SAINT OF THE DAY (part 3) : 29 SEPTEMBER, 2014

Saint Raphael the Archangel

Saint Raphael the Archangel

This holy Archangel identified himself to the exiled Jew Tobias as one of the Seven who stand before God (Tob. 12:15).

His name means the healing of God, and he is thought to be the Angel who came down and agitated the water of the pool of Bethsaida in Jerusalem.

The sick, who always lay around the pool, strove to be the first to enter the water afterwards, because that fortunate one was always cured.

We read of this in the story of the paralytic cured by Jesus, who had waited patiently for thirty-eight years, unable to move when the occasion presented itself.(Cf. John 5:1-9)

Saint Raphael is best known through the beautiful history of the two Tobias, father and son, exiled to Persia in the days of the Assyrian conquest in the eighth century before Christ.

In their story, the Archangel plays the major role.

The father Tobias was a faithful son of Jacob and was old and worn out by his manifold good works; for many years he had assisted his fellow exiles in every possible way, even burying the slain of Israel during a persecution by Sennacherib, and continuing this practice despite the wrath that king manifested towards him.

Having been stripped of all his possessions, he desired to have his son recover a substantial sum of money he had once lent to a member of his family in a distant city.

He needed a companion for the young Tobias.

God provided that guide in the Archangel Raphael, whom the son met providentially one day, in the person of a stranger from the very area where he was to go, in the country of the Medes.

Raphael to all appearances was a young man like himself, who said his name was Azarias(Assistance of God).

Everything went well, as proposed; the young Tobias recovered the sum and then was married, during their stay in Media, to the virtuous daughter of another relative, whom Providence had reserved for him.

All aspects of this journey had been thorny with difficulties, but the wise guide had found a way to overcome all of them.

When a huge fish threatened to devour Tobias, camped on the shores of the Tigris, the guide told him how to remove it from the water, and the fish expired at his feet; then remedies and provisions were derived from this creature by the directives of Azarias.

When the Angel led Tobias for lodging in the city of Rages, to the house of his kinsman Raguel, father of the beautiful Sara, the young man learned that seven proposed husbands had died on the very day of the planned marriage.

How would Tobias fare?

The Angel reassured him that this would not be his own fate, and told him to pray with his future spouse for three nights, that they might be blessed with a holy posterity.

Sara was an only daughter, as Tobias was an only son, and she was endowed with a large heritage.

During the absence of the young Tobias, his father had become blind when the droppings of a pigeon had fallen into his eyes.

When the two travelers returned after an extended absence, which had cost his mother many tears, the young Tobias was deeply grieved to find his father unable to see him and his new daughter-in-law.

But Raphael told the son how to cure his father’s blindness by means of the gall of the fish; and after the remedy had proved efficacious, all of them rejoiced time in their blessings.

When Tobias the son narrated his story and told his father that all their benefits had come to them through this stranger, both father and son wished to give Azarias half of the inheritance.

Raphael declined and revealed his identity, saying he was sent to assist the family of the man who had never failed to obey and honor the blessed God of Israel. Raphael, before he disappeared, said to the family:

It is honorable to reveal and confess the works of God. Prayer is good, with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures, for alms deliver from death and purge away sins, and cause the giver to find mercy and life everlasting…

When thou didst pray with tears and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner to hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord.

And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that trials prove thee…

I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.

(SOURCE: The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments)

SAINT OF THE DAY (part 2) : 29 SEPTEMBER, 2014

Saint Gabriel Archangel

Saint Gabriel Archangel

The day before the great feast of the Annunciation, the Church celebrates the feast of the Archangel who brought to earth the glad tidings that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of the Incarnate God.

This angelic Messenger appears several times in the history of God’s chosen people.

He came to Daniel the prophet after he had a vision of the future Persian and Greek empires, to explain the vision to him, as Daniel narrates in the eighth chapter of his book.

So great was the Archangel’s majesty that the prophet fell on his face trembling.

The Angel of the Incarnation again appeared to the prophet to answer his prayer at the end of the exile, and advise him of the exact date of the future Redemption by the long-awaited Messiah.

