Saints: August 2010 Archives

St Joseph of Ariamathea NFrangipane.jpgO God, by whose grace Saint Joseph of Arimathea was emboldened to ask for the sacred Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, that together with Saint Nicodemus he might prepare it for burial and lay it in his own tomb, give us such an increase of faith and courage that we may not fear to bear reproach for the sake of Christ,but rather may serve Him with sincere devotion all the days of our life.


Today, the Roman Martyrology, the Church gives us Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as models of holiness, pointing with certainty, to Christ Himself. But you may ask if is correct since one rarely sees, if ever, these saints on the liturgical calendar and never preached in the sacred Liturgy, even when proclaimed in the Gospel. The Martyrology says:

At Jerusalem, the commemoration of Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who received the body of Jesus taken down from the cross, wrapped it in a shroud and placed it in the sepulchre. Joseph, a noble official and disciple of the Lord, was seeking the Kingdom of God; Nicodemus, for his part, a member of the Pharisees and a ruler among the Jews, came to Jesus by night to inquire of his mission and defended him in the presence of the high priests and Pharisees who sought to arrest him.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

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The gives to us today in the Office of Readings the following from the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose feast we celebrate today. These are some of the most moving words of the great Augustine! If you have not read the Confessions I urge you to do so; I have always felt thus, so much so that when I taught high school junior theology I had my students read significant sections of the work.

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Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.

O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: "I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me".

Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.+Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

Saint Monica

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Remembering Saint Monica, mother of the great Saint Augustine of Hippo today, I re-read the account Augustine gave of his mother's death and his tribute to her in the Confessions (9.12). The intimacy Augustine portrays between he and God and he and his mother is beautiful and very striking. Truly, grace at work. 

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Augustine writes of his mother:

I closed her eyes; and there flowed in a great sadness on my heart and it was passing into tears, when at the strong behest of my mind my eyes sucked back the fountain dry, and sorrow was in me like a convulsion. As soon as she breathed her last, the boy Adeodatus burst out wailing; but he was checked by us all, and became quiet. Likewise, my own childish feeling which was, through the youthful voice of my heart, seeking escape in tears, was held back and silenced. For we did not consider it fitting to celebrate that death with tearful wails and groanings. This is the way those who die unhappy or are altogether dead are usually mourned. But she neither died unhappy nor did she altogether die. For of this we were assured by the witness of her good life, her "faith unfeigned," and other manifest evidence.

What was it, then, that hurt me so grievously in my heart except the newly made wound, caused from having the sweet and dear habit of living together with her suddenly broken? I was full of joy because of her testimony in her last illness, when she praised my dutiful attention and called me kind, and recalled with great affection of love that she had never heard any harsh or reproachful sound from my mouth against her. But yet, O my God who made us, how can that honor I paid her be compared with her service to me? I was then left destitute of a great comfort in her, and my soul was stricken; and that life was torn apart, as it were, which had been made but one out of hers and mine together.

When the boy was restrained from weeping, Evodius took up the Psalter and began to sing, with the whole household responding, the psalm, "I will sing of mercy and judgment unto thee, O Lord." And when they heard what we were doing, many of the brethren and religious women came together. And while those whose office it was to prepare for the funeral went about their task according to custom, I discoursed in another part of the house, with those who thought I should not be left alone, on what was appropriate to the occasion. By this balm of truth, I softened the anguish known to thee. They were unconscious of it and listened intently and thought me free of any sense of sorrow. But in thy ears, where none of them heard, I reproached myself for the mildness of my feelings, and restrained the flow of my grief which bowed a little to my will. The paroxysm returned again, and I knew what I repressed in my heart, even though it did not make me burst forth into tears or even change my countenance; and I was greatly annoyed that these human things had such power over me, which in the due order and destiny of our natural condition must of necessity happen. And so with a new sorrow I sorrowed for my sorrow and was wasted with a twofold sadness.

So, when the body was carried forth, we both went and returned without tears. For neither in those prayers which we poured forth to thee, when the sacrifice of our redemption was offered up to thee for her -- with the body placed by the side of the grave as the custom is there, before it is lowered down into it -- neither in those prayers did I weep. But I was most grievously sad in secret all the day, and with a troubled mind entreated thee, as I could, to heal my sorrow; but thou didst not. I now believe that thou wast fixing in my memory, by this one lesson, the power of the bonds of all habit, even on a mind which now no longer feeds upon deception. It then occurred to me that it would be a good thing to go and bathe, for I had heard that the word for bath [balneum] took its name from the Greek balaneion, because it washes anxiety from the mind. Now see, this also I confess to thy mercy, "O Father of the fatherless": I bathed and felt the same as I had done before. For the bitterness of my grief was not sweated from my heart.

