Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Feast of the Holy Innocents

December 28

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Wise Men, or Magi came from the east to worship him. They went to Herod, the king, looking for the newborn king of the Jews, the Savior.

Herod was a very bad man. When he heard that these Wise Men were looking for a newborn king, he began to worry about losing his throne.

But he did not let the Wise Men know what he was thinking. He called in his chief priests and asked them where the Bible says the Messiah was to be born. They answered: Bethlehem.

"Go and find out about this child," the wicked king said to the Wise Men. "When you have found out where he is, come and tell me. Then I, too, will go and worship him."

The Wise Men agreed and continued on their way, following the star. They found Jesus the Messiah, with Mary and Joseph. They adored him and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

But in their sleep an angel warned them not to go back to Herod. Then an angel asked Saint Joseph to take Mary and Baby Jesus into Egypt. In this way, God spoiled Herod's plans to harm little Baby Jesus.

When Herod realized that the Wise Men had not come back to him, he became very angry. He was an evil, horrible man, and now the fear of losing his throne made him worse.

He sent his soldiers to kill all the little baby boys of Bethlehem in the hope of killing Jesus too. The soldiers had to obey his order. There was great sorrow in the little town of Bethlehem, as mothers wept when their beloved babies were killed.

These little children are honored today by the Church as martyrs. They are called the Holy Innocents.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas- The Birth of Jesus

December 25

About two thousand years ago, in the town of Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter. One day an angel appeared before her and told her she had been chosen to have a special baby. The baby would be God's son and she must call him Jesus. Soon after the angel's visit, Mary and Joseph were married.

Mary was due to have her baby when they were told they had to go on a long journey to Bethlehem, which was where Joseph came from.This was because they had to pay a special tax. Mary had to ride on a donkey for a few days over the hills of Gallilee.

At last Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. It was crowded with other people who needed to pay their taxes. Mary was very tired and needed a place to stay. At each inn, the story was the same. There was no room for them. Eventually, , one kind innkeeper said he had a stable where he kept his animals. They were welcome to stay there.

And so it was that a few hours later, Mary gave birth to her son in that stable. She wrapped Jesus in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger full of hay.

At the same time, on a hillside overlooking Bethlehem, some shepherds were watching over their sheep. A bright light appeared in the sky. They were very afraid. It was an angel sent by God. The angel told them not to be afraid, because he had some good news. He said the Son of God had been born and they would find Him in Bethlehem.

The shepherds wanted to go and see the baby. When they arrived at the stable, they were filled with joy at seeing Jesus lying in the manger. They knelt down and worshipped Him. They told Mary and Joseph how the angel had appeared in the sky and told them that Jesus was to be the Savior of the world.

Then they went away giving praise and glory to God.

The great prophets of the Old Testament had been comforted by the thought that someday the Savior would come into the world. Now he had been born among us. Christ came for all of us.
The Bible says: "God so loved the world that he sent his only-begotten Son."

We must rejoice because we know that as always, God had kept his wonderful promise!

We have Jesus' teachings, his Church and Jesus himself on our altars at every Mass. Christmas is the time when we realize more than ever how much God loves us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Saint Agatha

Agatha was very beautiful and lived in Sicily in the third century. The governor heard how beautiful she was and brought her to his palace. He wanted to make her commit sins, but she was brave and would not give in.

She prayed, "My Lord Jesus Christ, you see my heart and you know my desire. I am all yours. Save me from this evil man. Make me worthy of winning out over the devil."

The governor then sent Agatha to the house of a wicked woman and hoped she would become bad too. Agatha had great trust in God and prayed all the time. She kept herself pure. She would not listen to the evil ideas of the woman and her daughters.

After a month, she was brought back to the governor. He tried again to win her. "You are a noblewoman," he said kindly. "Why have you lowered yourself to be a humble Christian?"

"Even though I am a noble," answered Agatha, "I am a slave of Jesus Christ." "Then what does it really mean to be noble?" the governor asked. Agatha answered, "It means to serve God."
When he realized that she would not sin, the governor became angry. He had Agatha whipped and tortured.

Agatha soon died a martyr at Catania, Sicily, in the year 250.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saint Martha

Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus who lived in the little town of Bethany near Jerusalem. They were dear friends of Jesus, and he often visited them. In the Gospel of St. John we see: "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary and Lazarus."

It was St. Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples. She realized that the task would be easier if her sister Mary would help instead of sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, listening to him.

"Lord, tell my sister to help me," Martha suggested. Jesus was very pleased with Martha's loving service but he wanted her to know that listening to God's Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part."

St. Martha's great faith in Jesus was seen when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She trusted Jesus and said to him: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, "He who believes in me, even if he dies, shall live. Do you believe this?" Martha answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world." Jesus worked a great miracle and raised Lazarus from the dead!

Later, Jesus came again to have supper with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. St. Martha served them at table as always. This time, though, Martha did it lovingly and served them with a joyful heart.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Saint Briget of Sweden

Bridget was born in Uppsala, Sweden. Her mother Ingeborg was a holy woman and her father Birger Persson, who had royal ancestors, was a rich landowner. He was also the governor and provincial judge of Uppland. From the time she was a child, Bridget received visions of Jesus.

When she was only ten, she saw Jesus on the cross and hear him say, "Look at me, my daughter." "Who has treated you like this?" cried little Bridget. "They who despise me and refuse my love for them," answered Jesus. From then on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus.

Her mother died when she was twelve and she was brought up by her good aunt. When she was fourteen, she married eighteen-year-old prince Ulf of Nercia. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St. Catherine of Sweden.

Bridget and Ulf served the Swedish court. Bridget was the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur and she tried to help and guide King Magnus and the queen lead better lives. All her life, Bridget had visions and received special messages from God. She obeyed God's commands and visited many rulers, two popes, priests and other important people in the Church, humbly explaining what God wanted them to do.

After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes and lived as a poor nun. This did not please the people at the king's court. Later, she started the order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own busy life, traveling about doing good everywhere. And Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her which she received with all humility.

Before she died, Bridget went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in that place. She encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion of Jesus Crucified. All St. Bridget's revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Saint Judith of Prussia

Judith was born in Thuringia which is now central Germany. Her family was rich but she wanted to follow the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. In Judith's time, many Christian women were influenced by her inspiring example.

When she was fifteen, Judith was married to a wealthy young nobleman. She tried to be a good Christian wife and was very generous with the poor. Her husband was a good man, but he was happy with his rich and comfortable life.

He also wanted his wife to dress and live like a rich woman so that people would respect them. Judith gently made him realize that they would have more to give to people less fortunate than themselves if they lived and dressed more simply.

