Traditional Catholic Calendar 2019
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Sunday, September 1, 2019
Sunday, September 1, 2019

: St. Giles, Ab
Sunday, September 1, 2019

SAINT GILES
Abbot
(640-720)

Saint Giles, whose name has been held in great veneration for many centuries in France and England, was born in the year 640 in Athens, and was of noble extraction. Certain remarkable works of medicine and poetry are attributed to him, but his knowledge was primarily that of the Saints.

When as a young man he met a poor beggar who was sick and half-naked, he was moved with compassion and gave him his splendid tunic; the moment the beggar put it on, he found himself in perfect health. By this miracle, Giles understood how pleasing almsgiving is to God, and shortly afterwards, he distributed all his goods to the poor and entered upon a life of poverty, suffering and humility. But Jesus Christ did not let Himself be outdone in generosity, and soon miracles multiplied so greatly in his wake, that the admiration of the world surrounded him. It became impossible for him to profit in his own country from obscurity and retirement, which he desired above all else. He therefore went to France and chose for his hermitage the open spaces of the south, near the mouth of the Rhone.

Soon he was known there, too, by the miracles his kindness brought down from heaven. He moved again, and this time Providence brought him near a hermit of Greek origin like himself; then the two rejoiced in a common life of the love of God. For two years they remained together, until the invasion of their solitude caused Giles to migrate to a deep forest of southeastern France, in the diocese of Nimes.

He passed many years in this intense solitude, living on wild herbs or roots and clear water, and conversing only with God. He was nourished there by a doe of the forest. One day, being pursued by Visigoths hunting in the forests, she fled for refuge to the Saint and lay down at his feet. Moved to tears, he prayed God to spare the life of the innocent animal. An arrow the hunters had sent in her direction came and lodged in his hand, making a wound which would never heal. When the hunters found the animal there and saw the bleeding wound of the gentle hermit, they begged his pardon on their knees, and the chase was ended. The Visigoth king, hearing of this, came to visit this holy hermit, accompanied by the bishop, who afterwards ordained Giles a priest.

The reputation of the sanctity of Saint Giles increased constantly by his many miracles, which rendered his name famous throughout France. He was highly esteemed by the pious king, but could not be prevailed upon to leave his solitude. He accepted several disciples, however, and established excellent discipline in the monastery which the king built for them. Destroyed during the invasions of the Moslems who had entered Spain, it was rebuilt during the lifetime of the founder and his disciples, when they returned after the torment. In succeeding ages, it became a flourishing abbey of the Benedictine Order, which bore his name.


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Monday, September 2, 2019
: St. Stephen, King, C
Monday, September 2, 2019

SAINT STEPHEN
King of Hungary
(977-1038)

The fourth Duke of the Huns of Hungary, by the name of Geysa, was converted to the Faith and baptized with his wife and several ministers. With the Christian missionaries, he labored to convince his pagan subjects of the divinity of this religion. His wife saw in a vision the protomartyr Saint Stephen, who told her they would have a son who would perfect the work already begun. This son, born in the year 977, was given the name of Stephen.

The little prince was baptized by Saint Adalbert, bishop of Prague, who preached to the Hungarians for a time, and was educated under the care of that bishop and a pious count of Italy.

When he was fifteen years old, his father gave him the commandment of his armies, seeing his virtue and Christian ardor. Already Stephen was beginning to root out idolatry and transform the pagan customs still existing among the people. At twenty years of age, he succeeded his good father, who died in 997. He suppressed a rebellion of his pagan subjects, and founded monasteries and churches all over the land. He sent to Pope Sylvester, begging him to appoint bishops to the eleven sees he had endowed, and to bestow on him, for the greater success of his work, the title of king. The Pope granted his requests, and sent him a cross to be borne before him, saying that he regarded him as the true apostle of his people.

Saint Stephen's devotion was fervent. He placed his realms under the protection of our Blessed Lady, and kept the feast of Her Assumption with great affection. He established good laws, and saw to their execution. Throughout his life, we are told, he had Christ on his lips, Christ in his heart, and Christ in all he did. His only wars were wars of defense, and in them he was always successful. He married the sister of the Emperor Saint Henry, who was a worthy companion for him. God sent him many grievous trials amid his successes; one by one his children died.

