Category Archives: Saints

St Teresa of Calcutta

St Teresa of Calcutta KofC canonization portrait 2016Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.  She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”.   She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.  For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.  Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness!  May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion.  Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”.  Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.  In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness.

excerpt from Pope Francis’ homily
4 September 2016

Blessed Pierre-René Rogue

Vincentian Father Pierre-René Rogue is a martyr of the French Revolution who suffered death by guillotine on 3 March 1796. His mother witnessed the death of her son. The Church beatified Father Pierre-René on 10 May 1934. His mortal remains can be found interred in the Cathedral of St. Peter (Vannes, France).

Rogue was a sensible, prudent and holy man who maintained good relations with civil authorities. Yet, in a time of persecution of the Catholic Church in France, Blessed Pierre-René was betrayed while bringing Viaticum on Christmas Eve 1795.

The liturgical memorial for Blessed Pierre-René is today according the most recent changes to the liturgical calendar, but he had initially his own liturgical memorial on May 8th. He is called a Martyr of the Eucharist.

St Aidan

St AidanI doubt many people know much about Saint Aidan except surface level stuff. The name “Aidan” is a beautiful name and it carries with it the beauty of the best of Catholicism in Ireland and parts of England and Wales. Saint Aidan was seeking someone great –he was truly seeking God. This seeking is the principle, the grammar by which we truly live the Faith.

“Monastic founder, bishop, and miracle worker known for his kindness to animals. Known as Edan, Modoc, and Maedoc in some records, Saint Aidan was born in Connaught, Ireland. His birth was heralded by signs and omens, and he showed evidence of piety as a small child. Educated at Leinster, Saint Aidan went to Saint David monastery in Wales. He remained there for several years, studying Scriptures, and his presence saved Saint David from disaster. Saxon war parties attacked the monastery during Saint Aidan’s stay, and he repelled them miraculously. In time, Saint Aidan returned to Ireland, founding a monastery in Ferns, in Wexford. He became the bishop of the region as well. His miracles brought many to the Church. Saint Aidan is represented in religious art with a stag. He made a beautiful stag invisible to save it from hounds.”

Saint Aidan, pray for Us!

Sts Margaret Ward, Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line, and Blessed John Roche

One of the liturgical memorials we observe today is that of the collective of Saints Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line, and Margaret Ward. All are martyrs. These three are also sometimes lumped with 284 other canonized or beatified martyrs of the English Reformation on 4 May but some of the canonized are recalled today. The liturgical calendars for England and Wales are particular.

Margaret Clitherow died at age 30 on March 25, 1586, her last words being, “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!” She was canonized in 1970 with 39 others. As a group they are known as the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. These martyred men and women were killed between 1535 and 1679.

Visiting the imprisonedA few words on Saint Margaret Ward and her servant, Blessed John Roche.

They were arrested for helping Father Richard Watson escape from Bridewell Prison smuggling him a rope and helping him once he was outside. She can be said to be an apostle of the works of mercy, especially visiting the imprisoned.

Her captors wanted her to give up Father Watson and convert to the new Church of England. Ward refused. Thereafter, Ward was imprisoned, flogged, and tortured;  hanged, drawn, and quartered on 30 August 1588 at Tyburn, London, England

The personal servant of Saint Margaret Ward, John Roche, helped Father Richard Watson, escape by meeting him outside the prison with a boat, then changing clothes to throw off the witch hunt. It was a crime to aid a priest. Like Ward, he was offered freedom if he asked the Queen’s pardon and promised to worship in the Church of England; he replied he did nothing against Queen and that he could not attend a non-Catholic Church. Roche was hanged 1588 at Tyburn, London, England.

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Beheading the Baptist detailThe Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (cf. Mark 6:17-29) is liturgically recalled today. For centuries, St. John the Baptist served as the principal model for those in religious life and as a model for Christian manhood. I always find John the Baptist a figure that convicts my Christian life.

There was a time when images of sainted founders of religious orders and other holy personages were painted with an image of the Baptist to remind the viewer many Christian virtues: the pursuit of and willingness to die for the truth, the discipleship needed to be a proclaimer of the Gospel, to build a relationship with the Messiah, to be in pursuit of the virtue of perseverance of the seeker, living the ascetic ideal, and the like.

We have to attend to St. John the Baptist not only because he was a cousin of Our Savior, but he also presents to us a method of how to live in relation to Him from whom we have eternal life. The Church gives us a rare example of holiness to contemplate that is not given to other saints: a feast of birth and death.

On the score of what the Baptist faced with passion, that is, the categorical rejection of sugar-coating the truth, and the refusal to be politically correct, the saint is images the correspondence of faith and reason. The high degree of intercourse with reality is something we don’t much appreciate today and much less desire to walk in the same footsteps. We too often lack courage –the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The enduring importance of St. John the Baptist’s example, hence, is the important call to each of us to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts we need to be disciples of the Lord and missionaries in the world today. We can’t be faithful to God’s holy word with Divine Help, the same help St. John the Baptist relied upon.

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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