The Life of the Holy Family

Jesus was the centre of Mary’s and Joseph’s love. Where the body is, there shall the eagles be. Where the treasure is, there is the heart. To possess Jesus was the sole joy of those happy parents. They held neither to Bethlehem, nor to Nazareth, nor to Egypt. To possess Jesus was their all. He was the home of their heart.

My house, my family, my centre, is the Eucharist, the tabernacle near which I dwell. Like Mary and Joseph, I ought to be happy only there.

Jesus was the end of Mary’s and Joseph’s life. They lived only for Him, they labored only for Him. O how gladly did good St. Joseph labor to gain for Him and His Divine Mother their daily bread! With what satisfaction he brought home the small returns of his work! And when it had cost him a little more fatigue, how sweet that fatigue was to Him, since it was all for Jesus!

And so should Jesus in the Eucharist be the object of my life, the joy of my life, the joy and happiness of my labor.

Jesus was the constant nourishment of Mary and Joseph’s life of union and love. They were so happy in looking at Him, in listening to Him, in seeing Him working, obeying, praying, for He did all things so well.

But, above all, were they happy in regarding His interior, in studying His intentions, in discovering His sentiments, the motives of His virtues. . . . They admired His fidelity in referring all to the glory of His Father, wishing as man to be the object of no praise, no glory, but giving all to the Divinity.

O how happy is the soul in contemplating the interior of the Holy Family, all that is said and done therein, the Gospel of the family of Jesus! The beautiful evenings spent in heavenly conversation and the prayers at Nazareth! Surely, Jesus explained to Mary and Joseph all that the Scriptures said of Him. He revealed to them Calvary and all the scenes of humiliation and suffering through which He was to pass. He showed them in His hands the place through which the nails were to pierce, and He did so, in order to plant in His Mother and His holy guardian the virtues of Calvary. He must have spoken to them of the Church, of the Apostles, of the Religious Orders which would consecrate themselves to His and their honor.

Nazareth had become a heaven of love, a paradise of the second Adam and of the new Eve, a heaven of the purest virtues, of the holiest love.

Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).

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St. John Chrysostom

St. John was born at Antioch, in 344. In order to break with a world which admired and courted him, he in 374 retired for six years to a neighboring mountain. Having thus acquired the art of Christian silence, he returned to Antioch, and there labored as priest, until he was ordained Bishop of Constantinople in 398.

The effect of his sermons was everywhere marvellous. He was very urgent that his people should frequent the Holy Sacrifice, and in order to remove all excuse he abbreviated the long Liturgy until then in use. St. Nilus relates that St. John Chrysostom was wont to see, when the priest began the holy sacrifice, “many of the blessed ones coming down from heaven in shining garments, and with bare feet, eyes intent, and bowed heads, in utter stillness and silence, assisting at the consummation of the tremendous mystery.”

Beloved as he was in Constantinople, his denunciations of vice made him numerous enemies. In 403 these procured his banishment; and although he was almost immediately recalled, it was not more than a reprieve. In 404 he was banished to Cucusus in the deserts of Taurus. In 407 he was wearing out, but his enemies were impatient. They hurried him off to Pytius on the Euxine, a rough journey of nigh 400 miles. He was assiduously exposed to every hardship, cold, wet, and semi-starvation, but nothing could overcome his cheerfulness and his consideration for others.

On the journey his sickness increased, and he was warned that his end was nigh. Thereupon, exchanging his travel-stained clothes for white garments, he received Viaticum, and with his customary words, “Glory be to God for all things, amen,” passed to Christ.

Reflection. — We should try to understand that the most productive work in the whole day, both for time and eternity, is that involved in hearing Mass. St. John Chrysostom felt this so keenly, that he allowed no consideration of venerable usage to interfere with the easiness of hearing Mass.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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Divine Favors

The Lord once appeared to St. Gertrude, and said to her: “When any one has complete confidence in Me, and believes that I have the power, the wisdom, and the desire to aid him on all occasions, this ravishes My heart, . . . I cannot help favoring such a soul, on account of the pleasure I experience in seeing it so dependent upon Me, and to satisfy the great love I bear to it.”

