Category Archives: Saints

St Pius X

St Pius X as cardinalWith Saint Pius X we have an example of a man who was given the mission “to safeguard the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ,” based on “heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude.” This is what we need to attend to. From the Office of Readings given today for the liturgical memorial of Saint Pius X comes from the 1911 apostolic constitution Divino Afflatu written by himself:

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

St Jane de Chantal“Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you. Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward.”

Many of us have few personal connections with Saint Jane Frances (1572-1641) as the holy foundress –and the co-founder Saint Francis deSales– of the Order of the Visitation in 1610.. A native of Dijon, France, Jane Frances was a wife and mother and who united her sufferings with the Heart of Jesus.

There are monasteries of the Order of the Visitation around like the Georgetown Visitation, the Tyrringham Visitation, the Toledo Visitation, or the Brooklyn Visitation. In 2010, the Order celebrated 400 years of monastic witness and began a new era in their holy vocation.

The impression one gets from the Visitation Order is that while being serious contemplatives their stamina for a more traditional form of life is different and no less holy and inviting; the Visitation has a certain suppleness of life that is not easily explained –it needs to be experienced. The journey of a nun of the Visitation is accompanied with these words of the foundress: “Daughters of the Gospel, established especially to be imitators of the Sacred Heart of the Word Incarnate in His gentleness and humility. These virtues are, as it were, the foundation and basis of their Order, giving them the incomparable grace and privilege of bearing the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us!

St Lawrence

Bernardo Daddi St LawrenceThe martyr with a sense of humor, St Lawrence is honored today by the Church. He was roasted on a gridiron. This little piece of Chant gives voice to the saint:

“Blessed Lawrence, while burning on the grid-iron,
said to the impious tyrant:
‘This side is done, turn me over and then eat;
the riches of the Church, which you demand,
have been carried into the heavenly treasury by the hands of the poor.'”

Blessed Edmund Bojanowski

Blessed Edmund BojanowskiBlessed Edmund Bojanowski (1814-1871) is a rather unique person of faith: he died before entered seminary education complete and he founded 4 congregations of women religious. Blessed Edmund is a stellar example of being a holy layman building up the Kingdom of God, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Edmund Bojanowski was from a wealthy Polish family; he studied literature at a time when literature and music were well regarded at universities in Breslau (modern Wroclaw, Poland) and Berlin, Germany. His intellect work included translating works from Serbia to Polish, wrote his own poetry, and a history of Serbia.

Bojanowski was known for his love of God and Our Lady above all else. In many ways he is a great model of what Pope Francis teaches about being protagonists in the work of mercy. While another blessed of the Church has the title of “Man of the Beatitudes”, a case can be made for Blessed Edmund having the same.

His Christian formation, in part, was as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Poland. Another aspect of his formation is devotion to Lectio Divina (meditated daily on Sacred Scripture), went to Confession weekly, and made his annual retreats making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As a consequence of meeting Jesus Christ, Edmund dedicated his whole life to the service of abandoned children, the sick, the poor, and those in greatest need.He dedicated his life to the service of abandoned children, the sick, and poor, teaching and spending his fortune in the service of the needy.

He founded reading rooms and libraries to provide books and education to the poor, and started the first day-care centers in the country. He funded assistance for the sick, supported orphanages, and worked in both himself.

Founded the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the Sisters Handmaids of the Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the Sisters Handmaids of the Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate Conception; together their 3,300 sisters continue the work around the world. Two years before his death Edmund entered he entered the seminary in Gniezno, but did not survive long enough to graduate or be ordained.

The last will of Edmund Bojanowski to his Sisters was the recommendation of the blessing of simplicity and communal love. John Paul II declared him Blessed in Warsaw on June 13, 1999. At this time the Pope said he

is remembered as a good man with a big heart, who for love of God and neighbor was able to bring different sectors together, effectively rallying them around a common good. In his many-faceted activity, he anticipated much of what the Second Vatican Council said about the apostolate of the laity. His was an exceptional example of generous and industrious work for man, the homeland and the church.

St John Vianney

john vianneyLiturgically we recall the memory of Saint John Vianney. We have linked as saintly patron of secular priesthood Vianney for a very long time; the weight of Vianney’s example led Pius XII to say, “The wonderful example of St. John Mary Vianney retains all of its force for our times.” But this designation was refined by Pope Pius XI as the heavenly patron of all “pastors, to promote their spiritual welfare throughout the world.” Until this time he was spoken of as the patron of priests in France.

Pope Pius XI spoke of Saint John Vianney in this way: “the gaunt figure of John Baptist Vianney, with that head shining with long hair that resembled a snowy crown, and that thin face, wasted from long fasting, where the innocence and holiness of the meekest and humblest of souls shone forth so clearly that the first sight of it called crowds of people back to thoughts of salvation.”

Reflecting on priesthood, Pope Pius XII stated: “Through the character of Sacred Orders, God willed to ratify that eternal covenant of love, by which He loves His priests above all others; and they are obliged to repay God for this special love with holiness of life. . . So a cleric should be considered as a man chosen and set apart from the midst of the people, and blessed in a very special way with heavenly gifts–a sharer in divine power, and, to put it briefly, another Christ. . . He is no longer supposed to live for himself; nor can he devote himself to the interests of just his own relatives, or friends or native land. . . He must be aflame with charity toward everyone. Not even his thoughts, his will, his feelings belong to him, for they are rather those of Jesus Christ who is his life.”

You see the importance of the holy priesthood and the reason why the Church would look to John Vianney for special help. In 1959 Saint John XXIII fine tuned this point in saying about Vianney, “The Catholic Church, which elevated this man in sacred orders, who was “wonderful in his pastoral zeal, in his devotion to prayer and in the ardor of his penance” to the honors of the saints of heaven, now, one hundred years after his death, offers him with maternal joy to all the clergy as an outstanding model of priestly asceticism, of piety, especially in the form of devotion to the Eucharist, and, finally, of pastoral zeal.”

One last point today from Pius XII: the holds that the secular priesthood “requires a greater interior holiness than is demanded by the religious state.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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