Category Archives: Saints

St John Vianney

john vianneyLiturgically we recall the memory of Saint John Vianney. We have linked as saintly patron of secular priesthood Vianney for a very long time; the weight of Vianney’s example led Pius XII to say, “The wonderful example of St. John Mary Vianney retains all of its force for our times.” But this designation was refined by Pope Pius XI as the heavenly patron of all “pastors, to promote their spiritual welfare throughout the world.” Until this time he was spoken of as the patron of priests in France.

Pope Pius XI spoke of Saint John Vianney in this way: “the gaunt figure of John Baptist Vianney, with that head shining with long hair that resembled a snowy crown, and that thin face, wasted from long fasting, where the innocence and holiness of the meekest and humblest of souls shone forth so clearly that the first sight of it called crowds of people back to thoughts of salvation.”

Reflecting on priesthood, Pope Pius XII stated: “Through the character of Sacred Orders, God willed to ratify that eternal covenant of love, by which He loves His priests above all others; and they are obliged to repay God for this special love with holiness of life. . . So a cleric should be considered as a man chosen and set apart from the midst of the people, and blessed in a very special way with heavenly gifts–a sharer in divine power, and, to put it briefly, another Christ. . . He is no longer supposed to live for himself; nor can he devote himself to the interests of just his own relatives, or friends or native land. . . He must be aflame with charity toward everyone. Not even his thoughts, his will, his feelings belong to him, for they are rather those of Jesus Christ who is his life.”

You see the importance of the holy priesthood and the reason why the Church would look to John Vianney for special help. In 1959 Saint John XXIII fine tuned this point in saying about Vianney, “The Catholic Church, which elevated this man in sacred orders, who was “wonderful in his pastoral zeal, in his devotion to prayer and in the ardor of his penance” to the honors of the saints of heaven, now, one hundred years after his death, offers him with maternal joy to all the clergy as an outstanding model of priestly asceticism, of piety, especially in the form of devotion to the Eucharist, and, finally, of pastoral zeal.”

One last point today from Pius XII: the holds that the secular priesthood “requires a greater interior holiness than is demanded by the religious state.”

St Lydia

St LydiaSaint Lydia Purpuraria (1st century) is famous for the mention in Acts 16 for her work with selling purple material (hence, her name which means purple seller), used for for expensive Roman clothing.

Lydia was born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar), a town in Asia Minor. She met Paul on his second missionary journey in ca. AD50. Lydia became Paul’s first convert at Philippi and he baptized her with her household in the Gaggitis River –called the Angst River. Paul with his companions stayed at her home in Philippi. Thus, it is her home that becomes the first church in Europe.

The Orthodox recall her memory liturgically on May 20.

For most Catholics praying to Saint Lydia for her intercession would be very novel. But what she models for us is not new. In his 1995 Letter to Women, Saint John Paul II wrote “In this vast domain of service, the Church’s two-thousand-year history, for all its historical conditioning, has truly experienced the ‘genius of woman’; from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history.” Right, Lydia’s genius is instructive and worthy of our consideration for knowing the desires of her heart: she was a business woman, she lived the virtue of hospitality, a leader of people, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

Let us ask Lydia to guide all women, indeed, all Christians, in their responding sacrificially to the holy desires of the heart.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Relics of EymardSaint Peter Julian Eymard (feastday today), whom Saint John Paul II called the “Apostle of the Eucharist.”

The prayer of the Church says:

O God, who adorned Saint Peter Julian Eymard with a wonderful love for the sacred mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son, graciously grant, that we, too, may be worthy to receive the delights he drew from this divine banquet.

Saints are friends of saints, and saints beget saints: Eymard was a friend and contemporary of saints Peter Chanel, Marcellin Champagnat, and Blessed Basil Moreau. He died at the age of fifty-seven in La Mure on 1 August 1868.

