Saint of the Day – 28 December – The Holy Innocents.

Saint of the Day – 28 December – The Holy Innocents. Patronages – • against ambition•against jealousy• altar servers•babies•children• children’s choir• choir boys• orphans• students.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents
By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

By the Holy Innocents, who are honoured as Martyrs today by the Catholic Church, we understand those happy infants, who, by the command of King Herod, were put to death, for no other cause, than that the new-born King of the Jews might be deprived of life.

When Christ was born, Herod, well known for his cruelty, reigned at Jerusalem. He was not of the Jewish nation but a foreigner and was, therefore, hated by the Jews. Herod knew this well; hence, he feared that they would dethrone him and he had several illustrious persons executed, whom he suspected of aspiring to the throne.

Meanwhile, it happened, that the three Magi or Kings from the East came to Jerusalem, to find and adore the new-born King, Who had been announced to them by a star. They doubted not that they would learn more of Him in the capital of Judea and they, therefore, asked without hesitation: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to adore Him.

This question seemed very strange to the Jews and the news of it spread through the whole City, until it reached the King. His fear can hardly be described, for he already believed his crown and sceptre lost. To escape the danger in which he supposed himself, he called the chief priests and scribes together,and inquired of them, where the Messiah should be born. They answered: “In Bethlehem, according to the Prophets.” Satisfied with this answer, Herod had the three wise men brought to court and speaking very confidentially with them, he asked diligently when and where the star had appeared to them. After this, he advised them to go to Bethlehem and inquire after the new-born Child and when they had found and adored Him, to return and inform Herod, as he wished to go and adore the Child too. These words of the king, who was not less cunning than cruel, were only a deceit, as he had already resolved to kill the new-born Babe.

Meanwhile, the Magi followed the advice of the king and, guided by the star, which again appeared to them when they had left Jerusalem, went to Bethlehem, found and adored the Divine Child and offered gold, frankincense and myrrh, as we read in Holy Writ. Having finished their devotion, they intended, in accordance with king Herod’s wish, to bring him word that they had happily found the Child. An Angel, however, appeared to them in their sleep and admonished them not to return to Jerusalem but to go into their own country by another way which they accordingly did.

The Massacre of the Innocents / Angelo Visconti

When Herod perceived that they had deluded him, it was too late and his rage was boundless. Hearing of what had taken place in the temple, at the Purification of Mary that the venerable Simeon had pronounced a Child which he had taken into his arms, the true Messiah, the Herod’s heart was filled with inexpressible fear and anxiety. The danger in which he was, as he imagined, of losing his crown, left him no peace day or night. He secretly gave orders to search for this Child but all was of no avail, He could not be found.

After long pondering how he might escape the danger, his unbounded ambition led him to an act of cruelty unprecedented in history. He determined to murder all the male children, in and around Bethlehem, who were not over two years of age, as he thought that thus, he could not fail to take the life of the Child so dangerous to him. This fearful design was executed amidst the despairing shrieks of the parents, especially the mothers.

How many children were thus inhumanly slaughtered is not known but the number must have been very large. Yet, the tyrant gained not his end for, the Divine Child was already in security. The Gospel tells us that an Angel appeared during the night to St Joseph, saying to him: “Arise, take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt and remain there until I tell thee. For, it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him.” St Joseph delayed not to obey, and fled, the same night, with the Child and His Mother, into the land indicated to the Angel.

Guido Reni: Massacre of the Innocents

As this had happened before Herod executed his cruel determination, God thus frustrated the plot. Herod soon after, received his just punishment. Several terrible maladies suddenly seized him, as Josephus, the Jewish historian, relates. An internal fever consumed him and all his limbs were covered with abominable ulcers, breeding vermin. His feet were swollen, his neck, shoulders and arms drawn together, and his breast so burdened, that the unfortunate man could hardly breathe, while his whole body exhaled, so offensive an odour, that neither he nor others, could endure it. Hence, in despair, he frequently cried for a knife or a sword that he might end his own life. In this miserable condition, he ceased not his cruelties and only five days before his death, he had his son, Antipater, put to death.

As he had good reason to believe that the entire people would rejoice at his death, he wished at least, to take to the grave, the thought that many should grieve, if not for him, at least for their friends and relatives. Hence, he had the chief men of the nobility imprisoned and gave orders to his sister Salome that, as soon as he had closed his eyes, they were all to be murdered. This order, however, was not executed by Salome, who justly loathed its cruelty. In this lamentable condition, the cruel tyrant ended his life but began one in eternity, whose pains and torments were still more unendurable and from which he cannot hope ever to be released!

While the innocent children massacred by him, rejoice for all eternity in the glories of Heaven, giving humble thanks to God for having thus admitted them into His presence. The Catholic Church has always honoured them as Martyrs; because, although not confessing Christ with their lips, as many thousands of others have done, yet, they confessed Him with their death, by losing their lives for His sake. Amen.


Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) Confessor, Priest, Missionary, Miracle-worker, co-Founder with St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and St Peter Faber (1506-1546) of the Society of Jesus. One of the Greatest Missionaries since St Paul. St Francis was Canonised on 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. His body is incorrupt.

St Francis Xavier
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
Part One -(His early years, before departing for the Indies).

St Francis Xavier,–the great Apostle of the Indies, as he is called in the Bull of his Canonisation–the celebrated Thaumaturgus of the 16th Century, the irreproachable witness of the truth of our holy religion, the ornament of the Society of Jesus and of the entire Catholic Church–was of Royal lineage and was born of illustrious parents, at the Castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre.

Having passed his childhood there, he was sent to the University of Paris, to study the liberal arts, for which he evinced an especial inclination. He applied himself so diligently and made so much progress that he was not only created. Doctor of Philosophy but also appointed to instruct others in that science. All his aim was to gain honours and to become great in the eyes of the world. His father intended to recall him home after some years but his sister, who was Prioress in the Convent of the Poor Clares at Gandia and had the reputation of being a Saint, knew, by Divine inspiration, the great work for which her brother was destined by the Almighty and persuaded her father not to insist on his return, saying, in a prophetic manner that Francis was chosen to become the apostle of many nations.

