Traditional Catholic Calendar 2019
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Friday, February 1, 2019
: St. Ignatius, M
Friday, February 1, 2019

SAINT IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH
Bishop and Martyr
(107)

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Believing that the Church on earth should resemble that of the heavenly Jerusalem of which Saint John wrote in his Apocalypse, he established singing in choirs in his church at Antioch, after a vision of the celestial choirs who sang in that manner. When the emperor Domitian persecuted the Church, Saint Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer, although for his own part he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple.

The Roman emperors often visited Antioch, one of the cities of first importance of the empire. In 107, the eighth year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, he came to Antioch and forced the Christians to choose between apostasy and death. Saint Ignatius, who had already governed that church for forty years, continued to fortify it against apostasy, and did not flee. Arrested and brought before the emperor, the latter addressed him: "Who are you, poor devil, to set our commands at naught?" "Call not poor devil," Ignatius answered, "one who bears God within him." And when the emperor asked him what he meant by that, Ignatius explained that he bore in his heart Christ, crucified for his sake. "Change your ideas, and I will make you a priest of the great Jupiter, and you will be called 'father' by the Senate." "What could such honors matter to me, a priest of Christ, who offer Him every day a sacrifice of praise, and am ready to offer myself to Him also?" "To whom? To that Jesus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate?" "Yes, and with whom sin was crucified, and the devil, its author, vanquished."

The questions and the courageous replies continued for a time that day and also on the following one. Saint Ignatius said, "I will not sacrifice; I fear neither torments nor death, because I desire to go quickly to God." Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild beasts in Rome. Saint Ignatius blessed God, who had so honored him, "binding him in the same chains as Paul, His apostle." When his people wept, he told them to place their hope in the sovereign Pastor, who never abandons His flock. On passing through the city of Smyrna, he exhorted the faithful, who were grieved at his fate, to remain true to Christ until death, and he gave some of them who were going to Rome a letter for the Christians of the capital of the Christian world. This letter is still extant. He writes: "I fear your charity, I fear you have an affection too human for me. You might prevent me from dying, but by so doing, you would oppose my happiness. Suffer me to be immolated while the altar is ready; give thanks to God... If when I arrive among you I should have the weakness to seem to have other sentiments, do not believe me; believe only what I am writing to you now." This letter of Saint Ignatius has encouraged all generations of Christians in their combats.

He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear but of losing the martyr's crown. Three of his disciples, who accompanied him and were eyewitnesses of the spectacle, wrote the acts of his martyrdom: His face shining with joy, he reassured them as the lions were released, saying: "I am the wheat of Christ, I will be ground by the teeth of the beasts and made into flour to be a good bread for my Lord Jesus Christ!" He was devoured by lions in the Roman amphitheater. The wild beasts left nothing of his body except a few bones, which were reverently treasured at Antioch until their removal in the year 637 to the Church of Saint Clement in Rome. After the martyr's death, several Christians saw him in vision, in prayer to Christ, and interceding for them.

Reflection. Ask Saint Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer, and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.


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: Abstinence
Friday, February 1, 2019

Saturday, February 2, 2019
: Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday, February 2, 2019

The PRESENTATION of JESUS in the TEMPLE
the PURIFICATION, or CANDLEMAS

The law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that after childbirth a woman should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which time she was not to appear in public. This term was of forty days following the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. When the term expired, the mother was to bring to the Temple a lamb and a young pigeon or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, she was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges. A dove was required of all as a sin-offering, whether rich or poor; but as the expense of a lamb might be too great for the poor, these were allowed to substitute for it a second dove. Such was the case, Scripture tells us, for the Holy Family. (Luke 2:24)

Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His Blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that She was not subject to the law of purification, but devotion and zeal to honor God by every observance prescribed by His law, prompted Mary to perform this act of religion.

Besides the law which obliged the mother to purify herself, there was another which required that the first-born son be offered to God, and that after his presentation the child be ransomed with a certain sum of money, and specific sacrifices offered on the occasion. Mary complied exactly with all these ordinances. She obeyed not only in the essential points of the law, but had strict regard to all the circumstances. On the day of Her purification She walked several miles to Jerusalem, with the world's Redeemer in Her arms. She waited for the priest at the gate of the Temple, made Her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, and with the most profound humility, adoration and thanksgiving, presented Her divine Son, by the hands of the priest, to His Eternal Father. She then redeemed Him with five shekels, as the law appoints, and received Him back again as a sacred charge committed to Her special care, until the Father would again demand Him for the full accomplishment of man's redemption.

