Saints: June 2010 Archives

St Joseph Cafasso.jpg

The Pope's weekly general audience address today was dedicated to Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811-1860), a member of the "St Francis of Assisi Institute," a priest (ordained in 1833) who died 150 years ago. He is most known as Saint John Bosco's spiritual father (director) from 1835 to 1860. Cafasso died in 1860; Pius XII canonized in him 1947. In 1948, Pope Pius XII named him the patron of Italian prisons and, in 1950, proposed him "as a model for priests involved in Confession and spiritual direction." His uncle is Blessed Joseph Allamano. Saint Joseph Cafasso's feast day is June 23.

I never heard of Saint Joseph Cafasso until today, partly because I am not well attuned to the life of Saint John Bosco of which he seems to be most connected. According to the Benedict, Joseph Cafasso's ministry helped to form "the true pastor with a rich interior life and a profound zeal for pastoral care: faithful in prayer, committed to preaching and catechesis, dedicated to the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, in keeping with the model incarnated by St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis of Sales, and promoted by the Council of Trent. St. Joseph Cafasso sought to establish this model in the formation of young priests so that, in their turn, they too could become formators to other priests, religious and lay people, thus creating a unique and effective chain." AND how could anyone NOT take Saint Joseph Cafasso as a paradigm for Christian life?

A theme that I am picking up these days from some of the Pope's addresses is the constant need to stay in the "state of grace." You might say, "no Kidding, Paul! Really?" Mock if you want, but there is an increasing distancing from God, especially staying close to God by means of staying in a state of grace through the sacrament of confession. We know that the pure of heart are the ones who inherit the kingdom of God. One of the things we know of Saint John Vianney is that he devoted himself to confessional. Cafasso, the Pope said, "loved the Lord totally, he was animated by a well-rooted faith and supported by profound and prolonged prayer, he showed sincere charity to everyone. He knew moral theology but was equally well aware of the condition of people's hearts for which, like the good shepherd, he took responsibility."

Benedict XVI explained that that Saint John Bosco never copied his master. Not an insignificant point: we need to take under consideration those who guide us but we also need to assert our independence from a "master teacher" in order for grace to flourish.  Otherwise we merely parrot the other in an unthinking manner. The Pope said, "He imitated him in the human and priestly virtues - defining him as a 'model of priestly life' - but maintained his own attitudes and his own specific vocation. ... This is a precious lesson for those involved in the formation and education of the young generations."

What may be interesting for us to know is that Saint Joseph Cafasso was renown for his "concern for the lowest, especially for prisoners ... who lived in inhuman and dehumanizing conditions." Characteristic of Cafasso's work with prisoners is remembered today as he "often delivered great sermons that came to involve almost the entire prison population, with the passage of time he came to favor individual catechesis, made up of conversations and personal meetings. While respecting the individual situation of each individual, he tackled the great themes of Christian life, speaking of trust in God, adherence to His will, the utility of prayer and the Sacraments, the culmination of which is Confession, the meeting with God Who, for us, becomes infinite mercy."

Saints Peter and Paul

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Let us now with crowns of praises
Honor Peter, honor Paul;
Separated in the body,
Joined as one in faithful call.
Peter, foremost Gospel witness,
Paul, with labors without cease,
Both now stand in robes of glory
At the throne of Christ our Priest.

Sts Peter & Paul.jpg
Let us now with hymns of gladness
Honor their apostolate,
Sing their glorious Epistles,
Laud their common martyr's fate:
Peter, who for love of Jesus
Bore his death upon the cross,
And the headsman's cruel sword-stroke
Brought for Paul his gain, not loss.

Let us now with endless glory
Praise the Father and the Son
And the everlasting Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One.
From the mouth of Paul and Peter,
From the choir of saints, ascend
Hymns of glory, praise, and blessing,
Sounding now and without end.

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
St Josemaria Escriva2.jpgO God, through the mediation of Mary our Mother, You granted Your priest Saint Josemaría countless graces, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. Grant that I, too, may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving You and serving the Church, the Pope and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the pathways of this earth with faith and love. Deign to grant me, through the intercession of Saint Josemaría, the favor of ... (make your request). Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

Watch the video clip of the Opus Dei Prelate giving his recollections of the day the saint died, June 26, 1975.

Naming of St John Baptist.jpgThe Church celebrates as a solemnity the birth of the Savior's cousin, Saint John the Baptist. It is John who points to Jesus as the "path to salvation" and he teaches us that the encounter with the Lord requires to put aside our sinfulness and to put on purity of heart. It is as Isaiah says in the first reading which is applied to John the Baptist and it ought to be true for us: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my rights is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God."