Whilst Xavier was teaching at Paris, St Ignatius came to the same City to finish his studies. Knowing, by Divine inspiration, how much good Francis, who was so highly gifted by the Almighty, would be able to do for the salvation of souls, he sought the friendship of the young Professor and gradually showed him the emptiness, of all temporal greatness and drew him from his eagerness to obtain worldly honours, by repeating the earnest words of Christ: “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul!” These words of our Saviour, coming from the lips of a St Ignatius, so deeply pierced the heart of Xavier and made so indelible an impression that he became entirely converted.

Taking St Ignatius as his guide, he followed his precepts and after having most fervently gone through the “Spiritual Exercises,” he resolved to devote himself, with Ignatius, to the greater glory of God.

On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the year 1534, Ignatius, St Francis and five others, made a vow in the Church of Montmartre at Paris, to consecrate their lives to the salvation of souls. Soon after, St Francis, by the order of St Ignatius, went with some of these zealous men to Italy.

At the very beginning of this journey, which was to be performed on foot, St Francis gave a striking proof of the ardour of his spirit. Before his conversion, he had been a great lover of dancing and gymnastic exercises and, so greatly excelled in them that he had taken great pride in these accomplishments. To punish this vanity, he tied his arms and ankles so tightly with small knotted cords, that he could not make the least motion without pain. After the first day’s march, his pains became so intense that he fainted away and was forced to reveal the cause. The cords had cut so deeply into the flesh that they could hardly be seen. The surgeon who was called, declared that a painful operation was necessary to cut the cords out of the flesh.St Francis and his companions, not wishing to be delayed on their way, prayed for aid from on High and, on the following morning they found, not only the cords broken but all the wounds entirely healed. Having given due thanks to the Almighty for this miracle, they continued their journey.

At Venice, St Francis spent two months in the hospital, nursing the sick most tenderly. While there, it happened that he found, among the sick, one who was suffering from a loathsome ulcer. St Francis felt a natural repugnance to approach the poor patient, but, recollecting the maxim of St. Ignatius, “Conquer thyself,” he unhesitatingly went to the sick, embraced him kindly and putting his lips to the ulcer, cleansed it of all offensive matter. As a reward for so heroic a victory over self, God restored the sick man’s health and took from St Francis all repugnance to the most hideous forms of disease.

Two months after this, he was Ordained Priest and said his first Holy Mass, amid a flood of tears, after having prepared himself for it, by forty days of solitude, many prayers, austere fasting and other penances.

At Rome, whither he was called by St Ignatius, he preached for a time with great success. It was at this period that John III., King of Portugal, requested the Pope to send him six of the disciples of St Ignatius, for the Indies. St Ignatius, on account of the small number of his followers, gave only two, Simon Rodriguez and Nicholas Bobadilla but, as the latter fell ill just before the time appointed for setting out, St Francis Xavier., whom Heaven had selected for this mission, was sent in his stead.

No tongue can tell the joy with which the Saint received this news, which fulfilled that which had been shown him, years before, in a mysterious dream. It had appeared to him, in his sleep that he had a negro on his shoulders, whom he was obliged to carry and that he was so fatigued, as to sink to the ground under his burden. He then awoke and found himself in truth, covered with perspiration and extremely tired.

He was soon prepared for his journey from Rome to Lisbon, whence he was to sail for the Indies and having received, from St Ignatius, valuable instructions and from the Vicar of Christ, the Papal Blessing, with the powers of an Apostolic Nuncio, he set out with his companion, Rodriguez, carrying nothing with him but the Crucifix on his breast, his Breviary under his arm and his staff in his hand.

At the holy house of Loretto, where he stopped on his way, he commended his important mission to his divine Mother, and begged, with childlike trust, for her motherly assistance. Feeling in his heart that his prayer had been heard, he was greatly comforted, on leaving this blessed spot. To be continued …


Saint of the Day – 24 November – Saint John of the Cross OCD (1542-1591) Doctor of the Church, Confessor

Saint of the Day – 24 November – Saint John of the Cross OCD (1542-1591) Doctor of the Church, Confessor, Carmelite Priest, Mystic, Poet, Reformer, Writer. He was gifted with prophecy and miracles, visions and the ability to read hearts.

St John of the Cross
By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

In 1542, was born at Fontiveros, a hamlet of old Castile, St John of the Cross, renowned through the entire Christian world, as the restorer of the Carmelite Order. His mother, after his father’s early death, went to Medina del Campo, where John commenced his studies and continued them until he entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. From his early youth he had entertained a childlike devotion to the Blessed Virgin, who more than once saved him most miraculously from death. One day, when playing with some other lads around a deep pond, he fell into it. In this danger, the Divine Mother appeared to him in a most beautiful form and offered him her hand, to draw him out of the water. But as his hands were much soiled, he hesitated to take those of so brilliant a lady, whereupon his Guardian Angel, or some other inhabitant of Heaven, held out to him, from the edge of the pond, a long pole, by the aid of which he was happily saved. At another time he fell into a well and when all feared that he was drowned, they saw him sitting quietly upon the water. When they drew him out, he said that the Queen of Heaven had caught him in her cloak and thus prevented his sinking.

Before he was nine years old, he showed a wonderful zeal in mortifying his body, chastising himself by taking only a short rest on a hard bed and by voluntary fasts. While yet a student, he nursed, with great solicitude and charity, the sick in the hospitals. After he had taken the Carmelite Habit, he was not satisfied with the penances then practiced in the Convent but endeavoured to regulate his life, in accordance with the first rules and ancient austerity of the Order.

