Friday, March 31, 2006

Saint Dominic

Dominic was born in Spain of a wealthy family. He was a member of the Guzman family and his mother was a very holy woman, Blessed Joan of Aza.

When Dominic was seven, he began to go to school. His uncle who was a priest, guided him all through his school years. After years of study, Dominic became a priest.

He lived a quiet life of prayer and obedience with other good priests. God had amazing plans for Dominic. He began a new religious order called the Order of Preachers or "Dominicans," after Saint Dominic. The Dominicans preached the faith to the people. They helped correct false teachings called heresies.

It all began when Dominic was on a trip through southern France. He realized that some people had formed a group and were going about teaching people things that were not true. This was doing them great harm. Dominic felt such pity for all the people who had joined the group and wanted to help them.

The Dominicans conquered that dangerous heresy with prayer, especially by praying the Holy Rosary. Dominic also encouraged the people to be humble and to make sacrifices.

Once someone asked Dominic what book he used to prepare his wonderful sermons. "The only book I use is the book of love," he said. He always prayed to be filled with true love of neighbor. He begged the Dominicans to be devoted to the study of the Bible and to prayer. Dominic and his preachers spread the beautiful practice of saying the Rosary.

Saint Dominic was a brilliant preacher, while Saint. Francis of Assisi was a humble beggar. They were very close friends. Their two orders, the Dominicans and Franciscans helped Christians become holier. Dominic also founded an order of nuns to care for young girls and the Lay Tertiaries, persons of both sexes living in the world.Dominic's friars opened centers in Paris (France), Madrid (Spain), Rome and Bologna (Italy). He lived to see his order spread to Poland, Scandinavia and Palestine. The friars also went to Canterbury, London, and Oxford (in England).

Dominic died in Bologna (Italy) on August 7, 1221. His great friend, Cardinal Ugolino of Venice became Pope Gregory IX and a few years later he proclaimed Dominic a Saint. Saint Dominic’s feast day is celebrated on August 8th.

O God, let St. Dominic help Your Church by his merits and teaching. May he who was an outstanding preacher of truth become a most generous intercessor for us.

Saint Catherine of Siena

Catherine was born at Siena, Tuscany in Italy. Catherine was the youngest in a family of twenty-five children. When she was six years old Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her mother and father wanted her to be happily married. But, Catherine wished only to be a nun.

To make herself as unattractive as possible, she cut off her long, beautiful hair. Her parents were very upset and scolded her often. They also gave her the most difficult housework to do. But Catherine did not change her mind. Finally, her parents stopped bothering her and allowed her to become a nun.

Catherine was very honest and straightforward with Jesus and scolded Him when He was not around to help her in her struggles and temptations. Jesus told her that because He was in her heart she was able to win her struggles by His grace.

One night when the people of Siena were out on the streets celebrating, the little baby Jesus and His mother Mary appeared to Catherine who was praying alone in her room. Mary took Catherine's hand and the infant Jesus put a ring on the saint's finger and she became his bride.
In those days the Church had many problems. There were fights going on all over Italy. Catherine wrote letters to kings and queens. She even went to beg rulers to make peace with the pope and to avoid wars.

Catherine asked the pope to leave Avignon, France, and return to Rome to rule the Church as it was God's will. He listened to Catherine and did as she said.

Catherine never forgot that Jesus was in her heart. Through her, Jesus helped the sick people she nursed and comforted the prisoners she visited in jail.

This great Saint died in Rome in 1380 when she was just thirty-three. She is the patroness of Italy, her country. Hundreds of years later Saint Catherine was named a Doctor of the Church. She received this great honor because she served Jesus' Church boldly during her short lifetime. Her feast day is April 29th.

O God, You caused St. Catherine to shine with Divine love in the contemplation of the Lord's Passion and in the service of Your Church. By her help grant that Your people, associated in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of His glory.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Saint Helen

Helen was a British princess and became a Christian late in life. Her faith and piety had a good influence on her son Constantine, the first Christian Emperor. She used her wealth for charity and in building churches. When the Emperor planned to build a church on Mount Calvary, Helen, at the age of eighty, began a journey to Jerusalem, hoping to find the Holy Cross.

Three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the nails and the inscriptions. The three crosses were brought before a woman who was afflicted with an incurable disease. When the third cross touched her, she was perfectly cured.

With great joy the pious Empress went about building a glorious church on Mount Calvary in which she placed the precious relic of the true Cross. She sent pieces of it to Rome and Constantinople. She also had a church built on Mount Olivet.

In the year 312, Constantine obtained a great victory through the power of the Cross. Shortly after, Helen returned to Rome where she died in the year 328. Her feast day is celebrated on August 18th.

Lord Jesus Christ, You revealed Your Cross to St. Helen because You wanted to give us a great treasure. Grant, through her prayers, that the ransom paid on that life giving wood may win us the rewards of everlasting life. Amen.

Saint Barbara

Barbara was brought up as a pagan. She was a very beautiful young woman, and many princes came to ask her father for her hand in marriage. But she refused to marry. Her father built a tower in which he jealously guarded his daughter. She gave herself to prayer and study, and managed to receive instruction and Baptism secretly.