The ceremony of this day closed in a third mystery - the meeting in the Temple of the holy prophets Simeon and Anne with the Divine Infant and His parents. Saint Simeon, on that occasion, received into his arms the object of all his desires and sighs, and praised God for the happiness of beholding the much-longed-for Messiah. He foretold to Mary Her martyrdom of sorrow, and that Jesus would bring redemption to those who would accept it on the terms it was offered, but a heavy judgment on all who would obstinately reject it. Mary, hearing this terrible prediction, courageously and sweetly committed all to God's holy Will. Simeon, having beheld Our Saviour, exclaimed: "Now Thou canst dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace, according to Thy word, because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." The aged prophetess Anne, who had served God with great fervor during her long widowhood, also had the happiness of recognizing and adoring the Redeemer of the world. This feast is called Candlemas, because the Church blesses the candles to be borne in the procession of the day.

Reflection. Let us strive to imitate the humility of the ever-blessed Mother of God, remembering that humility is the path which leads to lasting peace and brings us closer to God, who gives His grace to the humble.


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Sunday, February 3, 2019
Sunday, February 3, 2019

: St. Blaise, EM
Sunday, February 3, 2019

SAINT BLAISE
Bishop and Martyr
(316)

Saint Blaise devoted the earlier years of his life to the study of philosophy, and afterwards became a physician. In the practice of his profession he saw so much of the miseries of life and the hollowness of worldly pleasures, that he resolved to spend the rest of his days in the service of God. From being a healer of bodily ailments, he became a physician of souls, then retired for a time, by divine inspiration, to a cavern where he remained in prayer.

When the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia died, Blaise, much to the gratification of the inhabitants of that city, was chosen to succeed him. Saint Blaise at once began to instruct his people, as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.

When the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius, Saint Blaise was seized. After interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison. While he was under custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was dying of a throat disease, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.

The prisoner was brought before Agricolaus again for further questioning, and again was whipped while tied to a pillar. He was spared from drowning when thrown into a lake; the governor ordered then that he be beheaded. At the execution site he prayed aloud to God for his persecutors, and asked that in the future those who would invoke him might be aided, as he had been permitted to assist them during his lifetime. Our Lord appeared to him and said in a voice which all bystanders heard, that He granted his prayer. Since that time his intercession has often been effectually solicited, especially in cases of all kinds of throat problems.

Reflection. There is no sacrifice which, by the aid of grace, human nature is not capable of accomplishing. When Saint Paul complained to God of the violence of temptation, God answered, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in infirmity."


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Monday, February 4, 2019
: St. Andrew Corsini, EC
Monday, February 4, 2019

SAINT ANDREW CORSINI
Bishop of Fiesole
(1302-1373)

Saint Andrew was born in Florence in 1301 of the illustrious Corsini family. A short time before the birth of Saint Andrew, his mother experienced a strange dream, in which she had given birth to a wolf which became a lamb upon entering a Carmelite church. After a dissolute youthful life Andrew repented, when one day in 1318 his desolate mother told him of her dream. He rose and went to the altar in the church where his parents had offered to God the child they hoped to obtain from His mercy; there he prayed to the Blessed Virgin with tears, then went to beg his admission to the Carmelite Order.

He began a life of great mortification. Ordained a priest in 1328, he studied in Paris and Avignon, and on his return became the Apostle of Florence, and Prior of his convent there. In 1360 he was consecrated Bishop of Fiesole, near Florence, and gained a great reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his love of the poor. He was also named papal nuncio to Bologna, where he pacified dissenting factions and won the hearts of the nobility with whom he was associating. He wrought many miracles of healing and conversion during his lifetime.

At the age of 71, while he was celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the feast of the Epiphany, to meet the beloved Master he had served so faithfully. In effect, he died on that day in 1373, in the thirteenth year of his episcopacy. Miracles were so multiplied thereafter that Pope Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately. The city of Florence has always invoked him with confidence and happy results. He was canonized in 1629.

He is often represented holding his crosier, with a wolf and a lamb at his feet, or hovering over a battlefield on a cloud or a white steed - this in memory of his miraculous intervention in a battle the Florentine people won by his assistance.


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Tuesday, February 5, 2019
: St. Agatha, VM
Tuesday, February 5, 2019

SAINT AGATHA
Virgin and Martyr
(251)

Saint Agatha was born in Sicily of rich and noble parents, a child of benediction from the first, for she was promised to her parents before her birth, and consecrated from her earliest infancy to God. In the midst of dangers and temptations she served Christ in purity of body and soul, and she died for love of chastity. Quintanus, who governed Sicily under the Emperor Decius, had heard the rumor of her beauty and wealth, and he made the laws against the Christians a pretext for summoning her from Palermo to Catania, where he was at the time. "O Jesus Christ!" she cried, as she set out on this dreaded journey, "all that I am is Thine; preserve me against the tyrant."