He often went out in disguise to exercise his charities; and one day a troop of beggars, not satisfied with the alms they received, threw him down, tore out handfuls of his hair and beard, and took his purse. He prayed to the Lord and thanked Him for an insult he would not have suffered from enemies, but accepted gladly from the poor who, he said to Him, "are called Your own, and for whom I can have only indulgence and tenderness." He bore all reversals with perfect submission to the Will of God.

When Saint Stephen was about to die, he summoned the bishops and nobles, and told them to choose his successor. He urged them to nurture and cherish the Catholic Church, which was still a tender plant in Hungary, to follow justice, humility, and charity, to be obedient to the laws, and to show at all times a reverent submission to the Holy See. Then, raising his eyes towards heaven, he said: "O Queen of Heaven, August Restorer of a prostrate world, to Thy care I commend the Holy Church, my people, and my realm, and my own departing soul." It was on his favorite feast day, the Assumption, that he died in peace, in the year 1038.


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Tuesday, September 3, 2019
: St. Pius X, PC
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

SAINT PIUS X
Pope
(1836-1914)

This canonized holy Pope of the twentieth century remains beloved by all as "the Pope of Frequent Communion." This is indeed a beautiful and fitting title, but we would like to stress here what is less known of his pontifical works - his battle to conserve the faith against those mining it from within.

Joseph Sarto, born in 1836 into a family poor in earthly goods but very rich in virtue, was the first living son of eight children, including six sisters. He soon found himself orphaned of his profoundly Christian father; Joseph had already announced his desire to become a priest, and his parents had approved. When his widowed mother continued to desire like himself this unique ambition of her son, their parish priest found financial aid for him.

He became an assistant priest in 1858, and in 1867 was named in charge of the large parish church of Salzano. His three unmarried sisters followed him, as they would do even to the Vatican. He was immediately appreciated by his parishioners, then seen as heroic when an epidemic of cholera broke out. An ecclesiastic who witnessed his activity wrote that "he was everywhere present. He buried the dead and confessed the sick; he saw to the needs of the various houses, he gave remedies if necessary, at all hours of the day and night. He did not permit his vicars to expose themselves to a danger associated with a duty which was first of all that of the parish priest. He inspired courage in all." His sisters tried in vain to moderate his zeal, but the Padre did not contract the disease, and continued to need only four hours of sleep all the time of his pastoral life. In 1875 he was named a Canon of the cathedral of Trevise, where he fulfilled the administrative and pastoral duties of that charge with a success that edified all concerned.

In Trevise Father Sarto learned of his nomination in 1884 as bishop of Mantua. He asked not to be received at Mantua by a brilliant reception, but that his diocesans come to the cathedral to pray with him and receive Communion. As bishop he taught catechism to the children and continued to visit the sick like a parish priest; and it seemed to them that it was his passage among them which cured them. He manifested a remarkable compassion for the working people. He defended a man who had calumniated him and who soon afterwards was ruined financially, and sent money anonymously to his wife.

In 1891 he became Patriarch of Venice, and never was there one more appreciated than Monsignor Sarto after his arrival. Twelve years there confirmed the inhabitants' profound affection and respect for him, until in 1903 his final promotion came about at the death of Leo XIII. He was chosen to replace him in the Vatican in that year, as Vicar of Christ.

He saw with perfect perspicacity that the Church was falling ever more deeply into the disastrous errors of modernism, that "crossroads of every heresy." The teachings of his predecessors had entered into deaf ears; everywhere defenders of the Catholic heritage in all domains were becoming sparse. Nonetheless there remained a group of them to second their Head, and strive with him to arrest the rising tide. Saint Pius X absolutely supported all that the great encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius IX had proclaimed or enjoined upon the authorities of the Church. He brought about the resignation of a considerable number who resisted that authority and who in ambiguous language continued to promulgate the subtle errors propagated by the manifold isms, the false doctrines of the modern world separated from Christ.

He will always be known as the Pope of the Eucharist. For he was determined that the faithful should imitate the example of the earliest Christians. In consequence, he urged the reception of frequent and even daily Holy Communion for all in the state of sanctifying grace and of right intention. He insisted that children be allowed to the Spiritual Banquet prepared by Jesus at an earliest age, and declared that they were bound to fulfill the precept of the Easter Communion as soon as they reach the age of discretion.

Saint Pius labored until the very last days of his life. His Will and Testament contained the words: "I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor." He died in 1914 at the age of 78 years, at the onset of the First World War, which he had foreseen. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII forty years later, on May 29, 1954, and recognized universally as a Saint for his charity, his piety, his zeal.