Judith's husband died suddenly while he was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As a young widow Judith raised her children alone. When the children grew up, Judith finally gave in to a longing that had been hidden in her heart even during the busy, happy days of her life.

She sold everything she had and moved to Prussia where people would not know that she was from a wealthy family. There she lived as a hermit in a little hut and spent her time praying and taking care of weary travelers who passed by.

She prayed especially for nonbelievers to come to Jesus in faith and for the newly baptized Christians to be true to their faith.

"Three things can lead us close to God," she once said. "They are painful physical suffering, being in exile in a foreign land, and being poor by choice because of love for God."

St. Judith died of fever in 1260 and was named the patroness of Prussia.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Saint Emily de Vialar

Anne Marguerite Adelaide Emily de Vialar was born in southern France. She was the only daughter of Baron James Augustine de Vialar and Antoinette. Her wealthy parents sent her to school in Paris but at the age of fifteen, she returned to her small town of Gaillac when her mother died.

Her father was interested in finding a suitable husband for his daughter. He became very angry when Emily flatly refused to marry because she wanted to be a religious sister and give her life to God.

When Emily was twenty-one, a new priest, Father Mercier, arrived in Gaillac. Emily went to him for direction as she wanted to help the poor and the sick. Father Mercier helped her set up an out-patient service right on the terrace of the de Vialar home.

Emily's father was upset by all the bother and this tense situation between Emily and her father existed for fifteen years. Then Emily's grandfather, the Baron de Portal, died leaving Emily a large fortune. At last she could have the independence she needed to begin her great work for God.

With the help of Father Mercier, Emily bought a large house in her hometown. She and three other women began a religious order. They designed a habit and chose the name “Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition”.

The archbishop blessed their congregation and ministry. These sisters would be care for the sick and poor, and educate children. Twelve young women joined the group within three months. Sister Emily pronounced her vows in 1835 along with seventeen other sisters.

The Sisters of St. Joseph started branch convents. In 1847, the sisters went to Burma and in 1854, to Australia. In forty years, Mother Emily saw her congregation grow from the patio of her home to some forty convents around the world.

Mother Emily wrote many letters which showed her great love for God, for his Church and for people. She saw in her heart people everywhere who needed the truth of the Gospel and the love that Christ brings.

Mother Emily died on August 24, 1856.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite was born in France, and was the sixth of twelve children. Her parents were devout people and lived holy lives. When Marguerite was nineteen, her mother died. She took care of her younger brothers and sisters. Her father then died when she was twenty-seven.

When the family was raised, Marguerite prayed to know what to do with her life. The governor of Montreal, Canada, was visiting France. He was looking for teachers and he invited Marguerite to come to Montreal to teach school and religion classes. She said yes.

Marguerite gave away all her belongings to other members of the family. They couldn't believe that she would really leave their civilized country to go to a wild new country across the ocean.

She set sail on June 20, 1653, and arrived in Canada in mid-November. Marguerite began the construction of a chapel in honor Our Lady of Good Help in 1657. Then in 1658, she opened her first school.

Marguerite needed the help of more teachers. She returned to France in 1659 and returned with four companions. In 1670, she returned to France again and brought back six companions. These brave women became the first sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

St. Marguerite and her sisters helped people in the colony survive when food was scarce. They opened a vocational school and taught young people how to run a home and farm.

St. Marguerite's congregation was growing. By 1681 there were eighteen sisters. Seven were Canadian. They opened more missions and two sisters taught at the Indian mission. Marguerite herself received the first two Indian women into the congregation.

When Mother Marguerite was seventy three years old, she handed over her congregation to the new superior Marie Barbier, who the first Canadian to join the order. St. Marguerite's religious rule was approved by the Church in 1698.

Marguerite spent her last few years praying and writing an autobiography. On December 31, 1699, a young sister lay dying. Mother Marguerite asked the Lord to take her life in exchange.

By the morning of January 1, 1700, the sister was completely well and Mother Marguerite had a very high fever. She suffered for twelve days and died on January 12, 1700.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Saint Anthony the Abbot

Anthony was born in Egypt. When he was twenty years old, his parents died. They left him a large estate and placed him in charge of the care of his young sister. Anthony felt overwhelmed and turned to God in prayer.

He soon became more and more aware of the power of God in his life. About six months later, he heard this quotation of Jesus from the Gospel: "Go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Mark 10:21).

He took the words as a personal message in answer to his prayer for guidance. He made sure that his sister completed her education, then sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned and gave the money to the poor and to the people who needed it.

Anthony's sister joined a group of women living a life of prayer and contemplation. Anthony decided to become a hermit. Then at the age of thirty-five he moved alone to the desert, living in an abandoned fort and began his own life of prayer and penance alone with God.

He devoted himself to prayer and penance. For more than twenty years Anthony was tempted by the devil, but he overcame temptation by prayer and sacrifice.

By the time he was fifty-five, people found out where he was and began coming to him for healing and for spiritual counseling. Finally, Anthony built two monasteries on the Nile, one at Pispir and one at Arsinoe. The monks and people who lived around him supported themselves by making and selling baskets and brushes.

Many people heard of him and came to him looking for advice. He would give them practical advice such as: "The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross."

He consented to guide them in holiness. He started the first monastery, so people call him the father of monastic life and the patriarch of monks. His miracles drew so many people so he left and went into the desert again, where he lived by hard work and prayer.

Anthony died at the age of 105 after a long, prayerful life in 356.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Souls Day

November 2

This feast day is one of the most loving celebrations in the Church's liturgy.

It is the day that we especially remember all those who have passed from this life into the next. Today we stop to remember all who have died especially our relatives and friends.

We pray for those who taught us good things and made sacrifices for us. We pray for those who prayed for us while they were on this earth. We pray for the most forgotten souls. We pray for those who had great responsibilities while they were on earth.

We remember the holy souls in purgatory and we realize that they are saved and will go to heaven. Now they wait, being purified, until the moment when they can be with God, face to face.

We can offer the sacrifice of the Mass and pray for the suffering souls in purgatory to hasten their journey to God.

Eternal Rest

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,and let perpetual light shine upon them.May they rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Saints Day

November 1

As Catholics, we celebrate All Saints and All Souls Day. We recall to mind our beloved dead with beautiful Masses and customs worldwide in their honor. The Church chose this feast to honor God in His Saints. We thank God as the creator of all holiness and for the graces He has showered upon them.

