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Prophet Ezekiel

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The Church commemorates the Prophet Ezekiel (born c. 622 BC) today. His name means "God will strengthen."  God's strength will be explained by the prophet's persistent and clear call for repentance, purity and holiness.

The Prophet is remembered on various dates among others:

  • Latin Catholics 23 July
  • Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox and some Lutherans on 21 July
  • Armenian Apostolic Church on 28 August
  • It must be noted that Ezekiel, though not named in the Islamic holy Book, is honored.

Ezekiel is said to have been a great teacher and that his lessons were about the renewal and reform of the whole nation through the renewal and reform of each person. But more than a great teacher he was born into a born into a priestly family, meaning that his family was a family of priests in the line of Levi. Ezekiel was a priest who offered sacrifice on behalf of others.

He is remembered for many important things but many will say they are drawn to the miracle he performed of the resuscitation of the dead found in Book of Ezekiel 37. Dry bones are reassembled and live again. An evident foretelling of the Lord's own resurrection from the dead. But aside from brilliant miracles the prophet utterances of Ezekiel's book speak of a vision of God's glory  (the heavens opening) and the restoration of that glory will happen in a dramatic way even though Jerusalem would fall, unbelief of the people in the one God would lead to their destruction (the Jews would understand the abandoned faith was akin to committing national suicide), and that God required the people to do penance for their wandering away from His truth, beauty and goodness.

Saint Mary Magdalen

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Magdalen raised by Angels GLanfranco.jpgThe day dawns, Mary, bright with joy,
The Lord is victor over death;
You hasten to anoint the Christ,
The truth, thought cold and void of breath.

You come in haste but 'tis to hear
A white-robed angel gladly tell,
"The one you're seeking rose again,
He broke apart the gates of Hell."

Your love requires a greater joy,
You ask the gard'ner where He lay,
A "Mary!" turning see the Lord
Your teacher, Jesus Christ, the Way.

The tearful Virgin you upheld,
Beneath the cruel gallows tree
And so Christ chose you first of all
As witness of his victory.

O lovely flow'r of Magdala,
Whose love of Christ earned such apart,
Pray we may also have this gift,
The flame of love within our heart.

Lord Jesus, give us such a love,
To olive like Mary all our days,
And so with her in heaven's life
To sing your ever-lasting praise.

Text trans. Kenneth Tomkins, OSB, 1992, Quarr Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wight
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The feast of Saint Thomas is Easter in summer: an opportunity to open a new door in what we  believe about in the Messiah. Saint Gregory notes below, God arranged His mercy particularly for us in concrete experience. He took the initiative once again.

With the Church, we pray:

Grant, almighty God, that we may glory in the Feast of the blessed Apostle Thomas, so that we may always be sustained by his intercession and, believing, may have life in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, whom Thomas acknowledged as the Lord.

From a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope

Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. He was the only disciple absent; on his return he heard what had happened but refused to believe it. The Lord came a second time; he offered his side for the disbelieving disciple to touch, held out his hands, and showing the scars of his wounds, healed the wound of his disbelief.

Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events? Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God's providence. In a marvellous way God's mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master's body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ's wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.

Touching Christ, he cried out: My Lord and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Paul said: Faith is the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It is clear, then, that faith is the proof of what can not be seen. What is seen gives knowledge, not faith. When Thomas saw and touched, why was he told: You have believed because you have seen me? Because what he saw and what he believed were different things. God cannot be seen by mortal man. Thomas saw a human being, whom he acknowledged to be God, and said: My Lord and my God. Seeing, he believed; looking at one who was true man, he cried out that this was God, the God he could not see.

What follows is reason for great joy: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say: They profess to know God, but they deny him in their works. Therefore James says: Faith without works is dead.

Saint Thomas

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Was Saint Thomas really doubting, skeptical, or trying understand a new reality he met in the risen Lord?  The so-called skepticism is seen as weakness but in the Christian way of looking at life, weakness is power. Doubt is really clarification. Thomas, is really an apostle of the Lord's glorification as John's Gospel indicates for us. I can also see Thomas as the apostle who loves the Lord with passion, with ardor, as when he tells the disciples to go with the Lord to the cross when witnessing to the death of Lazarus. Thomas is also the apostle of Christology. He asks, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, how can we know the way?" Jesus sets gives one of his clearest teachings of who He is: "I am the way, the truth and the life." But somewhere along the path charted by Jesus Thomas doesn't immediately accept what others have to say about the resurrection from the dead of Jesus but has to personally probe the fact.

Eusebius of Caesarea writes that Thomas evangelized the peoples of Persia; there is also the claim that he evangelized western India, founding what is known today as the Malabar Church, and later martyred there.

Like Thomas, Didymus, we've met the Lord in his glorious wounds and sometimes we miss what those wounds mean. Thomas is here to help us.

"We find Jesus' wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body - the body - the soul too, but - I stress - the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. 'Oh, great! Let's set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help '. That's important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed

Pope Francis

Today is a perfect day to pray for the Pope and our bishop. It is also a perfect day to pray for Christian unity and to pick up a good book on the Church's history. Perhaps even pray with Matthew 16.


Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop

The martyrs realized what they taught

This day has been made holy by the passion of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. We are, therefore, not talking about some obscure martyrs. For their voice has gone forth to all the world, and to the ends of the earth their message. These martyrs realized what they taught: they pursued justice, they confessed the truth, they died for it.

Saint Peter, the first of the apostles and a fervent lover of Christ, merited to hear these words: I say to you that you are Peter, for he had said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then Christ said: And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church. On this rock I will build the faith that you now confess, and on your words: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church. For you are Peter, and the name Peter comes from petra, the word for "rock," and not vice versa. "Peter" comes, therefore, from petra, just as "Christian" comes from Christ.


Saints are for the universal Church, not merely for a particular group. Making the universal call to holiness known seems to be one, among many, of the gifts Saint Josemaría Escrivá gave to us because he had first recognized this gift as coming from the Holy Trinity for the good of all of us.

The relevance and transcendence of this spiritual message, deeply rooted in the fruitfulness with which God has blessed the life of and work of Josemaría Escrivá. The land of his birth, Spain, is honored by this son of hers, an exemplary priest, who succeeded in opening up new apostolic horizons of missionary and evangelizing activity. May this joyful celebration be an auspicious occasion that will stimulate all the members of the Prelature of Opus Dei to greater commitment, in their response to the call to holiness and to a more generous participation in ecclesial life, being always witnesses of genuine evangelical values, and may this be expressed in an ardent apostolic dynamism, with particular attention to the poorest and most needy. [...] 

Beatification homily of Pope John Paul II

May 20, 1992

Saint Lazarus

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But make me like Lazarus, who was poor in sin,

lest I receive no answer when I pray,

no finger dipped in water to relieve my burning tongue;

and make me dwell in Abraham's bosom in Your love for mankind.

Hymn at Presanctified Liturgy , Lent

May Saint Lazarus always remind us Christ's love for us.

Saint Barnabas

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With the Church we pray

O God, who decreed that Saint Barnabas, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, should be set apart to convert nations, grant that the Gospel of Christ, which he strenuously preached, may be faithfully proclaimed by word and by deed.

Saint Barnabas died in AD 61. What we know of Barnabas comes most from the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in today's Mass readings but he also shows in several of Saint Paul's Letters.

Who was Barnabas? Some scholars say that Barnabas was the cousin of Saint Mark on the basis of Colossians 4. We know he was of the tribe of Levi (making him a member of the priestly class), a native of Cyprus and a landowner there before selling the land to support the Church in Jerusalem, Moreover, he was trained in the Christian faith and a teacher of the same (see Acts 13).

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Lord, have mercy on us,

Christ, have mercy on us,
Lord, have mercy on us,
Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us,

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us,
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God, the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,

Holy Mary, pray for us,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Queen of the White-robed Order,

Thou who had a great love for St. Norbert,
Holy Father Norbert, pray for us,

St. Norbert, whose birth was foretold from Heaven,
St. Norbert, who was marvellously converted by God,
St. Norbert, mirror of true penance,
St. Norbert, who did trample earthly pomps under foot,
St. Norbert, despiser of the world,
St. Norbert, who did conquer thy passions and affections,
St. Norbert, who did gain the victory over temptations,
St. Norbert, who did quell and cast down devils,
St. Norbert, restorer of peace and concord,
St. Norbert, who did walk barefoot,
St. Norbert, who did practise mortification,
St. Norbert, lover of the Cross,
St. Norbert, pattern of abstinence,
St. Norbert, most strict observer of fasting,
St. Norbert, who did yourself practice and teach silence,
St. Norbert, who did receive the white habit from the Mother of God,
St. Norbert, most constant in faith,
St. Norbert, most firm in hope,
St. Norbert, most fervent in charity,
St. Norbert, zealous lover of chastity,
St. Norbert, model of poverty,
St. Norbert, mirror of obedience,

ME Hesselblad.jpgThe Sisters of Saint Birgitta honor their second foundress, "Bridget the Second," the woman who restored the Order of the Most Holy Savior, Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad. Her liturgical feast celebrated today.

Blessed Mary Elizabeth immigrated to the USA and converted to Catholicism through a Jesuit at Georgetown University. In time she felt called to refound the ancient order first founded by the Swedish saint Bridget, the Order of the Most Holy Saviour in the mid-14th century. The order is a semi-contemplative order of nuns officially approved by the Holy See on 7 July 1940, though it came together in 1911. The nuns run retreat houses and have some ecumenical work with the Protestant communities.

The Order of the Most Holy Saviour is a fascinating part of our Catholic ecclesial history in that the order of nuns and priests were part of a double monastery dedicated to the Lord's passion. The chaplains were under the rule of the abbess. The nuns have foundations in different parts of the world while there is one priory of monks in Oregon and they don't actively collaborate with the nuns.