Reflection: "Our duty," says Father Newman, "is to follow the Vicar of Christ wherever he goes and never to desert him, whatever the cost, but to defend him from all hazards and against all comers, as a son would a father, knowing that his cause is always the cause of God."


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Wednesday, September 4, 2019
: Feria
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019
: St. Lawrence Justinian, EC
Thursday, September 5, 2019

SAINT LAWRENCE JUSTINIAN
First Patriarch of Venice
(1381-1455)

Lawrence, born in 1381, from his childhood longed to be a Saint, and when he was nineteen years of age he was given a vision of the Eternal Wisdom, in the form of a beautiful and noble Lady who told him to seek the only repose he would ever know in Her, the Eternal Wisdom of God. All earthly things paled in his eyes before the ineffable beauty of this sight, and as it faded away a void was left in his heart which none but God could fill. Refusing the offer of a brilliant marriage, at the age of nineteen he fled from his home in Venice and joined the Canons Regular of Saint George in their monastery, situated on a little island about a mile from Venice, where his uncle was a priest.

When Lawrence first entered religion, a nobleman went to dissuade him from the folly of thus sacrificing every earthly prospect. The young monk listened patiently to his friend's affectionate appeal, which soon changed into scorn and violent abuse. Calmly and kindly he then replied. He pointed out the shortness of life, the uncertainty of earthly happiness, and the incomparable superiority of the prize he sought, to any pleasures his friend had named. The latter could make no answer; he felt in truth that Lawrence was wise, and he himself was the fool. And he too left the world, became a fellow-novice with the Saint, and eventually died a holy death.

As a monk, the mortification of Saint Lawrence was exemplary; he never drank outside of meals, and when urged to do so replied: "If we cannot endure a little heat on earth, how will we bear that of Purgatory?" He underwent two painful operations without saying any word except the holy name of Jesus. Before the second intervention, when the surgeon's hand trembled, he said, "Cut with vigor; your instrument cannot match the iron hooks used to tear the sides of the martyrs."

Ordained a priest, then elected Superior and General of his Order, Saint Lawrence strengthened his brethren. "Humility keeps silent and does not become inflated in prosperity, whereas in adversity it is elevated, magnanimous, full of joy and an invincible courage. Few know what this virtue is; it is possessed only by those to whom God has given it by infusion, as a reward for their persevering efforts and their spirit of prayer." He encouraged frequent Communion, saying that the person who does not strive to become united with Him as frequently as possible has very little love for Jesus Christ. When he was consecrated bishop of his diocese in 1433, in the face of slander and insult he thoroughly reformed his see. He founded fifteen monasteries and many churches, and his cathedral became a model for all of Christendom. His door was never closed to the poor, but he himself lived like a poor monk.

His zeal led to his being appointed the first Patriarch of Venice, but he remained in heart and soul a humble priest, thirsting for the vision reserved for heaven. He had just finished writing his last work, The Degrees of Perfection, when finally the eternal day began to dawn. "Are you preparing a bed of feathers for me?" he said. "No, my Lord was stretched on a hard and painful tree." Laid upon straw, he exclaimed in rapture, "Good Jesus, behold, I come." He died in 1455, at the age of seventy-four.

Reflection: Ask Saint Lawrence Justinian to obtain for you such a sense of the perfections of God, that you too may have recourse to Him in all your needs and be at rest.


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Friday, September 6, 2019
: Feria
Friday, September 6, 2019

: Abstinence
Friday, September 6, 2019

Saturday, September 7, 2019
: Mary on Saturday
Saturday, September 7, 2019


Sunday, September 8, 2019
Sunday, September 8, 2019

: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sunday, September 8, 2019

The NATIVITY
of the BLESSED VIRGIN
(ca. 15 B.C.)

The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary announced joy and the approaching salvation of a lost world. Mary was brought into the world not like other children of Adam, infected with the contagion of sin, but pure, holy, beautiful, and glorious, adorned with all the most precious graces fitting for the One predestined to be the Mother of the Saviour. Never did She have the slightest inclination towards anything other than the absolute and immediate Will of God. She appeared indeed in the weak condition of all mortals, but in the eyes of Heaven She already transcended the highest seraphim in purity, humility, charity, and the richest ornaments of grace. God had created Her in the original grace, as in the beginning Adam and Eve had enjoyed that ineffable privilege; after original sin, it was lost for all Adam's posterity, until the time of the Redemption dawned in Mary. (Cf. I Cor. 15:21-23)

