Saint Fiaker was the eldest son of Eugene IV, king of Scotland, born in the early sixth century heir to the throne of Scotland. He was educated under the care of a bishop of eminent sanctity, Conan, Bishop of Soder or the Western Islands.
Considering all worldly advantages as dross, the young prince, accompanied by his sister, left country and friends when in the flower of his age, and sailed to France.
The prince intended to seek a solitude to which they might retire and devote themselves to God, unknown to the rest of the world. Divine Providence conducted them to Saint Faro, Bishop of Meaux, eminent for his sanctity.
When Saint Fiaker addressed himself to him, the prelate, charmed with the marks of extraordinary virtue and abilities which he discerned in this stranger, gave him a solitary dwelling in a forest called Breuil, two leagues from Meaux.
He placed the princess Sira in the Faremoutier monastery for women, of which his own sister was Abbess, and in that convent the young Christian found the enduring peace of Christ.
The holy anchorite Fiaker cleared the ground of trees and briers, made himself a cell and cultivated a small garden. He built an oratory in honor of the Blessed Virgin, where he spent the greater part of the days and nights in devout prayer, laboring also with his own hands for his subsistence.
The life he led was very austere, and only necessity or charity ever interrupted his exercises of prayer and heavenly contemplation.
Many resorted to him for advice, and the poor sought relief at his door. Saint Chillen, or Kilian, an Irishman of high birth, on his return from Rome visited Saint Fiaker, who was his kinsman.
After spending some time under his discipline, this other budding Saint was directed by Fiaker’s advice and with the authority of the bishops, to preach in the nearby dioceses as well as in that of Saint Faro.
This commission he executed with admirable sanctity and fruit, and his relics were later placed in the same coffer as those of his eminent relative, the saintly hermit.
Saint Fiaker died in the year 670, on the 30th of August; he is the patron of gardeners.
(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).)
“Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”‘ -Matthew 24:42-51.
Foundress of the Order of the Visitation
of The Blessed Virgin Mary
At the age of sixteen, Jane Frances de Fremyot, already a motherless child, was placed under the care of a worldly-minded governess. In this crisis she offered herself to the Mother of God, and secured Mary’s protection for life.
When a Protestant sought her hand in marriage, she steadily refused to marry an enemy of God and His Church. Later, as the loving and beloved wife of the noble Baron de Chantal, she made her house the pattern of a Christian home. But God had marked her for something higher than domestic sanctity.
Two children and a dearly beloved sister died, and then, in the full tide of their prosperity, her husband’s life was ended by an accident, through the innocent hand of a friend, when a small group went hunting in the forest.
For seven years the sorrows of her widowhood were increased by ill usage from servants and inferiors, and the cruel importunities of those who urged her to marry again.
Harassed almost to despair by their entreaties, she branded on her heart the name of Jesus, and in the end left her beloved home and children, to live for God alone. It was on the 19th of March, 1609, that Madame de Chantal bade farewell to her family and relatives.
Pale and with tears in her eyes, she passed around the large room, sweetly and humbly taking leave of each one.
Her son, a boy of fifteen, used every entreaty, every endearment, to induce his mother not to leave them, and finally flung himself passionately across the doorsill of the room.
In an agony of distress, she passed over the body of her son to the embrace of her aged and disconsolate father.
The anguish of that parting reached its height when, kneeling at the feet of the venerable old man, she sought and obtained his last blessing, promising to repay his sacrifice in her new life by her prayers.
Well might Saint Francis de Sales call her the valiant woman.
She founded under his direction and patronage the great Order of the Visitation. Sickness, opposition and want beset her, and the deaths of children, friends, and of Saint Francis himself followed, while eighty-seven houses of the Visitation rose under her hand. Nine long years of interior desolation completed the work of God’s grace in her soul.
The Congregation of the Visitation, whose purpose was to admit widows and persons of fragile health, not accepted elsewhere, was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday of 1610.
The Order counted thirteen houses already in 1622, when Saint Francis de Sales died; and when the Foundress died in her seventieth year, there were eighty-six.
Saint Vincent de Paul saw her soul rise up, like a ball of fire, to heaven.
At her canonization in 1767, the Sisters in 164 houses of the Visitation rejoiced.
Reflection: Profit by the successive trials of life to gain the strength and courage of Saint Jane Frances, and difficulties will become stepping stones from earth to heaven.
(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); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).)
Commentary on the Reading of the day provided by :
Saint Basil (c.330-379),
monk and Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church
Long Rules, § 3 (SOURCE: The Fathers of the Church, 1950)
“This is… the first commandment. The second is like it”
Since we are directed to love our neighbor as ourselves, let us consider whether we have received from the Lord the power to fulfill this commandment also… Nothing, indeed, is so compatible with our nature as living in society and in dependence upon one another and as loving our own kind.
Now, the Lord himself gave to us the seeds of these qualities in anticipation of his requiring in due time their fruits, for he says: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another” (Jn 13, 34).
Moreover, wishing to animate our soul to the observance this commandment, he did not require signs or wonders the means of recognizing his disciples (although He gave power of working these also in the Holy Spirit), but he says: “By this shall everyone know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (Jn 13,35).
Further, he establishes so close a connection between the two great commandments that benefits conferred upon the neighbor are transferred to himself: “For I was hungry,” he says, “and you gave me to eat” and so on, adding: “as long as you did it to one of these the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25,35-40).
It is, accordingly, possible to keep the second commandment by observing the first, and by means of the second we are led back to the first.
Whoever loves the Lord loves their neighbor in consequence. “If anyone love me,” said the Lord, “he will keep my commandments; this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 14,23; 15,12).
On the other hand, whoever loves a neighbor fulfills the love owed to God, for God accepts this favor as shown to himself.
“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”” -Matthew 22:34-40.