Traditional Catholic Calendar 2019
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Thursday, August 1, 2019
: St. Peter's Chains, Ap
Thursday, August 1, 2019

SAINT PETER'S CHAINS
(44 A.D.)

In the year 44 King Herod Agrippa, after putting to death Saint James, son of Zebedee, was still avid for popular approval by the Jews. He had Saint Peter cast into prison, intending to put him to death publicly after the Passover; but the entire Church of Jerusalem was offering up prayers to God "without ceasing" (Acts 12:5) for the deliverance of the Chief Pastor of His flock, and God heard them favorably.

The king had taken all possible precautions to prevent the escape of his prisoner. He was guarded day and night by sixteen soldiers, four of whom kept sentry duty in turn - two in the same dungeon with him, and two at the gate. Saint Peter was fastened to the ground by two chains, and a soldier watched on either side of him. He lay fast asleep on the very night before the day fixed for his execution, when it pleased God to deliver him out of the hands of his enemies. In the middle of the night, a bright light shone in the prison, and an Angel appeared beside him. He woke him from his sleep and bade him instantly rise, fasten his cincture, put on his sandals and cloak, and follow him. The Apostle did so, for the chains had fallen off his wrists. Following his heavenly guide, he passed after him through the first and second watches, and when they arrived at the iron gate which led into the city, that gate opened before them of its own accord. The Angel conducted him through one street, then, suddenly disappearing, left him to seek refuge.

The Apostle went directly to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark, where several disciples were assembled and sending up their prayers to heaven for his deliverance. As he stood knocking, a young woman who had been sent to the door, hearing Peter's voice, ran back in joy and informed the group that their Pastor was at the door. They paid no attention to her, saying she was beside herself, or that it was probably his Guardian Angel. But the knocking continued until they opened the door, and Saint Peter, entering, told them of his miraculous escape. Having enjoined them to notify the rest of the brethren, he departed to regions of greater security, carrying wherever he went the divine blessing and life.

Reflection: This miracle clearly confirms the divine promise, "If two of you consent upon earth about anything at all for which they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Matt. 18:19)


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Friday, August 2, 2019
: St. Alphonsus Liguori, ECD
Friday, August 2, 2019

SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
(1696-1787)

Saint Alphonsus was born of noble parents near Naples, in 1696. His spiritual formation was entrusted to the Oratorian Fathers of that city, and from his boyhood Alphonsus was known as a very devout little Brother of the Minor Oratory. At the early age of sixteen he became a doctor in civil law; and entering this career with ardor, he met great success and renown. A mistake, however, by which he lost an important case, showed him the vanity of human fame and glory. He decided to abandon the legal profession at the age of twenty-seven, to labor for the glory of God alone. Alphonsus' father long opposed his decision, but as a man of virtue consented at last.

Saint Alphonsus was ordained a priest in 1726, and he soon became as renowned a preacher as he had been a lawyer. His father stopped in a church to pray one day, and amazed, heard his son preaching; he suddenly saw clearly how God had marvelously elevated his son, and was filled with joy, saying: "My son has made God known to me!" As for Alphonsus, he loved and devoted himself to the most neglected souls in the region of Naples. He was a very perfect confessor, and wrote a manual which has been used ever since for the instruction of those who administer the sacrament of Penance. A musician of the first rank, Saint Alphonsus gave up his instruments to devote himself more perfectly to his apostolic labors; he nonetheless composed joyous religious hymns for the poor folk he heard singing in the streets, that they might glorify God and not waste their voices and efforts in vain and worldly songs.

To extend and continue his work, he later founded the missionary Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, for the evangelization of the poor. At the age of sixty-six he became Bishop of Saint Agatha, a suffragan diocese of Naples, and undertook the reform of his diocese with the zeal of a Saint. He made a vow never to waste a moment of time, and, though his life was spent in prayer and work, he also composed a vast number of books. These volumes were filled with such great science, unction, and wisdom that in 1871 he was declared by Pius IX a Doctor of the Church. Saint Alphonsus wrote his first book at the age of forty-nine, and in his eighty-third year had published about sixty volumes; at that time his director forbade him to continue writing. The best known of his books is his volume entitled "The Glories of Mary", by which he exalts the graces and narrates the wondrous deeds of mercy of the Mother of God for those who invoke Her.

Very many of these books were written in the half hours snatched from his labors as a missionary, as a religious Superior, and finally as a Bishop, often in the midst of unrelenting bodily and mental sufferings. With his left hand he would hold a piece of marble against his aching head, while his right hand wrote. Yet he counted no time lost which was spent in charity. He did not refuse to maintain a long correspondence with a simple soldier who asked for his advice, or to play the harpsichord in his declining years, while he taught his novices to sing spiritual canticles. He lived in times of religious laxity, and met with many persecutions and disappointments. During his last seven years he was prevented by constant sickness from offering the adorable Sacrifice, but he received Holy Communion daily, and his love for Jesus Christ and his trust in Mary's prayers sustained him to the end. He died in 1787, in his ninety-first year.

Reflection: Let us do with all our heart and attention the duty of each day, leaving to God the result as well as the care of the future.


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: Abstinence
Friday, August 2, 2019

Saturday, August 3, 2019
: Finding of St. Stephen's Relics, Protomartyr
Saturday, August 3, 2019

FINDING of SAINT STEPHEN'S RELICS
(415)

This second festival in honor of the holy protomartyr Saint Stephen was instituted by the Church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains. His body had long lain concealed under the ruins of an old tomb in Caphargamala, a place twenty miles from Jerusalem, where there was a church served by a venerable priest named Lucian.

In the year 415, on the 3rd of December, the priest was sleeping on his cot in the baptistry, where he habitually retired in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall, comely old man of venerable aspect, clothed in white and gold, who approached him and called him by his name three times, bidding him go to Jerusalem and tell Bishop John to come and open the tombs where his remains and those of certain other servants of Christ lay. This act would permit God to open the gates of His clemency to many souls, the visitor affirmed. Lucian asked his name, and he replied, "I am Gamaliel, who instructed Saint Paul in the Law." Gamaliel then said they would also find the tomb of Saint Stephen, protomartyr, and of Nicodemus, who came to visit Jesus at night and who, when driven out of Jerusalem by the authorities, had been sheltered by himself in his country residence at the present site. This vision was twice repeated, and on the third visit, the priest was reproached for his delay. He was promised that the discovery would cause a current famine to cease.

After the third vision, Lucian went to Jerusalem and laid the whole affair before Bishop John, who directed him to go and search himself for these relics. And Gamaliel appeared again, this time to a holy monk of the same region, to indicate the exact site where the inhabitants of the village should dig. There indeed were found three coffins or chests with the respective names engraved on them; and without opening these, Lucian sent immediately to acquaint Bishop John with the discovery. The bishop was at the Council of Diospolis, and, taking with him the bishops of Sebastis and of Jericho, he journeyed to Caphargamala.

Upon the opening of Saint Stephen's coffin the earth trembled, and there came from the coffin an agreeable scent. There was at that moment a vast multitude of people assembled at the burial place, among whom were many persons afflicted with various maladies; seventy-three recovered their health instantly. They kissed the holy relics, and then the chests were closed again. The bishop left the relics of Gamaliel and Nicodemus for the village, and consented to leave a small portion of Saint Stephen's relics there; then, amid the singing of psalms and hymns, the rest of them were carried to the Church of Sion in Jerusalem. They were later transferred to a magnificent church built in his honor in that city, towards the end of the fifth century. The greater part of the relics are presently in Rome.



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Sunday, August 4, 2019
Sunday, August 4, 2019

: St. Dominic, C
Sunday, August 4, 2019

SAINT DOMINIC
Founder
(1170-1221)

Saint Dominic de Guzman was born in Spain in 1170. As a student, he sold his books to feed the poor during a famine, and offered himself to ransom a slave. At the age of twenty-five, after taking the religious habit he became acting Superior of the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine in Osma, and was soon offered an episcopal chair at Compostella. He answered as afterward he also answered many times: "God has not sent me to be a bishop, but to preach." He accompanied his prelate to southern France on a commission for the king of Castille. There his heart was well-nigh broken by the ravages of the Albigensian heresy, a variant of ancient Manicheanism, and the source of devastating wars in southern France. His life from that time on was devoted to the conversion of heretics and the defense of the Faith.

