Wednesday, April 30, 2014

St. Pius V, Pope

Happy Feast of St. Pius V, Pope!

Pope Pius V was head of the Catholic Church from 1566-1572 and a leader of the Catholic Reformation.  He was born to a poor Italian family and was a shepherd until he joined the Dominicans at he age of 14.  He taught theology and philosophy for 16 years before becoming master of novices and prior for several Dominican houses.  He was named inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, but fulfilled his position so well, he was named commissary general of the Inquisition  in 1551.  He quickly rose to bishop of Nepi and Sutri in 1556, cardinal in 1557, grand inquisitor in 1558, and on January 7, 1566 elected Pope.  As Pope, he saw him main objective as continuing to reform the church, specifically full implementation of the Council of Trent. He published the Roman Catechism, the revised Roman Breviary, and the Roman Missal (I think we are ALL grateful for these!).  He declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church, commanded a new edition of the works of Thomas Aquinas, ans created a commission to revise the Vulgate.  The decrees of Trent were published throughout all Catholic lands and the Pope insisted on strict adherence.  In 1571, Pius created the Congregation of the Index (what the index iswhat is on itliberal view of what is on it) to give help with the Church's resistance to Protestant and heretical writings and used the Inquisition to keep Protestant ideas from spreading in Italy.  There was a threat beyond the Protestants, the Ottoman Turks were advancing steadily across the Mediterranean.  Pius V organized an alliance between Benice and Spain, culminating in the Battle of Lepanto, which was a complete triumph over the Turks--the Feast Day for Our Lady of Victory was established on this day to recognizer Our Lady's intercession in answer to the Rosary being said all over Catholic Europe.  Pius led reforms of the Church by example.  For example, he wore his coarse Dominican robed, even underneath his papal vestments and devoted himself wholeheartedly to the religious life.  Only the Inquisition's oppression was left as a blemish on his papacy, often Jews of Rome were brutally treated; and the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

I am so happy to be learning about a pope and a saint today, just a few days after 2 popes were canonized as saints.  How amazing is our church?  To have a succession of leaders that you can follow all of the way to Jesus' instillation of Peter.  I think that is one of the most amazing things about the Catholic Church.  Maybe I should insert here the reasons I converted to Catholicism, it really has nothing to do with St. Pius V, or maybe it has everything to do with him and his Reformation of the Church.  I was raised Methodist, by a mom who has a long, long line of Methodists in her family.  My dad was Catholic, but disliked the Latin (and later Spanish) that was spoken in his church (from what I understand that was his main grump about the church).  I was blessed to have Catholic God Parents.  They were amazing!  I loved to spend the night at their house, where a small shrine was in their bedroom and we prayed at night.  That moment in the evening felt like home to me.  They were a wonderful example of marriage and family, but also a wonderful example of Christ's light given to others.  Their faith was amazing and I always wanted more of it.  Going to mass with them or with my grandpa (Dad's Dad) was always a highlight.  Granted their mass was still in Spanish, but I was drawn in by the consistency of the service, I didn't know what they said, but when I went often I could follow along and it was comfortable.  You could always feel the Holy Spirit in the room--ALWAYS--even when I was young, it just felt different than church services at my church.  Then I met a Catholic man, and honestly, I was hoping beyond anything he would insist that I become Catholic before our marriage, but he didn't and we were married Methodist and did the church shuffle the first several years of our marriage.  It wasn't until and wonderful Catholic Priest came into our lives, and started praying for us, that everything changed and I converted.  I don't know that I would have wanted it any other way though.  The Holy Spirit was able to come into both of our lives at one time and change our whole family (children included, there were 2 before I converted).  So, thank you Pope Pius V, thank you to all of the Popes before and after who have led and guided our church through both good and bad times.  And thank you to all of the priests, and religious, who guide and have guided the flock constantly and consistently throughout the years.
(note:  I borrowed the images.  The top one is from another blog, source listed under it (the quote and picture together say it all!) and the image of the tomb is from Wikipedia (what can I say, I'm have not been blessed enough to go visit day!)

