Category Archives: Saints

Saint Casimir

St CasimirTwo saints in a row –Saint Katharine Drexel yesterday and Saint Casimir today–we hear in the opening prayer the theme of holiness and justice. On the surface this is nothing new, nor ought it be surprising. Lent is a time of conversion and a reorientation toward acts of charity. Scripture exhort us to live in this manner, and the saints give good example. How is your orientation toward the universal call to holiness and charity?

From the life of Saint Casimir written by an contemporary

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Casimir burned with a sincere and unpretentious love for almighty God that was almost unbelievable in its strength. So rich was his love and so abundantly did it fill his heart, that it flowed out from his inner spirit toward his fellow men. As a result nothing was more pleasant, nothing more desirable for him, than to share his belongings, and even to dedicate and give his entire self to Christ’s poor, to strangers, to the sick, to those in captivity and all who suffer. To widows, orphans and the afflicted, he was not only a guardian and patron but a father, son and brother. One would have to compose a long account to record here all his works of love and dedication for God and for mankind. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine or to express his passion for justice, his exercise of moderation, his gift of prudence, his fundamental spiritual courage and stability, especially in a most permissive age, when men tend to be headstrong and by their very natures inclined to sin.

Daily he urged his father to practice justice throughout his kingdom and in the governance of his people; and whenever anything in the country had been overlooked because of human weakness or simple neglect, he never failed to point it out quietly to the king.

He actively took up the cause of the needy and unfortunate and embraced it as his own; for this reason the people called him the patron of the poor. Though the son of a king and descendant of a noble line, he was never unapproachable in his conversation or dealings with anyone, no matter how humble or obscure.

He always preferred to be counted among the meek and poor of spirit, among those who are promised the kingdom of heaven, rather than among the famous and powerful men of this world. He had no ambition for the power that lies in human rank and he would never accept it from his father. He was afraid the barbs of wealth, which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of as thorns, would wound his soul, or that he would be contaminated by contact with worldly goods.

Many who acted as his personal servants or secretaries are still alive today; these men, of the highest integrity, who had personal knowledge of his private life, testify that he preserved his chastity to the very end of his life.

Saint Katharine Drexel

DrexelSaint Katharine Drexel (1858 – 1955) was born in Philadelphia to a rich banking family. In 1889, at the age of 33, with the desire burning in her heart, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated to mission work among Indians and black people. Drexel spent her entire life and her entire fortune to this work, opening schools, founding a university, and funding many chapels, convents and monasteries. Drexel travelled well in the USA.

She died on 3 March 1955, by which time there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the United States.

“If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.”

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

St Gabriel of Sorrows

There is something very special about Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows that we ought to pay attention to today.

Saint Gabriel (1838-1862) was born at Assisi in 1838. He was guided by Our Lady into the Passionist Order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross, and became a veritable Apostle of Her Sorrows. He was a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times. He allowed no distractions to enter his spirit, and even though Italy, his country, was in a state of ferment when he entered religion, he wanted to know nothing of it.

The way to attain union with our Savior and our God was, for Saint Gabriel, as for Saint Louis de Montfort, his Heavenly Mother. He wrote home to his father, from the first month of his noviciate, Believe your son, whose heart is speaking by his lips; no, I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent near the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, our consolatrix, our protectress and our hope, for a year or several years spent in the diversions and spectacles of the earth. Among his resolutions was that of visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament each day, and praying for the gift of a tender and efficacious devotion to His Most Holy Mother. He wrote a beautiful Credo, worthy to be printed in letters of gold, expressing all that he believed of the Mother of God.

At twenty-four years of age Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis, having already attained heroic sanctity by a life of self-denial and great devotion to our Lord’s Passion and the Compassion of His Mother.

Although his life was without any miraculous event, after his death in 1862 many miracles occurred at his tomb in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and his feast was extended to the entire church by Pope Pius XI in 1932. He is the patron of youth, and especially of young religious.

***On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 28.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Co.: New York, 1951-1955)

Saint Polycarp

As a disciple of the Apostles especially Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and as bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Polycarp (+155) is a very interesting friend of Jesus. A very well-connected man.

At that Polycarp’s time among the many issues of the nascent Church was the date to celebrate the Resurrection. Polycarp travelled to Rome to confer with Pope Anicetus about the celebration of Easter. Polycarp’s importance in Church history is critical as his  writings is among the the earliest Church Fathers to survive. He bears witness to the beliefs of the early Christians and the early stages of the development of doctrine. He was martyred at the age of 86 in about 155 by being burnt to death in the stadium. The aroma of his burning flesh was that of baking bread. Some make the connection that his death was eucharistic. The blood from Polykarp’s body put the fire out. The account of his death became a new genre of writing which came to be known as Acts of the Martyrs encouraging Christians to live their lives with coherence with Christ Jesus.

21 Egyptian martyrs

21 Egyptian Martyrs 2015The Coptic Orthodox Church announced that they recognize the 21 men killed last week in Libya by ISIS as martyrs and their have names have been inscribed into Coptic Synaxarium. This was an ecclesial act, similar to the Latin Church’s canonization, by Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

A  Synaxarium is the equivalent to the Roman Martyrology for the Eastern Churches (each of the church has its own list of saints). As one commentator said, the 21 Egyptian martyrs are not merely for the Copts, but for all Christians. Their witness to the Christian faith is critical for all of us who find it difficult to bear the burden of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

The Coptic Orthodox Pope stated that the martyrs will be commemorated on the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar, or February 15th of the Gregorian calendar. The commemoration falls on the feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Something Tertullian said comes to mind:

“Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore God suffers that we thus suffer…. a taint on our purity is considered among us something more terrible than any punishment and any death. Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you… The more often you mow us down, the more we grow in number; the blood of Christian martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

~ Tertullian in “Apologeticum (The Apology)” – writing in Carthage, North Africa c. 200 AD

The 21 martyrs are not vague group of men; each has a name and genealogy:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq

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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