Felix of Burgundy, also known as Felix of Dunwich (died 8 March 647 or 648), was the first bishop of the East Angles. He is widely credited as the man who introduced Christ-ianity to the kingdom of East Anglia. Felix travelled from his homeland of Burgundy to Canterbury before being sent by Honorius to Sigeberht of East Anglia's kingdom in about 630. On arrival in East Anglia, Sigeberht gave him a see at Dommoc (possibly Walton, Suffolk or Dunwich in Suffolk). Felix helped Sigeberht to establish a school in his kingdom "where boys could be taught letters". He died on 8 March 647 or 648, having been bishop for seventeen years. His relics were translated from Dommoc to Soham Abbey and then to the abbey at Ramsey.
On October 14th, 2018, Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917 – 1980) was canonised by Pope Francis. St Oscar lived almost all of his life in El Salvador. On 23 February 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. Welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly supportive of liberation theology. Progressive priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect commitment to the poor.
However, just 17 days after his appointment, something happened which had a profound effect on him. Fr. Rutilio Grande a personal friend who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor, was assassinated. St Oscar later said: "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, 'If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.' Romero urged the government to investigate, but they ignored his request. Furthermore, the censored press remained silent.
He devoted the rest of his life to defending the vulnerable against the violence and cruelty of what became a Civil War. His sermons and broadcast speeches created many enemies in a country where assassination was commonplace. In March 1980 he urged soldiers who were Christians to keep to their faith and not follow orders to unjustly persecute and kill. The next day, saying mass at a hospital chapel, he was shot and killed. The revulsion and demands for justice raised by Salvadorans and the International Community have not yet led to the murderers being identified.
When he was beatified, Pope Francis said of him: "His ministry was distinguished by his particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.” Hailed as a hero by supporters of liberation theology, St Oscar, according to his biographer, Jesus Delgardo, "was not interested in liberation theology" but faithfully adhered to Catholic teachings on liberation and a preferential option for the poor, desiring a social revolution based on interior reform.
St Oscar agreed with the Catholic – and not the materialist - vision of liberation theology. A journalist once asked him: 'Do you agree with Liberation Theology' And Romero answered: "Yes, of course. However, there are two theologies of liberation. One is that which sees liberation only as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI… The most profound social revolution is the serious, supernatural, interior reform of a Christian. The liberation of Christ and of His Church is not reduced to the dimension of a purely temporal project. It does not reduce its objectives to … a material well-being or only to initiatives of a political or social, economic or cultural order. Much less can it be a liberation that supports or is supported by violence."
St. Oscar Romero is remembered on the 24th of March each year.
St Oscar Romero, pray for us that we too will model our lives on Christ and have the courage to face evil and work for justice.
April 23rd is St George’s Day, an occasion which used to feature a variety of celebratory events, especially in villages and the countryside generally. Games and shows, entertainment from Morris dancing to point-to-point horse races. Such celebrations have dwindled in the last fifty years, and St George has become more and more the patron of nationalists rather than the nation. Doubt also continues as to his existence.
Whether he did or not, whether he was a Roman soldier or a Greek farmer, whether the dragon existed or not – none of this matters. The symbolism of St George’s story rises from his rescue of the Maiden in Distress. This points directly to the duty each of us has to care for others: if that means rescuing a girl from the jaws of a dragon or helping to organise a street party or checking that our nextdoor neighbour is safe and well or helping someone to pick up something they’ve dropped or stopping to chat and cheer up someone who’s down – from the trivial to the fantastic we can honour St George by even small gestures of care for others.
In all of these ways of helping, we imitate Christ and follow him, just as St George did. In his case the reality was torture and death in defence of the faith. We may never be called to make this sacrifice, we can still humbly use the saint as a guide and model for service to Our Lord.
