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

Illustration from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922). Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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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).

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St. Herman Joseph

Herman from his earliest years was a devoted client of the Mother of God. As a little child he used to spend all his play-time in the church at Cologne before an image of Mary, where he received many favors. One bitter winter day, as little Herman was coming barefooted into church, his heavenly Mother appearing to him, asked him lovingly why his feet were bare in such cold weather. “Alas! dear Lady,” he said, “it is because my parents are so poor.” She pointed to a stone, telling him to look beneath it; there he found four silver pieces wherewith to buy shoes; he did not forget to return and thank her. She enjoined him to go to the same spot in all his wants, and disappeared. Never did the supply fail him; but his comrades, moved by a different spirit, could find nothing.

Once Our Lady stretched out her hand and took an apple which the boy offered her in pledge of his love. Another time he saw her high up in the tribune, with the Holy Child and St. John; he longed to join them, but saw no way of doing so; suddenly he found himself placed by their side, and holding sweet converse with the Infant Jesus.

At the age of twelve he entered the Premonstratensian house at Steinfeld, and there led an angelic life of purity and prayer. His fellow-novices, seeing what graces he received from Mary, called him Joseph.

Reflection. — Do not approach our Blessed Mother with set prayers only. Be intimate with her; confide in her; commend to her every want and every project, small as well as great. It is a childlike reliance and a trustful appeal which she delights to reward.

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

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St. Bernardine of Siena

From his earliest youth this Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus began to show especial devotion to the glorious Queen of Heaven. Every Saturday he fasted in her honor, and showed her every sign of affection and veneration. This benign Mother, on the other hand, did not let herself be outdone in generosity and was pleased to adorn the soul of her faithful servant with the choicest graces, in preparation for the mission to which Bernardine had been predestined by God.

His devotion to our blessed Lady increased in him with his years. It is stated that every day he used to go to a gate of the city of Siena called the Porta Camollia and there prostrate himself before a fresco of the Madonna. This he did without any regard for the opinions of other people, giving free scope to his affection and calling Our Lady his delight and own beloved. His confidence in the patronage of the Mother of grace was not frustrated, since he thus escaped the dangers of this corrupt world. He had long wished to enter the Order of the Friars Minor and at last this privilege was granted him. Having been bidden by his Superiors to preach in the different cities of Italy and to call people back to the practices of a Christian life, he obtained, owing to the intercession of our blessed Lady, the marvelous cure of a long-standing defect in his voice, which had been the result of an illness from which he had much to suffer. The cities whither he was sent to preach were full of evil-living and bloodshed; but the Blessed Virgin, under whose patronage he placed the issue of his apostolic labors, helped him visibly. Words cannot express how many sinners were converted and how many souls were sanctified by him. At his preaching, the erring were recalled, scandals ceased, and feuds were ended; and these apostolic journeys of his could indeed be called triumphs of grace over sin. In the end, worn out by fatigue and penance, he died a happy death on the twentieth of May, 1445, receiving from our blessed Lord the eternal recompense he had merited especially by his filial devotion to our blessed Lady.

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).

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For the Glory of God

With those who are perfect and walk with simplicity, there is nothing small and contemptible, if it be a thing that pleases God; for the pleasure of God is the object at which alone they aim, and which is the reason, the measure, and the reward of all their occupations, actions, and plans; and so, in whatever they find this, it is for them a great and important thing. -Rodriguez

This is the reason why St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. John Berchmans, St. Mary Magdalen di Pazzi, and so many others, were so observant even of the least Rule, so exact in all their ordinary occupations, and so careful to perform well every work trusted to them, however trifling it might be.

Let us beware of worldly sentiments, for often by the pretext of zeal or the glory of God, they cause us to adopt plans which never proceeded from Him. and will not be prospered by His Divine Majesty. -St. Vincent de Paul

One of his priests having expressed the opinion to this Saint, that it would have been well to begin the Missions on the estates of some well-known man of rank, he answered thus: “Your idea seems to me human, and contrary to Christian simplicity. May God keep us from doing anything for such low ends. The Divine Goodness requires of us that we should never do well to make ourselves esteemed, but that all our actions should be directed to God alone.”

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

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To Love All That God Loves

What a great benefit it would be to us if God would plant in our hearts a holy aversion to our own satisfaction, to which nature attaches us so strongly that we desire that others would adapt themselves to us, and all succeed well with us. Let us ask Him to teach us to place all our happiness in Him, to love all that He loves, and to be pleased only with what pleases Him. -St. Vincent de Paul

A young monk asked one old in religion, why charity was not as perfect as in earlier times. “Because” replied the latter, “the ancient Fathers looked upward, and their hearts followed their eyes; but now all bend towards the earth, and seek only their own advantage.”

There is a kind of simplicity that causes a person to close his eyes to all the sentiments of nature, and to human considerations, and fix them interiorly upon the holy maxims of the Faith, that he may guide himself in every work by their means, in such a way that in all his actions, words, thoughts, interests, and vicissitudes, at all times and in all places, he may always recur to them, and do nothing except by them and according to them. This is an admirable simplicity. -St. Vincent de Paul

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

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Devotion to Mary – Part 4 of 8

Our Lord is our Advocate and Mediator of redemption with God the Father. It is by Him that we ought to pray, in union with the whole Church triumphant and militant. It is by Him that we have access to the Majesty of the Father, before whom we ought never to appear except leaning on the merits, and indeed clothed with the merits, of His Son.

But have we not need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself? Is our purity great enough to unite us directly to Him, and by ourselves? Is He not God, in all things equal to His Father, and by consequence the Holy of Holies, as worthy of respect as His Father?

Let us say boldly with St. Bernard, that we have need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself, and that it is the divine Mary who is the most capable of filling that charitable office. It is by her that Jesus Christ came, and it is by her that we must go to Him. If we fear to go directly to Jesus Christ our God, whether because of His infinite greatness, or because of our vileness, or because of our sins, let us boldly implore the aid and intercession of Mary our Mother. She is good, she is tender, she has nothing in her austere or repulsive, nothing too sublime and too brilliant. In seeing her, we see our pure nature. She is not the sun, who, by the vivacity of his rays, blinds us because of our weakness; but she is fair and gentle as the moon, which receives the light of the sun, and tempers it to render it more suitable to our capacity. She is so charitable that she repels none of those who ask her intercession, no matter how great sinners they have been; for, as the Saints say, never has it been heard since the world was the world, that any one has confidently and perseveringly had recourse to our Blessed Lady, and yet has been repelled.

All this is drawn from St. Bernard and from St. Bonaventure, so that, according to them, we have three steps to mount to go to God: the first, which is the nearest to us, and the most suited to our capacity, is Mary; the second is Jesus Christ; and the third is God the Father. To go to Jesus, we must go to Mary; she is our mediatrix of intercession. To go to God the Father, we must go to Jesus; for He is our Mediator of redemption.

Text from St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort, A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, trans. Frederick William Faber (London: Burns and Lambert, 1863).

To be continued next Saturday . . .

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