St. Henry

Henry, Duke of Bavaria, saw in a vision his guardian, St. Wolfgang, pointing to the words “after six.” This moved him to prepare for death, and for six years he continued to watch and pray; when, at the end of the sixth year, he found the warning verified in his election as emperor. Thus trained in the fear of God, he ascended the throne with but one thought — to reign for His greater glory.

The pagan Slavs were then despoiling the empire. Henry attacked them with a small force; but angels and Saints were seen leading his troops, and the heathen fled in despair. Poland and Bohemia, Moravia and Burgundy, were in turn annexed to his kingdom, Pannonia and Hungary won to the Church. With the faith secured in Germany, Henry passed into Italy, drove out the Antipope Gregory, brought Benedict VIII. back to Rome and was crowned in St. Peter’s by that Pontiff, in 1014.

It was Henry’s custom, on arriving in any town, to spend his first night in watching in some church dedicated to our Blessed Lady. As he was thus praying in St. Mary Major’s, the first night of his arrival in Rome, he “saw the Sovereign and Eternal Priest Christ Jesus” enter to say Mass. SS. Laurence and Vincent assisted as deacon and sub-deacon. Saints innumerable filled the church, and angels sang in the choir.

Like holy David, Henry employed the fruits of his conquests in the service of the temple. The forests and mines of the empire, the best that his treasury could produce, were consecrated to the sanctuary. Stately cathedrals, noble monasteries, churches innumerable, enlightened and sanctified the once heathen lands.

In 1022, Henry lay on his bed of death. He gave back to her parents his wife, St. Cunegunda, “a virgin still, as a virgin he had received her from Christ,” and surrendered his own pure soul to God.

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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The Aim of Prayer

The whole aim of whoever intends to give himself to prayer, ought to be to labor, to resolve, to dispose himself, with all possible diligence, to conform his will to that of God. For in this consists all the highest perfection that can be acquired in the spiritual way. -St. Teresa

It was the principal object of all the prayers of this Saint, to conform herself in everything to the Divine will. This also was the end that St. Bernard fixed for himself at the beginning of his prayer, when he encouraged himself to make it, as we read in his Life, by the hope of knowing and doing the will of God. The same thing is related of St. Vincent de Paul, and of many other servants of God.

All that we do, receives its value from conformity to the will of God. When I take food or recreation, if I do it because it is the will of God, I merit more than if I went to suffer death without that intention. -St. Francis de Sales

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

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St. Benedict

St. Benedict, blessed by grace and in name, was born of a noble Italian family about 480. When a boy he was sent to Rome, and there placed in the public schools. Scared by the licentiousness of the Roman youth, he fled to the desert mountains of Subiaco, and was directed by the Holy Spirit into a cave, deep, craggy, and almost inaccessible. He lived there for three years, unknown to any one save the holy monk Romanus, who clothed him with the monastic habit and brought him food. But the fame of his sanctity soon gathered disciples round him. . . . After he had built twelve monasteries at Subiaco, he removed to Monte Cassino, where he founded an abbey in which he wrote his rule, and lived until death.

By prayer he did all things: wrought miracles, saw visions, and prophesied. A peasant, whose boy had just died, ran in anguish to St. Benedict, crying out, “Give me back my son!” The monks joined the poor man in his entreaties. . . . Moved at length by compassion he knelt down, and prostrating himself upon the body of the child prayed earnestly. Then rising, he cried out, “Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, who desireth the life of his son, and restore to the body that soul which Thou hast taken away.” Hardly had he spoken when the child’s body began to tremble, and taking it by the hand he restored it alive to its father.

Six days before his death he ordered his grave to be opened, and fell ill of a fever. On the sixth day he requested to be borne into the chapel, and, having received the Body and Blood of Christ, with hands uplifted, and leaning on one of his disciples, he calmly expired in prayer on the 21st of March, 543.

Reflection. — The Saints never feared to undertake any work, however arduous, for God, because distrusting self they relied for assistance and support wholly upon prayer.

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

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Living in the Present

Among the many means of performing our actions well, one is to do each of them as if it were to be the last of our lives. At every action, then, say to yourself: “If you knew that you were to die immediately after this action, would you do it? and would you do it in this way?” -St. Vincent de Paul

A certain priest was accustomed to go to confession every morning before saying Mass. Once, being dangerously ill, he was advised to make his confession in preparation for death. But he answered: “Blessed be God! I have made my confession in that way every day for the last thirty years, as if I were immediately to die; so I need do no more than make my ordinary confession, as if I were going to say Mass.”

