Tuesday, February 28, 2006
John Neumann was born in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. He was a quiet, small boy, only five feet, two inches tall but his eyes were very kind and he smiled a lot. His parents were Philip who was a German and Agnes Neumann and he had four sisters and a brother.
He was an excellent student, who was drawn to the religious life when he was quite young. After college, John entered the seminary. When time came for ordination, the bishop was sick. The date was never set because Bohemia had enough priests at the time.
Since he had been reading about missionary activities in the United States, John decided to go to America to ask for ordination. He walked most of the way to France and then boarded a ship for America.
John arrived in Manhattan on June 9, 1836 without informing anyone that he was coming. Bishop John Dubois was very happy to see him as there were only thirty-six priests for the two hundred thousand Catholics living in the state of New York and part of New Jersey.
Just sixteen days after his arrival, John was ordained a priest and sent to Buffalo. There he helped Father Pax care for his parish. Father Pax asked him to choose between working in the city of Buffalo or the country area. John's strong character began to show when he chose the most difficult - the country area.
He decided to stay in a little town with an unfinished church. Once it was completed, he moved to another town that had a log-church. There he built himself a small log cabin. He hardly ever lit a fire and often lived on bread and water and only slept a few hours each night.
The farms in his area were far apart. John had to walk long distances to reach his people. They were German, French, Irish and Scotch. But John who knew twelve languages, worked with them all.
John joined the Redemptorist order and continued his missionary work. He became bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. Bishop Neumann built fifty churches and began building a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students grew from five hundred to nine thousand.
Bishop Neumann's health never improved much, but people were still very surprised when he died suddenly on January 5, 1860 when he was just forty-eight years old.
He was the first American man and first American bishop to be declared a saint by Pope Paul VI on June 19, 1977. His feast day is January 5th.
We might not be as smart, strong, or active as we would like to be. But that doesn't stop God from loving us and from using us to do wonderful things. When we have to do something difficult, we can ask Saint John Neumann's help.
Saint Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria. This famous son of Saint Monica spent many years living a wicked life and in false beliefs. He was one of the most intelligent persons who ever lived.
Augustine was brought up in a Christian atmosphere by his mother. He became so proud and bad that in the end he could not see or understand holy truths anymore. His mother Monica prayed daily for her son's conversion. The marvelous sermons of Saint Ambrose made their impact too. Finally, Augustine became convinced that Christianity was the true religion.
Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, he heard about two men who had suddenly changed and became good Christians after reading the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert.
Augustine felt ashamed. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are taking heaven by force. Yet we, with all our knowledge, are so weak that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!" Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine went into the garden and prayed, "How much longer, Lord? Why don't I stop committing sins now?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!"
Thinking that God wanted him to hear those words, he picked up the Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on Saint Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13. It was just what Augustine needed. Paul says to stop living bad lives and to live like Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life.
He was baptized and ordained a priest and later became a bishop. He was a famous Catholic writer and started the Augustinian order. He became one of the greatest Saints who ever lived.
On the wall of his room, he had the following sentence written in large letters: "Here we do not speak evil of anyone." Saint Augustine corrected strong false teachings, lived a simple life and cared for the poor.
He preached very often, and prayed with great feeling right up until his death. "Too late have I loved you," he once cried to God. "Our hearts were made for You, Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You."
Augustine spent the rest of his life in loving God and leading others to love him, too.
Lord, renew in Your Church the spirit which You inspired in Saint Augustine, Your Bishop. Filled by this spirit, may we thirst after You as the true Source of wisdom.
Saint Monica was born in Tagaste, northern Africa and she was the mother of Saint Augustine. She was brought up as a good Christian. Her strong training was a great help to her when she married Patricius. He was a pagan (a person who does not believe in God).
Patricius admired his wife, but he made her suffer because of his bad temper. Monica never answered back and never complained about him to anyone. Instead she prayed fervently for him. Patricius finally agreed to become a Christian in 371. He was baptized on his deathbed in 372. His mother, too, became a Christian.
Monica's joy over the holy way in which her husband had died soon changed to great sorrow. She found out that her 19 year old son Augustine was living a bad, selfish life. This clever young man had turned to a false religion and had formed wicked habits.
She prayed and cried and did much penance for her son. She begged priests to talk to him. Augustine was brilliant but very stubborn. He did not want to give up his sinful life. But Monica would not give up either.
When he went to Rome without her, she followed him. At Rome, she found he had become a teacher in Milan. So Monica went to Milan. And in all those years, she never stopped praying for him.
