SAINT OF THE DAY: 30 JUNE, 2014

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The Commemoration of Saint Paul
Apostle
(† 67)

Saint Paul was originally Saul of Tarsus, born in that city of Cilicia of Jewish parents, two or three years after the Saviour was born in Bethlehem of Judea. He studied in Jerusalem at the feet of the famous teacher Gamaliel, who later would be converted and listed among the Saints.

While still a young man, Saul was present to oversee, as commanding officer, the stoning of the proto-martyr Stephen. In his restless zeal he pressed on to Damascus, breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of Christ, intending to drag them from their houses and imprison them. But on the road a light from heaven struck him to the earth.

He heard a voice which said, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad. He asked who was speaking, and astonished on hearing His Name, inquired what Jesus wanted of him. And then, struck blind, for three days he saw nothing more.

But he had been told what to do. He was led by the hand to Damascus, where he remained in the house of a Christian until, three days later, he rose for his baptism by a Christian leader of that city.

Then he saw the light of day again, and the brilliance of the full truth for the first time, as another man, a new creature in Jesus Christ.

He left Damascus for a long retreat in Arabia, before he set out at the call of God, and carried the Gospel to the uttermost limits of the known western world, for years living and laboring with no thought but that of Christ crucified, no desire but to dispense himself for Him. He became the Apostle to the Gentiles, whom he had been taught to hate.

But he would gladly have been anathema if he could thereby have saved his own countrymen from condemnation, though they sought his life. Perils by land and sea could not dampen his courage, nor sufferings and age dull the tenderness of his heart.

When finally he knew that his hour had come to be dissolved and to be with Christ, as he had long desired, he wrote during his second imprisonment to his spiritual son Timothy, that he had fought the good fight, finished his course, kept the faith”, and that there remained for him to receive the crown of justice which His Lord was preparing for him on the final day.

With Saint Peter in his final year he consecrated Rome, the new holy city, by his martyrdom.

Saint Paul has left to the Church fourteen Epistles, which have been a fountainhead of doctrine, elucidating the most basic truths taught by Christ, and constituting the consolation and delight of her greatest Saints.

His interior life, insofar as words can express it, lies open before us in these divine writings; it is the life of one who has died forever to himself, and risen again in Christ Jesus. Saint John Chrysostom, his imitator, wrote: The heart of Paul is the Heart of Christ! Nor will his labor cease while the race of man continues. Even now, like a chivalrous knight, he stands alive in our midst, and captivates each of his readers to the obedience of Christ.

(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).)

READING OF THE DAY: 30 JUNE, 2014

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“When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side.

A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, 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.”

Another of (his) disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” -Matthew 8:18-22.

READING OF THE DAY: 28 JUNE, 2014

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“Son, defraud not the poor of alms, and turn not away thy eyes from the poor.

Despise not the hungry soul: and provoke not the Boor in his want.

Afflict not the heart of the needy, and defer not to give to him that is in distress.

Reject not the petition of the afflicted: and turn not away thy face from the needy.

Turn not away thy eyes from the poor for fear of anger: and leave not to them that ask of thee to curse thee behind thy back.

For the prayer of him that curseth thee in the bitterness of his soul, shall be heard, for he that made him will hear him.

Make thyself affable to the congregation of the poor, and humble thy soul to the ancient, and bow thy head to a great man.

Bow down thy ear cheerfully to the poor, and pay what thou owest, and answer him peaceable words with mildness.

Deliver him that suffereth wrong out of the hand of the proud: and be not fainthearted in thy soul.

In judging be merciful to the fatherless as a father, and as a husband to their mother.

And thou shalt be as the obedient son of the most High, and he will have mercy on thee more than a mother.” -Sirach 4:1-11

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 JUNE, 2014

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help
(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, 2014

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“At that time Jesus exclaimed, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.

No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” -Matthew 11:25-30.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 26 JUNE, 2014

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Blessed 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)

READING OF THE DAY: 26 JUNE, 2014

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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.