At Mass today it struck me that the Lord was baptized by his cousin, John. How amazing is it the Savior was baptized a family member! The Baptist points the way to our salvation in Christ.

Saint Agrippina, martyr

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The Church liturgically commemorates the feast of Saint Agrippina, a Roman martyr who lived at the time of Emperor Valerian (153-259). Not called to be married to a believer or unbeliever but called to fully dedicate her life to Christ, Agrippina confessed in public her faith in Christ as Savior for which she was tortured. After being beatened, tradition says, she was chained by the government yet released by an angel. She died from her torture. Initially, Saint Agrippina was buried in Sicily by three Christian women: Bassa, Paula and Agathonice; her relics were later transfered to Constantinople.

Saint Agrippina is often invoked by those who are suffering bacterial infections, evil spirits, leprosy and thunderstorms.

A liturgical hymn recalls Saint Agrippina:

With Your blood, O Christ, far beyond all price,
You redeemed us from our sin.
Bringing us new life, guarding us in strife,
Making us Your blood-brought kin.

St Agrippina.jpg
Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav'n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr's praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!

Let us form a choir, take the heav'nly lyre,
To adorn Your martyr's feast.
Faithful unto death, with her final breath
She proclaimed You King and Priest!

Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav'n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr's praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!

In Your martyr, brave Agrippina,
You show forth Your boundless grace.
Grant that we, inspired, may like her be fired
With the zeal to see Your face!

Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav'n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr's praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!
Sts More & Fisher.jpgIf you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

The great and noble saints of the Church, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, a married man and a bishop, respectively, are liturgically commemorated today. We remember with enthusiasm their witness to Jesus Christ, the Church and to humanity. They showed us the narrow gate. To the understanding of the Church no known miracles occurred that would support the claim of "sanctity" being made for these men: their holiness was determined through evidence of their giving their lives unto death.

Shortly before his death, it was recorded that:

He spoke little before his execution. Only he asked that bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that he dies the King's good servant, but God's first.

More and Fisher were canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 19, 1935, who declared:

In honor of the Undivided Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after mature deliberation and imploring the divine assistance, by the advice of our Venerable Brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops present in the city, We declare and define as Saints, and inscribe in the Catalogue of the Saints, Blessed John Fisher and Thomas More, and that their memory shall be celebrated in the Universal Church on the anniversaries of their heavenly birth.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II named Saint Thomas More the patron saint of politicians.

Saint John Fisher, bishop of Rochester (England) and cardinal
1469-1535 (June 22)
canonized with Saint Thomas More in 1935

Saint Thomas More, husband, father King's chancellor of England (1529-1532)
1480-1535 (July 6)

Saint Romuald

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St Romuald Guercino.jpgAll that I seek to know on earth is Christ,
The power of his resurrected life,
To share the suff'rings that he bore for me,
Thus shall I triumph over death and strife.

So Romuald, the solitary man,
Became a living icon of his Lord,
In prayer and self-denial formed his monks
And molded them within the silent Word.

O Father, Son, and Spirit ever blessed,
We raise our hearts in silence and in praise!
With Romuald and all the heav'nly choir,
We praise you, Lord of Life, for all our days!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
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Saint Ephrem the Syrian

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saint-ephrem2.gifIt is indeed fitting to honor the blessed deacon of Edessa for his desire that the preaching of the divine word and the training of his disciples rest on the purity of Sacred Scripture. He also acquired honor as a Christian musician and poet. He was so accomplished in both arts that he was called the "lyre of the Holy Spirit." From this, Venerable Brothers, you can learn what arts promote the knowledge of sacred things. Ephrem lived among people whose nature was attracted by the sweetness of poetry and music. The heretics of the second century after Christ used these same allurements to skillfully disseminate their errors. Therefore Ephrem, like youthful David killing the giant Goliath with his own sword, opposed art with art and clothed Catholic doctrine in melody and rhythm. These he diligently taught to boys and girls, so that eventually all the people learned them. In this fashion he not only renewed the education of the faithful in Christian doctrine and supported their piety with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, but also happily kept creeping heresy at bay.

The artistry introduced by Blessed Ephrem added dignity to sacred matters as Theodoretus stresses. The metric rhythm, which our saint popularized, was widely propagated both among the Greeks and the Latins. Indeed does it seem probable that the liturgical antiphonary with its songs and processions, introduced at Constantinople in the works of Chrysostom and at Milan by Ambrose (whence it spread throughout all of Italy), was the work of some other author? For the "custom of Eastern rhythm" deeply moved the catechumen Augustine in northern Italy; Gregory the Great improved it and we use it in a more advanced form. Critics acknowledge that that "same Eastern rhythm" had it origins in Ephrem's Syrian antiphonary.