When he prepared himself to say his first Holy Mass, he searched his conscience very carefully,but found no grievous fault. He then gave humble thanks to the Almighty and during his Mass, begged for the grace to be kept in future, free from all mortal sin. His prayer was accepted and he heard the words: “I grant thee thy wish.” From that time, St John never offended the Lord by a mortal sin, nor voluntarily by a venial one.

St Teresa, who lived at that period, said of him that he was a Saint, and had been one all his life. This renowned and holy virgin met St John at Medina and, conferred with him about her desire to found houses for religious, who would live according to the original strict regulations of the Carmelites. John, who, in his eagerness to live in greater austerity, had thought of joining the Carthusian Monks, asked St Teresa’s advice. She told him that it would be more agreeable to God, if he remained in his Order and restored among the men, the same primitive rigour which she was endeavouring to restore among the women. She added, that God had called him to this work. John took counsel with God and his Confessor and then resolved to follow St Teresa’s advice. He erected his first Monastery on a farm which had been presented to him for this purpose and God so visibly blest his undertaking, that he not only filled his house, in a short time, with zealous men but was enabled also, to found several new Convents.

In these religious houses, all the inmates lived so holy and so austere a life that many, thought it was more to be admired, than imitated. The Saint was an example to all and one could hardly imagine a penance which he did not practice. He gave no ear to those who told him to moderate his severities but said: “The narrow path leading to Heaven cannot be travelled by me, in a manner less austere.” The hardships he endured in founding his Monasteries and in restoring the severe regulations of the Order; the persecutions and wrongs he suffered, cannot be described in the short space allotted to us, yet in all these trials, he was never despondent. The love of God possessed his heart so entirely, that he desired nothing but to labour and to suffer for His honour.

The Lord asked him one day what recompense he desired for all his trouble and labour. “Nothing else, O Lord but to suffer and to be despised for Thy sake,” was his answer. Three things he used to ask of the Almighty – first, much work and much suffering; secondly, not to depart this life as a superior; thirdly that he might live and die despised. So unusual a desire to suffer and to be despised, was the result of his meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ and of his great love for God. This love was so intense that his countenance was frequently seen radiant with a heavenly light, especially when he spoke of divine things. At the time of prayer, as well as during Holy Mass, he often fell into ecstasy and was dissolved in tears. Our Lord once appeared to him in the same form as when He died for us on the Cross. This picture remained so indelibly imprinted on the Saint’s memory,that it almost daily drew tears from his eyes.

Into all those, over whom he had the slightest influence, he endeavoured to instill a tender devotion to our Crucified Lord, as well as to the Most Holy Trinity and to the Blessed Eucharist. His language to sinners was so forcible that he converted even the most hardened. He was much aided in this by the gift which the Almighty had bestowed upon him, of reading the thoughts of the heart. Many who came to him were reproached with their secret sins and admonished to reform their lives. He possessed also the gifts of prophecy, of driving out devils and curing all kinds of diseases. Besides this, he had many visions of the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph, St John and Christ the Lord. Especially remarkable, were the heavenly favours, with which this great servant of the Almighty was comforted, during an imprisonment of nine months, to which he was unjustly condemned. Christ appeared to him and said: “Behold! John, I am here! Fear not. I will rescue thee!” The Blessed Virgin, accompanied by a great many Saints, appeared to him and said: “My son, be patient and endure, for your trials will soon give way to joy.” In another vision, she admonished him to escape from the prison, promising him her assistance, a promise which she also kept. St Teresa, who, during her life, had been closely united with him, appeared also to him after her death, speaking to him most kindly. In his adversity she comforted him, and encouraged him to new labours for the honour of God.

The reward of all the work which the holy man had accomplished, as also of the trials and tribulations he had suffered, was at length bestowed upon him, in the year 1591, when he was in the forty-ninth year of his age. He was seized with fever, in the hermitage of Pegnuela and was brought from there to Ubeda, according to his wish. He had an ulcer on that part of his right foot where the holy feet of our Lord were pierced with nails. To open it, the surgeon was obliged to make a deep incision. The pain thus caused was very great but greater still, was the patience of the Saint, who even rejoiced at bearing, in some manner, the image of the sufferings of Christ and at having five wounds on one foot.

God had already, some time previously, revealed to him the hour of his death and the Blessed Virgin, whom the Saint had always especially honoured, appeared to him on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, saying that she would come for him on the Sunday after the festival. When the physicians told him that his end was not far distant, he said, in the words of the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said unto me, We shall go up into the house of the Lord.” Half an hour before his death, he called all his religious to him, exhorted them to persevere in their zeal and said: “My parting hour draws near.” After the usual prayers of the Church, he heard the bells ring for the midnight Matins. “I shall sing the Matins in Heaven,” said he, after which, taking the Crucifix, he kissed it most devoutly and calmly ended his holy life, saying: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul.” A large ball, as of fire, was seen above the dying Saint. After his death, his countenance beamed with a heavenly brightness and was so beautiful that none grew weary of looking at him, while at the same time, such delicious odour emanated from him that the whole Monastery was filled with it. The Almighty has carefully preserved his body incorrupt until this hour.

St John’s Shrine in Úbeda

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888) (Excrrpt)

Today’s Festival is called the Presentation of Mary, because on this day, Joachim and Anna, the holy parents of the Blessed Virgin, Consecrated their little daughter to the Divine service in the temple at Jerusalem and Mary Consecrated herself to the Almighty.

At that time, there were two ways of Consecrating children – one was ordained by the law, which required every male child to be offered to God, forty days and every female child, eighty days after its birth. This ceremony was called the Consecration of the child and the purification of the mother.

The second kind of Consecration was a voluntary self-oblation by which some persons devoted themselves to the Almighty. There were also many parents who, either before, or immediately after their child’s birth, Consecrated it to the service of the Lord, sometimes for a few years, sometimes for life. To this end, several separate dwellings had been erected near the Temple, for men, women, youths and maidens, where they remained for the time which had been fixed by themselves or their parents.

