Posted in JESUIT SJ, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 15 February – St Claude de la Colombiere SJ (1641-1682)

Saint of the Day – 15 February – St Claude de la Colombiere SJ (1641-1682) Religious Priest, Confessor, Patron of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ascetical Writer, Teacher, Preacher, Missionary.   Patronages – Devotion to the Sacred Heart, toy-makers, turners.   St Claude was a Jesuit priest and the confessor of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, the visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.   St Claude was born on 2 February 1641 at Saint-Symphorien d’Ozon, Rhône, France and he died on 15 February 1682 at Paray-le-Monial, Saône-et-Loire, France of hemoptysis (coughing up blood).   He was Canonised on 31 May 1992 by St Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy.header - St-Claude-alliezSAINT CLAUDE33

CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIÈRE, third child of the notary Bertrand de la Colombière and Margaret Coindat, was born on 2nd February 1641 at St Symphorien d’Ozon in the Dauphine, southeastern France.   After the family moved to Vienne, Claude began his early education there, completing his studies in rhetoric and philosophy in Lyon.

It was during this period that Claude first sensed his vocation to the religious life in the Society of Jesus.   We know nothing of the motives which led to this decision.   We do know, however, from one of his early notations, that he “had a terrible aversion for the life embraced”.   This affirmation is not hard to understand by any who are familiar with the life of Claude, for he was very close to his family and friends and much inclined to the arts and literature and an active social life.   On the other hand, he was not a person to be led primarily by his sentiments.   At 17 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Avignon.   In 1660 he moved from the Novitiate to the College, also in Avignon, where he pronounced his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy.   Afterwards he was professor of grammar and literature in the same school for another five years.

st claude - young

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris for his studies in theology.   Already noted for his tact, poise and dedication to the humanities, Claude was assigned by superiors in Paris the additional responsibility of tutoring the children of Louis XIV’s Munster of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert.   His theological studies concluded and now a priest, Claude returned to Lyon.   For a time he was teacher in the College, then full-time preacher and moderator of several Marian congregations.20160310131504-sao-claudio-colombiere-banner

Claude became noted for solid and serious sermons.   They were ably directed at specific audiences and, faithful to their inspiration from the gospel, communicated to his listeners serenity and confidence in God.   His published sermons produced and still produce significant spiritual fruits.   Given the place and the short duration of his ministry, his sermons are surprisingly fresh in comparison with those of better-known orators.

The year 1674 was a decisive one for Claude, the year of his Third Probation at Maison Saint-Joseph in Lyon.   During the customary month of the Exercises the Lord prepared him for the mission for which he had been chosen.   His spiritual notes from this period allow one to follow step-by-step the battles and triumphs of the spirit, so extraordinarily attracted to everything human, yet so generous with God.

He took a vow to observe all the constitutions and rules of the Society of Jesus, a vow whose scope was not so much to bind him to a series of minute observances as to reproduce the sharp ideal of an apostle so richly described by St Ignatius.   So magnificent did this ideal seem to Claude that he adopted it as his program of sanctity. That it was indeed an invitation from Christ himself is evidenced by the subsequent feeling of interior liberation Claude experienced, along with the broadened horizons of the apostolate he witnesses to in his spiritual diary.

On 2nd February 1675 he pronounced his solemn profession and was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial.   Not a few people wondered at this assignment of a talented young Jesuit to such an out-of the-way place as Paray.   The explanation seems to be in the superiors’ knowledge that there was in Paray an unpretentious religious of the Monastery of the Visitation, Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom the Lord was revealing the treasures of his Heart but who was overcome by anguish and uncertainty.   She was waiting for the Lord to fulfil his promise and send her “my faithful servant and perfect friend” to help her realise the mission for which he had destined her:  that of revealing to the world the unfathomable riches of his love.Claude de la Colombiere, S.J and St. Margaret Mary

After Father Colombière’s arrival and her first conversations with him, Margaret Mary opened her spirit to him and told him of the many communications she believed she had received from the Lord.   He assured her he accepted their authenticity and urged her to put in writing everything in their regard and did all he could to orient and support her in carrying out the mission received.   When, thanks to prayer and discernment, he became convinced that Christ wanted the spread of the devotion to his Heart, it is clear from Claude’s spiritual notes that he pledged himself to this cause without reserve.   In these notes it is also clear that, even before he became Margaret Mary’s confessor, Claude’s fidelity to the directives of St Ignatius in the Exercises had brought him to the contemplation of the Heart of Christ as symbol of His claudeClaudedelaColombiere

