Category Archives: Saints

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

St HilaryI think Hilary is a most fascinating saint given his humanity, the vigor of his intellect and the beauty of his lived faith. He is a convert at the age of 35. His first premise is the love of God and our response to the love. The incarnation of the Eternal Word of God, Jesus –love: God stooped down to us so that can reach up to touch Him.

A skilled administrator and an exceptional priest Hilary paid for his single-mindedness in ecclesial matters and the teaching of the faith. After all, he was an apologist for Love.

A bridge between East and West, Saint Hilary fought Arianism and he introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church. Mother Church through the ministry of Pope Pius IX named Saint Hilary a Doctor of the Church in 1851.

What we believe to essential about a feast day or saint is found in the Mass prayers. Today, the Church prayed to God the Father that “we may rightly understand and truthfully profess the divinity of your Son.” So let’s be constant in this regard.

From a sermon on the Trinity by Saint Hilary:

May I serve you by making you known

I am well aware, almighty God and Father, that in my life I owe you a most particular duty. It is to make my every thought and word speak of you.

In fact, you have conferred on me this gift of speech, and it can yield no greater return than to be at your service. It is for making you known as Father, the Father of the only-begotten God, and preaching this to the world that knows you not and to the heretics who refuse to believe in you.

In this matter the declaration of my intention is only of limited value. For the rest, I need to pray for the gift of your help and your mercy. As we spread our sails of trusting faith and public avowal before you, fill them with the breath of your Spirit, to drive us on as we begin this course of proclaiming your truth. We have been promised, and he who made the promise is trustworthy: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Yes, in our poverty we will pray for our needs. We will study the sayings of your prophets and apostles with unflagging attention, and knock for admittance wherever the gift of understanding is safely kept. But yours it is, Lord, to grant our petitions, to be present when we seek you and to open when we knock.

There is an inertia in our nature that makes us dull; and in our attempt to penetrate your truth we are held within the bounds of ignorance by the weakness of our minds. Yet we do comprehend divine ideas by earnest attention to your teaching and by obedience to the faith which carries us beyond mere human apprehension.

So we trust in you to inspire the beginnings of this ambitious venture, to strengthen its progress, and to call us into a partnership in the spirit with the prophets and the apostles. To that end, may we grasp precisely what they meant to say, taking each word in its real and authentic sense. For we are about to say what they already have declared as part of the mystery of revelation: that you are the eternal God, the Father of the eternal, only-begotten God; that you are one and not born from another; and that the Lord Jesus is also one, born of you from all eternity. We must not proclaim a change in truth regarding the number of gods. We must not deny that he is begotten of you who are the one God; nor must we assert that he is other than the true God, born of you who are truly God the Father.

Impart to us, then, the meaning of the words of Scripture and the light to understand it, with reverence for the doctrine and confidence in its truth. Grant that we may express what we believe. Through the prophets and apostles we know about you, the one God the Father, and the one Lord Jesus Christ. May we have the grace, in the face of heretics who deny you, to honor you as God, who is not alone, and to proclaim this as truth.

Saint John Neumann

St John NeumannBishop John Neumann is the first American bishop to be beatified. The saintly bishop died on January 5, 1860 at the age of 48. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI on June 19, 1977. He is buried in Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Lori said in a homily to the KofC Convention in Philadelphia last year: “St. John Neumann is an example to all of us of humility and zeal, a missionary priest and bishop who offered himself to his people in self-giving love.” (August 3, 2015)

May St. John Neumann inspire all of us to follow Christ more closely as servant and defender of the Faith.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

St Elizabeth Ann Seton Paca StreetOur first native born saint is the great Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 – 1821). A New York native, wife and mother, Seton was a convert to Catholicism who after the death of her husband, she founded a religious community in 1808-9 and a school for poor children at Emmitsburg, near Baltimore, Maryland. Seton is credited with founding the Catholic school system in the USA. Mother Seton died in 1821. The Sisters of Charity continue Seton’s charism to this day.

One saint expands upon the life and work of another:

“You pray, you deny yourself, you work in a thousand apostolic activities, but you don’t study. You are useless then unless you change. Study, professional training of whatever type it be, is a grave obligation for us.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, “The Way,” no. 334)

One of the great works of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and her congregation of sisters is teaching, of critical study for the building up of the Kingdom and for life.

Saint Elizabeth, pray for us!

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

On this second day of the new year, the Church gives us the liturgical memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church. They were both well educated. These fathers of the Cappadocia were instrumental in forming our theological precision, for example, on the monastic life, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity and the Creed. Saint Basil, a convert, comes from a family of saints, was a monk, a priest and worked for church unity, and worked to the reform of prostitutes and thieves. He was ordained a bishop at age 40.

Perhaps the best description of true friendship ever written was by Saint Gregory Nazianzen:

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.

I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.

What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honor that his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.

Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires, the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.

The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.

We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that “everything is contained in everything,” yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.

Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

Saint Sylvester

Saint SylvesterThe final day of the calendar year has us commemorating the Roman born pope Saint Sylvester (280-335). He was an ardent defender of Catholic faith (making him a confessor of the faith) in a period of harsh trial. Elected bishop of Rome, Sylvester served in that capacity for 21 years. We learn from him the truth of Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia: Where Peter is, there the Church is.

In this era of a lack historical awareness, Pope Sylvester is remembered for the Council of Nicea, the Baptism of Constantine, and the triumph of the Church. Some dispute the date of Constantine’s conversion to Christ but apparently there are sources that attest to his Baptism during this papacy. We know that with his acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior the Edict of Milan in 313 was created and the rest is history.

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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