Category Archives: Saints

Melchizedek, the righteous King of Salem

Abraham & Melchizadek.jpeg

The Roman Martyrology lists one of the saints for today as Melchizedek, the righteous King of Salem who offered bread and wine to God in worship. Melchizedek means the King of Justice or King of Peace; “Salem” is the root word for Jerusalem. Melchizedek is also remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass when the priest prays, “…according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Church’s commemoration of this mysterious King of Salem reminds us that Melchizedek is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments; he is the first priest of the Old Testament mentioned in sacred Scripture and St. John Chrysostom even speaks of the King as “the perfect image of the Savior,” that is, he’s an Old Testament type, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as priest and king.

In a homily Bishop Photius of Lyons in part says of Melchizedek:

St. John Chrysostom says:
“Melchizedek was righteous and the faithful image of Christ.  Moved
by a prophetic spirit, he discerned the oblation which must one day be offered
for the Gentiles, and, in the example of the future Christ, he offered bread
and wine as sacrifice to God.  But, the Judaic synagogue, which honored
God according to the order of Aaron, offered Him a sacrifice, not of bread and
wine, but of bulls and lambs and glorified the Lord by bloody sacrifices. 
That is why God, addressing Himself to the One Who was to be born of the Virgin
Mary, Jesus Christ, His Son, says to Him, `You are Priest forever according to
the order of Melchizedek’ and not according to the order of Aaron, who honors
his God while offering Him bulls and heifers” (Op.  cit.,
p.482-483).  St. Ambrose draws the conclusion that the Christian worship
is more ancient than that of the Law since it is Melchizedek, the image of
Christ, who brings the bread and the wine, not Abraham (Cf “Dictionnaire
de Spiritualite”, col. 971.  St. Ambrose, “De Sacramentis”,
IV, 8, 10-11; “De Mysteriis”, 8, 44-45).

That the figure of
Melchizedek is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Fathers all hold to the
fact that He alone is truly `without genealogy’: “The Son of God,”
says St. John Chrysostom, “is without father and without mother; without father
as to His earthly genesis; without mother as to His heavenly genesis”
(“Homelie sur Melchizedek”, op. cit., p.479.  Cf. also
“Expication des Psaumes”, Ps. CIX, ibid., p.332).  If then the
Scriptures say of Melchizedek that he was `without genealogy’, it is not at all
that in reality he did not have parents, “because”, says St. John
Chrysostom, “we maintain that Melchizedek is not only a man like us . .
.  but as Melchizedek was the type of Christ, Whose image he bore, in the
same way was Jonas.  The Scriptures had not spoken of his father, so that
he might offer us a perfect image of the Saviour Who alone, in truth, has
neither father nor genealogy” (Ibid., p.482).  Likewise, in his
homily on the Psalm of David, he says: “That which Melchizedek was in figure,
Jesus Christ was in reality, and the name of Melchizedek was like the names of
Jesus and of Christ, which long in advance announced and prefigured the mission
of the Saviour.  When we read that Melchizedek had neither beginning nor
end of his life, it is not that in reality he had had neither beginning nor
end, but because no trace is found of his genealogy.  Jesus, on the
contrary, had in truth no beginning of His days, nor end of His life.  His
existence had no time, no beginning, no end.  One was the figure, the other
the truth” (Id.,”Oeuvres Completes”, t.IX, p.332).

Blessed John Henry Newman was enchanted by the mysteriousness of the priest and king Melchizedek who composed a poem, “Melchizedek”:

Without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.

Thrice bless’d are they, who fell their lonliness;

To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene

Brings that on which the sadden’d heart can lean;

Yea, the rich earth, garb’d in her daintiest dress

Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress,

Claiming responsive smiles and rapture high;

Till, sick at heart, beyond the veil they fly,

Seeking His Presence, who alone can bless.

Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven’s grace;

When, passing o’er the high-born Hebrew line,

He forms the vessel of His vast design;

Fatherless, homeless, reft of age and place,

Sever’d from earth, and careless of its wreck,

Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.