O GOD, you gave Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech You to preserve, through St. George’s intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve You with a sincere heart faithfully unto death.Through Christ our Lord. Amen
St CATHERINE OF SIENA (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380)
April 29th celebrates one of the most important women of the Church who played a significant role in the resolution of the Great Schism of the West, which had seen rivals for the papal throne supported by different parties within the Church. She died on 29 April 1380, exhausted by her rigorous fasting. Urban VI celebrated her funeral and burial in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The devotion around Catherine of Siena developed rapidly after her death. She was canonized in 1461, declared patron saint of Rome in 1866, and of Italy (together with Francis of Assisi) in 1939.      She was the first woman (along with Teresa of Ávila) to be declared a "doctor of the Church," on 4 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI. She was also proclaimed patron saint of Europe in 1999 by Pope John Paul II.
St JOSEPH THE WORKER
On the 1st May we celebrate one whose role was to support the Virgin Mary and the early years of Jesus. To foster deep devotion to Saint Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. In his encyclical Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II stated: “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide [social] changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man and societyy. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Saviour of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work.” Saint Joseph is held up as a model of such work, and reverence of him is relevant across the world today.
St. Catherine of Siena was born during the outbreak of the plague in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347. She was the 25th child born to her mother, although half of her brothers and sisters did not survive childhood. Catherine herself was a twin, but her sister did not survive infancy. Her mother was 40 when she was born. Her father was a cloth dyer.
At the age of 16, Catherine's sister, Bonaventura, died, leaving her husband as a widower. Catherine's parents proposed that he marry Catherine as a replacement, but Catherine opposed this. She began fasting and cut her hair short to mar her appearance. Her parents attempted to resist this move to avoid marriage, but they were unsuccessful. Her fasting and her devotion to her family, convinced them to relent and allow her to live as she pleased. Despite Catherine's religious nature, she did not choose to enter a convent. Instead she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society while living at home.
Something changed her when she was 21. She described an experience she referred to as her "mystical marriage to Christ.” Such mystical experiences change people, and St. Catherine was no exception. In her vision, she was told to re-enter public life and to help the poor and sick. She immediately went into public to help people in need. She often visited hospitals and homes where the poor and sick were found. Her activities quickly attracted followers who helped her in her mission to serve the poor and sick. She was drawn further into the world as she worked, and eventually she began to travel, calling for reform of the Church and for people to confess and to love God totally. She became involved in politics, and was key in working to keep city states loyal to the Pope.
She died in 1380, aged 33. She is the patroness against fire, illness, and of the United States, Italy, miscarriages, people ridiculed for their faith, sexual temptation, and nurses.
Commemorated on 29th April
Seeing the Son: Seeing the Father
May 3rd - the feast day of two apostles, about whom little is known, Saint James and St Philip.
This James is known as James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, to avoid confusion with the other James (the Great) son of Zebedee.
We know a little more about Philip, who is mentioned frequently in the Gospels. He was from Bethsaida, as were Peter and Andrew. He probably first heard of Jesus through being a disciple of John the Baptist. Jesus seemed to trust him greatly. Selecting him to find food for the multitude.
“I am forever grateful to St Philip for some of his questions to Jesus, because it is in Philip’s request, “Lord show us the Father” that Jesus elaborates on his relationship to his Father, one of the most beautiful texts in the Gospel of John.
Jesus said to him “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” John 14: 8-9, 11
“Often, when at prayer, I seem to get nowhere. I then glance at the large ikon of Christ, the Pantocrator, in our chapel and reflect on Jesus’ response to Philip….
“I know I cannot comprehend God, that his mystery is beyond me, but I know that in the Ikon I see Jesus. Trusting his words, I know in an inexplicable way that in seeing Jesus I also see the Father.”
Blessings of the Daily Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourette
St James is the patron saint of apothecaries; pharmacists; dying people; fullers; pastry chefs.
St Philip is the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs.
The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales are a group of Catholic lay and religious, men and women, executed between 1535 and 1679 for treason and related offences under various laws enacted by Parliament during the English Reformation. Their names are listed below. They died for the Faith as did many Protestants under Queen Mary.