After a year and half in Paray, in 1676 Father La Colombière left for London.   He had been appointed preacher to the Duchess of York – a very difficult and delicate assignment because of the conditions prevailing in England at the time.   He took up residence in St James Palace in October.   In addition to sermons in the palace chapel and unremitting spiritual direction both oral and written, Claude dedicated his time to giving thorough instruction to the many who sought reconciliation with the Church they had abandoned. And even if there were great dangers, he had the consolation of seeing many reconciled to it, so that after a year he said:  “I could write a book about the mercy of God I’ve seen Him exercise since I arrived here!”

The intense pace of his work and the poor climate combined to undermine his health, and evidence of a serious pulmonary disease began to appear.   Claude, however, made no changes in his work or life style.   Of a sudden, at the end of 1678, he was calumniously accused and arrested in connection with the Titus Oates “papist plot”.   After two days he was transferred to the severe King’s Bench Prison where he remained for three weeks in extremely poor conditions until his expulsion from England by royal decree.   This suffering further weakened Claude’s health which, with ups and downs, deteriorated rapidly on his return to France.

During the summer of 1681 he returned to Paray, in very poor condition.   On 15th February 1682, the first Sunday of Lent, towards evening Claude suffered the severe haemorrhage which ended his life.St Claude de la Colombiere

On the 16th of June 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Claude de la Colombière, whose charism, according to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, was that of bringing souls to God along the gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us. ( CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIERRE

It is said that the day after Claude’s death, Sister Margaret Mary received supernatural assurance that Claude needed no prayers, as he was in already heaven;  he was enjoying the fullness of communio with the Trinity.   Claude was considered a “dry” martyr, having suffered every abuse for the Christian faith except death.   The life of Saint Claude was an example of being in correspondence with the Lord Himself –through the logic of Love– that he was known to be concrete example of mercy in the face of trials.   Saint Claude’s  life of holiness drew many of the Protestants to the Catholic Church.   His was a trust that we must adopt:  “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.”

May we learn from Saint Claude la Colombiere what it means to be in relationship with Jesus the Good Shepherd, true Divine Love.

Mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St Claude la Colombiere Chapel, Paray-le-Monial
Posted in JESUIT SJ, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 9 September – St Peter Claver S.J.

Saint of the Day – 9 September – St Peter Claver S.J. – Priest, Religious, Missionary, Confessor, Patron of the missions to African peoples and human rights defender, Apostle of Charity.   Also known as • Apostle of Cartagena • Slave of the Blacks • Slave of the Slaves.   (1581 at Verdu, Catalonia, Spain – 8 September 1654 at Cartegena, Colombia of natural causes).   Beatified on 21 September 1851 by Pope Blessed Pius IX and Canonised on 15 January 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.   St Peter Claver (Spanish: Pedro Claver y Corberó) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary born in Verdú (Catalonia) who, due to his life and work, became the patron saint of slaves, the Republic of Colombia and ministry to African Americans.   During the 40 years of his ministry in Colombia it is estimated he personally baptised around 300,000 people.   He is also patron saint for seafarers.   He is considered a heroic example of what should be the Christian praxis of love and of the exercise of human rights.   The Congress of the Republic of Colombia declared September 9 as the Human Rights national Day in his honour.   Patronage – • African missions (proclaimed in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII)• African-Americans• slaves, against slavery• black missions• black people• Human Rights• foreign missions• inter-racial justice• race relations• seafarers• Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver• Colombia• Accra, Ghana, archdiocese of• Lake Charles, Louisiana, diocese of• Shreveport, Louisiana, diocese of
• Witbank, South Africa, diocese of • Apostleship of the Sea.

claver-slave-cropped-700x438St Doninic Final

Claver was born in 1580 into a devoutly Catholic and prosperous farming family in the Catalan village of Verdú, Urgell, located in the Province of Lleida, about 54 miles (87 km) from Barcelona.   He was born 70 years after King Ferdinand of Spain set the colonial slavery culture into motion by authorising the purchase of 250 African slaves in Lisbon for his territories in New Spain, an event which was to shape Claver’s life.

Later, as a student at the University of Barcelona, Claver was noted for his intelligence and piety.   After two years of study there, Claver wrote these words in the notebook he kept throughout his life:  “I must dedicate myself to the service of God until death, on the understanding that I am like a slave.”