Taulerus relates that a servant of God, being often asked, by various persons to pray for different objects, promised to do so, but sometimes forgot, and in such cases these people always obtained what they desired, and came back to thank her. Astonished at this, she said, one day, to the Lord: “How is it, O Lord, that Thou grantest these favors which I never asked?” And the Lord replied: “See, My daughter, on the day you gave Me your will, I gave you Mine, so that sometimes if you do not ask for a particular thing that I know you would be pleased with, I do it as if you had asked Me.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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Confidence in God – Part 2 of 2

St. Charles Borromeo was once talking with a person of rank, whom he was trying to persuade to have confidence in God in all circumstances, because He never abandons, even in the smallest things, those who put their trust in Him; and by way of proof, he related the following incident, which had happened to him a little while before.

He said that his house-steward complained of being without money, and did not know how to provide for the urgent needs of the house, and therefore requested him to be more sparing in alms and pious works, as it was by expenditure of that kind that the house was reduced to such extremity. But he replied only that he ought to trust in God, and hope for help from His Divine Majesty. This advice failed to satisfy him, and he went away much discontented. Within two hours, there arrived a bundle of letters, among which was a bill of exchange for three thousand crowns remitted to the Saint, from Spain. Sending for the steward, he gave them to him, and said: “Take them, O thou of little faith! Behold! the Lord has not abandoned us.” He added that this was truly a work of Divine Providence, for he was not expecting such a remittance, nor should it have been sent until two months later.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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Confidence in God – Part 1 of 2

When one puts all his care on God, and rests wholly upon Him, being careful, meanwhile, to serve Him faithfully, God takes care of him; and the greater the confidence of such a one, the more the care of God extends over him; neither is there any danger of its failing, for God has an infinite love for those souls that repose in Him. -St. Francis de Sales

The same thing was once said by our Lord to St. Catherine of Sienna: “Think of Me, and I will think of you, and take care of all your interests.”

St. Hugo, the Bishop, said that it was his experience that the more he attended to performing well and diligently all that pertained to the worship of God, the more God provided for him in all necessary things.

More than any other, St. Francis manifested, and still manifests, this truth, by the wonderful protection of Divine Providence which he experienced, and which sustains his sons even to this day. And so, the Viaticum which he gave his companions when they were going to a distance, was this verse of the Psalms: Jacta super Dominum curam tuam, et ipse te enutriet — Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee. And when the Pope asked him about his means of living, he replied: “Holy Father, we have a mother truly poor, but a very rich Father.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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St. Peter Claver

Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit. In Majorca he fell in with the holy lay-brother Alphonsus Rodriguez, who, having already learned by revelation the saintly career of Peter, became his spiritual guide, foretold to him the labors he would undergo in the Indies, and the throne he would gain in heaven.

Ordained priest in New Granada, Peter was sent to Cartagena, the great slave-mart of the West Indies. . . . For more than forty years he labored in this work. He called himself “the slave of the slaves.” He was their apostle, father, physician, and friend. He fed them, nursed them with the utmost tenderness in their loathsome diseases. . . . His cloak, which was the constant covering of the naked, though soiled with their filthy ulcers, sent forth a miraculous perfume.

His rest after his great labors was in nights of penance and prayer. However tired he might be, when news arrived of a fresh slave-ship, Blessed Peter immediately revived, his eyes brightened, and he was at once on board amongst his dear slaves, bringing them comfort for body and soul.

A false charge of reiterating baptism for a while stopped his work. He submitted without a murmur till the calumny was refuted.

He went to his reward in 1654.

Reflection. — When you see any one standing in need of your assistance, either for body or soul, do not ask yourself why some one else did not help him, but think to yourself that you have found a treasure.

Text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary announced joy and the near approach of salvation to the lost world.

Mary was brought forth in the world not like other children of Adam, infected with the loathsome contagion of sin, but pure, holy, beautiful, and glorious, adorned with all the most precious graces which became her who was chosen to be the Mother of God. She appeared indeed in the weak state of our mortality, but in the eyes of Heaven she already transcended the highest seraph in purity, brightness, and the richest ornaments of grace.

If we celebrate the birthdays of the great ones of this earth, how ought we to rejoice in that of the Virgin Mary, presenting to God the best homage of our praises and thanksgiving for the great mercies He has shown in her, and imploring her mediation with her Son in our behalf!

Christ will not reject the supplications of His mother, whom He was pleased to obey whilst on earth. Her love, care, and tenderness for Him, the title and qualities which she bears, the charity and graces with which she is adorned, and the crown of glory with which she is honored, must incline Him readily to receive her recommendations and petitions.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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