Their occupations consisted in decorating the temple and in making the garments which the priests and levites wore during their sacred functions. Thus we read in the first book of Kings, that Anne the spouse of Elkana, made a vow that if she gave birth to a male child, she would Consecrate him to the Lord. The Lord blessed her and she brought forth a son, whom she named Samuel and afterwards, Consecrated to the Most High, through the hands of the High Priest, Heli. In the second book of the Maccabees, we find mention of virgins, who lived and were educated in the Temple, that is, in a building annexed to it.

t is the belief of several holy Fathers, that Joachim and Anna, being already advanced in years and having no issue, made a vow to God that if He would bless them with a child and thus, take from them, the dishonour of being barren, they would Consecrate their offspring to His service in the Temple.

God heard their prayer and blessed them so greatly that they became the parents of the most holy of all human beings, Mary, the ever Blessed Virgin. For three years they kept this sacred treasure at home, after which time, although Mary was their only comfort, they resigned her with pious fortitude, in fulfilment of their vow. Hence they went, with their daughter, to Jerusalem, presented her to the priest in the Temple and Consecrated her, through his hands, to the service of the Almighty.

Practical Considerations of this Feast:

In the third year of her life, Mary, the Blessed Virgin, consecrated herself to the service of the Almighty and this, not for days or years only but forever, for, as long as she lived, she ceased not to serve the Lord.

How is it with you? Did you also begin in your tender years to serve the Lord. Or to whom did you dedicate the years of your life? Ah! confess it with weeping eyes and repentant heart, not to the Lord but to the world, to the flesh, to Satan, you gave the years of your youth and, perhaps you have not even made the resolution to serve your God. Or it maybe, you think it will be time enough, when you are old, although it is unknown to you, whether you will ever count many years. But even had you been assured of this, tell me, do you not deserve to be disowned by the Almighty as a second Cain, since like him, you sacrificed only what was of less value and not, like the pious Abel, what was the best? God cursed him who took from his flock the meanest for his offering. This Curse you also deserve, for not having given to the Lord, your first and best years but reserving your old age for Him.
Oh! truly you have reason to weep over this wickedness as long as you live. Humbly beg God to pardon you and resolve, at the same time, to serve Him from this hour most fervently and without ceasing, until your end, as the Blessed Virgin did. You have perhaps but a short time more, hence employ every moment in the service of God. The benefit will be yours and will last through all eternity.

In Consecrating herself to the Almighty, the Blessed Virgin gave herself entirely to Him without any reservation. Soul and body, every power of her soul, every member of her body, her whole heart and life, all was given forevermore to the service of the Most High. Doubtless you resolve today to serve your Lord most fervently for the future. Consecrate yourself, then, today to His service but without any reservation, your whole heart, your entire life, your soul with all its powers, your entire body with all its members, sacrifice all willingly and for vermore to the Lord. God Who desires the whole heart and not a part of it, wishes also your whole soul, your whole body, your entire life.

Do you wish to divide your heart and to give one part of it to the Almighty the other to the world and Satan? To serve God with one member of your body, and to offend Him with another? Do you wish to employ your memory to honour God with good thoughts but to soil your will with wicked desires? Oh! then do not imagine that your sacrifice will be acceptable to God. It will rather be a horror in the eyes of Him Who commands us to serve Him alone, and to sacrifice everythying to His service. Make today, a perfect sacrifice, so that you may, at least in something, follow the Blessed Virgin. And take care that you do not, after the lapse of some time, retract your sacrifice.

You Consecrate, today, your eyes, your tongue,and your hands, with the intention to use them only in God’s service. Guard yourself, lest, after some hours or days, you misuse them in offending the Lord, for, this would be as much robbing the Altar of what you have given to the Most High. Mary did not act thus. It is written: “I am the Lord that hate robbery in a holocaust,” (Isa lxi.)


Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521– 1608) Confessor,

Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521– 1608) Confessor, Theatine Priest, Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Miracle-worker.

Saint Andrew Avellino, Confessor
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

St Andrew Avellino was born at Castro Nuovo, in the kingdom of Naples. To fear God and to avoid sin, were the maxims which his mother, from early childhood, implanted deep into his heart and which became the rule of his entire life. While he studied at Senise, a lady sought to attract him by several presents which she sent him but the chaste youth, accepted not her gifts,and sent her word, saying that she should trouble him no more and might rest assured that he would rather die than consent to any evil. On another occasion when he was enticed to sin, he fled like the chaste Joseph. To escape similar temptations, he determined to become a Priest and was Ordained after he had finished his studies.

For some time he devoted himself to the practice of Canon Law in the eEclesiastical Courts until one day, in the heat of his argument, a trivial lie escaped him. Soon after, while reading the Holy Scriptures, the words, “The mouth that lieth, killeth the soul,” came under his eyes and his repentance was such that, from that moment, he renounced his profession in order to escape from the danger of offending God and gave himself entirely, to the Sacred ministry. By associating frequently with the religious of the Theatine Order, he conceived the desire of joining their number, which he did in 1556. It was on this occasion that he took the name of Andrew, in honour of the holy Apostle of that name, after whose example he desired to suffer much for the glory of God.

His eminent virtues induced his superiors to make him Master of Novices, although he had been only five years in the Order,and afterwards, to charge him with the administration of several houses. He attended to all his duties to the greatest benefit of those under him. Besides the usual vows, he imposed upon himself two more. The first of these was to work continually against his own inclinations; the second, to make continual progress in perfection. The fervent love he bore to God and men, induced him to employ all his leisure moments in prayer and in labouring for the salvation of souls. Before entering into religion, he had been accustomed to give six hours daily to prayer but as he could not, as a religious, spare so much time during the day, he took a part of the night for this sacred duty.

He benefitted mankind much, by preaching and hearing Confessions. He reformed many a hardened sinner, restrained others from falling again, reconciled embittered minds and led numberless souls to Heaven.