What love and faith! After years of prayers and tears, her reward came when Augustine was converted. He not only became a good Christian, as she had prayed. Augustine also became a priest, a bishop, a great writer and a very famous Saint.
Saint Monica died in Ostia, outside Rome, in 387 with her son Augustine at her bedside. Her feast day is August 27th.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Margaret Mary was born in Burgundy in France. As a child, she was a happy little girl who loved the nuns at school. When she was eleven, she became very sick. It was four years before she was well again after she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Her father had died, and an aunt had moved into their home.
This aunt and her husband made Margaret Mary and her mother suffer very much. Almost every day, Margaret would hide in the garden to cry and pray. What hurt her most was seeing her mother get hurt.
Her mother wanted her to marry and so did her relatives. They were worried about her, especially when she brought beggar children into the garden to try to teach them. Margaret Mary hesitated a while, neither marrying nor entering the convent. At last she decided on the convent and joined the Visitation sisters. She was kind and humble but often made others impatient since she was slow and clumsy.
But she was dear to Jesus. Jesus appeared to her and showed her His Sacred Heart. His heart was encircled by a crown of thorns that was a symbol of His great sacrifice. Jesus told her how much He loves each one of us and wanted her to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart.
But she was dear to Jesus. Jesus appeared to her and showed her His Sacred Heart. His heart was encircled by a crown of thorns that was a symbol of His great sacrifice. Jesus told her how much He loves each one of us and wanted her to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart.
It was a very hard thing to do as not many people believed she had really seen Jesus. Some were angry with her for trying to spread the new devotion. This brought her alot of suffering. Yet she did her best to carry out the Lord's wish. Jesus blessed her hard work and pain. Today, this wonderful devotion to the Sacred Heart is practiced all over the world.
Our Lord made twelve great promises to Saint Margaret Mary for those who are devoted to his most Sacred Heart. They are:
1. I will give them all the graces they need in life.
2. I will create peace in their families.
3. I will comfort them in all their troubles.
4. They shall surely find in My Heart protection during life and especially at the hour of their death.
5. I will shower them with blessings in everything that they do.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Weak souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who spread this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be erased.
12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine continuous months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall surely be their protection at that last hour.
When she was 43, Margaret Mary fell ill. She received the Last Sacraments, saying, "I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus." Saint Margaret Mary died on October 17, 1690. The devotion that Our Lord gave to the world through her was officially approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. Her feast day is October 17 th.
From Saint Margaret Mary we can learn to trust in the Heart of Jesus, which - as she wrote - is filled with "love to meet our every need."
Angela was born in the small Italian town of Desenzano, Italy. Her parents died when she was ten. She and her only sister, who was three years older, loved each other very much. A rich uncle took the girls into his home. While still suffering from the loss of her parents, Angela's sister also died. The older girl died even before a priest could arrive to administer the last sacraments.
Angela worried about her sister's soul but Jesus revealed to her that her sister had been saved. Angela felt peace return to her own soul and thanked the Lord in prayer. She wanted to do something to show her gratitude so she promised to spend the rest of her life serving Jesus totally.
She joined the Secular Fransiscan Order when she was fifteen and received a vision telling her that by her example she would lead other holy women to God. In Crete, while on a pilgrimage to Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she could see. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, she got back her sight at the same place where it had been lost.
When she was about twenty-two, Angela began to notice that the children of her town knew little about their religion. She invited some of her girlfriends to join her in teaching religion classes. Angela's friends were anxious to help her with the children. At that time there were no religious orders of teaching sisters. No one had ever thought of such a thing. She was the first to gather together a group of women to open schools for children.
On November 25, 1535, twenty-eight young women offered their lives to God. It was the beginning of the Ursuline order. Angela placed the congregation under the protection of Saint Ursula and this is how they got their name.
The women stayed in their own homes at first. Because of many difficulties, it was a long time before they could live together in a convent. Angela died on January 27, 1540, when her congregation was still in its beginning stages. Her feast day is January 27 th.
Her trust in God had seen her through many hard tests in her lifetime. There was no doubt in her mind that the Lord would take care of the mission she had begun. And so He did. The Ursuline Sisters have now spread to many countries. The order continues its works for Jesus and His Church, especially in the education of children and young adults.
O Lord, let St. Angela never cease commending us to Your kindness. By always imitating her charity and prudence may we succeed in keeping Your teachings and reflecting them in our lives.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Saint Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. Raphael is seen in the Bible when he was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobiah and Sarah. Tobit was blind. Raphael accompanied Tobiah disguised as a man. On the journey a large fish leaped from the water after Tobiah. Raphael told him to take the heart, gall and liver of the fish to make a medicine.
