Saints: September 2008 Archives

The example of Saint Jerome, priest, confessor of the faith and doctor of the Church lived ca. 341-420. He lived a simple life dedicated to the Church; he made the sacred Scriptures accessible to the people by translating them into Latin and writing commentaries. Saint Jerome was a colorful character and concerned for the welfare of others. 

St Jerome2.jpg


O God,

Who for the expounding of the Holy Scriptures

did raise up in Thy Church the great and holy Doctor Jerome;

we beseech Thee, grant that by his intercession and merits we may,

by Thy help, be enabled to practice what he taught us both by word and by work.


Given that today is a feast day of a great saint dedicated to knowing and living the Scriptures, an excerpt from the work, All About the Bible, seems useful for our meditation today.

Man Shares with God

Making all this known to man was not the work of a moment, from our point of view. God had made man to His own image and likeness. This means that man shares with God the power to know himself and others. Man shares with God the freedom to embrace that which is good. Man can even know the infinite goodness Itself which is God; he has the power to make his whole being center on that goodness of God - to bring about his own human perfection and the perfection of those with whom he lives.


But man had so distorted this image of God as to seek happiness where there is only misery, peace where there is only disturbance, security where there is only danger. But God is not so weak that He would have to start over with a new human race. God is not so petty as simply to seek revenge on the man who betrayed Him. Because man had made himself an ugly distortion of the image of God, God came into man's world as Savior to bring beauty out of ugliness. In this is seen the power of God; in this also is known the love of God who can never cease to pursue this fallen man so as to give him greater blessings than those he had thrown away. When God took a hand in our world, He still respected that image of Himself in man that man had distorted. Man doesn't change overnight from an infant into an adult. He doesn't learn all things suddenly in a flash of light. This is not the way God made us. In coming to man as his Savior, God dealt with man as God Himself had made him - a being who learns step by step, a being who learns from others and from the world about him, a being who can do only as much as he knows how to do.


To bring to the world the knowledge of the astonishing love and goodness of God was a long process. Two thousand years passed before the full work of God as Savior was established in our world as a living thing. The central point of this work was the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, One who was wholly and completely a man like us in all save sin, and yet true God from all eternity. Christians group all the events that led up to this central event of history under the term "Old Testament." It was that period between the call of Abraham about 1800 years before Christ to the coming of Christ Himself. It was that patient struggle of God to show man how far he had drifted from God, how little he actually knew about either God or man himself. By His unselfish, relentless pursuit of man, God brought at least some - those who were willing to do what they knew how to do for God - to realize that their only happiness in their own lives and in their nation was to be found in obedience to God.


All About the Bible is a booklet published by the Catholic Information Service. There are more than 60 titles published by CIS to help learn the Catholic faith or just to review some things about the faith.


To keep the place of the angels in the front of our mind, some words from the Pope...


... the Feast of the three Archangels who are mentioned by name in Scripture: Michael, Archangel Michael2.jpgGabriel and Raphael. This reminds us that in the ancient Church - already in the Book of Revelation - Bishops were described as "angels" of their Church, thereby expressing a close connection between the Bishop's ministry and the Angel's mission. From the Angel's task it is possible to understand the Bishop's service. But what is an Angel? Sacred Scripture and the Church's tradition enable us to discern two aspects. On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word "El", which means "God". God is inscribed in their names, in their nature. Their true nature is existing in his sight and for him. In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained: they are God's messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf. In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another - angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God. If the ancient Church called Bishops "Angels" of their Church, she meant precisely this: Bishops themselves must be men of God, they must live oriented to God. "Multum orat pro populo."  (Pope Benedict XVI, Ordination of Bishops, 29 September 2007)


The Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, patrons of those who work in radio: pray for us.

The Feast of the Archangels

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The Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus publishes a number of booklets on matters pertaining to the Catholic faith. Each of the 60+ booklets gives a very good introduction to what we believe but the booklets are neither the first word nor the last on the subjects they treat. One such booklet is All About Angels, and the following is an excerpt:


More often, however, angels appear in a multitude (cf. Daniel 7:10). When they do, the Old Testament writers employ military metaphors to describe their collective presence. Metaphors such as "host" or "army of the Lord" and "encampment of God" all suggest that angels could be found in large numbers, arranged in an orderly fashion. In rare displays of cordial greetings between men and angels, we are told the proper names of three angels: Michael (Daniel 10:13), which means "Who is Like God?"; Gabriel (Daniel 8:16), which means "Power of God"; and Raphael (Tobit 7:8), which means "God has healed." These named beings were later identified by Catholic tradition as "archangels." Although these personal names tell us something about the nature of God, they should not be considered solely as metaphors for God's attributes. An archangel's name, like our own, reveals the identity of a unique, personal being.


3 archangels with Tobias.jpg The Archangels are charged with protecting an individual or a multitude of individuals or with delivering solemn messages from God to man, such as when the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with the news of the Incarnation.