Then I slept, and when I awoke I found my grief not a little assuaged. And as I lay there on my bed, those true verses of Ambrose came to my mind, for thou art truly,

"Deus, creator omnium,
Polique rector, vestiens
Diem decoro lumine,
Noctem sopora gratia;
Artus solutos ut quies
Reddat laboris usui
Mentesque fessas allevet,
Luctusque solvat anxios."

"O God, Creator of us all, 
Guiding the orbs celestial,
Clothing the day with lovely light,
Appointing gracious sleep by night:
Thy grace our wearied limbs restore
To strengthened labor, as before,
And ease the grief of tired minds
From that deep torment which it finds."

And then, little by little, there came back to me my former memories of thy handmaid: her devout life toward thee, her holy tenderness and attentiveness toward us, which had suddenly been taken away from me -- and it was a solace for me to weep in thy sight, for her and for myself, about her and about myself. Thus I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they might flow at will, spreading them out as a pillow beneath my heart. And it rested on them, for thy ears were near me -- not those of a man, who would have made a scornful comment about my weeping. But now in writing I confess it to thee, O Lord! Read it who will, and comment how he will, and if he finds me to have sinned in weeping for my mother for part of an hour -- that mother who was for a while dead to my eyes, who had for many years wept for me that I might live in thy eyes -- let him not laugh at me; but if he be a man of generous love, let him weep for my sins against thee, the Father of all the brethren of thy Christ.

Abraham & Melchizadek.jpeg

The Roman Martyrology lists one of the saints for today as Melchizedek, the righteous King of Salem who offered bread and wine to God in worship. Melchizedek means the King of Justice or King of Peace; "Salem" is the root word for Jerusalem. Melchizedek is also remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass when the priest prays, "...according to the order of Melchizedek." The Church's commemoration of this mysterious King of Salem reminds us that Melchizedek is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments; he is the first priest of the Old Testament mentioned in sacred Scripture and St. John Chrysostom even speaks of the King as "the perfect image of the Savior," that is, he's an Old Testament type, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as priest and king.

In a homily Bishop Photius of Lyons in part says of Melchizedek:

St. John Chrysostom says: "Melchizedek was righteous and the faithful image of Christ.  Moved by a prophetic spirit, he discerned the oblation which must one day be offered for the Gentiles, and, in the example of the future Christ, he offered bread and wine as sacrifice to God.  But, the Judaic synagogue, which honored God according to the order of Aaron, offered Him a sacrifice, not of bread and wine, but of bulls and lambs and glorified the Lord by bloody sacrifices.  That is why God, addressing Himself to the One Who was to be born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, His Son, says to Him, `You are Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek' and not according to the order of Aaron, who honors his God while offering Him bulls and heifers" (Op.  cit., p.482-483).  St. Ambrose draws the conclusion that the Christian worship is more ancient than that of the Law since it is Melchizedek, the image of Christ, who brings the bread and the wine, not Abraham (Cf "Dictionnaire de Spiritualite", col. 971.  St. Ambrose, "De Sacramentis", IV, 8, 10-11; "De Mysteriis", 8, 44-45).

That the figure of Melchizedek is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Fathers all hold to the fact that He alone is truly `without genealogy': "The Son of God," says St. John Chrysostom, "is without father and without mother; without father as to His earthly genesis; without mother as to His heavenly genesis" ("Homelie sur Melchizedek", op. cit., p.479.  Cf. also "Expication des Psaumes", Ps. CIX, ibid., p.332).  If then the Scriptures say of Melchizedek that he was `without genealogy', it is not at all that in reality he did not have parents, "because", says St. John Chrysostom, "we maintain that Melchizedek is not only a man like us . . .  but as Melchizedek was the type of Christ, Whose image he bore, in the same way was Jonas.  The Scriptures had not spoken of his father, so that he might offer us a perfect image of the Saviour Who alone, in truth, has neither father nor genealogy" (Ibid., p.482).  Likewise, in his homily on the Psalm of David, he says: "That which Melchizedek was in figure, Jesus Christ was in reality, and the name of Melchizedek was like the names of Jesus and of Christ, which long in advance announced and prefigured the mission of the Saviour.  When we read that Melchizedek had neither beginning nor end of his life, it is not that in reality he had had neither beginning nor end, but because no trace is found of his genealogy.  Jesus, on the contrary, had in truth no beginning of His days, nor end of His life.  His existence had no time, no beginning, no end.  One was the figure, the other the truth" (Id.,"Oeuvres Completes", t.IX, p.332).

