Category Archives: Saints

Saint Juan Diego

St Juan Diego Martha Orozco

The Church prays:

O God, Who, through Saint Juan Diego, did show forth the special love of the Most Holy Virgin Mary toward Your people, grant us, at his intercession, so to obey the admonitions given by our Mother of Guadalupe, that we may ever be able to carry out Your will.

Today’s liturgical memorial connects with the one for Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec 12) because it is Saint Juan Diego who recognizes and advocates for the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary when others doubted. Saint Juan Diego was the messenger of the Mother of God to the rest of humanity.

The tradition holds that on 9 December 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an indigenous peasant, received a vision of a young woman while he was on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The beautiful lady told him to build a church exactly on the spot where they were standing. Wondering what this message meant, Juan Diego told the local bishop who asked for some proof. The vision happened a second time. But this time Juan Diego asked the lady to answer the bishop’s requirement of proof. The Lady told him to  “Bring the roses behind you.” When he opened his poncho, instead of roses, there was an image of the young lady in the vision. The tilma is now a relic of the experience in Mexico.

Is the gospel and teachings of the Church an integral part of your Christian life? Do you carry the message and manner of living commanded by God to others? Is there joy in the message? Is God’s will an important factor in life?

Patriarch Abraham

Holy Patriarch AbrahamThe feast of Abraham recalls the person, our father in monotheistic Judaism who opened the door to human faithfulness before the holiness of a God who revealed Himself to humanity in a new way. The holy Patriarch’s liturgical memorial is not celebrated in the Latin Church but in the Byzantine Church does so today. He is, however, recalled in the Roman Canon of the Mass and in several of the prayers used during the year. What we believe, and why we pray is expressed in the hymn texts of the Divine Liturgy. By looking at the liturgy we know what we believe and how to live. Here, the holy Patriarch Abraham is extolled a light to follow and a man of God who mediates for humanity before the Throne of Grace.

In the night universal of ignorance towards God, and in that starless, profound gloom bereft of heavenly light, you, O Abraham, were kindled in the firmament, burning with bright far-shining faith in the Everlasting light. Who shines forth to us from your seed, entreat Him with fervor, that He enlighten us and save our souls. (Troparion, Tone 1)

You were a servant, a mortal fashioned from the earth, your master was God, Lord and Fashioner of creation, yet, well-pleased to glorify your celestial greatness, the Lord of all called Himself the God of Abraham Procure for us mercies from your merciful God. (Kondak, Tone 2)

Saint Bruno

Monastic Family of BethlehemThe Statutes of the Carthusian Order begin with, “Blessed is the glory of the Lord, The Christ, Word of the Father, for all times men were chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead a life of solitude and to unite them in an intimate love. Answering this calling, Master Bruno, year of our Lord 1084, entered the desert of Chartreuse with six companions and began life there.” The life is wholly devoted to the Lord in solitude from the world, rarely having interaction with others.

But the person of Bruno is one that we are keen to know. Very briefly, the Liturgy tells us that he was man who was intent on rejecting the distractions of the world that would take him away from his only love, God. A witness from one of Bruno’s brothers in Calabria :

“Bruno deserves to be praised for many a thing, but especially in this matter: he was always a man of even temper, that was his specialty. His face was always joyful, and he was modest of tongue; he led with the authority of a father and the tenderness of a mother. No one found him too proud, but gentle like a lamb.”

930 years later, people still follow Saint Bruno into the solitude of the cloister. In the USA, there is one monastery of monks in Vermont, and there is a group of nuns who follow the spirituality of Bruno in a relatively new order founded called the Monastic Family of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, NY.

May Saint Bruno teach how to love God alone.

Blessed Bartolo Longo

Bartolo LongoThere is a marvelous figure of holiness inscribed on the calendar today: Blessed Bartolo Longo, the great Apostle of the Rosary and the founder of the shrine of the Madonna of the Rosary at Pompei in Italy. Born in 1841, Blessed Longo died in 1926. He was a contemporary of Saint Faustina. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1980. Several times in his pontificate, Saint John Paul II called our attention to the example of this holy layman, calling him “l’uomo della Madonna,” Our Lady’s man.

Divine Mercy Displayed

Blessed Bartolo Longo’s story is a dramatic illustration of Divine Mercy. The mystery of Mercy announced by Saint Faustina played itself out in the life of Blessed Longo. As a young man, following studies in Law, Bartolo Longo abandoned his faith and allowed himself to be drawn into paths of great spiritual darkness. He practiced spiritism, found himself entrenched in the occult, and became a practicing Satanist. Longo went so far as to have himself ordained a priest of Satan. He very nearly lost his sanity, becoming a mere shadow of himself.

