Category Archives: Saints

Blessed André Bessette

Blessed André Bessette, your devotion to Saint Joseph is an inspiration to us. You gave your life selflessly to bring the message of his life to others. Pray that we may learn from Saint Joseph, and from you, what it is like to care for Jesus and do his work in the world. Amen.

St Andre Bessette.jpg

Pope John Paul II said this of Brother André:

A daily crowd of the sick, the afflicted, the poor of all kinds–those who were handicapped or wounded by life–came to him. They found in his presence a welcome ear, comfort and faith in God. Do not the poor of today have as much need of such love, of such hope, of such education in prayer?

One of Brother André’s friends said of him: “He spent his whole life speaking of others to God, and of God to others.”

More on Blessed –soon to be a saint– André is found here, including the liturgical prayer.

Info on Brother André’s canonization of will be announced here soon.

Saint John Neumann

Father, You have given me all that I have in this world, even life itself. In
all my daily needs, help me to remember the needs of others too. Make me aware
of the need to pray to You not just for myself but for the Church, the Pope,
for the clergy and for people who suffer any need.

Make me as selfless as Saint
John Neumann. Throughout my life, give me the grace to direct my first thoughts
to the service of You and of others. Make my prayer – “Your will be
done” knowing that in Your mercy and love, Your will for me is my
sanctification. I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen. (Prayer to
Saint John Neumann)

The liturgical prayer, a brief chronology and a prayer for
the saint’s intercession may be found here.

homily of Pope Paul VI, Sunday, 19 June 1977

Greetings to you, Brethren, and
sons and daughters of the United States of America! We welcome you in the name
of the Lord!

The entire Catholic Church, here, at the tomb of the Apostle
Peter, welcomes you with festive joy. And together with you, the entire
Catholic Church sings a hymn of heavenly victory to Saint John Nepomucene
, [1811-1860] who receives the honor of one who lives in the glory of Christ.

In a
few brief words we shall describe for the other pilgrims some details of his
life, which are already known to you.

We ask ourselves today: what is the
meaning of this extraordinary event, the meaning of this canonization? It is
the celebration of holiness. And what is holiness? It is human perfection,
human love raised up to its highest level in Christ, in God.

At the time of
John Neumann, America represented new values and new hopes. Bishop Neumann saw
these in their relationship to the ultimate, supreme possession to which
humanity is destined. With Saint Paul he could testify that “all are yours, and
you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22). And with Augustine he
knew that our hearts are restless, until they rest in the Lord (St. Augustine,
Confessions, 1, 1).

His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was
real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to
others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for
Christ’s flock: to provide for their needs, to lead them to salvation. And
today, with the Evangelist, we solemnly proclaim: “There is no greater love
than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15, 13).

Neumann’s pastoral zeal was manifested in many ways. Through faithful and
persevering service, he brought to completion the generosity of his initial act
of missionary dedication. He helped children to satisfy their need for truth,
their need for Christian doctrine, for the teaching of Jesus in their lives
. He
did this both by catechetical instruction and by promoting, with relentless
energy, the Catholic school system in the United States. And we still remember
the words of our late Apostolic Delegate in Washington, the beloved Cardinal
Amleto Cicognani: “You Americans”, he said, “possess two great treasures: the
Catholic school and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Guard them like
the apple of your eye
” (Cfr. Epistola 2 June 1963).

And who can fail to admire
all the loving concern that John Neumann showed for God’s people, through his
priestly ministry and his pastoral visitations as a Bishop? He deeply loved the
Sacramental of Reconciliation
: and like a worthy son of Saint Alphonsus he
transmitted the pardon and the healing power of the Redeemer into the lives of
innumerable sons and daughters of the Church. He was close to the sick; he was
at home with the poor; he was a friend to sinners. And today he is the honor of
all immigrants, and from the viewpoint of the Beatitudes the symbol of
Christian success.

John Neumann bore the image of Christ. He experienced, in
his innermost being, the need to proclaim by word and example the wisdom and
power of God, and to preach the crucified Christ. And in the Passion of the
Lord he found strength and the inspiration of his ministry: Passio Christi
conforta me
! (The Passion of Christ strengthens me)

The Eucharistic Sacrifice was the center of his life, and
constituted for him what the Second Vatican Council would later call “the
source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbiterorum Ordinis, 5). With great
effectiveness, through the Forty Hours Devotion he helped his parishes become
communities of faith and service.

But to accomplish his task, love was
necessary. And love meant giving; love meant effort; love meant sacrifice. And
in his sacrifice, Bishop Neumann’s service was complete. He led his people
along the paths of holiness. He was indeed an effective witness, in his
generation, to God’s love for his Church and the world.

There are many who have
lived and are still living the divine command of generous love. For love still
means giving oneself for others, because Love has come down to humanity; and
from humanity love goes back to its divine source! How many men and women make
this plan of God the program of their lives! Our praise goes to the clergy,
religious and Catholic laity of America who, in following the Gospel, live
according to this plan of sacrifice and service. Saint John Neumann is a true
example for all of us in this regard. It is not enough to acquire the good
things of the earth, for these can even be dangerous, if they stop or impede
our love from rising to its source and reaching its goal. Let us always
remember that the greatest and the first commandment is this: “You shall love
the Lord your God” (Matt. 22, 36).

True humanism in Christianity. True
-we repeat –is the sacrifice of self for others, because of Christ,
because of God
. It is shown by signs; it is manifested in deeds. Christianity
is sensitive to the suffering and oppression and sorrow of others, to poverty,
to all human needs, the first of which is truth.