When Tobiah returned home, he was told by Raphael to put the medicine made from the fish on the eyes of Tobit his father. At once Tobit could see! Raphael then said “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”
Raphael's name means "God heals." He is also the patron of the blind, of happy meetings, of nurses, of physicians and of travelers. His feast day is celebrated on September 29th.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Henry was declared ruler of Germany and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. During his reign he continued in the exercise of Christian and manly virtues. The poor were fed and justice prevailed.
Whenever he waged war, it was due to the necessity of defending the rights of the Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. Never did he seek might and power, but rather he did it for the defense of the faith of his people. The salvation of souls was his greatest desire.
He placed himself with great faith under the intercession of the communion of saints, fighting more often with prayers than with the force of arms. Angels and martyrs were visibly seen assisting him in a battle against the Slavs, when, with a small force he put to flight the larger enemy host and thus prevented their continued destruction of churches and the slaying of his innocent people.
A wicked man had driven the Pope from Rome and was sitting on the Pope’s chair. Henry led his army against him, beat him and brought the Holy Father back to Rome.
Whenever he entered a city, his first visit was always to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Once Jesus allowed Henry to see Him, Jesus, saying Mass in a great church in Rome. Both Henry and his wife Cunegunda became great Saints. His feast day is July 15th.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
She was born in Quito, Ecuador, October 31st in 1618. Her parents were Spanish nobles but she was orphaned as a child. When she was six she went to live with her aunt. Mariana was attracted to religious things from a very early age and dedicated herself completely to God.
When Mariana was twelve she became a recluse in her aunt’s house guided by her confessor a Jesuit priest. Her uncle and aunt gave her several rooms of the house, where she created her own cloister. She never left the house for the rest of her life except to go to church.
She ate very little, slept only three hours a night and spent much time in prayer. Drawing close to God Mariana had the gifts of prophesy and miracles.
In 1645 when Quito was ravaged by an earthquake and epidemic, she offered herself publicly as a victim for the sins of the people. The quake ended and the epidemic began to subside. Mariana fell ill and died on May 26th.
Zita is known as the Patron Saint of domestic workers. She was born in the village of Monte Sagrati in Italy. Her parents were very pious and raised Zita in a loving, Christian way. In those days poor parents normally sent their teenage daughters to work with trustworthy families who could afford servants. The young women would live with the families for a few years and were paid to do the housework. Zita was sent to the Fatinelli family in Lucca when she was twelve.
Mr. and Mrs. Fatinelli were good people who had several workers. Zita was happy to be able to work and send money to her parents. She did her duties well and formed habits of praying at fixed times each day. She woke early in the morning to go to daily Mass.
Zita’s work was part of her religion. She was a hard-worker and this made the other workers angry. They were lazy and tried to do as little as they could get away with. They began to pick on Zita and were always against her when their employers were not around.
Zita was very hurt but she prayed for patience. She never complained about the workers. She firmly did her work as well as possible no matter what they thought. When one of the workers tried to kiss her, Zita fought him off. He left the room with several scratches on his face.
Mr. Fatinelli questioned her privately about the incident. She told him honestly what had happened. After that, Zita was made the head housekeeper. The Fatinelli children were placed under her care. Best of all, the other workers stopped bullying her. Some even tried to be like her.
Zita spent her whole life with the Fatinelli family. While others came and went, she stayed. She served them lovingly and cared for them as her own family. Zita died peacefully on April 27, 1278. She was sixty years old. Her feast day is April 27th.
By her example, Saint Zita helps us see that work is beautiful when it is done with Christian love.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The baby was not the "perfect" child that they had hoped for. Instead, she was a blind hunchback, with one leg shorter than the other. Her parents could find no room in their hearts for their baby, and wanted nothing to do with her. A kindly servant girl took her and had her baptized Margaret, which means "pearl."
When she was six years old, Margaret's father led his daughter to a secluded spot in the woods and had her locked in a cell. Although she suffered terribly in that small, dark, stone prison, Margaret received the Grace to appreciate her surroundings. At a tender age, she saw God's plan for her, which she revealed to a visiting priest: "Jesus was rejected even by His own people, and God is letting me be treated the same so that I can follow Our dear Lord more Closely." She endured 14 years in her cell, growing ever closer to Christ.