Spiritually Sick

In one particular séance Longo was distressed to see the face of the deceased king of Naples and the Two Sicilies: Ferdinand II. That same night he saw the soul of his mother circling his bed, begging him to return to the Catholic faith. His practice of the occult had so affected him that he was barely recognizable to those who once knew him as a handsome young man, full of vitality and promise. A Catholic friend, seeing him in such a pitiful spiritual, psychological, and physical state, begged him to at least meet with Father Radente, a wise Dominican priest. After some time, Longo made a thorough confession and, under the direction of this priest, began the reform of his life. He entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic, receiving the name, Brother Rosario.

Conversion and Healing

Bartolo’s Dominican spiritual father told him that the Mother of God promised that anyone who promoted her Rosary would assuredly be saved. The rest of Blessed Barolo’s life was dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. The Rosary was his lifeline. The Rosary was the anchor of his salvation. The Rosary was the means by which the Holy Mother of God brought him back from hell. It was through the prayer of the Rosary that the Blessed Virgin healed his soul, restored him to health, and entrusted him with a mission. Later Blessed Bartolo wrote, “What is my vocation? To write about Mary, to have Mary praised, to have Mary loved.

Rosary Apostolate

Blessed Longo reached out to the desperately poor, ignorant, and needy people of the town of Pompei. He taught them to pray the Rosary. The Rosary did for that entire town what it had done for him in his personal life; it brought healing, refreshment, holiness, joy, and peace. With the help of the Countess Mariana de Fusco whom he later married on the advice of Pope Leo XIII, while preserving with her his vow of chastity, Bartolo Longo undertook the construction of the church of the Madonna of the Rosary of Pompei. The city that grew up around it became the City of the Rosary.

He founded a congregation of Dominican Sisters to care for the poor. He established a school for boys. He wrote tirelessly in the service of Madonna and of her Rosary. His beautiful supplication to the Madonna of the Rosary has been translated into countless languages. Pope John Paul II prayed it when, on October 7, 2003, he visited Pompei to conclude the Year of the Rosary. In Italy, every year on the first Sunday of October, everything comes to a halt at noon while people, young and old, poor and rich, healthy and sick, pause to pray Blessed Longo’s supplication to the Virgin of the Rosary.

Divine Mercy Available to All

Saint Faustina made known the mystery of Divine Mercy. Blessed Bartolo Longo experienced Divine Mercy in a dramatic and deeply personal way. The same Divine Mercy is available to us: the mercy that brings back from hell, the mercy that raises the soul from spiritual death, the mercy that heals, restores, forgives, and repairs the past.

The Divine Mercy comes to us through the intercession of the Mother of God and, most efficaciously, through the humble prayer of the Rosary. It comes to us in the Sacrament of Penance: the mystery of the blood and the water from the side of Christ washing over the soul. And the Divine Mercy comes to us in the mystery of the Eucharist. The Mass is the real presence of Crucified Love. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Divine Mercy flowing from the Heart of the Lamb, making saints out of sinners.

Father Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB
Silverstream Priory

Miriam Teresa Demjanovich –an American blessed

Miriam TeresaToday, the Catholic Church in America witnessed the beatification of a woman Sr. Miriam Teresa –the fourth American-born woman to be beatified. This is the first time a beatification ceremony happened in the USA. The Mass and rite was offered by Cardinal Angelo Amato in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ.

Interesting, our new blessed was a member of the Eastern Catholic Church in the United States. She was a member, however, of a religious order of the Latin Church, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth. Her feast day is May 8. The Blessed’s book, Greater Perfection, published after her death remains germane to those interested in the spiritual life.

The Vatican Radio interview with Bishop Kurt Burnette (eparchial bishop of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic) notes very well the importance of Blessed Miriam Teresa for us: her understanding of the sacrament of Baptism, her teaching on prayer, her desire to be of complete service to the Triune God. As the bishop says, Americans are known for their activism; and the other American blesseds and saints are known for their activity in building up the Mystical Body of Christ –the Church, but her God has chosen to raise up for us a model of holiness who is a contemplative.

“Bishop Burnette reflected on the impact of her legacy on Eastern and Western spirituality.

“One of the remarkable things about her writings, I believe, is that she brings an Eastern Christian spirit of unity into the Western analysis. The Western theology tends to be analytical. For example, when she talks about prayer, in the West they had divided prayer up into three stages. What they called the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive. But Sr. Miriam Teresa claims that prayer always includes all three parts.”

Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Sr. Miriam Therese when a young boy who lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration was cured after prayers through her intercession. For Bishop Burnette, this miracle along with her profound humility, spirituality and insight are clear signs of God’s confirmation of her sanctity. “I don’t believe we really choose who is going to be canonized, God does,” he concluded.

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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