Category Archives: Saints

St Mary Magdalen

Mary Magdalene 3 aThe entire Church rejoices today on this feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, the first to witness to the Resurrection of the Savior. From Magdala, a region in northern Galilee she is the Apostle to the Apostles (a title given by Aquinas) an an evangelist announcing the joyful message of Easter to the whole world. The Magdalene’s name is mentioned in the Gospels 12 times, more than any of the 12.

Mary’s known for her intensity in adhering to the Lord. From her we learn in a real way what it means to live the attitude of gratitude before God: we can think poignantly of her being released of the seven demons driven out by Jesus. This event of meeting the Lord personally becomes her mission statement for the building up the nascent Body of Christ (the Church) at that time, and for all time.

God’s method of drawing us to Himself if using a woman reputed to have had difficulties with a wholistic and life-giving faith. Hence, one can posit that without Mary’s witness we would never have heard of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. Theologically she is the key for the soul seeking, more, thirsting for God.

As one Cistercian priest-monk said, “We love Mary Magdalen because of the way in which the boldness of her love for Jesus made her stare death down beyond all human logic or hope.  For her there is no question that the Messiah of Israel, sent to redeem all humankind, and the Beloved of her most intimate heart are one and the same person. She perseveres in weeping at the entrance to the tomb because she perseveres in her love: the presence and actions of Jesus in her own life had taught her that love is indeed stronger than death. Against all odds and logic, in a sort of sublime madness, she clings to her Jesus dead or alive; and she does not reason about a her relative physical strength when she says ironically to the man she thought was the gardener, “Tell me where you laid him, and I will take him away.” Because she loves Jesus so much, she is prepared to carry his body away single-handed.”

On June 3, 2016, Archbishop Arthur Roche (of the Congregation for Worship) wrote: “It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”

A recent prayer for the Year of Mercy of Pope Francis identifies Saint Mary Magdalen: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”

Let us attend to the Magdalen for our journey of faith.

St Kateri Tekakwitha

Statue Kateri Tekakwitha, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NMToday the Church in the USA liturgically remember one of her own, Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American woman proposed for canonization. In fact, she is the fourth Native American person to be venerated by the Church. Saint Juan Diego and two other Oaxacan Indians are indigenous peoples accorded the honor of religious veneration.

Kateri Tekakwitha was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin woman captured by Iroquois and married to a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Kateri was orphaned during a smallpox epidemic, which left her with a scarred face and impaired eyesight. She converted and was baptized in 1676 by Jesuit Father Jacques de Lamberville. As a convert at  nineteen, she was renamed Kateri, baptized to honor the great saint,  Catherine of Siena.

Her biography reveals that Kateri was shunned and abused by relatives for her faith who witheld food from her on Sundays and stoned her when she entered the chapel, Kateri then escaped through 200 miles of wilderness to the Christian Native American village of Sault-Sainte-Marie (near Montreal).

As a young girl, Kateri took a vow of chastity in 1679 and held a spirituality and austere lifestyle. Hers was a life of prayer, mortification and works of charity. Tekakwitha’s notable value for chastity, she is often referred to as a lily, (Lily of the Mohwaks) a traditional symbol of purity.

He final words were, “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” After he death her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists.

Our saint’s tomb reads: Kateri Tekakwitha -Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekaron- The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red people.

As a friend said, may she “who sees through difficulty” intercede for us.

Sts. Louis and Zélia Martin –a sainted couple

Martin familyWe liturgically remember Saints Louis and Zélia Martin, the married couple whose human love cooperated with Divine Grace which generated the beauty of the Little Flower.

As with all holy men and women, saints, they had a lived in a recognition –continual– that God is all and the desire to give all. From this recognition, 5 daughters entered consecrated life; 4 in Carmel and one in the Order of the Visitation.

Pope Francis acknowledged that the Church wants and needs married couples who point to Christ and so canonized Louis and Zélia during the Synod on the Family on 18 October  2015; becoming the first spouses in the church’s history to be canonized as a couple.

The choice of a liturgical memorial on 12 July marks the date of their matrimony in 1858.

May Saints Louis and Zélia help us to integrate our faith in every aspect of family life remembering that the married vocation is to help each other become saints.