The communion of saints is made up of all true children of God. They are the:

· the militant Church on earth
· the suffering Church in purgatory or
· the triumphant Church in heaven

Some saints needed to pass through purgatory to be purified before they were fit for the Lord's presence. They stayed there until they were ready to see God. They are with him now forever.

Some saints have their own feast day but there are not enough days in the year to celebrate a special day for each of the saints. So on this special day we celebrate and honor all the Saints.

Some stayed close to God all their lives. Others found Him along the way. Some led good lives without too much difficulty. Others made big mistakes, but were truly sorry for their sins and drew close to God.

But you know what? They made it! And so can we! We celebrate their journey that led to eternal happiness with God.

Today we rejoice in our hearts with all the saints in heaven. Remember to thank them too, for helping us overcome our difficulties and temptations. Ask them to help you on your journey through life so that you can be saints like them and go to heaven.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saint Anthony Claret

Anthony was born at Sallent, Spain, in 1807. In 1835 he became a priest and was sent to his home parish. Later he went to Rome and worked to help the missions. He joined the Jesuits as a novice, but he became ill.

In 1849, he founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The institute is known by his name as "the Claretians." Father Claret was appointed Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba.

Archbishop Anthony visited parishes, speaking out against social evils, especially slavery. He blessed marriages and baptized children. He made many changes in Cuba, but this made him many enemies.

His work for the church was cut short by men who tried to take his life. Here he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are known as the Claretians.

Father Anthony knew how powerful books were to reach people and he wrote at least 150 books. His most well-known book, The Right Way, has reached millions of people.

At the request of Pope Pius IX, he returned to Spain and devoted himself to missionary work and the spreading of good literature. He was a dedicated preacher in his parish. He gave conferences to priests. His zeal inspired other priests to join in the same work.

In the course of his life he is said to have preached ten thousand sermons and to have published two hundred books or pamphlets for both priests and lay people.

He spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Heart of Mary by his preaching and writings. God rewarded Anthony with the gift of propecy and miracles.

St. Anthony died in a Cistercian monastery in France on October 24, 1870. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Saint Andrew

Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. They grew up to become fishermen. When Andrew heard the great St. John the Baptist preach, he became his disciple.

When Jesus came to be baptized, John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God," Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John and followed Jesus.

Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him and turning back, asked why he was being followed. Andrew said that he would like to know where Jesus lived. Jesus warmly invited him to, "Come and see."

Andrew had been with Jesus only a short while when he realized that this was truly the Messiah and he became the first disciple of Christ. Andrew told his brother Peter, "We have found the Messiah." And he led him to Jesus. The Lord welcomed Peter as his disciple.

At first the two brothers continued their fishing trade and family affairs. But they were not to remain fishermen but fishers of men. St. Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after Jesus died.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, St. Andrew preached the Gospel in Greece. There, he was put to death on a saltire cross (x shaped), to which he was tied, not nailed.

He lived two days in that state of suffering but still found enough strength to preach to the people who gathered around their beloved apostle.

St. Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Saint Ambrose

Ambrose was born in Gaul about the year 340 and was of a noble family. When his father died, his mother took her family back to Rome. She and her daughter, St. Marcellina, brought Ambrose up well.

He received a good education in Rome and became a poet and a famous speaker. When he moved to Milan he was appointed Governor. He was the bishop Milan at the age of thirty-four.

When the Bishop of Milan died, there was a big quarrel between the Arians and the Catholics in the Cathedral about who would become the next bishop. Ambrose quickly went to the Church and gave a speech begging both sides to stop fighting and make peace.

In those days the people used to suggest to the pope the name of the one they would like as bishop. To Ambrose's great surprise, the people of Milan were so impressed with his efforts to make peace that they immediately chose him as bishop. He tried to escape, but it seemed to be God's will and Ambrose became a priest and then bishop of Milan.

Ambrose was a great model and father to his people. He also resisted all evil with amazing courage. He faced an attacking army and convinced the leader to turn back.

He was not afraid to speak out on what was right and wrong. Ambrose showed the world that no human being, even if he or she is the Emperor, is higher than the Church and that everyone was the same in the eyes of God.

St. Augustine heard him speak and was converted by his sermons. He admitted Augustine to the Church. Ambrose's heart was filled with a gentle love.

People were afraid of what would happen to Italy when Ambrose died. When he became sick, they begged him to pray for a longer life.

Ambrose died on Good Friday in the year 397. He left us many important writings on the doctrines of our Holy Faith. The Church honors him as one of her greatest Doctors and defenders. This is the reason why he is pictured holding a church in his hand. The beehive means wisdom.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saint Lucy

This beloved Saint was born and lived in Syracuse, Sicily. Lucy was the daughter of very noble and rich parents. Her father died when she was very young. Young Lucy secretly promised Jesus that she would never marry so that she could be his alone. She was a lovely girl, with beautiful eyes. More than one young noble set his heart on her.

Her mother Eutychia, begged her to marry a young pagan named Paschasius, whom she had chosen for Lucy. But for three years Lucy would not agree and was able to hold it off.

Lucy then thought of a plan to win her mother over. Her mother suffered from hemorrhages and Lucy convinced her to go to the shrine of St. Agatha and pray for her recovery.

When God heard their prayers and cured her mother, Lucy told her of her promise to be Christ's bride. Her grateful mother finally allowed Lucy to follow her vocation.

Paschasius was furious at losing his bride to be. In his bitter anger, he accused her of being a Christian. He threatened her with the frightening torture of being blinded. Lucy was even willing to lose both her eyes rather than belong to anyone but Jesus. And that is just what happened. Many statues show St. Lucy holding her lovely eyes in the palm of her hand.

Jesus rewarded Lucy for her heroic love. He worked a miracle and gave her back her eyes, more beautiful than ever.

The pagan judge tried to send Lucy to a house of sinful women. He hoped that Lucy might be tempted to give up Christ. But when they tried to carry her away, God made her body so heavy that they could not move her even with a team of oxen.

She was surrounded with bundles of wood which they set on fire, but the fire went out. In the end, she was stabbed and became a martyr for Jesus in the year 304.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Saint Tarcisius

Tarcisius lived in Rome and served at Holy Mass in the catacombs. The catacombs is where the Christians worshipped God because they were persecuted by the pagans.

One day while Tarcisius was carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the martyrs in prison, he was caught and beaten to death. He refused to give up the Eucharist. Tarcisius died a boy martyr of the Holy Eucharist.

Tarcisius’s life shows us ho much the early Christians loved the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Mass and the Eucharist gave them strength to die for their Faith. He teaches us, children and adults, to love Jesus in the Eucharist as our best friend.