In the New World:
After he had completed his studies, Claver entered the Society of Jesus in Tarragona at the age of 20.   When he had completed the novitiate, he was sent to study philosophy at Palma, Mallorca.   While there, he came to know the porter of the college, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a laybrother known for his holiness and gift of prophecy. Rodriguez felt that he had been told by God that Claver was to spend his life in service in the colonies of New Spain and he frequently urged the young student to accept that calling.

Claver volunteered for the Spanish colonies and was sent to the Kingdom of the New Granada, where he arrived in the port city of Cartagena in 1610.   Required to wait six years to be ordained as a priest while he did his theological studies, he lived in Jesuit houses at Tunja and Bogotá.  During those preparatory years, he was deeply disturbed by the harsh treatment and living conditions of the black slaves who were brought from Africa.   By this time, the slave trade had been established in the Americas for about a century.   Local natives were considered not physically suited to work in the gold and silver mines and this created a demand for blacks from Angola and Congo.   These were bought in West Africa for four crowns a head, or bartered for goods and sold in America for an average two hundred crowns apiece.  Others were captured at random, especially able-bodied males and females deemed suitable for labour.

Cartagena was a slave-trading hub. 10,000 slaves poured into the port yearly, crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul that an estimated one-third died in transit.   Although the slave trade was condemned by Pope Paul III and Urban VIII had issued a papal decree prohibiting slavery, (later called “supreme villainy” by Pope Pius IX), it was a lucrative business and continued to flourish.

Claver’s predecessor in his eventual lifelong mission, Father Alonso de Sandoval, S.J., was his mentor and inspiration.   Sandoval devoted himself to serving the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work.   Sandoval attempted to learn about their customs and languages;  he was so successful that, when he returned to Seville, he wrote a book in 1627 about the nature, customs, rites and beliefs of the Africans.   Sandoval found Claver an apt pupil.   When he was solemnly professed in 1622, Claver signed his final profession document in Latin as:  Petrus Claver, aethiopum semper servus (Peter Claver, servant of the Ethiopians [i.e. Africans] forever).

Ministry to the slaves:  Church of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena, Colombia, where Claver lived and ministered.   Whereas Sandoval had visited the slaves where they worked, Claver preferred to head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port.   Boarding the ship, he entered the filthy and diseased holds to treat and minister to their badly treated, terrified human cargo, who had survived a voyage of several months under horrible conditions.   It was difficult to move around on the ships because the slave traffickers filled them to capacity.   The slaves were often told they were being taken to a land where they would be eaten.   Claver wore a cloak, which he would lend to anyone in need.   A legend arose that whoever wore the cloak received lifetime health and was cured of all disease.  After the slaves were herded from the ship and penned in nearby yards to be scrutinised by crowds of buyers, Claver joined them with medicine, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco  With the help of interpreters and pictures which he carried with him, he gave basic instructions.

Claver saw the slaves as fellow Christians, encouraging others to do so as well.   During the season when slavers were not accustomed to arrive, he traversed the country, visiting plantation after plantation, to give spiritual consolation to the slaves.   During his 40 years of ministry it is estimated that he personally catechised and baptised 300,000 slaves.   He would then follow up on them to ensure that as Christians they received their Christian and civil rights.  His mission extended beyond caring for slaves, however.   He preached in the city square, to sailors and traders and conducted country missions, returning every spring to visit those he had baptised, ensuring that they were treated humanely.   During these missions, whenever possible he avoided the hospitality of planters and overseers; instead, he would lodge in the slave quarters.

Claver’s work on behalf of slaves did not prevent him from ministering to the souls of well-to-do members of society, traders and visitors to Cartagena (including Muslims and English Protestants) and condemned criminals, many of whom he spiritually prepared for death; he was also a frequent visitor at the city’s hospitals.   Through years of unremitting toil and the force of his own unique personality, the slaves’ situation slowly improved.   n time he became a moral force, the Apostle of Cartagena.

Illness and death:  
In the last years of his life Peter was too ill to leave his room.   He lingered for four years, largely forgotten and neglected, physically abused and starved by an ex-slave who had been hired by the Superior of the house to care for him.   He never complained about his treatment, accepting it as a just punishment for his sins.   He died on 8 September 1654.

