SAINT OF THE DAY: 30 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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Saint Jerome
Doctor of the Church
(329-420)

Saint Jerome, born in Dalmatia in 329, was sent to school in Rome.

His boyhood was not free from faults; his thirst for knowledge was excessive, and his love of books, a passion. He had studied under the best masters, visited foreign cities, and devoted himself to the pursuit of learning.

But Christ had need of his strong will and active intellect for the service of His Church.

He told him in a supernatural experience he never forgot that he was not a Christian, but a Ciceronian: Your heart is where your treasure is, said the Lord to him — that is, in the eloquent writings of antique times.

Saint Jerome obeyed the divine call, making a vow never again to read profane works, and another of celibacy.

In Rome he had already assisted a number of holy women to organize houses of retirement where they consecrated themselves to God by vow. Calumnies, arising from jealousy, made a certain headway against the scholar whose competence was beginning to attract honors.

He fled from Rome to the wild Syrian desert, and there for four years learned in solitude, intense sufferings and persecution from the demons, new lessons in humility, penance and prayer, and divine wisdom. I was very foolish to want to sing the hymns of the Lord on foreign soil, and to abandon the mountain of Sinai to beg help from Egypt, he declared.

Pope Damasus summoned him back to Rome, and there assigned to the famous scholar, already expert in Hebrew and other ancient languages, the task of revising the Latin Bible.

Saint Jerome obeyed his earthly Head as he had obeyed his Lord. Retiring once more in 386 to Bethlehem, the eloquent hermit sent forth from his solitary cell not only a solidly accurate version of the Scriptures, but during thirty years’ time, a veritable stream of luminous writings for the Christian world.

He combated with unfailing efficacy several heresies being subtly introduced by various personages in his own region and elsewhere.

For fourteen years the hand of the great scholar could no longer write; but Saint Jerome could still dictate to six secretaries at a time, to each on a different subject, in those final years.

He died in his beloved Bethlehem in 420, when over 80 years old.

His tomb is still in a subterranean chapel of its ancient basilica, but his relics were transported to Saint Mary Major Basilica of Rome, where the crib of Bethlehem is conserved.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11)

READING OF THE DAY: 30 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.

Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.”

Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” -Luke 9:46-50.

READING OF THE DAY: 29 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.

And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.

Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

The rich man also died and was buried,and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.

Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’

Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.

Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’

He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’

But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'” -Luke 16:19-31.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 29 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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Saint Michael the Archangel
Protector of the People of God

MI-CA-EL, or Who is like unto God? was the cry of the great Archangel when he smote the rebel Lucifer in the conflict of the heavenly hosts.

From that hour he has been known as Michael, Captain of the armies of God, the archetype of divine fortitude, the champion of every faithful soul in strife with the powers of evil.

What is more, we see him in Holy Scripture as the special guardian of the children of Israel, their comfort and protector in times of sorrow or conflict.

It is he who prepares their return from the Persian captivity, when the prophet Daniel prays for that favor (Daniel 10:12-13); who leads the valiant Maccabees to victory in battle, after the prayer of Judas Maccabeus (I Mac. 7:41-44).

Ever since its foundation by Jesus Christ, the Church has venerated Saint Michael as her special patron and protector. S

he invokes him by name in her Confiteor, when accusing her faults; she summons him to the side of her children in the agony of death, and chooses him as their escort from the chastening flames of purgatory to the realms of holy light.

Lastly, when Antichrist shall have set up his kingdom on earth, it is Michael who will unfurl once more the standard of the Cross.

This we know from a prophecy of Scripture which states clearly that in those days the great prince Michael will rise up to protect the children of God. (Daniel 12:1-4)

During the plague in Rome in the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great saw Saint Michael in a vision sheathing his flaming sword to show that he would put an end to the scourge which was ravaging the city.

In 608 a church was erected in thanksgiving to Saint Michael for the help he gave.

Reflection: Saint Bernard wrote: Whenever any grievous temptation or vehement sorrow oppresses you, invoke your Guardian, your Leader. Cry out to him and say, Lord, save us, lest we perish!

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)

SAINT OF THE DAY: 28 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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Saint Wenceslas
Martyr
(† 938)

Wenceslas, born towards the end of the ninth century, was the son of a Christian Duke of Bohemia, but his mother was a harsh and cruel pagan.

His holy grandmother, Ludmilla, seeing the danger to the future king, asked to bring him up. Wenceslas was educated by her good offices in the true faith, and under her tutelage acquired an exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

At the death of his father, however, he was still a minor, and his mother assumed the government and passed a series of persecuting laws.

In the interests of the Faith, Wenceslas, encouraged by his grandmother, claimed and obtained through the support of the people, a large portion of the country as his own kingdom.