Nicholson & Lee, eds. The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse, 1917.

Saint Pius X, pope

Pius X.jpg

In Pope Saint Pius X we have an ardent supporter and leader in devotion to the Christ Lord known to us in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Today, take the opportunity to spend some time, even if it is 5 minutes, in front of the Blessed Sacrament saying nothing to the Lord; just being there in friendship and humble adoration is enough. And ask Saint Pius X to beg the Holy Spirit once again to place in our hearts a fervent love for the Lord in the Eucharist and the grace to live in communio with the Trinity and our neighbor.

Saint Pius wrote of the place Eucharistic worship in our Catholic lives:

Wherefore, works of this kind which have been already set on foot must be ever more zealously promoted; old undertakings must be revived wherever perchance they may have fallen into decay; for instance,

Confraternities of the holy Eucharist, intercessory prayers before the blessed Sacrament exposed for the veneration of the faithful, solemn processions, devout visits to God’s tabernacle, and other holy and salutary practices of some kind; nothing must be omitted which a prudent piety may suggest as suitable.

But the chief aim of our efforts must be that the frequent reception of the Eucharist may be everywhere revived among Catholic peoples. For this is the lesson which is taught us by the example, already referred to, of the primitive Church, by the decrees of Councils, by the authority of the Fathers and of the holy men in all ages. For the soul, like the body, needs frequent nourishment; and the holy Eucharist provides that food which is best adapted to the support of its life.

Accordingly all hostile prejudices, those vain fears to which so many yield, and their specious excuses from abstaining from the Eucharist, must be resolutely put aside; for there is question here of a gift than which none other can be more serviceable to the faithful people, either for the redeeming of time from the tyranny of anxious cares concerning perishable things, or for the renewal of the Christian spirit and perseverance therein. To this end the exhortations and example of all those who occupy a prominent position will powerfully contribute, but most especially the resourceful and diligent zeal of the clergy.

Pope Saint Pius X, Mirae Caritatis (1902)

Saint Maximus the Confessor

St Maximus the Confessor.jpg

The Byzantine Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Maximus the Confessor (ca. 580-662) today. He’s known for his defense of the orthodox faith against heretical teachings, particularly monothelitism (that Christ had only one will). His significant work in the study of Christ was his work on the Incarnation and the Trinity. Among the other theological interests was his respect for and obedience to the Church of Rome of whom Maximus said held true faith in the Trinity. His defense of the Roman Church set him against those who maintained that the Romans were heretics because they didn’t espouse Hellenism.

Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true
worship, Enlightener of the universe and adornment of hierarchs: All-wise
father Maximus, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things. Intercede
before Christ God to save our souls. Troparion (Tone 8)

Let us the faithful
fittingly praise the lover of the Trinity, The great Maximus who taught the
God-inspired faith, That Christ is to be glorified in His two natures, wills,
and energies; And let us cry to him: “Rejoice, herald of the faith.” Kontakion
(Tone 8)

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

I figured some wisdom from today’s saint is worth reading, even though it is not that extraordinary but its simplicity speaks volumes. Saint Jane Frances with Saint Francis de Sales founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary and so this letter of 1616 was written by her to one her spiritual daughters who must have been facing some criticism or some type of hassle from some in the monastery about her prayer life. Mother Jane Frances simply tells her correspondent not reveal all of the details of her prayer life not because she was advocating be obscure but there are times one ought to be discrete. What is a good reminder with Jane’s letter is the reminder that we all should pay close attention in keeping the Divine Presence in front of us. So often we are distracted by other things that we fail in keeping God prominently in front of our eyes. Msgr. Giussani reminds us of this necessity and Fr. Carrón hasn’t tired in reminding us of this daily witness to Christ.

