Saturday, May 27, 2006

How can the Saints help us?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Saint Peter

Peter, the first pope, was a fisherman from Galilee. Jesus invited Peter to follow him, saying: "I will make you a fisher of men." Peter was a simple, hard-working man. He was generous, honest and loved Jesus very much.

This great apostle's name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means "rock." "You are Peter," Jesus said, "and on this rock I will build my Church."

When the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus, Peter was afraid. In his fright he committed the sin of denying that he knew Jesus, three times. Peter was terrified that they would kill him too, but before Jesus died, Peter repented totally. He wept over his denials for the rest of his life and Jesus lovingly forgave Peter.
After the resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times: "Do you love me?" "Lord," Peter answered, "you know all things. You know that I love you." Jesus truly did know! Peter was so right. Jesus said "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." He was telling Peter to take care of his Church because he would be ascending into heaven. Jesus left Peter as the leader and head of His Church.

Peter later went to Rome to live. Rome was the center of the whole Roman Empire. Peter converted many nonbelievers there. When the fierce torture of Christians began, they begged Peter to leave Rome and save himself. Peter started out and on the road and Jesus appeared to him. Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "I am coming to be crucified a second time."

Peter turned around and went back. He understood that this vision meant that he was meant to suffer and die for Jesus. Soon, he was taken prisoner and condemned to death. Because he was not a Roman citizen, he, like Jesus, could be crucified. This time he did not deny the Lord. This time he was ready to die for Jesus. Peter asked to be crucified with his head downward since he was not worthy to suffer as Jesus had. The Roman soldiers did not find this unusual because slaves were crucified upside down.

Peter was martyred on Vatican Hill. It was around the year 67. A large church was built over that sacred location in the fourth century.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

This lovable Saint was born at Assisi in Italy. Gabriel was the eleventh of thirteen children. He received the name Francis at Baptism, in honor of the great St. Francis of Assisi. His mother died when he was only four years old. Francis' father hired a governess to raise his thirteen children.

Francis grew to be very handsome and likable. He was often the most popular person at a party. He loved to have fun and enjoyed hunting and attending the theater. There was also another side to him, too. Even while having good times, he was sometimes bored but he couldn't explain why.

He seemed to feel in his heart a strong desire for God and the deeper things of life. Twice he became so sick he nearly died. Each time he promised Our Lady that if she would help cure him, he would become a priest. He got better both times, but he did not keep his promise.

One day, he saw a picture of the Sorrowful Mother that was being carried in a procession. It seemed that the Blessed Mother was looking straight at him. At the same time, he heard a voice in his heart telling him, "Francis, the world is not for you anymore."

That did it! At the age of eighteen, Francis entered the Passionist monastery and took the name Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. The Passionists were preachers of the Passion of Jesus.

Gabriel's great loves became the Holy Eucharist and Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. He loved to spend time thinking about the passion of Jesus and how much the Lord had suffered for him. His great devotion to Mary also caused him to think deeply about her sorrows over the suffering of Jesus.

Gabriel learned to practice two virtues in a special way: humility and obedience. His special trademark was joy. He was always happy and spread that happiness to those around him.

After only four years in the Passionist order, Gabriel died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862 at Abruzzi in Italy. After his death many miracles took place when people prayed to him. His feast day is February 27th.

Message of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother:

Love Mary!... She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.

O God, You taught St.Gabriel to dwell upon the sorrows of Your most sweet Mother, raised him to the glory of holiness and miracles. Grant that we may also share her sorrows and be saved by her protection. Amen.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blessed Ivan Merz

Ivan Merz was born in the year 1896 in Bosnia. Like all children Ivan attended school, but he was unhappy that his school did not have much teaching on the Catholic Church.

Ivan loved God and he loved to pray, while other children would run and play and sometimes be naughty Ivan instead chose not to mix with those who were mean to others.

Once Ivan was old enough he attended University in Vienna, for his great wish was to go back to his homeland and teach the Faith to all who would listen.

Though Ivan loved his faith, he did not want to become a Priest but instead chose to learn the Catholic Faith so he could talk to people about why he loved God and the Church so much.

Unfortunately the First World War broke out and Ivan had to go and fight, even though Ivan fought he also prayed for peace, and was a brave soldier.

When the war was over Ivan returned to the university and finished his studies, he was greatly pleased to gain good scores this meant that he could teach young people all about the Catholic Faith.

Once Ivan left school he started several youth groups which instructed the young on the meaning of the Liturgy and explained all the reasons how and why Catholics celebrate Mass.

It was very important to Ivan that the young people understand why they must be obedient to the Catholic Churches Teachings and to the Pope as well as learning the Bible so they could love God as much as he did.