St Peter Claver sees Jesus Christ and the Virgin before death


When the people of the city heard of his death, many forced their way into his room to pay their last respects.  Such was his reputation for holiness that they stripped away anything to serve as a relic of the saint.  The city magistrates, who had previously considered him a nuisance for his persistent advocacy on behalf of the slaves, ordered a public funeral and he was buried with pomp and ceremony.   The extent of Claver’s ministry, which was prodigious even before considering the astronomical number of people he baptised, came to be realised only after his death.

He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, along with the holy Jesuit porter, Alphonsus Rodriguez.   In 1896 Pope Leo also declared Claver the patron of missionary work among all African peoples.   His body is preserved and venerated in the church of the Jesuit residence, now renamed in his honour.Saint_Peter_Claver_stained_glass

Legacy:  “No life, except the life of Christ, has moved me so deeply as that of Peter Claver”.   St Pope Leo XIII, on the occasion of the canonisation of Peter Claver
Many organisations, missions, parishes, religious congregations, schools and hospitals bear the name of St. Peter Claver and also claim to continue the Mission of Claver as the following:

The Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. is the largest African-American Catholic fraternal organisation in the United States.   In 2006, a unit was established in San Andres, Colombia.   The Order was founded in Mobile, Alabama and is presently headquartered in New Orleans.
Claver’s mission continues today in the work of the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and his inspiration remains among port chaplains and those who visit ships in the name of the Church, through the AoS.
The Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver are a religious congregation of women dedicated to serving the spiritual and social needs of the poor around the world, particularly in Africa.   They were founded in Austria by the Blessed Mary Theresa Ledóchowska in 1894.
Among the many parishes dedicated to St. Peter Claver are those in Lexington, Kentucky,[1 West Hartford, Connecticut, Macon, Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, Simi Valley, California, St. Paul, Minnesota, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Montclair, New Jersey, Baltimore, Maryland and Nairobi, Kenya.
Among the many schools dedicated to St. Peter Claver are those in Decatur, Georgia and Pimville, South Africa.   The oldest African American school in the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the oldest African American school still functioning in the State of Florida, is the St. Peter Claver Catholic School.

St Peter Claver’s under the altar at the Church of St Peter Claver in Cartagena



Thought for the Day – 18 August – The Memorial of St Alberto Hurtado

Thought for the Day – 18 August – The Memorial of St Alberto Hurtado

” Hogar de Christo”

Hogar means “hearth” or “home.” Hurtado wanted to welcome the poor into “Christ’s home.”

From all accounts Hurtado was an intensely busy man.   In 1946, he bought a green pickup truck to better bring at-risk children living on the street back to the shelters.   He called them his patroncitos, his “little bosses.”   In addition to his work with Hogar, his retreats and outreach to youth, he wrote several books and found the journal Mensaje, a Catholic magazine designed to highlight the social teachings of the church and which is still proudly published by the Chilean Jesuits.

Despite his hectic schedule, Alberto understood the need for the balance between prayer and work, striving to be a “contemplative in action.”   On the one hand, the activist is the one who at every moment recognises “the divine impulse.”   On the other, prayer should not encourage a “sleepy sort of laziness under the pretext of keeping ourselves united with God.”   I like to think of him as the patron saint of multitaskers.

By the age of 50, though, Alberto seemed to his friends worn out.   After a physician-ordered vacation, he returned to discover that he had pancreatic cancer.   The end would come quickly and painfully.   Yet during his suffering he was often heard to say, “I am content, O Lord, I am content.”   He died at age 51.

His funeral, in the Church of St. Ignatius in Santiago, was filled with so many of the poor who venerated Padre Hurtado that many of his close friends had to remain outside. Alberto Hurtado was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.   All of Chile celebrated the man who the country’s president called one of Chile’s “founding fathers.”

In Santiago, near the original Hogar, is a shrine to Alberto, where many come to pray. Inside is his beat-up green pickup.

Let us too ‘build a home for Christ’!

St Alberto, Pray for us!

st alberto - pray for us 2


The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

by Margaret Silf

Probably most of us, if we think of contemplative prayer at all, regard it as something that is beyond us and practiced only by a few contemplative monks and nuns whose whole lives are devoted to prayer.   Yet I have heard respected and experienced spiritual guides say that contemplation is often given to those you would least expect—to harassed mothers and people who think they can’t pray, to children, to the sick and dying, to people with no academic learning about prayer or Scripture or theology.   God sometimes seems to speak, heart to heart, in this mysterious way, to the untaught and unpracticed. None of us should imagine that the ways of contemplative prayer are closed to us because God is always infinitely larger than our expectations.