Ursuline Martyrs of Orange

Our Catholic Church is a church of martyrs and at this time of year we learn more and more of those many who lived for Christ and sacrificed themselves for the Good News. For example, today we have the following recorded as being martyred:

•Martyrs of Africa – 4 saints
•Martyrs of Antioch – 10 saints
•Martyrs of Damascus – 11 beati
•Martyrs of Nicopolis – 45 saints
•Martyrs of Nitria – 5 saints
•Martyrs of Tomis – 45 saints
•Seven Holy Brothers – 7 martyrs

This period of our ecclesiastical history is known as the reign of Terror –a consequence of the fierce anti-catholic persecution of the French Revolution. Plus, we have more martyrs from July 9 to 26 – 103 Martyrs of China; 25 Franciscan Martyrs of China: priests, friars, nuns, seminarians and lay people, murdered together for their faith in the Boxer Rebellion; 19 Martyrs of Gorkum hanged on July 9, 1572 in the Netherlands by Calvinists for loyalty to the Pope and for their belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist; 32 Martyrs of Orange: sixteen Ursuline sisters, thirteen Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, two Bernardine sisters and one Benedictine sister guillotined during the French Revolution; A Capuchin martyred by the Nazis in WWII; Several martyrs of the 16th century English persecution of the Church: layman, Carthusian; Several martyrs of the early Church

Ursuline nuns murderedYesterday and today we liturgically recalled the Ursuline nuns martyred in the French Revolution known as the Martyrs of Orange. The sisters were guillotined on 9 and 10 July 1794 in Orange, Vaucluse, France.

They climbed the scaffold with joy, singing and praying for their persecutors who admired their courage : “These rascals die with laughter!”

Arrested for refusing to take the oath repudiating their catholic faith, all the sisters were condemned to the guillotine. Their ages ranged from 31 to 70. For the previous 2 years they had prepared for this hour – expelled from their convents and living a life of prayer and semi-destitution. And they went to their death with courage and serenity.

Among the Ursulines,

on July 9, Sister Sainte-Mélanie, from Bollène, (Madeleine de Guilhermier, born in Bollène en 1733, 61 years of age) and Sister Marie-des-Anges, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne de Rocher, born in Bollène in 1755, 39 years of age),

on July 10, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Bollène, (Gertrude d’Alauzier, born in Bollène in 1757, 37 years of age) and Sister Agnès, from Bollène, (Sylvie de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1750, 44 years of age),

on July 11, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marguerite d’Albarède, born in Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols in 1740, 54 years of age),

on July 12, Sister Saint-Bernard, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Jeanne de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1753, 41 years of age),

on July 13, Sister Saint-François, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne Lambert, born in Pierrelatte in 1742, 52 years of age) and Sister Sainte-Françoise, lay Sister from Carpentras, (Marie-Anne Depeyre, born in Tulette en 1756, 38 years of age),

on July 15, Sister Saint-Gervais, Superior of the Ursulines of Bollène (Anastasie de Roquard, born in Bollène in 1749, 45 years of age),

on July 16, lay Sisters from Bollène, Sister Saint-Michel, (Marie Anne Doux, born in Bollène in 1738, 56 years of age), Sister Saint-André, (Marie Rose Laye, born in Bollène in 1728, 66 years of age); Sister Madeleine, from Pernes, (Dorothée de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1743, 51 years of age),

on July 20, Sister Saint-Basile, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Anne Cartier, born in Livron in 1733, 61 years of age),

on July 26, Sister Catherine, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marie-Madeleine de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1724, 70 years of age), Sister Claire, from Bollène (Claire Dubas, born in Laudun in 1727, 67 years of age) and Sister du Cœur-de-Jésus, Superior of the Ursulines of Sisteron (ElisabethThérèse Consolin, born in Courthézon in 1736, 58 years of age).

With the Church at prayer,

Lord our God, you have given to the Blessed Ursuline Martyrs of Orange the strength of overcoming the trial of martyrdom: grant us, through their prayer, to be firm in our faith and fervent in our charity, so that we may share with them the joys of eternal life.

Saint Maria Goretti

Goretti's mother forgiving the man who killed her daughterToday we are given a saint to follow –she shows us the beauty of following Christ Jesus in this world when danger lurks. Chaste living is a real challenge for many.

One significant and overlooked part of Saint Maria’s biography is the heroic act of virtue given by her beloved mother in her forgiving her daughter’s killer, Alessandro Serenelli, who died with the sacraments of the Church in the company of the Capuchin friars on May 6, 1970.

It is true that this type of virtue is beyond most of us, even on the best of days of grace being present in our life. What can be said? Not much except to stand in awe of such a beautiful and needed action of the Blessed Trinity. Her the Gospel meets reality and shows us that it it possible to live virtuously. As a consequence, we take what Saint Maria’s mother did and try to implement it into our own reality.

The spiritual counsel offered here is that we can at least pray for the grace to forgive, even if we don’t want to forgive or don’t think we can forgive. Ask God.

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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