• Saint John Almond
• Saint Edmund Arrowsmith
• Saint Ambrose Barlow
• Saint John Boste
• Saint Alexander Briant
• Saint Edmund Campion
• Saint Margaret Clitherow
• Saint Philip Evans
• Saint Thomas Garnet
• Saint Edmund Gennings
• Saint Richard Gwyn
• Saint John Houghton
• Saint Philip Howard
• Saint John Jones
• Saint John Kemble
• Saint Luke Kirby
• Saint Robert Lawrence
• Saint David Lewis
• Saint Anne Line
• Saint John Lloyd
• Saint Cuthbert Mayne
• Saint Henry Morse
• Saint Nicholas Owen
• Saint John Payne
• Saint Polydore Plasden
• Saint John Plessington
• Saint Richard Reynolds
• Saint John Rigby
• Saint John Roberts
• Saint Alban Roe
• Saint Ralph Sherwin
• Saint Robert Southwell
• Saint John Southworth
• Saint John Stone
• Saint John Wall
• Saint Henry Walpole
• Saint Margaret Ward
• Saint Augustine Webster
• Saint Swithun Wells
• Saint Eustace White
Commemorated on 4th May
More on the English Martyrs:
They were men and women executed for treason during the English Reformation between 1534 and 1680, and recognised as martyrs by the Church. Nine were executed during Henry VII’s rule. The persecution of protestants under the rule of Queen Mary then served to solidify enmity between Catholics and Protestants.
Upon Elizabeth I's accession to the throne, an Act of Supremacy denied papal authority over the English church; but only a decade later, in February 1570, did Pope Pius V excommunicate Elizabeth and any who obeyed her, issuing the bull Regnans in Excelsis, which purported to "release [ Elizabeth I's] subjects from their allegiance to her". This fuelled discontent in the North of England, leading to rebellion and later fear that England would be invaded by an alien power. In turn these developments led to assumptions that all Catholics were – or were likely to be – traitors inimical to the English throne. Thus, although executions of Catholics had been few during the first year of Elizabeth’s rule, persecution, imprisonment and executions became common place.
Between 1534 and 1680, 311 Catholics were executed for their faith. Of these 40 have been canonised, 242 beatified and 29 declared venerable. More people than that suffered for the faith, through imprisonment or other forms of punishment.
As we pray for them, we should remember also the protestants who were similarly persecuted and executed for what they believed. Let us pray that Christ, with the prayers of his Mother, will bring all christians together to convert England and restore Mary’s Dowery.
You can go online in a search engine/web browser and find out more about them. Some are Welsh, when Wales was considered part of England.
St Matthias was elected to replace Judas, after the latter had betrayed Jesus, according to the Acts of the Apostles. Not much is known about him and a number of different names is associated with him. We don’t know when he was born, we do know he died on 80 AD.
The first act of the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus was to find a replacement for Judas. But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. How could they know whom he would choose?
One hundred and twenty people were gathered for prayer and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to make the choice.
Peter had one criterion, that, like Andrew, James, John, and himself, the new apostle should be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning of Christ’s mission, from his baptism by John until the Ascension. The reason for this was simple, the new apostle must become a witness to Jesus' resurrection. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross and of eating his body -- teachings that had made others melt away.
Following a period of preaching in Jerusalem, he is thought to have established the faith in Cappadocia and on the shores of the Caspian Sea in what is modern-day Georgia, and he is claimed to have been buried in what is now Sevastopol in 80 AD.
We celebrate St Matthias on May 14th.
TC Sources: Catholic Online. & Wikipedia
Born in lands belonging to the twin monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow in present-day Tyne and Wear, Bede was sent to Monkwearmouth at the age of seven and later joined Abbot Ceolfrith at Jarrow. Both survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, St Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across Britain.
He is known as “The Father of English History” for his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, although in his time he was known widely as an author, teacher and scholar. He was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the early Middle Ages. He helped popularize the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ (Anno Domini) which became common practice across Europe until the mid-20 th century.
He is regarded by many historians as the most important scholar of antiquity for the period between 604 and 800 AD.
In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. He is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation; Anselm of Canterbury, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally from Italy. Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, and his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, which contributed significantly to English Christianity. Bede's monastery had access to an impressive library which included works by Eusebius, Orosius, and many others. He died in bed in 800, finishing his translation of St John’s Gospel.