In the year 1199, while he was still a Canon Regular of Saint Augustine and was preaching near the Spanish coasts, he was taken captive, with all his audience and a Brother in religion, by a band of pirates. They placed the prisoners in their galleys at the oars. When a furious storm broke, the young Saint exhorted the disciples of Mohammed to think seriously of their souls, to open their eyes to the truth of Christianity, and above all, to invoke the Mother of God. They did not listen until his third exhortation, at a moment when it was clear the ship and passengers could not be saved. They swore to him then that if the God of Christians preserved them by the intercession of His Holy Mother, they would dedicate themselves to their service. Immediately the storm ceased, and the pirates kept their word.

When in his 46th year, and with six companions, he began the great Order of Preaching Friars, this Order with that of the Friars Minor, founded by his contemporary friend Saint Francis of Assisi, was the chief means God employed to renew Christian fervor during the Middle Ages. In addition, Saint Dominic founded his Second Order for nuns for the education of Catholic girls, and his Third Order, or Tertiaries, for persons of both sexes living in the world. God abundantly blessed the new Order, and France, Italy, Spain, and England welcomed the Preaching Friars. Our Lady took them under Her special protection. During a debate with the heretics, a book by the Saint, defending Her Immaculate Conception, was thrown into the flames along with one by the heretics, to see whether one might be spared. Saint Dominic's was not injured, and many heretics were converted.

It was in 1208, while Saint Dominic knelt in the little chapel of Notre Dame de La Prouille, and implored the great Mother of God to save the Church, that Our Lady appeared to him and gave him the Rosary, bidding him to go forth and preach it. During the famous battles in southern France against the Albigensians, with his rosary in hand he revived the courage of the Catholic armies, led them to victory against overwhelming numbers, and finally subdued the heresy. His nights were spent in prayer; and, though all beheld him as an Angel of purity, before morning broke he would scourge himself to blood. His words rescued countless souls, and three times raised the dead to life. At length, on August 6, 1221, at the age of fifty-one, he gave up his soul to God.

Reflection: "God has never refused me what I have asked," said Saint Dominic. How could God refuse to respond to the single intention of His Saints, which is His own - the salvation and sanctification of souls? Saint Dominic has left us the Rosary that we may learn, with Mary's help, to ask what pleases God, and then to pray easily and simply with the same trust.


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Monday, August 5, 2019
: Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Snow
Monday, August 5, 2019

The DEDICATION of SAINT MARY of the SNOWS
(435)

There are in Rome three patriarchal churches in which, on different feast days, the Pope officiates. These are the Basilicas of Saint Peter on the Vatican Hill, Saint John Lateran, and Saint Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill. The last-named, the Liberian Basilica, was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated to the Virgin Mary by Sixtus III in the year 435, under the title of Saint Mary ad Nives, or at the snow, because the Mother of God Herself chose, and indicated by a miracle, its site to be that of Her first church in Rome.

In the fourth century a patrician by the name of John and his pious spouse had no children; already advanced in age and without heirs, they resolved to consecrate their wealth to the Most Blessed Virgin. They prayed in order to know how the Queen of Heaven would like them to use their fortune. On August 5, 366, She appeared to each of them in a dream and told them that Her Divine Son's and Her own will was that their wealth be employed in the construction of a church on Mount Esquiline, at a place which in the morning they would find covered with snow. They consulted together when the dawn broke, and went to the Pope at once to tell him what God had made known to them. He himself had had a similar dream and could not doubt that this was a celestial prodigy. He assembled the clergy and people, and all went in procession towards the indicated place, to verify the reality of the marvel. When they arrived on the hilltop, they saw an area covered with snow, extending over a space sufficient to build a vast church. It was built at the expense of the noble couple with great magnificence, and given the name of Saint Mary of the Snows.

The same Basilica is sometimes entitled Saint Mary ad Praesepe, of the Manger, from the holy crib or manger of Bethlehem, in which the Infant Jesus was laid at His birth. It was transported to Rome and kept in a sumptuous subterranean chapel of the church. Today this Basilica bears the name of Saint Mary Major, because it is, both by its beauty and its antiquity, the first of the numerous Roman churches dedicated to Mary.


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Tuesday, August 6, 2019
: Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The TRANSFIGURATION
of OUR LORD
(32)

Our divine Redeemer, being in Galilee the summer before His sacred Passion, took with Him Saint Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, Saint James and Saint John, and led them to the heights of a solitary mountain. Tradition assures us that this was Mount Tabor, which is exceedingly high and beautiful, and in those days was covered with green trees and shrubs. It rises alone in the midst of a vast plain of Galilee.

It is here that the God-Man appeared in His glory. While Jesus prayed, He permitted the glory which was always due to His sacred humanity - and of which for our sake, not to alarm us, He deprived it - to diffuse its brilliance over His whole body. His face was transfigured and shone as the sun, and His garments became white as snow. Moses and Elias were seen in His company by the three apostles on this occasion, and were heard discoursing with Him of the death which He was to suffer in Jerusalem. The three were wondrously delighted with this glorious vision, and Saint Peter cried out to Christ, "Lord, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three tents, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias."

While Saint Peter was speaking, suddenly there came a bright cloud from heaven, emblem of the presence of God's majesty, and from out of this cloud was heard a voice which said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him." By these words, God made known that in Christ they must recognize the One He had foretold to Moses, saying: "I will raise up from among them a Prophet like you; I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them all I command Him. If anyone does not want to hear the words that this Prophet will speak in My Name, it is to Me that he will have to answer for it." (Deut. 18:18-19) When the Jews asked John the Baptist if he was the Prophet, this was the Expected One they referred to. The apostles understood perfectly now what these words meant; the prophecy was known to all who listened to the Scriptures read each week in their synagogues. Hearing this voice, they were nonetheless seized with a sudden fear, and fell upon the ground; but Jesus, going to them, touched them, and bade them rise. They immediately did so, and saw no one but Jesus standing there in His ordinary state. This vision happened during the night. As they went down the mountain early the next morning, Jesus forbade them to tell anyone what they had seen, before He had risen from the dead.

Reflection: From the contemplation of this glorious mystery we ought to conceive a true idea of future happiness. If this idea enters our souls, we will think nothing of the difficulties or labors we meet with here, but will regard with great indifference all the goods and evils of this life, provided we obtain our portion in the kingdom of God's glory.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2019
: St. Cajetan, C
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

SAINT CAJETAN of THIENA
Founder
(1480-1547)

Saint Cajetan was born in 1480 at Vicenza near Venice in Italy, of the pious and noble family by the name of Thiena. His great-uncle, who bore the same name as himself and was a Canon of Padua, was considered to be the prince of the theologians of his century; and several prelates and cardinals, as well as governors of Milan and Naples, were of the same line. His parents dedicated Cajetan to our Blessed Lady. From childhood he was remarked for his obedience, his temperance, and his charity towards the poor.

A distinguished student, a veritable model for all his peers, he desired a higher perfection and left his native town, where he was in honor, to seek obscurity in Rome. There, however, Pope Julius II, perceiving his merit, named him an apostolic protonotary, a high office. He joined a certain Congregation or Confraternity known as that of Divine Love and, working with its members, introduced frequent Communion in their midst, and elsewhere through their influence. The Pope saw to his ordination, and he then offered many fervent Masses. About that time, on Christmas Eve at the Church of Saint Mary Major, when he entered the church he saw the Holy Mother; She came to him and placed Her divine Infant in his arms. It was also Saint Cajetan who later would introduce the Forty Hours' Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as an antidote to the heresy of Calvin.

He returned to Vicenza when his mother died, and began to seek out the sick poor and transport them to the Hospital of the Incurables or of Mercy, with which he had united the Congregation of Divine Love, established in that city also. He served the sick in the hospital himself. He placed himself under the direction of a holy Dominican priest, Father John Baptist de Crema, who not long afterwards told him he should go to Venice. His obedience was perfect in this sacrifice, which cost not only himself but those in his hospital many tears. At Venice too, he was needed in a hospital; and the Venetians in those days of luxury and licence, soon reformed what was not correct in their conduct to follow his holy examples.

To renew the lives of the clergy, in 1524, with Paul Caraffa, then Bishop of Theata or Chieti in the kingdom of Naples, who later would become Pope Paul IV, and with two other fervent Christians, Saint Cajetan founded the first group of Regular Clerics, since known as Theatines. All had deeply regretted the state of the Church at that time, and with ardor they devoted themselves to preaching, to the administration of the sacraments and the careful execution of the Church's rites and ceremonies.

When the Germans, under Constable Bourbon, sacked Rome, Saint Cajetan was barbarously scourged to extort from him imaginary riches; his only wealth was his good works, which he had long since securely stored in heaven. When the Saint was on his deathbed, resigned to the Will of God, happy to suffer to satisfy his love, and eager for death to attain to life, he again beheld the Mother of God, radiant with splendor and surrounded by ministering seraphim. Turning Her countenance full of majesty and sweetness upon him, She said, "Cajetan, My Son calls you. Let us go in peace." Worn out with toil and sickness, he went to his reward in 1547.