The nations celebrate, often too noisily, the birthdays of the great ones of this earth... How then ought we, Christians, to rejoice in that of the Virgin Mary, Mother of our Salvation, and to present publicly to God the homage of our best praises and thanksgiving for the great mercies He has shown in Her, imploring Her mediation with Her Divine Son! Jesus of Nazareth will not reject the supplications of His most holy Mother, through whom He chose to descend from Heaven; She, the Spouse of the Canticle, is all beautiful and is the One He was pleased to obey while on earth. Her love, care, and tenderness for Him, the title and qualities which She bears, the charity and graces with which She is adorned, and the crown of glory with which She is honored, incline Him readily to receive Her recommendations and petitions.

Reflection: The Angelical Salutation is the prayer which most pleases Mary; but when time is short we can invoke Her constantly by short ejaculatory prayers, such as the one She entrusted to Catherine Labouré in 1830 with the Miraculous Medal: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee! or, shorter yet: My Mother, my confidence!


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Monday, September 9, 2019
: St. Gorgonius, M
Monday, September 9, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
: St. Nicholas of Tolentino, C
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

SAINT NICHOLAS of TOLENTINO
Confessor
(1245-1310)

This Patron of the Universal Church was born in 1245, in answer to the prayer of a holy mother, and was vowed before his birth to the service of God. His parents had made a pilgrimage across Italy to visit the shrine of Saint Nicholas of Myre and ask his intercession to obtain a child; the infant granted them was given the same name in his honor.

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino never lost his baptismal innocence. His austerities as a very young religious were conspicuous even in the austere Order to which he belonged, the Hermits of Saint Augustine. To the remonstrances of his superiors he only replied, "How can I be said to fast, while every morning at the altar I receive my God?" The demons undertook a war against his spirit of prayer, going so far as to beat him and leave him inert on the floor, but they could not separate his soul from his Lord. He did, however, remain lame for life. He conceived an ardent charity for the holy souls of purgatory, so near and yet so far from their Saviour. Often, after his Mass, it was revealed to him that the souls for whom he had offered the Holy Sacrifice had been admitted to the presence of God.

Saint Nicholas frequently went out of his monastery to beg for aid to the poor. He visited prisoners and the dying to administer the Last Sacraments. And this great Saint resurrected over one hundred children, on one occasion bringing back to life several who had been under water for several days.

During an illness, he was ordered to eat meat by a physician, which he had made a vow never to do. A plate containing well-prepared fowl was brought to him. In the presence of several witnesses, he made the sign of the cross over it, and the bird flew away out the window.

During the year preceding his death, a star always appeared over the altar where he said his Mass; afterwards it would conduct him to his cell, or lead him back again, later, to the altar. Amid his loving labors for God and man, he was haunted by thoughts of his own unworthiness. "The heavens," said he, "are not pure in the sight of Him whom I serve; how then shall I, a sinful man, stand before Him?" One day, as he pondered on the greatness of God and his own nothingness, Mary, Queen of all Saints, appeared before him. "Fear not, Nicholas," She said, "all is well with you: My Son bears you in His Heart, and I am your protection." Then his soul was at rest.

At the hour of his death, which occurred on September 10, 1310, he heard, it is said, the songs which the Angels sing in the presence of their Lord. He died and was buried in the chapel where he was accustomed to offer Holy Mass and say his prayers. He was canonized in 1446 by Pope Eugene IV. Three hundred and one miracles were recognized during the process. His tomb has become renowned by many more, despite the fact that his relics have been lost, save for two arms from which blood still exudes when the Church is menaced by a great danger. This occurred, for example, when the island of Cyprus was taken over by infidels in 1570. The religious of Saint Augustine continue to maintain the service of the large basilica of Saint Nicholas in Tolentino. Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, like Saint Joseph, virginal father of Jesus, has been declared a Patron of the Universal Church.

Reflection: Would you die the death of the just? There is a certain way and only one, to secure the fulfillment of your wish - live the life of the just. It is impossible that one who has been faithful to God in life should have a bad or an unhappy end.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019
: Sts. Protus & Hyacinth, MM
Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Thursday, September 12, 2019
: Holy Name of Mary
Thursday, September 12, 2019

FEAST of the
HOLY NAME of MARY
(Established in 1683)

This feast was established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683, that the faithful may in a particular manner recommend to God on this day, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the necessities of His Church, and return Him thanks for His gracious protection and numberless mercies.

