Category Archives: Saints

Saint Thomas Becket

St Thomas Becket, Master Francke.jpg

O God our redeemer, the Church was [is] strengthened by the blood of Thy martyr Saint Thomas Becket: so bind us, in life and in death, to the sacrifice of Christ, that our lives being broken and offered with his, we may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world.

King Saint David, prophet

King David Ukrainian icon.jpg

Today is the feast of King David, the revered Old Testament king and prophet. The Orthodox Church remembers King David on December 26th. The Latin Church, however, does not typically commemorate David as a saint on the universal calendar but he is listed in the Roman Martyrology (2005)It is the Eastern Church that recalls and commemorates more seriously King David in the Liturgy than the Latin Liturgy does. In any event, the Roman Martyrology says:
Commemoratio sancti David, regis et prophetae, qu, filius Iesse Bethlehemitae, gratiam invenit ante Deum et oleo sancto a Samuele propheta unctus est, ut populum Israel regeret; in civitatem Ierusalem Arcam foederis Domini transtulit ac Dominus ipse mox ei iuravit semen eius in aeternum mansurum esse, eo quod ex ipso Iesus Christus secundum carnem nasciturus esset.

The translation: 
The commemoration of Holy David, king and prophet, who, the son of Jesus of Bethlehem, found favor before God was anointed with holy oil by the prophet Samuel, so that he might rule the people of Israel; he brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant into the city of Jerusalem and the Lord vowed to him that his seed would endure forever; thus from it Jesus should be born according to the flesh.
We should recall what the Catechism says, “the shepherd who prays for his people and prays in their name” (2579), pointing to the figure of David at an OT figure of Jesus.

More on King Saint David can be found here.

Saint John, Apostle & Evangelist

St John at Patmos HBaldung Grien.jpg

This is John who reclined on the Lord’s breast at the Supper. O blessed Apostle, to whom were revealed heavenly secrets! (Magnificat antiphon)
The Roman Martyrology speaks of John in this way: “Sixty-eight years after the passion and death of His Lord, he died at a ripe old age. He was buried near Ephesus.” He was the lone of the 12 Apostles to die of natural causes, though he did suffer for Christ.
Perhaps no other of the Twelve than John has anyone been so close, so well-attuned to the Lord’s life, love and mission. To John was given the responsibility to mind Mary, the Mother of Jesus and thus to guide the Church in her in abiding in the Lord. It is not lost on us that the symbol of Saint John the Evangelist is the eagle who scales the heights and keenly aware of all things. In John’s case, he so sharply looks into reality and sees with profound depth the meaning of things.
About Saint John’s self-giving sacrifice we read:

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Saint Stephen, the first killed for Christ

St Stephen Sermon Fra Angelico.jpgIn the blood of the holy Levite Stephen “the Church dedicates the first-fruits of martyrdom” to the King of martyrs.

The day following Christmas, December 26, is observed liturgically by the Church as Saint Stephen’s Day. Saint Stephen’s feast is located so close to Christmas because of his very close connection with the Lord. Stephen is the first martyr –the protomartyr– of the New Testament (See Acts 6-7).
Today in 2010, the liturgical observance of Sunday is maintained as the Lord’s Day and is not trumped by a saint’s feast. The overlaying of the Holy Family feast today –observed on the Sunday following Christmas– doesn’t replace the Sunday observance nor the Scripture readings but today is the feast of the Holy Family and it is a rich feast nonetheless. But we don’t forget Saint Stephen!
The Polish children would imitate the stoning of Stephen by throwing walnuts at each other. In agricultural countries horses and horse food (hay and oats, and salt) are blessed. In the UK, Saint Stephen’s day is also known as “boxing day” because priests in medieval times they gave alms collected in Church to the poor. All shared in the Lord’s blessings. This charitable gesture of the priests was adopted by the laity who also gave alms to the poor. What you see here is the beauty of the gospel preached by Jesus and the Apostles realized in concrete ways. Money is counted and given freely, hence the breaking of the alms boxes became known as “boxing day” because it was an invitation to be mindful of the less fortunate. German children had piggy banks made of clay taking on the same sensibility as the British children knew. The Germans sometimes call today the “pig’s feast” because the clay pig bank was broken to gain access to the monetary savings to be given to others in need.
Since the saints always and unreservedly point to Christ, theologically we’d say that the Christ Child, the Divine Child, gave His blessings. Latin Americans would call the infant Jesus as “el Niño Jesús” or the Germanic peoples would call Him the “Christkind” or the diminutive “Christkindel” (and you see the origins of the word Kris Kringle and Santa Claus).
Whether the customs of the UK or Germanic countries prevail, the connection to Saint Stephen is maintained: as a deacon of the nascent Church, Stephen cared for the widow, the orphan, the outcast –the needy. Indeed, deacons looked after the temporal needs of all people, and he preached Jesus’ Good News of Salvation. The gesture of giving is form of witness to the abundant blessings of God, it is also a sermon not in words, but in concrete actions. The diakonia of Saint Stephen is recognized in the medium of giving away what one has received for the well-being of another. So, today is traditional days to honor those ordained to the Order of Deacon.