At his canonization, Saint John XXIII said this of Saint Peter Julian:

It is also very fitting that the sacred ceremony occurs during the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council which has as its special purpose to see to it that the pearls of holiness belonging to the crown which encircles the head of the Church should sparkle and shine ever more and more. This extensive gathering of her holy shepherds united with the infallible successor of St Peter not only proposes and reaffirms once again the unchangeable truths left by the divine Master, but also clearly urges that daily, more and more, there be used those holy helps which make us possessors and sharers of divine grace. Furthermore, she enjoins on her children precepts designed to make the Christian way of life better lived.

The Council can therefore be said to have no other purpose than to show that here below, the Spouse of Christ possesses every kind of holiness both in deeds, in words, and in spiritual gifts of every kind; that here below she inspires her sons with that holy purpose of the Church expressed so clearly by the Redeemer of the human race: ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matt., 5: 48).

Once these things are understood, it is easy to see that Christians should glory in having such a mother whom everyone ought to admire because of her incredible beauty, divinely infused. Her grandeur does not shine because of gems or pearls that can be seen by human eyes, but rather glows in the splendour and grace which derive from the blood of her Founder and the marvellous virtue of many of her children. As a result, whoever calls himself a Christian ought to observe a way of life which in no way detracts from the supreme honour of their mother and which is not foreign to her precepts and teachings. No one can truly say that he loves his mother who is not afraid of dishonouring her beauty, even a little, by his way of life.

The Eucharist, Source of Sanctity

Eucharistic life: The Holy Eucharist is the source and the nourishment of all sanctity. Our Predecessor, St Leo the Great, expressed this when he said: ‘The participation in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ has no other effect than to transform us into Him whom we receive.’

How visible is this progressive transformation into the very life of the divine Saviour, in the admirable development of the virtues of the saints canonised today! And what dealings of particular intimacy with Jesus Eucharistic do we not discover in their ascent to sanctity! The name of Peter Julian suffices to unveil to our eyes the splendid eucharistic triumphs to which, in spite of trials and difficulties of all kinds, he wanted to consecrate his life which prolongs itself in the family founded by him. This little child of five who was found on the altar, his forehead resting on the little door, was the same person who in time would found the Congregation of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament and that of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, and who would radiate into innumerable armies of priest adorers, his love and tenderness for Christ living in the Eucharist…

Marian Piety: At the side of Jesus there stands His Mother, the Queen of all the Saints, the source of sanctity in the Church of God and the first flower of its grace. Intimately associated with the redemption in the eternal plans of the Most High, the Blessed Virgin, as Severiano di Gabala expressed it in song, ‘is the Mother of salvation, the source of light become visible’. Hence filial piety is pleased to consider her at the beginning of all Christian life to ensure its harmonious development and to crown its fullness by her maternal presence.

Thus it is not surprising to meet the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the three new confessors whom she accompanies step by step. Saint Julian Eymard proposes her as a model to adorers, invoking her as ‘Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament’…….

….pastoral radiance – the new saints prove it – can be described as the formation of good priests, with fervent souls of adorers, whose ranks have multiplied throughout the world… a

Perfect Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament

We now desire to add a word for the French pilgrims who have come to assist at the glorification of St Peter Julian Eymard, priest, confessor, founder of two religious families consecrated to the worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

He is a saint with whom We have been familiar for many years, as We said above, when as Apostolic Nuncio to France, Providence granted Us the happy opportunity to visit his native land, La Mure d’Isère, near Grenoble.

We saw with Our own eyes the poor bed, the humble dwelling where this faithful imitator of Christ gave up his beautiful soul to God. You can surmise, beloved Sons, with what emotion We recall that memory on this day when it is given Us to confer upon him the honours of canonisation.

The body of St Peter Julian Eymard is preserved in Paris: but the saint is also somehow present at Rome, in the person of his sons, the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament; it is also a sweet memory for Us to recall visits that We used to make to their Church of St Claude-des-Bourguignons (San Claudio), to unite Ourselves for a few moments to their silent adorations.