Blessed John Henry Newman was enchanted by the mysteriousness of the priest and king Melchizedek who composed a poem, "Melchizedek":

Without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.

Thrice bless'd are they, who fell their lonliness;

To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene

Brings that on which the sadden'd heart can lean;

Yea, the rich earth, garb'd in her daintiest dress

Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress,

Claiming responsive smiles and rapture high;

Till, sick at heart, beyond the veil they fly,

Seeking His Presence, who alone can bless.

Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven's grace;

When, passing o'er the high-born Hebrew line,

He forms the vessel of His vast design;

Fatherless, homeless, reft of age and place,

Sever'd from earth, and careless of its wreck,

Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.

Nicholson & Lee, eds. The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse, 1917.

Saint Pius X, pope

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Pius X.jpg

In Pope Saint Pius X we have an ardent supporter and leader in devotion to the Christ Lord known to us in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Today, take the opportunity to spend some time, even if it is 5 minutes, in front of the Blessed Sacrament saying nothing to the Lord; just being there in friendship and humble adoration is enough. And ask Saint Pius X to beg the Holy Spirit once again to place in our hearts a fervent love for the Lord in the Eucharist and the grace to live in communio with the Trinity and our neighbor.


Saint Pius wrote of the place Eucharistic worship in our Catholic lives:

Wherefore, works of this kind which have been already set on foot must be ever more zealously promoted; old undertakings must be revived wherever perchance they may have fallen into decay; for instance, Confraternities of the holy Eucharist, intercessory prayers before the blessed Sacrament exposed for the veneration of the faithful, solemn processions, devout visits to God's tabernacle, and other holy and salutary practices of some kind; nothing must be omitted which a prudent piety may suggest as suitable. But the chief aim of our efforts must be that the frequent reception of the Eucharist may be everywhere revived among Catholic peoples. For this is the lesson which is taught us by the example, already referred to, of the primitive Church, by the decrees of Councils, by the authority of the Fathers and of the holy men in all ages. For the soul, like the body, needs frequent nourishment; and the holy Eucharist provides that food which is best adapted to the support of its life. Accordingly all hostile prejudices, those vain fears to which so many yield, and their specious excuses from abstaining from the Eucharist, must be resolutely put aside; for there is question here of a gift than which none other can be more serviceable to the faithful people, either for the redeeming of time from the tyranny of anxious cares concerning perishable things, or for the renewal of the Christian spirit and perseverance therein. To this end the exhortations and example of all those who occupy a prominent position will powerfully contribute, but most especially the resourceful and diligent zeal of the clergy.

Pope Saint Pius X, Mirae Caritatis (1902)

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Saint Maximus the Confessor

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The Byzantine Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Maximus the Confessor (ca. 580-662) today. He's known for his defense of the orthodox faith against heretical teachings, particularly monothelitism (that Christ had only one will). His significant work in the study of Christ was his work on the Incarnation and the Trinity. Among the other theological interests was his respect for and obedience to the Church of Rome of whom Maximus said held true faith in the Trinity. His defense of the Roman Church set him against those who maintained that the Romans were heretics because they didn't espouse Hellenism.

Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship, Enlightener of the universe and adornment of hierarchs: All-wise father Maximus, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things. Intercede before Christ God to save our souls. Troparion (Tone 8)

Let us the faithful fittingly praise the lover of the Trinity, The great Maximus who taught the God-inspired faith, That Christ is to be glorified in His two natures, wills, and energies; And let us cry to him: "Rejoice, herald of the faith." Kontakion (Tone 8)

I figured some wisdom from today's saint is worth reading, even though it is not that extraordinary but its simplicity speaks volumes. Saint Jane Frances with Saint Francis de Sales founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary and so this letter of 1616 was written by her to one her spiritual daughters who must have been facing some criticism or some type of hassle from some in the monastery about her prayer life. Mother Jane Frances simply tells her correspondent not reveal all of the details of her prayer life not because she was advocating be obscure but there are times one ought to be discrete. What is a good reminder with Jane's letter is the reminder that we all should pay close attention in keeping the Divine Presence in front of us. So often we are distracted by other things that we fail in keeping God prominently in front of our eyes. Msgr. Giussani reminds us of this necessity and Fr. CarrĂ³n hasn't tired in reminding us of this daily witness to Christ.