Monday, April 28, 2014

St. Peter Chanel

Happy Feast of St. Peter Chanel!

St. Peter Chanel was both a priest and martyr of the Catholic Church.  (More specifically, he is a protomartyr of the South Seas.  Which is the first Christian martyr in a country of among a group, like a religious order.  St. Stephen was the original "Protomartyr," since he was the first martyr and St. Thecla, as the first female martyr.)  He was intelligent and possessed a simple piety.  His local priest taught him in elementary school and after he entered the seminary.  Both professors and other students had great respect and admiration for him.  His first assignment after becoming a priest was to a rundown country parish, which he revitalized in the short time he was there.  He soon jointed the Marists or Society of Mary to be put to work where his heart truly was, missionary work.  This group worked both at home and abroad.  Although this was his desire, he was assigned to teach as a seminary.  His dream would come true in 1836, when he was sent to the New Hebrides in the Pacific and he was appointed Superior of a band of missionaries sent there.  The brothers disbanded among the islands to better reach the inhabitants.  St. Peter and an English layman Thomas Boog went to Futuna to preach to a group who had only recently given up cannibalism (think this would have been my exiting point!)  The king and people received them well, until the kings jealousy was brought on by the missionaries learning of the language and gaining the people's confidence.  The king realized that Christianity would lead to the end of his reign as both high priest and king, which evidently had its perks.  The king's son wished to be baptized, which was the end of the king's patience with the missionaries.  He sent a group of warriors out to kill the missionary.  They clubbed him to death, which he took without complaint.  Within 5 month of his death, the entire island was converted to Christianity.

While we are always told, God does his work in his way I wonder if St. Peter Chanel would have signed up if he would have known the outcome.  I'm sure like all of the saints we have read about, he would have gladly taken this opportunity to serve the Lord in whatever manner he was called.  What do we take from St. Peter Chanel's story?  How can we bring his life into our own?  I believe he is calling us to live out our faith and spread the faith through all means necessary.  We may not be called to die for our faith, but we are called to evangelize regardless of what others may say or do in response.  While preparing for my son's first communion this past weekend, I ran across St. Paul Street Evangelization and wanted to share it with you. They are a group of Catholics who spread the Church everywhere, to anyone.  I WANT TO BE LIKE THEM.  Honestly, I don't feel like I have the knowledge to do it, but I am looking into this program.  How wonderful to be called to spread the church that Jesus instilled to all!  Consider this or in what way you can live out your faith and spread the Church.  Remember, we are all called to evangelize!

Here is a link to the Marist Fathers Novena for Vocations to the Society of Mary.  Remember to pray for vocations.

Friday, April 25, 2014

St. Mark

Happy Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist!

St. Mark was the writer of the second Gospel in the New Testament (sometimes called John Mark, which just confuses me).  He is the son of Mary of Jerusalem, who was also highly esteemed in the early church and who's house served as a meeting place for Christians.  Mark was a cousin of St. Barnabas and accompanied he and St. Paul on their missionary journeys through Antioch and Cypress.  Tradition states that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt and is possibly the "John Mark" in Acts 12:25.  He is sometimes called "the Interpreter of Peter" by those of his time.  He wrote his Gospel in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity.  Tradition states that Mark was asked by the Romans to put St. Peter's accounts of the life of Christ into a Gospel, which is why his Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus seen through the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles.  It's a record of what he heard from Peter.  He died as a martyr in Alexandria, Egypt and his relics were sent to Venice, Italy, where they were enshrined in a cathedral dedicated to his honor.  Side note: according to Venetian tradition, when St. Mark was traveling through Europe, he arrived at a lagoon in Venice, where an angel appeared to him and said "May peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist.  Here your body will rest." This was used as an excuse by those who stole his remains from Alexandria and moved them to Venice.His symbol is the winged lion.