When she was seventeen, Margaret's parents took her to a shrine in Castello, where they hoped for a miraculous cure to her deformities. They soon realized there would be no change and abandoned Margaret in the unfamiliar city.
Margaret soon found a home with a kindly family. She spent the next 13 years tending the sick, visiting prisoners, and praying. People for whom she cared sometimes recovered miraculously, they knew she was someone very special.
When one of Margaret's friends expressed sympathy for her bodily afflictions, Margaret reassured him with a smile: "If you only knew what I have in my heart!"
She died in 1320 at the age of 33.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Alfred Bessette was born not far from Montreal in Canada and he was the eighth of twelve children. When Alfred was nine, his father, a wood cutter, died in an accident at work. Three years later, Alfred's mother died of tuberculosis, leaving the children orphans. Each one of them was then placed in a different home.
Alfred went to live with his aunt and uncle. Because his family had been so poor he was often sick. Alfred had very little education and his uncle made sure that he worked for a living. So for the next thirteen years he tried learning different trades like farming, shoemaking and baking. But his health always failed him.
When Alfred was twenty-five, he joined the order of Holy Cross and chose the name Brother Andre. At first they refused him because his health was not good but then the Bishop favored Andre and he was accepted.
He spent the next forty years as a general maintenance man, Sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. The remaining years of his life were spent as the doorkeeper for the order's college, Notre Dame in Montreal.
Here, Brother Andre's healing power became known. When people came to ask him for a cure, he would tell them to first thank God for their suffering because it was so valuable. Then he would pray with them. Most of them were cured. Brother Andre always refused credit for the healing. He insisted it had been the person's faith and the power of St. Joseph and soon the trickle of sick people at his door became a flood.
Brother Andre had a great love for the Eucharist and for St. Joseph. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph that Andre honored. When he was young, he dreamt he saw a big church, but he couldn't tell where it was. Gradually, he came to realize that God wanted a church in honor of St. Joseph. That church was to be built on top of Mount Royale in Montreal, Canada.
For many years the Church tried to buy land on Mount Royal then Brother Andre and his helpers climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph on it. Soon the owners agreed to sell the land to the Church.
Prayer and the sacrifices of Brother Andre and many other people made the dream come true. The magnificent church honoring St. Joseph was built and is a proof of Brother Andre's great faith. Pilgrims come to Mount Royale all year and from distant places. They want to honor St. Joseph and show their trust in his loving care, as Brother Andre did.
Brother Andre died peacefully on January 6, 1937. By that time he was receiving 80,000 letters each year from the sick who sought his prayers and healing. Nearly a million people climbed Mount Royale to St. Joseph's Oratory for his funeral. They came in spite of sleet and snow to say good-bye to their dear friend. He was proclaimed "blessed" on May 23, 1982, by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is January 6th.
Blessed Andre Bessette believed not in himself but in the power of God's love for him. In him we can see that God reveals his power shining through our human weakness.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City, USA. Her family was not Catholics but Episcopalian. Her father, Richard Bayley, was a well-known doctor and her mother, Catherine, died when Elizabeth was just three years old.
As a teenager, she did many things to help poor people. When Elizabeth was nineteen she married William Magee Seton, a rich merchant who owned a fleet of ships. Elizabeth, William and their five children had a happy life together.
Ten years later, William lost his fortune and his health within a short time. His wife heard that the weather in Italy might help him get better. Elizabeth, William and their oldest daughter, Anna, traveled there by ship. But William did not get better and died of tuberculosis.
Elizabeth and Anna remained in Italy as guests of the Filicchi family. The Filicchis were very kind and tried to make Elizabeth and Anna's sorrow easier by sharing their own deep love for the Catholic faith. Elizabeth began to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
When she returned home to New York she decided to become a Catholic. Her family and friends did not understand. They were very upset, but she went ahead with courage. Elizabeth joined the Church on March 4, 1805.
To support her family and make sure her children received a proper education, Elizabeth opened a school in Boston and ran it like a religious community. A few years later, the archbishop invited Elizabeth to come and open a girls' school in Baltimore.
It was here that Elizabeth decided to live as a sister. Many women came to join her, including her sister, sister-in-law and her own daughters, Anna and Catherine. They became the American Sisters of Charity and Elizabeth was given the title "Mother Seton."
She started many Catholic schools and a few orphanages. She made plans for a hospital, which was opened after her death. Elizabeth loved to write, and she also translated some textbooks from French to English. But Elizabeth was loved most for her care of the poor and the sick. Mother Seton died on January 4, 1821, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Her feast day is January 4th.
