Category Archives: Saints

Saint Pius X

Pius XToday, we celebrate the liturgical memorial Saint Pius X and the centenary of his death. He was the 257th pope. The Eucharist, in part because of Pius, is far more central to our lives as Catholics than before him. His intuition and boldness of teaching open new doors to radical gift of the Holy Eucharist. Rome Reports has a brief presentation on Pius.

From the Discourse of Pope Pius XII at the Canonization of Pius X

Sanctity, which was the guide and inspiration of the undertakings of Pius X, shines forth even more clearly in the daily acts of his personal life. Before applying it to others, he put into practice in himself his program of returning all things to unity in Christ. As a humble parish priest, as bishop, as the Supreme Pontiff, he believed that the sanctity to which God called destined him was that of a priest. What sanctity is more pleasing to God in a priest of the New Law than that which belongs to a representative of the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who left to His Church in the holy Mass the perennial memorial, the perpetual renovation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, until He shall come for the last judgment; and Who with this Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist has given Himself as the food of our souls: “He that eateth this bread shall live forever.”

A priest above all in the Eucharistic ministry: this is the most faithful portrait of St. Pius X. To serve the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist as a priest, and to fulfill the command of Our Savior “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19), was his way. From the day of his sacred ordination until his death as Pope, he knew no other possible way to reach such an heroic love of God, and to make a such generous return to that Redeemer of the world, Who by means of the Eucharist “poured out the riches of His divine Love for men” (Council of Trent, Session 13, chapter 2). One of the most significant proofs of his priestly sensibility was his ardent concern for the renewal of the dignity of worship, and his concern to overcome the prejudices of an erroneous practice, by resolutely promoting the frequent, and even daily, Communion of the faithful at the table of the Lord, without hesitation, leading children thereto, lifting them up, as it were, in his own arms, and offering them to the embrace of God hidden on the altars. From this, sprang up a new springtime of the Eucharistic life of the Bride of Christ.

In the profound vision which he had of the Church as a society, Pius X recognized in the Eucharist the power to nourish substantially its interior life, and to raise it high above all other human associations. Only the Eucharist, in which God gives Himself to man, can lay the foundations of a social life worthy of its members, cemented by love more than by authority, rich in its works and aimed at the perfection of individuals: a life, that is, “hidden with Christ in God.”

A providential example for today’s world, where earthly society is becoming more and more a mystery to itself, and anxiously searches for a way give itself a soul! Let it look, then, for its model at the Church, gathered around its altars. There in the sacrament of the Eucharist mankind truly discovers and recognizes its past, present, and future as a unity in Christ. Conscious of, and strong in his solidarity with Christ and his fellow men, each member of either Society, the earthly and the supernatural one, will be able to draw from the altar an interior life of personal dignity and personal worth, such as today is almost lost through insistence on technology and by excessive organization of the whole of existence, of work and even leisure. Only in the Church, the holy Pontiff seems to repeat, and though Her, in the Eucharist which is ‘‘life hidden with Christ in God,” is to be found the secret and source of the renewal of society’s life.

Hence follows the grave responsibility of those who, as ministers of the altar, have the duty of it is to open up to souls the saving treasure of the Eucharist. There are indeed many forms of activity which a priest can exercise for the salvation of the modern world; but only one of them is without a doubt the most worthy, the most efficacious, and the most lasting in its effects: to act as dispenser of the Holy Eucharist, after first nourishing himself thereof abundantly. His work would not be that of a priest, if, even through zeal for souls, he were to put his Eucharistic vocation in second place. Let priests conform their outlook to the inspired wisdom of Pius X, and orient every activity of their life and apostolate by the sun of the Eucharist.

Saint John Eudes

St John EudesSaint John Eudes is a saint’s name really unknown to many. But when you read what he did, you realize his importance for the life of the Church and for our personal devotion to the sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the priesthood and preaching on the them of mercy.

“How culpable are we, if, instead of honoring the sacerdotal dignity, we degrade it; if instead of behaving worthily in the holy surroundings and becomingly handling holy things, we sully them with sacrileges; and if, instead of seeking only the glory of our master and the salvation of souls, we run after the glory of the world and our own particular interests.” (St. John Eudes)

Influenced by the teaching of the French school and the teaching of Saint Francis de Sales, as we see in his  Treatise on the Love of God, with distinct revelations of the Benedictines Saint Gertrude and Saint Mechtilde, John Eudes was completely dedicated to the Divine Heart because it is keenly an acceptance of the Incarnation. 

The French devotion to the SacredHeart of Jesus through Bérulle’s devotion to the Incarnate Word, Eudes saw the value of being a witness to the gentleness and warmth of Saint Francis de Sales. Eudes’ intuition was correct because an emphasis on the humanity of Lord’s heart is a fact taught through the centuries but overlooked as unimportant by some. How did he manage this? Eudes was able to move the individual and private character of the devotion into a devotion for the whole Church by locating the Sacred Heart’s devotion into the sacred Liturgy. In the Liturgy of the Church you realize that Catholics dovetail the community in prayer (Holy Mass and the Divine Office) and the personal prayer of an adherent. Writing the prayer texts first for his own religious communities which were approved by several local bishops before spreading throughout the Church. Pope Leo XIII spoke of John Eudes’ heroic virtues in 1903, gave him the title of “Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary“.

John Eudes taught the mystical unity of the hearts of Jesus and Mary and wrote: “You must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary.”

The most striking characteristic of the teaching of St. John Eudes on Devotion to the Sacred Heart-as indeed of his whole teaching on the spiritual life—is that Christ is always its centre.

Saint Lawrence

St LawrenceSaint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, is clearly a disciple of Christ that we need to follow. He prayed and worked; he never reduced his ministry to mere activism.

