue to be concerned about and for which I would have liked to live and die”.Canisius_smlframe

We must bear in mind that we are dealing with the time of the Lutheran Reformation, at the moment when the Catholic faith in the German-speaking countries seemed to be dying out in the face of the fascination of the Reformation.   The task of Canisius — charged with revitalising or renewing the Catholic faith in the Germanic countries — was almost impossible.   It was possible only by virtue of prayer.   It was possible only from the centre, namely, a profound personal friendship with Jesus Christ, a friendship with Christ in His Body, the Church, which must be nourished by the Eucharist, His Real Presence.

In obedience to the mission received from Ignatius and from Pope Paul III, Canisius left for Germany.   He went first to the Duchy of Bavaria, which for several years was the place where he exercised his ministry.   As dean, rector and vice chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, he supervised the academic life of the Institute and the religious and moral reform of the people.   In Vienna, where for a brief time he was diocesan administrator, he carried out his pastoral ministry in hospitals and prisons, both in the city and in the countryside and prepared the publication of his Catechism.   In 1556 he founded the College of Prague and, until 1569, was the first superior of the Jesuit Province of Upper Germany.   In this office he established a dense network of communities of his Order in the Germanic countries, especially colleges, that were starting points for the Catholic Reformation, for the renewal of the Catholic faith.st peter canisius engraving

At that time he also took part in the Colloquy of Worms with Protestant divines, including Philip Melanchthon (1557);  He served as Papal Nuncio in Poland (1558);  he took part in the two Diets of Augsberg (1559 and 1565); he accompanied Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz, Legate of Pope Pius IV, to Emperor Ferdinand (1560);  and he took part in the last session of the Council of Trent where he spoke on the issue of Communion under both Species and on the Index of Prohibited Books (1562).

In 1580 he withdrew to Fribourg, Switzerland, where he devoted himself entirely to preaching and writing.   He died there on 21 December 1597.   Bl Pius IX Beatified him in 1864 and in 1897 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the “Second Apostle of Germany”. Pope Pius XI Canonised him and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1925.

St Peter Canisius spent a large part of his life in touch with the most important people of his time and exercised a special influence with his writings.   He edited the complete works of Cyril of Alexandria and of St Leo the Great, the Letters of St Jerome and the Orations of St Nicholas of Flüe.   He published devotional books in various languages, biographies of several Swiss Saints and numerous homiletic texts.peter-canisius

However, his most widely disseminated writings were the three Catechisms he compiled between 1555 and 1558.   The first Catechism was addressed to students who could grasp the elementary notions of theology;  the second, to young people of the populace for an initial religious instruction;  the third, to youth with a scholastic formation of middle and high school levels.   He explained Catholic doctrine with questions and answers, concisely, in biblical terms, with great clarity and with no polemical overtones.

There were at least 200 editions of this Catechism in his lifetime alone!   And hundreds of editions succeeded one another until the 20th century.   So it was, that still in my father’s generation people in Germany were calling the Catechism simply “the Canisius”.   He really was the Catechist of Germany for centuries, he formed people’s faith for centuries.   This was a characteristic of St Peter Canisius – his ability to combine harmoniously fidelity to dogmatic principles with the respect that is due to every person. St Canisius distinguished between a conscious, blameworthy apostosy from faith and a blameless loss of faith through circumstances.106_Canisius

Moreover, he declared to Rome that the majority of Germans who switched to Protestantism were blameless.   In a historical period of strong confessional differences, Canisius avoided — and this is something quite extraordinary — the harshness and rhetoric of anger — something rare, as I said, in the discussions between Christians in those times — and aimed only at presenting the spiritual roots and at reviving the faith in the Church.   His vast and penetrating knowledge of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church served this cause, the same knowledge that supported his personal relationship with God and the austere spirituality that he derived from the Devotio Moderna and Rhenish mysticism.

Characteristic of St Canisius’ spirituality was his profound personal friendship with Jesus.   For example, on 4 September 1549 he wrote in his journal, speaking with the Lord:  “In the end, as if You were opening to me the heart of the Most Sacred Body, which it seemed to me I saw before me, You commanded me to drink from that source, inviting me, as it were, to draw the waters of my salvation from Your founts, O my Saviour”.

Then he saw that the Saviour was giving him a garment with three pieces that were called peace, love and perseverance.   And with this garment, made up of peace, love and perseverance, Canisius carried out his work of renewing Catholicism.   His friendship with Jesus — which was the core of his personality — nourished by love of the Bible, by love of the Blessed Sacrament and by love of the Fathers, this friendship was clearly united with the awareness of being a perpetuator of the Apostles’ mission in the Church. And this reminds us that every genuine evangeliser is always an instrument united with Jesus and with His Church and is fruitful for this very reason.

Friendship with Jesus had been inculcated in St Peter Canisius in the spiritual environment of the Charterhouse of Cologne, in which he had been in close contact with two Carthusian mystics – Johannes Lansperger, whose name has been Latinized as “Lanspergius” and Nikolaus van Esche, Latinized as “Eschius”.

He subsequently deepened the experience of this friendship, familiaritas stupenda nimis, through contemplation of the mysteries of Jesus’ life, which form a large part of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.   This is the foundation of his intense devotion to the Heart of the Lord, which culminated in his consecration to the apostolic ministry in the Vatican Basilica.

The Christocentric spirituality of St Peter Canisius is rooted in a profound conviction – no soul anxious for perfection fails to practice prayer daily, mental prayer, an ordinary means that enables the disciple of Jesus to live in intimacy with the divine Teacher.