TC Source: Wikipedia - Commemorated on 25th May
Augustine of Canterbury (early 6th century – probably 26 May 604) was a monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597. He is considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church. We celebrate him on May 27th.
Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595 to lead a mission to Britain to convert Æthelberht and his Kingdom of Kent from Anglo-Saxon paganism. Kent was probably chosen because Æthelberht had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Charibert I the King of Paris, who was expected to exert some influence over her husband. Before reaching Kent, the missionaries had considered turning back, but Gregory urged them on, and in 597, Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet and proceeded to Æthelberht's main town of Canterbury.
King Æthelberht converted and allowed the missionaries to preach freely, giving them land to found a monastery outside the city walls. Augustine was consecrated as a bishop and converted many of the king's subjects, including thousands during a mass baptism on Christmas Day in 597. Pope Gregory sent more missionaries in 601, along with encouraging letters and gifts for the churches, although attempts to persuade the native British bishops to submit to Augustine's authority failed. Roman bishops were established at London, and Rochester in 604, and a school was founded to train Anglo-Saxon priests and missionaries. Augustine also arranged the consecration of his successor, Laurence of Canterbury He probably died in 604 and was soon revered as a saint. As well as his lasting memory, he left behind advice relevant still today: “He who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps,notleaps.”
TC Source: Wikipedia
St Barnabas born Joseph, was according to tradition an early Christian, one of the prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36, Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Named an apostle in Acts 14:14, he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers. They travelled together making more converts (c. 45–47), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50). Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.
Barnabas' story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles. Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The feast day of Barnabas is celebrated on June 11.
Acts 11:24 describes Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith". He certainly seems to be the right man to accompany Paul, especially during Paul’s persecutions. A saint for your prayers when one is down and feeling stressed by others or the responsibilities of one’s faith: e.g. St Barnabas will always get you to church when you feel more like staying in bed!
22 June: SS John Fisher (1469 – 1535) & Thomas More (1478 – 1535)
Both were martyred for opposing Henry VIII’s decision to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and pronouncing himself head of the Church of England. Both were very senior and important people in the government of England. St John was the Archbishop of Canterbury and St Thomas was Henry’s Chancellor. Their stories have been told and retold many times, sometimes with accuracy, at other times as unfounded attempts to prove that these saints were rogues.
23 June: Saint Etheldreda (636-679)
Also known as Æthelthryth or Audrey, Born in Exning, she was an East Anglian princess, a Fenland and Northumbrian queen and Abbess of Ely Her father was King Anna of East Anglia, and her sisters were SS Wendreda and Seaxburh both of whom eventually founded abbeys.
Etheldreda founded a double monastery in Ely. These were destroyed in 870 by invading Danes.
24 June: The Nativity of St John the Baptist
The Nativity of John the Baptist is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian church, being listed by the Council of Agde in 506 as one of that region's principal festivals, where it was a day of rest and, like Christmas, was celebrated with three Masses: a vigil, at dawn, and at midday.
The Nativity of John the Baptist on June 24 comes three months after the celebration on March 25 of the Annunciation, and six months before the Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus. The purpose of these festivals is not to celebrate their exact dates, but simply to commemorate them in an interlinking way. The Nativity of John the Baptist anticipates the feast of Christmas.
Born in Co Meath, Ireland, in 1625, at a time when penal laws against Catholics were very severe, St Oliver studied with the Jesuits in Rome and became professor of theology at the Propaganda College. In 1669 he was made Bishop of Armagh at Ghent and returned to Ireland. The church had become very neglected because of years of persecution and the shortage of bishops. Within his first months of office, he confirmed more than 10,000 people and set about reorganising the clergy, liturgy and education. … St Oliver was canonised in 1975 - becoming the first new Irish saint for almost 700 years. He is Patron of Peace and Reconciliation in Ireland.
Watch a short film about St Oliver Plunkett from Sancta Familia Media: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCQ6A8pyqd4
Commemorated on 1st July.