Soon afterwards his grandmother was martyred, out of hatred of her faith and services to her country, while making her thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

His mother secured the apostasy and alliance of her second son, Boleslas, who became henceforth her ally against the Christians. Wenceslas in the meantime ruled as the brave and pious king of Bohemia.

When his kingdom was attacked, the prince of the invading army, which had been called in by certain seditious individuals, was approaching with a lance to slay him.

This prince, named Radislas, saw two celestial spirits beside him; he had already seen him make the sign of the cross and then heard a voice saying not to strike him.

These marvels so astonished him that he descended from his horse, knelt at the feet of Wenceslas and asked his pardon.

Peace was then reestablished in the land.

In the service of God Saint Wenceslas was constant, planting with his own hands the wheat and pressing the grapes for Holy Mass, at which he never failed to assist each day.

He provided for the poor and himself took what they needed to them at night, to spare them the shame they might incur if their poverty became public knowledge.

He desired to introduce the Benedictine Order into his kingdom, but was struck down by a violent death before he could do so and himself enter a monastery, as he wished to do.

His piety provided the occasion for his death.

After a banquet at his brother’s palace, to which he had been treacherously invited and where he manifested great gentleness towards his brother and mother, he went to pray at night before the tabernacle, as he was accustomed to do.

There, at midnight on the feast of the Angels in the year 938, he received the crown of martyrdom by the sword, at the hand of his own brother.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian
Martyrs
(† 286)

Saints Cosmas and Damian were brothers, born in Arabia in the third century, of noble and virtuous parents.

Saint Gregory of Tours wrote that they were twins.

They studied the sciences in Syria, and became eminent for their skill in medicine. Being Christians and filled with the charity which characterizes our holy religion, they practiced their profession with great application and wonderful success, but never accepted any fee.

They were loved and respected by the people for their good offices and their zeal for the Christian faith, which they took every opportunity to propagate.

When the persecution of Diocletian began to rage, it was impossible for persons of such distinction to remain concealed.

They were denounced to the governor of Cilicia, named Lysias, as Christians who cured various illnesses and delivered possessed persons in the name of the one called Christ; they do not permit others to go to the temple to honor the gods by sacrifices.

The two brothers were apprehended by the order of the governor, and after various preliminary torments were sentenced to be bound hand and foot and thrown into the sea.

Their prayer has been conserved: We rejoice, Lord, to follow the path of Your commandments, as in the midst of immense riches; and even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil.

And they recited the 23rd Psalm.

The sentence was accomplished, but an Angel untied their bonds and drew them out of the sea.

The witnesses of this fact returned to announce to the governor what had happened.

They were brought back to Lysias as magicians, and he decided to imprison them until he could decide upon their fate.

He condemned them to be burnt alive, but they prayed to God to manifest His power, lest His name be blasphemed, and an earthquake moved the fire into the midst of the pagans and spared the martyrs.

When the rack also left them unharmed, the prefect swore by his gods he would continue to torture them until they became the food of birds of prey.

They were crucified and stoned by the people, but this and still other tortures were ineffectual.

They were finally beheaded with three Christian companions.

(SOURCE:Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11)

READING OF THE DAY: 27 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'”

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.”

He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” – Luke 9:18-22.

READING OF THE DAY: 26 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“Brothers and sisters, we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.

Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” – II Corinthians 4:7-15

SAINT OF THE DAY: 26 SEPTEMBER, 2013

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The Holy North American Martyrs
(†1642-1649)

The Holy North American Martyrs are eight in number; five died in what is now Canada, three in what is now the United States. All are Jesuits, all are French in origin.

They came in the 1640’s to New France, to add their strength to that of the Franciscan Recollets, who had preceded them by a few years. There was not yet any bishop to assist them; the first bishop of Quebec, Blessed Monsignor Francis Montmorency de Laval, arrived only in 1658.

Words strive in vain to convey to a comfortable world the virtue of the first missionaries, and to describe the difficulties confronted by these heros desiring to implant Christianity amid the savage nations of the north.

Building materials, chapel accessories, everything in effect had to be imported from France; the Indian languages were varied and difficult; customs were at best non-Christian; insects infested the woods where they dwelt; the tribes were migrant and had to be followed from place to place.

There were less belligerent ones who responded rapidly to the pacifying and sanctifying influences of the Faith, but the Iroquois of the northeast were dreaded, and it was to them that the eight martyrs all fell victims, over a period of seven years.

The Martyrs of Canada:

Father Antoine Daniel was the first to die in Canada, after ten years among the Hurons. The chapel of the village where his mission stood was filled with his faithful Christians, and he had just finished saying Mass, when the Iroquois attacked in July of 1648.

The men ran to the palisades; the priest, when the invaders broke through, went to the chapel door and faced the Iroquois, warning them of God’s anger.

They slew him at once and threw him into the chapel they had already set on fire, still occupied by the women and children.