I suggest that creation itself gives us a gateway.   In every moment of our lives, a silent, invisible miracle of exchange is taking place.   We breathe out the air that our bodies no longer need, which is mainly carbon dioxide, a waste product for us but the very thing that the green leaves on the trees and plants need to produce their own energy.   So they receive our carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, produce not only their own life energy, but also oxygen—a waste product for them but the very thing we need to live.   Whenever I stop my busyness for a few moments to look around me, I am amazed at this arrangement and it makes me think of prayer.

So perhaps a good way to open our hearts up to the gift of contemplation is simply to become still, and, quite literally, to breathe out our waste—all that clogs us and deadens us—and to breathe in God’s renewing life, as we breathe in the fresh oxygen that the plants have made for us.   This simple, deliberate breathing exercise can become something like what the French peasant was doing as he looked at God and God looked at him.   We are becoming aware of the mysterious exchange of life between ourselves and God.   And there is no reason that any period of quiet might not become prayer of this kind.

There may be other creatures who can help you cross the threshold of contemplation. If there is a baby in the family, try simply holding her in your arms as she sleeps and letting God hold both of you in his.   Nothing more.   No deep thoughts.   No search for meaning.   Just be there.

A cat (if you are not allergic to them!) can also be a great aid to prayer.   My own cat loves to sleep round my neck.   At first I found this disturbing but when he has settled into a particular hollow (perhaps where he can feel my pulse), he will lie there, quite still, just purring deeply, until he falls asleep and the purring ceases.   When he does this, I let myself find a hollow close to God’s pulse and let my own prayer become just a sleepy purr and then the silence of content.   Or you might discover prayer on a park bench.   The other day I was in Hyde Park and I spent a few minutes listening to the deep-throated cooing of the pigeons. I wanted to join them because, in their way, they were engaged in contemplative prayer, simply expressing, in this peaceful murmur, the song of their beings.

In your own home, prayer awaits you in the opening of a flower, the rising of your bread dough, or the steady, imperceptible development of a child.   Spend time in silence, aware of the wonder that is being unfolded in your cakes and your children, your houseplants or your garden.   For this is the essence of contemplative prayer—simple awareness, allowing God to be God, without trying to put the limitations of shape or meaning around him.

Contemplation, like all prayer, is pure gift and not anything we can achieve.   It happens when prayer becomes, wholly and utterly, the flow of God’s grace, transforming the land it flows through, like Ezekiel’s stream.   Or it happens when we lose consciousness of our own part in it and become simply receptors and carriers of grace.   It happens when we realise that our transformation depends on nothing but God’s grace and love, and, like the chrysalis, let go of all activity to try to achieve our own redemption.

When we try to describe it, we fail, for it lies beyond the world of words.   We can open our hearts to it by the practice of awareness but we cannot bring it about, any more than we can force a flower to open or an egg to hatch.   And in our silent, trustful waiting, we are acknowledging that God is God, the source and the destination, the means and the end of all our prayer, whatever form it may take.

from Close to the Heart: A Practical Approach to Personal Prayer

Make my Heart Still

“Lord take my poor heart. It is often so far from You, lost in a thousand things and in the trifles that fill up my everyday life. Lord, only You can collect the thoughts of my heart and have it concentrate on You, You who are the centre of all hearts, the Lord of all souls. Only You can bestow the spirit of prayer, only Your grace is able to allow me to find You amidst this multitude of things, amdist the distractions of everyday life, YOU, the one necessity, the one person with whom my heart can become still.”

“When man comes to God in awe and love, then he is praying.”

Karl Rayner SJ – The Mystical Way in Everyday Life

when man comes to god in awe and love-karl rayner sj

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, JESUIT SJ, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS

Our Morning Offering – 18 April

Our Morning Offering – 18 April

Wash Me With Your Precious Blood
By St. Peter Canisius S.J. (1521-1597)


See, O merciful God, what return
I, Your thankless servant, have made
for the innumerable favours
and the wonderful love You have shown me!
What wrongs I have done, what good left undone!
Wash away, I beg You, these faults and stains
with Your precious blood, most kind Redeemer,
and make up for my poverty by applying Your merits.
Give me the protection I need to amend my life.
I give and surrender myself wholly to You,
and offer You all I possess,
with the prayer that You bestow Your grace on me,
so that I may be able to devote and employ
all the thinking power of my mind
and the strength of my body in Your holy service,
who are God blessed for ever and ever. Amen

Posted in JESUIT SJ, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 16 March

One Minute Reflection – 16 March

All who believe………………have eternal life in him……….John 3:15

REFLECTION – “Faith is in no way a burden or a yoke imposed on humban beings.  Far from it! Faith is an immense benefit because it commences life in us even on this earth.”………….St Thomas Aquinas

PRAYER – Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me the gift of faith.  Help me to remain firm in my faith throughout my life and to strive, no matter to what suffering You call me, to increase in faith and love for You, day by day.  St Jean de Brebeuf, you have reached the glory of heaven and by your life and suffering for your faith, you taught us the true beauty of love for Christ the Lord, please pray for us all, amen.