God manifested more than once, by miracles, how agreeable the endeavours of the Saint were to Him. One night as he returned home, with his companion, from the house of a sick man whose Confession he had heard, a violent storm extinguished the light that was carried before them but then, such a brightness emanated from the Saint’s body that the way was made clear through the darkness, whilst, at the same time, neither he, nor his companion, was touched by the rain. Many similar events, as also the frequent visions of Saints, the gifts of prophecy and of reading the hearts of men but above all, the many examples of heroic virtue which he gave to others, won for St Andrew, the highest regard. St Charles Borromeo, the holy Cardinal, esteemed him greatly and made use of his zeal on many occasions.

Notwithstanding this, the holy man had so low an opinion of himself that he regarded as nothing his great and arduous labours to further the honour of God and the salvation of souls; looked upon himself as a great sinner,and frequently evinced great fear in regard to his salvation. “If they,” said he, “must regard themselves as useless servants, who have done all their duty, what must I do, who have done so small a part of what I ought to have done?” Sometimes he would look up to Heaven and sigh: “Will that magnificent mansion of the blessed spirits allow the entrance of one so miserable, despicable and sinful as I am?

From this fear, however, he was afterwards freed by a comforting vision. St Augustine and St Thomas of Aquin, both of whom he honoured as Patrons, appeared to him, consoled him and promised him their aid, especially in that hour, on which eternity depends. Andrew, taking heart, asked them whether he would enjoy eternal life? The answer was as follows: “The time of thy salvation has not come yet. But as in life, everything is doubtful and uncertain, follow our advice – struggle, with the greatest perseverance, on the battle-field of virtue, as thou hast done till now and thus, thou wilt gather a treasure of merit and God will not close to thee, the gates of Heaven.” With these words, the Saint consoled himself,and not only continued his zeal in the practice of virtue but increased it daily.

During the last 18 years of his life, he allowed himself neither meat, nor eggs, nor fish – his nourishment consisted of beans only, of which he had always enough cooked to last him three days. When advised to change his diet, on account of his advanced age, he said: “Although, at the age of 83 years, I am excused from the law of fasting, I find, when thinking of my sins and my indolence in the service of the Most High that I am obliged to fast and to observe other austerities, in order to appease the wrath of God.” Thus spoke he, who had ever preserved his first innocence. His bed was a sack of straw on two boards. He daily scourged himself to blood. Not content with all this, he daily begged the Almighty to send him something to suffer.

The greatest wrongs he bore with invincible meekness; in persecutions and trials, he evinced heroic patience and he met his enemies with truly Christian gentleness. This was especially experienced by the man who had cruelly murdered the son of the Saint’s brother. The holy man exhorted his brother neither to seek, nor demand vengeance. He knew the murderer but revealed him not and when the wretch was at last discovered and arraigned, before the judges, Andrew implored mercy and pardon for him.

Our Saint’s devotion to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the cause of his earnest desire to suffer more and more. He was often heard to say: “Ah ! what is all that I do and suffer compared with what my Jesus did and suffered for my sake? O, that I might, for His honour, be torn with scourges and pierced with nails and expire on the Cross for Him!

Not less deep was his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and at the time of Holy Mass, his whole countenance glowed with divine love. To the very last day of his life, although he was almost entirely exhausted, he insisted on saying Mass but he had hardly begun the Psalm at the foot of the Altar, when he was struck with paralysis. He was then carried to his room, where the last Sacraments were administered to him. Having received them, he blessed all those who were present and peace and happiness shone from his countenance. After this, he turned his eyes upon an image of the Blessed Virgin,whom, during all his life he had greatly loved and honoured and expired in the 88th year of his life. His face beamed after his death with a truly divine radiance and God proclaimed the glory which the Saint enjoyed in Heaven, by many and great miracles. St Andrew Avellino, Pray for us! Amen.

The death of St Andrew Avellino

Saints of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Saints of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles of Christ

The Holy Apostles Simon and Jude
(Excerpt) By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

St Simon, whose festival the Church commemorates to-day, was surnamed the Cananaean or Canaanite because he was born at Cana, a town in Galilee. In this town, Jesus wrought His first miracle, by changing water into wine, as is known from the Gospel. St Nicephorus (c 758-828) Bishop of Constantinople and some others, are of the opinion that Simon was the bridegroom whose wedding our Lord and His holy Mother honoured with their presence but that he afterwards left his bride with her consent and followed Christ.

St Jude, the brother of Simon, is called Thaddseus to distinguish him from the other Jude or Judas’ who betrayed and sold the Lord. According to St Nicephorus, Mary Cleophas was their mother and James the Lesser, their brother. Other writers say that Simon and Jude were not brothers. The Gospel tells us that both Simon and Jude were chosen by Christ as Apostles but when, or under what circumstances, this took place, is not recorded, nor have any particulars of their words and actions been left us. There is, however, not the slightest doubt that they, as all the others, constantly followed the Saviour and, although they forsook Him when He was taken prisoner, they had, after His Resurrection the grace to see Him frequently, to be present at His Ascension and to receive the Holy Ghost on Pentecost.

When later, the Apostles separated to preach the Gospel, St Simon went to Egypt and St Jude to Mesopotamia. Both, however,, were also in other lands, to preach the word of Christ and after thus spending 30 years in apostolic labours, they met again, by Divine dispensation, in Persia. On their arrival in this land, they found the Persian army in the field, for the King had declared war against India and was in the act of marching against it. Baradach, the General in Chief, had offered many sacrifices to the gods, desiring to know the issue of the war but no answer was given, which had always been given before, as the Evil spirits spoke through the idols. Hence Baradach, amazed at such unusual silence, sent to another idol which was kept in a place far from the camp and desired to know the reason of it. Satan, answering through it, said that the presence of two Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ was the cause of the silence of the gods, as the power of these two Apostles was so great that not one of the gods, until now so greatly honoured, dared to appear before them.