When her father discovered her conversion, he was so angry that he drew his sword to kill her, but God saved her. Later, her father brought her before a civil judge. The judge said to her, "Choose either to offer to the gods or be put to death by cruel torments." Barbara answered, "I offer myself to my God, Jesus Christ, who created Heaven and earth and all things."

After Barbara was beaten, our Lord came to comfort her in a vision. The judges ordered her to be slain with the sword. But her father came for her and took her to a mountain, where he himself beheaded her while she was praying to God to have mercy on his soul.
Suddenly, fire came from heaven and consumed her father.

Barbara was martyred in the year 235. She is invoked against lightning and fire. Her feast day is December 4th.

O God, You give us joy each year when we celebrate the feast of St. Barbara. May she inspire us by her example of courage and chastity and help us by her prayers. Amen.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blessed Torello

Torello was born in Tuscany in Italy. His life as a child in the village was ordinary and normal. After his father's death, he was left with a small fortune and made the wrong kind of friends. They were boys who drank and wasted their time instead of working. Torello liked his new friends and tried hard to please them.

Then while he was playing sport one day, a rooster flew down from its roost. It landed on Torello's arm and crowed three times, long and loud. Torello was speechless and walked away without finishing the game. He knew he was being warned, just as St. Peter had once been warned that his foolish way of life was leading him away from Jesus.

Torello made up his mind then and there to change his life. He went to see the abbot of San Fedele who helped him make a good confession. Then Torello went out to a quiet place in the forest and chose a spot near a big tree where he spent eight days in prayer. At the end of that time he decided that he would be a hermit.

He went back to Poppi and sold all his property. He kept only enough money to buy the small square plot of land around the big tree he had found in the woods. Next to that tree he built a little shack where he spent the rest of his life. He grew his own vegetables for food and got water from the stream. He prayed and performed penances, the hardest of which was sleeping only three hours a night.

Being a hermit Torello felt close to God and he spent fifty years of his life in peace with God. While he was alive, only one friend knew of Torello's hidden life as a hermit in the forest. Blessed Torello died at the age of eighty in 1282. We remember him on March 16th.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saint Jerome

Jerome was a Roman Catholic who was born in Dalmatia. His father taught him his religion well, but sent him to a famous pagan school where Jerome grew to love pagan writings and lost some of his love for God. He became great friends with a group of holy Christians, and his heart was turned completely to God.

Later, this brilliant young man decided to live alone in a wild desert. He was afraid that his love for pagan writings would lead him away from the love of God. He welcomed the hard penance and the burning hot desert.

Even there, he suffered terrible temptations. Jerome did not give in. Instead he increased his acts of penance and wept for his sins. He also went to study Hebrew with a monk as his teacher. He did this to get rid of the bad thoughts that kept attacking his mind. He became such a great scholar of Hebrew that he could later translate the Bible into Latin. Many more people were then able to read, learn and enjoy it.

Jerome spent long years of his life in a little cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born. There he prayed, studied the Bible, and taught many people how to serve God. He wrote many letters and even books to protect the faith from non-believers.

Saint Jerome had a bad temper, and because of his sharp tongue he made many enemies yet he was a very holy man who spent his life trying to serve Jesus in the best way he could. So despite his temper, he became a great Saint. He died in 420. His feast day is celebrated on September 30th.

O God, You gave St. Jerome a great love for Holy Scripture. Let Your people feed more abundantly on Your word and find in it the source of life. Amen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saint John Vianney

John was born in Lyons, in France. As a child he took care of his father's sheep. He loved to pray but he also loved to play horseshoes. When John was eighteen, he asked his father if he could become a priest. His father was worried because John had become a big help on the family farm but two years later his father agreed.

When he was twenty years old, John studied under Father Balley. He was very patient but John became sad when he found it difficult to learn Latin. He decided to walk sixty miles, which was a very long walk, to the shrine of St. John Francis Regis whose feast we celebrate on June 16. John prayed to St. John Francis for help. After the pilgrimage, he still found his lessons difficult but now he was not sad. He just decided to study harder.

John was finally able to enter the seminary to become a priest. No matter how much he tried, he found his studies quite hard. In the final exams, which were spoken, not written, John had to face a group of teachers and answer their questions. He was very worried and could not complete the test.

He was a holy man, he was full of common sense and understood what the Church taught about the subjects and he knew the right answers when asked what should be done in this case or that. He just couldn't say those answers in the difficult way they were taught in the Latin text books. John was ordained and became a priest. He understood what his job was as a priest and everyone knew he was a good man.

After he became a priest, he was sent to a little parish called Ars. Father Vianney fasted, prayed and did hard penance so that God would save the people of his parish from sin. He ate very little and lived like the poorest of the poor. He did penance for his people and prayed for hours before the Blessed Sacrament. "That is the way to win souls to God," he said. He was often tormented by the devil who tried to keep him from saving souls. The people of his parish were not all good. They drank too much liquor, used bad language, worked even on Sundays and never went to Church.

God heard Fr. Vianney's prayer and one by one the liquor shops closed down. People slowly started going to Church for Mass and began worshipping God. God gave John the power to see into people's minds and to know the future. Because of this gift, he converted many sinners and helped people make the right choices in life.

Hundreds of pilgrims began to come to Ars and St. John Vianney spent sometimes eighteen hours everyday hearing confessions. Father Vianney spent forty years as the parish priest of Ars, dying at the age of 73. His feast day is celebrated on August 4th.