And Our Lord did indeed preserve one who had given herself so utterly to Him. He kept her pure and undefiled while she was imprisoned for a whole month under charge of an evil woman. He gave her strength to reply to the offer of her life and safety, if she would but consent to sacrifice to the gods, "Christ alone is my salvation!" When Quintanus turned from passion to cruelty, and cut off her breasts, Our Lord sent the Prince of the Apostles to heal her. She told the elderly gentleman who appeared to her that she was Christian and desired no treatment, for her Lord could cure her by a single word. He smiled, identified himself as Saint Peter, and said: "It is in His name that you will be healed." And when he disappeared, she saw that her wounds were healed and her flesh made whole. But when she was rolled naked upon potsherds, she asked that her torments might be ended. Her Lord heard her prayer and took her to Himself.

Saint Agatha gave herself without reserve to Jesus Christ; she followed Him in virginal purity, and then depended upon Him for protection. And to this day Christ has shown His tender regard for the very body of Saint Agatha. Again and again, during the eruptions of Mount Etna, the people of Catania have exposed her veil for public veneration, and found safety by this means. In modern times, on opening the tomb in which her body lies waiting for the resurrection, they beheld the skin still entire, and experienced the sweet fragrance which issued from this temple of the Holy Ghost.

Reflection. Purity is a gift of God: we can gain it and preserve it only by care and diligence in avoiding all that may prove an incentive to sin.


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Wednesday, February 6, 2019
: St. Titus, EC
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

SAINT TITUS
Bishop
( Towards the end of the first century)

Saint Titus was a Greek-speaking convert from paganism and a disciple of Saint Paul, one of the chosen companions of the Apostle on his journey to the Council of Jerusalem. He became his fellow-laborer in many apostolic missions. From the Second Epistle which Saint Paul sent by the hand of Titus to the Corinthians, we gain an insight into the disciple's character as a peacemaker and an administrator, and understand the strong affection which his master bore him.

Titus had been commissioned to carry out a twofold office needing much firmness, discretion, and charity. He was to be the bearer of a severe rebuke to the Corinthians, who were harboring a scandal and were wavering in their faith; and at the same time he was directed to put their charity to the test by calling upon them for abundant alms for the church at Jerusalem. Saint Paul at Troas was anxiously awaiting the result. He writes, "I had no peace of mind at Troas, because I did not find there Titus, my brother." (II Cor. 2:13) And he set sail for Macedonia. Here at last Titus brought the good news; his success had been complete. He reported the sorrow, the zeal, the generosity of the Corinthians, and the Apostle was filled with joy, and sent his faithful messenger back to them with the letter of comfort from which we have quoted.

Titus was finally left as a bishop on the Island of Crete, where Saint Paul addressed to him the epistle which bears his name. We see from Saint Paul's Epistle to Titus that this cherished disciple had organized the Christian community, and was engaged in correcting abuses and establishing a clergy. We do not know the history of the final years of Saint Titus from Scripture, only that he was in Dalmatia a short time before the martyrdom of Saint Paul. (Epistle to Timothy 4:10) Writers on Church history state that he died on Crete. His relics are conserved at Venice in the cathedral church of Saint Mark.

The mission of Titus to Corinth shows us how well the disciple had learned the spirit of his master. He knew how to be firm and to inspire respect. The Corinthians, we are told, "received him with fear and trembling." He was patient and painstaking. Saint Paul "gave thanks to God, who had put such solicitude for them in the heart of Titus." And these gifts were enhanced by a quickness to detect and elicit all the good in others, and by a joyousness which overflowed upon the spirit of Saint Paul himself, who "abundantly rejoiced in the joy of Titus." (II Cor. 2:13)


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Thursday, February 7, 2019
: St. Romuald, Ab
Thursday, February 7, 2019

SAINT ROMUALD
Founder and Abbot
(906-1027)

In the tenth century Sergius, a nobleman of Ravenna, quarreled with a relative over an estate and, in a duel to which his son Romuald was witness, slew him. The young man of twenty years was horrified at his father's crime, and entered a Benedictine monastery at Classe to do a forty days' penance for him. This penance led to his entry into religion as a Benedictine monk.

After seven years at Classe, Romuald went to live as a hermit near Venice, under the guidance of a holy man who had him recite the Psalter from memory every day. When he stumbled, the hermit struck his left ear with a rod. Romuald suffered with patience, but one day, noting that he was losing his hearing in that ear, asked the old man to strike him on his right ear. This episode supposes great progress in virtue. The two religious were joined by Peter Urseolus, Duke of Venice, who desired to do penance also, and together they led a most austere life in the midst of assaults from the evil spirits.

