St. George

George
St. George was born in Cappadocia, at the close of the third century, of Christian parents. In early youth he chose a soldier’s life, and soon obtained the favor of Diocletian, who advanced him to the grade of tribune. When, however, the Emperor began to persecute the Christians, George rebuked him at once sternly and openly for his cruelty, and threw up his commission. He was in consequence subjected to a lengthened series of torments, and finally beheaded.

There was something so inspiriting in the defiant cheerfulness of the young soldier that every Christian felt a personal share in this triumph of Christian fortitude; and as years rolled on, St. George became a type of successful combat against evil, the slayer of the dragon, the darling theme of camp song and story.

Even beyond the circle of Christendom he was held in honor, and invading Saracens taught themselves to except from desecration the image of him they hailed as the “Whitehorsed Knight.” The devotion to St. George is one of the most ancient and widely spread in the Church. In the East, a church of St. George is ascribed to Constantine, and his name is invoked in the most ancient liturgies; whilst in the West, Malta, Barcelona, Valencia, Arragon, Genoa, and England have chosen him as their patron.

“Fortitude is not of the body, but is a constancy of soul; wherewith we are conquerors in righteousness, patiently bear all adversities, and in prosperity are not puffed up. This fortitude he lacks who is overcome by pride, anger, greed, drunkenness, and the like. Neither have they fortitude who when in adversity make shift to escape at their souls’ expense; wherefore the Lord saith, ‘Fear not those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.’ In like manner those who are puffed up in prosperity and abandon themselves to excessive joviality cannot be called strong. For how can they be called strong who cannot hide and repress the heart’s emotion?” -St. Bruno.

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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Self-Control

If it be possible, never yield to anger, nor admit any pretext for opening to it the door of your heart; for, should it once enter there, it will not be in your power to expel it when you please, or ever to control it. If you see that through your weakness it has gained a foothold in your spirit, instantly gather all your forces to re-establish peace and tranquillity. -St. Francis de Sales

It once happened that one of his relatives, aggrieved by something which he thought this holy man had done, went to his house, and loaded him with insults and threats. The Saint, who was entirely innocent, sought to undeceive him, and tried to pacify him with great mildness and courtesy. But the gentleman, overcome by anger, would listen to nothing, and went on abusing and insulting him, until he finally went away still storming and full of ill-will.

Then the Saint, turning to a Religious who was present and was much astonished at his patience, said to him: “Father, it was not desirable to exasperate this good man still more by showing him his rashness. He will know it well some day, and will repent of it.” And so he did; for, a few days after, he came to ask pardon.

It is said that the patience of St. Francis was never known to waver, nor was his heart ever known to cherish resentment against any one.

He was of a bilious temperament, and confessed of himself that he had taken the greatest pains to conquer it, and that he had labored at this for twenty-two years with great constancy and courage.

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

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St. Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm was a native of Piedmont. When a boy of fifteen, being forbidden to enter religion, he for a while lost his fervor, left his home, and went to various schools in France. At length his vocation revived, and he became a monk at Bec in Normandy. The fame of his sanctity in this cloister led William Rufus, when dangerously ill, to take him for his confessor, and to name him to the vacant see of Canterbury. Now began the strife of Anselm’s life.

With new health the king relapsed into his former sins, plundered the Church lands, scorned the archbishop’s rebukes, and forbade him to go to Rome for the pallium. Anselm went, and returned only to enter into a more bitter strife with William’s successor, Henry I. This sovereign claimed the right of investing prelates with the ring and crozier, symbols of the spiritual jurisdiction which belongs to the Church alone.

The worldly prelates did not scruple to call St. Anselm a traitor for his defence of the Pope’s supremacy; on which the Saint rose, and with calm dignity exclaimed, “If any man pretends that I violate my faith to my king because I will not reject the authority of the Holy See of Rome, let him stand forth and in the name of God I will answer him as I ought.” No one took up the challenge; and to the disappointment of the king, the barons sided with the Saint, for they respected his courage, and saw that his cause was their own. Sooner than yield, the archbishop went again into exile, till at last the king was obliged to submit to the feeble but inflexible old man.

In the midst of his harassing cares, St. Anselm found time for writings which have made him celebrated as the father of scholastic theology; while in metaphysics and in science he had few equals. He is yet more famous for his devotion to our Blessed Lady, whose Feast of the Immaculate Conception he was the first to establish in the West.