Almighty and merciful God, in St. John Vianney, You have given us a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. Through his intercession help us to win others for Christ and together with them attain eternal glory. Amen.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph of Nazareth is a great Saint who lived his life by faith, a faith that made him a real hero. He was chosen by our Heavenly Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of His greatest treasures, Jesus, His divine son and Mary Queen of heaven. Joseph was Jesus’ foster-father and Mary’s husband.

He was poor all his life and had to work very hard in his carpenter shop but he never complained. Joseph was happy to work for his little family. He loved Jesus and Mary so very much. In the Holy Bible we do not find even one word spoken by Saint Joseph yet, even without words, he shows his deep faith and trust in the Living God.

Whatever the Lord wanted him to do, Joseph did at once, no matter how difficult it was. He was humble and pure, gentle and wise. Jesus and Mary loved him and obeyed him because God had placed him as the head of their family. What a joy for St. Joseph to live with the Son of God himself. Jesus obeyed him, helped him, and loved him.

We pray to St. Joseph as the protector of the dying for a special reason. We believe that Joseph died peacefully in the arms of Jesus and Mary when God finally called his faithful servant to the joy of heaven. St. Joseph died before Jesus' passion and death on the Cross.

St. Teresa of Avila chose St. Joseph as the protector of her order of Carmelite sisters. She had a great trust in his prayers. "Every time I ask St. Joseph for something," she said, "he always obtains it for me." St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church. We celebrate his feast day on March 19th.

Almighty God, You entrusted to the faithful care of Joseph the beginnings of the mysteries of man's salvation. Through his intercession may Your Church always be faithful in her service so that Your designs will be fulfilled. Amen.

Saint Brigid of Ireland

A few years after St. Patrick arrived, a little girl named Brigid was born at Faughart, County Louth, in Ireland. Her father was an Irish lord named Dubthac and her mother was a Christian salve named Brocca.

As Brigid grew up, her love for Jesus grew deep. She once heard St. Patrick preach and never forgot his teaching for the rest of her life. She looked for Jesus in the poor and often brought food and clothing to them.

One day she gave away a whole pail of milk and then she began to worry about what her mother would say. She prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away. When she got home, her pail was full again.

Brigid was very pretty and her father thought that it was time for her to marry. But, she had decided in her heart to give herself entirely to God. She did not want to marry anyone. When she realized that young men wanted to marry her because of her beauty, she made an unusual request to God. She asked God to take away her beauty and God granted her request.

Seeing that his daughter was no longer pretty, Brigid's father gladly agreed when Brigid asked to become a nun. She even started a convent with just seven nuns so that other young women could become nuns, too.

As Brigid took her vows in the convent, a miracle happened. Brigid became beautiful again! She reminded people of the Blessed Mother because she was so lovely and gentle. Some called her the "Mary of the Irish." St. Brigid died in 525. Her feast day is February 1st.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Saint Patrick

Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents. When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken on a ship to Ireland. There he was sold as a slave. His owner sent him to look after his flocks of sheep on the mountains. Patrick had very little food and clothing yet he took good care of the animals in rain, snow and ice.

Patrick was so lonely on the hillside that he turned often in prayer to Jesus and his Mother Mary. His life was hard but Patrick's trust in God grew stronger all the time. Six years later, he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain. He saw this as a sign and escaped from Ireland.

In Britain he studied to become a priest. Patrick had a strong feeling that he had to go back to Ireland to bring that pagan land of non-believers to Christ. At last his wish came true. He became a priest and then a bishop. Pope St. Celestine I asked Patrick to go as a missionary and preach first in England then in Ireland. How happy he was to bring the Good News of the true God to the people who once held him a slave!

Patrick suffered much in Ireland and there was always the danger that he would be killed, yet he kept on preaching about Jesus. He traveled from one village to another where tribe after tribe became Christian.

One of the pagan kings of Ireland arrested Patrick. When he saw the miracles worked by Patrick, he said, "Tell us about your God. He has given you great power." "There is but one God," answered Patrick, "and three divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Picking up a green shamrock he said, "Even as there are three leaves on this one stern, so there are three Persons in one God." He was allowed to preach the new Faith everywhere in Ireland.

He hardly ever rested and made sacrifices and did hard penance for these people whom he loved so dearly. Before he died, within the thirty-three years he worked in Ireland, the whole nation was Christian.

He was one of the most successful missionaries in the world but his great success in no way made St. Patrick proud. He called himself a poor sinner and gave all praise to God. Patrick died in 461. We celebrate his feast day on March 17th.

O God, You sent St. Patrick to preach Your glory to the Irish people. Through his merits and intercession grant that we who have the honor of bearing the name of Christians may constantly proclaim Your wonderful designs to men. Amen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Saint Matilda

Matilda was the daughter of Count Dietrich of Westphalia, Germany. When Matilda was still quite young, her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman named Henry. Soon after their marriage, Henry became king of Germany.

As queen, Matilda lived a simple life and made time for daily prayer. Everyone who saw her realized how good and kind she was. She was more like a mother than a queen. Matilda loved to visit and comfort the sick. She taught the ignorant, helped prisoners and did not let herself be spoiled by her position, but tried to reach out to people in need.