The second point addressed in the letter provided below by Mother Jane Frances is her correspondent’s lack of confidence in her vocation. It could be that the young sister was feeling “dry in her prayer and her vocation,” having a lack of confidence that what she is doing is not as she expected. This real isn’t it? I can verify that many times I go in life without courage. This is also true was said of Blessed Mother Teresa who for 50 years experienced dryness in her prayer. But her faithfulness to time in prayer showed the depth of her love for Christ. From the opposite point of view, Jane uses Old Testament typology to illustrate how God has been faithful to His people not for one day but for all time. I believe that Divine Providence doesn’t give us anything in our life without the grace to “succeed” and everything we experience is given to us by God for our education. I find Saint Jane Frances de Chantal’s spiritual advice to be practical and human. Perhaps you might also.

St Jane de Chantal.jpg

Saint Jane Frances writes: “When you are asked what point of prayer you take, and the like, answer boldly as to what you have done or thought formerly in this way: “I have had such thoughts in prayer or done such things while walking about, or when in bed”; but do not say: “Today, or at such an hour, I have done such a thing.” It is not necessary to be so explicit, but simply say, “I have done or seen such a thing,” and have no scruple in calling all your good aspirations and thoughts prayer, for they are prayer, and so, for the matter of that, are all our actions when done to please God. It is enough to salute your good Angel morning and evening. Attention to the presence of God and of Our Lady includes all, for the blessed Spirits are engulphed in the abyss of the Divinity, and it is more perfect to walk simply. When a novice says to you, “What are you thinking of?” answer frankly, “I am thinking of God,” without saying (if it is not so), I was thinking of the Passion, and the like, for no doubt to mention a particular subject (if we were not thinking of it) would be an untruth. Say simply, “I was thinking of Our Lord,” and you might, for example, add, “My God, how happy we should be if we could always have the Holy Passion or the Nativity before our eyes.” This gives edification enough. I see nothing else to say.

Oh! but yes; just a word for my Little One. I beg of you, my dearest Sister, not to trouble about what you feel or do not feel, this I say once for all. Serve Our Lord as it pleases Him, and while He keeps you in the desert serve Him there with good courage. He made His dear Israelites spend forty years there, accomplishing a journey that they could have made in forty days. Take courage then, and be satisfied with saying, and being able to say, though without relish, “I wish to live wholly for God and never to offend Him”; and when you stumble, as is sure to happen (be it a hundred times a day), rise up again by an act of confidence. Do likewise towards your neighbor, be content with having the desire to love him, or desiring to desire it, and to procure for him all possible good, and, opportunity given, minister gently to him.

In short take bravely the road in which God leads you it is a safe one, although you may not have all the light and satisfaction you would like; but it is quite time to abandon to Our Lord all these plans and desires, and to walk blindly, as divine Providence wills, believing that it will lead you aright.

Saint Lawrence

Martrdom of St Lawrence Fra Angelico.jpgAs blessed Lawrence lay on the gridiron, to which the
torturers held him fast with forks over the burning coals of fire, he cried out
to the wicked magistrate: “The roasting is done! turn now the carcass and
devour, for the rest of the substance of the church, which you desired, has
been garnered up into heaven by the hands of the poor!
(an antiphon)

In today’s Office of Readings of the Roman Divine Office the Church gives to us for meditation a piece written on the martyr Saint Lawrence by the great Saint Augustine of Hippo:

The Roman Church commends to us
today the anniversary of the triumph of Saint Lawrence. For on this day he
trod the furious pagan world underfoot and flung aside its allurements, and so
gained victory over Satan’s attack on his faith. As you have often heard, Lawrence
was a deacon of the Church at Rome. There he ministered the sacred blood of
Christ; there for the sake of Christ’s Name he poured out his own blood
. St.
John the Apostle was evidently teaching us about the mystery of the Lord’s
Supper when he wrote, “Just as Christ laid down His life for us, so we
ought to lay down our lives for the brethren
.” Lawrence understood this,
and, understanding, he acted on it. Just as he had partaken of a gift of self
at the table of the Lord, so he prepared to offer such a gift. In his life,
Lawrence loved Christ; in his death, he followed n Christ’s footsteps.

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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