If something should happen that changes our lives from happy to difficult, we should remember to turn to God as Mother Seton did and ask for His help. God can help bring out our hidden talents and we are then able to do things we never dreamed possible.
Saint Jane was a princess and the daughter of King Louis XI of France and Charlotte of Savoy. The king wanted a son and he was very disappointed when Jane was born deformed. He did not even want his little daughter to live at the palace. When the princess was just five years old, she was sent to live with other people.
Although she was not wanted by her own father, Jane was good and gentle with everyone. She was convinced that Jesus and Mary loved her. Jane also believed that the Lord would use her to do good in his name. She was right.
When she grew up, Jane decided that she did not want to marry. She had given herself to Jesus and his Blessed Mother. But her father forced her to marry the duke of Orleans for political reasons. Jane accepted God's will and was a devoted wife for twenty-two years.
After the duke became king, however, he sent Jane to live by herself in a far-off town-ship. The queen did not let herself become resentful. Instead, she exclaimed: "God be praised! He has permitted this that I may serve him better than I have up until now."
Jane lived a prayerful life. She practiced penances and acts of kindness. She gave all her money to the poor. She even started an order of sisters called the Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She spent the rest of her life joyfully for Jesus and his Mother. Saint Jane died in 1505.
Alexandrina was born into the Ricci family of Florence, Italy. Her mother died when she was a baby. Although she was raised by her Godmother she loved Our Lady and considered her as her true mother.
As a child she could talk with her guardian Angel and her Angel taught her how to pray the Rosary. When she was six she entered the convent school of Montecelli where her aunt was the Abbess.
When she was thirteen, Alexandrina joined the Dominican order as a nun and she chose the name Catherine. Even at that young age, Sister Catherine had a deep love for the passion of Jesus Christ. She used to think about Our Lord's sufferings often. Jesus gave her the great honor of receiving in her own body the marks of his wounds.
For twelve years every week from Thursday afternoon until Friday afternoon she would suffer the five wounds of Jesus. She was happy to accept all the pains of these wounds.
Catherine also felt very sorry for the poor souls suffering in purgatory. She realized how they longed to be with God in heaven. She realized, too, that this time in purgatory seemed to drag on endlessly. Catherine prayed and did penance for them. Once God let her know that a certain man was in purgatory, so great was her love that she offered to suffer for him. God listened to her prayer and she suffered greatly for forty days.
Thousands of people came to see her and ask for her prayers including three future popes. After a long, painful illness, St. Catherine died on February 2, 1590, at the age of sixty-eight.
Monday, February 20, 2006
When she was seven years old, Genevieve met Saint Germanus of Auxerre on his way to England. Her holy face caught his attention when he was preaching and after his sermon he spoke with her and found that she wanted very much to live her life for Jesus. He blessed her, gave her a gold medal and asked her to keep it as a reminder of that day and of God, to whom her life belonged.
Germanus then talked with Genevieve's parents and told them how special their daughter was. After her parents died, Genevieve went to live with her godmother. She spent time praying, took care of the sick and helped the poor.
Soon she and two other young women took their vows to become nuns before the bishop of Paris and were given their veils. She became very close to Jesus and wanted to bring his goodness to people. Genevieve was a kind, generous person. She went out of her way to do good things for others.
The people of Paris were going to run away from a terrible army coming to attack them. Genevieve stepped forward and encouraged the people to trust in God. She said that if they did penance, they would be spared. The people did what she said, and the fierce army of Attila the Hun suddenly turned back. They did not attack the city at all.
St. Genevieve practiced charity and obedience to God's will every day of her life, not just in times of need. She never gave up trying to do as much good as possible. Faithfulness to Jesus and courage are the special gifts of witness she leaves for us.
One of the best ways for us to help our country is to pray for our leaders. We should ask God to guide them for the good of us all.
Raymond was born in a little town called Penafort near Barcelona, Spain. He studied at the cathedral school in Barcelona and became a famous teacher of Philosophy when he was twenty. After Raymond became a priest he studied law in Bologna, Italy and became a lawyer. He then joined the Dominican order in 1218.
In 1230, Pope Gregory IX asked him to come to Rome. When Raymond arrived, the Pope gave him several duties. One duty was to collect all the official letters of the Popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes and also helped to write the Church law.
In 1238, Raymond was elected master general of the Dominicans. With his knowledge of law, he went over the Order's Rule and made sure everything was legally correct. When he had finished, he resigned his position so that he could truly dedicate the rest of his life to parish work. He really wanted to work among the people in his parish.