With permission, Independent Catholic News, https://www.indcatholicnews.com/
An East Anglia saint, princess and abbess who was possibly a daughter of Anna of East Anglia, located in present-day England. She founded a monastery at Dereham in Norfolk. A traditional story says that the Virgin Mary sent a pair of female deer to provide milk for her workers during the monastery's construction. Withburga's body is supposed to have been uncorrupted when discovered half a century after her death: it was later stolen on the orders of the abbot of Ely. A spring appeared at the site of the saint's empty tomb at Dereham.
Commemorated on 8th July.
Wikipedia, 2 July 1021
The Martyr Saints of China are 120 saints of the Catholic Church. The 87 Chinese Catholics and 33 Western missionaries from the mid-17th century to 1930 were martyred because of their ministry and, in some cases, for their refusal to apostatize. Many died in the Boxer Rebellion, in which anti-colonial peasant rebels slaughtered 30,000 Chinese converts to Christianity along with missionaries and other foreigners.
Wikipedia. - Commemorated on 9th July.
Friar, Cardinal Bishop of Albano, Doctor of the Church, Teacher of the Faith
Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and (later as head of the order) steered the Franciscans on a moderate and intellectual course that made them the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits. His theology was marked by an attempt completely to integrate faith and reason. He thought of Christ as the "one true master" who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding, and is perfected by mystical union with God.
Wikipedia. - Commemorated on 15th July.
St Mary Magdalene was one of the most maligned of Christ’s followers. Her name may refer to the town of Magdala a fishing village in Galilee, and she is mentioned in all four of the Gospels. In fact, she is mentioned by name twelve times, more than most of the apostles, and any other non-family women. Luke’s gospel (8:2-3) describes her as one of the followers of Jesus, contributing to his ministry out of their own pockets. This suggests that she was probably well-off. Both St Luke and St Mark write that seven demons had been driven out of her. In all four gospels she witnessed Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. As a messenger who brought news of the risen Christ to the apostles, she became known as the apostle of the apostles.
In later centuries, numerous myths and false accounts of her life and relationship to Jesus destroyed her reputation, regardless of the testimony of the Gospels. A central theme in the later story of Mary Magdalene was that she had been a prostitute (and, therefore, an object of scandal). This was reinforced by Pope Gregory I’s error in confusing her with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed ‘sinful woman’ who washed Christ’s feet (Luke 7:36-50) These falsehoods were refuted by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and Pope Francis raised her memorial to the status of a Feast in the Calendar in 2016.
Nonetheless her status as a promiscuous woman has remained in popular culture to the present day. For example, the 2011 Film Resurrection portrays her as an experienced prostitute. It seems that bad-naming women and destroying reputations is an older game than social media trolls could ever have imagined.
Let us then celebrate St Mary Magdalene’s Feast, rejoicing in the fact that she followed Christ and was trusted as the first to bring news of His Resurrection to the apostles and the world. Let us pray, too, for all those women who have suffered loss of dignity, abuse and degradation.
Founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks, she is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein. She developed the idea of establishing a religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines. … One distinctive feature of the houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community (headed by an abbess), though with separate cloisters. They were to live in poor convents and to give all surplus income to the poor. However, they were allowed to have as many books as they pleased.
Wikipedia. - Commemorated on 23rd July.
Martha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. Jesus gently reproved her when she complained about Mary not helping with the cooking when he came to visit (Luke 10: 38-42). In the Gospel of John, Martha appears at the Raising of Lazarus. It is also recorded that Martha served Jesus at supper six days before the Passover. (John 12: 1-2).
A medieval legend claims that Martha, Mary and Lazarus evangelised Provence. Her supposed relics were placed at the church in Tarascon in 1187.
She is a patron of housewives and lay sisters. She is often depicted with a ladle, a broom or a bunch of keys. She is represented in a Romanesque sculpture of the Raising of Lazarus at Chichester Cathedral.