God was very pleased with Ivan and the way he instructed the youth of his country.

Finally God called Ivan to Heaven to spend eternity with Him and the Holy Mother.
Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Saint Gertrude The Great

Sometimes men and women are so holy that our Lord comes to talk to them and He likes to bring His mother with Him.

Gertrude was born in 1256 at Eisleben, Germany. She was raised in the Cistercian abbey of Helfta, Eisleben, Saxony from age 5.

Gertrude was very intelligent and was interested in Philosophy and studied it to the exclusion of all else. When she was 26, she had a vision of Our Lord. He redirected her energies and she quit seeking wisdom from the world and began studying the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers.

Gertrude received many visions and instructions from Our Lord and Our Lady which continued until the end of her life. She wrote all of it down. Gertrude wrote a series of prayers that became very popular. Through her writing, she spread devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Saint Gertrude was "the Great" because of her great devotion to the Sacred Humanity of our Lord in His Passion and in the Blessed Eucharist as well as a tender love for our Blessed Mother and the souls in purgatory. She died in 1302 and we remember her on November 16th.

Model of total fidelity to the Heavenly Bridegroom and to your Cistercian Rule, the Lord was pleased to make available wonderful private revelations through you. Help religious to realize that where there is total generosity trials are usually not lacking, but there is also God's infinite love. Make all religious generous like you.


Saturday, May 13, 2006


Anna Maria Gianetti was born in the year 1769 in Siena Italy. Her family were not rich so when Anna Marie was six years old the family moved to Rome so that her father, Louis Gianetti could find work.

When Anna Maria grew old enough she left school in order to find work and help her parents to provide for them all. During this time Anna Marie began not to take her faith seriously and joined some of her friends in wanting to have fun and go to parties. This did not make God happy.

When she was about 21 Anna Maria married Dominic Taigi, who worked as a servant to a wealthy family. This was not a happy time for Anna Maria as her husband at times was bad tempered. Soon a baby was born to Anna Maria this made her very happy and also made her think much more about God as she loved her baby dearly.

Anna Maria grew to love God as she helped raise all her children, she was a very good mother and taught her children to love God above all others. Even though her husband could be bad tempered Anna Maria also loved him much and prayed for him.

Because of Anna Maria's love of her Faith, God Gifted her with many visions and miracles, this only made Anna Maria even more humble.

Even though Anna Maria's life was very busy, she always placed her family first and was an excellent mother and a loving wife, this made God very happy with her.

Though Anna Maria was given many visions about the future, she always remained happy and content and prayed much for the Church, her family and the world.

What was most important to Anna Maria was to be a good wife and mother and a good and faithful Catholic, because Anna Maria knew that it is this that makes God most happy when His children are obedient to Him by following the Bible and the Church.

When Anna Maria turned 78 years of age God called her to Heaven.
Copyright © 2006 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Saint George

Saint George is one of the great martyrs of the early Church. He was a soldier and rose to high rank in the Roman Army. The Emperor Diocletian honored George for his great bravery.

When George became a Christian, he resigned his position in the army, and rebuked the Emperor himself for being so cruel to the Christians. He first sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor. Then, free to follow Jesus and bearing the shield of faith, he became a loyal soldier for Christ.

George paid a very high price for his bravery. He was put into prison and tortured, but nothing could make him change his mind. He was beheaded.

The Christians took his body to Palestine. Pilgrimages were made later to his tomb in the Holy Land, and many miracles were worked through his prayers before God.

The figure of St. George and the Dragon is a symbol of his Christian courage in overcoming the spirit of evil, the devil, who in the Bible is called the dragon.

Many songs and poems were written about this martyr who gave his life for Jesus. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him. Because of his gracious behavior (protecting women, fighting evil, strong faith, strength, bravery, and generosity to the poor), devotion to Saint George became popular in the Europe and he was named the patron of England. His feast day, April 23rd was declared a public holiday.

O Lord, we acclaim Your might and humbly pray. Just as St. George imitated the Lord's Passion, so let him come to the aid of our weakness. Amen.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Saint Francis de Sales

Francis was born in a castle in France. When he was baptized, his mother said, "Now, my son, you are the friend of the angels, the brother of Jesus, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and a member of the Church. Now you must belong to God forever."

His wealthy family provided him with an excellent education. When Francis was nine years old, he received Holy Communion. He said, "Jesus is the teacher of holiness. I go to Him because I want Him to teach me how to become a saint. Of what use to me is all I learn in school if I do not become holy?"

Francis studied law at the University of Padua. By the age of twenty-four, he was a Doctor of Law. He returned home, and led a hard-working life as Senate advocate. He was not really interested in important positions or a social life.