Remember to ask Saint Tarcisius to help us have a greater love and devotion to Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Saint John Baptiste De La Salle

John was the eldest of ten children of a wealthy and noble family. He was destined for the priesthood at age 10 and began to prepare for the Holy Priesthood when he was 11 years old.

He went to the seminary in Paris, but after the death of his parents he had to leave to look after his brothers and sisters. A few years later he returned to his studies and was ordained. He was admired for his great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

John was asked to help in two schools in which the teachers were trying to educate their students free of charge. He helped the teachers for four years, and then decided to spend his life with them.

He gave away the fortune his parents had left him. He and the young men then took vows to become teachers and teach all their lives. This was the beginning of the congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or Christian Brothers.

During his lifetime, John introduced new methods of education. He divided the students into grades and started the first school to train teachers. He also started high schools and technical schools where children might learn a trade. He is often called the "father of modern education."

Saint John died at Rouen in 1719 and was canonized in 1900.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Saint Stephen

Stephen's name means crown. He was the first disciple who died for his faith in Jesus. As chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles tells us, Stephen was chosen as a deacon in the early Church.

Peter and the apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through Stephen. He spoke with such wisdom and grace that many people who heard him, became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was.

They could not answer his wise arguments, so they laid a plot and got men to lie about him. These men said that he had spoken sinfully against God. He faced the great gathering of enemies without any fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

Stephen spoke about Jesus, showing that he is the Savior God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him.

But Stephen looked up to heaven. He said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. His enemies closed their ears and refused to listen to another word.

They dragged him outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The Saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" and he fell to his knees but begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Saint John of the Cross

John was born in Spain and was the son of a weaver. He went to a school for poor children and became a servant to the director of the hospital at Medina. For seven years, John cared for the poor in the hospital while also studying at a Jesuit college.

Even as a youth, he liked to do penance as he understood the value of offering up sufferings for the love of Jesus. Because of this great love of God John joined the Lay Carmelite order as a brother when he was twenty-one.

With St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross was chosen by God to bring a new spirit of eagerness among religious. But his life was full of tests and trials.

Although he opened new monasteries where people followed his holy way of life, they found fault with him and thought that some of his ideas were too strict. He was even thrown into prison and made to suffer terribly. At one time, when he had fierce temptations, God seemed to have left him alone and he suffered alot.

Yet when these storms of trouble passed, the Lord rewarded his faithful servant. He gave him deep peace and joy of heart and John was very close to his God. In fact, Mother Mary herself showed John how to escape from his prison cell.

Saint John had a wonderful way with sinners. Once a beautiful but sinful woman tried to make him do wrong. He talked to her and she decided to change her life. Another lady had such a bad temper that she was nicknamed "the terrible" and St. John was easily able to calm her down by his kind manners.

John asked God to let him suffer every day for love of Jesus. And to reward him, Jesus showed himself to St. John in a special way.

Saint John is famous for his spiritual books, which show us how to grow close to God. He died on December 14, 1591 and is now known as a Doctor of the Church.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher was a very big, brave, strong soldier. His name was Offero, and he lived in the land of Chanaan. Looking for adventure, he left his native land saying, "I will roam through the whole world in search of the mightiest of kings, and be his servant."

He came at last upon a hermit who guarded a dangerous passage across a stream, and guided travelers to a place where they could cross with safety. This man of God instructed the giant about our Lord, the greatest King. Offero settled down near the stream and carried travelers across on his shoulders to serve the great King.

One day he carried a little boy on his shoulders. The water began to rise while the boy on his shoulders grew heavier. Offero cried out, "Child you are very heavy! I feel as if I were carrying the whole world upon my shoulders."

The little boy answered smiling, "You are carrying more than the world; you are carrying Him who created heaven and earth."

Saying these words, the boy dipped His hand into the water and baptized Offero. Since then he is called Christopher or Christ-bearer.

Saint Christopher died a martyr.He is Patron Saint of travelers especially motorists.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Saint Peter Claver

Peter Claver was born at Verdu, Catalonia in Spain and was the son of a farmer. At a very young age he decided he wanted to join the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, and be a priest.

At the age of 20, while he was still studying at the University of Barcelona to become a Jesuit, he felt a great desire to go to South America as a missionary. He was sent to the seaport of Cartagena where great shiploads of African slaves were brought to be sold.

At the sight of those poor people all crowded together, sick and suffering, Peter felt great pity. He made up his mind to help them and bring them to Jesus.

As soon as a shipload arrived, he would go among the hundreds of sick slaves and gave them food and medicine. He baptized the dying and the little babies. He nursed the ill. It was hard work in terrible heat.

One man who went once with St. Peter to help these people found he could not face the heart-breaking sight again. Yet Peter did it for forty years. He baptized about three hundred thousand people. He was there when the ships came in to care for and love those who were treated so cruelly.

Although the slave owners tried to stop Father Claver, he taught the faith to the slaves anyway. It was slow work that could often be disappointing. Many people found fault with him, saying it was all a waste of time.

They thought the slaves would never keep the faith. But he was patient and he trusted that God would bless his people. The priest never stopped asking the slave owners to take care of the souls of their slaves and to be better Christians themselves.

During the last four years of his life, Father Claver was so sick that he had to stay in his room, he could not even celebrate Mass. Most people forgot about him, but he never complained.

When he died on September 8, 1654, it was like the whole city woke up. They realized that they had lost a saint. From then on he was never forgotten again and was called the Slave of Slaves.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Saint Aloysius, the patron of Catholic youth, was born in a castle in Italy. He was so full of life that his father who was a big gambler decided to make a great soldier out of him. When Aloysius was just five, his father took him to the army camp.

Little Aloysius marched in parades and even managed to load and fire a gun one day while the army was at rest. He learned rough language from the soldiers. When he found out what the words meant, he felt very bad that he used them.

As he grew up, Aloysius was sent to the courts of dukes and princes. Telling lies, fighting and living a bad life of sin were common in the court. But all this only made Aloysius more careful to live his life as a good Christian. He became sick with a kidney disease. He felt this was a blessing from God as it gave him an excuse to spend time praying and reading good books.

When Aloysius was sixteen, he decided to become a Jesuit priest. At first, his father refused to give him permission but after three years when he found he could not change his son’s mind, he finally agreed. He taught catechism to poor street boys and signed all his wealth over to his brother.

Once Aloysius joined the order, he asked to do hard and humble tasks. He served in the kitchen and washed the dishes. He wanted to make his life pure by doing penance. When the plague broke out in Rome, Aloysius asked if he could care for the sick. He was used to his servants doing everything for him but he gladly washed the sick and made their beds.