For this reason in his writings for the spiritual education of the people, our Saint insists on the importance of the Liturgy with his comments on the Gospels, on Feasts, on the Rite of Holy Mass and on the sacraments;  yet, at the same time, he is careful to show the faithful the need for and beauty of personal daily prayer, which should accompany and permeate participation in the public worship of the Church.   This exhortation and method have kept their value intact, especially after being authoritatively proposed anew by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, Christian life does not develop unless it is nourished by participation in the Liturgy — particularly at Sunday Mass — and by personal daily prayer, by personal contact with God.x20150427_1canisius.jpgqitokakfklhqp.pagespeed.ic.pv_ky19fua

Among the thousands of activities and multiple distractions that surround us, we must find moments for recollection before the Lord every day, in order to listen to Him and speak with Him.

At the same time, the example that St Peter Canisius has bequeathed to us, not only in his works but especially with his life, is ever timely and of lasting value.   He teaches clearly that the apostolic ministry is effective and produces fruits of salvation in hearts only if the preacher is a personal witness of Jesus and an instrument at His disposal, bound to Him closely by faith in His Gospel and in His Church, by a morally consistent life and by prayer as ceaseless as love.   And this is true for every Christian who wishes to live his adherence to Christ with commitment and fidelity.

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Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius S.J. (1521-1397) – Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius S.J. (1521-1397) – Priest, Religious, Doctor of the Church, Reformer, Teacher, Confessor, Writer, Apostle of Charity –  (Born as Pieter Kanis on 8 May 1521 at Niemguen, Netherlands – 21 December 1597 at Fribourg, Switzerland of natural causes).   Patronages – Catholic Press, Germany, Catechists.   Known as the Hammer of Protestantism and the Second Apostle of Germany.   St Peter  became known for his strong support for the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Switzerland.   The restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led.   “Peter Canisius was the first publisher, the first author, the first editor of the Society of Jesus.   By now, Jesuits have followed in his footsteps to the tune of having published in 400 years, thousands of books.   From the time of Canisius, and his name is first in the bibliography of Jesuit writers, from Peter Canisius to the end of the l9th century, that is to 1900, there are about twenty volumes of bibliography, each volume about two inches thick, stands about eighteen inches high, filled just with authors and titles, thousands and thousands and thousands, no other religious institute in the Church publishes as much as members of the Society.   It was all started by Peter Canisius.” (Ven Servan of God Fr John A Hardon S.J.)

canisius - large

St Peter Canisius was born in 1521 in what is now the Netherlands.   His father was the local mayor and his mother died shortly of his birth.  Peter studied at the University of Cologne and earned a Master’s degree in 1540 at the age of 19.   While there, he met St Peter Faber, one of the first Jesuits.   Through him, Canisius became the first Dutchman to join the Society of Jesus in 1543.   St Peter Canisius’ preaching and writings, led him to become one of the most influential Catholics of his time.   He supervised the founding and maintenance of the first German-speaking Jesuit colleges and was known as the Second Apostle of Germany.

If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all – St Peter Canisius

For a half-century he led the Catholic Reformation in Austria, Bavaria and Bohemia.   For that reason he is reckoned an apostle to Germany, second only to St. Boniface.   With stupendous energy he preached and taught in parishes, reformed and founded universities, wrote many books including popular catechisms, restored lapsed Catholics, converted Protestants, preached retreats and found time to care for the sick.   In his last 30 years travelling more than 20,000 miles on foot or horseback, St Peter Canisius spearheaded the renewal of the Catholic faith in southern Germany.Saint_Petrus_Canisius

Peter Canisius revitalised Catholic life and teaching at universities in Ingolstadt and Augsburg.   He founded new ones at Prague and Fribourg.   In all four cities his preaching and catechising won the hearts of Catholics and attracted nominal Protestants to the church.   In Vienna his personal care for plague victims made him a most popular figure.  Thus, when appointed diocesan administrator, he was in a position to revive the city’s long decadent Catholic community.

After 1555, Peter Canisius published his famous Summary of Christian Doctrine and two smaller catechisms.   These books generated the Catholic Reformation as Luther’s catechism had spread Protestantism.   Canisius’s catechisms also helped launch the Catholic press.    The Three Catechisms he compiled between 1555 and 1558.   The first Catechism was addressed to students who could grasp the elementary notions of theology;  the second, to young people of the populace for an initial religious instruction;  the third, to youth with a scholastic formation of middle and high school levels.   He explained Catholic doctrine with questions and answers, concisely, in biblical terms, with great clarity and with no polemical overtones.   “There were at least 200 editions of this Catechism in his lifetime alone, translated into 15 languages!   And hundreds of editions succeeded one another until the 20th century.   So it was that still in my father’s generation people in Germany were calling the Catechism simply “the Canisius”.   He really was the Catechist of Germany for centuries, he formed people’s faith for centuries.” (Pope Benedict XVI).

He was offered the post of Bishop of Vienna in 1554 but declined in to continue his travelling and teachings.

canisius2

In the late 16th century, when open hostility typified relations between Catholics and Protestants, Peter Canisius advised charity and moderation. He opposed theological debates with Protestant leaders and in general, discouraged discussion of Catholic distinctives such as indulgences, purgatory and monastic vows with Protestants.   He believed such efforts only heightened division and embittered relations.   He articulated his views in this letter to his Jesuit superior:

“It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy.   For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax.   We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits.   Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling.   Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.”

In 1591, Peter Canisius suffered a stroke that nearly killed him.   But he recovered and devoted himself to writing for six more years until his death in 1597.   His body was interred before the high altar of the Church of Saint Nicholas in Fribourg and his relics were translated to the Church of Saint Michael at the Jesuit College in Fribourg in 1625. He was Canonised 21 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI and was added to the now 36 Doctors of the Church, by Pope Pius XI in 1925.SOD-1221-SaintPeterCanisius-790x480Petrus Canisius / Gemaelde - Petrus Canisius / Painting -