Why the winged lion, not because it's important, but just because I want to know?  The winged lion was the symbol of the city of Venice (formerly the Republic of Venice).  The lion also symbolizes the power of Mark's word, but also majesty.  The wings symbolize spiritual elevation.  The halo is traditional of holiness or religious piety.  The book expresses wisdom and peace.

What does St. Mark tell us?  What is his example that we can use today?  Honestly, I had to do some more looking.  He's the writer of a Gospel--read it if you haven't, if you have...well, read it again.  The Gospel according to St. Mark is a wonderful account of the life of Jesus.  But beyond being a teacher of the faith, which we should all aspire to be, what else is there.  Finally I found it.  Every other account I read glossed over it, but his martyrdom is what I feel I should look at.  It tells of his favor with Christ and his strength of faith.  As I have said numerous times before, I don't know if I could be that strong in the same circumstances.  I pray that I would be.  But honestly, my first thought in reading the horrid things that have been done to our Christian martyrs (which I know in some areas of the world are still going on), is how could they withstand that torture and still come out with their faith in tact?  Below is a quick account of what happened.  I'm sure it doesn't do honor to his life as it should, but it does tell the story:

On Easter in 68 A.D., while acting as the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, he was taken while saying the Mass.  They tied a rope around his neck and dragged him through the city as an animal to slaughter.  The rocky road cut through his body and blood stained the road.  An Angel of the Lord consoled him in prison and even Our Lord came to him and said: "Peace be with you, O Mark, My Disciple and My Evangelist.  Fear nothing because I am near you."  The following day the pagan priests once again tied a rope around his neck and drug him through the streets.  This time he died saying "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."    Thunder and lightening erupted through the sky and the air was turbulent.  Those who had killed him planned on burning his body, but fled at this, which is why his remains were able to be collected.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

St. George

Happy Feast of St. George (patron saint of my sweet almost birthday boy)!

St. George was a soldier in the Roman army of Emperor Diocletian.  He was one of the Emperor's favorite soldiers, but he held a secret that none knew, he was a Christian!  As you may know, Diocletian had it out for the Early Christians.  He led the greatest persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.  He had edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they follow traditional Roman religious practices. Other edicts targeted clergy and demanded universal sacrifice to Roman gods.  One day he read an edict where he was stationed and knew it would be his job to round up Christians and to possibly even kill them himself.  He fearlessly went to the Emperor and informed him of his Christian beliefs and scolded him for his cruelty.  George then gave up his position in the Roman army.  He was tortured horribly and finally beheaded, never denying his faith.  George's brave declaration of his faith gave courage to other Christians.  Many songs and poems were written about his martyrdom, spreading the story.  For George the dragon signified evil and the lady whom he is saving is God's holy truth, but we all have dragons hiding in our lives:  greed, laziness, pride, fear, etc.  With George's intercession and guidance, we can all fight our "dragons" with God's help.

My sweet middle child has his birthday this weekend and will also celebrate his first communion--yes, all in the same day!  What a blessing this is for him.  Many years ago, he chose St. George as HIS Saint.  He told me he just felt close to him (and being a boy, loved the dragon and the soldier imagery).  Little did I know how appropriate George would be for him.  He suffers with asthma, which has always been a huge obstacle for him.  This being pollen season, he is constantly feeling terrible and having issues, but calls on St. George to help him fight the grouchiness and irritability that plague him while on his medicines.  Then came the issue of dyslexia.  Wow--kick a kid when he's down!  We realized he was having a hard time learning to read and write.  He was constantly frustrated and feeling inadequate.  Yet again he has turned to George.  His frustrations are immense, but he has taught me that no matter what you face, you can always turn to God for help and that our saints in heaven are always there to be a support.  Happy Feast of St. George and may you find the strength to turn to your dragons and fight them today!