The Pope wanted to make Raymond an Archbishop, but Raymond refused. He asked if he could return to Spain and was given permission. His compassion helped many people return to God through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
During his years in Rome, Raymond often heard stories of the difficulties that missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. To help the missionaries, Raymond started a school that taught the language and culture of the people to be evangelized.
Father Raymond asked the famous Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas, to write a booklet explaining the truths of faith in a way that nonbelievers could understand.
St. Raymond lived nearly one hundred years and died in Barcelona on January 6, 1275. He was declared the patron of Church lawyers because of his great influence on Church law.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
Among the boys whom St. John Bosco helped, there was one whom he loved very much-Dominic Savio. He even wrote the story of his life.
Dominic was born in Riva, Italy, in 1842. When he was five old, he learned to serve Mass. At twelve he visited St. John and told him that he wanted to be a priest. They became very good friends. Dominic entered the Oratory school, which St. John Bosco started.
His schoolmates liked him because he was very kind and he studied hard and loved to pray. But his health was poor, after two years he had to return home.
Dominic always kept these rules, which he had written in a book on his First Communion Day:
1. I will go to Confession and to Communion often.
2. I will keep holy the Feast days.
3. Jesus and Mary will he my best friends.
4. I will rather die than commit a sin.
When Dominic was dying, he said, "What beautiful things I see." He was only fifteen years old.
John Bosco was born in Turin, Italy. His parents were poor farmers. His father died when John was only two years old. John and his brothers helped their mother work on the farm as she struggled to keep the family together. As soon as he was old enough, John, too, worked as hard as he could to help his mother.
John was intelligent and full of life. By the age of nine, John wanted to become a priest and his mother let him go to school. John used to wake up early in the morning to do his chores before he left for school. A holy priest, St. Joseph Cafasso, found out about John's wish to be a priest. Father Cafasso helped him enter the seminary.
He learned to do all kinds of trades. He was a carpenter, a shoemaker, a cook, a pastry maker and a farmer. He did many other jobs as well. He didn't realize how much this knowledge would help others later.
John would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks he saw magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the sermon he had heard in church that day.
John became a priest in 1841. As a priest, Don Bosco, which means Father Bosco, began his great ministry. This kind priest felt sad when he saw so many children living on the streets of Italy. Like a loving father, he gathered together these homeless boys and taught them trades. This way they would not have to steal or get into trouble.
Many rich people gave him money to help build workshops. He later started a printing press so he could print books and leaflets to teach people about God's love for them and how to be good Christians. By 1850, there were 150 boys living at his home for boys. Don Bosco's mother was the housekeeper. He loved these children, however naughty they were, and the boys loved him because John Bosco always encouraged them.
"Do you want to be Don Bosco's friend?" he would ask each new boy who came to him. "You do?" he would ask happily. "Then, you must help me save your soul," he would say. Every night he asked his boys to say three Hail Mary's, so that the Blessed Mother would help them keep away from sin. He also helped them receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion often and with love.
Every morning he would say Mass for his students giving them beautiful sermons and telling them interesting stories. He asked the young boys to imitate Jesus in everything they did - whether it was work, study or play and told them that God wanted everyone to be saints as He had a great reward waiting for them.
His advice to them was, "Pray when it's time to pray. Study when it's time to study. Play when it's time to play. Show kindness to everyone you meet. But do it all for the love of Jesus." One of the boys listening very carefully was young Dominic Savio who told John Bosco that he would try very had to become a Saint and please God. And he did.
Don Bosco started his own religious order of priests and brothers. They were called the Salesians, after St. Francis de Sales. Then he started the order of Salesian sisters with the help of St. Mary Mazzarello. These men and women pray and teach young people about God's love in countries all over the world even today.
Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888. All the people of Turin came out on the streets to honor him. His funeral became a joyous proclamation of thanksgiving to God for the life of this wonderful man.
St. Frances was born at Rome in Italy. Her family was wealthy, but they taught Frances to be concerned about people and to live a good Christian life. Frances was an intelligent little girl who informed her parents when she was eleven that she had made up her mind to be a nun.
Her parents encouraged her to think of marriage instead. As was the custom, they selected a good young man to be her husband. She was thirteen when she was married.