He served them until he caught the sickness. Before he died, he said simply, "I am going to heaven." St. Aloysius was only twenty-three when he died on the night of June 20, 1591. The body of St. Aloysius Gonzaga is buried in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Saint Pius X

This great Pope was born in Riese, in Italy. His father was a mailman and named him Joseph Sarto, although he was affectionately called "Beppi."

Joseph felt that God wanted him to be a priest, and had to make many sacrifices to be able to study so he could be a priest. But he didn't mind. He even walked miles to school barefoot to save his one good pair of shoes.

After he became a priest, Father Sarto labored for the people in poor parishes for seventeen years. Everybody loved him. He used to give away everything he had to help them. His sisters had to hide his shirts or he would have had nothing to wear.

Even when Father Joseph became a Bishop, and later a Cardinal, he still gave away what he owned to the poor. He kept nothing for himself.

When Pope Leo XIII died in 1903, Cardinal Sarto was chosen pope. He took the name of Pius X.

He became known as the pope who loved the Holy Eucharist. Pope Pius X encouraged people to receive Jesus as often as they could. He also made a law permitting young children to receive Holy Communion too. Before that time, boys and girls had to wait many years before they could receive the Lord.

He believed in and loved our Catholic faith and taught the people more about the faith. He wanted every Catholic to share in the beauty of the truths of our faith. He really cared about every single person and their spiritual and material needs. He encouraged priests and religion teachers to help everyone learn about their faith.

When the terrible World War I broke out, Pope Pius X suffered greatly. He knew so many people would be killed. He said: "I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this horrible suffering."

Toward the end of his life, he said: "I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor." He did so much to help the poor that people wondered where all the money came from. He never kept anything for himself, right to the end of his life. Pope Pius X died on August 20, 1914.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Saint Charles Borromeo

Charles was the son of a rich Italian count and the nephew of Pope Pius IV. Like other wealthy young men, he went to University. But he was different from most of the students there and refused to take part in sinful activities.

He seemed to be a slow student because he was not a good speaker, but he really made good progress and became a lawyer at the age of twenty-one.

He was only twenty-three when his uncle, Pope Pius IV, gave him many important duties, which Charles managed to handle well. He was afraid that he might stray from God because of the many temptations around him so he denied himself many pleasures. He also made a great effort to be humble and patient.

As a priest and later the cardinal archbishop of Milan, Saint Charles was a model for his people. He gave away great amounts of money to the poor. He had only one long black habit of his own. In public, he dressed grandly as a cardinal should and took great care to give dignity and respect to Church ceremonies.

In Milan, the people followed many bad practices and superstitions, false beliefs. By wise laws, gentle kindness and his own wonderful example, St. Charles made his diocese, the Churches that were under his care, a model for the whole Catholic Church.

He was never a good speaker, people could barely hear him but his words reached the hearts of the people. When a terrible disease caused many deaths in Milan, Cardinal Borromeo spent all his time caring for his people. He prayed and did penance. He organized crews of attendants and borrowed money to feed the hungry. He even had altars set up in the streets so that the sick could assist at Mass from their windows.

This great man was never too busy to help simple people. He once stayed with a little shepherd boy until he had taught him the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

As he lay dying at the age of forty-six, St. Charles said peacefully, "Behold, I come!" He died on November 3, 1584.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Saint Bernard

Bernard was born in France and had six brothers and sisters. They were very well educated. He was only 17 years old when his mother died and his heart was broken.

His lively sister Humbeline did not let him remain sad and she did whatever she could to cheer him up. Soon Bernard became a very popular man. He was handsome and intelligent, full of fun and good humor and people enjoyed being with him.

Bernard surprised all his friends by telling them he was going to join the very strict Cistercian order and become a Priest. They did all they could to make him give up the idea. But in the end, Bernard convinced his brothers, an uncle and twenty-six friends to join him.

As Bernard and his brothers left their home, they said to their little brother Nivard, who was playing with other children: "Good-bye, little Nivard. You will now have all the lands and property for yourself." But the boy answered: "What! How can all of you go to heaven and leave me here on earth? Do you call that fair?"

When Nivard was older he too joined his brothers in the monastery. Bernard became a very good monk. After three years, he was sent to start a new Cistercian monastery and to be its abbot, like a parish priest.

The new monastery was in the Valley of Light which in French is called "Clairvaux" and Bernard was the abbot there for the rest of his life. Although he would have liked to stay working and praying in his monastery, he was called out sometimes for special work. He preached, made peace between rulers, and went to advise the Pope.

He also wrote beautiful spiritual books. He became very famous and people everywhere had great respect for him. He did not want fame. More than anything else Bernard wanted to be a monk and be close to God.

Saint Bernard had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. It is said that when he passed her statue, he often greeted her with a "Hail Mary." One day, the Blessed Mother returned his greeting: "Hail, Bernard!" Our Lady showed how much his love and devotion pleased her.

When Saint Bernard died in 1153, the people were very sad because they would miss his wonderful presence in their life.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Saint Peter of Alcantara

Peter was born of noble parents at Alcantara in Spain. He entered the Order of Friars Minor when he was sixteen. Peter showed himself a model of all virtues, especially poverty and chastity, and brought numberless men from vice to repentance by preaching the word of God.

He was very eager to restore the original observance of St. Francis of Assisi. Peter built a very small and very poor monastery near Pedroso. The way of life there was very strict, and from the beginning it spread in a remarkable way.

Peter helped St. Teresa of Avila in promoting the Carmelite reform, having approved the spirit in which she had begun it. Teresa often referred to him as a saint even while he was still living. From her writings we learn that he was famous for the grace of contemplation and miracles, and was blessed with the gift of Prophecy and of the discernment of spirits.

He died at sixty-three, and Saint Teresa saw him in a vision, shining with wonderful glory.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Saint Margaret of Scotland

Margaret was an English princess who was born in Hungary and was the great-niece of Saint Stephen of Hungary. She and her mother sailed to Scotland to escape from the king who had conquered their land.

They got ship wrecked on the Scottish coast and King Malcolm of Scotland welcomed them. He fell in love with the beautiful princess and Margaret and Malcolm were soon married. They had eight children, six sons and two daughters and they loved their children very much.

Margaret changed her husband and the country for the better. Malcolm was good, but he and his court were very rough. When he saw how wise his wife was, he willingly listened to her good advice.

Margaret helped him control his temper and practice the Christian virtues. She made the court beautiful and civilized. The king and queen were wonderful examples because of the way they prayed together and treated each other. They fed crowds of poor people. They tried very hard to imitate Jesus in their own lives.