Monday, April 21, 2014

St. Anselm

Happy Feast of St. Anselm!
We will just start out by saying he is "one among the noblest worthies in the British Isles."  Holy Cow...and I didn't even know...but let me tell you, I will try to condense what I read, there is a ton of information on him! He was born in Italy and had a strong faith from an early age (which probably had to do with his mother's piety and instruction).  He desired a vocation from an early age, but his father opposed.  His dad treated him harshly, and when he died, Anselm left home (his mom had died by this point).  During this lapse in time, Anselm neglected his calling to the vocation and lived a rather worldly life.  (I have heard of many a priest and monk who felt a calling to a life in Christ, but either due to a lack of support or a personal fear, rebelled against it.  I have even spoken to one who lived a life of drugs, alcohol and theft.  Even landing in jail before realizing his calling was to the Church.  I guess the point here is, if your child has a calling toward a vocation, don't deny them, you will only cause your own heartaches!)  He finally landed in France at a Benedictine abbey.  There he became a monk there and in 1073 became abbot of Caen and later abbot of Bec.  He would visit Canterbury, England as part of his duties.  His kindness won him many English followers.  During 3 years of the reign of William the Red, the see of Canterbury remained empty, during which Anselm did not visit.  In 1902 he finally returned to conduct business.  Upon trying to leave and return to France, he was restrained and appointed archbishop of Canterbury.  Anselm wrote Monologum (Monologue), Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Man), and Proslogium (Addition).  He also spoke for the abolition of the slave trade and the importance of celibacy of priests.  There are traditions saying the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and that many miracles are attributed to him.  Naturally, King Henry VIII had his shrine in Canterbury destroyed.
believed in the supremacy of the Pope in all matters, which we all know is a terrible blow to the secular leader of a nation, so Anselm met with great resistance when he tried to go to Rome to receive the pallium from Pope Urban II.  The compromise was the king sending a legate to pick-it-up for him.  Naturally, Anselm didn't want it when it came.  They made it all work, had a ceremony, placed the pallium upon the altar and it was accepted.  Finally, 4 years later he was allowed to visit Rome and meet with the Pope, here he was able to finish some work and even be an adviser to Pope Urban for a time.  King William died tragically and Anselm returned to England to console Henry I, the heir to the throne.  Another squabble ensued over the supremacy of the king-vs-that of the Pope.  Eventually, Henry I agreed to granting the Church freedom from politics of the king.  This reinforced papal authority.  Anslem returned to England to serve the Church and king.  He served as regent of England while Henry was in Normandy.  He earned the title of "Father of Scholasticism."  Among his writings were

That's a lot of information for me.  What can I say, I'm more of a short and sweet kind of person and less of a biography person.  Secretly, I wish there were sports hi-lights for saints, but there aren't.  So what are we to gain from St. Anselm and his extremely long story?  Well, I suppose the long and short, for me, is St. Anselm's inability to settle on the big issue.  Who should regulate and make decisions for the Church--naturally, the Church!  Kings and secular governments have no authority to make decisions over the leaders of the Church, no more than the Pope should choose the next president of the United States.  (Ok, maybe that could help some.....but still, NO).  While the 10 commandments should rule over our every decision, church and state need some degree of separation.  I know that is not coming out as it should, let me clarify--we SHOULD be allowed to pray publicly, in church, in school, on the corner of Main St., at the city council meetings, anywhere; we SHOULD be allowed to display and teach the 10 commandments, they are moral laws that should govern us; we SHOULD be allowed to speak of God and his greatness anywhere at any time without fear of ridicule; the BIBLE is a great work of literature, even if you do not believe in it, the Bible should be taught and read in school (I know I crossed someone's line here, but it is a great work of literature and it does have wonderful moral teachings that would help society as a whole-admit it, even if you don't believe in God-murder, adultery and theft are wrong).  Then how should we be separated?  My priest should not choose the next mayor of my town.  While a citizen, my priest should not be on city council.  There are just places he should not serve.  He should shepherd his flock, lead the church, teach what the Church teaches, and if all of these things are done, it is up to me and my fellow parishioners to follow God's teachings and lead our city and government.