Reflection: Imitate Saint Cajetan's devotion to our Blessed Lady, by invoking Her aid before every work.


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Thursday, August 8, 2019
: St. Cyriacus, Largus & Smaragdus, MM
Thursday, August 8, 2019

SAINT CYRIACUS
Deacon and Martyr
and his COMPANIONS
Martyrs
(303)

Saint Cyriacus, born of a noble patrician family, embraced the Christian religion and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus. Diocletian was emperor at that time, assisted by Maximian, his favorite. The latter decided to build a beautiful palace for the emperor, with magnificent baths, and to make the Christians work at the construction. Among the new slaves were elderly gentlemen and persons of the highest rank, clerics and priests. The labor was hard and the food scanty. A Roman nobleman desired to relieve the sufferings of these laborers and sent four Christians with alms and encouragements; these were Saint Cyriacus, Saint Sisinius, Saint Largus and Saint Smaragdus. They pursued their charities at the risk of their lives, and they worked vigorously alongside those who were growing very weak. When Maximian heard of it, he had Saint Sisinius and an old gentleman whom he had helped, decapitated.

Saint Cyriacus was well known to Diocletian, who was fond of him. Suddenly Diocletian's daughter became possessed by a furious demon, and she announced that only Cyriacus could deliver her. Diocletian sent for him, and he cured her. She became a Christian like her mother, who is today Saint Serena. A short time later the daughter of the king of Persia also became possessed, and cried out like Diocletian's daughter that she could be delivered only by Cyriacus, who was in Rome. A message was sent to Diocletian, who asked his wife to persuade the deacon to go to Persia for this purpose. He did so with his two remaining Christian companions, and again cast out the demon, thus bringing about the conversion of the king, his family and four hundred persons, whom he baptized. The three confessors returned to Rome, having refused all compensation for their services, saying that they had received the gifts of God gratuitously and wished to share them gratuitously, not deriving profit from them. The barbarous Maximian, hearing of their return in 303, had them seized, imprisoned and tortured, and finally decapitated with twenty other courageous Christians. Their bodies were first buried near the place of their execution on the Salarian Way, but were later removed to the city. An abbey in France, at Altorf in Alsace, possesses relics of Saint Cyriacus and bears his name.

Reflection: To honor the martyrs and duly celebrate their feasts, we must learn their spirit and study to imitate them according to our state of life. We must, like them, resist evil, subdue our passions, suffer afflictions with patience, and bear with others without murmuring or complaining. The cross is the ladder by which we must ascend to heaven.


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Friday, August 9, 2019
: St. John Vianney, C
Friday, August 9, 2019

SAINT JOHN VIANNEY
Curé of Ars, Confessor
(1786-1859)

It has been said of more than one person, of more than one Saint, that they were the prodigies of their century. This is perhaps true of no one more than of the Curé of Ars. This man, who was so remarkably humble, for about thirty years saw the whole world, as it were, attentive to his virtues, the entire Christian world at his feet. He is certainly a marvel of the pastoral apostolate and sanctity.

Born three years before the French Revolution into a humble and profoundly Christian family, at Dardilly near Lyons, he was at first a little shepherd, occupied also with the cultivation of the land. From his earliest years he was noted for his candor, piety, love for the Blessed Virgin, and charity for the poor. He desired to become a priest and reached the altar through his piety rather than through his talents. Lack of schooling during the Revolution had made Latin grammar virtually inaccessible to his best efforts. The bishop asked, however, whether he was pious; and when he heard that he said his Rosary like an Angel, ordained him.

After a few years of parish work as an Assistant Pastor, in 1817 he was placed in charge of the parish of Ars, a small village considered backward and scarcely half-Christian. On his way there, solitary and in poverty, when he saw in the distance the steeple of the church, he knelt and prayed God to bless his ministry. His first concern was to visit his parishioners, and he soon won them over by his far-from-ordinary virtue. To their indifference to religion, then, a profoundly Christian spirit succeeded, and one saw the Lord's day observed to perfection; under the influence of a Saint, the parish of Ars became like a religious community. Word of this transformation passed from one person to another and soon, from many surrounding regions people came to hear him, enter humbly into the confessional, and obtain miracles. These he attributed to Saint Philemena, whose tomb had recently been discovered, and whom he called his dear little Saint. He was very attentive to the beauty of the sanctuary, to the preparation of his sermons, and to the orphanage which he founded; no application was excessive where these were concerned. For himself he was unsparing, sleeping in a damp basement and persecuted there incessantly by the devil. The villagers themselves became aware of his terrible combats with the one he called the "grappin" - literally a sharp-pronged anchor - the fitting name he gave the ancient enemy.

Ten years later, the reputation of this humble country priest had spread over Europe, and from everywhere there came impious scoffers, unbelievers, and libertines, as well as fervent Christians and those in sorrow; the former were converted by the thousands, the latter consoled and strengthened for their combats. He spent ordinarily from sixteen to eighteen hours daily in the confessional, in winter with his feet on an unheated stone floor; and the rest of his time in preaching, prayer, and teaching catechism in the church. He died at the advanced age of 84, despite his unrelenting penance and long-standing rheumatism, and loved "by the whole world."

Reflection: Let us pray for holy priests to bring the world on its knees to its Saviour. No intention is more important than this one. The Curé of Ars will pray with us, if we ask him to do so, and protect the sacerdotal race from the unending, unrelenting dangers which threaten it everywhere.


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: Abstinence
Friday, August 9, 2019

Saturday, August 10, 2019
: St. Lawrence, M
Saturday, August 10, 2019

SAINT LAWRENCE
Deacon and Martyr
(258)

Saint Lawrence was Chief of the seven deacons of Rome. In the year 258 Pope Sixtus was led out to die, and Saint Lawrence followed beside him, weeping because unable to share his fate. "Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, holy pontiff, without your deacon? Never did you offer a sacrifice without my serving you at the altar. In what way have I displeased you?" The holy Pope comforted him with the words, "I am not abandoning you, my son; a more difficult trial and a more glorious victory are reserved for you; in three days you will follow me."

This prophecy was fulfilled. After the Pope's martyrdom the prefect of the city, knowing the rich offerings which the Christians put into the hands of the clergy, demanded the treasures of the Roman Church from Lawrence, their guardian. The Saint promised to show him, at the end of three days, riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire. He was granted the time of delay. The Archdeacon of Rome went about assembling the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful, and he brought them to the prefect on the appointed day. "Behold the treasures I promised you; I add pearls and precious stones - these virgins and widows consecrated to God; the Church has no other riches." The prefect replied: "How dare you play games with me, miserable one? Is this how you show your contempt for the imperial power?"

Christ, whom Lawrence had served in His poor, gave him strength in the conflict which ensued. After being placed on the rack, he was stretched on a grill over a slow fire. He joked about his pains. "I am roasted enough on this side," he said, "perhaps you should turn me over." Soon, his gaze towards heaven, he gave up his soul to God. He was buried in the catacomb near the Tiburtine Way, called the Verano Field, a little over a mile from the city walls. The faithful watched there for three days to mourn their holy Archdeacon who had been so good to them. God, by the glory of this holy martyr, demonstrates the value He sets upon love for the poor. Innumerable prayers were offered at his tomb. Saint Lawrence continued from his throne in heaven his charity to those in need, granting them, as Saint Augustine says, "the smaller graces which they sought, and leading them to the desire of better gifts."

Reflection: Our Lord appears before us in the persons of the poor. Charity to them is a great sign of predestination. It is almost impossible, the holy Fathers assure us, for any one who is charitable to the poor, above all for Christ's sake, to perish.


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Sunday, August 11, 2019
Sunday, August 11, 2019

: Sts. Tiburtius & Susanna, MM
Sunday, August 11, 2019
SAINT TIBURTIUS
Martyr
(286)

A certain pagan prefect of Rome, by the name of Agrestius Chromatius, saw arrive before his tribunal a holy man named Tranquillinus. The prefect had already condemned a number of Christians to martyrdom, among them the twin brothers, Marcus and Marcellianus; but when Saint Tranquillinus, who was their father, told him how he had recovered from the gout through his baptism, Chromatius listened to him. He himself had the same malady. He sent for a priest, and he too was freed from his infirmity when baptized. He then liberated 400 slaves and retired to a country home, where he sheltered many Christians who feared they could not resist tortures during the persecutions.

