Saint Andrew was one of the fishermen of Bethsaida, and was the brother of Saint Peter.
He became a disciple of Saint John the Baptist.
When called himself by Christ on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to go in search of his brother, and he said to Peter, We have found the Messiah! and brought him to Jesus.
It was Saint Andrew who, when Christ wished to feed the five thousand in the desert, pointed out a little lad with five loaves and a few fishes.
After Pentecost, Saint Andrew went forth upon his mission to plant the Faith in Scythia and Greece and, at the end of years of toil, to win a martyr’s crown at Patrae in Achaia.
When Saint Andrew first caught sight of the gibbet on which he was to die, he greeted the precious wood with joy.
O good cross! he cried, made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee!
After suffering a cruel scourging he was left, bound by cords, to die upon this diagonal cross.
For two whole days the martyr remained hanging on it, alive, preaching with outstretched arms from this chair of truth, to all who came near, and entreating them not to hinder his passion.
(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Livesof the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. (Amen.)
Finally, brothers, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God–and as you are conducting yourselves–you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” – Thessalonians 3:12-13.4:1-2.
Saint Catherine Zoé Labouré was born in a small village of France in 1806, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer who had at one time wanted to become a priest, and his very Christian wife.
Catherine, the ninth of the eleven living children, lost her mother when she was only nine years old and had to abandon school to go to live with an aunt, accompanied by her younger sister.
Two years later she was recalled to take charge of the household, because the older children had all left, one to become a Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul, the others to marry or seek a living elsewhere.
She made a vow of virginity when still very young, desiring to imitate the Holy Virgin, to whom she had confided herself when her mother died. She longed to see Her, and she prayed, in her simplicity, for that grace.
She spent as many hours as possible in the Chapel of the Virgin in the village church, without, however, neglecting the work of the household. She talked to Our Lady as to a veritable mother, and indeed the Mother of Christ and ours would prove Herself to be such.
Catherine wished to become a nun, without having opted for any particular community; but one day she saw a venerable priest in a dream, saying Mass in her little village church.
He turned to her afterwards and made a sign for her to come forward, but in her dream she retreated, walking backwards, unable to take her gaze from his face.
He said to her: Now you flee me, but later you will be happy to come to me; God has plans for you. The dream was realized and, as a postulant in the Community of Saint Vincent de Paul, she assisted at the translation of his relics to a nearby church of Paris.
She had indeed recognized his picture one day in one of the convents of the Sisters of Charity, and obtained her father’s consent to enter that Congregation when her younger sister was old enough to replace her at home.
Catherine’s interior life was alimented by the visions she frequently had of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, where once she saw Him as Christ the King.
And the designs of God for this humble novice began to be fulfilled, after Our Lady appeared to her in July of 1830, and confided to her the mission of having a Medal struck according to the living picture she saw one night, when a little Angel led her to the convent Chapel, and there she knelt at the Virgin’s feet to hear the words which would be the motivating force of her forty-six years of religious life.
Once more — insofar as we know — she would see the Blessed Mother, on November 27th of the same year, when one afternoon while at prayer with her Sisters, she beheld Her to one side of the chapel, Her feet poised on a globe, on which was prostrate a greenish serpent; the hands of the Virgin were holding a golden globe at the level of the heart, as though offering it to God, said Catherine later, in an attitude of supplication, Her eyes sometimes raised to heaven, sometimes looking down at the earth, and Her lips murmuring a prayer for the entire world.
The face of the Virgin was of incomparable, indescribable beauty, with a pleading expression which plunged the Sister into ravishment, while she listened to Her prayers.
The Immaculate Virgin, after having offered to God Her Compassion with the suffering Christ, prayed for all men and for each one in particular; she prayed for this poor world, that God might take pity on its ignorance, its weakness and faults, and that by pardoning He would hold back the arm of Divine Justice, raised to strike. She prayed the Lord to give peace to the universe.
For many years Catherine kept her secrets from all save her confessor, Father Aladel, priest of the Mission of Saint Vincent, who, wanting to be able to continue with his penitent, saw to it that she was not sent far from Paris, after he had fulfilled the first mission of having the Medal struck.
He died, however, before having the statue made according to this second vision, as Our Lady desired. Catherine suffered much from her inability to accomplish the second part of her mission.
When she finally confided this second desire of Our Lady to her Sister Superior, a statue of Our Lady, Queen of the World and Mediatrix of all Graces, was made for two Chapels of the nuns.