(Celebrated on 29th July)
Independent Catholic News, https://www.indcatholicnews.com/ (With permission)
“The saint whose feast is celebrated on 31 July … offers us … insights which, at this time, might help us face the fluid and fragile situation in which we find ourselves. … “Ignatius invites us, first and foremost, to seek God's will before anything else. His challenge to indifference is not suggesting that we should be uncaring or apathetic or not listen. It is an invitation to see what is most important, real and authentic. He says that we cannot make good life decisions if we are weighed down by desires that do not come from our true selves.”
Independent Catholic News, https://www.indcatholicnews.com/ (With permission)
“He is often referred to as the ‘Curé d'Ars’ (i.e. the parish priest of Ars), internationally known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in Ars, France, because of the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings. Catholics attribute this to his saintly life, mortification, persevering ministry in the sacrament of confession, and ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
(Celebrated on 4th August)
“Saint Lawrence or Laurence (… 31 December AD 225 – 10 August 258) was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome, Italy, under Pope Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258. ...
"After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. St. Ambrose is the earliest source for the narrative that Lawrence asked for three days to gather the wealth. He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the indigent as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, … he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to deliver the treasures of the Church he presented the indigent, the crippled, the blind, and the suffering, and declared that these were the true treasures of the Church [italics added]. One account records him declaring to the prefect, ‘The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.’ This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom ….
“On 10 August, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, and therefore, the ranking Church official, suffered a martyr's death.”
(Celebrated on 10th August)
“Clare of Assisi … was an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Francis of Assisi.  She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares. Her feast day is on 11 August.”
"(14 November 1601 – 19 August 1680)
“…was a French Roman Catholic priest and the founder of both the Order of Our Lady of Charity in 1641 and Congregation of Jesus and Mary also known as The Eudists in 1643. He was … the author of the proper for the Mass and Divine Office of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Eudes … preached missions across France, including Paris and Versailles, while earning recognition as a popular evangelist and confessor.”
"(2 June 1835 – 20 August 1914)
“… head of the Catholic Church from August 1903 to his death in 1914. …
“He advanced the Liturgical Movement by formulating the principle of participatio actuosa (active participation) of the faithful in his motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (1903), he encouraged the frequent reception of Holy Communion, and he lowered the age for First Communion, which became a lasting innovation of his papacy.”
“[On Aug. 24th]… we celebrate the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles. He travelled extensively to spread the Word of God and visited places such as India, Ethiopia, Lycaonia (modern Turkey), Parthia (modern Iran) and Armenia. It is there in Armenia that the apostle is said to have been martyred by flaying and beheading at the command of the Armenian King Astyages….
“Saint Bartholomew was stripped of his skin, his ultimate sacrifice in order to bear witness to God. He teaches us how in order to serve God we ultimately might get stripped of everything before meeting Our Maker…”
With permission, Independent Catholic News https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/40302
"... an early African Christian saint and the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is remembered and honored in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, albeit on different feast days, for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering caused by her husband's adultery, and her prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica weeping every night for her son Augustine."
Spanish missionary in America: born on the island of Majorca, 24 Nov. 1713; died Monterey, California, 28 Aug. 1784. He became a member of the Franciscan order in 1729, in 1750 arrived In Mexico City as a missionary and in 1750-69 was active among the native tribes. In 1769 he went to the site of San Diego, Cal., where he founded a mission. He gathered about him a band of 16 of his order and these missionaries converted over 3,000 Indians, of whom Junipero himself is said to have baptized more than 1,000. He instructed the natives in the arts of civilization and the colonies which assembled about the mission stations constituted the first settlements in California. His headquarters were at Monterey, but he founded several other missions.
Commemorated on 28th August
The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)
“Pope Gregory I (… c. 540 – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome from 3 September 590 to his death. He is known for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian Mission, to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England to Christianity. Gregory is also well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as pope….
“A Roman senator's son and himself the prefect of Rome at 30, Gregory lived in a monastery he established on his family estate before becoming a papal ambassador and then pope. Although he was the first pope from a monastic background, his prior political experiences may have helped him to be a talented administrator. During his papacy, he greatly surpassed with his administration the emperors in improving the welfare of the people of Rome….
“Throughout the Middle Ages, he was known as "the Father of Christian Worship" because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day….