The second point addressed in the letter provided below by Mother Jane Frances is her correspondent's lack of confidence in her vocation. It could be that the young sister was feeling "dry in her prayer and her vocation," having a lack of confidence that what she is doing is not as she expected. This real isn't it? I can verify that many times I go in life without courage. This is also true was said of Blessed Mother Teresa who for 50 years experienced dryness in her prayer. But her faithfulness to time in prayer showed the depth of her love for Christ. From the opposite point of view, Jane uses Old Testament typology to illustrate how God has been faithful to His people not for one day but for all time. I believe that Divine Providence doesn't give us anything in our life without the grace to "succeed" and everything we experience is given to us by God for our education. I find Saint Jane Frances de Chantal's spiritual advice to be practical and human. Perhaps you might also.

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Saint jane Frances writes: "When you are asked what point of prayer you take, and the like, answer boldly as to what you have done or thought formerly in this way: "I have had such thoughts in prayer or done such things while walking about, or when in bed"; but do not say: "Today, or at such an hour, I have done such a thing." It is not necessary to be so explicit, but simply say, "I have done or seen such a thing," and have no scruple in calling all your good aspirations and thoughts prayer, for they are prayer, and so, for the matter of that, are all our actions when done to please God. It is enough to salute your good Angel morning and evening. Attention to the presence of God and of Our Lady includes all, for the blessed Spirits are engulphed in the abyss of the Divinity, and it is more perfect to walk simply. When a novice says to you, "What are you thinking of?" answer frankly, "I am thinking of God," without saying (if it is not so), I was thinking of the Passion, and the like, for no doubt to mention a particular subject (if we were not thinking of it) would be an untruth. Say simply, "I was thinking of Our Lord," and you might, for example, add, "My God, how happy we should be if we could always have the Holy Passion or the Nativity before our eyes." This gives edification enough. I see nothing else to say.

Oh! but yes; just a word for my Little One. I beg of you, my dearest Sister, not to trouble about what you feel or do not feel, this I say once for all. Serve Our Lord as it pleases Him, and while He keeps you in the desert serve Him there with good courage. He made His dear Israelites spend forty years there, accomplishing a journey that they could have made in forty days. Take courage then, and be satisfied with saying, and being able to say, though without relish, "I wish to live wholly for God and never to offend Him"; and when you stumble, as is sure to happen (be it a hundred times a day), rise up again by an act of confidence. Do likewise towards your neighbor, be content with having the desire to love him, or desiring to desire it, and to procure for him all possible good, and, opportunity given, minister gently to him.

In short take bravely the road in which God leads you it is a safe one, although you may not have all the light and satisfaction you would like; but it is quite time to abandon to Our Lord all these plans and desires, and to walk blindly, as divine Providence wills, believing that it will lead you aright.

Saint Lawrence

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Martrdom of St Lawrence Fra Angelico.jpgAs blessed Lawrence lay on the gridiron, to which the torturers held him fast with forks over the burning coals of fire, he cried out to the wicked magistrate: "The roasting is done! turn now the carcass and devour, for the rest of the substance of the church, which you desired, has been garnered up into heaven by the hands of the poor! (an antiphon)

In today's Office of Readings of the Roman Divine Office the Church gives to us for meditation a piece written on the martyr Saint Lawrence by the great Saint Augustine of Hippo:

The Roman Church commends to us today the anniversary of the triumph of Saint Lawrence. For on this day he trod the furious pagan world underfoot and flung aside its allurements, and so gained victory over Satan's attack on his faith. As you have often heard, Lawrence was a deacon of the Church at Rome. There he ministered the sacred blood of Christ; there for the sake of Christ's Name he poured out his own blood. St. John the Apostle was evidently teaching us about the mystery of the Lord's Supper when he wrote, "Just as Christ laid down His life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Lawrence understood this, and, understanding, he acted on it. Just as he had partaken of a gift of self at the table of the Lord, so he prepared to offer such a gift. In his life, Lawrence loved Christ; in his death, he followed n Christ's footsteps.

14 Holy Helpers

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XIV Holy Helpers.jpgAlmighty and merciful God, who didst adorn Thy Saints George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christopher, Denis, Cyriacus, Acacius, Eustace, Giles, Margaret, Barbara and Catherine with special privileges above all others, so that all who in their necessities implore their help, according to the grace of Thy promise, may attain the salutary effect of their pleading, grant to us, we beseech Thee, forgiveness of our sins, and with their merits interceding, deliver us from all adversities, and kindly hear our prayers.

All but Saint Giles are martyrs, these "auxiliary" saints are widely known in some parts of the world for their reliable intercession before God on our behalf. Frequently, these holy helpers are asked to intercede on our behalf when illness or other natural disaster occurs. In Germany in the 14th century these saints were asked to intercede before God for help during the black plague. On God's part, he made a promise to the holy men and women that whomever asks for their prayers He would answer, as is evidenced in the liturgical prayer noted above.

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 August 2010.

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