What gave occasion to the institution of this feast was the desire of all Christendom for a solemn thanksgiving which would commemorate the deliverance of Vienna, obtained through the intercession of Our Lady, when the city was besieged by the Turks in 1683. An army of 550,000 invaders had reached the city walls and was threatening all of Europe. John Sobieski, King of Poland, came with a much smaller army to assist the besieged city during the octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and made ready for a great battle. This religious prince began by having a Mass celebrated, which he himself desired to serve, his arms in a cross. After receiving Communion with fervor, he rose at the close of the sacrifice and cried out: "Let us march with confidence under the protection of Heaven and with the aid of the Most Holy Virgin!" His hope was not disappointed; the Turks were struck with a sudden panic and fled in disorder. From that time the feast day has been celebrated during the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady.

Reflection: If we, like the Christians of Europe in the 17th century, desire to appease by our prayers the divine anger which our sins have justly provoked, we must join the tears of sincere compunction to a perfect conversion of our habits. The first grace we should beg of God is that He will dispose us to maintain at all times a spirit of worthy penance. And to the invocation of Jesus it is a pious and wholesome practice to join our recourse to the Blessed Virgin, that, through Her intercession, we may more readily obtain the effects of our petitions. For this reason devout souls, with great affection and confidence, honor the Holy Hearts and invoke the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.


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Friday, September 13, 2019
: Feria
Friday, September 13, 2019

: Abstinence
Friday, September 13, 2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019
: Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Saturday, September 14, 2019

The EXALTATION of the HOLY CROSS
of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(627)

In the year 627, during the reign of the emperor Heraclius I of Constantinople, the Persians conquered the city of Jerusalem and removed from its venerable Sanctuary the major part of the true Cross of Our Lord, which Saint Helen, mother of the emperor Constantine, had left there after discovering it on Calvary. The emperor resolved to win back by combat this precious object, the new Ark of the Covenant for the new people of God. Before he left Constantinople with his army, Heraclius went to the church wearing black in the spirit of penance; he prostrated himself before the altar and begged God to sustain his courage. And on leaving he took with him a miraculous image of the Saviour, determined to combat with it even unto death.

Heaven visibly assisted the valiant emperor, for his army won victory after victory. One of the conditions of the peace treaty was the return of the Cross of Our Lord, in the same condition as when it was removed. Heraclius on his return was received in Constantinople by the acclamations of the people; with olive branches and torches, they went out to meet him. And the true Cross was honored, on this occasion, in a magnificent triumph.

The emperor wished to give thanks to God by going in person to Jerusalem to return this sacred wood, which had been in the power of the pagans for fourteen years. When he reached the Holy City, he placed the precious relic on his shoulders, but when he came to the gate leading out to Calvary, it became impossible for him to go forward. He was greatly astonished, and those in attendance were stupefied. "Take care, O Emperor!" said the Patriarch Zachary to him. "Certainly the imperial clothing you are wearing does not sufficiently resemble the poor and humiliated condition of Jesus carrying His cross." Heraclius was touched on hearing this; he removed his shoes and his imperial robes, adorned with gold and jewels. Wearing a poor man's tunic, he was able to go up to Calvary and depose there his glorious burden. To give greater brilliance to this triumphant march, God permitted several miracles to occur by the power of the Cross of Christ. A dead man returned to life, four paralytics were cured; ten lepers recovered their health and fifteen blind persons their sight; many possessed persons were delivered from the evil spirit, and a large number of sick persons were completely cured.

In those days the greatest power of the Catholic world was the Empire of the East, and that bulwark against the eastern pagans was verging toward its ruin, before God put forth His hand to save it in this way. The re-establishment of the Cross at Jerusalem, by means of the emperor's Christian valor, was a sure pledge of its protection. It was after these events that the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was instituted, to perpetuate their memory in the Church.

Reflection: It is not necessary to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to venerate and exalt the Holy Cross: we can do so by meditating upon it daily and exalting it in our own lives.