“He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.”
The great evangelist, as he is also known, was a citizen of Antioch in Syria, is said to have been one of Jesus’ first seventy two apostles and was a close friend of St Paul, who thought a lot of him and refers to him in the letter to the Colossians and in other letters.
He is, of course, known to us as the writer of one of the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. He is the only one who gives us the parable of the prodigal son and so gives us this clear and moving example of God’s love and mercy.
St Paul tells us he was a physician (Colossians) and no doubt his professional skills were of great service to Christ’s followers, both in treating ailments and, through private practice on the wealthy, as a source of income.
In present times, doctors and other healthcare workers are absolutely vital to us as we face the threats not only of Covid-19, but the myriad other ailments from corns to cancer than afflict us. May we then remember St Luke and think of our doctors as respected and beloved physicians.
On October 15th , we celebrate St Teresa’s life and service to God.
Born Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus 28 March 1515 – 4 or 15 October 1582), was a Spanish noblewoman who felt called to the convent. Carmelite nun, religious reformer, author, theologian of the contemplative life and of mental prayer, she earned the rare distinction of being declared a Doctor of the Church, but not until over four centuries after her death. Active during the Catholic Reformation, she reformed the Carmelite Orders of both women and men. The movement she initiated was later joined by the younger Spanish Carmelite friar and mystic John of the Cross. It led eventually to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites. A formal papal decree adopting the split from the old order was issued in 1580.
Her written contributions, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are today an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature. Together with The Way of Perfection, her works form part of the literary canon of Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practice, and continue to attract interest from people both within and outside the Catholic Church.
Both Simon and Jude were ordinary men who were chosen by Jesus himself to teach others about God’s love and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Their lives help us to understand that even the most average people can become saints when they decide to follow Jesus. Both of these men were known by other names during their lives. Simon was often called “the Zealot.” A zealot is a person who is strongly committed to something. In Simon’s case, he firmly believed in the importance of people following Jewish law. Once he met Jesus, his life was changed. Simon is the patron saint of woodcutters, tanners and sawyers.
Jude was also known as “Jude Thaddeus.” People used this formal title so that he was not confused with Judas, the Iscariot. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases and desperate situations. People often pray to Jude when they feel that there is no one else to turn to. They ask Jude to bring their problem to Jesus.
Simon and Jude travelled together to teach others about Jesus. Because of their eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ miracles and his death and Resurrection, many people became believers and were baptized. Simon and Jude died for their faith on the same day in Beirut. Jude’s body was later returned to Rome where it was buried in a crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica.
The 6th December is the memorial of St Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, merchants, repentant thieves, archers, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students. We know very little about him. He was born (c. 270) into an affluent Greek family in Myra (now Demre, in Turkey) and, after becoming a priest at an early age, became Bishop of that area, where he served his flock until his death c.343.
Over the centuries, many tales have been told about his life and miracles, although there is little evidence that support the claims made for him in most of them.
The most famous story is about how he rescued three sisters from the threat of becoming prostitutes. He heard about a devout man who had lost all his money; his three daughters had no dowry and no prospects of marriage. Instead, they would be sold into prostitution. Rather than humiliate the man by a display of his generosity, Nicholas visited the man’s house over three nights and, on each occasion, threw a bag of gold coins through an external window. This meant that the girls would each have a dowry and could marry.
From this and other tales, he became renowned for his generosity, modesty and discretion.
St Nicholas’ descendant is, of course, Santa Claus, who “secretly” visits families at Christmas to give them gifts. The commercial world has kidnapped Santa, and Saint Nicholas’ purpose in helping the poor has disappeared under an avalanche of goods.
This misses the point. St Nicholas was motivated by two things: first, following Christ in aiding the poor; second, following Christ in respecting the poor. So, as you go about giving presents this year, think like St Nicholas, not ‘Santa’, and seek out someone who needs your gift. This doesn’t have to be money. ... A CAFOD World Gift can change the life of a poor person elsewhere. Or again, ten minutes talking to a lonely person may be a bigger, better gift than a box of chocolates. Time spent with others can be more blessed than an iWatch! This is not about doing something ‘nice’ because it is Christmas. Advent begins the Church’s year. Although we are halfway through it, it is not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution to follow Jesus across the coming year by using St Nicholas as a guide.