Frances and her husband, Lorenzo, fell in love with each other. Even though their marriage was arranged, they were happily married for forty years. She was a good wife and mother. Lorenzo admired and loved his wife
Frances knew that her first duty as to take care of he family and she put her all into taking care of them. She prayed every day and did penance for Jesus' Church, which faced many difficulties at that time. She took care of the poor and the sick. Frances and Lorenzo were kindhearted people. They knew what it was like to suffer as two of their three children died from the plague. This made them even more aware of the needs of the poor. Other rich women were inspired by her example. Frances became more and more prayerful and really grew close to Jesus and Mary.
During the wars between the rightful pope and the anti-popes, Lorenzo led the armies that defended the true pope. While he was away at battle, his enemies destroyed his property and possessions and also put their son into prison. They had nothing now but Frances accepted it all as God’s will.
Frances cleaned up a part of the family villa that had been destroyed and used it for a hospital. As hard as things were for her family, the people out on the street were in greater need. Lorenzo was wounded and came home to be nursed back to health by his loving wife. He died in 1436.
Frances spent the remaining four years of her life in the religious congregation called the Collatines which she helped to start. St. Frances of Rome died on March 9, 1440.
Saint Frances shows us how to keep the delicate balance between family life and her personal relationship with God and her desire to show compassion to others.
Elizabeth was a princess of Hungary. When she was fourteen she married Louis a young Prince who soon became king. She was a very good wife and mother to her children.
Elizabeth was very compassionate and was very kind to the poor and sick. Her castle stood on a steep rock, she built a hospital at the foot of the mountain. There she fed the poor and the sick daily and attended to their needs. They loved her and called her "Dear St. Elizabeth."
When the ladies of the castle tried to keep her from going to help the poor, she said, "I am preparing for my judgment. I want to be able to say to Jesus: Jesus, when You were hungry, I gave You food to eat; when You had nothing to put on, I clothed You; when You were sick, I visited You, because You said that in doing these things for the poor, I did them for You. I beg you to be kind to me."
One day Elizabeth was carrying bread for the poor in her cloak. Her husband met her and told her what she was doing was not the work the queen should be doing. He pulled open the cloak and out fell red and white roses not the food. The king begged her forgiveness, he knew that she was indeed a Saint.
Elizabeth’s husband died when she was very young leaving her with four children. The next king treated Elizabeth very badly and threw her out of the palace. She joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and spent the rest of her life caring for the poor in a hospital. Elizabeth died when she was twenty-four.
Saint Elizabeth saw Jesus in the poor and served them. From her example may we learn to see Jesus in the sick and poor and serve them.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Bakhita was born in Olgossa, Sudan Africa in 1869. When she was very young she was kidnapped and became a slave. Several people owned Bakhita. As a slave, Bakhita suffered terribly! Under one master, she was given 114 tattoos ! This was so extremely painful that she lay in the dark on the ground for weeks before she was able to move.
She was bought by the Italian consul and taken to Italy. Although she had never been taught about God, she had often wondered who had created the world and everyone and everything in it. When she was in Venice, she got to know the Canossian Sisters and desired to be baptized. She fell in love with Jesus and became a Canossian Sister herself!
Sister Bakhita served others as a cook, she cared for the chapel, and she answered the door. Although she had suffered so much at the hands of other people for so long, Bakhita’s love for Jesus made her strong enough to still believe in the goodness of others. Those who knew her marveled at how much love she showed to everyone she met. Her cheerfulness was contagious.
She suffered a long illness and offered up all her suffering for those who had hurt her. Bakhita died on February 8, 1947 calling out to our Blessed Mother as she took her last breath. She was proclaimed a Saint October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Bakhita lived up to the challenge to show Jesus’ love to everyone she met, despite all of the very difficult things she lived through. When things are hard for us, we are challenged to show the same kind of love.
Dear Jesus, Saint Bakhita often said, "I am doing all that God wishes of me…." Help me to show others the kind of love that God wishes of me.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Saint Dorothy was a young virgin already celebrated in Caesarea of Cappadocia, where she lived, for her angelic virtue. Her parents were martyred before her in the Diocletian persecution.
The soldiers came for little Dorothy. They beat her and tortured her but Dorothy stood firm and was faithful to Christ. She explained that the God she adored was majestic, above all emperors, who were mortal, and their gods, none of whom created either heaven or earth. The judge told to wicked women to take Dorothy and show her how silly it was to believe in Jesus Christ. Dorothy converted the two women and they both became Christians. The judge as now very furious!
She was stretched upon the rack, and offered her life if she would consent to sacrifice, or death if she refused. She asked why they delayed to torture her, they thought she would deny Christ out of fright. She said to them, “Do what you have to do, that I may see the One for whose love I fear neither death nor torments, Jesus Christ.”