Quote/s of the Day – 10 March

Quote/s of the Day – 10 March

“In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him.
But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.”
~~ St John Ogilvie at his trial

“willingly and joyfully pour forth even a hundred lives. Snatch away that one
which I have from me and make no delay about it, but my religion you will never snatch
away from me!”

“If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have.”— Saint John Ogilvie at his execution

“At last conscience won the day.  I became a Catholic;
I abandoned Calvinism – and this happy change I attribute to the martyr’s beads and to no other cause those beads which, if I had them now, gold could not tempt me to part with and if gold could purchase them, I should not spare it.” ~~~ Baron John ab Eckersdorff 

(St. John Ogilvie was executed by hanging on March 10, 1615.
A few moments before his hanging, St. John threw his Rosary into the crowd where it
hit Baron John ab Eckersdorff a Calvinist nobleman on the chest – he later converted to
Catholicism, attributing his conversion to witnessing the martyrdom and St. John’s



St John Ogilvie SJ – 10 March – St John Ogilvie, his Rosary and the Baron

Blessed Memorial of St John Ogilvie SJ – 10 March – St John Ogilvie, his Rosary and the Baron

Although the judge had tried to pin the crime of treason on him, Ogilvie forced him to assert that it was for his Catholic Faith that he was being killed, rather than for treason, which Protestant history alleges.    Just as with Saint Thomas More, the heroic Jesuit protested his allegiance to the King saying that he was the King’s loyal subject but God’s servant first.    Again, as it was with Thomas More, the executioner begged the martyr’s forgiveness, which he paternally gave.

There were many brave Catholics who came to the execution site to support the saint with prayers and with shouts.   They were fearless.  John said onthe scaffold “If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have.”   Then something spontaneous happened, by divine intervention and inspiration.   Just before they tied his hands on the scaffold the saint quickly pulled out his rosary and tossed it to the crowd as a token of farewell.   There was a Protestant Baron, a traveller, who happened to be in the crowd and the rosary bounced off his chest.   The man tried to reach down for the beads but was beaten to them by the surrounding faithful anxious to get such a relic.

This episode of the Protestant gentleman in the crowd was recounted in the records of the trial of the saint because he, the Baron John ab Eckersdorff, was converted by means of the rosary of our Jesuit martyr.   Here is how the event is related, in the words of the Baron, as we have them in Father Daniel Conway’s three part history of Venerable John Ogilvie, published in 1878, in a Glasgow diocesan journal “The Month”:

“His Rosary struck the breast of a young noble
man who was on his travels in these kingdoms.
He was a foreigner and a heretic his name, Baron
John ab Eckersdorff.  ” I was on my travels
through England and Scotland as it is the custom
of our nobility being a mere stripling, and not
having the faith. I happened to be in Glasgow the
day Father Ogilvie was led forth to the gallows,
and it is impossible for me to describe his lofty
bearing in meeting death.   His farewell to the
Catholics was his casting into their midst, from the
scaffold, his rosary beads just before he met his
fate.   That rosary, thrown haphazard, struck me
on the breast in such wise that I could have caught
it in the palm of my hand;  but there was such a
rush and crush of the Catholics to get hold of it,
that unless I wished to run the risk of being trodden
down, I had to cast it from me.   Religion was the
last thing I was then thinking about : it was not in
my mind at all; yet from that moment I had no
rest.   Those rosary beads had left a wound in my
soul; go where I would I had no peace of mind.
Conscience was disturbed, and the thought would
haunt me : why did the martyr’s rosary strike me,
and not another?   For years I asked myself this
question it followed me about everywhere.    At
last conscience won the day.   I became a Catholic;
I abandoned Calvinism – and this happy change I
attribute to the martyr’s beads and to no other
cause those beads which, if I had them now, gold
could not tempt me to part with and if gold could
purchase them, I should not spare it.”