Saint Lawrence was Chief of the seven deacons of Rome. In the year 258 Pope Sixtus was led out to die, and Saint Lawrence followed beside him, weeping because unable to share his fate. Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, holy pontiff, without your deacon? Never did you offer a sacrifice without my serving you at the altar. In what way have I displeased you? The holy Pope comforted him with the words, I am not abandoning you, my son; a more difficult trial and a more glorious victory are reserved for you; in three days you will follow me.

This prophecy was fulfilled. After the Pope’s martyrdom the prefect of the city, knowing the rich offerings which the Christians put into the hands of the clergy, demanded the treasures of the Roman Church from Lawrence, their guardian. The Saint promised to show him, at the end of three days, riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire. He was granted the time of delay. The Archdeacon of Rome went about assembling the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful, and he brought them to the prefect on the appointed day. Behold the treasures I promised you; I add pearls and precious stones — these virgins and widows consecrated to God; the Church has no other riches. The prefect replied: How dare you play games with me, miserable one? Is this how you show your contempt for the imperial power?

Christ, whom Lawrence had served in His poor, gave him strength in the conflict which ensued. After being placed on the rack, he was stretched on a grill over a slow fire. He joked about his pains. I am roasted enough on this side, he said, perhaps you should turn me over. Soon, his gaze towards heaven, he gave up his soul to God. He was buried in the catacomb near the Tiburtine Way, called the Verano Field, a little over a mile from the city walls. The faithful watched there for three days to mourn their holy Archdeacon who had been so good to them. God, by the glory of this holy martyr, demonstrates the value He sets upon love for the poor. Innumerable prayers were offered at his tomb. Saint Lawrence continued from his throne in heaven his charity to those in need, granting them, as Saint Augustine says, the smaller graces which they sought, and leading them to the desire of better gifts.

Reflection: Our Lord appears before us in the persons of the poor. Charity to them is a great sign of predestination. It is almost impossible, the holy Fathers assure us, for any one who is charitable to the poor, above all for Christ’s sake, to perish.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9; 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).

Saint John Mary Vianney

St John VianneyToday is the Feast day of Saint John Mary Vianney, the Curé d’Ars. He died on 4 August 1859, and was canonized and declared the patron of priests in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

The Curé taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. We recognize that from his example his people learned to pray, to visit Jesus frequently in the Tabernacle.

“One need not say much to pray well”, he explained to them, “we know that Jesus is there in the Tabernacle. Let us open our hearts to him, let us rejoice in his sacred presence. That is the best prayer”. And he would urge them: “Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from him in order to live with him… Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!”

Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his letter proclaiming the Year of the Priest, “In his time the Curé of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord’s merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love: for God is Love (I John 4:8).”

Let us pray for our parish priests today.

Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

Raising Lazarus Martha and Mary Hunterian PsalterOn the Universal liturgical calendar of the Church today’s feast is for Saint Martha of Bethany. Yet, on the Benedictine liturgical calendar the Church honors the three of Bethany: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus  described in the Gospels as saints. Revealed in sacred Scripture, these people are acclaimed as the much-loved friends of Jesus (according to Luke and John). In the Gospel of Luke ewe read the well-known story of hospitality noting Martha as a symbol of the active life and Mary of the contemplative. The Lord holds both women in tension of what the disciple is to be: a contemplative in action.

The Lord’s raising of Lazarus from the dead is an anticipation of resurrection and a sign of eternal life for the rest of us who are baptized into the Mystical Body of Christ. Resurrection from the dead becomes, with this pericopy a powerful “game-changer” in the life of every human being. The death and subsequent raising of Lazarus evokes in each of us the acknowledge that we do not make ourselves, that God is the only Creator of who we are and what we are about as persons (not as individuals). This gesture of the Lord’s invites each of us to a deeper faith in the Messiah.

So, why is honoring all three characters crucial in our Christian life? Each person: Mary, Martha and Lazarus are convicted in the friendship with Jesus. If friendship, then fidelity, and perseverance, gratitude and hospitality.

Why is this a true feast for Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters and Oblates (laity)?

Saint Benedict sees all persons as a gift of God. The greatest gift was the person of Jesus who received as the giftedness of each person when he said: “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” Our Holy Father Saint Benedict is quite direct in how we treat the stranger, how welcome the person who presents himself at the door, we definitive statements. In Chapter 53 of Rule of Saint Benedict we read:

All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35). Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims. Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love. First of all, they are to pray together and thus be united in peace, but prayer must always precede the kiss of peace because of the delusions of the devil. All humility should be shown in addressing a guest on arrival or departure. By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration of the body, Christ is to be adored because he is indeed welcomed in them. After the guests have been received, they should be invited to pray; then the superior or an appointed brother will sit with them. The divine law is read to the guest for his instruction, and after that every kindness is shown to him. The superior may break his fast for the sake of a guest, unless it is a day of special fast which cannot be broken. The brothers, however, observe the usual fast. The abbot shall pour water on the hands of the guests, and the abbot with the entire community shall wash their feet. After the washing they will recite this verse: God, we have received your mercy in the midst of your temple (Ps 47 [48]:10). Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly Christ is received; our very awe of the rich guarantees them special respect.

The hospitality shown by the the Holy Three is what we come to know as their personal mission given by God, their personal “I Am” and not mere kindness to the other. In the person of Jesus we meet his enjoyment of their company because it show us how the beauty of human friendship and love is at the core of our DNA. The Church’s honoring Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus is a sign of hope and promise for all who are in Christ Jesus.

Can we live as the Saints of Bethany? Can we live as Saint Benedict shows us?

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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