Finally, the Prayer after Communion on the Feast of the Archangels serves as a reminder that divine providence has placed us "under the watchful care of the angels" so that "we angel.jpgmay advance along the way of salvation." Through the liturgy of the Mass we are encouraged, then, to love, respect, and invoke the angels. Invoking the angels may seem like an odd practice, but when we recall that those angels who did not reject God are saints, we quickly realize that there is little difference between this practice and the ancient practice of invoking human saints. We pray to the angels as we do to the saints, for the same reasons, namely, so that they will guide and protect us, as well as intercede with God on our behalf. At the end of the funeral liturgy, in the Prayer of Commendation we invoke the angels and saints to aid and accompany us as we leave this world:


Saints of God, come to his/her aid!

Come to meet him/her, angels of the Lord!

Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;

may angels lead you to Abraham's side.


The Roman calendar sets aside two feast days to honor God's invisible servants. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council's reform of the sacred liturgy, we continue to celebrate (as we have for centuries) the feasts of the Archangels and of the holy Guardian Angels. The feast day of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, which the Church now celebrates on September 29, was first approved by the Lateran Council in 745. The feast day of the Guardian Angels, celebrated on October 2, originated in 1411 at Valencia, Spain. The liturgical celebration of these two feast days makes us mindful of our communion with the angels and of the immense expanse of the Church, which encompasses heaven and earth. The Opening Prayer for the feast of the archangels emphasizes the universal scope of God's providence: "God our Father, in a wonderful way you guide the work of angels and men. May those who serve you constantly in heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth."


Archangel Michael.jpgThe Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel


Pope Leo XIII speaks of a vision he had at Mass that terrified him. In fact, there seems to be a variety of versions of the narrative. As it goes, either the Pope saw devils congregating around the Holy See or he heard that it was granted to Satan to try to undermine the Church for the next one hundred years. Who is to doubt the either interpretation of the vision? As a result of the vision, Pope Leo composed this prayer to Saint Michael and ordered in 1886 that it be recited after every Low Mass. This custom was suppressed in 1964 as part of the official liturgical acts of the priest at Mass but the tradition of saying the prayer persists. The prayer evokes a strong sense of protection and confidence in the holy work of the Archangel and therefore I strongly recommend that you say it following Mass and daily if you don't make it to Mass. Personally, in the past year I started saying this prayer I learned as a child.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits
who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


The Latin text of the prayer is as follows:


Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.



St Vincent de Paul.jpg


O God,

Who did endow blessed Vincent

with apostolic power for preaching the Gospel to the poor

and for promoting the honor of the priesthood;

we beseech Thee, grant that we who venerate his holy life

may be inspired by the example of his virtues.


Three thoughts from Saint Vincent:


Give me persons of prayer and they will be capable of anything.

What! To be a Christian and see a Brother afflicted without weeping with him, without being sick with him, would be to be without charity, to be a mere picture of a Christian, to be without humanity, to be worse than brute beasts!


The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy.

Padre Pio's witness, which is evident from his life and even from his physical condition,

St Padre Pio.jpgsuggests to us that this message coincides with the essential meaning of the Jubilee now close at hand: Jesus is the one Saviour of the world. In him God's mercy was made flesh in the fullness of time, to bring salvation to humanity mortally wounded by sin. "By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24), the blessed father repeated to all in the words of the Apostle Peter, he whose body was marked with those wounds.


In 60 years of religious life, practically all spent at San Giovanni Rotondo, he was totally dedicated to prayer and to the ministry of reconciliation and spiritual direction. This was well emphasized by the Servant of God Pope Paul VI: "Look what fame he had.... But why?... Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was ... the one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering" (20 February 1971).


Totally absorbed in God, always bearing the marks of Jesus' Passion in his body, he was bread broken for men and women starving for God the Father's forgiveness. His stigmata, like those of Francis of Assisi, were the work and sign of divine mercy, which redeemed the world by the Cross of Jesus Christ. Those open, bleeding wounds spoke of God's love for everyone, especially for those sick in body and spirit.


And what can be said of his life, an endless spiritual combat, sustained by the weapons of prayer, centred on the sacred daily acts of Confession and Mass? Holy Mass was the heart of his whole day, the almost anxious concern of all his hours, his moment of closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. He felt called to share in Christ's agony, an agony which continues until the end of the world.


Pope John Paul II, 3 May 1999 Padre Pio's Beatification

September 13th is the liturgical memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, one of the Church's greatest bishops ever known. The word "Chrysostom" is a nickname meaning "golden mouth" given to John as archbishop of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) to honor his gift in preaching Jesus Christ. The saint lived (347-407) in an era much like our own with some people living a tepid discipleship with the Lord and weak morals. Saint John's preaching was based on sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church; his sermons were (and continue to be) persuasive. A recent biographer said of Chrysostom: "by word and example he exemplifies the role of the prophet in giving comfort to the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable." And so he was exiled and suffered greatly for the Gospel; he was certain of Christ crucified and resurrected that he could be and do nothing else: to be the voice and hand of Christ to his people. A portion of his sermon on 2 Thessalonians follows. It's deals with love and how to live in love with others.


For that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.