King Henry realized that his wife was a very special person. He often told her that he was a better person and a better king because she was his wife. Even though their marriage had been arranged, Henry and Matilda loved each other very much. They were happily married for twenty-three years.

Matilda was free to use the treasures of the kingdom for her charities and Henry never asked her how she planned to use it. Because of her he became more aware of the needs of people. He realized that as king he had the power to lessen their suffering.

King Henry died quite suddenly in 936. The queen was very sad and felt his loss very much. She made up her mind to live for God alone. So she called the priest to celebrate Mass for King Henry's soul. Then she gave the priest all the jewels she was wearing to show that she meant to give up the things of the world from then on.

Although she was a saint, Matilda favored her son, Henry, more than her son, Otto, in the struggle to be king but she was later very sorry for having done this. She made up for it by accepting without complaint the sufferings that came her way.

She spent the rest of her years practicing charity and penance. Matilda died peacefully in 968 and was buried beside her husband. Her feast day is March 14th.

Saint Euphrasia

Euphrasia was a Roman and born to rich but deeply Christian parents. Her father, a relative of Emperor Theodosius I, died when she was just a year old and the emperor looked after Euphrasia and her mother. Emperor Theodosius accomplished his mission of converting Rome into a Christian state.

When Euphrasia was seven, her mother took her to Egypt. There they lived in a large house near a convent of nuns. Euphrasia was fascinated by the nuns. She begged her mother to let her serve God in the convent. She was just a little girl, but she was not about to give up the idea or forget her request. Soon after, Euphrasia's mother took her to the convent and put her in the care of the abbess.

Euphrasia's mother died and the emperor reminded the young woman that her parents had promised her in marriage to a rich young senator. Of course Euphrasia wanted to belong to no one but Jesus. So she wrote a respectful letter to the emperor.

In it she said, "I belong to Jesus, and I cannot give myself to anyone else. My only desire is that the world should forget about me completely. I humbly beg Your Majesty to take all the riches my parents left me and give them to the poor. I ask Your Majesty to free all the slaves of my family. Please cancel all the debts people owe me."

The emperor thought her letter was so beautiful that he read it out loud to all the senators. He agreed to do everything she had asked.

Euphrasia spent the rest of her life as a nun. She never regretted that the Lord had chosen her to be a religious. She often fasted and when faced with temptations, would sometimes spend the day carrying heavy stones from one place to another as penance.

Euphrasia died in 420. We celebrate her feast day on March 13th.

Saint Seraphina

Seraphina was born in a little Italian town called San Geminiano, Tuscany. Her parents had once been rich, but difficult times had made them poor. Fina as her family affectionately called her, was their pretty and lively daughter who had a generous nature.

Each day she saved half of her dinner for someone in the town poorer than she was. During the day she sewed and spun cloth to help the family with expenses. At night, she usually spent a long time praying to Jesus and Mary.

When she was still quite young, her father died. Fina was struck with an illness that deformed and paralyzed her. She found it very painful to move and had to be carried everywhere on a piece of board. Fina lay for six years on wooden planks.

Pain rushed through her whole body and the only way she could bear it was to think of Jesus as he was nailed to the cross. "I unite my sufferings to yours, Jesus," she would whisper. Sometimes, when the pain was just too much, she would say, "It is not my wounds but yours, O Christ, that hurt me."

Fina was left alone for many hours every day because her mother had to go out to work or beg. The neighbors knew about Fina, but her sores smelled so bad that people made excuses not to go and visit her.

Fina's mother suddenly died and she was left alone. Only one neighbor, her good friend Beldia, came to care for her giving Fina as much attention as she could, but Fina had to be left alone most of the time. Fina knew that she could not live much longer but she refused to lose heart.

Someone talked to her about the terrible sufferings St. Gregory the Great had to undergo during his life. Fina became devoted to him and although she did not join the order, she lived the rest of her life following the Benedictine rule.

One day, as she groaned in pain, St. Gregory appeared to her. He said kindly, "Child, on my feast day God will grant you rest." which in older calendars was celebrated on March 12 that was the day he died in 604. And as promised, on March 12, 1253, St. Gregory came to take Fina home to heaven. We celebrate her feast day on March 12th.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe was born into a poor family in the year 1894 in Poland, but though they were poor they also loved God and taught all their children to love God as well.

Maximilian could at times be naughty and oneday his Mother said to him, "Max I don't know what is to become of you"! This upset Maximilian very much because he did not wish to upset his mother and neither did he wish to upset God.

This made Maximilian go to Church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament as he was truly sorry that he had been naughty. It was here that a beautiful lady appeared to him and Maximilian knew it was our Blessed Mother, he was awestruck at her beauty and her kindness.

Our Blessed Mother then offered Maximilan two crowns from which to choose, one was white which meant purity and the other which meant martyrdom. Maximilian without hesitation chose both!

When Maximilian left school he decided to become a Priest, and spent many happy years writing about our Lady when he and his fellow Priests started a magazine dedicated especially to the Blessed Mother.

Father Maximilian also travelled to Japan in order to talk about our Faith, but when he got sick he had to return to Poland. When he returned he kept writing and spreading his paper about our Lady so that all may come to love her as he did.