Saint Romuald, whose aim was to restore the primitive rule to the Order of Saint Benedict, succeeded in founding some hundred monasteries in both Italy and France, and he filled the solitudes with hermitages. The principal monastery was that at Camaldoli, a wild, deserted region, where he built a church, surrounded by a number of separate cells for the solitaries who lived under his rule; his disciples were thus called Camaldolese. For five years the fervent founder was tormented by furious attacks by the demon. He repulsed him, saying, "O enemy! Driven out of heaven, you come to the desert? Depart, ugly serpent, already you have what is due you." And the shamed adversary would leave him. Saint Romuald's father, Sergius, was moved by the examples of his son, and entered religion near Ravenna; there he, too, was attacked by hell and thought of abandoning his design. Romuald went to visit him; he showed him the error of the devil's ruses, and his father died in the monastery, in the odor of sanctity.

Among his first disciples were Saints Adalbert and Boniface, apostles of Russia, and Saints John and Benedict of Poland, martyrs for the faith. He was an intimate friend of the Emperor Saint Henry, and was reverenced and consulted by many great men of his time. He once passed seven years in solitude and total silence. He died, as he had foretold twenty years in advance, alone in his monastery of Val Castro, on the 19th of June, 1027, in an advanced and abundantly fruitful old age.

By the life of Saint Romuald, we see how God brings good out of evil. In his youth Saint Romuald was much troubled by temptations of the flesh; to escape them he had recourse to hunting, and it was in the woods that he first conceived his love for solitude. His father's sin prompted him to undertake a forty days' penance in the monastery, which he then made his permanent home. Some bad examples of his fellow-monks induced him to leave them and adopt the solitary mode of life; the repentance of a Venetian Duke brought him his first disciple. The temptations of the devil compelled him to lead his severe life of expiation; and finally, the persecutions of others were the occasion of his settlement at Camaldoli, mother house of his Order.

Reflection. If we follow the impulses of the Holy Spirit, like Saint Romuald we shall bring Him into situations which seem without hope. Our own sins, the sins of others, their ill will against us, our own mistakes and misfortunes, if we react with the help of God, are capable of bringing our own souls and others to the throne of God's mercy and love.


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Friday, February 8, 2019
: St. John of Matha, C
Friday, February 8, 2019

SAINT JOHN of MATHA
Founder
(1160-1213)

The life of Saint John of Matha, born in southern France of an illustrious family, was consecrated to God by a vow at his birth. His life from his youth was exemplary, by his self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of his neighbor. As a child, his chief pleasure was serving the poor; and he would say to them that he had come into the world for no other end but to care for them. He served every Friday in a hospital, and obtained for the sick whatever they needed. Later he studied in Paris with such distinction that his professors advised him to become a priest, in order that his talents might render greater service to others. For this purpose John gladly sacrificed his high rank and other worldly advantages.

At his first Mass an Angel appeared, clad in white, with a red and blue cross on his breast, and his hands reposed on the heads of a Christian and a Moorish captive. To comprehend what this vision might signify, John went to Saint Felix of Valois, a holy hermit living near Meaux, under whose direction he led a life of extreme penance. Another sign was given the two hermits, by a stag they saw with a red and blue cross amid its antlers. The two Christians then set out together for Rome, to learn the Will of God from the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff. Pope Innocent III consulted the Sacred College and had a Mass offered in the Lateran basilica to understand what God was asking. At the moment of the Elevation, the Pope saw the same Angel in the same vision as had been given Saint John. He told the two servants of God to devote themselves to the redemption of captives, and for this purpose they founded the Order of the Holy Trinity, whose habit was first worn by the Angel.

The members of the Order fasted every day, and after preaching throughout Europe, winning associates for their Order and gathering alms to buy back captives, went to northern Africa to redeem the Christian slaves taken prisoner during the Crusades or while traveling on the seas. They devoted themselves also to the many sick, aged, and infirm captives whom they found in both northern Africa and Spain, and who were unable to travel and thus to return home. Saint John on one occasion was assaulted in Morocco and left, in his blood, for dead. He was preserved by a miracle, and took up his charitable services again.

The charity of Saint John of Matha in devoting his life to the redemption of captives was visibly blessed by God: the Pope approved the Constitution of the Order, and in 1198 it was canonically instituted with an establishment in Rome, where the liberated captives were taken from Ostia to give thanks to God and rest for a time.

On his second return from Tunis he brought back one hundred and twenty liberated slaves. But when he was about to undertake another voyage, the Moors attacked the ship and disabled it before it could sail, removing the rudder and sails. Saint John told the passengers to take the oars and set out just the same, then he prayed on his knees to the Star of the Sea, prayers which the sailors and passengers repeated after him. He tied his cloak to the mast, saying, "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered! O Lord, Thou wilt save the humble, and wilt bring down the eyes of the proud." Suddenly wind filled the small sail, and a few days later brought the ship safely to Ostia, the port of Rome, three hundred leagues from Tunis.