He died A.D. 1109.

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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Serenity of Mind

Know and be assured, that all those thoughts which give disquiet and agitation of mind, are not in any wise from God, who is the Prince of Peace; but they always proceed either from the devil, or from self-love, or from the esteem which we have of ourselves. These are the three fountains from which all our perturbation springs. Therefore, when thoughts of such a nature come to us, we ought to reject them at once, and make no account of them. -St. Francis de Sales

We read of this Saint that he enjoyed an imperturbable peace of heart. He said himself, one day: “What is there that can possibly disturb our peace? If all the world were in confusion, I should not be troubled; for what is all the world worth in comparison with peace of heart?”

When the Abbot Isaac was asked by another monk, why the devils feared him so much, he replied: “At the time I entered religion, I made a resolution never to let an impatient act or angry word escape me, and, by the grace of God, I have never broken it.”

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

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Serenity of Countenance

Be very mild and very gracious in the midst of your exterior occupations, for every one expects this good example from you. -St. Francis de Sales

It is said of this Saint that amid all his activity he preserved a countenance mild, tranquil, and peaceful, and that he was never known to lose the least jot of his cheerfulness and serenity, in whatever business he was engaged.

The same is said of St. Vincent de Paul. He never lost his tranquillity of mind in the midst of affairs, however numerous or troublesome they might be. And it was wonderful to see how he received all persons with the same serenity of countenance, and satisfied their demands, whatever their rank might be, with great courtesy, and without ever giving a sign of weariness or vexation at their importunity.

St. Athanasius writes of St. Anthony, that he always appeared so joyful, that every day seemed like Easter with him, and that a stranger coming to see him, could pick him out from a multitude of monks, by the gladness and benignity which shone upon his countenance. And the same writer adds that this joy was occasioned by the great hope which he had of Paradise; for he had his mind always fixed on the eternal things above, of which he could not think without rejoicing.

The process of canonization of St. Thomas of Aquin states that he was never seen angry or even disturbed, but that at all times and in all occupations, he retained serenity and cheerfulness of countenance to such a degree, that those connected with him, experienced consolation and a certain spiritual joy by merely looking at him.

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

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Imperfections

Beware of becoming vexed or impatient at the faults of others, for it would be folly when you see a man falling into a ditch, to throw yourself into another to no purpose. -St. Bonaventure

Cardinal Cesarini, a man of most gentle disposition, having been told that the mule he usually rode was lost, through the neglect of a servant, sent for him; but when he asked him about the matter, the man replied very rudely. The Cardinal was silent at first, but when the servant continued his impertinence, he turned to the bystanders, and said: “Do not wonder at my silence, for I thought it best to suppress my anger, and give reason time to gain control over passion, lest I should fall myself into a fault, by trying to correct the fault of another.”

You should never be displeased at the sight of your own imperfections, except with a displeasure humble, tranquil, and peaceful, not excited and angry; for this latter kind does more harm than good. -St. Francis de Sales

St. Vincent de Paul never felt anger or bitterness against himself on account of his defects, and often said that vice should be hated and virtue loved, not because the former displeases us, and the latter pleases us, but only for love of God, who hates vice and loves virtue; and thus the pain felt for a defect will have something in it sweet and tranquil.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was not discouraged when he committed faults, but only turned his glance upon his own heart, and said, “Terra dedit fructum suum” — The earth has yielded its fruit.

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

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Patience in Conversation – Part 2 of 2

The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us. -St. Francis de Sales

This holy Bishop was at one time laboring for the conversion of a heretical woman, quite advanced in years, who, for a long time, came to him every day with new doubts. He listened to her with great amiability, and without ever showing any weariness, though he could see that he gained nothing. But the woman did not grow tired of knocking at his door three or four times a day, so much was she attracted by his gentle demeanor. Finally, she said that she had no other difficulty except in regard to the celibacy of the clergy. The Saint replied to this that it was necessary for them, in order that, being free from the care of a family, they might serve the people, and that indeed it would have been difficult for him to talk with her so often, if he had a wife and children to take care of. This reason was more convincing to her than all the arguments of theologians, and she was converted.

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

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