Saint Catherine died in 1876, after spending her life in the domestic and agricultural duties associated with the kitchen and garden, and in general caring for the elderly of the Hospice of Enghien at Reuilly, only about three miles southeast of Paris.
Among her writings recounting the apparitions, we read: Oh, how beautiful it will be to hear it said: Mary is Queen of the universe. That will be a time of peace, joy and happiness which will be long… She will be borne like a banner and will make a tour of the world. T
he Virgin foretold that this time would come only after the entire world will be in sadness… Afterwards, peace.
(SOURCE: La Sainte du silence et la Vierge au globe, by G. Gaetano di Sales (Centre Marial Canadien: Nicolet, 1951); Vie de Catherine Labouré, by Rev. R. Laurentin (Desclée de Brouwer: Paris, 1980))
Commentary on the reading of the day provided by
priest and theologian
1st sermon on Psalm 38 (SC 411, p. 355)
“Summer is now near”
“Let me know, O Lord, my end and what is the number of my days, that I may learn what it is I lack” (Ps 38,5).
If you let me know my end, the psalmist says, and if you let me know the number of my days then by that alone I shall know what it is I am lacking.
Or, possibly, he may be indicating the following by these words: every occupation has an end; for example, the end of a building business is to build a house; the end of a naval yard is to build a ship capable of surmounting the waves of the sea and resisting the winds’ assaults; and the end of every occupation is something similar for which the occupation itself seems to have been conceived.
In the same way there may also be a certain end to our life and to the world as a whole for which all that happens in our life takes place or for which the world itself was created or subsists.
Concerning this end the apostle Paul is also thinking when he says: “Then comes the end when he hands over the Kingdom to God his Father” (1Cor 15,24).
Now to this end we must most certainly hasten since it is itself the reward of the work, it is what we were created for by God.
Just as our bodily organism, which in the beginning is small and reduced at its birth, nevertheless grows and reaches towards its full height as it increases in age; and as our soul, too, … is first of all given a stammering speech that then becomes more clear so as to come finally to a means of expressing itself perfectly and correctly, so too, certainly, all our life begins now as if stammering among people on earth, but it is brought to completion and attains its full capacity in the heavens with God.
For this reason, therefore, the prophet wants to know the end for which he was made so that by looking towards the end, examining his days and considering his perfection he may see what it is he still lacks regarding the end to which he is moving… It is just as if those who went out from Egypt had said: “Let me know, O Lord, my end”, a good and holy land, “and the number of my days” to where I am travelling, “so that I may know what I still lack”, how much there remains for me to do before I reach that holy land promised to me.
Born in 1599 in Diest, a town of northern Belgium near Brussels and Louvain, this angelic young Saint was the oldest of five children. Two of his three brothers became priests, and his father, after the death of John’s mother when he was eleven years old, entered religion and became a Canon of Saint Sulpice.
John was a brilliant student from his most tender years, manifesting also a piety which far exceeded the ordinary. Beginning at the age of seven, he studied for three years at the local communal school with an excellent professor. And then his father, wanting to protect the sacerdotal vocation already evident in his son, confided him to a Canon of Diest who lodged students aspiring to the ecclesiastical vocation.
After three years in that residence, the family’s financial situation had declined owing to the long illness of the mother, and John was told he would have to return and learn a trade.
He pleaded to be allowed to continue his studies. And his aunts, who were nuns, found a solution through their chaplain; he proposed to take John into his service and lodge him.
Saint John was ordinarily first in his classes at the large school, a sort of minor seminary, even when he had to double his efforts in order to rejoin his fellow students, all of excellent talent, who sometimes had preceded him for a year or more in an assigned discipline.
He often questioned his Superiors as to what was the most perfect thing to say or do in the various circumstances in which he found himself. Such was the humility which caused the young to advance without ceasing on the road to heaven.
Later he continued his studies at Malines, also not distant from Diest, under the tutelage of another ecclesiastic, who assigned to him the supervision of three young boys of a noble family.
In all that John did he sought perfection, and he never encountered anything but the highest favor for his services, wherever he was placed.
He found his vocation through his acquaintance with the Jesuits of that city, and manifested his determination to pursue his course, although his father and family opposed it for a time.
It had been decided that he would continue his studies at the Jesuit novitiate of Malines, with about 70 other novices. With another young aspirant, he was waiting in the parlor to be introduced, when he saw in the garden a coadjutor Brother turning over the ground in the garden.
He proposed to his companion to go and help him, saying:Could we begin our religious life better than with an act of humility and charity? And with no hesitation, both went to offer their assistance. How many young persons in that situation would have thought of such an offer?