Worn out by his heroic labors, John died in 1213, at the age of fifty-three.

Reflection. Let us never forget that our blessed Lord bade us love our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as He loved us, who afterwards sacrificed Himself totally for us.


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: Abstinence
Friday, February 8, 2019

Saturday, February 9, 2019
: St. Cyril of Alexandria, ECD
Saturday, February 9, 2019

SAINT CYRIL of ALEXANDRIA
Doctor of the Church
(c. 376-444)

Born at Alexandria, Egypt, and nephew of the patriach of that city, Theophilus, Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the "Synod of the Oak" that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him.

He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus´ death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril´s supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and Governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions.

In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was divine and not human, and consequently She should not have the word Theotokos (God-bearer) applied to Her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431 Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent; when they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of papal legates who confirmed the council´s actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile.

During the rest of his life Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexendrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skill. Among his writings are commentaries on Saint John, Saint Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, an Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882.


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Sunday, February 10, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019

: St. Scholastica, V
Sunday, February 10, 2019

SAINT SCHOLASTICA
Abbess
(480-543)

Of this Saint but little is known on earth, save that she was the very pious younger sister of the great patriarch Saint Benedict, and that, under his direction, she founded and governed a numerous community near Monte Casino. Saint Gregory sums up her life by saying that she devoted herself to God from her childhood, and that her pure soul rose to God in the likeness of a dove, as if to show that her life had been enriched with the fullest gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Her brother was accustomed to visit her once every year, before Lent, and "she could not be sated or wearied with the words of grace which flowed from his lips." On his last visit, after a day passed in spiritual conversation, the Saint, knowing that her end was near, said, "My brother, leave me not, I pray you, this night, but discourse with me till dawn on the bliss of those who see God in heaven." Saint Benedict would not break his rule for the sake of natural affection, but his sister bowed her head and prayed, and there arose a storm so violent that Saint Benedict could not return to his monastery, and they passed the night as she had prayed, in heavenly conversation.

Three days later Saint Benedict saw in a vision the soul of Saint Scholastica going up in the likeness of a dove into heaven. Then he gave thanks to God for the graces He had given her and the glory which had crowned them. When she died, Saint Benedict as well as her spiritual daughters, and the monks sent by their patriarch to her conventual church, mingled their tears and prayed, "Alas! alas! dearest mother, to whom dost thou leave us now? Pray for us to Jesus, to whom thou art gone." They then devoutly celebrated holy Mass, "commending her soul to God;" and her body was borne to Monte Casino, where her brother lay her in the tomb he had prepared for himself. It was written that "they all mourned her many days." Finally Saint Benedict said, "Weep not, my sisters and brothers; for assuredly Jesus has taken her, before us, to be our aid and defense against all our enemies, that we may remain standing on the evil day and be perfect in all things." Her death occurred in about the year 543.

Reflection. Our relatives must be loved in and for God; otherwise the purest affection becomes inordinate and is ill directed, because taken from Him.


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Monday, February 11, 2019
: Apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes
Monday, February 11, 2019

OUR LADY of LOURDES
(1858)

The first of the eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the humble Bernadette Soubirous took place at Lourdes on February 11, 1858. On March 25th, when Bernadette asked the beautiful Lady Her name, She replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception." The Church for long centuries had believed in Her Immaculate Conception, Her exemption from every trace of the original sin which through Adam, our first and common father, separated man from his God. It was never proclaimed a dogma, however, until 1854. Mary Herself, in 1830, had asked of a Vincentian Sister at the Rue du Bac in Paris, that a medal be struck bearing Her likeness and the inscription: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee." Our Lady by Her apparitions at Lourdes in 1858 seems to convey Her appreciation for the formal proclamation of Her great privilege, by Pius IX, in 1854. Countless and magnificent miracles of healing have occurred at Lourdes, confirmed by physicians and recorded in the Lourdes shrine "Book of Life." To name but one: a doctor wrote a book describing the great miracle he had witnessed for a dying girl, whom he had observed on the train that was carrying handicapped persons from Paris to Lourdes. He had not expected her to survive and return home from the sanctuary.