St. Apollonius the Apologists

Happy feast of S. Apollonius the Apologist!

St. Apollonius was a martyr who wrote Apologia, or defense of the faith, which is a priceless document of the early church.  He was a Roman senator and Christian, which as we all know, was a major no-no of the time.  One of his slaves gave him up and Apollonius was arrested (just so you know, his slave was put to death for being an informer at this time).  Perennial, the Roman Praetorian prefect, demanded Apollonius denounce his faith.  Apollonius refused and the case was forwarded to the Roman senate.  At this time a debate took place between Apollonius and Perennis in which Apolonius was able to lay out the beauty and value of Christianity.  Although his defense was amazing, he was found guilty and beheaded.

These seem to be your best bet for reading an account of what happened to Apollonius Early Christian Writings and his Apologia Internet Archive.  I think my favorite thing I read about him was when he was asked if he just wanted to die.  He replied no, he enjoyed life, but he would rather die in defense of his faith than of some ordinary cause or disease.  How wise was he!?!  Due to his social standing and his position as a senator in Rome, he was able to influence many with his eloquence and explanations.  Not only did his speaking focus on Christianity and it's virtue, but on the old testament and the prophesies by Scripture and Plato.  Due to his example and life Christianity made more strides into the hearts and minds of the Roman people.

How far does a little evangelization go and how much would it benefit our church today if Catholics everywhere started standing up in defense of our faith?  The one thing that saddens me about our faith is our lack of evangelization.  There are so many misconceptions out there about the Catholic Church, that we begin to shy away from spreading our faith.  I feel like I am on the defense every time I speak of my church and my faith, but if we don't start to evangelize our church as well as the 'bible churches' or Protestants, we will allow the True Church of Christ to sink into antiquated oblivion.  I am so happy to have Pope Francis steering the ship today.  Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with Pope Benedict.  He was an eloquent writer and theologian, but the world beyond Catholics were not listening to him.  Pope Francis has made the world take notice of the church again.  They may not accurately hear the message, but they do hear the message and they see the Church again.  Let's help the Pope today and every day and spread the word and works of our Lord!  Here is one location to help you start on your way

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Lydwine

Happy Feast of St. Lydwine (Lidwine)!

 St. Lydwine is the patron saint sickness, chronically ill and ice skaters (yes, ice skaters...this seems odd to me, but mainly because I live in a place where ice skating is not an issue).  She was one of nine children of a working man.  Early in life, Lydwine was drawn to prayer and to the Mother of God (especially Our Lady of Schiedam).  During the winter of 1395, she was ice skating and fell.  This cause a broken rib, which did not heal properly (this sounds minor, but it even caused gangrene to form and spread throughout her body).  This was the beginning of her martyrdom.  (I find this odd, I'm learning, but until I started looking into saints I had no idea that you could be a martyr for personal suffering which did not include being burned at the stake or killed for your faith in some other way).  Lydwine was filled with pain, that only seemed to increase, causing some to think she was under the influence of an evil spirit (some of these sufferings included headaches, vomiting, fever, thirst, bedsores, toothaches, muscle spasms, blindness, neuritis and the stigmata).  Her pastor even brought her an unconsecrated host, which she was able to identify immediately.  God rewarded her through her pain.  She was given a wonderful gift of prayer and with visions.  Many miracles took place at her bedside.  She received an vision telling her that her suffering would end when she saw a rose bush in full bloom.  On Easter day 1433, she died while having a vision of Christ coming towards her to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Ok, so honestly, if I would have known her I wonder what I would have thought.  Would I have felt sympathy for her, condemned her for her sufferings or questioned her?  Honestly I don't know.  I had never heard of St. Lydwine until today.  To tell the truth, sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to strive to be a saint, this story of suffering is one that makes me feel that way!  I will say that I will pray to her for my son who has been suffering with migraine headaches for the past year.  I don't know of anyone else who can possibly help him, maybe this will be his saving grace.  Saint Lydwine pray for my sweet boy!