Saint Tiburtius, whom the Church honors today, was the son of Chromatius, and was baptized with him. He was later ordained a subdeacon, and one day raised to life a man whom he found on the ground, his body broken by a fall from the upper story of a residence. Under Diocletian, Tiburtius was betrayed to the persecutors by an unfaithful Christian. He courageously confessed his ardent faith, saying, "I sacrifice only to one God, the Creator of the world, who reigns over heaven and earth, and my greatest desire is to be immolated and sacrificed myself for this confession." After being condemned to walk on hot coals, which he did without suffering any pain, he was beheaded at a site three miles from Rome. A church was afterward built at this site and named for him.


SAINT SUSANNA
Martyr
(286)

Saint Susanna was nobly born in Rome, the daughter of a certain Gabinius, who after his conversion became a priest; she was also the niece of Pope Saint Caius, her father's brother. This family was also related to the emperor Diocletian. Susanna's father had raised her with great care in the fear of God and love of Jesus Christ, and she had made a private vow of virginity. Diocletian, wishing to obtain the consent of this very beautiful maiden to marry his favorite, Maximian, sent a certain Claudius, another member of her family, to propose the espousals. She refused to consent, making known to her father and Saint Caius her vow, and saying that even if she had not resolved to conserve her chastity, she would not wish to marry a man responsible for the massacre of an infinite number of Christians. The Emperor's messenger was converted by her confession of faith, and became a fervent penitent.

When Diocletian received no answer from his messenger concerning the results of the commission, and then learned of the conversion of Claudius, he was very irritated; then with Claudius he arrested Suzanne, Gabinius her father, and several other Christians. He had Suzanne beaten in her residence, then decapitated secretly. The emperor's wife, Prisca, who was also a Christian in secret, buried her body clandestinely and prayed to her as a holy martyr. Later the house of Gabinius was transformed by Pope Saint Caius into a church; it eventually became a convent for Cistercian nuns. Saint Susanna suffered towards the beginning of Diocletian's reign, about the year 295.

Reflection: Sufferings were to the martyrs extraordinary graces, and sources of the greatest crowns and glory. All afflictions which God sends are His greatest mercies and blessings. They are precious talents which we must make fruitful, to increase our love and affection for God. They are exercises for the most heroic virtues of self-denial, patience, humility, resignation, and penance.


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Monday, August 12, 2019
: St. Clare, V
Monday, August 12, 2019

SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI
Foundress and Abbess
(1194-1253)

On Palm Sunday, March 19, 1212, a maiden eighteen years of age left her rich and noble family to retire for her reception as a religious to the little church of the Portiuncula. This maiden was Saint Clare. Already she had learned from Saint Francis to scorn the world, and was secretly resolved to live for God alone. There she was met by Saint Francis and his brethren, and at the altar of Our Lady, Saint Francis cut off her hair, clothed her in the habit of penance, a piece of sackcloth, with a cord as a cincture. Thus was she espoused to Christ. Saint Francis placed her for the moment in a Benedictine convent.

It was in a tiny house outside Assisi that she founded her Order. Two weeks after Clare's consecration, her sister Agnes left home secretly to go to join her, at the age of fourteen years. Agnes succeeded in her intention, despite their father's strong opposition and a convoy of twelve men who attempted to take her back home by force. While Clare prayed in the convent, Agnes became so heavy they were unable to move her. Later their mother and other noble ladies joined them. They went barefoot, observed perpetual abstinence, constant silence, and perfect poverty.

Saint Clare is celebrated for a miracle which occurred when the Saracen army of Frederick II was ravaging the valley of Spoleto. A legion of infidels advanced to assault the convent outside Assisi. The Saint, who was ill in the infirmary, rose and went, supported by her religious, to the door of the convent; there she had the Blessed Sacrament placed in a monstrance above the gate of the monastery facing the enemy. She knelt before it and prayed, "Deliver not to beasts, O Lord, the souls of those who confess Your Name!" A voice from the Host replied, "My protection will never fail you." A sudden panic seized the infidel army, which took flight; and the Saint's convent was spared.

Although Saint Clare herself never left her monastery of Saint Damian, her Order spread in many places not only in Europe but elsewhere, and some four thousand convents, divided into several branches, shelter her disciples. Many Saints have come from these, especially from the groups which have maintained the original absolute poverty of her Constitutions. The Sisters of the original Order live by charity, and their convents possess nothing. Saint Clare died in 1253, as the Passion was being read, and Our Lady and the Angels conducted her to glory.


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Tuesday, August 13, 2019
: Sts. Hippolytus & Cassian, MM
Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Wednesday, August 14, 2019
: Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019
: 8th Sunday after Pentecost
Thursday, August 15, 2019

The ASSUMPTION
of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
( ca. 57 A.D.)

On this great feast day the Church commemorates the happy departure from mortal life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Her translation into the kingdom of Her Son, where He crowned Her with immortal glory and enthroned Her above all the other Saints and heavenly spirits.

After the triumphant Conqueror of hell and death ascended into heaven, His blessed Mother had remained at Jerusalem, persevering in prayer with the disciples, until She received with them the Holy Ghost. She desired to assist the Church in its beginnings, and Her prayer was granted. It is generally believed that She lived for a good many years, until the age of 72 or 73. This supposition is based on the fact that Saint Dennis the Areopagite, who was converted by Saint Paul in the year 54, visited Her not long afterward, according to his own narration. That account is judged authentic by reliable authorities, among them Saint Thomas Aquinas. Finally She paid voluntarily the debt of fallen human nature to God, although like Adam at his creation, She was entirely innocent and exempt from the penalty of the painful separation of soul and body incurred by death. She might have been transported alive to Heaven, but chose instead to die, as Her Son also had chosen to die. If the death of the Saints is called a sweet sleep, how much more does the Dormition of the Queen of Saints, exempt from all sin, merit that name?

It is a traditional belief of the Holy Church that the body of the Blessed Virgin was raised up by God on the third day, and introduced at once into glory by a singular privilege. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the consummation of the other great mysteries by which Her life was supremely admirable; it is Her true birthday and the crowning of all Her incomparable virtues which we admire singly in Her other festivals.

Reflection: While we contemplate in profound sentiments of veneration, astonishment, and praise, the glory to which Mary is raised by Her triumph on this day, we ought, for our own advantage, to consider by what means She arrived at this sublime degree of honor and happiness, that we may walk in Her footsteps as God intends. For Mary is imitable in Her daily life. The same path which conducted Her to glory will lead us there; we shall be sharers of Her reward if we imitate Her virtues. Let us ask ourselves in all situations what She might have done, and act accordingly.


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: Holy Day of Obligation
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019
: St. Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, C
Friday, August 16, 2019

SAINT JOACHIM
Father of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
( ca. 7 B.C.)

Joachim, of the tribe of Juda and the family of David, was a shepherd of Nazareth. Stolanus, father of Saint Anne, gave him his pious daughter in marriage. The two spouses lived in the fear of the Lord and the practice of good works. They divided all their wealth into three parts: the first was regularly given to the temple, for its support and that of the ministers of religion; they gave the second part to the poor, while the last and least excellent served for the needs of the family. Nonetheless, happiness had not come to this home - the spouse of Joachim was sterile.

For twenty years already they had prayed to God to deliver them from this opprobrium. The holy couple invariably went, according to custom at the Feast of Tabernacles, to the Holy City. There the high priest was immolating the victims when Joachim presented himself in his turn, bearing a lamb; Anne followed him. The high priest had only words of contempt and reproach for them, and in the presence of the people he rejected their offering.

Joachim did not have the heart to return to Nazareth; his grief prompted him to seek solitude and prayer. Anne returned alone to their residence, and he retired to a region near Jerusalem, where shepherds were pasturing their sheep. The silent calm of pastoral life, brought some relief to the wound of his heart. Who has not known how solitude brings one closer to God?

One day when he was alone in the fields, the Angel Gabriel came and stood before him. Joachim prostrated himself, trembling with fear. "Do not fear," said the heavenly messenger. "I am the Angel of the Lord, and it is God Himself who sends me. He has heard your prayers; your alms have come before His presence. Anne, your spouse, will bear a daughter whose happiness will be above that of other women; She will be blessed, and named the Mother of eternal blessing. You will name the Child Mary and consecrate Her to God when the time comes. The Holy Spirit, from the time She is in the womb of Her mother, will dwell in Her soul, and He will accomplish in Her great things." With those words, the Angel disappeared.

The Archangel's announcement and the Lord's promise were fulfilled. Joachim in his turn was faithful to the commands of the Lord. His daughter received the name of Mary, and when She was three years old, he and Saint Anne entrusted Her to the pious women who in the temple of Jerusalem brought up young girls consecrated to the Lord. Mary had lived there under the gaze of God for eight years, when Joachim died, laden with merits and virtues. Anne, his spouse, had him buried in the Valley of Josaphat, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane, and one year later rejoined him there.


