SAINT OF THE DAY: 30 JUNE, 2013

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The FIRST MARTYRS of the CHURCH of ROME
(+ 1st century)

The first persecution against the Church began by the Emperor Nero, after the burning of the City of Rome in 64, for which many of the faithful were tortured and slain.

Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified and others were fed to wild animals.

Nero’s persecution was occasioned by an early morning fire on July 19, 64.

It broke out in a small shop by the Circus Maximus and spread rapidly to other regions of Rome, and raged for nine days, destroying much of the city.

This was the worst in a series of fires that beset the crowded city — more than a million people, packed tightly into apartment blocks of wooden construction, among narrow streets and alleyways.

Only two areas escaped the fire; one of them, the Transtiberum region, Trastevere, across the Tiber River, had a large Jewish population.

Nero was at his seaside villa in Anzio when the blaze began, but he delayed returning to the city.

They say that when he heard the news, he began composing an ode comparing Rome to the burning city of Troy (illustration above). His indifference to the suffering caused by the tragedy stirred resentment among the people.

Rumors began that he himself set the fire in order to rebuild the city with his own plans.

To stop the rumors, Nero decided to blame someone else, and he chose a group of renegade Jews called Christians, who had caused trouble before, and already had a bad reputation in the city.

Earlier, about the year 49, the Emperor Claudius had banished some of them from Rome for starting upheavals in the Jewish synagogues of the city with their disputes about Christ.

“Nero was the first to rage with Caesar’s sword against this sect,” wrote the early-Christian writer, Tertullian.

“To suppress the rumor,” the Roman historian Tacitus says, “Nero created scapegoats. He punished with every kind of cruelty the notoriously depraved group known as Christians.”

Just how long the process went on and how many were killed, the Roman historian does not say.

READING OF THE DAY: 30 JUNE, 2013

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“When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,and he sent messengers ahead of him.

On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there,but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them,and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

And to another he said, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father.”

But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”

(To him) Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:51-62.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 JUNE, 2013

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Feast day
(1863)

The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help measures around 50 centimeters (25 inches) high. It is in the Byzantine style, painted on wood with a gold leaf background. The Virgin is there with Her divine Child; each of them has a golden halo.

Two Angels, one on the right and the other on the left, present the instruments of the Passion to the Child Jesus who is frightened, whereas the Blessed Virgin looks at the pathetic scene with calm, resigned sorrow.

The image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had long been venerated on the Isle of Crete. The inhabitants of that island, fleeing a Turkish invasion, took it with them to Rome.

By the invocation of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the ship transporting Her holy image was saved from a terrible storm.

On March 27, 1499, the portrait of the Virgin of Perpetual Help was carried in triumph through the streets of Rome.

Preceded by the clergy and followed by the people, it was placed over the main altar of St. Matthew’s church, near St. Mary Major. Thanks to the care of the Augustinian friars, the holy image became the object of a very popular devotion which God rewarded for several centuries with many miracles.

During the disturbances of the French Revolution (1789-1793), the French troops occupying Rome destroyed St. Matthew’s church. One of the friars serving in that sanctuary had the time to secretly remove the miraculous Madonna.

He hid it so well that for sixty years, no one knew what had become of the famous painting.

God permitted a concourse of providential circumstances which led to rediscovery of the venerated image.

In 1865, in order to return the holy picture to the same spot it had been prayed to before, Pius IX gave orders to have it taken to the Esquiline Hill, in St. Alphonsus Liguori’s church, built on the site of old St. Matthew’s.

On April 26, 1866, the Redemptorists solemnly enthroned Our Lady of Perpetual Help in their chapel.

From that time on, thanks to the zeal of the sons of Saint Alphonsus and the countless miracles obtained in their pious sanctuary, devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help has had an extraordinary development.

To acknowledge and perpetuate the remembrances of these precious favors, the Vatican Chapter crowned the holy image in great pomp on June 23, 1867.

In 1876, Pope Pius IX erected an Archconfraternity in St. Alphonsus’ church under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Today the Blessed Virgin is invoked by this name throughout the Western Church.