Through the Lourdes Apparitions, the devotion of persons in all parts of the world to the Immaculate Mother of God has been wonderfully spread, and countless miracles have been wrought everywhere through Her intercession. The Virgin Mother of God is truly the chosen Messenger of God to these latter times, which are entrusted to Her, the chosen vessel of the unique privilege of exemption from original sin. Only with Her assistance will the dangers of the present world situation be averted. As She has done since 1858 in many places, at Lourdes, too, She gave us Her peace plan for the world, through Saint Bernadette: Prayer and Penance, to save souls.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2019
: Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

THE SEVEN HOLY SERVITE FOUNDERS
(Mid 13th century)

Can you imagine seven prominent men of any large modern city banding together, leaving their homes and profession, and going into solitude for a life directly given to God? That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century. At this time, the city was torn with political strife as well as by the heresy of the Cathari; morals were low and religion neglected.

On the feast of the Assumption in 1233, seven of the members of a Florentine Confraternity devoted to the Holy Mother of God were gathered in prayer under the presidency of Alessio Falconieri. The Blessed Virgin appeared to the young men and exhorted them to devote themselves to Her service, in retirement from the world. It was in 1240 that they decided to withdraw together from the city to a solitary place for prayer and the service of God. Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by increasing numbers of visitors. They next retired to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario near Florence, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to them again. There the nucleus of a new Order was formed, called Servants of Mary, or Servites, in recognition of their special manner of venerating the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

In 1244, under the direction of Saint Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the rule of Saint Augustine. The new Order took a form resembling more the mendicant friars than the older monastic Orders. One of the most remarkable features of the new foundation was its wonderful growth. Even in the fourteenth century, the Order had more than one hundred convents in several nations of Europe, as well as in India and on the Island of Crete. The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is one of their regular devotions, as is also the Via Matris, or Way of the Cross of Mary.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2019
: Feria
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019
: St. Valentine, Priest M
Thursday, February 14, 2019

SAINT VALENTINE
Priest and Martyr
(268)

Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who assisted the martyrs during the persecution under Claudius II. His great virtue and influence became known, and he was apprehended and brought before the emperor's tribunal. "Why, Valentine, do you want to be the friend of our enemies and reject our friendship?" The Christian priest replied, "My Lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy, and your empire with you; you would reject the cult of your idols and would adore the true God and His Son Jesus Christ." One of the judges interrupted, asking the martyr what he thought of Jupiter and Mercury. "That they were miserable, and spent all their lives in debauchery and crime!" The judge, furious, cried, "He has blasphemed against the gods and against the empire!" The emperor nonetheless continued his questioning with curiosity, pleased to have this opportunity to know what Christians thought. Valentine had the courage to exhort him to do penance for the blood of Christians which he had shed. "Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and already in this life you will insure your empire's glory and the triumph of your arms." Claudius began to be convinced, and said to those in attendance, "Hear the beautiful doctrine this man is teaching us!" But the prefect of Rome, dissatisfied, cried out, "See how this Christian is seducing our prince!" Claudius, weakening, abandoned the holy priest to another judge.

This man, named Asterius, had a little girl who had been blind for two years. Hearing of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, he asked Valentine if he could convey that light to his child. Saint Valentine placed his hand on her eyes and prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child!" The child saw, and the Judge with all his family confessed Christ and received Baptism. The emperor, hearing of this, would have turned his gaze away from these conversions, but fear caused him to betray his sense of justice. With several other Christians Saint Valentine was tortured and martyred in the year 268.

This illustrious martyr has always been held in great honor in Rome, where there still exists a catacomb named for him.

Reflection. In the cause of justice and truth, human prudence should not be consulted; in that case, it is mere human respect. Saint Paul says: "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (I Cor. 3:19)

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Friday, February 15, 2019
: St. Faustinus & Jovita, MM
Friday, February 15, 2019

SAINTS FAUSTINUS and JOVITA
Martyrs
(122)

Faustinus and Jovita were brothers, nobly born, and were zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia in Lombardy, during the persecution of Adrian. Their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith.

Faustinus, a priest, and Jovita, a deacon, were preaching the Gospel fearlessly in the region when Julian, a pagan officer, apprehended them. They were commanded to adore the sun, but replied that they adored the living God who created the sun to give light to the world. The statue before which they were standing was brilliant and surrounded with golden rays. Saint Jovita, looking at it, cried out: "Yes, we adore the God reigning in heaven, who created the sun. And you, vain statue, turn black, to the shame of those who adore you!" At his word, it turned black. The Emperor commanded that it be cleaned, but the pagan priests had hardly begun to touch it when it fell into ashes.

The two brothers were sent to the amphitheater to be devoured by lions, but four of those came out and lay down at their feet. They were left without food in a dark jail cell, but Angels brought them strength and joy for new combats. The flames of a huge fire respected them, and a large number of spectators were converted at the sight. Finally sentenced to decapitation, they knelt down and received the death blow. The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons and possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.