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: Abstinence
Friday, August 16, 2019

Saturday, August 17, 2019
: St. Hyacinth, C
Saturday, August 17, 2019

SAINT HYACINTH
Missionary Preacher and Thaumaturge
(1257)

Saint Hyacinth, named the glorious Apostle of the North, was born of noble parents in Poland, about the year 1185. In 1218, as a Canon of Cracow he accompanied the bishop of that region to Rome. There he met Saint Dominic and soon afterward was one of the first to receive the habit of the Friar Preachers, in a group clothed by the patriarch himself. He became a living copy of his dear master. The church was his only chamber, and the ground his only bed. So wonderful was his progress in virtue that within a year Dominic sent him with a small group to preach and plant the Order in Poland, where he founded two houses.

His apostolic journeys extended over numerous and vast regions. Austria, Bohemia, Livonia, the shores of the Black Sea, Tartary, Northern China in the east, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to the west, were evangelized by him, and he is said to have visited Scotland. Everywhere he traveled unarmed, without a horse, with no money, no interpreters, no furs in the severe winters, and often without a guide, abandoning to Divine Providence his mission in its entirety. Everywhere multitudes were converted, churches and convents were built; one hundred and twenty thousand pagans and infidels were baptized by his hands. He worked many miracles; at Cracow he raised a dead youth to life. He had inherited from Saint Dominic a perfect filial confidence in the Mother of God; to Her he ascribed his success, and to Her aid he looked for his own salvation. It was at the request of this indefatigable missionary that Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote his famous philosophical Summa contra Gentiles, proving the reasonableness of the Faith on behalf of those unfamiliar with doctrine.

While Saint Hyacinth was at Kiev the Tartars sacked the town, but it was only as he finished Mass that the Saint heard of the danger. Without waiting to unvest, he took the ciborium in his hands, and was leaving the church. Then occurred the most famous of his countless prodigies. As he passed by a statue of Mary a voice said: "Hyacinth, My son, why do you leave Me behind? Take Me with you..." The statue was of heavy alabaster, but when Hyacinth took it in his arms it was light as a reed. With the Blessed Sacrament and the statue he walked to the Dnieper river, and crossed dry-shod over the surface of the waters to the far bank.

On the eve of the Assumption, 1257, he was advised of his coming death. In spite of an unrelenting fever, he celebrated Mass on the feast day and communicated as a dying man. He was anointed at the foot of altar, and died on the great Feast of Our Lady.

Reflection: Saint Hyacinth teaches us to spare no effort in the service of God, but to rely for success not on our industry but on the assistance and prayer of His Immaculate Mother.


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Sunday, August 18, 2019
Sunday, August 18, 2019

: St. Agapitus, M
Sunday, August 18, 2019
SAINT AGAPETUS
Martyr
(274)

Saint Agapetus suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome. He had dared to reproach for his cruelty towards the Christians, one of the Emperor Aurelian's favorites, who immediately gave the order to arrest him. He was flogged with leaden-tipped straps and "scorpions"; his constancy and his prayer under torture converted five hundred pagans, who declared themselves Christians and were executed at once. The young martyr was thrown into a horrible prison where a celestial vision fortified him. After a second questioning, he was again scourged, then laid upon the rack that his body might be torn with iron nails.

He still lived and was again ordered to sacrifice to Apollo; his refusals won for him still more torments: live coals on his head, suspension by his feet, boiling water poured over him. His courage was superhuman, his answers admirable. Wild beasts in the arena spared him and lay down at his feet, and still more pagans were converted. He was finally beheaded, and his body buried by the Christians, in a field where they found a new tomb prepared as though for his sepulchre. Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name.


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Monday, August 19, 2019
: St. John Eudes, C
Monday, August 19, 2019

SAINT JOHN EUDES
Founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity
(1601-1680)

Saint John Eudes, forerunner of devotion both to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was born in 1601, some time after France had been torn apart by the revolt of the Huguenots. The rebels were calmed but relegated to western France by King Henry IV, after he himself returned to the Catholic faith. It was in that region that this young Saint spent his childhood, at Argentan in Normandy, and was educated with the Jesuits of Caen. The father of this firstborn of a family of solid and profound virtue, had himself desired the sacerdotal life, and he did not long oppose John's desire to consecrate himself to God as a priest. At eighteen years of age Saint John had already composed a treatise on voluntary abnegation, which his confessor obliged him to publish. He was ordained in Paris as a member of the recently founded French Oratory of Saint Philip Neri; his teachers there were Fathers de Berulle and de Condren, two unsurpassed spiritual directors. The governing theme of his meditation, his preaching and his writings was the importance of the redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, through the intermediary of His Immaculate Mother. Controversy was not lacking in those days, when the Mother of God had been relegated to a very secondary if not insignificant role by the reformers, and Saint John did not fear controversy. He chose to study both theology and what we would call debate, as essential preparations for his calling. In those days seminaries were scarce; aspiring future priests themselves sought out the instruction they needed.

At Caen a pestilence broke out and soon decimated the populace, often deprived of spiritual assistance. John Eudes offered to care for them in person, and while the scourge lasted slept outdoors in a field, in an old barrel, to protect his brothers in religion from contagion. In 1639 he was named Superior of the Oratory of Caen by Father de Condren, although the Superior General feared that office could interfere with his missions, from which they hoped for great renovation in western France. Nonetheless, from 1638 until 1642, Saint John, with his brethren in religion, was engaged in preaching missions in the dioceses of Bayeux and Lisieux, where the bishops encouraged him and soon were praising him highly. The fruits of these missions were rich and long-lived. Father Eudes was a follower of Saint Vincent de Paul in his ardent desire to evangelize the poor folk, so long neglected, and it was to the people that the preaching of the Oratorian missionaries was addressed. Their missions lasted for several weeks. "Otherwise," said Saint John, "we put a bandage on the wound, but do not heal it." Processions, hymns, little religious plays, special conferences for specific groups, organization of leagues against duels and blasphemy, and visits to the sick occupied the missionaries' very full days.

Saint John Eudes left the Oratory, a Society of priests which he loved sincerely, like other founders who have been in a similar position, because he was called by God to break new ground in establishing a group of priests without religious vows, destined to occupy posts in the new seminaries of France. The Council of Trent had commanded these establishments everywhere, ordaining that priests be formed to head parishes and to establish in each of them a school. Already in 1658 Saint John himself had founded four seminaries in Normandy - at Caen, Coutances, Lisieux and Rouen. Before the Revolution in France, the Eudists had accepted the responsibility for sixteen seminaries or minor seminaries. This required a foundation in depth in theology and all pastoral duties. Some of his former brethren turned against him when he left them, and he met obstacles also when founding in Caen a Congregation of women to raise up poor girls led astray by ignorance or need. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity founded by Saint John, parent body of the Good Shepherd nuns, have done an immense good in many countries. The Congregation of Jesus and Mary has sent missionary priests to several countries, all over the world. Saint John Eudes, who died in 1680, was beatified in 1909 by Saint Pius X, and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.


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Tuesday, August 20, 2019
: St. Bernard, AbD
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

SAINT BERNARD
Abbot of Clairvaux
(1090-1153)

Bernard was born at the castle of Fontaines, in Burgundy near Dijon, in 1090. The grace of his person and the vigor of his intellect filled his parents with the highest hopes, and the world lay bright and smiling before him. But Bernard renounced it forever to join the monks of Citeaux, a few miles distant. Four of his brothers and a group of friends, thirty young Christians in all, went when he did to Citeaux, leaving the youngest brother, Nivard, to be the mainstay of his father in his old age. "You will now be heir to everything," they said to him as they departed. "Yes," said the boy; "you leave me the earth, and keep heaven for yourselves; do you consider that fair?" And he too left the world. At length their aged father came also, exchanging wealth and honor for the poverty of a monk in the monastery of Clairvaux, which Bernard with a band of monks founded in the diocese of Langres in 1115. One sister alone remained behind; she was married, and loved the world and its pleasures. Splendidly clothed, one day she came to visit Bernard, and he refused to see her. He finally consented to do so, not as her brother but as the minister of Christ. The words he then spoke moved her so deeply that two years later she retired to a convent with her husband's consent, dying later in the reputation of sanctity.

Bernard's holy example attracted so many novices that many other monasteries had to be built. Unsparing for himself, he at first expected too much of his monks, who were disheartened by his severity. Soon perceiving his error, he led them forward to wonderful perfection by the sweetness of his correction and the mildness of his government.