This incident reveals the profound charity and interior peace which characterized this young religious at all times.
As a novice he taught catechism to the children in the regions around Malines. He made his instructions so lively and interesting that the country folk preferred his lessons to the ordinary sermons.
The children became attached to him, and in a troop would conduct him back to the novitiate, where he distributed holy pictures, medals and rosaries to them.
At the end of his novitiate in 1619 he was destined to go to Rome to begin serious application to philosophy, but his superiors decided to send him home for a few days first.
A shock awaited him at the train station of Malines, where he was expecting to meet his father; he had died a week earlier. John was given time to take the dispositions necessary to provide for the younger brothers and sister.
When he departed, it was apparently with a premonition that he would perhaps never see them again, for he said in a letter to the Canon of Diest with whom he had dwelt, to tell the younger ones for him: Increase in piety, in fear of God and in knowledge. Adieu.
With a fellow novice he began the two months’ journey on foot to Rome, by way of Paris, Lyons and Loreto, where the two assisted at the Christmas Midnight Mass.
Both of these two young Jesuits would die within three years’ time, his companion in a matter of several months.
John had time during these three years to give unceasing proofs of his already perfected sanctity; nothing that he did was left to chance, but entrusted to the intercession of his Heavenly Mother, to whom his devotion continued to increase day by day.
He made an extraordinary effort during an intense heat wave in the summer of 1621, participating splendidly in a debate, which took place at a certain distance from the Jesuit residence, despite the fact he did not feel well.
Two days later he was felled by a fever, which continued implacably to mine his already slight resistance, and he died in August of that year, after one week of illness.
The story of his last days is touching indeed; in a residence of several hundred priests and students, there was none who did not follow with anxiety and compassion the progress of his illness.
When the infirmarian told his patient that he should probably receive Communion the next morning — an exception to the rule prescribing it for Sundays only, in those times — John said, In Viaticum? and received a sad affirmative answer.
He himself was transported with joy and embraced the Brother; the latter broke into tears.
A priest who knew John well went to him the next morning and asked him if there was anything troubling or saddening him, and John replied, Absolutely nothing.
He asked that his mattress be placed on the floor, and knelt to receive his Lord; when the Father Rector pronounced the words of the Ritual: Receive, Brother, in viaticum, the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, all in attendance wept.
Their angelic, ever joyous and affectionate young novice was called to leave them; no clearer tribute than their tears could have been offered to the reality of his sanctity, his participation in the effusive goodness of the divine nature.
Devotion to his memory spread rapidly in Belgium; already in 1624 twelve engraving establishments of Anvers had published his portrait.
He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, at the same time as two other Jesuits who lived during the first century of that Society’s existence, so fruitful in sanctity — Peter Claver and Alphonsus Rodriguez.
(SOURCE: Saint Jean Berchmans, by Hippolyte Delehaye, S.J. (J. Gabalda: Paris, 1922); Saint Jean Berchmans: Ses écrits, by Tony Severin, S.J., (Museum Lessianum: Louvain, 1931).)
Commentary on the reading of the day provided by
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395),
monk and Bishop Catechetical Instruction, 29-30
« Despised by all »
If God’s gift to the world in sending it his Son is so good, so worthy of God, why did he then defer his gift for so long?
Why, when evil in the world was still in its early stages, did God not cut short its hidden development?
I have time to respond briefly to this objection that it is God’s prevenient Wisdom, the One who is good by nature, who has held back this gift.
Just as with physical illnesses… doctors wait until the disease, which is hidden within the body to begin with, manifests itself without so that he can apply the remedy it needs once it has become visible, so, once the disease of sin had attacked the human race, the world’s Physician waited until no kind of wickedness should remain concealed.
That is why God did not apply his remedy to the world immediately after Cain’s jealousy and murder of his brother Abel…
It was when vice had reached its peak and there was no single act of evil that men had not attempted that God set about curing the sore, no longer in its beginnings but in its full development. In this way the divine remedy could extend to every human weakness…
But then, why was the grace of the Gospel not at once extended over all?
True, the divine call is addressed equally to all alike, without distinction of condition, age or race… But he who has the freely disposition of all things within his hands, pushed to the extreme his respect for humankind.
He has permitted each one of us to have our own domain over which we alone are masters: this is the will, the faculty that does not know bondage, which remains free, founded on the autonomy of reason.
Therefore faith is at the free disposition of those who receive the message of the Gospel.