Category Archives: Saints

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

St Elizabeth Ann Seton Paca StreetOur first native born saint is the great Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 – 1821). A New York native, wife and mother, Seton was a convert to Catholicism who after the death of her husband, she founded a religious community in 1808-9 and a school for poor children at Emmitsburg, near Baltimore, Maryland. Seton is credited with founding the Catholic school system in the USA. Mother Seton died in 1821. The Sisters of Charity continue Seton’s charism to this day.

One saint expands upon the life and work of another:

“You pray, you deny yourself, you work in a thousand apostolic activities, but you don’t study. You are useless then unless you change. Study, professional training of whatever type it be, is a grave obligation for us.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, “The Way,” no. 334)

One of the great works of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and her congregation of sisters is teaching, of critical study for the building up of the Kingdom and for life.

Saint Elizabeth, pray for us!

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

On this second day of the new year, the Church gives us the liturgical memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church. They were both well educated. These fathers of the Cappadocia were instrumental in forming our theological precision, for example, on the monastic life, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity and the Creed. Saint Basil, a convert, comes from a family of saints, was a monk, a priest and worked for church unity, and worked to the reform of prostitutes and thieves. He was ordained a bishop at age 40.

Perhaps the best description of true friendship ever written was by Saint Gregory Nazianzen:

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.

I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.

What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honor that his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.

Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires, the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.

The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.

We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that “everything is contained in everything,” yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.

Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

Saint Sylvester

Saint SylvesterThe final day of the calendar year has us commemorating the Roman born pope Saint Sylvester (280-335). He was an ardent defender of Catholic faith (making him a confessor of the faith) in a period of harsh trial. Elected bishop of Rome, Sylvester served in that capacity for 21 years. We learn from him the truth of Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia: Where Peter is, there the Church is.

In this era of a lack historical awareness, Pope Sylvester is remembered for the Council of Nicea, the Baptism of Constantine, and the triumph of the Church. Some dispute the date of Constantine’s conversion to Christ but apparently there are sources that attest to his Baptism during this papacy. We know that with his acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior the Edict of Milan in 313 was created and the rest is history.

Saint Thomas Becket

BecketAs Becket’s biographers have noted,

“A few words which the capricious Henry spoke to certain courtiers who hated Thomas, sufficed for the latter to decide to do away with the prelate who contravened all their unchristian doings. They violated a monastic cloister and chapel to enter there while he was assisting at Vespers; the Saint himself prevented the monks from resisting the assassins at the door. Refusing to flee the church as the assassins summoned him to do, he was slain before the altar, by cruel and murderous repeated blows on the head. He died, saying: I die willingly, for the name of Jesus and for the defense of the Church.

“The actions of the Pope in this conflict make clear what all of history teaches: the lives of the Church’s Saints themselves comprise the history of the world. The humility of Thomas had prompted him, after a moment of weakness he had manifested in a difficult situation, to judge himself unfit for his office and offer his resignation as Archbishop. The Pope did not hesitate a moment in refusing his resignation. He judged with apostolic wisdom that if Thomas should be deprived of his rank for having opposed the unjust pretensions of the English royalty, no bishop would ever dare oppose the impingements of iniquity on the Church’s rights, and the Spouse of Christ would be no longer sustained by marble columns, but by reeds bending in the wind.”

Archbishop Thomas Becket was canonized by Pope Alexander III on Ash Wednesday, 1173, barely three years after his death on this date in 1170. Let us pray for Becket’s guidance and intercession before the Throne of Grace for 2016.

Saint Stephen

St StephenA Deacon’s Prayer

Come to my assistance my Lord and my God, that I may do for You all that you ask. Strengthen me in adversity and do not let me succumb to my feelings of worthlessness. Help me to feel in my heart all that You speak to me, and help me to understand. May I be to others what they need: a body to work when others cannot; a heart to love those who are forgotten; a shoulder to console those whose soul is in need; a smile to brighten the most somber of Your children; a mouth to proclaim Your love. Let me be to You, as a brush is to a painter, worthless without You, but capable of transforming the human heart by the power of Your mercy. Send me, my Lord if you need me, to touch others as You would touch them, to hold them as You would, to love them as only You can. Make my heart like Yours, that I may forgive everything and love beyond my own human frailty. Come live within me, that I may die to myself so You may fill my very being. Let me serve others as You would serve them, that in doing so I may serve You. Do not let me fail, oh Lord, or lead Your people astray. Allow me to live in Your presence today, that tomorrow I may die in Your hands and may You raise me one day that I may touch your face and live in Your glory.

Saint Stephen, pray for us!

The prayer was written by Deacon Lazaro J. Ulloa

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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