Then oneday war began in Poland and the Nazi's occupied Poland, this led many people to suffer as the Nazi's were very mean and cruel men. Father Maximilian did all he could to help the people of his homeland but unfortunately the Nazi's did not like this.

When the Nazi's asked Father Maximilian to print papers about them, Father Maximilian refused to spread hate, because he wished to spread love instead of hate. This upset the Nazi's and they arrested Father Maximilian!

Father Maximilian showed much courage in the camps the Nazi sent him too and everyone loved him there. Then oneday a man who was going to be killed cried out, 'but I am married what will happen to my poor wife and children'? Father Maximilian could not allow this poor man to die so he stepped out and took his place.

The mean Nazi soldiers killed Father Maximilian as he prayed the Rosary. What the Blessed Mother had said to the young Maximilian came true, for he was both pure and holy and also died a Martry so someone else may live.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe know lives in Heaven with God and our Blessed Mother who he so loved.

Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blessed Mary MacKillop

Mary Mackillop was born in 1842, her parents were very good Catholics and Mary's father once studied to be a Priest but God decided he should marry his wife, Flora.

Alexander and Flora had 8 children one of whom was Mary. The family were very lucky in that Australia was a big country and many children were not able to attend schools that often. Through Mary's father, they learn all about the Catholic Faith.

Because they were not very wealthy Mary decided she would start work at only 16 years of age, she worked as a governess and taught other children their studies as well as the Catholic Faith. All the children loved Mary because she was so patient and kind to them all.

It was when Mary attended Mass oneday that she heard a very good Priest speak about teaching even more children the Faith and so Mary decided then that she would become a Nun. With the help of this Priest, Father Woods, Mary began a new Religious Order called the Sisters of St. Joseph, many other ladies joined her in trying to help the poor children in Australia.

Though Mary was a very good and holy lady sometimes people would be nasty to her and this made Mary sad but she did not give up and instead she loved them and God.

After much suffering Mary finally went to Rome and after speaking with the Holy Father, he then approved her Order, they became known as 'The Josephite Sisters'.

Mary travelled all over Australia in very hot temperatures and pouring rain in order to help the poor children who could not afford school, all the people loved Mary very much because she was so humble and meek.

Mary loved St. Joseph and prayed to him often and so the Order that she started grew but Mary became ill.

Blessed Mary Mackillop oneday got very sick and died so now she is in Heaven with God and her favourite Saint, Joseph.

Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blessed Michael Rua

Michael Rua was born on 9th June 1837. He was the last of nine children. He entered Don Bosco’s Oratory in 1852. One day Don Bosco told him: “We two will go halves in everything”.

He was among the first few with whom Don Bosco shared the idea of forming the ‘Salesian Society”. For 36 years he was Don Bosco’s closest collaborator in the development of the Congregation.

He made his first profession in 1855 and was the first Spiritual Director of the Society at the age of 22 years. Michael was ordained a priest in 1860. He accompanied Don Bosco on his journeys. At the explicit request of Don Bosco, Pope Leo XIII designated him to succeed our Founder and confirmed him as Rector Major in 1888.

Michael was nicknamed “The Living Rule” because of his fidelity. Don Rua was also known for his fatherly nature and goodness. As the numbers of members and communities increased he sent Salesians all over the world, showing special care for the missionary expeditions.

In the long journeys which he undertook to visit the Salesian works in Europe and in the Middle East he was a constant source of comfort and encouragement, always referring to the Founder, Don Bosco. When he died, on 6th April 1910 at the age of 73, the Society had grown from 773 to 4000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities, for 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries.

During the Beatification ceremony, Pope Paul VI declared The Salesian Family had its origin in Don Bosco and its continuity in Don Rua. He made the example of Don Bosco into a school, his Rule into a spirit, his holiness into a model.

His body is venerated in the crypt of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and his memory is celebrated on 29th October.

Blessed Laura Vicuna

Laura Vicuna was the daughter of Jose Domingo Vicuna and Mercedes Pino. She was born April 5, 1891, in Santiago, Chile 3 months after the outbreak of the civil war in Chile. Her father was a soldier who belonged to a noble Chilean family. He died when Laura was two.

Mercedes was forced to flee to Argentina with Laura and her sister where she hoped she could find work to support her family. There, she met Manuel Mora a prosperous landowner. He offered to take care of the family and send Laura to convent school if Mercedes would stay with him.

Laura loved her school and did very well. She received her First Holy Communion at ten years old and and, like Dominic Savio, she made resolutions to love God with all her strength, to do penance and die rather than sin, to make Jesus more widely known and to make reparation for sins against him. She asked the Bishop if she could join the order and become a Salesian nun. The bishop refused saying she was too young.

On December 8, 1901, she was allowed to take private vows in the Sodality of the Children of Mary. She asked her confessor if she could offer her life for the conversion of her mother. Her confessor granted her request. In 1903, Laura became very ill. She left the convent to be with her mother. Her mother moved away from the Mora house into a small house near the school.

In January 1904, Senor Mora stormed the small house and demanded they come back to the house. Laura refused and left the house. Senor Mora followed her, beat her and left her unconscious.

She regained consciousness but survived only a week. Before she died, Laura told her mother, "Mama, I'm happy to offer my life for you. I asked our Lord for this." Her mother left Manuel Mora and returned to the church. Laura was beatified in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. We remember her on January 22nd.