Margaret was a blessing for all the people of Scotland. Many people had bad habits that kept them from growing closer to God. Margaret worked hard to find good teachers to help the people correct their evil ways.

She and Malcolm had new churches built. She loved to make the churches beautiful to honor God. In fact, Queen Margaret embroidered some of the priests' robes herself.

Their youngest son became Saint David and one of their daughters Saint Maud. But Margaret had sorrows, too. She was very ill, and she learned that both her husband and her son, Edward, had been killed in battle. They died just four days before Margaret's death. She died on November 16, 1093.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Saint Rose of Viterbo

Rose was born in Viterbo, in Italy. During that time Emperor Frederick had conquered land that belonged to the Church. Rose's special mission as a teenager was to make the people of her own city and nearby cities remain faithful to the Holy Father the Pope. And this she did very well.

When she was eight years old, Rose was very sick and our Blessed Mother appeared to her and told her that she should wear the habit (uniform) of Saint Francis. Our Lady also told Rose to set a good example by her words and actions. Slowly Rose became strong and healthy again.

She began to think more and more about how much Jesus suffered for us and how much we had hurt him because of our sins. She prayed and made sacrifices to show Jesus how much she loved him.

Later on, this brave girl began to preach in the streets of the city. She told people not to agree with the emperor who had taken land from the Church. So many people listened to her advice that Rose's father became frightened. He told her he would beat her if she did not stop preaching. She was only thirteen years old, but she answered gently, "If Jesus was willing to be beaten for me, I can be beaten for him. I must do what Jesus has told me to do, and I will not disobey him."

For two more years Rose preached with such success that the enemies of the pope wanted to kill her. In the end, the emperor sent Rose and her parents out of the city. But Rose said that the emperor was going to die soon and that is exactly what happened.

When they returned to Viterbo, Rose was not allowed to become a nun, so she returned to her own home. There she died in 1252, when she was only seventeen. Her body is preserved and venerated in Viterbo.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saint Bonaventure

Saint Bonaventure was a great man of the Church because he loved God and spread this love to all he met.

When he was a little boy he got very sick and through praying to St. Francis of Assisi he was very quickly healed from his illness. This made Bonaventure love St. Francis so much he wanted to grow and join the Franciscan Order, which he did!

Bonaventure was also very smart but this did not make him boastful and instead he loved to pray in front of the Crucifix, this filled his heart with love for God and everyone he met.

Bonaventure not only joined the Franciscans he became its Minister General which put him in charge of his fellow Fransican Brothers.

Everyone loved Bonaventure because he was so kind and always so cheerful, this brought him many friends and admirers even the Pope admired this mans great love for God and the Church. This is why Pope Gregory X Ordained Bonaventure as Cardinal of Albano.

When sometimes his Franciscans brothers would fight and argue Bonaventure would write to them and try his hardest to make sure that everyone made peace with each other. He knew this would please its founder, St. Francis of Assisi.

Bonaventure worked very hard for the Church and for the Franciscan Order by writing a lot of books and helping others to understand how St. Francis wanted them to live and to obey its Rule.

Oneday the Pope asked Bonaventure to assist him in setting up a Council, Bonaventure immediately began to prepare for this Council, but unfortunately he became sick.

God loved Saint Bonaventure so much that He took Bonaventure to Heaven so they could be together in the Heavenly Kingdom.

Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in the year 1901 in Italy, unfortunately his parents did not share a great love for God. This did not stop the young Pier Giorgio from loving God and the Catholic Church with all his heart.

He was given special permission from a young age to receive the Eucharist daily, this filled the heart of Pier Giorgio with such love for God and for the poor.

Just like Jesus, Pier Giorgio longed to serve the poor and help them to live good lives, so he would often visit the poor and give them food and clothes.

Pier Giorgio was always a very happy young boy, this attracted many people to him as he was always joyful and loving to everyone he met. At about 17 years of age Pier Giorgio joined St. Vincent de Paul so that he could continue to help the sick and the poor in his area.

Pier Giorgio loved the poor people so much that when he graduated from school, rather than receive a car as a present he instead asked for money. His father gave his son the money unknowing that Pier Giorgio intended to give all that money to the poor people rather than keep it for himself.

His heart was filled with the love of God and so he tried to share this love with all those around him. He also loved to go mountain climbing and would often like to pray in the mountains and talk to other mountain climbers about the love of God.

Oneday when he was walking with his father, Pier Giorgio saw a poor man shiving in the streets and so Pier Giorgio took his own coat off and gave it to the poor man. This made his father angry but Pier just replied, 'But you see, Papa, it was cold.'

Pier Giorgio also loved to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for he loved God with all his heart and soul. Sometimes this holy young man would spend the entire night praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Oneday a very nasty leader tried to take power in Italy Pier Giorgio did not like him, and tried to warn other people that this leader Benito Mussolini was not a good or kind man.

Till oneday Pier Giorgio came down with a very bad cold which soon turned out to be worse he became very ill with polio. Even though Pier Giorgio was very sick and near death still he begged his sister to go and help the poor families who had been relying on him for help. Even when he was so sick Pier Giorgio never forgot the poor.

When Pier Giorgio died the streets were full of all the people that this young man had helped, for the poor people truly loved Pier Giorgio with all their heart.

Even though Pier Giorgio loved the poor he loved God more and so God called this loving young man to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin

Anne Therese Guerin was born in the year 1798 in France. Her family was not rich but they loved each other and the Guerin family also loved their Faith.

From a very early age Anne Therese longed to be a Nun, but unfortunately her father died and so Anne Therese had to postpone her longing to join a Religious Order and instead went to work to help her invalid mother and younger sister.

The Catholics in France at that time were undergoing great troubles as their country recovered from the revolution. This did not frighten Anne Therese who remained solid in her Faith.

Finally once Anne Therese reached the age of 25 she was able to become a Nun, she joined the Sisters of Providence and took the name Sister Theodore. Due to her special abilities it was not long before she came to be well known to her Superiors who were impressed with her obvious devotion to Jesus.

Oneday a letter arrived from America which requested the aid of some Religious Sisters. So it was that Sister Theodore responded to the Bishops request and both she and some of her fellow nuns set sail for America, how exciting for them!

The Sisters arrived in Indiana in the year 1840. The Sisters soon realised how very different America was from France, but under the guidance of Mother Theodore they soon settled into the frontier land of Indiana.

During her life and despite many struggles Mother Theodore loved Jesus with great devotion and through this love she reached out to the poor. Mother Theodore started many schools one of which would become known as The College of Our Lady of the Woods.