Saint John de Brebeuf, the giant of the Huron missions was a native of Normandy, noted for his physical height and strength and still stronger love of God. Arriving in 1625, at the age of 32 years, he spent three years with the Hurons of Ontario, winning their love and respect to such a degree that they wept when he was recalled to Quebec City for a time in 1628. We still do not know how to adore the Master of life as you do!

Political questions obliged him to return to Europe in that year, but he was back in Canada in 1633, and among his Hurons the following year. He labored until 1649, in which year the luminous Cross he had seen in the sky the year before, presage of his martyrdom, became a reality for this glorious father of the Faith in America.

The Iroquois took him prisoner in the village of Saint Louis near the Georgian bay of Lake Huron. He was tortured, scalped; pieces of his flesh were removed and eaten before his eyes; boiling water was poured over him, hatchets heated red-hot were placed on his chest, back and shoulders. He did not utter a single cry.

His death occurred in March of 1649.

His young companion in the mission, Father Gabriel Lallemant, 39 years old in that year and of a delicate constitution, was martyred the next day; he had been forced to witness the death of his beloved Father Brebeuf.

He cried out: Father, we are given up as a spectacle to the world, the Angels and men! And he went up to him and kissed his bleeding wounds. Facing the same fate afterwards, he knelt down and embraced the stake to which he was to be tied, to make his final offering to God.

He himself survived for longer still, seventeen hours. The Iroquois set fire to the bark they had attached to him; he was baptized in mockery of the faith, in boiling water, not once but many times.

The savages cut the flesh of his thighs to the bone and held red-hot axes in the wounds. They finally tired of their task and finished him with a blow from an axe.

Nine months after the martyrdom of these two, Saint Charles Garnier, also missioned with the Hurons, fell victim in his turn. He was a valiant priest who had said: The source of all gentleness, the sustenance of our hearts, is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He was of a wealthy family, and as a student in the Jesuit college of Clermont, would deposit his weekly allowance in the church’s collection box for the poor.

In the mission he slept without a mattress, and when traveling with the Indians, would carry the sick on his shoulders for an hour or two to relieve them. He died the day before the feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 7, 1649, while aiding the wounded and the dying; an Iroquois fired two bullets directly into his chest and abdomen.

Seeing a dying man near him, twice he tried to stand and go to him, and twice he fell heavily. Another Iroquois then ended his life with an axe.

Saint Noel Chabanel had been a professor in France; he suffered the temptation to return to Europe when he saw clearly the state of the souls of the natives.

He overcame it and made a vow in writing of perpetual stability in the Huron mission. He died alone when, pursued by the Iroquois in the company of a few of his Huron neophytes, he had to stop, exhausted, in the woods. He told the others to flee.

It was later that an apostate Huron avowed he had killed him in hatred of the Christian religion and cast his body into a river. He died on the feast of Our Lady which he particularly loved, that of the Immaculate Conception, one day after the martyrdom of Father Garnier, on December 8, 1649.

The Martyrs of New York State:

The great missionary Isaac Jogues was martyred, as it were, twice; after being surprised by the Iroquois while traveling, he might have escaped from the midst of his Hurons who were being seized at the same time, but did not want to abandon them.

He was tortured in ways like those we have described for the others, but he survived and was held prisoner under the most painful conditions for long months, by the Iroquois of what is now New York State.

He finally escaped and returned to Europe, aided by the Dutch. He was not recognized when he knocked on the door of the Jesuit house in Paris.

When the Holy Father Urban VIII was asked for a dispensation for him to say Mass, since his fingers had been badly mutilated, he replied: Can one deny the right to say Mass to a martyr of Christ?

The Saint returned to Quebec and offered himself for an Iroquois mission, saying he would not return. He was killed in 1646 by a sudden blow of an axe from behind, by a savage of the mission where he stayed.

During the original captivity of Father Jogues, his assistant, Brother René Goupil, was with him, a prisoner like himself. He was the first of the Jesuit martyrs to die.

He was a donné, a coadjutor Brother who desired to come to the American missions to assist the priests, having been found to have too unstable a health to be ordained. He was said never to have lost the smile which characterized his gentle disposition.

He died in 1642, when least expecting it, from the blow of an axe, while he was helping a little child to make the sign of the cross.

Father Jogues succeeded in burying his young assistant, at once calling him a martyr, because slain in hatred of God and the Church, and of their sign which is the Cross, and while exercising ardent charity towards his neighbor.

And finally, Saint Jean de la Lande, who had the heart of an apostle, engaged himself to work as an auxiliary of the missionaries, for love of Jesus Christ and souls.

On the day of his departure, he was expecting to meet with death in the new world. Unafraid of the sufferings he knew awaited him, he accompanied Father Jogues and was slain in the same mission as the priest, on the following day, October 19, 1646.

(SOURCE: Nos Gloires (L’Église du Canada), by Gerard Champagne (Jésus Marie et Notre Temps: Montreal, 1976).)