In spite of his desire to remain secluded, the fame of his sanctity spread far and wide, and many dioceses asked for him as their bishop. Through the help of Pope Eugenius III, his former subject, he escaped this dignity. Nonetheless, his retirement was continually invaded. The poor and the weak sought his protection; bishops, kings, and popes applied to him for advice; and at length Pope Eugenius himself ordered him to preach the crusade. By his fervor, eloquence, and miracles Bernard kindled the enthusiasm of Christendom, and two large armies were organized. Their defeat was only due, said the Saint, to their sins, but many had saved their souls by their dedication to the glory of God. Bernard died in 1153. His very precious writings have earned for him the title of the last Father of the Holy Church and one of its most famous Doctors.

Reflection: Saint Bernard used to say to those who applied for admission to the monastery, "If you desire to enter here, leave at the threshold the body you have brought with you from the world; here there is room only for your soul." Every day he asked himself the question: "Why have you come here, Bernard?"



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Wednesday, August 21, 2019
: St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Vid
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

SAINT JANE FRANCES de CHANTAL
Foundress of the Order of the Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary
(1572-1641)

At the age of sixteen, Jane Frances de Fremyot, already a motherless child, was placed under the care of a worldly-minded governess. In this crisis she offered herself to the Mother of God, and secured Mary's protection for life. When a Protestant sought her hand in marriage, she steadily refused to marry "an enemy of God and His Church." Later, as the loving and beloved wife of the noble Baron de Chantal, she made her house the pattern of a Christian home. But God had marked her for something higher than domestic sanctity. Two children and a dearly beloved sister died, and then, in the full tide of their prosperity, her husband's life was ended by an accident, through the innocent hand of a friend, when a small group went hunting in the forest.

For seven years the sorrows of her widowhood were increased by ill usage from servants and inferiors, and the cruel importunities of those who urged her to marry again. Harassed almost to despair by their entreaties, she branded on her heart the name of Jesus, and in the end left her beloved home and children, to live for God alone. It was on the 19th of March, 1609, that Madame de Chantal bade farewell to her family and relatives. Pale and with tears in her eyes, she passed around the large room, sweetly and humbly taking leave of each one. Her son, a boy of fifteen, used every entreaty, every endearment, to induce his mother not to leave them, and finally flung himself passionately across the doorsill of the room. In an agony of distress, she passed over the body of her son to the embrace of her aged and disconsolate father. The anguish of that parting reached its height when, kneeling at the feet of the venerable old man, she sought and obtained his last blessing, promising to repay his sacrifice in her new life by her prayers.

Well might Saint Francis de Sales call her "the valiant woman." She founded under his direction and patronage the great Order of the Visitation. Sickness, opposition and want beset her, and the deaths of children, friends, and of Saint Francis himself followed, while eighty-seven houses of the Visitation rose under her hand. Nine long years of interior desolation completed the work of God's grace in her soul. The Congregation of the Visitation, whose purpose was to admit widows and persons of fragile health, not accepted elsewhere, was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday of 1610. The Order counted thirteen houses already in 1622, when Saint Francis de Sales died; and when the Foundress died in her seventieth year, there were eighty-six. Saint Vincent de Paul saw her soul rise up, like a ball of fire, to heaven. At her canonization in 1767, the Sisters in 164 houses of the Visitation rejoiced.

Reflection: Profit by the successive trials of life to gain the strength and courage of Saint Jane Frances, and difficulties will become stepping stones from earth to heaven.


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Thursday, August 22, 2019
: Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Thursday, August 22, 2019

The IMMACULATE HEART of MARY

In 1917 the Mother of God appeared six times at Fatima in Portugal. After showing the three children a vision of hell, She informed Lucy of Fatima, the oldest of the visionaries: "You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners will go. To save them, the Lord desires to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart in the world." The Saviour Himself, when He appeared to Lucy again on December 10, 1925 with His Mother, indicating with His hand the Heart of His Mother, said: "Have pity on this gentle Heart, continually martyred by the ingratitude of men."

Christians have long known that at the very origin of the world God threatened the ancient enemy, disguised under the form of a serpent, that the Woman he had seen in vision with Her Son, the Son of God, would eventually crush his head. "I Myself," God told him, "will place an irreducible enmity between Her race and your race." Thus Satan was informed at that moment, after he had just seduced the first human couple, that in the end, it would be this other Woman and Her Son, who would vanquish him. He had refused to honor the incarnate Son of God in His future human nature, inferior to his own angelic nature; his pride would not permit him to abase himself to serve God in that form. Christian hope has been nourished ever since by the prospect of this victory; nonetheless, the Mother of God wanted the twentieth century from its early years to understand that the time was drawing near when Her Immaculate Heart would triumph, as She explicitly said at Fatima, but that it was only through Her, uniquely by Her maternal aid, that this victory could be attained.

Mary is indispensable to the sanctification of each soul. This is the great truth which in the Latter Times must be better understood. For that purpose, consecration to Her Immaculate Heart was given us at Fatima, as the means She Herself desired, with the daily Rosary. Devotion to Her Heart is not new in the Church; Saint John Eudes, Saint Louis Mary de Montfort, how many others, in truth all the Saints have loved the Heart of their Mother in Heaven. But to know Her well, each one must individually establish the relationship of a child with its loving Mother. For this purpose She asks for our personal and effective consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. The child of Mary turns to Her constantly for counsel, force and courage, gentleness and humility in the affairs of daily life. Many prayers of consecration to Mary exist, in particular that of Montfort; but one may use any simple formula such as the following: "Blessed and beloved Mother, I am Your child and I wish to belong to You; I give and consecrate myself forever to Your Immaculate Heart, renewing in Your hands my baptismal promises, and I ask You to ratify my filial homage to Your Immaculate Heart - that of my person and my activities, my temporal and spiritual goods, my resolution to have frequent recourse to Your maternal and merciful intercession. And, insofar as it is within my scope to do so, I offer You also my family, my homeland and all of humanity."


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Friday, August 23, 2019
: St. Philip Benizi, C
Friday, August 23, 2019

SAINT PHILIP BENIZI
Servite Priest
(1233-1285)

Saint Philip Benizi was born in Florence on the Feast of the Assumption, 1233. That same day the Order of Servites was founded by the Mother of God. As an infant one year old, Philip spoke when in the presence of these new religious, and announced the Servants of the Virgin. Amid all the temptations of his youth, he longed to become a Servant of Mary, and it was only the fear of his own unworthiness which made him yield to his father's wish and begin to study medicine. He received the bonnet of a doctor of medicine at Padua.

After long and weary waiting, his doubts were solved one day by Our Lady Herself, who in a vision during a Mass in Florence offered in the Servite Chapel, bade him enter Her Order. Still Philip dared only offer himself as a lay brother; and saying nothing of his studies, in this humble state he strove to do penance for his sins. Two Dominican Fathers traveling with him one day recognized the great talents, wisdom and knowledge which he had succeeded in concealing. They talked to his Superiors, and he was told to prepare for the priesthood. As a priest he did immense good. He pacified many dissensions, common among the city-states of those days. One day he met a leper, almost naked, and having no money gave him his tunic. When the leper put it on, he was instantly cured.

Thereafter honors were accorded him in rapid succession; he became General of the Order and only by flight did he escape elevation to the Papal throne; he retired to a grotto in the mountains until the conclave had ended. His preaching restored peace to Italy, wasted by civil wars. He was sent not only to various cities of that country but to the Netherlands and Germany, where he converted many, not without opposition and even a flogging by rebels. At the Council of Lyons, he spoke to the assembled prelates with the gift of tongues. Amid all these favors Philip lived in extreme penitence, constantly examining his soul before God, and condemning himself as only fit for hell.

Saint Philip, though he was free from every stain of mortal sin, was never weary of beseeching God's mercy. From the time he was ten years old he daily prayed the Penitential Psalms. On his deathbed he recited verses of the Miserere, his cheeks streaming with tears; during his agony he went through a terrible contest to overcome the fear of damnation. But a few minutes before he died, all his doubts disappeared and were succeeded by a holy trust. He uttered the responses to the final prayers in a low but audible voice; and when at last the Mother of God appeared before him, he lifted up his arms with joy and breathed a gentle sigh, as if placing his soul in Her hands. He died on the Octave of the Assumption, 1285.

Reflection: Endeavor so to act as you would wish to have acted when you stand before the Judge of your eternity. This is the rule of the Saints, and the only safe rule for all.