Saint John Ogilvie, pray for us!

st-john-ogilvie-pray-for-us-10 MARCH 2017.jpg

Posted in JESUIT SJ, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 March – St John Ogilvie

Saint of the Day – 10 March – St John Ogilvie SJ (1579-1615 died aged 36) MARTYR and Jesuit Priest – hanged 10 March 1615 at Glasgow, Scotland but no relic of his body has survived.  He was canonised 0n 17 October 1976 by Pope Paul VI.


John Ogilvie’s noble Scottish family was partly Catholic and partly Presbyterian. His father raised him as a Calvinist, sending him to the continent to be educated.   There John became interested in the popular debates going on between Catholic and Calvinist scholars.   Confused by the arguments of Catholic scholars whom he sought out, he turned to Scripture.   Two texts particularly struck him: “God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,” and “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”

Slowly, John came to see that the Catholic Church could embrace all kinds of people. Among these, he noted, were many martyrs.   He decided to become Catholic and was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium, in 1596 at the age of 17.

John continued his studies, first with the Benedictines, then as a student at the Jesuit College at Olmutz.   He joined the Jesuits and for the next 10 years underwent their rigorous intellectual and spiritual training. Ordained a priest in France in 1610, he met two Jesuits who had just returned from Scotland after suffering arrest and imprisonment.   They saw little hope for any successful work there in view of the tightening of the penal laws.   But a fire had been lit within John. For the next two and a half years he pleaded to be missioned there.

Sent by his superiors, he secretly entered Scotland posing as a horse trader or a soldier returning from the wars in Europe.   Unable to do significant work among the relatively few Catholics in Scotland, John made his way back to Paris to consult his superiors. Rebuked for having left his assignment in Scotland, he was sent back.   He warmed to the task before him and had some success in making converts and in secretly serving Scottish Catholics.   But he was soon betrayed, arrested and brought before the court. His trial dragged on until he had been without food for 26 hours.   He was imprisoned and deprived of sleep. For eight days and nights he was dragged around, prodded with sharp sticks, his hair pulled out.   Still, he refused to reveal the names of Catholics or to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the king in spiritual affairs. He underwent a second and third trial but held firm.   At his final trial he assured his judges: “In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.”

Condemned to death as a traitor, he was faithful to the end, even when on the scaffold he was offered his freedom and a fine living if he would deny his faith.   His courage in prison and in his martyrdom was reported throughout Scotland.   This Jesuit loved to laugh. His jokes brightened the dark days of his captivity during which his captors tried to “brainwash” him. “For eight days and nine nights, they kept me awake by using pins, needles and whips.” St. John Ogilvie was executed by hanging on March 10, 1615 and was disembowled.   A few moments before his hanging, St. John threw his Rosary into the crowd where it was caught by Baron John ab Eckersdorff a Calvinist nobleman – who later converted to Catholicism, attributing his conversion to witnessing the martyrdom and St. John’s rosary.

John Ogilvie was canonised in 1976, becoming the first Scottish saint since 1250.


Our Morning Offering – 26 February

Our Morning Offering – 26 February

Anima Christi by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within Your wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into Your presence lead me
to praise You with all Your saints
Forever and ever, amen


Posted in JESUIT SJ, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

St Paul Miki SJ – 6 February

Today is the memorial of St Paul Miki SJ (1564-1597), a Jesuit novice from a noble Japanese family who was martyred along with 25 companions at Nagasaki in 1597.

This is from an eyewitness account of the execution:

“Our brother Paul Miki, seeing himself raised to the most honourable position that he had ever occupied, openly proclaimed that he was a Japanese and a member of the Society of Jesus.   And that he was being put to death for having preached the Gospel.   He gave thanks to God for such a precious favour.

He then added these words:  “Having arrived at this moment of my existence, I believe that no one of you thinks I want to hide the truth.   That is why I declare to you that there is no other way of salvation than the one followed by Christians.   Since this way teaches me to forgive my enemies and all who have offended me, I willingly forgive the king and all those who have desired my death.   And I pray that they will obtain the desire of Christian baptism.

At this point, he turned his eyes toward his companions and began to encourage them in their final struggle. The faces of them all shone with great gladness. Another Christian shouted to him that he would soon be in paradise. “Like my Master,” murmured Paul, “I shall die upon the cross. Like him, a lance will pierce my heart so that my blood and my love can flow out upon the land and sanctify it to his name.