It was mid-winter when Dorothy was put to death. There was no fruit or flowers in bloom. A pagan lawyer mocked her. He told her “send me some apples or roses from Heaven will you?” Moments before she died, an Angel stood at her side with three apples and three roses.
Dorothy said “take them to the lawyer.” She smiled and died. The lawyer became a Catholic and also died a martyr.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Saint Julia was a noble virgin of Carthage, North Africa. She was a sweet and gentle girl. When the city was taken by Genseric in 489, she was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria named Eusebius.
Julia did the hardest of work cheerfully and patiently. She had a happiness and comfort which the world could not have afforded. Julia spent much time in prayer to Jesus whom she loved very much and read many books of piety.
Her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues, thought proper to carry her with him on one of his voyages to Gaul. Having reached the northern part of Corsica, he cast anchor, and went on shore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival.
Julia was left at some distance, because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies which she openly reviled. Felix, the governor of the island, who was a bigoted pagan, asked who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. Eusebius informed him that she was a Christian, and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail with her to renounce her religion, but that he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her.
The governor offered him four of his best female slaves in exchange for her. But the merchant replied, "No, all you are worth will not purchase her, for I would freely lose the most valuable thing I have in the world rather than be deprived of her."
The governor, while Eusebius was drunk and asleep, seized her to sacrifice to his gods. He offered her freedom if she would worship his false gods. Julia answered him saying “Everyone is free if he loves Jesus Christ.”
Felix was insulted and enraged that Julia would not do as she was told. He struck her on the face, and had the hair on her head to be torn off, and lastly, ordered her to be hanged on a cross until she died. Julia died virgin and martyr.
Saint Julia, whether free or a slave, whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout. She adored all the sweet designs of God and without complaining, never ceased to praise and thank God.
Michael is one of the seven Archangels and he is very powerful and protects the Catholic Church.
A long time ago there was a big war in Heaven, when Satan decided he did not wish to be obedient to God anymore. So Michael on God's behalf faught Satan and threw him out of Heaven, because of Satan's disobedience.
This is why it is a good idea if we are being bullied or are facing problems that we should pray to St. Michael the Archangel for protection.
Michael the Archangel is one of the greatest Angels in Heaven because he truly loves and serves God and also protects the Blessed Mother.
St. Michael the Archangel will always protect the Church and he will also protect you when you ask for his help.
Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Blessed Jacinta Marto was born on March 11th, 1910. Her parents were poor farmers who lived in Fatima, Portugal. Jacinta also had a brother called Francisco, he was 2 years older than his sister, and Jacinta's very best friend was her cousin Lucia.
Everyday the children would go out and keep watch over their parents sheep, to make sure no harm came to them. They would often pack their lunch so they could eat while taking care of the sheep. This was a big job for the three little children, but so long as they were together, they didn't mind the work.
Little Jacinta loved to play games and make up stories as they watched over the sheep, and the three children often played games together.
Until oneday when Jacinta was 7 years old, an Angel appeared to the three children, at first Jacinta was frightened but the Angel reassured them he was from Heaven. The Angel told the children that the Blessed Mother would soon visit them and that all three children must be good.
Little Jacinta took this very much to heart, because she loved our Blessed Mother and Jesus, so she tried very hard to behave well and obey her parents in order to please Jesus. Jacinta listened to the Angel and so she would offer up little sacrifices so that God would show mercy to those who did not behave very good. Sometimes this meant that Jacinta would not eat desert or she would go without some delicious fruit for the sake of sinners.
All the children prayed the Rosary with alll their hearts, most especially Jacinta as she became very sorry for those people who did not live good lives. This troubled Jacinta as she longed for all people to be saved, so she kept praying much to our Lady and Lord for their salvation and offered up penances.
Jacinta was shown that those who offend God, made the Blessed Mother very sad, and also made Jesus very sad, so she kept praying very hard for them. As the Blessed Mother continued to visit the children, she taught them a very special prayer which is now known as the 'Fatima Prayer' and is included in the Rosary.
During one of the Blessed Mother's visits she told the children that both Jacinta and her brother, Francisco, would soon join her in Heaven. This did not frighten the children as both loved the Blessed Mother and God.
Jacinta Marto became very sick, and so before she went to Heaven Jacinta told her family this, "tell everybody that God gives graces through the Immaculte Heart of Mary. Tell them to ask graces from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask them to plead for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her."
Not long after she said this, God called Jacinta to Heaven so she could spend eternity in Heaven with Him and our Blessed Mother.
Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.