Blessed Laura Vicuna, little flower of purity, model of youth, lovely child of Our Lady, you who followed Christ to the point of herosism, hear our confident prayer. Obtain for us the graces we need. Help us to love and serve God with joy. Accompany us on our journey to holiness. Blessed Laura Vicuna, pray for us! Amen.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Saint John of God

John was born at Montemoro Novo, in Portugal to poor, but deeply Christian parents. John was a restless boy, for a while he was a shepherd, then a soldier, then a storekeeper. During his adult years he traveled over much of Europe. He and his friends wandered far away from God and lived bad lives.

By the time John was forty, he began to feel empty and sad about the life he was wasting away. In church he heard a preaching of the holy missionary, John of Avila and John realized what a sinner he had become. He began to weep right out loud.

In the days that followed, Saint John of Avila helped John begin his life again with hope and courage. John began to live differently. Prayer and penance became part of his daily life. The bishop then gave him the name “John of God” because he changed his selfish life completely and truly became "of God." John of God began to realize how much poverty and suffering filled the lives of people.

He began nursing the sick in the hospitals and asylums. Then he found that many people were too poor to have hospital care. Who would take care of them? He decided that, for the love of God, he would.

When he was forty-five, John rented a house at Granada in Spain to care for the poor, sick, homeless and unwanted. The house became a small hospital where every person in need was welcomed. Many of his patients and those who came to help got converted. John gradually formed a religious order for the care of the poor called Brothers of Saint John of God.

Some people wondered if John was as holy as he seemed. Once, a Marquis disguised himself as a beggar and knocked on John's door, asking for alms. John cheerfully gave him all the money he had. The Marquis went away very impressed. The next day a messenger arrived at John's door with a letter of explanation from the Marquis and the money was also returned. In addition, the Marquis sent 150 gold crowns. He also had enough fresh bread, meat and eggs delivered every morning to the hospital for all the patients and staff.

John's motto was: "Labor without stopping. Do all the good works you can while you still have the time." After ten years of hard work in his hospital, John became sick. He died on his birthday in 1550. His feast day is March 8th.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity

Perpetua and Felicity lived in Carthage, North Africa. It was the time of the terrible torture of Christians by Emperor Septimus Severus at the beginning of the third century.

Twenty-two-year-old Perpetua was the daughter of a rich pagan (a pagan is someone who does not believe in God) nobleman. While growing up, she had been given everything she had ever wanted. Perpetua converted and became a Christian. She realized that she loved Jesus and her Christian faith more than anything the world could offer. For this she found herself a prisoner on the way to execution (to be killed).

Perpetua's father did everything possible to persuade his daughter to give up her Christian faith. He tried to convince her of the importance of saving her life. But she would not give in, even though she knew that she would have to leave behind her husband and baby.

Felicity, Perpetua's maid, who had earlier been a slave, also became a Christian. She and Perpetua were very good friends. They shared their belief in and love for Jesus. Felicity, too, was willing to sacrifice her life for Jesus and for her faith. For this she also found herself a prisoner on the way to execution.

Felicity was also a young wife and while she was in prison she gave birth to a child. Her little baby was adopted by a good Christian woman. Felicity was happy because now she could die a martyr (to die for Jesus and her faith).

Hand in hand, Perpetua and Felicity bravely faced martyrdom together. They marched from their cells into the amphitheater, as if into heaven, with cheerful looks and graceful bearing. If they trembled it was for joy and not for fear.

The people, demanded that the martyrs be led to the middle of the amphitheater where they could see them die. Without being asked they went where the people wanted them to go. First they kissed one another, to complete their witness with the customary kiss of peace. Then they were charged and attacked by wild animals and later beheaded.

What brave and happy martyrs!

They died in the year 203 and their feast day is celebrated on the 7th March.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saint Jude Thaddeus

Jude Thaddeus was a nephew of Mary and Joseph, and a cousin of our Lord. He was a brother of the Apostle James the Less. His father was Cleophas, who died a martyr, and his mother's name was Mary. She stood beneath the Cross when Jesus died, and later came to anoint the body of Jesus.

In his boyhood and youth Jude must have known Jesus well. He left all to follow the Master. He was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. He had the ardor of holy zeal and love. He was ready to sacrifice and suffer for the Master’s sake. Jude wanted to tell everyone the truth about Jesus.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, Saint Jude set out with his companions to preach the Gospel. He met Saint Simon in his travels and they preached together. Hey taught th popl to pray and to love God Jude was blessed with a special power. When he ordered the devils in pagan idols to leave, the images fell to the ground, broken into pieces.

Jude and Simon suffered martyrdom in Persia, where they were missionaries. Jude was beaten to death with a club. His relics are now honored in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. His feast day is October 28th.

Saint Jude is sometimes pictured with an image of our Lord because he cured the King of Edessa from leprosy in the name of Jesus. Saint Jude is the patron of impossible cases. O God, You made Your Name known to us through the Apostles. By the intercession of St. Jude, let Your Church continue to grow with an increased number of believers. Amen

Saint Casimir

Casimir was born a Polish prince and was one of thirteen children. His father Casimir IV was king of Poland. With the help of his good and holy mother the queen and his loyal teacher Casimir received a very good education.

