Saints: August 2008 Archives

The September 1st issue of America Magazine, the Jesuit weekly, there is a good article

seton.jpgto read on America's first canonized saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. Sister of Charity Regina Bechtle's article "An American Daughter: Elizabeth Ann Seton and the birth of the U.S. Church" is a good read for those generally interested in matters pertaining to Catholicism in America. Who wouldn't be thrilled to know that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first American born canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1975?


What's the point of this "stuff" about Seton in late August when her feast day is in January? Well, for one, August 28th marked her 234th birthday and mid-September marks 33 years since Seton was canonized. Too, this year is the 200th anniversary of Pope Pius VII named Baltimore an "archdiocese" along with 4 other Catholic dioceses.


We might also consider the possibility of making a pilgrimage to one of the shrines dedicated to Seton. In a real sense it is less important that we end up at a holy spot just for doing it than it is to take stock of our spiritual lives with God's grace and with assistance of a particularly singular saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, who made a deliberate choice to follow Christ through His sacrament, the Catholic Church. (BTW, she was a believing Christian but she did not possess the fullness of Truth as we know it in Catholicism.) A pilgrimage, therefore, may open for us an opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional Presence before us like we've never understood before now. So, what happens to us on the way to a holy shrine is very important indeed. Hence, we follow Christ!


In case you want to visit the shrines of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on the east coast there

Seton Shrine.jpgare two:


1. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Maryland


2. The Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, New York City



Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers, may we, whose Faith Community is dedicated in her honor, learn to express our love for you in our love for all your children. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Martyrdom of St John Baptist.jpg"This great man after a long agony of captivity, ended his life on earth with the shedding of his blood. He who preached the freedom of heavenly peace was thrown into captivity by wicked men. He who was called a burning and shining light by Christ the light, was imprisoned in darkness: he who was granted the privilege of baptizing the Redeemer of the world was given baptism in his own blood" (Saint Bede the Venerable).


We beseech Thee, O Lord, may the holy festival of Saint John the Baptist, Thy Precursor and Martyr, obtain for us help unto salvation.

Today is the great feast of Augustine, the convert (at age 32 at the hands of St. Ambrose in Milan) who was ordained a priest in 391 and elected bishop of Hippo in 395. His life and work are remarkable to say the least. In addition to Saint St Augustine1.jpgThomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine is one of the Church's most significant theologians.


Calling Augustine "the greatest Father of the Latin Church," Pope Benedict spoke on three occasions in January 2008 to the gathered people in Vatican City about Augustine's life, his thought and his pastoral ministries. The texts of the Pope are found here:



In the meantime, I offer a 1930 text by Pope Pius XI on Augustine together for our reading pleasure right now.


For to begin with the queen of all the virtues, our Saint, leaving all else aside, made the love of God so completely the goal of his desires and efforts, and fed its flame so steadfastly in his soul, that he is fittingly portrayed as holding in his hand a burning heart. No one, who has even once turned the pages of the "confessions," can forget the conversion between mother and son, at the window of the house in Ostia. The narrative, with its lifelike charm, makes us feel that we see Augustine and Monica there, side by side, absorbed in the contemplation of heavenly things. He writes: "Alone together we held most sweet converse. Forgetting the things that lay behind and stretching out to those that were before, we questioned each other, in the presence of Truth, which Thou art, about the nature of the eternal life of the Saints, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the mind of man to conceive. Mentally with parted lips we hung over the supernal rills of Thy fountain--the fountain of life with Thee--if happily we might be refreshed, so far as our condition would allow, and in some sort ponder so profound a mystery... And while we conversed with eager longing, with the heart's supreme effort we made some approach thereto. We sighed and there left fettered the firstlings of the spirit, then to return to the sound of our voices, where the word begins and ends. Yet what bears any likeness to Thy Word, who is our Lord, who abides within Himself and ages not, who makes all things new?"

St Augustine.jpgWe must not imagine that it was an exceptional thing for Augustine thus to lift mind and heart above the life of the body. Any time he could spare from his daily duties and tasks, he devoted to meditation on the Sacred Scriptures he knew so well, that he might draw thence the relish and the light of truth. Rising on thought's pinions from a consideration of the works and mysteries that reveal God's surpassing love for us, he was borne aloft little by little to the Divine perfections themselves, into which he plunged--if we may so speak--as deeply as the heavenly grace given him allowed.