Mother Mary Elizabeth taught, "We must nourish a great love for God and our neighbors; a strong love, an ardent love, a love that burns away imperfections, a love that gently bears an act of impatience, or a bitter word, a love that lets an inadvertence or act of neglect pass without comment, a love that lends itself readily to an act of charity."

Video part II

The Bridgettines have a convent and retreat house in Darien, CT (in the Diocese of Bridgeport).

In addition to Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, the Church raised up and bestowed the title of blessed on Mother Mary Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough, Mother Mary Catherine Flannagan and Sister Mary Magdalen  Moccia on 21 October 2011.

Blessed Mary Elizabeth, pray for us.
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The Church honors Saint Charles Lwanga, and his companions, today, who were burned at the stake for belief in Jesus Christ. They were the embodiment of a real love for God and his people. 

The Ugandan martyrs died because they refused to renounce his Christianity. Their death was also the result of the anger of a king who made sexual advances on Charles and others who refused. They were serious about the Christian faith. It was on this date in 1886, the solemnity of the Ascension that Charles and 21 others were killed.

The Church through the Servant of God Pope Paul VI canonized the Uganda Martyrs in 1964; they were beatified in 1920.

Here is a commentary by Father Barron on Saint Charles wherein he discusses the saint's legacy, spiritual and societal.

Saint Charles is the patron saint of the African Catholic Youth Action. May he and his companions be our guide in living the Christian faith in times of difficulty.

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Saint Justin Martyr

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O God, who through the folly of the Cross wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, grant us, through his intercession, that, having rejected deception and error, we may become steadfast in the faith.

We typically tell the narrative of Saint Justin Martyr, the second century orator, in these terms: Justin was among the first Christians to use his brain. Well, not really. But we do say that by the age of 30 Justin confessed faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah and began to use his philosophical training to explain what the Christian movement means to the believer, and why would want to be a Christian as opposed to being a pagan (i.e., an unbeliever) or an adherent to Judaism. His conversion was from paganism and not Judaism. 

Justin was well-eduacted man who later worked as a teacher first in Ephesus and later in Rome. His school of debate in Rome was followed by many in Rome which led to his death by beheading. This great apologist (defender of the faith, that is, one who gave reasons for our hope) is what we need today. The extant works by or about him are the Apologies, Dialogues with Trypho and the Acts.

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Saints in Connecticut. Relics point to Jesus Christ.

Litchfield County Times' reporter Tom Breen published his "Catholic Retreat Near Mystic Features Severed Arm of Medieval Saint" on May 25, 2013. He writes on the first class relic of Saint Edmund of Canterbury, a renowned English archbishop, in a Mystic, CT, retreat house by the same name.

The infrastructure of holiness rests, in part, with the witness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Saints, for those who are Catholic, are men and women who know they are sinners, who have been forgiven, and who know what it means to live the sacred Scriptures. Specifically, they point to Christ as Messiah and say that it is in fact possible for all of us to be saints.

The Church has venerated, not worshiped saints and their relics. As reliable witnesses, the saints to this day point to Jesus. By the second century Christians would pray in the places where the martyrs were buried and/or where they were killed. A human contact is necessary for all of us.

The practice of offering Mass upon the tombs of the saints became normal; when the Christian community expanded, the practice of praying with the saints followed. Devotion ensued and Connecticut has a verifiable saint to honor.

Saint Edmund of Canterbury's feast day is November 16.

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Saint Joan of Arc

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O God, you have chosen Saint Joan of Arc to defend her country against the invading enemy. Through her intercession, grant that we may work for justice and live in peace.

Saint Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431) was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and made the patron saint of France and soldiers. She's known to be from the peasant class but of a devoted family near to the province of Lorraine. Her own life of sanctity began with the awareness, it is said, of recognizing the voices of Saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret. The heavenly messengers told the young Joan to help the king reconquer his kingdom. 

For some it was a precocious act, but Joan commanded her own army at the age of 17 winning several military battles. She faced bigoted political and churchmen and were all-too-willing to let Joan hang out to dry when she was captured by the Burgundians and who they sold her to the English enemies of France.

Saint Philip Neri

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O God, who never cease to bestow the glory of holiness on the faithful servants you raise up for yourself,

graciously grant that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire with which he wonderfully filled the heart of Saint Philip Neri.

Let's remember the Congregation of the Oratory and the loyal sons of Saint Philip Neri. I am thinking particularly thinking of the Oratories found in Brooklyn (NY), Sparkill (NY), and the new Oratory in Lewiston (ME). 

The life of Saint Philip Neri was known for joy. The Apostle to Rome was a provocative witness to holiness and the happiness that results in being close to the Lord. A sermon by Saint Augustine, "Rejoice in the Lord always," talks about joy and therefore an apt meditation on Neri. 

The Apostle tells us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. Whoever wishes to be a friend of this world, says Scripture, will be reckoned an enemy of God. As a man cannot serve two masters, so one cannot rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.

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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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