St John Chrysostom.jpgAnd how, you say, can faith increase? That is when we suffer something dreadful for it. It is a great thing for it to be established, and not to be carried away by reasonings. But when the winds assail us, when the rains burst upon us, when a violent storm is raised on every side, and the waves succeed each other-- then that we are not shaken, is a proof of no less than this, that it grows, and grows exceedingly, and becomes loftier. For as in the case of the flood all the stony and lower parts are soon hidden, but as many things as are above, it reaches not them, so also the faith that is become lofty, is not drawn downwards. For this reason he does not say your faith grows; but grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.

Do you see how this contributes for the ease of affliction, to be in close guard together, and to adhere to one another? From this also arose much consolation. The love and faith, therefore, that is weak, afflictions shake, but that which is strong they render stronger. For a soul that is in grief, when it is weak, can add nothing to itself; but that which is strong does it then most. And observe their love. They did not love one indeed, and not love another, but it was equal on the part of all. For this he has intimated, by saying, of each one of you all toward one another. For it was equally poised, as that of one body. Since even now we find love existing among many, but this love becoming the cause of division. For when we are knit together in parties of two or three, and the two indeed, or three or four, are closely bound to one another, but draw themselves off from the rest, because they can have recourse to these, and in all things confide in these; this is the division of love-- not love. For tell me, if the eye should bestow upon the hand the foresight which it has for the whole body, and withdrawing itself from the other members, should attend to that alone, would it not injure the whole? Assuredly. So also if we confine to one or two the love which ought to be extended to the whole Church of God, we injure both ourselves and them, and the whole. For these things are not of love, but of division; schisms, and distracting rents. Since even if I separate and take a member from the whole man, the part separated indeed is united in itself, is continuous, all compacted together, yet even so it is a separation, since it is not united to the rest of the body.


For what advantage is it, that you love a certain person exceedingly? It is a human love. But if it is not a human love, but you love for God's sake, then love all. For so God has commanded to love even our enemies. And if He has commanded to love our enemies, how much more those who have never aggrieved us? But, do you say, I love, but not in that way. Rather, you do not love at all. For when you accuse, when you envy, when you lay snares, how do you love? But, do you say, I do none of these things. But when a man is ill spoken of, and you do not shut the mouth of the speaker, dost not disbelieve his sayings, dost not check him, of what love is this the sign? And the love, he says, of each one of you all toward one another abounds.


(Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; emphasis mine)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

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Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen,

for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

Blessed Teresa.jpg 

(August 26, 1910 - September 5, 1997)


O God, who called the virgin Blessed Teresa
to respond to the love of your Son thirsting on the cross
with outstanding charity to the poorest of the poor,
grant us, we beseech you, by her intercession,
to minister to Christ in his suffering brothers and sisters.

A Man Immersed in God

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Today is the feast of the illustrious saint and pope, Gregory whom we call "the Great." In his June 4th 2008 catechesis on Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Benedict said:


... [Saint Gregory the Great] proposes his thought through some significant binomials -- esctasy of St Gregpry the Great.jpgknow how/do, speak/live, know something/act -- in which he evokes the two aspects of human life which should be complementary, but which often end up by being antithetical. The moral ideal, he comments, consists in achieving always a harmonious integration between word and action, thought and commitment, prayer and dedication to the duties of one's state: This is the road to attain that synthesis thanks to which the divine descends into man and man is raised to identification with God.

The inspirational principle, which links together the various addresses [of this great Pope], is summarized in the word "praedicator": Not only the minister of God, but also every Christian, has the duty to make himself a "preacher" of what he has experienced in his own interior, following the example of Christ who became man to take to all the proclamation of salvation. The horizon of this commitment is eschatological: The expectation of fulfillment in Christ of all things is a constant thought of the great Pontiff and ends by being the inspirational motive of his every thought and activity. From here flow his incessant calls to vigilance and commitment to good works.


Perhaps the most organic text of Gregory the Great is the Pastoral Rule, written in the first years of his pontificate. In it Gregory intends to delineate the figure of the ideal bishop, teacher and guide of his flock. To this end he illustrates the gravity of the office of pastor of the Church and the duties it entails: Therefore, those who are called to such a task were not called and did not search for it superficially, those instead who assume it without due reflection feel arising in their spirit an onerous trepidation.

Taking up again a favorite topic, he affirms that the bishop is above all the "preacher" par excellence. As such, he must be above all an example to others, so that his behavior can be a reference point for all. Effective pastoral action requires therefore that he know the recipients and adapt his addresses to each one's situation. Gregory pauses to illustrate the different categories of faithful with acute and precise annotations, which can justify the appraisal of those who have seen in this work a treatise of psychology. From here one understands that he really knew his flock and spoke about everything with the people of his time and of his city.


The great Pontiff, moreover, stresses the daily duty that a pastor has to acknowledge his own misery, so that pride will not render vain -- before the eyes of the supreme Judge -- the good he accomplished. Therefore, the last chapter of the rule is dedicated to humility. "When one is pleased about having attained many virtues it is good to reflect on one's own insufficiencies and humble oneself. Instead of considering the good accomplished, it is necessary to consider what one has failed to accomplish." 


Amen, for now. 


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 September 2008.

Saints: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Saints: October 2008 is the next archive.

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