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Sunday, September 15, 2019
Sunday, September 15, 2019

: Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sunday, September 15, 2019

The SEVEN SORROWS
of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The Church twice commemorates the sorrows of its heavenly Mother. The Friday of Passion week, since the 15th century, has also been dedicated by the universal Church to Her Compassion. Why is this so? To understand this double liturgy, we must know that Mary is also the Mother of the Mystical Body. The present feast was instituted by Pius VII after his return from his captivity and exile, which lasted from 1809 to 1814. Christ no longer suffers, and for Our Lady also, all suffering as we understand it has ceased. Nonetheless, the prophet Jeremias in his Lamentations, asks: "To whom shall You be compared, O Virgin? Your affliction is like the ocean." A mother who is happy in her home weeps just the same over the sorrows of her children. The statues and pictures of Mary all over Europe wept before the Revolution in France, and Her statues weep again today, in many places. The Passion of Christ continues in His elect, in particular in His Vicar on earth, from whom He does not separate Himself, and against whom the force of hell is deployed unceasingly. The mysterious compassion of the Mother is forever acquired for the Mystical Body of Her Son, which must reproduce the divine death in its human nature, elevated above its natural condition by the superhuman power of grace.

Mary's great sorrows began at the prediction of Simeon that a sword would transpierce Her heart. Soon afterwards, She was obliged to flee with the newborn Infant, already object of a fatal search. She lost Him in the temple for three inexpressibly painful days; She met Him on the road to Calvary, and the sight indeed pierced Her heart. She saw Him die, heard His final cry, and witnessed the opening of His side with the effusion of His last drops of blood, mingled with water; She received in Her arms the inert body of the most beautiful of the sons of men. Finally, She was obliged to depose Him in a tomb, leave Him there and return with Her adopted son, John, to a deicidal Jerusalem.

The Queen of Martyrs has never ceased to encourage Her children on earth to bear their own crosses, which complement the Passion of Christ. He suffered first the ordinary contradictions of life; for three years He was taunted and regarded as a menace by those who should have recognized Him and His mission. He knew hunger, cold and fatigue; He slept so heavily in a boat amid a tempest, that we can only suppose He was exhausted. He knew what it was to be abandoned in need and to lose, to the empire of various passions, followers He had called His. Christ is our forerunner in all human sorrows and difficulties. Mary, as His Mother, offered to God with Him all the afflictions of His earthly life, and She continues to offer those of the Church, for its sanctification, for the souls in Purgatory and the salvation of souls.


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Monday, September 16, 2019
: Sts. Cornelius, P & Cyprian, EM
Monday, September 16, 2019

SAINT CYPRIAN
Doctor of the Church, Bishop of Carthage and Martyr
(258)

Saint Cyprian was an African of noble birth, the son of a Roman senator; he was a teacher of rhetoric in his youth, but still pagan and frivolous. In his vigorous mid-life he was converted to Christianity through the influence of a priest who was himself a convert to Christianity and was edifying all Carthage by his conversation and his virtues. A long combat followed for Cyprian, who although convinced of the truth of these excellent reasonings and the beauty of this doctrine, still had to overcome the pride of a philosopher and the worldly bent of his life of pleasure. Nonetheless, grace won out and he listened to the interior voice of conscience which constantly pressed him onward: "Courage, Cyprian! Whatever the cost, let us go to God." He sold his estates and gave the price to the poor; and it was not long after his baptism that he was ordained a priest, and then consecrated Bishop of Carthage notwithstanding his resistance. The Christian population rejoiced, sure that in him they would have a strong bulwark during persecution.

When the persecution of Decius broke out, he was the object of a search by the pagans wanting to disorganize the flock. He left his episcopal city and found a secure retreat, in order to continue to minister to their spiritual needs by letters and the administration of the sacraments. He went on seeing to the burial of the martyrs and the needs of those deprived of their possessions. When a pestilence broke out, he aided in the ministry to the dying. He consulted other ecclesiastical authorities as to whether he should return from his retreat; he was told to remain where he was. He maintained existing religious discipline which required penance of those who, under stress, apostatized by paying money to certain magistrates; these would write certificates saying that they had obeyed the Roman edicts. The prevaricators afterwards strove to escape the penalties and return into communion with the faithful. Saint Cyprian met much opposition by his firmness, but was sustained by Rome.

After a few years of peace under the emperor Valerian, he was finally banished and retired to a place about fifty miles from Carthage. There he learned by supernatural revelation that his future martyrdom was to occur the following year. He was discovered in a place near Carthage one day, and the sentence of death by decapitation was pronounced against him. He received it with the words, "Thanks be to God." His great desire was to die while preaching the faith of Christ, and he had the consolation of being surrounded at his martyrdom by crowds of his faithful children; there he paid the trembling executioner to encourage him in his task, and, preaching very effectively both by his words and his actions, was beheaded on the 14th of September, 258. In the brief ten years of his ministry, the Church was enriched through the fidelity of the martyrs he sustained, and by the many baptisms of pagans won over to his Christian flock. A considerable number of the spectators who were still pagan wept at his martyrdom. The holy bishop was buried publicly, with great solemnity.