Baradach, having received this answer, had the two Apostles brought before him. He met them with great manifestations of respect and listened to them, while they spoke to him of the nothingness of the gods which he worshipped. As he was desirous to know the issue of the war, they made use of the occasion to show him how false were the words of the idols and hence, how groundless was the notion, of their divinity. They bade him propose his questions to the idols, through the magicians as usual and told him that they would give his gods permission to speak. The magicians were ordered to ask the gods and returned with the answer, that the result would be a long, bloody and disastrous war.
The Apostles having heard this, said to Baradach: “Now, great Prince, recognise the falsity and the deceit, as well of your magicians, as of your gods. A deputation of the Indians will arrive tomorrow, at this hour, in your camp, to request peace of you on whatever conditions you may choose to prescribe.” Baradach, surprised at these words, awaited with great impatience the following day. At the very hour the Apostles had foretold, the Indian embassy came humbly begging for peace, which was forthwith concluded.

This event was reported to the King, who resided at Babylon. He called the Apostles into his presence, listened with great attention to their words and after having been sufficiently instructed in Christianity, was Baptised by his holy teachers. The example of the King was followed by the whole Court and a great part of the City.

After this, the holy men went through the other towns and villages of the kingdom, everywhere preaching the mysteries and truths of the Christian Faith. Many thousands became converts, only the magicians and fortune-tellers remained in their blindness and seeing, with deep resentment, that they were everywhere despised and derided, they sought means to kill the holy Apostles. To this end, they excited the inhabitants of a town, which was far distant from the residence of the King, against the Saints, who had no sooner arrived there, than thay were seized and dragged, the one before an idol of the sun, the other before that of the moon and were commanded to offer incense. The holy men refused to comply with so wicked a demand, saying that they sacrificed only to the true God, after which they began to preach the Gospel. But the furious Pagans refused to listen to them and in their rage, cut St Simon asunder with a saw and beheaded St Jude. In this manner these two holy Apostles ended their lives and earned the glorious Crown of Martyrdom.

An interesting note:
In the life of St Bernard we find that this Saint had a particular devotion to St Jude. He received, with extraordinary joy and veneration, the Relics of this holy Apostle which were sent to him and, on his death-bed, he requested that they should be laid on his breast and be buried with him.

Sts Simon and Jude with the Virgin Mother and Baby Jesus

Saint of the Day – St Luke the Evangelist – 18 October

Saint of the Day – 18 October – The Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, Physician, Disciple of St Paul, Evangelist, Author of the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles and traditionally believed to be an Artist.

St Luke, Evangelist
By Father Francis Xavier Weninger (1860-1946)

Among the holy men whom the Almighty chose to write the Gospel, or the history of the life and death, the teachings and miracles of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was St Luke, the third of those who are called Evangelists. He is represented with an ox near him, according to the mysterious revelation made to the Prophet Ezekiel because he begins his Gospel with the revelation of what happened to Zachary in the Temple, where oxen, sheep and other animals, were offered, according to the Old Covenant, in sacrifice to the Almighty.

St Luke is said to have been born at Antioch, in Syria and his occupation, in his youth, was the study of the liberal arts, especially rhetoric, physics, sculpture and painting. It is believed that St Paul himself instructed him in the Christian faith, hence, St.Jerome calls him a spiritual son of that holy Apostle. It is quite certain that he accompanied St Paul in the many and laborious travels which the holy Apostle undertook, to convert the infidels. Hence he had a part in all the labours, dangers, hardships and persecutions which the Apostle endured. This, however, caused him, to be most warmly beloved and highly esteemed, by St Paul, who mentions him in several of his epistles and among other praises, calls him an Apostle.

At the desire of St Paul, Luke wrote the Gospel in Greek, as the Apostle was at that time preaching to the Greeks and also, because this language was very much disseminated. St Luke relates, in his Gospel, much that is but slightly mentioned by the other Evangelists, for instance, the Mystery of the Annunciation and the Incarnation of Christ, from whichM the holy Fathers conclude that he must have been on very friendly terms, not only with the Apostles but also with the Divine Mother, as she could give him the best information concerning these Mysteries. Another reason is, that St Luke lived in chastity and earnestly endeavoured, to guard and preserve this virtue.

The commentators of Holy Writ have also observed that St Luke, more than the other Evangelists, gives sinners the hope of Divine Mercy and encourages them, to repentance, as is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, so lovingly received by his father, as also, in that of the Good Shepherd, Who, with great solicitude, sought the lost sheep, and brought it back to the fold. Again, in the history of the sinner, who so mercifully receives pardon in the Samaritan, Who cares so kindly for the wounded traveller but above all, in the wonderful conversion of the thief crucified with Christ, to whom, when he had humbly and penitentially begged to be remembered, our kind Saviour promised Paradise. St Anselm gives the reason for this, in the following words: “Luke was at first a Physician of the body, hence, it is that he speaks more than the other Evangelists, of the Merc of our Saviour, who heals and frees men from diseases of the soul.“”

Besides the Gospel, St Luke also wrote a book on the labours of the Apostles,, which is called the Acts of the Apostles. In it, he first relates the Ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Ghost and after this, what and where the Apostles preached, the miracles they wrought and the sufferings they endured for Christ’s sake.

He further describes the life of the first Christians and the Martyrdom of St Stephen and St James. He then relates the conversion of St Paul, the labours and sufferings of this holy Apostle, which no-one could know better than St Luke, who was his constant companion. During the two years of St Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea, Luke aided him in every manner. Hhe also accompanied him to Rome, when St Paul had appealed to the Emperor. At Rome, where the holy Apostle was again imprisoned for two years, St Luke did not leave him and allowed, no persecution to separate him from his beloved master. When St Paul was set at liberty, St Luke accompanied him as before, wherever the unwearied Apostle preached the Gospel. St Epiphanius relates, that, after the death of the two Apostles, Peter and Paul, St Luke preached the Gospel of Christ in Italy, France, Dalmatia and Macedonia, with apostolic zeal. The Greeks assure us that he did the same in Egypt, Thebais and Libya and, that he had great success, in converting the infidels.