When the fullness of time had come, Gabriel was sent several times as the harbinger of the Incarnation of the Most High God. First, to the Temple of Jerusalem, while Zachary stood at the altar of incense, to tell him that his wife Elizabeth would bring forth a son to be called John, who would prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

Six months later the great Archangel again appeared, bearing the greatest message God ever sent to earth.

Standing before the Blessed Virgin Mary, this great Archangel of God trembled with reverence as he offered Her the ineffable honor of becoming Mother of the Eternal Word.

Upon Her consent, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. It was he, we can readily believe, who also fortified Saint Joseph for his mission as virginal father of the Saviour.

Gabriel rightly bears the beautiful name, the strength of God, manifesting in every apparition the power and glory of the Eternal. According to some of the Fathers of the Church, it was Saint Gabriel, Angel of the Incarnation, who invited the shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the Crib to adore the newborn God.

He was with Jesus in His Agony, no less ready to be the strength of God in the Garden than at Nazareth and Bethlehem.

Throughout Christian tradition he is the Angel of the Incarnation, the Angel of consolation, the Angel of mercy.

(SOURCE: Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. Catholic Book Publishing Co. (New York: 1951-1955); La Sainte Bible commentée, Ed. Abbé L.-Cl. Fillion (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1903), Vol. VI, pp. 298-303, notes)

SAINT OF THE DAY (PART 1) : 29 SEPTEMBER, 2014

Saint Michael the Archangel

Protector of the People of God

Saint Michael the Archangel

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.

She 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).)

READING OF THE DAY: 29 SEPTEMBER, 2014

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“As I watched : Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne.

His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool ;

His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.

A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat;

Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.

The court was convened, and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven;

When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him,

He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.” -Daniel 7:9-10.13-14.

READING OF THE DAY: 28 SEPTEMBER, 2014

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“Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons.

He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’

He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.

The man came to the other son and gave the same order.

He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.

Which of the two did his father’s will?”

They answered, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.

Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” -Matthew 21:28-32.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 28 SEPTEMBER, 2014

Saint Wenceslas

Martyr
(† 938)

Saint Wenceslas

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.

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

READING OF THE DAY: 27 SEPTEMBER, 2014

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“Rejoice, O young man, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.

Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes ; Yet understand that as regards all this God will bring you to judgment.

Ward off grief from your heart and put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach of which you will say, I have no pleasure in them;

Before the sun is darkened. and the light, and the moon, and the stars, while the clouds return after the rain;

When the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders are idle because they are few, and they who look through the windows grow blind;

When the doors to the street are shut, and the sound of the mill is low; When one waits for the chirp of a bird, but all the daughters of song are suppressed;

And one fears heights, and perils in the street; When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, Because man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets;

Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the broken pulley falls into the well,

And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, all things are vanity!” -Ecclesiastes 11:9-10.12:1-8.

READING OF THE DAY: 26 SEPTEMBER, 2014

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“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.

A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?

I have considered the task which God has appointed for men to be busied about.

He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 26 SEPTEMBER, 2014

The Holy North American Martyrs

(†1642-1649)

The Holy North American Martyrs

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).)

SAINT OF THE DAY: 25 SEPTEMBER, 2014

Saint Finbarr

Bishop of Cork
(† Sixth Century)

Saint Finbarr

Saint Finbarr, who lived in the sixth century, was a native of Connaught, Ireland.

He founded a monastery or school at Lough Eire, to which great numbers of disciples flocked, changing, as it were, a desert into a large city.

This was the origin of the city of Cork, built chiefly upon stakes on marshy little islands formed by the river Lea.

The baptismal name of our Saint was Lochan; the surname Finbarr, or Barr the White, was afterwards given him.

He was Bishop of Cork for seventeen years, and died in the midst of his friends at Cloyne, fifteen miles from Cork.

His body was buried in his own cathedral at Cork; his relics were put into a silver reliquary a few years later and kept in the great church, which bears his name to this day.

Saint Finbarr’s cave, or hermitage, used to be shown in a monastery situated to the west of Cork, which tradition affirms was established by the holy bishop.

(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). )