When he was about fifteen years old noblemen from Hungary asked Casmir’s father to send his son to be their king. But Casimir refused. Instead, Casimir spent the rest of his life in prayer and study, trying to live as a good Christian.

He tried always to be cheerful and friendly with everybody. Under cover of his busy life, he did whatever he could to grow spiritually. He was very strict with himself and often fasted and slept on the floor of his room as penance.

He prayed daily, sometimes spending many hours of the night in prayer. He loved to think and pray about the passion of Jesus – this made his love for God grow strong. Casimir also loved the Blessed Virgin Mary with a special love. He showed his love by frequently singing a beautiful hymn named "Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary." His hand-written copy of it was buried with him.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Casimir burned with a sincere and true love for God. So rich was his love and so abundantly did it fill his heart, that it flowed out from his inner spirit toward his fellow men.

Nothing was more pleasant, nothing more desirable for him, than to share his belongings, and even to dedicate and give his entire self to Christ's poor, to strangers, to the sick, to those in captivity, and to all who suffer. To widows, orphans, and the afflicted, he was not only a guardian and patron but a father, son, and brother.

Casimir fell sick often, but he was brave and strong in character always doing what he knew was right. Sometimes, with great respect, he would advise his father, the king, to rule the people fairly and his father listened to him.

Casimir’s mother found a very beautiful and virtuous young woman who was the Emperor’s daughter, for her son to marry. But Casimir who had decided to give his heart to God alone, refused.

While in Lithuania on an assignment of service for that country, Casimir became ill with tuberculosis. He died at the age of twenty-six and is buried in the cathedral of Vilna. His feast day is March 4th.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Saint Katharine Drexel

Katharine was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Katharine's mother Hanna died when she was just a month old. Two years later, her father who was a rich industrialist and patron of railroads married a wonderful woman named Emma.

Emma was a loving mother to Elizabeth and Katharine. She then had another daughter Louise and the girls had a happy childhood together. Although their family was wealthy, they were taught to love their neighbors and be especially concerned about the poor.

Their wealth was used for the benefit of others to show their love for God. Her parents even opened their home to the poor several days a week. Elizabeth and Katharine taught at the Sunday School that Emma began for the children of employees and their neighbors.

Later Elizabeth started a Pennsylvania trade school for orphans and her younger sister Louise started a liberal arts and vocational school for poor blacks in Virginia.

Katharine nursed her mother who suffered from cancer for three years before she died in 1883. After her mother’s death, Katharine set out and looked for ways to make herself useful. She was a very active Catholic and generous with her time and her money. She realized that the Church had many needs.

She turned her energies and her fortune to the poor and the forgotten. Her work for Jesus was among the African American and Native American people. She visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux chief and began her systematic aid to the Indian (Red Indian) missions, spending millions of the family fortunes. She began to build schools, supply food and clothing, furnishings and salaries for teachers. She was also able to find priests to serve the spiritual needs of the people.

In 1891, Katharine became a nun and took the name of Sister Mary Katharine, she then began a new religious community of missionaries in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They were called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored (now known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament).

She was later known as Mother Katharine. The sisters of her order center their life around Jesus in the Eucharist. She and her sisters started schools, convents and missionary churches. In 1925, they established Xavier University in New Orleans. During her long, fruitful lifetime, Mother Katharine and her sisters accomplished many wonderful works for the poor.

She believed that she found Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. So, too, she found him in the African and Native Americans whom she lovingly served. Mother Katharine died on March 3, 1955, at the age of ninety-seven. Her feast day is March 3rd.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Saint Gabriel The Archangel

The prophet Daniel wrote that it was Gabriel the Archangel who announced to him the time of the coming of the Messiah. Gabriel appeared to Zechariah” standing on the right side of the altar of incense” as Saint Luke wrote. He made known the future birth of John the Baptist.

Gabriel’s greatest honor was to be sent to Mary in Nazareth to announce to her that she was to be the Mother of God. When she consented, Mary became the Mother of the Son of God.

Gabriel’s name means “the strength of God.” He was sent as a messenger in the wok that shows the power and glory of God. He left us the first words of the “Hail Mary.” We can ask him to help us to say our Rosary with true devotion. His feast day is September 29th.

Saint Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes

Juanita Fernández Solar is the first Chilean woman and the first American Discalced Carmelite Nun to be raised to the honors of the altar. She was born in Santiago, Chile, into the heart of a very Catholic, rich family, on 13th July 1900.

From the age of six, she assisted at Holy Mass almost daily with her mother, and longed for the day when she would receive her first Holy Communion. From then on she managed to communicate daily spending quite some time in friendly conversation with Jesus. She also had a deep devotion to our Blessed Mother.

When Teresa was fourteen she felt called to Carmel. She prepared herself by reading about the Carmelite Saints and frequent correspondence with the Prioress of Los Andes, who was amazed at the clarity with which the 17 year old Teresa could explain the Carmelite ideal and the fire with which she defended her contemplative life. She entered the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Los Andes on 7 May 1919.

She was always ready to serve others and give up things for them so that there would be joy and happiness, and to make virtue lovable and attractive.

