Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Saints Day

November 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saint Anthony Claret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Saint Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Saint Ambrose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saint Lucy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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