(SOURCE: Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, Mame: Tours, 1950, pp. 463-464 – Brothers of Christian Schools, 1932 ed., p. 483)

READING OF THE DAY: 27 JUNE, 2013

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“Jesus said to his disciples: «Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’

Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.

But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.

And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” -Matthew 7:21-29.

READING OF THE DAY: 26 JUNE, 2013

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.

By their fruits you will know them.

Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them.” -Matthew 7:15-20.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 26 JUNE, 2013

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Bl. Jacques Ghazir Haddad
Priest
Founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Cross
(1875-1954)

Fr Jacques Ghazir Haddad was born on 1 February 1875, in Ghazir, Lebanon, the third of five children. He attended school in Ghazir and then the College de la Sageese in Beirut, where he studied Arabic, French and Syriac.

In 1892 he went to Alexandria, Egypt, to teach Arabic at the Christian Brothers’ College, and there he felt the call to the priesthood. He entered the Capuchin Convent in Khashbau the next year. He was ordained a priest on 1 November 1901 in Beirut, Lebanon.

As an itinerant preacher from 1903 to 1914 he walked all over Lebanon proclaiming the Word of God and was given the name “the Apostle of Lebanon”. He was also seen preaching in Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Turkey.

In 1919 he bought a piece of land on the hill of Jall-Eddib, north of Beirut, where he built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea. Nearby he erected a great Cross.

Fr Jacques was tireless, he would help anyone in need following in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi. In 1920, to assist him in this mission to help the sick and the poor, he founded the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Cross of Lebanon.

The modest work of Fr Jacques aroused the people’s admiration, many poor and sick people began to go to the “Cross” and Fr Jacques would welcome them all. In 1950 the “Cross” became exclusively a psychiatric hospital, one of the most modern in the Near East. The movement of charity began to spread throughout Lebanon and Fr Jacques and his Sisters multiplied their works of social assistance.

In 1933 he opened the House of the Sacred Heart in Deir el-Kamar, a girls’ orphanage, which later became an asylum for the chronically ill. In 1948 he opened the Hospital of Our Lady for the aged, the chronically ill and the paralyzed. In 1949 St Joseph’s Hospital became one of the most important medical centres of the capital.

It was followed in 1950 by St Anthony’s House in Beirut for beggars and vagabonds whom the police found on the streets and Providence House for homeless girls.

Even though Fr Jacques was very busy with the hospital mission, he and his Sisters carried on the important work of education and opened several schools as well as an orphanage for 200 girls.

Fr Jacques was worn out by vigils, fatigue and travel. Although he suffered from numerous illnesses, became almost completely blind and was stricken with leukemia, he did not stop blessing God and working. He was lucid to the end, his last hours were an uninterrupted series of prayers invoking the Cross and the Virgin Mary until he died on 26 June 1954 in Lebanon.

His cause for Beatification was introduced in February 1979; on 24 February 1979, His Holiness Pope John Paul II signed the Decree of Introduction of the Cause for Beatification.

On Sunday, 22 June 2008, he was beatified during a special Mass in Beirut by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect of Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Since Bl. Haddad’s death additional hospitals have opened to assist those injured during the war and to assist the Kabr-Chemoun region where medical services were scarce.

(source-Libreria Editrice Vaticana….YEP, NOW QUIT STARING 😀 )

READING OF THE DAY: 25 JUNE, 2013

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“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.

This is the law and the prophets.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.

How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.

And those who find it are few.” -Matthew 7:6.12-14.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 25 JUNE, 2013

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Saint William of Vercelli
Abbot, Founder of the Congregation of Monte-Vergine
(† 1142)

Saint William of Monte Vergine, born in Vercelli, a city of Lombardy, lost his father and mother in his infancy and was brought up by a relative in great sentiments of piety.

At fifteen years of age, having an earnest desire to lead a penitential life, he left his native region and made a long and austere pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin founded by Saint James at Saragossa.

He would have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but God made known to him that he was calling him to a solitary life, and he retired into the kingdom of Naples.

There he chose for his abode an uninhabited mountain, and lived in perpetual contemplation and the exercises of rigorous penitential austerities.

After a miracle of healing wrought by his prayers, he was discovered and his contemplation interrupted, so he decided to move to another mountain, where he built a very beautiful church in honor of Our Lady.