Reflection. The spirit of Christ is ever a spirit of martyrdom. It is always the spirit of the cross. The more we share in the suffering life of Christ, the greater share we inherit of His Spirit, and of the fruits of His death. To souls mortified in their senses and disengaged from earthly things, God gives frequent foretastes of the sweetness of eternal life, and ardent desires of possessing Him in His glory. This is the spirit of martyrdom, which entitles a Christian to a happy resurrection and to the bliss of the life to come.


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: Abstinence
Friday, February 15, 2019

Saturday, February 16, 2019
: Mary on Saturday
Saturday, February 16, 2019


Sunday, February 17, 2019
Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019
: St. Simeon, EM
Monday, February 18, 2019

SAINT SIMEON
Bishop of Jerusalem, Martyr
(107)

Saint Simeon was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, who was father also of Saint James the Lesser, the first bishop of Jerusalem, of Saint Jude the Apostle, and of another son named Joseph. Alpheus, according to tradition, was Saint Joseph's brother; thus Saint Simeon was the nephew of Saint Joseph and the cousin of our Saviour.

We cannot doubt but that he was an early follower of Christ; tradition assigns the family's residence to Nazareth. He certainly received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. When the Jews massacred Saint James the Lesser, his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. After this first bishop of Jerusalem had been put to death in the year 62, that is, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the Apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint a successor, and unanimously chose Saint Simeon, who had probably already assisted his brother in the government of that Church.

In the year 66 or 67, during which Saints Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, civil war broke out in Judea as a result of the hostility of the Jews against the Romans and their seditions. The Christians of Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. With Saint Simeon at their head, they therefore left it in that year and retired beyond the Jordan to a small city called Pella, before Vespasian, Nero's General, later Roman Emperor, entered Judea. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned there once more, still under the leadership of Saint Simeon, and settled amid its ruins.

The Jerusalem church flourished again for a few years until razed by Adrian, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in its midst. The emperors Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David; but Saint Simeon escaped their searches. When Trajan renewed the same decree, however, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint before the Roman governor in Palestine, as being both of the race of David and a Christian.

The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. He died in the year 107, after having undergone during several days the usual tortures, though he was one hundred and twenty years old. He suffered these torments with so much patience that he won universal admiration. He had governed the Church of Jerusalem for about forty-three years.

Reflection. We bear the name of Christians, but are full of the spirit of worldlings, and our actions are infected with the poison of the world. We secretly seek ourselves, even when we flatter ourselves that God is our only aim, and while hoping to convert the world, we suffer it to pervert us. When shall we begin to study to crucify our passions and die to ourselves, that we may lay a solid foundation of true virtue and establish its reign in our hearts?


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Tuesday, February 19, 2019
: Feria
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
: Feria
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019
: Feria
Thursday, February 21, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019
: St. Peter's Chair at Antioch, Ap
Friday, February 22, 2019

SAINT PETER'S CHAIR AT ANTIOCH
(ca. 36-43)

That Saint Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by many Saints of the earliest times, including Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Clement, Pope. It was just that the Prince of the Apostles should take under his particular care and surveillance this city, which was then the capital of the East, and where the faith so early took such deep roots as to give birth there to the name of Christians. There his voice could be heard by representatives of the three largest nations of antiquity - the Hebrews, the Greeks and the Latins. Saint Chrysostom says that Saint Peter was there for a long period; Saint Gregory the Great, that he was seven years Bishop of Antioch. He did not reside there at all times, but governed its apostolic activity with the wisdom his mandate assured.

If as tradition affirms, he was twenty-five years in Rome, the date of his establishment at Antioch must be within three years after Our Saviour's Ascension, for he would have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius. He no doubt left Jerusalem when the persecution which followed Saint Steven's martyrdom broke out (Acts 8:1), and remained in Antioch until he escaped miraculously from prison and from the hands of Herod Agrippa, while in Jerusalem in 43 at the time of the Passover. (Acts 12) Knowing he would be pursued to Antioch, his well-known center of activity, he went to Rome.

In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to observe the anniversary of his Baptism. On that day each one renewed his baptismal vows and gave thanks to God for his heavenly adoption. That memorable day they regarded as their spiritual birthday. The bishops similarly kept the anniversary of their consecration, as appears from four sermons of Saint Leo the Great on the anniversary of his accession to the pontifical dignity. These commemorations were frequently continued by the people after their bishops' decease, out of respect for their memory. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter was instituted from very early times. Saint Leo says we should celebrate the Chair of Saint Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom, for as in the latter he was exalted to a throne of glory in heaven, by the former he was installed Head of the Church on earth.

Reflection: On this festival we are especially bound to adore and thank the divine Goodness for the establishment and propagation of His Church, and to pray earnestly that in His mercy He will preserve it and extend its dominion, so that His name may be glorified by all nations and all hearts even to the boundaries of the earth.