It is easy to conceive, what hardships, dangers and persecutions, the holy Evangelist must have suffered, in these many wearisome travels and in consequence of his zealous preaching. Yet he was never discontented, never desponding but always cheerful because he always thought of Him, for Whom he laboured and suffered and of the recompense that was awaiting him. St Jerome writes that the Saint continued his apostolic labours until he had reached his 84th year. St Gregory of Nazianzen, St Paulinus and St Gaudentius maintain that he ended his life by Martyrdom. Nicephorus writes that the heathens hung him to an olive-tree and that thus he died a Martyr.

It is certain that his life, full of cares and hardships, was a continued Martyrdom, the severity of which he increased by severe fasting and other penances. Hence, the Church says of him, in the prayer which she offers up today at Holy Mass, that he bore the mortification of the cross ceaselessly in his body, for the love and honour of Christ. He ended his glorious labours and sufferings at Patras in Achaia. His holy relics, with those of St Andrew, were brought to Constantinople at the time of Constantine the Great. Long afterwards, they were removed to Pavia;but the head had, some time before, been taken by Gregory the Great to Rome and placed in St Peter’s Basilica.

Nanni di Banco, St Luke, 1408-15, marble, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

There is a tradition that St Luke painted several likenesses of Christ and the Blessed Virgin and left them to the Christians to comfort them. To this day, several pictures of the Blessed Virgin are shown, which are believed to be his works. One of these is at Rome, in the Church of St Mary Major and another is at Loretto, both of these are venerated by the whole Christian world.

Giorgio Vasari, St Luke Painting the Virgin, after 1565, fresco, Santissima Annunziata, Florence
The Salus Popli Roman by St Luke in St Mary Major Basilica, Rome

Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin

Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin. Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.

The Roman Martyrology reads today: “At Assisi, in Umbria. Italy, St Clare, Virgin, the first of the poor woman of the Order of Minors. Being celebrated for holiness of life and miracles. she was placed among holy virgins, by Alexander IV.

St Clare, Virgin, Founder,
Mystic, Miracle-worker
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888) (Excerpt)

St.Clare, Founder of the Order which bears her name, was born of rich and pious parents, at Assisi, in the district of Umbria, in Italy. She received the name of Clare, which means “clear or bright,” for the following reason. While her mother Hortulana, was kneeling before a Crucifix, praying that God might aid her in her hour of delivery, she heard the words: “Do not fear. You will give birth to a light which shall illumine the whole world.”

From her earliest childhood, prayer was Clare’s only delight. She gave to the poor all the presents which she received from her parents. She despised all costly garments, all worldly pleasures. Beneath the fine clothes she was obliged to wear, she wore a rough hair-girdle. She partook of so little food that it seemed as if she wished to observe a continual fast.

During this same period lived St Francis, surnamed “the Seraphic,” on account of his great virtues. Clare frequently went to him and confided to him, her desire to renounce the world and to consecrate her virginity to God and to lead a perfect life in the most abject poverty. St Francis who saw that besides other gifts and graces, she was filled with the most ardent love of God, possessing great innocence of heart and despising the world, strengthened her in her holy desire, while at the same time, he tested her constancy. Being sufficiently convinced that her desires were inspired by Heaven, he advised Clare to leave her home, which she did on Palm Sunday, going to the Church of the Portiuncula, where she had her hair cut off, as a sign that she would enter a religious life. She divested herself of all feminine ornament, and attired in a penitential garb, tied around her with a cord, she was placed. by St Francis in a vacant Benedictine Convent. She was at that time just eighteen years of age.

When her parents heard of what she had done, they hastened to the Convent, to take Clare home, declaring that this choice of a state of life was only a childish whim, or that she had been persuaded to it by others. Clare, however, after opposing their arguments, fled into the Church, and clinging to the Altar with one hand, with the other she showed her head shorn of its hair, exclaiming: “Know all, that I desire no other bridegroom but Jesus Christ. Understanding well what I was doing, I chose Him and I will never leave Him.” Astonished at this answer, all returned home, admiring her virtue and piety. Clare thanked God for this victory and was, on account of it, all the more strengthened in her resolution.

Clare had a sister younger than herself, named Agnes. A few days later she, too, fled from her parents’ roof and going to Clare, wished to be invested in the same habit and to serve God in the same manner. St Clare received her joyfully but as all her relatives were provoked beyond measure that she, too, had entered a Convent, twelve of them went and forcibly tore her from her sister’s arms. Clare took refuge in prayer and, as if inspired by the Almighty, ran after her sister, loudly calling her by name. God assisted her by a miracle. Agnes suddenly became immovable, as if rooted to the ground and no-one possessed strength enough to drag her from where she stood. Recognising in this, the powerful hand of God, they opposed her no longer but allowed her to return to the Convent.

Meanwhile, St Francis had rebuilt the old Church of St Damiano and had bought the neighbouring house. Into this house he placed his first two religious daughters, Clare and Agnes, who were speedily joined by others, desirous of conforming themselves to the rule of life which St Francis had given to Clare. This was the beginning of the Order of Poor Clares, which has since given to the world, so many shining examples of virtue and holiness, to the salvation of many thousands of souls.

St Clare was appointed Abbess by St Francis and filled the office for forty two years with wonderful wisdom and holiness. Her mother too, together with her youngest daughter, took the habit and submitted to the government of St Clare.

She was, to all in her charge, a bright example of poverty. In austerity towards herself, she was more to be admired than imitated. The floor or a bundle of straw was her bed, a piece of wood, her pillow. Twice during the year she kept a forty days’ fast on bread and water. Besides this, three days of the week, she tasted no food and so little on the others that it is marvellous that she could sustain life with it. The greater part of the night, she spent in prayer and her desire for mortification was so great that St. Francis compelled her to moderate her austerities.