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: Abstinence
Friday, August 23, 2019

Saturday, August 24, 2019
: St. Bartholomew, Ap
Saturday, August 24, 2019

SAINT BARTHOLOMEW
Apostle and Martyr
( ca. 71)

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his given name, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, it would be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both in Hebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the two Apostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: "We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile." (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!"

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantaenus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew's last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he was condemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive, which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in use not only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.

Reflection: The characteristic virtue of the Holy Apostles was zeal for the divine glory. A soldier is always ready to defend the honor of his prince, and a son that of his father; can a Christian say he loves God if he is indifferent to His honor?


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Sunday, August 25, 2019
Sunday, August 25, 2019

: St. Louis, King, C
Sunday, August 25, 2019

SAINT LOUIS IX
King of France
(1215-1270)

The mother of the incomparable Saint Louis IX of France, Blanche of Castille, told him when he was still a child that she would rather see him dead in a coffin than stained by a single mortal sin. He never forgot her words. Raised to the throne and anointed in the Rheims Cathedral at the age of twelve, while still remaining under his mother's regency for several years, he made the defense of God's honor the aim of his life.

Before one year of their mutual sovereignty had ended, the Catholic armies of France, by a particular blessing, had crushed the Albigensians of the south who had risen up under a heretical prince, and forced them by stringent penalties to respect the Catholic faith. Amid the cares of government, the young prince daily recited the Divine Office and heard two Masses. The most glorious churches in France are still memorials to his piety, among them the beautiful Sainte Chapelle of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where the Crown of Thorns, the great relic which he brought back from the Holy Land, is enshrined. When his courtiers remonstrated with Louis for his law that blasphemers must be branded on the lips, he replied, "I would willingly have my own lips branded if I could thereby root out blasphemy from my kingdom." A fearless protector of the weak and the oppressed, a monarch whose justice was universally recognized, he was chosen to arbitrate in all the great feuds of his age.

In 1248, to rescue the land where Christ had walked, he gathered round him the chivalry of France, and embarked for the East. He visited the holy places; approaching Nazareth he dismounted, knelt down to pray, then entered on foot. He visited the Holy House of Nazareth and on its wall a fresco was afterwards painted, still visible when the House was translated to Loreto, depicting him offering his manacles to the Mother of God. Wherever he was: at home with his many children, facing the infidel armies, in victory or in defeat, on a bed of sickness or as a captive in chains, King Louis showed himself ever the same - the first, the best, and the bravest of Christian knights.

When he was a captive at Damietta, an Emir rushed into his tent brandishing a dagger red with the blood of the Sultan, and threatened to stab him also unless he would make him a knight. Louis calmly replied that no unbeliever could perform the duties of a Christian knight. In the same captivity he was offered his liberty on terms lawful in themselves, but enforced by an oath which implied a blasphemy, and although the infidels held their swords' points at his throat and threatened a massacre of the Christians, Louis inflexibly refused.
The death of his mother recalled him to France in 1252; but when order was re-established he again set out for a second crusade. In August of 1270 his army landed at Tunis, won a victory over the enemy, then was laid low by a malignant fever. Saint Louis was one of the victims. He received the Viaticum kneeling by his camp bed, and gave up his life with the same joy in which he had given all else for the honor of God.

Reflection: Saint Louis wrote to his oldest son Philip, heir to the crown: "I recommend to you before all else to apply yourself with all your heart to love God."


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Monday, August 26, 2019
: St. Zephyrinus, PM
Monday, August 26, 2019

SAINT ZEPHYRINUS
Pope and Martyr
(217)

Saint Zephyrinus, a native of Rome, succeeded Victor I in the pontificate in the year 198. In 202 Septimus Severus, a military despot, raised the fifth and most bloody persecution against the Church, which continued for nine years until the death of the emperor in 211. Until this furious storm ended, the holy pastor remained concealed for the sake of his flock, supporting and comforting the distressed disciples of Christ. He suffered by charity and compassion what every confessor underwent. The triumphs of the martyrs were indeed his joy, but his heart received many deep wounds from the fall of apostates and heretics. Nor did this latter affliction cease when peace was restored to the Church. The holy Pope had the affliction of witnessing the fall of Tertullian. He saw to his joy, however, the conversion of Natalis, who had become a heretical bishop when he lapsed into the Theodotian heresy. God, wishing to bring him back to the Church, sent him a solid correction which opened his eyes, and he came to kneel at the feet of the Vicar of Christ, wearing a hair shirt and humbly asking pardon for his revolt.

Eusebius tells us that this holy Pope exerted his zeal so strenuously against the blasphemies of the heretics, that they treated him with the utmost contempt. To his glory, however, they also called him the principal defender of Christ's divinity. Saint Zephyrinus governed the Church for nineteen years, dying in 217 as a martyr under Antoninus Caracalla. He was buried in his own cemetery on the 26th of August.

Reflection: God has always raised up holy pastors zealous to maintain inviolable the faith of His Church, and to watch over the purity of its morals and the sanctity of its discipline. We enjoy the greatest advantages of divine grace through their labors, and owe to God a tribute of perpetual thanksgiving and immortal praise for all the mercies He has accorded His Church.


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Tuesday, August 27, 2019
: St. Joseph Calasanctius, C
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS
Founder of the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists)
(1556-1648)

Saint Joseph Calasanctius was born in Aragon in 1556 of a noble family, who gave him a very Christian education. When only five years old, he led a troop of children through the streets to find the devil and slay him. He became a priest, and was engaged in various reforms when he heard a voice saying, "Go to Rome, Joseph" and had a vision of many children who were being taught by him and by a company of Angels. When he reached the Holy City, his heart was moved by the vice and ignorance of the children of the poor, and he saw clearly that ignorance was the mother of vice and misery. Sunday catechism lessons were insufficient to remedy the situation. When he could find no collaboration under the existing frameworks, the children's need mastered his profound humility, and he undertook to found personally the Order of Clerks Regular of the Pious Schools, or the Piarists.

The parish priest of Saint Dorothy's Church in Trastevere, placed two rooms at his disposition and assisted him in all things. Two other good priests joined the founders, and the school soon had several hundred children. He taught the children catechism, reading, writing and arithmetic, and he himself provided all that was necessary for the program of instruction, receiving nothing in payment. Other schools were organized elsewhere in Rome, and the holy priest had scholars of every rank under his care. Each lesson began with prayer. Every half-hour, piety was renewed by acts of faith, hope, and charity. At the end of the day the children were escorted home by the masters, so as to escape all harm on the way. An annual retreat was given them during the Easter season. Clement XIII approved the new Congregation, which became an Order with the ordinary three vows, and in addition a definitive commitment to the instruction of the indigent.

Enemies arose against Saint Joseph, however, from among his own subjects, thus imposing on the Founder the most sorrowful of all crosses, resembling that of the Lord Himself. They accused him to the Holy Office, and at the age of eighty-six he was led through the streets to prison. The Order was reduced to a simple Congregation under local episcopal authority and was not restored to its former privileges until after the Saint's death. Yet he died full of hope. "My work," he said, "was done solely for the love of God." Saint Joseph is the first to have given gratuitous instruction to the children of the people. Religion can claim for its own the instruction of the poor, both by birthright and by right of conquest. The body of Saint Joseph Calasanctius reposes in the church of Saint Pantaleon in Rome. He was canonized by Clement XIII in 1767.

Reflection: "My children," said the Curé of Ars, "I often think that most of the Christians who are lost are lost for want of instruction; they do not know their religion well."


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Wednesday, August 28, 2019
: St. Augustine, ECD
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

SAINT AUGUSTINE
Bishop of Hippo and Doctor of the Church
(354-430)

Saint Augustine was born in 354 at Tagaste in Africa. He was brought up in the Christian faith but did not receive baptism, result of the practice, common in the first centuries, of deferring it until adulthood. An ambitious schoolboy of brilliant talents and violent passions, he early lost both his faith and his innocence. He pursued with ardor the study of philosophy. He taught grammar, rhetoric and literature for nine years in his native town of Tagaste, and in Carthage. He persisted in his irregular life and doctrinal errors until he was thirty-two. Then one day, stung to the heart by the account of some sudden conversions, he cried out, "The unlearned rise and storm heaven, and we, with all our learning, for lack of courage lie inert!" The great heart of this future bishop was already evident.

When as a genial student of rhetoric, he was at Milan, where Saint Ambrose was bishop, Augustine tells us later in his autobiography, the Catholic faith of his childhood regained possession of his intellect, but he could not as yet resolve to break the chains of bad habit. His mother helped him to separate from the mother of his son, Adeodatus, who had died as a young man; and she, after this painful separation, retired for life to a convent, regretting that she had long enchained this soul of predilection. Augustine's mother, Saint Monica, died soon afterwards.

