Category Archives: Saints

Saint Monica

St MonicaToday the Church remembers Saint Monica (331 – 387), widow and mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. Her vocation is also that of intercessor for others before the Throne of Grace.

Monica was born at Thagaste, North Africa of a Christian family. Having married at an early age to Patricius, among her children was the famed Saint Augustine.

Augustine’s brilliant intellect and questionable morals opened the door to being a gyrovague with regard to his spiritual life. Like many of today who attach themselves to trendy yet popular ideologies, Augustine was a Manichee and then a Neoplatonist.

For many years and shedding many tears Monica prayed unceasingly to God for his conversion and her prayers were answered shortly before she died. She had a deep and abiding faith in Christ with the strength of virtue allowing us to follow this wonderful example of a Christian mother.

St. Monica, pray for us.

Saint Pius X

Pius XWe honor the memory of Saint Pius X, known in history as Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto. He was the Roman Pontiff from 1903 to 1914. It was 101 years ago that Pope Pius X went to his eternal reward. His last will and testament stated, “I was born poor, I have lived poor, I wish to die poor.” He is known for several instructions on our participation in the holy mysteries: the liturgy of the church.

The Church prays:

O God, Who didst raise up Saint Pius X to be the chief Shepherd of Thy flock and especially endowed him with devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and zeal for Thine eternal truths and a love of the priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, grant we beg of Thee, that we who venerate his memory on earth, may enjoy his powerful intercession in Heaven.

What work did Pope Pius X do for the Church? A lot. He worked the sacred liturgy, the chant tradition and the reform of code canon law; he put energy to improve clergy training and discipline; he established a foundation for scriptural studies and inaugurated the revision of the Latin text of the Bible (we know it as the Vulgate). In the world of politics he emphasized the separation of Church and State and opposed political organizations laying claim to religious sanction. The work that was very dear to heart was his work for peace in the shadows of the outbreak of WWI.

If you want to read some brilliant literature, I’d recommend the Sunday homilies he preached in the courtyards of the Vatican on his favourite theme: the restoration of all things in Christ and the ushering in of peace on earth. One will recall that the restoration of all things in Christ is his motto.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Jane Frances and Francis de SalesSaint Jane Frances de Chantal (1572 – 1641), wife, mother, and foundress of the Order of the Visitation. She had the assistance of Saint Francis de Sales with the Visitation. Saint Jane Frances is among the few saints that we know who is wife, mother and foundress. Many vocations in one person.

Holy Mother Saint Jane Frances said: “Give God a free hand to do as He likes, while you look on in loving simplicity.”

Saints beget saints. Here is a good example. Saint Vincent de Paul, a friend and spiritual director of the saint’s, said this about her:

“She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself…But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth.”

Saint John Vianney

St John VianneyToday we recall as a memorial the feast day of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. We typically pray for our priests in a particular way today. But our prayer for priests raises questions about the nature of priesthood and what we hope for in our priests and their service to the Church.

What is it about the ministry of the secular priest that we need, desire, revere? What is the Catholic priesthood all about? Why do we need the priesthood? What does the Catholic priest do and whom does he follow? Saint Pope John Paul II instructed us in “Pastores dabo vobis” that:

The ministry of the priest is, certainly, to proclaim the word, to celebrate the sacraments, to guide the Christian community in charity “in the name and in the person of Christ,” but all this he does dealing always and only with individual human beings…. In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity. It is necessary that, following the example of Jesus who “knew what was in humanity” (Jn. 2:25; cf. 8:3-11), the priest should be able to know the depths of the human heart, to perceive difficulties and problems, to make meeting and dialogue easy, to create trust and cooperation, to express serene and objective judgments” (PDV, 45).

And, in priests need…

“… to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behavior…. Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion.” This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console” (PDV, 45).

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Alphonsus LiguoriToday, the Church honors the memory of Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The particular clarity of our Pontiff emeritus Benedict XVI gives a brief primer on the saint; he draws us to the essential. Let’s consider what he says.

In his day, there was a very strict and widespread interpretation of moral life because of the Jansenist mentality which, instead of fostering trust and hope in God’s mercy, fomented fear and presented a grim and severe face of God, very remote from the face revealed to us by Jesus. Especially in his main work entitled Moral Theology, St Alphonsus proposed a balanced and convincing synthesis of the requirements of God’s law, engraved on our hearts, fully revealed by Christ and interpreted authoritatively by the Church, and of the dynamics of the conscience and of human freedom, which precisely in adherence to truth and goodness permit the person’s development and fulfilment.

Alphonsus recommended to pastors of souls and confessors that they be faithful to the Catholic moral doctrine, assuming at the same time a charitable, understanding and gentle attitude so that penitents might feel accompanied, supported and encouraged on their journey of faith and of Christian life.

St Alphonsus never tired of repeating that priests are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God who forgives and enlightens the mind and heart of the sinner so that he may convert and change his life. In our epoch, in which there are clear signs of the loss of the moral conscience and — it must be recognized — of a certain lack of esteem for the sacrament of Confession, St Alphonsus’ teaching is still very timely.

Together with theological works, St Alphonsus wrote many other works, destined for the religious formation of the people. His style is simple and pleasing. Read and translated into many languages, the works of St Alphonsus have contributed to molding the popular spirituality of the last two centuries. Some of the texts can be read with profit today too, such as The Eternal Maxims, the Glories of MaryThe Practice of Loving Jesus Christ, which latter work is the synthesis of his thought and his masterpiece.

He stressed the need for prayer, which enables one to open oneself to divine Grace in order to do God’s will every day and to obtain one’s own sanctification. With regard to prayer he writes: “God does not deny anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains help to overcome every form of concupiscence and every temptation. And I say, and I will always repeat as long as I live, that the whole of our salvation lies in prayer”. Hence his famous axiom: “He who prays is saved” (Del gran mezzo della preghiera e opuscoli affini. Opere ascetiche II, Rome 1962, p. 171).

In this regard, an exhortation of my Predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II comes to mind. “our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer…. It is therefore essential that education in prayer should become in some way a key-point of all pastoral planning” (Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn. 33, 34).

Among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St Alphonsus, stands out the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or as we would call it today, “adoration”, brief or extended, personal or as a community, before the Eucharist. “Certainly”, St Alphonsus writes, “amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament takes the first place, is the most pleasing to God, and the most useful to ourselves…. Oh, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith… to represent our wants to him, as a friend does to a friend in whom he places all his trust” (Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Each Day of the Month. Introduction).

Alphonsian spirituality is in fact eminently Christological, centred on Christ and on his Gospel. Meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation and on the Lord’s Passion were often the subject of St Alphonsus’ preaching. In these events, in fact, Redemption is offered to all human beings “in abundance”. And precisely because it is Christological, Alphonsian piety is also exquisitely Marian. Deeply devoted to Mary he illustrates her role in the history of salvation: an associate in the Redemption and Mediatrix of grace, Mother, Advocate and Queen.

In addition, St Alphonsus states that devotion to Mary will be of great comfort to us at the moment of our death. He was convinced that meditation on our eternal destiny, on our call to participate for ever in the beatitude of God, as well as on the tragic possibility of damnation, contributes to living with serenity and dedication and to facing the reality of death, ever preserving full trust in God’s goodness.

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.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory