Category Archives: Saints

Alvaro Del Portillo declared “Blessed” in Madrid

Bl Alvaro del PortilloShortly after the elected of Francis to the Throne of Peter, he approved of the miracle that would lead to his beatification. His first miracle, if you are interested, concerned a case in 2003 where a Chilean baby boy’s heart started beating despite doctors’ failed 30-minute efforts to resuscitate him. The boy’s parents prayed to Del Portillo for his intercession from God to save their child. From all reports the child lives a normal life, going to school and playing soccer.

In the car last evening I was listening to various news services and NPR had a story –none of the other international services did– of the beatification of Del Portillo. But the real story seemed not the beatification of a man known for holiness but his connection to Opus Dei famously derided in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. I fail to see what one thing really has to do with another.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s original vision for Opus Dei has nothing to do with the political monikers of being liberal or conservative. Many will frame the group in these terms out ignorance. Opus Dei –a Latin concept meaning “The Work of God”– is about encouraging Catholics to know their ordinary, everyday work and life as a path to holiness. In other words, we are all called in whatever our work is, to the universal call to holiness; a strong emphasis of the Second Vatican Council and many saints. Religion is NOT just for 47 minutes on a Sunday morning where you put your money in the parking meter.

So, what ought to be admired about Opus Dei is the group’s emphasis and witness on the dignity of the laity. This same emphasis is also seen in two other ecclesial movements in the Church: Communion and Liberation and Focolare. But, The Work of God since its founding in 1928 has a significant challenge to the ultra-clerical attitudes of our Church while raising up the beauty of being a lay Christian and building up the Mystical Body of the Church.

Blessed Alvaro Del Portillo’s style was humble and faithful to the charism he was given by God to fulfill in history. His reputable for holiness is well-regarded and and substantiated. Del Portillo worked with Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei for more than 40 years, and later his successor as the group’s leader until 1994.

Opus Dei is a lay organization in the Church with more than 90K members; only 2,073 are priests.

Blessed Alvaro, pray for us.

Saints Cosmas and Damian

Cosmas and DamianWith the Church we pray:

May you be magnified, O Lord, by the revered memory of your saints Cosmas and Damian,for with providence beyond words, you have conferred on them everlasting glory and on us, your unfailing help.

Mother Church commemorates twin brothers, Saints Cosmas and Damian born in Arabia.  Eminent for their practice of medicine and reputation for giving free medical care; hence being known as the “moneyless ones.” The practice of charity and service to their neighbor exemplified that it is possible to live the gospel, especially Matthew 25. They attracted many converts to the faith. The holy brothers were arrested and beheaded during the Diocletian persecution in 303.

Saints Cosmas and Damian are patron saints of physicians and pharmacists. By the 6th century, their names were placed in the canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).

Church history keeps their memory alive by the fact that we observe a feast day for them and that the faithful  erected church on the site of their burial place — later enlarged by the emperor Justinian; likewise a famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Recall that Saint Francis of Assisi rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Blessed Teresa

One of the most recognizable faces on the planet: a woman who pointed to Jesus even when her own questions surfaced. Blessed Teresa’s faithfulness and complete self-sacrifice for Christ and His people is what I follow.

“Go before the Blessed Sacrament- He is there. When we look at the Cross we know how much He loved us; when we look at the tabernacle, we know how much He loves us now. “Loved,” past tense; “Loves,” present tense. Not only past tense, He loves us now. He loves me tenderly.”

–Blessed Mother Teresa, Where There is Love, There is God, page 60)

Saint Joshua

St JoshuaThe Roman Martyrology offers us the commemoration of the holy Joshua (Jesus), son of Nun, servant of the Lord. It is he who, having had hands laid on him by Moses, became full of the spirit of wisdom. After the death of Moses, he led the people of Israel across the Jordan River, accompanied by many miracles, into the Promised Land.

Even though the Roman Martyrology has OT holy men and women noted for liturgical remembrance, the current liturgical calendar does not have them listed. Hence, I like to draw our attention to these types of commemorations.

Blessed feast!

Saint Bartholomew

St Batholomew DurerSaint Bartholomew, known also as Nathanael, apostle and martyr, died in AD 71, is liturgically recalled today. However, his feast comes after the Sunday’s precedence. Nonetheless, we need to closely attend to the life and ministry of the 12, those who personally and dramatically lived with the Lord for three years. Why? Because we follow their experience and we continually ask ourselves the key question of the Christian life: “Who are you, Jesus?”

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his given name, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, it would be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both in Hebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the two Apostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile. (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantænus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he was condemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive, which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in use not only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.

Reflection: The characteristic virtue of the Holy Apostles was zeal for the divine glory. A soldier is always ready to defend the honor of his prince, and a son that of his father; can a Christian say he loves God if he is indifferent to His honor?

Dictionnaire de la Bible, Ed. F. Vigouroux (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1912), Vol. 5, Philippe, Apôtre; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

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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