Besides St Vincent de Paul, St John Eudes, the Curé of Ars, Peter Julian Eymard takes his place in the ranks of the incomparable glory and honour of the country that witnessed their birth, but whose beneficial influence extends far beyond, namely, to the whole Church.

His characteristic distinction, the guiding thought of all his priestly activities, one may say, was the Eucharist: eucharistic worship and apostolate. Here, We would like to stress this fact in the presence of the Priests and of the Servants of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in presence also of the members of an Association which is dear to the heart of the Pope, that of the Priest Adorers assembled at this time in Rome, who have come in great numbers to honour this great friend of the Eucharist.

Yes, dear Sons, honour and celebrate with Us him who was so perfect an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament; after his example, always place at the centre of your thoughts, of your affections, of the undertakings of your zeal this incomparable source of all grace: the Mystery of Faith, which hides under its veils the Author Himself of grace, Jesus the Incarnate Word.

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Eymard is a great teacher for those who want to know more about the Eucharist and to have devotion to the Eucharist. It is this Mystery of the Faith which the Church infallibly teaches us is the center, summit and source of All.

 

St Alphonsus de Ligouri

St AlphonseSaint Alphonsus de Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists, great writer and Doctor of the Church (declared by Pius IX); patron of moral theologians.

Saint Alphonsus also was instrumental in founding the Redemptoristine nuns and several other congregations including the one founded by Pio Bruno Lantern who took the constitutions of the Redemptorists for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Saint Alphonsus spoke eloquently of priesthood and the dignity and beauty of properly exercising this particular grace.

The Psalm for today says much about Saint Alphonsus’ charism: “teach me your statutes, O Lord.”  What can be truly said about the man than to teach the law of the Lord? Indeed, today’s saint did much to assist the faithful in being close to God in prayer, seeking the virtuous life, being penitential and to have a good zeal for the salvation of others. One common thing we ought to recall is that Alphonsus gave us what some now call the traditional prayers for the Stations of the Cross. The Mass prayer praises and petitions God, to give us the grace he gave to Saint Alphonsus in being an example of virtue for the sake of heaven.

Other saints and blesseds of Saint Alphonsus’ religious congregation: St. Clement Hofbauer, St. John Neumann, St. Gerard Magella, Blessed Peter Donders, Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger, Blessed Gennaro Sarnelli, and Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and at least 5 other beati. Plus, there a few on the way to sainthood such as Venerable Father Alfred Pampalon, and the 4 martyrs of Ukraine, and the 6 martyrs of Cuenca, Spain as well as Antonio Maria Losito declared Venerable in 2015, and 8 other Venerables. The spirituality of Saint Alphonsus has produced many holy men raised to, or on the way to being raised, the holy altar.

 

 

Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus

Johannes Vermeer Christ_in_the_House of Martha and MaryToday, on the Novus Ordo liturgical calendar the Church recalls St Martha. For Benedictines, today we seek the help of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Hosts of the Lord. All three are not only disciples of the Lord but are true friends. In the Benedictine tradition Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus are venerated as living Saint Benedict’s mandate of hospitality: “Let all guests be received as Christ, for He will one day say, I came as a guest and you welcomed me.” (RSB 53:1). For this reason, one Benedictine Lectionary proposes the story of Abraham and Sarah extending hospitality.

In a time when hospitality is not a value, the Benedictine tradition gives us this feast of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus to keep our hearts focussed on the practice hospitality. “Behold,” says the Lord, “I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

What we see in these saints we see first in the Eucharistic hospitality of God at the altar. Just as Martha, Mary and Lazarus opened the door to Jesus and made room for him, there is room for all of us at the temple of God where we are invited in to hear the Word and receive his gifts of Life.

May we learn what it means to be hospitable. Can we sit at the foot of the Master like Mary at the Eucharistic banquet and receive his mystical body and blood, or be a penitent like Lazarus or to set aside the anxieties of this world? Can we leave the anxieties of life to bring our entire humanity to the Lord through the transparency of prayer?

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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