She nursed the sick with the greatest pleasure, as in this work of charity, she found almost constant opportunity to mortify and overcome herself. Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.

The Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St Clare, who was sick at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the Convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: “O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels, the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.” A voice was distinctly heard, saying: “I will protect you always.”

The result proved that this was the Voice of Heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind and flung themselves down. Thus were St Clare and her religious protected and the whole City preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament.
We must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant.

[When St Clare] … had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which, she had suffered from various painful maladies, although she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable and she was never heard to complain.

The hour of her death drew near and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face-to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervour of her love for God, than from the effects of her sickness. Her holy death took place in 1253. The great number of miracles wrought after her death, through her intercession and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV., only two years later, to place her in the number of Saints.


Saint of the Day – 19 July – St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) “Holy Hero of Divine Charity”

Saint of the Day – 19 July – St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) Confessor. “Holy Hero of Divine Charity.”
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “St Vincent de Paul, Confessor, who slept in the Lord on 27 September, Leo XIII declared the Heavenly Patron before the Thron of God, of all Charitable Organisations throughout the Catholic world, owing in any manner, their origin to him.”
Vincent’s body was exhumed in 1712, 53 years after his death. The written account of an eyewitness states that “the eyes and nose alone showed some decay“. However, when it was exhumed again during the Canonisation in 1737, it was found to have decomposed due to an underground flood . His bones have been encased in a waxen figure which is displayed in a glass Reliquary in the Chapel of the headquarters of the Vincentian fathers in Paris,

St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
Confessor, Founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and Co-Founder of the Sisters of Charity, is an outstanding example of great love for the poor and unfortunate and the Celestial Patron of all Catholic Charitable Societies. (added by Pope Leo XIII).

By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

Vincent de Paul, a Frenchman, was born at Pouy, not far from Dax, in Gascony and from his boyhood, was remarkable for his exceeding charity towards the poor. From the care of his father’s flocks, he was sent to study letters. He learned the humanities at Dax and Theology first at Toulouse, then at Saragossa. Having been Ordained Priest and having taken a Degree in Theology, he fell into the hands of the Turks and was led captive by them, into Africa. But being sold into slavery, he won his owner (an apostate) back to Christ. By the help of the Mother of God, therefore, Vincent and his owner hurried away from the shores of the barbarians. Then Vincent undertook a journey to Rome, to visit the thresholds of the Apostles.

Having returned to France, he governed, in a most saintly manner, first, the Parish of Clichy and then, that of Chatillon. He was appointed by the King as Principal Chaplain of the French galleys and showed marvellous zeal in striving for the salvation of both the drivers and the rowers. The holy Francis de Sales, appointed him Superior of the Nuns of the Visitation, whom he ruled for nearly forty years, with so great prudence that he amply justified the opinion of their most holy Founder, who confessed that he knew no worthier Priest than Vincent.

To the preaching of the Gospel unto the poor, especially to the country people, he devoted himself unweariedly, until he was disabled by old age. To this apostolic work he obligated both himself and the members of the Congregation, which he specially founded under the name of Secular Priests of the Mission, by a perpetual vow confirmed by the Holy See. And how greatly he laboured for bettering the discipline of the clergy, is attested by the Seminaries erected for senior clerics, by the frequency of sacred conferences among the Priests and by the religious exercises preparatory to the Sacrament of Holy Orders; for which purposes, as well as that of giving pious retreats for laymen, he desired that the Houses of his Institute, should be freely opened. Moreover, for the extension of faith and piety, he sent evangelical labourers, not only into the Provinces of France but also into Italy, Poland, Scotland, Ireland and even to Barbary and to the Indies.

And at the death of Louis XIII, whom he had attended and exhorted on his deathbed, Vincent himself was summoned by the Queen, Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV and made a member of the young King’s Council of Conscience. In this position, he most zealously urged that only the more worthy men should be placed in authority over the Churches and Monasteries; that civil discords, single combats, slowly-spreading false doctrines, which he both perceived and dreaded, should be ended; and that due obedience should be rendered by all, to the apostolic decisions.

There was no kind of misfortune which he did not, with fatherly tenderness, endeavour to relieve . The faithful groaning beneath the Turkish yoke, infants which had been abandoned, wayward youths, maidens exposed to danger, Nuns driven from their Convents, fallen women, convicts condemned to the galleys, infirm strangers, disabled workmen and even lunatics and beggars without number, all these he received and devoutly assisted with resources and in hospices, which have lasted to this day. When Lorraine, Champagne, Picardy and other Provinces were devastated by plague, famine and war, he relieved their necessities with an open hand. He founded many societies for seeking out and alleviating the lot of the wretched, among them, a celebrated association of matrons, widely spread under the name of Sisters of Charity. He likewise promoted the foundation of the Daughters of the Cross, of Providence and of St Genevieve, for the education of the weaker sex.

Amid these and other most important affairs, he was ever intent upon God, affable to everyone and always true to himself, simple, upright, lowly and ever shrank from honours, riches and luxuries. He was heard to say that in nothing was there any pleasure for him, except in Christ Jesus, Whom he desired to imitate in all things.

At length, worn out with bodily pains, labours and old age, on 27 September in the year of salvation 1660 and, in the eighty-fifth year of age, at Paris, in the House of St Lazare, which is the Motherhouse of the Congregation the Mission, he calmly fell asleep.

Since he became illustrious for virtues, merits and miracles, Clement XII placed him among the Saints, assigning 19 July as his annual feast. And Leo XIII, at the earnest request of many Bishops, claimed and appointed this notable hero of divine charity, who has deserved so exceedingly well, of every class of men, the special Patron before God, of all the Charitable Societies existing in the entire Catholic world and in any way soever, emanating from his foundation.