In his heart, Francis was listening to a call that kept coming back like an echo. It seemed to be an invitation from the Lord telling him to "Leave all and follow Me." Francis finally tried to explain his struggle to his family.

His father was very disappointed. He wanted Francis to be a great man of the world. Francis spent lots of time in prayer, finally his gentle ways won over the family and Francis became a priest on December 18, 1593.

In those times Christians were bitterly divided. Father Francis offered to go to a dangerous area of France to win back Catholics who had become Protestants. His father tried to stop him. He said it was bad enough that he had allowed Francis to become a priest, he was not going to let him die as a martyr as well.

Francis knew that the Lord would protect him. He and his cousin, Father Louis de Sales, began their long walk to the Duchy of Chablais. The two priests soon learned how to live with insults and physical discomforts and their lives were often in danger.

Francis explained the teachings of the Catholic faith in very simple and clear language. And his gentle way with everyone slowly brought many back to the Roman Catholic Church.
When he was thirty-five years old, Francis became the bishop of Geneva, Switzerland. He travelled and preached and worked with children whenever he could.

He was a good friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. With the help of Saint Jane de Chantal, he started a religious order of sisters in 1610. These women are called the order of the Visitation.

Francis wrote wonderful books about the spiritual life and the way to become holy. They are considered spiritual "classics."

Bishop de Sales died at Lyons on December 28, 1622, at the age of fifty-six. Because of his good work that brought many people back to God and the Church, he was given the special title "Doctor of the Church." He is also the Patron Saint of journalists. His feast day is January 24th.

Father in heaven, You prompted St. Francis de Sales to become all things to all men for the salvation of men. May his example inspire us to dedicated love in the service of our brothers. Amen.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Saint Vincent de Paul

Vincent, was born in a town in Southwest France and was the son of poor French peasants. Today the town is called Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Landes, France.

When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school to study under the Franciscan friars.

After finishing his studies Vincent became a priest at the age of 20. He was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. But while he was traveling by sea from one city to another, he fell into the hands of Turkish pirates who sold him as a slave. Two years later after he was finally set free by one of his owners, who he converted to Christianity and he returned to France where he served as a parish priest.

One day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones.

Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor.

The charities of Saint Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much.

· He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships
· He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity
· He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people
· He collected large sums of money for poor areas
· He sent missionaries to many countries
· and he bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans

Even though he was such a charitable man, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace." "It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor."

Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. His feast day is September 27th.
O God, You gave St.Vincent de Paul apostolic virtues for the salvation of the poor and formation of the clergy. Grant that, endowed with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and act according to his teaching. Amen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Saint Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier was born in 1506 in Spain of noble parents He went to the University of Paris when he was eighteen, where he studied and taught Philosophy. Here he met St. Ignatius Loyola, who was about to start the Society of Jesus.

St. Ignatius tried to get Francis to join him and at first the happy-go-lucky young man just laughed. St. Ignatius repeated to him the words of Jesus in the Gospel: "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" At last, Francis saw clearly that he could use his talents to bring people to God and agreed to join the Jesuits.

When Francis was thirty-four, St. Ignatius sent him as a missionary to the East Indies. The king of Portugal wanted to give him presents to take along and a servant. Francis refused his kind offer and explained: "The best way to acquire true dignity is to wash one's own clothes and boil one's own pot."

During his travels as a missionary in Goa, India, Japan and other lands of the east, Francis converted thousands. He baptized so many people that he became too weak to raise his arms.

Francis' love for Jesus was so strong that he could not rest at the thought of so many people who had never heard the Gospel. He found that there were so many villages where there were Christians but no priest to say Mass or teach them their prayers and the Commandments of God's Law.

When he landed in India, he would go down the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. He would take them to a nearby Church and teach them Catechism and prayers. He made little lay apostles of them and invited them to spread the faith they had learned.

There was nothing St. Francis wouldn't do to help people. Once he faced a fierce band of robbers alone with no weapon but his crucifix. They backed up and did not attack his Christian tribes. He brought many bad-living Christians to repentance. His only "tools" were his gentle, polite ways and his prayers.

During his painful journeys and hard work, Francis was full of a special joy that came from God. He longed to get into China, into which no foreigner was permitted. At last, the arrangements were made, but he fell ill. He died almost alone in 1552 on an island off the Chinese coast when he was just forty-six-years-old. Today his body is preserved in a church in Goa. We remember Saint Francis Xavier on December 3rd.

O Lord, You won many peoples for Your Church through the preaching of St. Francis. Inspire the faithful today with the same zeal for spreading the Faith, so that everywhere the Church might rejoice in her many children. Amen.