Urged also by a friend who had decided to adopt a celibate life, Saint Augustine took up a book of the Holy Scriptures, and read the Epistles of Saint Paul in a new light. A long and terrible conflict ensued, but with the help of grace the battle was won; he went to consult a priest and received baptism, returned to Africa and gave all he had to the poor. At Hippo, where he settled, he was consecrated bishop in 395. For thirty-five years he was the center of ecclesiastical life in Africa, and the Church's strongest champion against heresy. His writings, which compose many volumes, have been everywhere accepted as a major source of both Christian spirituality and theological speculation. The great Doctor died, deeply regretted by the entire Christian world, in 430.

Reflection: Read the lives of the Saints, and you will find yourself living amid company to whose standards you will be forced to raise, at least in some measure, your own in your daily life.


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Thursday, August 29, 2019
: Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Thursday, August 29, 2019

The BEHEADING of SAINT JOHN the BAPTIST
(31 A.D.)

Saint John the Baptist was called by God to be the precursor of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless, and to improve upon the extraordinary graces which he had received in his earliest infancy, he was directed by the Holy Spirit to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness. There he devoted himself to the continuous exercise of devout prayer and penance.

When Saint John was thirty years old, the faithful minister of the Lord began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the garments of penance, he announced to all men the obligation weighing upon them of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere compunction. He proclaimed the Messiah, who was of his own age but whom he had never seen, when one day Jesus came to be baptized by him in the Jordan. Saint John was received by the poor folk as the true herald of the Most High God, and his voice was, as it were, a trumpet sounding from heaven to summon all men to avert the divine judgments. Souls were exhorted by him to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of the mercy offered them.

When the tetrarch Herod Antipas, in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip who was yet living, Saint John the Baptist boldly reprimanded the tetrarch and his accomplice for so scandalous an adultery. Herod, motivated by his lust and his anger, cast the Saint into prison. About a year after Saint John had been made a prisoner, Herod gave a splendid entertainment to the official world of Galilee. Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod by her dancing, to the point that he made her the foolish promise of granting whatever she might ask. Salome consulted with her mother as to what to ask, and that immoral woman instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist, and that the head of the prisoner should be immediately brought to her on a platter. This barbaric request startled the tyrant himself; but governed by human respect he assented and sent a soldier of his guard to behead the Saint in prison. Thus died the great forerunner of our blessed Saviour, some two years after his entrance upon his public ministry, and a year before the death of the One he announced.

Reflection: All the signal graces with which Saint John was favored sprang from his humility; in that virtue all his other virtues were founded. If we desire to form ourselves to solid virtue, we must, above all things, labor to lay the same deep foundation.


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Friday, August 30, 2019
: St. Rose of Lima, V
Friday, August 30, 2019

SAINT ROSE of LIMA
Virgin
(1586-1617)

This lovely flower of sanctity, the first canonized Saint of the New World, was born at Lima, Peru, in 1586. She was christened Isabel, but the beauty of her infant face earned for her the title of Rose, which she thereafter bore. As a child still in the cradle, her silence during a painful surgical operation seemed to foretell the thirst for suffering which would consume her heart.

At an early age she engaged herself as a servant to support her impoverished parents, then worked day and night. In spite of hardships and austerities her beauty ripened with increasing age, and she was openly much admired. Fearing vanity would enter her heart, she cut off her hair, blistered her face with pepper and her hands with lime. She never left the interior of her parents' house in Canta, for four years, not even to walk in an inviting garden just beyond its walls. She finally obtained her parents' permission to be enrolled in the Third Order of Saint Dominic; from her childhood she had taken Saint Catherine of Siena as her model, and she then redoubled her penance. The Blessed Sacrament seemed virtually her only food. Her love for it was intense. Her fasting was near miraculous; during Lent in particular, she denied herself her former single piece of bread each day, to consume only a few orange seeds. Her disciplines were of an almost incredible severity, and her hair shirt reached from her shoulders to her wrists and knees; not satisfied with its rudeness, she armed it with iron nails.

The cell of Saint Rose was a garden hut, her couch a box of broken tiles. Concealed by her veil, a silver crown armed with ninety sharp points encircled her head. More than once, when she shuddered at the prospect of a night of torture, a voice said, "My cross was yet more painful." The demon tormented her for fifteen years with insupportable temptations; but God sustained His spouse against them, though she would gladly have died rather than live any longer in their clutches. When a Dutch fleet prepared to attack the city of Lima, Rose took her place before the tabernacle, and wept because she felt unworthy to die in its defense, as she hoped she might; the enemy weighed anchor soon afterwards and departed without attempting a siege. All of Saint Rose's sufferings were offered for the conversion of sinners, and the thought of the multitudes in hell was ever before her soul. She died in 1617, at the age of thirty-one.

Reflection: Rose, pure as driven snow, was filled with deepest contrition and humility, and did constant and terrible penance. Our sins are continual, our repentance passing, our contrition slight, our penance nothing. How will it fare with us?


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: Abstinence
Friday, August 30, 2019

Saturday, August 31, 2019
: St. Raymund Nonnatus, C
Saturday, August 31, 2019

SAINT RAYMUND NONNATUS
Religious of Our Lady of Mercy and Cardinal
(1204-1240)

Saint Raymund Nonnatus was born in Catalonia, Spain, in the year 1204. Motherless from infancy, in his childhood he seemed to find pleasure only in his devotions and serious duties. He chose the Blessed Virgin for his mother, almost as soon as the light of reason made this choice available to him. His father, perceiving in him an inclination to the religious state and unwilling to give up his son, took him from school and sent him to take care of a farm which he owned in the country. Raymund readily obeyed, and, in order to enjoy holy solitude, kept the sheep himself and spent his time in the mountains and forests in holy meditation and prayer. He found there an ancient hermitage containing a portrait of his Blessed Mother, and made this his asylum. There the devil found him and, assuming the disguise of a shepherd, attempted to turn him away from his devotions; but Raymund turned his back on his visitor and called Mary to his assistance. The sole name of the Mother of God caused the demon to disappear, and the hermit prostrated himself and blessed Her for Her assistance.

Some time afterward, he joined the new Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the redemption of captives, and was admitted to profession at Barcelona by the holy founder, Saint Peter Nolasco. Within two or three years after his profession, he was sent into Barbary with a considerable sum of money; in Algiers he purchased the liberty of a great number of slaves. When all his treasure was exhausted, he gave himself up as a hostage for the ransom of others, according to the Rule of his Order. This magnanimous sacrifice served only to exasperate the Moslems, who treated him with uncommon barbarity, until they began to fear that if he died in their hands, they would lose the ransom which had been asked for his deliverance. A crier announced in the streets that anyone who mistreated him would answer for it, if he died.

Therefore he was permitted to go abroad in the streets, which liberty he utilized to comfort and encourage the Christians in chains, and to convert and baptize certain Moslems. Learning of this, their pasha, furious, condemned him to be impaled, but his barbarous sentence was commuted at the insistence of those who had an interest in the ransom payments for the slaves he was replacing. He underwent instead a cruel bastinade, but that torment did not daunt his courage. So long as he saw souls in danger of perishing eternally, he thought he had yet done nothing.

Saint Raymund had no more money to employ in releasing poor captives; and to converse with those of the local beliefs on the subject of religion meant death. He enjoyed sufficient liberty nonetheless to continue the same endeavors, and he did so, hoping either for success or martyrdom. The governor, enraged, ordered our Saint to have his lips pierced and padlocked, then to be imprisoned until his ransom would be brought by members of his Order. He remained in jail for eight months before his brethren arrived with the required sum, sent by Saint Peter Nolasco.

Upon his return to Spain, he was nominated Cardinal by Pope Gregory IX, and the Pope called him to Rome. The Saint was on his way, but had gone no farther than Cardona when he was seized with a violent fever. He died on August 31, 1240, in his thirty-seventh year. His face in death became beautiful and radiant like that of Moses when he descended from the mountaintop, where he had spoken with God. A heavenly fragrance surrounded his body, and cures were effected on behalf of those who came and touched him.

Reflection: This magnanimous Saint gave not only his substance but his liberty, and exposed himself to the most cruel torments and death for the redemption of captives and the salvation of souls. But we, alas! do we not, merely to gratify our prodigality, vanity, or avarice, refuse to give even the superfluity of our possessions to the poor, who for want of it are perishing with cold and hunger? Let us not forget the terrible Judgment of the Last Day, awaiting those who neglect their brethren in need. (Cf. Matt. 25:31-46)


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