With several former secular priests who joined him there, in 1119 he began the establishment of the Congregation of Monte Vergine, or Mount of the Virgin.

This site is between Nola and Benevento in the same kingdom of Naples.

These sons of Our Lady lived in great austerity. Seeing the progress in holiness of the good religious being formed there, the devil sowed division and criticism; but God drew good from the evil when Saint William went elsewhere and founded several more monasteries, both for men and women, in various places in the kingdom of Naples.

He assisted the king of Naples, who greatly venerated him, to practice all the Christian virtues of a worthy sovereign, and the king in gratitude had a house of the Order built at Salerno opposite his palace, to have him near him more often.

When Saint William died on the 25th of June, 1142, he had not yet written a Rule for his religious; his second successor, Robert, fearing the dissolution of a community without constitutions, placed them under that of Saint Benedict, and is regarded as the first abbot of the Benedictine Congregation of Monte-Vergine.

A portrait of the Virgin venerated there has been an unfailing source of holy compunction; pilgrims continue to visit it.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 24 JUNE, 2013

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Blessed María Guadalupe García Zavala
Religious
(1878-1963)

María Guadalupe García Zavala was born on April 27, 1878 in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico, to Fortino García and Refugio Zavala de García.

As a child she was known for her piety and made frequent visits to the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, which was located next to the religious goods shop run by her father. Her love for God was particularly demonstrated in her love for the poor.

“No’ to matrimony, “yes’ to Jesus
With uncommon transparency and simplicity, María treated everyone with equal love and respect.

Although as a young woman she planned to marry Gustavo Arreola, she suddenly broke off her engagement when she was 23 years old. The reason: María “understood” that Jesus was calling her to love him with an undivided heart as part of the religious life, and she fully believed that she was called to do this by giving assistance to the poor and sick.

Foundress of the “Servants”
When María confided to her spiritual director, Fr Cipriano Iñiguez, her “sudden change of heart”, he told her that for some time he had the inspiration to found a religious congregation that would provide assistance to the hospitalized. He invited María to join him in this foundation.

The new Congregation, which officially began on October 13, 1901, was known as the “Handmaids of St Margaret Mary (Alacoque) and the Poor”.

“Poor with the poor”
María worked as a nurse, giving assistance to the first patients that were welcomed into “their hospital”. Regardless of the poverty and lack of material goods of the patients, compassion and care for the physical and spiritual well-being of the sick were the primary concerns, and María gave of herself wholeheartedly to carry out this task of love.

Sr María was named Superior General of the quickly-growing Congregation, and taught the Sisters entrusted to her, mostly by means of her example, the importance of living a genuine and joyful exterior and interior poverty. She was convinced that it was only through loving and living poverty that one could be truly “poor with the poor”.

Indeed, Mother María was known for her simplicity, humility and willingness to accept all that came from the hand of God.

In times of “dire straits”, Mother María asked her spiritual director for permission to go begging in order to collect money for the hospital. Together with other Sisters, she would seek offerings until the needs of the hospital and patients were met, and would ask no more than was necessary.

The Sisters also worked in parishes to assist the priests and to teach catechism.

Risking life to help those hiding

From 1911 until 1936, the political-religious situation in Mexico became uneasy and the Catholic Church underwent persecution. Mother María put her own life at risk to help the priests and the Archbishop of Guadalajara to “go into hiding” in the hospital.

She did not limit her charity simply to helping the “righteous”, but also gave food and care to the persecutors who lived near the hospital; it was not long before they, too, began defending the sick in the hospital run by the Sisters.

The last two years of Mother María’s life were lived in extreme suffering because of a grave illness, and on 24 June 1963, she died at the age of 85.

During the lifetime of the foundress, 11 foundations were established in the Republic of Mexico.
Today, the Congregation has 22 foundations and is present in five different Nations: Mexico, Peru, Iceland, Greece and Italy.

She was beatified on April 25, 2004 by John Paul II.

(SOURCE- Libreria Editrice Vaticana….yes, the Vatican Library…quit gawking 😀 )

READING OF THE DAY: 24 JUNE, 2013

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“In those days, Paul said: “God raised up David as king; of him God testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.

John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.

Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent”. ” -Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26.