"Often I do this [he says, sharing with us his secret], this is my delight, and withdrawing from such activity as necessity imposes, I take refuge in this kind of pleasure. In all the things traversed by my mind, while I confer with Thee, I find no safe place for my soul except in Thee. In Thee are linked in unison my wandering strains. From Thee may nothing of mine depart. Sometimes, too, Thou dost admit me to a deep and unwonted interior emotion, to an indescribable sweetness. If that he brought to its perfection within me, I know of nothing which that life will not contain."

Hence it was that he cried: "Too late have I loved Thee, O beauty so ancient, yet so new! Too late have I loved Thee!"

Again, how lovingly he contemplated the life of Christ, striving to reproduce an ever more St Augustine4.jpgperfect image of it in himself and to repay love with love. In his counsel to virgins, he impressed on them the same lesson: "Let Him be fixed deep in your heart, who for you was fastened to the cross." As his love of God burned with a more ardent flame as days went on, so too did he make incredible progress in the rest of the virtues. No one can refuse his admiration to a man--whom all venerated, extolled, consulted, hearkened to for his lofty genius and sanctity--both in his writings destined for publication and in his letters, making it his great concern not only to refer to the Author of all good the praise offered himself, as being due to God alone, and to encourage and praise others, as far as truth allowed, but also to lavish honor and reverence on his colleagues in the episcopate. These were especially his mighty forerunners, such as Cyprian and Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary and John Chrysostom, Ambrose--his master in the Faith--whom he revered as a father and whose teaching and life he was wont to recall. But especially there shone with luster in our Saint the love of souls, a love inseparable from love of God, of those souls particularly who were committed to his pastoral care.


Pope Pius XI, Ad Salutem Humani  (On Saint Augustine), 20 April 1930

Death of St Monica.jpg[Monica] is the unflagging prayer, the piety that does not fall asleep. She knows no great fluctuations in prayer. She is very much surrendered to God and also to the Church. The intensive dimension of her prayer lies above all in its perseverance. She is able to repeat one and the same prayer for the longest time with the same energy. Vocal prayer, for her, never becomes merely something mouthed with the lips. She possesses in fact the prayer of children, those who are able to pray in a very intensive way, but without knowing an answer will come from God, without even expecting such an answer, but also without at all thinking that no answer will come. One simply brings before God what one has to say to him, with the greatest possible love. There is not much more to it than this. (Adrienne von Speyer, Book of All Saints.)


Let us pray. O God, the comforter of the sorrowful and the salvation of them that hope in Thee, Who had merciful regard to the pious tears of blessed Monica in bringing about the conversion of her son Augustine: grant us by their united intercession to grieve over our sins and obtain Thy merciful pardon. Through Christ our Lord.

O God, who for the defense of the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ, filled saint Pius, the supreme Pontiff, with heavenly wisdom and apostolic strength; mercifully grant that following his teaching and example, we may attain to our eternal reward. Through Christ our Lord.


Pius Xa.jpg


Born    2 June 1835

Ordained priest       18 September 1858

Ordained bishop     20 November 1884

Created cardinal  12 June 1983

Appointed to Venice  15 June 1893

Elected Pope   4 August 1903

Died    20 August 1914

Beatified         3 June 1951

Canonized       29 May 1954


A beautiful, but brief description of the person of Saint Pius was written by Adrienne von Speyer, in Book of All Saints. This book was recently published by Ignatius Press and it would make a great addition to your library.

Today's the feast of the martyr Saint Maximilian Kolbe (January 8, 1894-August 14, Kolbe.jpg 1941), the Apostle of Consecration to Mary. Pope Benedict reminded us recently that the death of Kolbe was a witness of the love which "defeats the darkness of egoism and hatred." The Holy Father recalled words attributed Saint Maximilian Kolbe: "Hatred is not a creative force: only love is." On August 14, 1941, the saint died in place of Franciszek Gajowniczek.


When Pope John Paul II canonized Kolbe in the presence of Franciszek Gajowniczek he said that Saint Maximilian Kolbe was not a confessor, but a martyr. He is one of ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.


Saint Maximilian is the patron saint for those living with drug addictions, the imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.


Kolbe is a special saint for me because from my school days his image and story were imprinted in my mind and heart by the Nazareth sisters. How could the story of Fr. Kolbe not move you? When I visited the Nazi concentration camps in 1996, and prayed in Kolbe's cell, his offering was very present to me. Through Kolbe's intercession before the Throne of Grace we ask for world peace and peace in our hearts.



michaeljmcgivney.jpg118 years ago the Venerable Servant of God Michael J. McGivney died at the age of 38. A diocesan priest of the Hartford Diocese and founder of the Knights of Columbus, McGivney urged holiness and missionary activity with the Knights and his parishioners. The only way to manage this is to adhere 100% to Jesus Christ.