Because of the severe weather and the living conditions this affected Mother Theodore's health and so soon God called Mother Theodore Guerin to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin will soon become another Saint of America when our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will Canonise her.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Saint Joan of Arc

Joan was born in a little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer. Her mother Isabelle Romee was gentle and loving. She taught Joan how to sew and spin wool.
Joan was a shepherdess who loved to pray, especially at the shrines of Our Blessed Mother.

This honest little peasant girl was to become a heroine. One day while she was watching her sheep, Saint Michael the Archangel, appeared to her and said, "Daughter of God, go save France!"

For three years she heard the voices of Saints calling her to action. When she was sixteen, she began her mission.

There was a war going on between France and England. It was called the Hundred Years' War. England had won so much French land that the king of England called himself the king of France, too. The real French king was weak and fun-loving. He thought the French armies would never be able to save the country.

With his permission, Joan led an army into the city of Orleans, which the English had almost captured. In her white, shining armor, this young heroine rode with her banner flying above her. On it were the names of JESUS and MARY.

She was hit by an arrow in the great battle of Orleans, but she kept on urging her men to victory. At last they won! Joan and her army won more and more battles. The English armies had to retreat.

After the victories, Joan's time of suffering began. She was captured and sold to the English for ten thousand Francs. The ungrateful French king did not even try to save her. She was put in prison and after an unfair trial at Rouen in France, she was tied to a stake and burned to death.

Joan was not even twenty. She was afraid of fire yet she went bravely to her death on May 29, 1431. Her last word was "Jesus." Four hundred and eighty-nine years later, on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Joan a Saint.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Saint Jerome Emiliani

Jerome was born to a noble family of Venice, Italy. He loved the good life and spent his youth carelessly enjoying the pleasures of this world. When he grew up he became a soldier and was put in command of a fortress high in the mountains.

One day, his post was attacked by troops of Maximilian I. He was taken prisoner and thrown into a dungeon. Chained in that miserable prison, he had time to think about his life. He began to regret the careless way he had been living. He was sorry that he had thought so little about God and for wasting so many years living a wicked life.

Jerome promised the Blessed Mother that he would change his life if she would help him. His prayers were answered and by a miracle he was able to escape to safety. Jerome, with a grateful heart, went straight to a church. He hung his prison chains in front of Mary's altar.

After returning to Venice, he took charge of the education of his young nephews while he studied to be a priest. When he became a priest he was devoted to works of charity.

Plague and famine struck northern Italy. Jerome began feeding the sick and the hungry with whatever money he had. He was especially concerned about the many homeless orphan children he found in the streets. He rented a house for them, and gave them clothes and food. He taught them about Jesus and the Catholic faith.

Saint Jerome started a religious congregation of men called the Company of the Servants of the Poor. They would care for the poor, especially orphans, and would teach youth. He did all he could for the peasants. He would work with them in the fields and would talk to them of God's goodness while he worked by their side. He died while caring for plague victims in 1537.

Saint Jerome Emiliani was a gift to the people of his time and to all the Church. By totally turning his life around, he became an image of the love of God. He gave hope to those who were poor and abandoned. He is the Patron Saint of orphans and homeless children and we celebrate his feast on February 8 th.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis

Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. Her parents were poor but good Catholics and they loved their little girl. When Elodie was nine, her parents wanted her to have the best education they could afford, so they sent her to a boarding school. The Sisters of Notre Dame warmly received their new student but Elodie and her family missed each other very much.

Mr. Paradis had a flour mill and although he worked hard, the mill did not make enough money to support his wife and children. He heard wonderful stories about large amounts of gold that was to be found in California. He was so worried about his family that he decided to go.
But in California, Mr. Paradis did not find the wealth he hoped for. When he returned to L'Acadie, he was shocked to find that his little Elodie had joined the convent to become a nun. She had entered the Holy Cross convent on February 21, 1854.

Mr. Paradis went to the convent and he begged his daughter to return home, but she really wanted to stay there. Finally, her father agreed and she took her vows as a nun in 1857.

Blessed Marie-Leonie taught school in different cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on, Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun in 1880.

These loving sisters are committed to serving and caring for priests in the household. This helps the priest to carry out their important ministries without difficulty. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have sixty-seven convents in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras.

Although Mother Marie Leonie was weak and often sick, she worked for her sisters until the last few hours of her life. But she never stopped caring for God's people. She completed the book of rules she had written to help give her sisters the guidance they would need for their life.

On Friday, May 3, 1912. Mother Marie-Leonie said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours later. She was seventy-one years old.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blessed Mary of the Incarnation

Barbe (Barbara) Aurillot was born at Paris in France. When she was seventeen, she married Pierre (Peter) Acarie. Barbra and her husband loved their Catholic faith and practiced it. They had six children and were a happy family.

Barbara tried to be a good wife and mother. Her family learned from her a great love for prayer and works of charity. Her husband was once wrongly blamed for a crime he had not committed. To save him, Barbara herself went to court, and, all alone, proved that he was not guilty.

Although she was busy with her own family, she always found time to feed those who were hungry. She taught people about the Catholic faith. She helped the sick and dying. She gently encouraged people who were living sinfully to change their ways. The good deeds she did were works of mercy.

When Barbara was forty-seven Pierre died. She then joined the Carmelite convent and spent the last four years of her life as a nun. Three of her daughters became Carmelite nuns, too and one son became a priest. Barbara's new name as a nun was Sister Mary of the Incarnation.
She worked with joy in the kitchen among the pots and pans. When her own daughter became the superior of the monastery, Blessed Mary willingly obeyed her.

When she was dying, she humbly said: "The Lord forgive the bad example I have given you." The nuns were very surprised because Barbara had always tried so hard to live a good life. Blessed Mary died in 1618 at the age of fifty-two.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Saint Onesimus

Onesimus was born in Phrygia and was a slave who robbed his master Philemon and ran away to Rome. In Rome he went to see the great apostle, St. Paul, who was a prisoner for his faith. Paul received Onesimus with the kindness and love of a good father. He helped the young man realize he had done wrong to steal. But more than that, he led Onesimus to believe in Jesus and baptized him.

After Onesimus became a Christian, Paul sent him back to his master. Philemon had earlier been converted by Paul and was Paul's friend. But Paul did not send the slave back alone and defenseless. He "armed" Onesimus with a short, powerful but beautiful letter that we know as the Epistle to Philemon. Paul hoped his letter would set everything right for his new friend, Onesimus.

Paul wrote to Philemon: "I plead with you for my own son, for Onesimus. I am sending him back to you. Welcome him as though he were my very heart." Paul asked Philemon to accept him "no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me. And if he has done you any injustice or owes you anything, charge it to me".