Our ceremony today is indeed
the celebration of holiness. At the same time, it is a prophetic
anticipation-for the Church, for the United States, for the world-of a renewal
in love: love for God, love for neighbor.

And in this vital charity, beloved
sons and daughters, let us go forward together, to build up a real civilization
of love.

Saint John Neumann, by the living power of your example and by the
intercession of your prayers, help us today and for ever.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

St Elizabeth Ann Seton3.jpg

Lord Jesus, Who was born for us in a stable, lived for us a life of pain and sorrow, and died for us upon a cross; say for us in the hour of death, Father, forgive, and to Your Mother, Behold your child. Say to us, This day you shall be with Me in paradise. Dear Savior, leave us not, forsake us not. We thirst for You, Fountain of Living Water. Our days pass quickly along, soon all will be consummated for us. To Your hands we commend our spirits, now and forever. Amen. (a prayer by Saint Elizabeth Seton)

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), a native of New
York was socialite, a wife, a mother, a convert to Catholicism and a foundress
of a religious community of women. Seton is the first native-born American
citizen to be canonized. She founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows
With Small Children, New York City’s first private charitable organization, and
founded the U.S. Sisters of Charity. Seton was responsible for the parochial
school system in the USA. 

A video was made of Seton and you can watch the trailer here.

Even more on Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton may be found here,
including the liturgical prayer for her.

Saint Basil the Great & Saint Gregory Nazianzian

Sts Basil, John Gregory.jpg

Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea was one of the
most distinguished Doctors of the Church. He lived c. 329 to January 1, 379.
Theologians place Saint Basil after Saint Athanasius as a defender of the
Church against the heresies of the fourth century (the most destructive of the
faith was the Arian heresy).

Gregory of Nazianzus
(c. 325-389) was also from Cappadocia and a friend of Basil, followed
the monastic way of life for some years. Eventually the Church called Nazianzus to be a priest and later bishop of Constantinople (in 381). Saint
Gregory was given the title “The Theologian” because of his learning
and oratory.

Many icons of Saints Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil include
Nazianzus’ brother Saint Gregory of Nyssa. The group is known as “The
Three Cappadocians.” Some make the claim that Basil outshines Nazianzus and
Nyssa in practical genius and actual achievement. BTW, the icon presented here does not include Nyssan but Saint John Chrysostom.

The liturgical prayer for today’s memorial may be found here.

Saint Basil the Great writes on life’s journey:

We read in the Book of
Psalms: ‘Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor
follows in the way of sinners.’ Life has been called a ‘way’ because everything
that has been created is on the way to its end. When people are on a sea
voyage, they can sleep while they are being transported without any effort of
their own to their port of call. The ship brings them closer to their goal
without their even knowing it. So we can be transported nearer to the end of
our life without our noticing it, as time flows by unceasingly. Time passes
while you are asleep. While you are awake time passes although you may not notice.

of us have a race to run towards our appointed end. So we are all ‘on the way’.
This is how you should think of the ‘way’. You are a traveller in this life.
Everything goes past you and is left behind. You notice a flower on the way, or
some grass, or a stream, or something worth looking at. You enjoy it for a
moment, then pass on. Maybe you come on stones or rocks or crags or cliffs or
fences, or perhaps you meet wild beasts or reptiles or thorn bushes or some
other obstacles. You suffer briefly then escape. That is what life is like.

do not last but pain is not permanent either.

The ‘way’ does not belong to you
nor is the present under your control. But as step succeeds step, enjoy each
moment as it comes and then continue on your ‘way’.

on Psalm 1, 4
(PG 29, 220)

Pope Saint Sylvester I

Pope Sylvester and the dragon.jpg

The liturgical prayer for Saint Sylvester may be found here.
The Church’s Liturgy commemorates the death of Pope Saint Sylvester, a pope we rarely think about other than on the day of his memorial. Many of the hagiographical materials available seem to be more apocryphal narratives surrounding the saintly pope than factual occurrences: for example, the Sylvester’s slaying a dragon (note the image above) and raising the dragon’s victims

to life; or the curing of Constantine of leprosy; and the Donation of Constantine. It is recorded that Pope Sylvester baptized Constantine. The historical evidence for this pontificate for this era is sorely lacking for such an important time in Church history. What is known of Sylvester is given to us through the Vita beati Sylvestri.

The lack of historical record, however, does not mean the events of history did not happen, it just means we don’t have reliable sources. However, given that the narratives are recorded in ecclesiastical memory and the liturgical patrimony of the Church, means that their was a historical man who followed Christ, ordained priest and elected Pope, and worked for the good of the Christian faith given in Tradition. Post-modern people often place too much emphasis on the manuscript tradition (what is absolutely verifiable) and too little weight on hagiographical materials, including homilies and pious legends, to give  us a sense of Church history.

The son of Rufinus and Justa, Sylvester was ordained a priest by Pope Marcellinus and elected bishop of Rome in AD 314, after the death of Pope Saint Miltiades.

During his twenty-one year pontificate, in addition to the various churches honoring the martyrs, he oversaw with Constantine and Helena as patrons, the construction of three of the greatest

Roman churches: Saint John Lateran, Holy Cross of Jerusalem, and the first Saint Peter’s. Sylvester’s pontificate also saw the development of the Roman Liturgy, the foundation of a school of singers for the Liturgy and the publication of the first Martyrology. Further, Sylvester was instrumental in stemming the spread of Arianism throughout the Western church, as well as the promulgation of orthodox christology (homousion of the Son) in the wake of Nicea I (325).

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]
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