In Saint Joseph we look to the future with confidence & courage, total trust in God’s mercy, Pope says

St Joseph & Jesus.jpgIn the Season of Advent there are so many people to emulate: Jesus, Mary, the martyrs, various other saints, and Joseph in particular. Saint Joseph factors into Catholicism so much that one can reasonably ask, Can any good Catholic not pay attention to Saint Joseph? Obviously not. I took as my oblation name with the Benedictine oblates “Meinrad-Joseph” primarily because of the virtues of Saint Meinrad and for the devotion shown by Joseph for Jesus; in taking the name Meinrad-Joseph I honor my father, Edward Joseph.

The Pope spoke on Sunday at the Angelus on the great foster father of Jesus and the patron saint against doubt, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, China, confectioners, craftsmen, dying people, engineers, families, fathers, happy death, holy death, house hunters, Korea, laborers, Mexico, New France, people in doubt, Peru, pioneers, protector of the Church, social justice, travelers, Universal Church, Vatican II, Viet Nam, workers, working people. AND now the Pope adds pastors to this list under Saint Joseph’s care.

At Sunday’s Angelus Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about Saint Joseph:

On this fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us how the birth of Jesus came about, taking the perspective of St. Joseph. He was the betrothed of Mary, who, “before they lived together, was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). The Son of God, realizing an ancient prophecy (cf. Isaiah 7:14), became man in the womb of a virgin, and such a mystery simultaneously manifests the love, wisdom and power of God on behalf of humanity wounded by sin. St. Joseph is presented as a “just man” (Matthew 1:19), faithful to God’s law, ready to do his will. On account of this he enters into the mystery of the Incarnation after an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife with you. In fact the child that has been conceived in her comes from the Holy Spirit; she will give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus: he in fact will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). Forgetting the thought of repudiating Mary in secret, he takes her in because his eyes now see the work of God in her.

St. Ambrose comments that “in Joseph there was amiability and the figure of a just man to make the quality of his witness more worthy” (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14,32-33). “He,” Ambrose continues, “could not have contaminated the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the fruitful womb of the mystery” (ibid. II, 6: CCL 14, 33). Although he had been concerned, Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord ordered him,” certain of doing the right thing. Also giving the name “Jesus” to that child who rules the entire universe, he enters into the ranks of the faithful and humble servants, like the angels and prophets, like the martyrs and the apostles — in the words of ancient eastern hymns. St. Joseph proclaims the wonders of the Lord, witnessing Mary’s virginity, the gratuitous deed of God, and caring for the earthly life of the Messiah. So, we venerate the legal father of Jesus (Code of Canon Law, 532), because the new man takes form in him, who looks to the future with confidence and courage, does not follow his own project, but entrusts himself totally to the infinite mercy of him who fulfills the prophecies and inaugurates the season of salvation.

Dear friends, to St. Joseph, universal patron of the Church, I would like to entrust all pastors, exhorting them to offer “to faithful Christians and the whole world the humble and daily proposal of the words of Christ” (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests). May our life be evermore conformed to the person of Jesus, precisely because “the one who is himself the Word takes on a body, he comes from God as a man and draws the whole of man’s being to himself, bearing it into the Word of God” (Jesus of Nazareth, San Francisco, 2008, 334). Let us invoke the Virgin Mary with confidence, the one who is full of grace, “adorned by God,” so that at Christmas, which is already near, our eyes may open and see Jesus, and the heart rejoice in this wondrous encounter of love.

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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