St. Augustine of Canterbury

Augustine was prior of the monastery of St. Andrew on the Coelian, and was appointed by St. Gregory the Great chief of the missionaries whom he sent to England.

St. Augustine and his companions, having heard on their journey many reports of the barbarism and ferocity of the pagan English, were afraid, and wished to turn back. But St. Gregory replied, “Go on, in God’s name! The greater your hardships, the greater your crown. May the grace of Almighty God protect you, and give me to see the fruit of your labor in the heavenly country! If I cannot share your toil, I shall yet share the harvest, for God knows that it is not good-will which is wanting.” The band of missionaries went on in obedience.

Landing at Ebbsfleet, between Sandwich and Ramsgate, they met King Ethelbert and his thanes under a great oak-tree at Minster, and announced to him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instant and complete success attended their preaching. On Whit Sunday, 596, King Ethelbert was baptized, and his example was followed by the greater number of his nobles and people. By degrees the faith spread far and wide.

St. Augustine died after eight years of evangelical labors.

Reflection. — The work of an apostle is the work of the right Hand of God. He often chooses weak instruments for His mightiest purposes.

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

Advertisements
Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom | Tagged

St. Philip Neri

The more a person is animated by true devotion to the Queen of Heaven, the more such a person is made to partake of those extraordinary gifts with which the Holy Ghost beautified the soul of His beloved Spouse in the course of her mortal life.

It is well known how St. Philip Neri loved and venerated the Blessed Virgin and how he desired to see her honored and loved by his penitents. He often invoked her by her most beautiful titles, and he used to call her his love and the heavenly dispenser of the graces of her Lord. In this way he infused into those who approached him an unbounded confidence in Mary’s patronage. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that Philip received from God, through Mary’s hands, some of those particular gifts which God Himself had bestowed upon His Mother.

One of these gifts was the spirit of prophecy and discernment of hearts, so that as the Holy Ghost had replenished the soul of Mary with heavenly wisdom, manifesting to her the hidden things of Heaven, so St. Philip was filled, though to a lesser degree, with this extraordinary favor of knowing things hidden to the eyes of men.

Many indeed were the things foretold by this Saint not only in ordinary matters but with regard to extraordinary events and out-of-the-way circumstances. With regard to his gift of the discernment of hearts, it must be admitted that St. Philip Neri was perfectly cognizant of the interior state of many who came to him, so much so that any one who had committed some fault and would not repent of it, did not dare to approach him, for they knew that the state of their conscience was known to him.

It was also by the aid of our blessed Lady, that St. Philip obtained the conversion of so many hardened sinners who had resisted the grace of God. By his works in the mystical vineyard of Christ, and by the victories which through his prophetical spirit he gained over sin and the devil, he won the beautiful title of “Apostle of Rome,”which was due in great part to his unbounded confidence and devotion to our blessed Lady, who is rightly invoked as the “Queen of Prophets.”

Illustration from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922). Text from Alexis M. Lepicier, The Fairest Flower of Paradise (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1922).

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Saint, Saints, Wisdom, Religion | Tagged

Mother Inviolate

Servile fear may be found even among those who do not love God, whom the dread of punishment alone keeps back from offending their Lord and Master. Speaking of this fear St. John says that perfect charity casts it out. [1 John 4:18]

On the other hand, filial fear belongs to God’s children. These recognize the Most High for their Sovereign Lord, and love Him as their tender Father; hence they have for Him a profound esteem and veneration. Knowing that they are exposed in this life to a thousand occasions of offending Him by reason of the temptations they must undergo through the frailty of the fleshy the malice of the demon, and the allurements of the world, they fear sin above every other evil.

Mary, at the moment of her Immaculate Conception, received, together with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, that of the fear of God. This fear in her was in no sort servile. Filled as she was with divine grace, altogether pure and holy, what chastisement could she apprehend?

Neither was there in Mary, properly speaking, that fear which theologians call “chaste fear,” which has for its object the possible danger of falling away from God by sin; for she well knew that by an especial assistance of the Holy Ghost, she would never lose divine grace.

The fear of God was, therefore, in Mary a reverential fear, caused by a keen and lively sense of the awful majesty of the Most High and His limitless power. It was this very sentiment which impelled this glorious Virgin to believe with all her heart the truths revealed by God: to consecrate to the Lord all the affections of her soul: to shelter herself and rest, like a white dove, under the fatherly wings of Divine Providence: “I sat down under His shadow, whom I desired.” [Cant 2:3]

The chief effect of the gift of fear in Mary was to inspire her, in her adorations and supplications, with so great a sense of respect and veneration for the Divine Majesty, that all her petitions merited to be heard: even as we read of Jesus, that He “was heard for His reverence.” [Heb 5:7] Mary might, therefore, like another Esther, present herself without fear before the throne of the King of kings, and lay her request at His feet, with a certain confidence of being fully heard, whatever the object of her petition might be.

Oh, that we would imitate Mary in the acquisition and exercise of this precious gift of the fear of God! That our prayers might be animated with this reverential and wholesome fear, which is the pledge of divine favors, for it is written that God “will do the will of them that fear Him: and He will hear their prayer.” [Ps 145:19] Would that we dreaded above all things to commit sin, the greatest of evils, and that we might courageously shun all the occasions of offending our Heavenly Father and losing His grace! Happy the soul that possesses this salutary fear, the beneficial effect of which is felt especially at the moment of death. For such a soul does not dread the passage from life to eternity: on the contrary, it looks upon that moment as the beginning of all real blessings.