St. Genna Galgani

Happy Feast of St. Gemma Galgani!

Due to my mistake with technology, this is 5 days late and....well....that is just where we are.  Perhaps, my technical deficiency is showing.  So I am fixing the (unsaved) issues and posting without comment.  Gemma speaks for herself, she's pretty amazing!  I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do.

St. Gemma was born in Italy in 1878 to poor parents.  She developed a strong love of prayer at a young age.  Although she was a good student and was loved, she was forced to leave school at a young age due to chronic illnesses.  (I loved reading that she had a smile for everyone at school, I try to instill this in myself and my children.  You never know who just needs to see a smile that day.)  She received many special graces throughout her life, which were often misunderstood, causing her much ridicule.  She, naturally, gave it up to the Lord, because he had been ridiculed much during his life.  Gemma's father died when she was 19, leaving her as the parent of her 7 younger brothers and sisters.  She accepted this with all of the grace with which she accepted everything.  Once there were some siblings who came of age and could share in this duty on, she went to spend some time in silence and prayer.  She was proposed to several times, but refused wanting to speak only to God and to spend time with Him in prayer.  Upon returning home, she became very ill with meningitis.  Her regret during this time being the burden she was placing on those taking care of her.  She felt tempted by the devil, so she went to the Vererable Passionist Gabriel Possenti in prayer.  Through his intercession Gemma was miraculously cured.

She greatly desired to become a nun, but her health would not allow for this to happen.  She offered this disappointment to God as a sacrifice.  On June 8, 1899, she had a warning that an unusual grace would be given to her.  This occurred with a stigmata (she would fall into rapture and her hands and feet and would feel pain from which blood would emit).  This would last from Thursday to Friday or Saturday weekly.  Upon its disappearance white marks would appear.  This lasted until near the end of her life.

Another remarkable grace she was given was her guardian angel.  I know, we all have them, but she could see and talk to hers, often sending him on errands to deliver messages to her confessor.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

St. Mary Cleophas

Happy Feast of St. Mary Cleophas!

This is another one of those posts that will show my ignorance, but also show my desire to know more.  What can I say, 2000+ years is a lot to catch up with!  St. Mary Cleophas was is the mother of St. James the Lesser and Joseph.  Right'd think I'd know who she was, but yes, she actually is more than just the mother of important people.  She is also one of the "Three Marys" who served Jesus and was present at his crucifixion.  So how did I miss that?!?  I'm guessing it is because in the bible she is known as Mary of James or the other Mary or Mary the mother of James and Joseph....good grief, no wonder I couldn't sort this out.  There are entirely too many names for the same person!  She may have also been one of the women who found Jesus missing from the tomb.  After all of this it is reported that she went to Hispania (Spain) and was a missionary.

I don't know what I can really say about her.  I still just don't understand how I did even know she was there.  She was obviously an integral part of the picture.  She was one of the women who followed Jesus.  From what I read, in this image she is the one in the back waving her arms.  If that is true, maybe I just glazed over her, because she is a "girly-girl" as my children would call it, and I'm not.  I am more of the "get-it-done" kind of girl.  The one in there, working to get things done so life can move on.  So if the bible or tradition, paints her as the girl who grieves excessively or needs a lot, regrettably, I would have glazed over that section.  Sorry.  I know that everything that is said is important, but I guess human nature takes over at that point.  I really will have to try and find more out about her.  Here is a little off the wall insert.  Someone composed a Gospel According to the Other Mary I can't say that this is changing my thoughts any, but interesting none the less.  I suppose the most information comes from EWTN, I encourage you to read this

When it comes down to it, we all need to aim for giving our lives more to Our Lord in everything, and Mary Cleophas is the example for us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

St. John Baptist de la Salle

Happy Feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle!