The prayer for canonization is an excellent summary of McGivney's work and a challenge for us to similarly respond to God and service of neighbor. The McGivney Guild which promotes McGivney's cause for sainthood by giving relevant information on Fr. McGivney and it has a number of devotional items to encourage devotion to him. The Guild publishes a newsletter 6 times per year. Membership is open to all people and free.



Prayer for the Canonization of

Father Michael J. McGivney


God, our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor.


Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building up his Body which is the Church. Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast.


We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will.


Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present (here make your request).


Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sometimes you can get inspired by reading the blogs. Today, Fr. Mark posted on his blog the Apostolic Exhortation Haerent Animo by Saint Pius X. papa pio x.jpgGiven that today is the 100th anniversary of the exhortation's publication and the feast of Saint John Baptist Mary Vianney, reading Haerent Animo was excellent spiritual reading. It took me the better of the morning to ponder what the saintly pontiff was saying, not because the prose was difficult, or the concepts too mysterious but because I kept stopping to reflect on my concrete experience of priestly formation and thinking of the lives of priests I know. I was sadly dwelling on the problems the priesthood has had in recent years.


In writing this exhortation on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priesthood, the Pope is taking seriously his "responsibility of forming Christ in others." So, what's revolutionary about Haerent Animo? Nothing! AND that's the point. We already know what we have to do to be men of God, holy priests, men of "high dignity" called to be priests, i.e., servants of the Lord and the Church. A good reminder is helpful. Therefore, objectivity the pope presents in Haerent Animo relates to the following work one has to do if a holy priesthood is to exist. The Pope re-proposes:


Thumbnail image for St Pius X.jpg-daily meditation

-daily examination of conscience

-daily celebration of the august rites of the Church with beauty by proper preparation spiritually and intellectually

-daily prayer, particularly the Divine Office

-frequent confession of mortal and venial sins

-self denial

-seeking the Lord's clemency

-yearly retreat with others

-Lectio Divina (attentive reading of sacred Scripture)

-develop good friendships


The point is that the priest's conduct must be stellar for fear of causing scandal in others. But fear of causing scandal ought not be the criterion for doing what the Pope re-proposes: the encounter with honesty, faithfulness, love and Christ ought to be included. Say it another way, an overgrown plant will bear no fruit. So our responsibility is to be watchful, be vigilant, and pray. This work will lead us closer to Christ in His words and in His actions; this work will lead to a deeper friendship with the Lord; doing this work will lead to holiness of life.


One thing the pope mentions is forming priestly associations to create a closer union among priests, to help one another in difficult times, to develop a taste of sacred learning, to have a solicitude for each other's vocation, and to identify the skills needed to effectively preach the Gospel.  It is a fact if one wants to be "good priest" then it being a part of such associations from the first day of one's ordination. Either join a group or found one: But do something. Seminarians in the Archdioceses of Denver Saint Paul-Minneapolis recently founded priestly associations of type such as Saint Pius recommends.


I recommend that you read Haerent Animo soon. It will be good for you!

Today is the feast of a great bishop, founder and doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus St Alphonsus.jpgLigouri (1696-1787). The saint's spiritual, dogmatic, liturgical and systematic writings are remarkable sources of inspiration and challenge. Little recognized but nontheless true is Saint Alphonsus was a poet and a musician. After all, the saint is from Naples! It is reported that Giuseppe Verdi said of St. Alphonsus' great Christmas carol: "Christmas without 'Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle' is not Christmas." 


Among the writings that you'll find helpful are his Way of the Cross, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, The Moral Theology and The Glories of Mary.


For our lectio I propose the following:


Perfection is founded entirely on the love of God: "Charity is the bond of perfection"; and perfect love of God means the complete union of our will with God's: "The principal effect of love is so to unite the wills of those who love each other as to make them will the same things." It follows then, that the more one unites his will with the divine will, the greater will be his love of God. Mortification, meditation, receiving Holy Communion, acts of fraternal charity are all certainly pleasing to God -- but only when they are in accordance with his will. When they do not accord with God's will, he not only finds no pleasure in them, but he even rejects them utterly and punishes them.


Conformity to God's Will
St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri


O God, Who did inflame blessed Alphonsus Your confessor and Bishop with a burning zeal for the salvation of souls and through him did enrich Your Church with new offspring; grant we beseech You, that imbued with his wholesome precepts and strengthened by his example, we may come happily unto You.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from August 2008.

Saints: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Saints: September 2008 is the next archive.

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