Advent and Christmas could be the time when we begin St Nicholas’ journey. He didn’t restrict generosity to this season! It is not unknown for parents to have to take on the Santa role, given the world-wide jobs commercialisation demands of him. If you are one such parent, why not be St Nicholas as well? You can the children about him and his quiet generosity, seeking God’s blessing on what he did, and not the applause of the crowd. You can tell them what you and the family have done to aid and respect the vulnerable, through prayer, companionship and other gifts.
On December 14, 1591, just before midnight, John of the Cross was dying. He asked to have "Song of Songs" read to him. While listening, he was heard to say, "So beautiful are the flowers!' And then he died.
Born in 1541, St. John of the Cross grew up in poverty and was drawn to the contemplative life. His soul so longed for mystical union with God that his piety offended members of his order, including its head. The turning point of his life came in 1567 when he met Teresa of Avila, a kindred spirit who was looking for a partner in her Carmelite reform movement. She appointed him prior of the first community of discalced friars. Later, John of the Cross served as a spiritual director at her convent. John wrote: "Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love." In 1577, he was imprisoned for nine months during which he wrote about his "dark night of the soul." He became renowned as a mystic and poet. He celebrated his love for God through glorifying the love between the three persons of the Trinity. In the extract below he sings of the Father’s love for His Son and for those who love his Son:
“You are the brilliance of my light
My wisdom and My power divine,
The figure of my substance bright
In whom I am well pleased to shine!
The man who loves you, O my Son,
To Him Myself I will belong.
The Love that in Yourself I won
I’ll plant in him and root it strong,
Because he loved the very one
I loved so deeply and so long.”
St John of the Cross: The Poems translated by Roy Campbell • The Harvill Press 21000
Stand Up! Kneel! Stand Up!
It is something of an oddity that we celebrate St Stephen’s feast day at Christmas, some thirty years before he was martyred. Yet, it is in the third week of Eastertide where we read of his reproof of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council which had accused him of “speaking against this holy place (The Temple) and the law”.
In his response he turned the tables on his accusers, claiming that they were the ones who, with their ancestors, resisted the Holy Spirit and persecuted prophets. Naturally this did not go down well, and the council members drove him from Jerusalem and stoned him to death.
What Stephen did before the council was to stand up to those who had been responsible for the legal murder of Jesus. You have become his betrayers, his murderers.” [Acts 7,51-8.1] As such it is a message to all Christians to stand up in defence of our Saviour. The stones we face today are the jibes, lies, and objections hurled at Our Lord and at us, his followers, each ‘stone’ intended to hurt with dismissal, denial and claims that our faith has no meaning or goodness.
As the stones rained down on him, Stephen knelt in prayer: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” [Acts ibid.] Even as an agonising death overtook him, he called for mercy on his persecutors, as Christ did on the Cross.
Before this, Stephen had been an active follower standing for Christ, busy in synagogue and meeting places bringing the Good News to fellow Jews and irritating the Establishment to the point where they decided to get rid of him.
In these ways - standing up to Christianity’s opponents, being humble in praying for their salvation and standing amongst non-believers proclaiming the Good News - he is the very model of an active Christian we should all aim to be.
He was an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity throughout the British Isles and particularly in East Anglia. Born in Ireland, he established a monastery at Rathmat, on the shores of Loch Corrib, and then journeyed to England where he founded another at Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth. Remembered especially on January 16th.
St Antony is the originator of the monastic life. He was born in Egypt: when his parents died, he listened to the words of the Gospel and gave all his belongings to the poor. He went out into the wilderness to begin a life of penitence, living in absolute poverty, praying, meditating, and supporting himself by manual work.
He suffered many temptations, both physical and spiritual, but he overcame them. Disciples gathered round him, attracted by his wisdom, moderation, and holiness. He lived to be 105, and died in 356.
Remembered especially on January 17th.
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