As they awaited death the entire group sang the canticle of Zachary (see Luke 1:67-79). The executioners stood by respectfully until they had intoned the last verse. Then at a given signal they thrust their spears into the victims’ sides. On that day, February 5, 1597, the church of Japan welcomed its first martyrs.”

You have heard that it was said: “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”   But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’……Matthew 5:43-44

Consider the people who dislike you, who oppose your ideas and aims.   How can you show love to them?


Posted in MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS

Our Morning Offering – 6 February

Our Morning Offering – 6 February

A Prayer of St. Francis Xavier SJ

O God I Love You,
not simply to be saved,
and not because those who fail to love You
will be punished with eternal fire.
You, You, my JESUS, have all-embraced me on the cross.
You have borne the nails, the lance, much ignominy,
numberless griefs, sweatings and anguish and death,
and these on account of me and for me, a sinner.
Why therefore, should I not love You,
O, most loving JESUS?
Not that in heaven You shall save me,
nor lest for eternity You shall condemn me;
not with the hope of any reward,
but as You have loved me, so also will I love You,
only because You are my King,
and because You are my God. Amen


Posted in CATHOLIC Quotes, JESUIT SJ

Pedro Arrupe SJ

Pedro Arrupe SJ, superior general of the Jesuits from 1965-1983, died on this day in 1991.


He guided the Society through the tumultuous post-Vatican II years.   He called for a renewed commitment to the Society’s roots in the Spiritual Exercises and he oriented the Jesuits toward service to the poor and to refugees.

He had a charismatic personality and was beloved by many in the Society and outside it.

He articulated the goal of Jesuit education as training “men and women for others”:

“………men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and His Christ—for the God-human who lived and died for all the world;  men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbours;  men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce.” (Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings, Kevin Burke, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 2004, p. 173)

Let love be genuine;  hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;  love one another with mutual affection;  outdo one another in showing honour………Romans 12:9-10

Are you complacent, too accepting of things as they are?   Talk to God about this.



Thought for the Day – 3 January

Saints like St Genevieve believed in the power of prayer and in a kind and loving Providence watching over human affairs.  By their own faith, they inspired others to this same kind of trust in God – that they were not alone in the human struggle and that God does marvelous things in answer to prayer.  Prayer is and always will be a powerful means of accomplishing wonders.

St Genevieve and all you Jesuit Sains, Pray for us!

“So You haven’t really sent me away from You, after all. When You assigned me the task of going out among men, You were only repeating to me Your one and only commandment: to find my way home to You in love. All care of souls is ultimately possible only in union with You, only in the love that binds me to You and thus makes me Your companion in finding a path to the hearts of men.”   (Encounters with Silence, Karl Rahner, translated and foreword by James M. Demske, SJ, South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press 1999, p. 67.)


Posted in QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 December

Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius SJ (1521-1597 aged 76) –  Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church – Known as The Hammer of Protestantism and the Second Apostle of Germany – Patron of Catholic press, Germany

St. Peter Canisius, from modern-day Netherlands, was born in 1521. 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 Peter Faber, one of the first Jesuits. Through him, Canisius became the first Dutchman to join the Society of Jesus in 1543. Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became 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 Jesuit Father Peter Canisius 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 traveling more than 20,000 miles on foot or horseback, St. Peter Canisius spearheaded the renewal of the Catholic faith in southern Germany.

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. During the saint’s lifetime they were translated into 15 languages and reprinted more than 200 times.   His “German Catechism”, a book which defined the basic principles of Catholicism in the German language and made them more accessible to readers in German-speaking countries. He was offered the post of Bishop of Vienna in 1554, but declined in to continue his traveling and teachings.

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.


Posted in JESUIT SJ

St Francis Xavier – 3 December

Today is the Memorial of the Patron of the Missions and, after St Paul, known as one of the greatest of all Missionaries. One of his most beloved attributes was his great love for his friends, most especially St Ignatius Loyola, St Peter Faber and the other founding members of the Society of Jesus.

He wrote:

“For my own great comfort and that I may have you constantly in mind, I have cut from your letters to me your NAMES, written in your own hand and these I always carry about with me, together with the Vow of Professions I made, to be my solace and refreshment.”

“We, who are many, are one in body in Christ and individually we are members one of another.”….Romans 12:5

Think about your friends.  What can you do to make your friendships stronger?  How can we show them them that we cherish and love them?

St Francis Xavier, St Ignatius Loyola Pray for us!