That touching letter is in the New Testament of the Bible. Philemon accepted Paul's letter and Paul's advice. When Onesimus returned to his master, he was set free. Afterwards, he went back to Saint Paul and became his faithful helper.

Saint Paul made Onesimus a priest and then a bishop. Later, as Saint Jerome and other Fathers tell us, he became a fervent preacher of the Good News that had changed his life forever. He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for eighteen days, by a governor of that city, who became angry by his preaching of the Gospel. His legs were broken and he was then stoned to death. We celebrate his feast day on February 16th.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saint Peter Damian

Peter Damian was born at Ravenna, in Italy. His parents died when he was a child and he was left an orphan. He went to live with an older brother who treated him badly. He often left him hungry and starving and made him look after his herd of swine to earn his keep. Another brother named Damian found out about the trouble little Peter was having and brought him to his own home.

That was when Peter's life changed completely. He was treated with love, affection and care. He was so grateful that when he became joined a religious order he took the name Damian after his loving brother. Damian educated Peter and encouraged his studies. Peter later became a great teacher and taught at the university while he was in his twenties. But the Lord was directing him in ways he could never have thought of.

Peter lived in times when many people in the Church were more interested in collecting wealth. Peter realized that the Church is divine and has the grace from Jesus to save all people. He wanted the Church to shine with the holiness of Jesus.

After seven years of teaching, he decided to become a Benedictine monk. He wanted to live the rest of his life in prayer and penance. He would pray and make sacrifices so that many people in the Church would become holy. His health suffered when he tried to replace sleep with prayer.
He went to a monastery of St. Romuald and wrote a rule for the monks. He also wrote about the life of their holy founder, Romuald. Peter wrote many books about religious studies to help people deepen their faith.

Twice his abbot sent him to neighboring monasteries so he could help the monks change their lives so that they could live closer to God. The monks were grateful because Peter was so kind and respectful.

Peter was finally called away from the monastery. He became a bishop and a cardinal. He was sent on very important missions for various popes throughout his long life. Peter Damian died in 1072 at the age of sixty-five. Because he was a champion of truth and a peacemaker, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828. We celebrate his feast day on February 21 st.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Saint Martin

Martin was born in Tuscany, Italy. He grew up with a very good education and became a priest in Rome. In the year 649 he became pope. During that time people began arguing over the truths about Jesus and Pope Martin called a meeting of bishops. This meeting was named the Council of the Lateran. It clearly explained some of the beliefs and truths of the Catholic faith. Pope Martin knew the Council's explanations were true and it was his duty as pope to teach people the truth.

Some powerful Christians were not pleased about it. One such person was Emperor Constans II of Constantinople. He sent his soldiers to Rome to capture Martin and bring him to Constantinople. The soldiers kidnapped the Pope.

They took him right out of the Lateran Cathedral and smuggled him onto a ship. Pope Martin got sick, but they continued their journey. In October, 653, he was put in jail in Constantinople for three months. He was given only a little food and water each day. He wasn't even allowed to wash himself.

Pope Martin was put on trial and condemned to death. But then he was sent back to the same prison for three more months. Patriarch Paul of Constantinople pleaded for the pope's life. So instead of death, the pope was exiled and sent away from Italy. Pope Martin was put on a ship that took him across the Black Sea. In April, 654, it landed on the Russian peninsula called the Crimea.

Pope Martin was shocked at the suffering he was put through by those who were in charge of him. He wrote his own life story of those sad days. The pope said that he felt very sad to be forgotten by his relatives and members of the Church in Rome.

He knew they were afraid of the emperor. But at least, he said, they could have sent supplies of corn, oil and other basic needs. But they did not. They abandoned the pope because of fear.

The pope's exile lasted two years. He died around 656. Because of his terrible sufferings, he was proclaimed a martyr. He is the last of the popes so far to be considered a martyr. His feast day is April 13 th.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Saint John Berchmans

John was born at Driest, Brabant in Belgium. He was one of five children and the son of a shoemaker. His parents brought their five children up with much care and love, three of their children entered the religious life.

As a child, John stayed very close to his sick mother. Still, he liked to join with his young friends in putting on plays about Bible stories. He was especially good at playing the part of Daniel defending the innocent Susanna.

From the age of seven he formed the habit of rising early and would serve at two or three Masses with great eagerness. He once said, "If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never become one."

By the time he was thirteen, he wanted to begin studying for the priesthood. However, his father, needed his help in supporting the family. Finally, Mr. Berchmans decided to let John become a servant in the household of a priest. From there he could go to classes in the seminary.

Three years later, John Berchmans entered the Society of Jesus. He prayed, studied hard, and enthusiastically acted out parts in religious plays.

He made a motto: "Have great care for little things," and he lived up to it. St. John Berchmans never did any great or heroic things during his life. But he did every little thing well and for the love of God, from waiting on tables to copying down notes on his studies.

He was known as the saint who performed ordinary actions with extraordinary perfection. Kindness, courtesy and constant fidelity were an important part of his holiness.

When his was in his third year of college doing philosophy, he was asked to participate in a public debate, defending the Catholic faith, at a Greek college. He spoke with great confidence and knowledge on the subject.

But when he returned to his own college after the debate, he became sick with a violent fever and no doctor could discover what illness he had. John knew he was going to die.

He was very cheerful as always. When the doctor ordered that his forehead be bathed with wine, John joked: "It's lucky that such an expensive sickness is not going to last long."

John did not live to become a priest he died in 1621 at twenty-two but he had without any doubt, reached his goal of holiness. He died clutching his rosary, crucifix and rules of his order in his hands. Miracles took place at his funeral. Right away people began to call him a saint.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

How can the Saints help us?

The Saints are people who have died and now live face-to-face with God. But that's not all they do.

On earth they were devoted to helping other people and they continue to help in Heaven. As he lay dying, Saint Dominic said to his friends, "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful after my death and I shall help you then more effectively that during my death". St Therese of Lisieux said, I want to spend my Heaven doing good on Earth. Their prayers and intercessions can give us the extra boost we need to leap into the arms of God.

Let us remember that the Saints are humans who faced the same temptations we do. But they were able to stay focused on God. For example, as a rich man's son, Saint Francis of Assisi was used to very nice things and parties. He understands the lure to the things of the world and what it takes to overcome it. He can ask that we receive the graces to do the same.

No matter what our interests or background are we can find a Saint who shares them. Maybe learning about his or her journey will help us on our journey. So let us remember to ask the Saints to pray for us.