Another good method is to consider only the present day. One of the arts which the devil employs to ruin souls, and to retard many in the service of God, is to represent to them that it is a very difficult and insupportable thing, to live for many years with so much exactness, circumspection, and regularity. Now, to consider to-day only, closes the path to this temptation, and, at the same time, lends much support to human weakness. For, who is there that cannot for one day make a strong effort to do all he can, that his actions may be well performed? Let one say to himself in the morning, “This day I mean to perform my ordinary actions well.” . . . By proceeding every day in this manner, little by little a good habit is formed, and no farther difficulty is experienced. -Rodriguez

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

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Slow and Steady

Anything done with precipitation is never done well. Let us go slowly, for if we do but keep advancing, we shall thus go far. -St. Francis de Sales

It was thus that the Saint himself conducted all his operations. St. Philip Neri did the same, and recommended this course to his penitents, often saying: “You need not try to do every thing in a day, nor to become a Saint in a month. Prudence does not advise it.”

The works of God are performed, for the most part, little by little, and have their beginnings and their progress. We ought not to expect to do everything at once and in a hurry, nor imagine that all is lost, if success does not come in an instant; but we must advance quietly, pray much to God, and make use of the means suggested by His spirit, and never of the false maxims of the world. -St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul had a habit of proceeding in all his affairs, both in undertaking and prosecuting them, with such tranquillity that he was regarded as too slow. But experience showed that his slowness did no harm, for, to the wonder of all, he brought to a successful issue so many and such difficult affairs, that many persons together would not have been able to do as much, even if they had given their whole minds to the work. What is more, he succeeded in this way in performing all his spiritual works with fervor, and all the indifferent ones with success.

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

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Always Recollected

It is a great error of certain souls otherwise good and pious, that they believe they cannot retain interior repose in the midst of business and perplexities. Surely there is no commotion greater than that of a vessel in the midst of the sea; yet those on board do not give up the thought of resting and sleeping, and the compass remains always in its place, turning towards the pole. Here is the point: we must be careful to keep the compass of our will in order, that it may never turn elsewhere than to the pole of the Divine pleasure. -St. Francis de Sales

St. Vincent de Paul excelled in this. He was never perturbed by the multiplicity of business, nor by the difficulties he encountered, but he undertook every thing with inexhaustible spiritual strength, and applied himself with method, patience, and tranquillity, making the will of God his constant aim. This was especially visible when he had a seat in the king’s Council and at the same time the government of his own Congregation and of many other Communities, Assemblies, and Conferences, together with other employments which almost overwhelmed him. One might have supposed that he would have been in a state of distraction, divided, as it were, among a hundred thoughts and cares, and with his mind, in consequence, harassed and agitated. But no. In the midst of a constant ebb and flow of persons and employments, he appeared always recollected, self-possessed, master of himself, with as much evenness of temper, peace, and tranquillity, as if he had only one thing to think about.

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

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Mother of Our Saviour

As God created man without the assistance of any creature whatsoever, so also He alone could save him. He willed, however, that His Immaculate Mother should cooperate with Him in this great enterprise, thus associating her in the work of our redemption in an altogether singular manner.

And how did Mary take part in our redemption? In the first place, by obtaining for us, through her ardent desires and fervent prayers, the accomplishment of the great mystery of the Incarnation; secondly, by consenting to become Mother of the Word, giving to Him that humanity of ours, by which He was to save us; finally, by offering Jesus to the Eternal Father as a victim of propitiation and suffering together with Him woes without measure to satisfy the punishment due for our sins.

“Forget not the groanings of thy mother.” [Ecclus 7:29] Not charity alone, but justice also prompts us to share in the sorrows of the Mother of God, for it was for us solely that she suffered.

Happy he, whose devotion impels him, not only to pay homage to Mary’ greatness, but also to nourish a tender compassion for her sorrows.

Since Mary did cooperate with Jesus in the work of our salvation, it is our bounden duty to render to her our most heartfelt thanks.

The virtuous Esther exposed herself to the danger of death to rescue the people of Israel: the chaste Judith braved the army of Holofernes to deliver the city of Bethulia: Mary offered herself with Jesus, a victim of expiation, not for one town or for one nation alone, but for the whole world.

Let us not, then, forget in our acts of homage, in our affection, in our thanksgiving, to join in one our most holy Redeemer and his Mother, for it is to Mary, after Jesus, that we owe our salvation. In the passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary God has placed all our hope of salvation.

It is just, therefore, that we proclaim Mary co-Redemptress of the human race, and honor her as such.

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

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