Today I'm going to start a little differently.  I want to recommend G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries to you.  My eldest has been doing writing projects on books for school and honestly, I needed short stories he could analyze.  In comes The Father Brown Reader, which is adaptations for younger readers.  I must say, these are fun (and short).  If you are in a crunch, as I was, or if you just need a fun read with Catholic morality, try it.  We have ALL been enjoying these stories about a quaint little Catholic priest who seems to always end up in the middle of some crazy mystery or problem.  It is also quite fun when your children get the realization of what our sweet priests sometimes hear.  When that light goes on that their confession over not cleaning their room and disobeying their parents is not the worst the priest has ever heard, I must say....the facial expression is priceless!

St. John de la Salle was an Educator and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  He was born in France to a noble family and was the eldest of 10!  (Wow, and my kids think they have to fight for attention.)  At the age of 11, he dedicated himself to the religious life and was ordained at the age of 27.  He founded 2 schools in Reims, his hometown, and became increasingly concerned with the children of poor families.  He was convinced the spiritual life should be cultivated first among teachers, so he gathered a community of men dedicated to teaching.  As with all great plans, he met some failure, but kept trying and in 1683, he gave away all of his fortune, resigned his canonry, and dedicated himself to the training of the men in his service.  This was the founding of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  He actually forbade priests from joining his order.  (I need to know why...)  His methods of teaching were revolutionary, using vernacular instead of Latin and classroom instead of individual teaching.  King James II actually asked him to come to England and teach boys in the royal court.  In 1698, he opened a college for Irish teachers.  There was some opposition, which led to him being deposed (forcibly removed from office), but his congregation saved him by their support.  He retired in 1717 and died in 1719.  Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1900.  He is the patron saint of teachers.  His congregation remains the largest religious institute of lay brothers.

Last week I must say, I was not as pleased with my children's teachers as I should have been.  I was allowing myself to put the needs of my child first (which is good), but in doing so I forgot to look at what the teacher is going through as well.  I am so very happy to be looking at a saint for teachers today.  St. John Baptist de la Salle did so much for the way children are taught.  Take the language alone, this allowed all children to be taught.  The wealthy knew Latin, but not the common or poor children.  Then to move teaching from private to classroom, allowed for an even broader group to be taught.  Think of the exclusivity of education.  I know this didn't solve everything, but it did bring education--reading, writing, etc. to the masses.  Today I will thank a teacher, actually 15 in our case, and I urge you to as well.  It doesn't have to be much, just a note or an e-mail, letting them know that you appreciate their time and effort that they give to your child daily.  Remember, your children spend more of their awake time with their teachers than with you!

Friday, April 4, 2014

St. Benedict the Moor

Happy feast of St. Benedict the Moor (a.k.a. the African or the Black)!

Today is the feast of St. Benedict the Moor.  I don't think I have read about many ex-slave saints.  There is a movie about Bakhita, but I think this is an area in which I should expand my knowledge.  Saints of European lineage are somewhat commonplace, but those from beyond are not.

St. Benedict the Moor was born a black slave in Italy (Moor is from the word black in Italian).  He was freed because of his parent's loyalty and good work.  He became a hermit at Montepellegrino and became their superior. This group of recluses were disbanded by Pope Pius IV, so Benedict joined the Franciscans as a lay brother.  He was named  as superior of this monastery as well, this was huge, you must remember he was an ex-slave and illiterate.  He was known for his holiness and his miracles.  

Ok, so this wasn't enough for me, so I went looking deeper.  I looked into his miracles, and I had to share!  When he prayed he was often shining with a celestial light.  Even better than this, and I must admit, the part to which I wish I was blessed--he was employed as a cook in an abbey where it was noted that ANGELS, yes ANGELS were often witnessed helping him cook!  As a bonus to this, was the fact that the food never seemed to run out, it multiplied miraculously in his hands!  

