St. Agnes

St. Agnes († 304) was a Roman girl who was only thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom for her Faith. Agnes had made a promise, a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.”

Procop, the Governor’s son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!” In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy.

He sent her to a house of prostitution to be tempted. The men who saw her there were afraid to touch her because they saw her courage. It is said one man looked at her with lust in his heart and he was struck blind. Agnes was said to have prayed for him and he regained his sight.

At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. “I would offend my Spouse,” she said, “if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.

The name Agnes means lamb. Often used as a sign of gentleness and innocence. She died in 304 and is the Patroness of young girls.

(Thank you to UCatholic)

Some wise words from Bishop Soto from Sacramento:

“Caring for the poor is not just something nice the church does; it’s a part of who we are and essential to the church’s saving work.

The Catholic Church lives out this call every day, assisting millions of people every year through social services including food banks, counseling, shelter, and other efforts of Catholic Charities. The current socio-economic situation also calls for more dynamic responses, working at every level of society to create decent jobs, ensure safe and affordable housing, protect immigrant rights, and much more. Last year, CCHD provided over $7.5 million to 230 organizations across the country to do this.”

If you are interested in more of the article, check it out here.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa (b.335  – d. 394) The son of two saints, Basil and Emmilia, young Gregory was raised by his older brother, St. Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in modern-day Turkey. Gregory’s success in his studies suggested great things were ahead for him. After becoming a professor of rhetoric, he was persuaded to devote his learning and efforts to the Church. By then married, Gregory went on to study for the priesthood and become ordained (this at a time when celibacy was not a matter of law for priests).

He was elected Bishop of Nyssa (in Lower Armenia) in 372, a period of great tension over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Briefly arrested after being falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory was restored to his see in 378, an act met with great joy by his people.

It was after the death of his beloved brother, Basil, that Gregory really came into his own. He wrote with great effectiveness against Arianism and other questionable doctrines, gaining a reputation as a defender of orthodoxy. He was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of prominence at the Council of Constantinople. His fine reputation stayed with him for the remainder of his life, but over the centuries it gradually declined as the authorship of his writings became less and less certain. But, thanks to the work of scholars in the 20th century, his stature is once again appreciated. Indeed, St. Gregory of Nyssa is seen not simply as a pillar of orthodoxy but as one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and to monasticism itself.

(Thank you to UCatholic)

A Notable Norbertine: Heřman Josef Tyl, O.Praem

Notable Norbertines Series:
Heřman Josef Tyl, O.Praem (1914 – 1993), was born in Cakov (Czec Republic), entered the novitiate of the Premonstratensian (Norbertine) Order, was ordained a priest in 1940 at the Abbey of Teplá, (founded in 1193), and eventually became Prior of his community. In 1942 he was arrested by the Gestapo and survived the concentration camps of Auschwitz (Oswiecim) and Buchenwald.
In 1948 the Communist Regime unleashed a war against churches and religious orders. All assets belonging to Teplá Abbey were nationalized and served as barracks for the Czechoslovak People’s Army for 28 years. Prior Heřman Josef, along with fellow Premonstratensians were arrested and served many years in a communist concentration camp. Although he was deprived of permission to perform religious activities, he managed to encourage and maintain his community secretly. In 1988, the underground religious community secretly elected him Abbot of Teplá.
Once set free, Prior Tyl concentrated his efforts on reviving his community’s spiritual life and in December 1989, Abbot Heřman Josef Tyl served the first mass in his Abbey church, opening a new chapter in the life of the Premonstratensian canons in Teplá. On July 19, 1990, Tepla Abbey was officially returned to the Premonstratensian Order.

(Thank you to Daylesford Abbey)

St. Apollinaris

St. Apollinaris was one of the most illustrious bishops of the second century. Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, and others speak of him in the highest terms, and they furnish us with the few facts that are known of him. He addressed an “Apology,” that is, a defense, of the Christian religion to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who, shortly before, had obtained a signal victory over the Quadi, a people inhabiting the country now called Moravia.

One of his legions, the twelfth, was composed chiefly of Christians. When the army was perishing for want of water, the soldiers of this legion fell upon their knees and invoked the assistance of God. The result was sudden, for a copious rain fell, and, aided by the storm, they conquered the Germans. The emperor gave this legion the name “Thundering Legion” and mitigated his persecution.

It was to protect his flock against persecution that St. Apollinaris, who was bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, addressed his apology to the Emperor to implore his protection and to remind him of the favor he had received from God through the prayers of the Christians. The date of the death of St. Apollinaris is not known, but it probably occurred before that of Marcus Aurelius, about the year 175.

(Thank you to UCatholic)

Brother Andre Bessette

Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph.

Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.

At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years,” he said.

In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.

When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

He is buried at the Oratory. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Andre “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”

(Thank you to American Catholic . Org)

John Newumann

“Perhaps because the United States got a later start in the history of the world, it has relatively few canonized saints, but their number is increasing.

John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic. After studying in Prague, he came to New York at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary work in New York until he was 29, when he joined the Redemptorists and became its first member to profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio, where he became popular with the Germans.

At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into a diocesan one, increasing the number of pupils almost twentyfold within a short time.

Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of sisters and the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial movement.

Well-known for his holiness and learning, spiritual writing and preaching, on October 13, 1963, John Neumann became the first American bishop to be beatified. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.”

(Thank you to American Catholic . Org)

Having visited the National Shrine of St. John Neumann, I was struck by the witness and example he continues to give to the people of Philadelphia.  Many of the students who we took to the Shrine on our week-long service immersion trip to Philadelphia – Localitas – commented on how moving it was to see and experience the life of a relatively modern saint.

Elizabeth Ann Seton – An American Saint

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Today we remember St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 – 1821). She was born in New York into an Episcopalian family, who ostracized her and left her penniless when she became a Catholic in 1805. She had to leave New York and in 1808-9 she founded a religious community and a school for poor children at Emmitsburg, near Baltimore in Maryland. Mother Seton died in 1821 but the Sisters of Charity continue her work to this day.

(Thank you to Daylesford Abbey)

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus on Jan. 3 is another beautiful celebration honoring Our Lord during the Christmas season. Reverence for the Holy Name is found in the Old Testament in Psalms such as 99:3 — “Let them praise your great and awesome name; holy is he!” — and in Mary’s Magnificat, she prays, “… and holy is his name.” Let us follow St. Paul’s instruction in Philippians 2:9-11: “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

(Thank you to Daylesford Abbey)

St. Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law.

Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years. He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesarea. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity.

This earned for him the title of “Great” during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death. He was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts.

Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity.

(Thank you to uCatholic)