Text from Alexis M. Lepicier, The Fairest Flower of Paradise (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1922).

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom | Tagged

St. Gregory VII

Gregory VII., by name Hildebrand, was born in Tuscany, about the year 1013. He was educated in Rome. From thence he went to France, and became a monk at Cluny. Afterwards he returned to Rome, and for many years filled high trusts of the Holy See. Three great evils then afflicted the Church: simony, concubinage, and the custom of receiving investiture from lay hands. Against these three corruptions Gregory never ceased to contend. As legate of Victor II. he held a Council at Lyons, where simony was condemned.

He was elected Pope in 1073, and at once called upon the pastors of the Catholic world to lay down their lives rather than betray the laws of God to the will of princes. Rome was in rebellion through the ambition of the Cenci. Gregory excommunicated them. They laid hands on him at Christmas during the midnight Mass, wounded him, and cast him into prison. The following day he was rescued by the people.

Next arose his conflict with Henry IV., Emperor of Germany. This monarch, after openly relapsing into simony, pretended to depose the Pope. Gregory excommunicated the emperor. His subjects turned against him, and at last he sought absolution of Gregory at Canossa. But he did not persevere. He set up an antipope, and besieged Gregory in the castle of St. Angelo. The aged pontiff was obliged to flee.

On May 25th, 1085, about the seventy-second year of his life, and the twelfth year of his pontificate, Gregory entered into his rest. His last words were full of a divine wisdom and patience. As he was dying, he said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

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

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom | Tagged

St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, of an illustrious house in Florence, was born in the year 1566, and baptized by the name of Catherine. She received her first communion at ten years of age, and made a vow of virginity at twelve. She took great pleasure in carefully teaching the Christian doctrine to the ignorant.

Her father, not knowing her vow, wished to give her in marriage, but she persuaded him to allow her to become a religious. It was more difficult to obtain her mother’s consent; but at last she gained it, and she was professed, being then eighteen years of age, in the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence.

She changed her name Catherine into that of Mary Magdalen on becoming a nun, and took as her motto, “To suffer or die;” and her life henceforth was a life of penance for sins not her own, and of love of Our Lord, who tried her in ways fearful and strange.

The day of Communion she called the day of love. The charity that burned in her heart led her in her youth to choose the house of the Carmelites, because the religious therein communicated every day. She rejoiced to see others communicate, even when she was not allowed to do so herself; and her love for her sisters grew when she saw them receive Our Lord.

God raised her to high states of prayer, and gave her rare gifts, enabling her to read the thoughts of her novices, and filling her with wisdom to direct them aright. She was twice chosen mistress of novices, and then made superioress, when God took her to Himself, May 25th, 1607. Her body is incorrupt.

Reflection. — St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi was so filled with the love of God that her sisters in the monastery observed it in her love of themselves, and called her “the Mother of Charity,” and “the Charity of the Monastery.”

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

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom | Tagged

A Higher Calling

When any one has to choose a state of life, and wishes to know what he should do for the good of his soul, let him first strip himself of every inclination of his own, and place himself generously in the hands of God, equally ready for whatever He may call him to. Then let him apply some Gospel-truths to the matter, draw from them their legitimate consequence, and see how they relate to the ultimate end for which God has created us. If he still remains uncertain, let him imagine himself on his deathbed, or before the judgment-seat, which will teach him to do what he will then wish he had done. -St. Ignatius of Loyola

A pious lady, being asked by a poor man for some clothing, ordered her servant to bring him a shirt. When she brought one that was coarse and torn, she told her to find a better one, adding that it would cause her much shame if Christ, on the day of judgment, should show that shirt to all the world.

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

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom

St. Rita of Cascia

St. Rita of Cascia, whose feast is celebrated on May 22, was born at Rocca Porena in the diocese of Spoleto and the province of Umbria, Italy, about the year 1386, and died at Cascia in the year 1456.

Being the daughter of parents who were advanced in years, she met with much opposition when she made known her intention of becoming a nun. Yielding to their entreaties, she married a man, who, in a short time, lost his reputation on account of his cruelty. After converting him from his wicked ways, he was murdered by an enemy. Rita’s two sons resolved to take revenge, but through her prayers they repented of their sins and were taken away by death.

Left alone in the world, she applied several times for admission into the Augustinian Convent at Cascia. Refusal to receive her followed every application, until God Himself cleared away all obstacles and she entered the convent, made her profession and lived the life of a holy and devout Religious for forty-two years, “a shining example of every Christian virtue, pure as a lily, simple as a dove, and obedient as an angel.”

That “God is wonderful in His saints” is easily proved in the life of St. Rita. On one occasion Rita requested a rose to be brought to her from her garden at Porena in the midst of winter. The rose was found in full bloom. At another time she asked for a fig, and the same was found. The report of these wonders spread far and wide, and people flocked to the convent from all parts of Europe, only to receive in return for their faith in God through the prayers of Rita many spiritual and temporal favors.

Owing to the great number of miracles wrought by St. Rita, she is often styled “The Saint of the Impossible.”

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

Posted in Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Saint, Saints, Wisdom | Tagged