As a Carmelite she was called Teresa of Jesus, and did not manage to live even one year in the convent, dying on 12 April 1920. The religious of her convent declared that she was already a Saint when she entered. For this reason she was able to complete her climb to sanctity in such a short time, having begun in earnest a long time before her first Communion.

She was beatified in Santiago de Chile on 3 April 1987 by Pope John Paul II, who solemnly canonized her in Rome on 21 March 1993. Her feast day is April 12th.

Saint Stanislaus Kostka

Stanislaus Kostka was a young Polish nobleman. His father was a very rich man and Stanislaus was brought up in the court.

Sometimes some of the men sitting at dinner would say nasty things. When they did, little Stanislaus blushed, it made him ill to hear men say dirty and unpleasant things.

Stanislaus went away to school with his big brother but his big brother was a bully. He treated Stanislaus badly, there was nothing for him to do but run away.

His brother followed him riding very fast horses. But God did not let them see Stanislaus on the road! Stanislaus continued on his journey and came upon an empty church. Oh how he wished he could go to Holy Communion! There was no priest. How could he receive it? God took care of that! Angels brought Holy Communion to him.

Stanislaus walked all the way from Vienna to Rome. He had to beg for food. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him that she would take care of him.

He became a Jesuit novice and showed that he was a Saint from the start of his training. He loved to pray and was very pure. Stanislaus did not live for much longer as Mary, our Blessed Mother came for him on the feast of the Assumption and took him with her to Heaven. His feast day is November 13th.

Saint Isidore the Farmer

Isidore was born at Madrid, in Spain. His parents were deeply religious and named their son after the great Saint Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, Spain.

Isidore's parents wanted to offer their son a good education, but they could not afford it. They were tenant farmers and like them, their son would be a farmer too.

When he grew up, Isidore went to work for a rich land owner, John de Vargas, in Madrid and worked there all his life. He married a good girl, Mary de la Cabeza, from a family as poor as his own. Isidore and Mary loved each other very much. They had a son, but he died when he was just a baby. Isidore and his wife offered to Jesus their sadness over the child's death, knowing that their son was happy with God forever.

Isidore went to Mass every morning before going to work. He worked hard even if he didn't feel like it. He plowed and planted and prayed. He called on Mary, the Saints and his Guardian Angel and they helped turn his ordinary days into special, joyful times.

The world of faith became very real to Saint Isidore. When he had a day off, Isidore spent extra time praying and adoring Jesus in church. Sometimes, on holidays, Isidore and his wife would visit a few neighboring parishes on a one day pilgrimage of prayer.

Once the parish had a dinner. Isidore arrived early and went into the church to pray. He arrived in the parish hall late and he didn't come in alone. He brought a group of beggars, too! The parishioners were upset. What if there wasn't enough food for all those beggars? But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for everybody else. Isidore said kindly, "There is always enough for the poor of Jesus."

Stories of miracles began to spread about this farm worker Saint. It is said that one day, Isidore was late coming from Church, Mr. Vargas was looking for him and found Angels plowing the fields in place of Isidore.

Isidore was an unselfish, loving and compassionate human being. He is one of Spain's most popular saints. Isidore died on May 15, 1130. In March, 1622, Pope Gregory XV proclaimed five great saints together. They were St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri and St. Isidore the Farmer. His feast day is May 15 th.

Isidore was special because he cared for the gifts that surrounded him. He let his faith in Jesus and the Church light up his whole life. Today we can make an effort to share the gifts we have especially with the poor.

O God, through the intercession of St. Isidore the holy Farmer grant that we may overcome all feelings of pride. May we always serve You with that humility which pleases You, through his merits and example.

Saint Rita of Cascia

Rita was born in a little Italian village called Roccaparena in Umbria. Her parents Antonio and Amata Lotti did not have children and begged God to send them a child. God answered their prayer and they brought Rita up well.

From a young age Rita used to visit the Augustinian nuns at Cascia and wanted to enter the convent when she was fifteen. Her parents thought that she should marry Paolo Mancini. He turned out to be a mean and unfaithful husband. He had such a bad temper that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of him.

Yet, for eighteen years, his wife patiently took all his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her and he returned to God. Rita's happiness over her husband's conversion did not last long. One day, shortly after, he was murdered.

Rita was shocked and heart-broken. But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her twin sons forgive them, too. The boys, however, could not forgive them and were determined to avenge their father's death.

Rita prayed that they would die rather than commit murder. Within a few months, both boys became seriously ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she was able to help them to forgive, and to ask God's forgiveness for themselves. They did and both died peacefully.

Now that her husband and her children were dead and she was left alone in the world, Rita tried three times to enter the convent in Cascia. The rules of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join even if her husband had died.

Rita refused to give up, and at last, she was allowed to join them. In the convent, Rita lived in prayer, complete obedience and was know for her charity. She had great devotion to the crucified Jesus.

Once, while praying, she asked him to let her share some of his pain. One thorn from his crown of thorns pierced her forehead and made a sore that never healed. In fact, it grew so bad and smelled so bad that she had to stay away from the others. She was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus.

Saint Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like Saint Jude, Saint Rita is often called "Saint of the Impossible." Her feast day is also May 22nd.

Heavenly Father, You granted to St. Rita a share in the Passion of Your Son. Give us courage and strength in time of trial, so that by our patient endurance we may enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Your Son.