It is no wonder then that many of the Fathers of the Church stress the authority of St. Ephrem. Nyssenus says of his writings, "Studying the Old and New Scriptures most thoroughly, he interpreted them accurately, word for word; and what was hidden and concealed, from the very creation of the world to the last book of grace, he illumined with commentaries, using the light of the Spirit." And Chrysostom: "The great Ephrem is scourge of the slothful, consoler of the afflicted, educator, instructor and exhorter of youth, mirror of monks, leader of penitents, goad and sting of heretics, reservoir of virtues, and the home and lodging of the Holy Spirit." Certainly nothing greater can be said in praise of a man who, however, seemed so small in his own eyes that he claimed to be the least of all and a most vile sinner" (12-14).

Pope Benedict XV

Principi Apostolorum Petro (On St. Ephrem the Syrian), 5 October 1920

Jerzy Popiełuszko.jpg
The Church has a new blessed, an apostle for freedom, Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko.

From Cyprus on Sunday, June 6, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI during the Angelus address spoke a "few words in Polish on the happy occasion of the beatification today of Jerzy Popieluszko, priest and martyr: [I send cordial greetings to the Church in Poland which today rejoices at the elevation to the altars of Father Jerzy Popieluszko. His zealous service and his martyrdom are a special sign of the victory of good over evil. May his example and his intercession nourish the zeal of priests and enkindle the faithful with love.]"

In 1984 I distinctively remember the tangible feelings upon hearing of the murder of the young priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, by the Communists. I think we all cried because he died for us. In fact, no person of Polish heritage could not not know about Popieluszko and identify with the struggle for human dignity and freedom he sought his people. He was seen as a the modern Saint Stanislaus, martyr. The tragic circumstances of his death were ever in front of us as yet another example of the evils of Communism.

Marianna Popiełuszko.jpg
Father Jerzy was a popular chaplain to members of the Solidarity movement. Yesterday, Archbishop Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation of Saints, beatified Father Jerzy in the presence of his mother Marianna, 100, and other family members and nearly 140,000 people. Marianna is yet another living member of a saint or "saint-to-be." How moving it is two see Father Jerzy's mother present for her son's beatification and the tremendous outpouring of love for him and for her.

Known as a martyr of freedom, Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko's tomb has had nearly 17 million visitors. Other details pertaining to Popieluszko's beatification are in Jonathon Luxmoore's Catholic News Service article, the Zenit article and another story about Blessed Jerzy that can be read here.

Some quick facts:

Born: September 14, 1947
Ordained priest: May 28, 1972
Kidnapped & killed: October 19/20, 1984
Venerated: December 19, 2009
Beatified: June 6, 2010
Liturgical memorial: October 19

Watch the note on a forthcoming movie on Blessed Jerzy

Saint Norbert of Xanten

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"I myself shall lead my sheep,
Guarding them from danger;
They shall hear and follow me,
Not go with a stranger.
Into pastures rich and green--
God the Lord has spoken--
I shall bring my Israel,
With my love as token."

Norbert, father of his flock,
Took to heart this warning,
And in all his works and words
Toiled from night to morning.
Guiding all within his cure,
He took time to nourish
With the love of Christ most fair,
Causing souls to flourish.

St Norbert.jpg
Father of the canon's life,
Bishop of his city,
Prayed before the Eucharist,
Served the poor with pity.
Crowned a sacrificial life
With a death of glory;
Now we join with saints above
To retell his story!

Glory to the Father give,
Source of ev'ry blessing,
Glory to the Son we sing,
Who, our wrongs addressing,
Came to us as one of us!
To the Spirit, praises!
Hear the songs of thankfulness
Each believer raises!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
St Charles Lwanga.jpgToday's the liturgical memorial of some of the most evocative witnesses to Jesus Christ who gave their lives for the Christian Faith of the 19th century. I pray that Saint Charles and companions intercede not only for Africa but for all who claim the Church as mother and family and who find it difficult to truly live their faith. More on Saint Charles here.

Saint Charles and his companions (22 of them) were killed in Namugongo, Uganda between 1885-1887. They ranged in age between 13 and 30. They were beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964. At the revision of the Roman liturgical calendar Saint Charles's feast day was added. The Church calls these saints the "Protomartyrs of Black Africa."

In his 1964 homily at the canonization of Saint Charles and his companions, Pope Paul VI said:

"The African martyrs add another page to the Church's roll of honor --an occasion both of mourning and joy. These African martyrs herald the dawn of a new age. If only the mind of man might be directed not toward persecutions and religious conflicts but toward a rebirth of Christianity and civilization! Africa has been washed by the blood of these latest martyrs, and the first of this new age (and, God willing, let them be the last, although such a holocaust is precious indeed). Africa is reborn free and independent."

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from June 2010.

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