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: Abstinence
Friday, February 22, 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019
: St. Peter Damian, ECD
Saturday, February 23, 2019

SAINT PETER DAMIAN
Cardinal Bishop
(988-1072)

Saint Peter Damian, born in 988, lost both his parents at an early age. His eldest brother, to whose hands he was left, treated him so cruelly that another brother, a priest, moved by his piteous state, sent him to the University of Parma, where he acquired great distinction. His studies were sanctified by vigils, fasts, and prayers, until at last, thinking that all this was only serving God halfway, he resolved to leave the world. He joined the monks of Fonte Avellano, then in the greatest repute, and by his wisdom and sanctity rose to be Superior.

Saint Peter was called upon for the most delicate and difficult missions, among others the reform of ecclesiastical communities, which his zeal accomplished. Seven Popes in succession made him their constant adviser, and he was finally created Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. He withstood Henry IV of Germany, and labored in defense of Pope Alexander II against an antipope, whom he forced to yield and seek pardon. He was charged, as papal legate, with the repression of simony and correction of scandals; again, was commissioned to settle discords amongst various bishops; and finally, in 1072, to adjust the affairs of the Church at Ravenna. He had never paid attention to his health, which was at best fragile, and after enduring violent onslaughts of fever during the night, would rise to hear confessions, preach, or sing solemn Masses, always ready to sacrifice his well-being and life for the salvation of the souls entrusted to him.

After succeeding in this final mission as he ordinarily did, on his journey back to Ostia he was laid low by fever; he died at Faenza in a monastery of his Order, on the eighth day of his sickness, while the monks chanted Matins around him.

Reflection. The Saints studied, not in order to be accounted learned, but to become perfect before God.


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Sunday, February 24, 2019
Sunday, February 24, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019
: St. Matthias, Ap
Monday, February 25, 2019

SAINT MATTHIAS
Apostle
(63)

After our Blessed Lord's Ascension His disciples came together, with Mary His mother and the eleven Apostles, in an upper room at Jerusalem. The little company numbered no more than one hundred and twenty souls. They were waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Ghost, and they persevered in prayer. Meanwhile there was a solemn act to be performed on the part of the Church, which could not be postponed. The place of the fallen Judas had to be filled, that the number of the Apostles might be complete. Saint Peter, therefore, as Vicar of Christ, arose to announce the divine decree. What the Holy Ghost had spoken by the mouth of David concerning Judas, he said, must be fulfilled. Of him it had been written, "His bishopric let another take." A choice, therefore, was needed of one among those who had been their companions from the beginning, who could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus.

Two were named of equal merit, Joseph called Barsabas, and Matthias. After praying to God, who knows the hearts of all men, to show which of these He had chosen, they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, who was thereby numbered with the Apostles. It is recorded of the Saint, wonderfully elected to so high a vocation, that he was remarkable for his mortification of the flesh. It was thus that he made his election sure.

He preached in Judea where he was persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles, and died by stoning, a victim of their pursuits, in the year 63. His body was taken to Rome by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, some 250 years later. A church there bears his name.

Reflection. Our ignorance of many points in Saint Matthias's life serves to fix the attention all the more firmly upon these two - the occasion of his call to the apostolate, and the fact of his perseverance. We then naturally turn in thought to our own vocation and our own end: may it be like his, a holy death in reward for our fidelity.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2019
: Feria
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, C
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

SAINT GABRIEL of OUR LADY of SORROWS
Passionist
(1838-1862)

Saint Gabriel was born at Assisi in 1838. He was guided by Our Lady into the Passionist Order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross, and became a veritable Apostle of Her Sorrows. He was a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times. He allowed no distractions to enter his spirit, and even though Italy, his country, was in a state of ferment when he entered religion, he wanted to know nothing of it.

The way to attain union with our Saviour and our God was, for Saint Gabriel, as for Saint Louis de Montfort, his Heavenly Mother. He wrote home to his father, from the first month of his noviciate, "Believe your son, whose heart is speaking by his lips; no, I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent near the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, our consolatrix, our protectress and our hope, for a year or several years spent in the diversions and spectacles of the earth." Among his resolutions was that of visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament each day, and praying for the gift of a tender and efficacious devotion to His Most Holy Mother. He wrote a beautiful Credo, worthy to be printed in letters of gold, expressing all that he believed of the Mother of God.

At twenty-four years of age Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis, having already attained heroic sanctity by a life of self-denial and great devotion to our Lord's Passion and the Compassion of His Mother.

Although his life was without any miraculous event, after his death in 1862 many miracles occurred at his tomb in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and his feast was extended to the entire church by Pope Pius XI in 1932. He is the patron of youth, and especially of young religious.


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Thursday, February 28, 2019
: Feria
Thursday, February 28, 2019

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