I am so happy to have learned about St. Benedict the Moor.  He's pretty cool and a fun change to the saints I have been reading about.  He didn't grow up in a noble family, nope, he was ordinary and not just ordinary, but a slave.  He was a hermit (of which I know I would not be a success, I need people and conversation).  Then, I'm not sure why-but would love to know, his hermitage was disbanded.  Was this commonplace?
Was this across the board, all hermitages?  Then, how do you move on from that?  I, in my pride, would probably say-- Well, maybe this life isn't for me, the Pope thinks I'm not doing the right thing.  Done!  St. Benedict, I'm assuming in his saintly humility, just went on with life and found the next place in which he could serve God.  (I'm telling you, there are so many reasons God will not choose me to be among his saints.  Humility is one of them.)  He was then blessed with being superior of the monastery he moved to and blessed with these fun and amazing miracles.  I must say Lord, if you would like to bless me with angels in my kitchen to help with cooking or the multiplying of food, I will gladly take it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

St. Peter Regulatus

Happy Feast of St. Peter Regulatus!

St. Peter Regulatus was born in Spain to a noble family.  At the age of 13, he joined the local Franciscan Order.  After many years he moved to the monastery at Tribulos.  He he was known for his severe asceticism (an absence of worldly pleasures: restraints of body, speech, mind and wealth), as well as his abilities to levitate and enter into ecstasies (reduced external awareness & increased internal/spiritual awareness, often including visions).  He brought needed reforms to the monastery as abbot and promoted reforms in other Franciscian houses.  He was an extreme follower of the community rules (thus the name Regulatus).

Here we are again.  I guess there is truly a saint for everyone to relate to, but this one is not one I can relate to.  Don't get me wrong, I can respect him for his abilities that I don't possess, but I cannot relate.  I am not one of asceticism (hope you realize, I had to look that up, I had no clue!).  I give up at lent, I don't go to extreme, but I don't live off bread and water alone and I am certainly not the person who holds back my mind or my speech very often.  I simply am not that person.  I really do not understand the levitating or ecstasy thing.  Maybe if I spoke to someone who had experienced that or understood it better, but I cannot understand it at this time (it was not taught in the Methodist Church, nor was it covered in RCIA).  Then we come to his extreme following of the rules.  Wow....I'm really bombing on this one, but I do have a child who is an extreme follower of the rules.  It drives me a little batty to be honest.  I love him, but there is no wiggle room at all!

I finally looked for stories about Peter and found one which I can really appreciate.  Peter lived off of bread and water most of his life and gave most of what he had to the poor and needy.  It is said that he would hand out all of the bread he possessed, but the bread wouldn't run out as long as there was still a person in need waiting to be fed.  That is amazing!  That is what I will take from St. Peter Regulatus and try to implement.  I want to be more giving of what I have.  I want to help others in need, not just giving to the thrift store or donating to worthy causes, but being the hands and feet of Christ in our world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

St. Conon of Naso

Happy Feast of St. Conon of Naso!

St. Conon of Naso, like many other saints, was born into a noble family.  At the age of 15 he turned his back on his privileged life and became a Basilian monk.  He lived in a monastery for a while, then became a hermit and later called back to become abbot.  At some point during his life he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  While there he had a vision of a snake coiling itself around the throat of a fellow priest.  He went to that priest who confessed to hoarding monies.  After their talk, the priest gave all of the monies he had kept to the poor.  Upon the death of his parents, Conon received a large inheritance, which he gave to the poor.  Famine hit Naso, and a vision of Conon encouraged a ship of grain to go to a port near Naso, ending its famine.  Conon died at the age of 97.  Upon his death, all of the bells in the town started ringing miraculously.  Conon is known for his miracles and visions.

Conon's life is fairly sketchy.  There isn't much out there about his life, just these few facts, somewhat thrown at you.  What we do know about him is that:  He led by example.  He wanted God more than money and privilege
.  He put God first.  Because of this, Our Lord rewarded him.  He was given the gift of visions and the gift of being able to perform miracles.  He is a lesson in letting go and letting God.  He always provides, if only we give him the opportunity.