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Tuesday, September 17, 2019
: Stigmata of St. Francis, C
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The STIGMATA
of SAINT FRANCIS
(1224)

Saint Bonaventure, biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi, wrote that two years before his holy death he had been praying on Mount Alverno in a solitary retreat, where he had gone to fast for forty days in honor of the Archangel Michael. No one ever meditated more than Francis on the Passion of his Lord. During his retreat he beheld in vision a six-winged Seraph attached to a cross, and received at the same time a painful wound of the heart, which seemed to transpierce it. When the vision ended his own hands and feet bore the marks of the angelic crucifixion which he had seen in the vision. He understood by his vision that the soul must come to resemble Christ by the ardors of its interior fire, rather than by any physical, exterior means. We reproduce here a meditation of the saintly 19th century Abbot, Dom Guéranger of Solemnes in France:

"The Feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis, whom we will soon honor again on his feast of October 4th, is not only to glorify a Saint; it commemorates and signifies something which goes beyond the life of any single man, even one of the greatest of the Church. The God-Man never ceases to live on in His Church, and the reproduction of His own mysteries in this Spouse whom He wants to be similar to Himself, is the explanation of history.

"In the thirteenth century it seemed that charity, whose divine precept many no longer heeded, concentrated in a few souls the fires which had once sufficed to inflame multitudes. Sanctity shone as brilliantly as ever, but the hour for the cooling of the brazier had struck for the peoples. The Church itself says so today in its liturgy, at the Collect: 'Lord Jesus Christ, when the world was growing cold, You reproduced the sacred marks of Your passion in the body of the most blessed Francis, in order that Your love might also set our hearts afire.' The Spouse of Christ had already begun to experience the long series of social defections among the nations, with their denials, treasons, derision, slaps, spittings in the very praetorium, all of which conclude in the legalized separation of society from its Author. The era of the Passion is advanced; the exaltation of the Holy Cross, which for centuries was triumphant in the eyes of the nations, acquires in the sight of heaven, as the Angels look down upon it, the aspect of an ever closer resemblance with the Spouse to the sufferings of her crucified Beloved.

"Saint Francis, loved today by all who know of him - and few there are who do not - was like precious marble placed before an expert sculptor. The Holy Spirit chose the flesh of the seraph of Assisi to express His divine thought, thus manifesting to the world the very specific direction He intends to give to souls thereafter. This stigmatization offers a first example, a complete image, of the new labor the divine Spirit is meditating - total union, on the very Cross of Christ itself, of the mystical Body with the divine Head. Francis is the one honored by this primacy of choice; but after him the sacred sign will be received by others, who also personify the Church. From this time on, the Stigmata of the Lord Jesus will be at all times visible, here and there on this earth."


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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
: St. Joseph of Cupertino, C
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SAINT JOSEPH of CUPERTINO
Franciscan Priest
(1603-1663)

Joseph Desa was born in the little city of Cupertino, near the Gulf of Tarento, in 1600. It is said in the acts of the process of his canonization that at the age of five he already showed such signs of sanctity that if he had been an adult, he would have been venerated as a perfect man. Already in his youth he was ravished in ecstasies which literally tore him away from the earth; it has been calculated that perhaps half of his life for some sixty years was spent literally above the ground. But much remains to be said of Saint Joseph, apart from his visible divine favors.

He almost died at the age of seven from an interior abscess, which only his prayer to Our Lady cured. He learned to be a shoemaker to earn his living, but was often absent in spirit from his work. He treated his flesh with singular rigor. The Cardinal de Lauria, who knew him well for long years, said he wore a very rude hair shirt and never ate meat, contenting himself with fruits and bread. He seasoned his soup, if he accepted any, with a dry and very bitter powder of wormwood. At the age of seventeen he desired to become a conventual Franciscan, but was refused because he had not studied. He entered the Capuchins as a lay brother, but the divine favors he received seemed everywhere to bring down contempt upon him. He was in continuous contemplation and dropped plates and cauldrons. He would often stop and kneel down, and his long halts in places of discomfort brought on a tumor of the knee which was very painful. It was decided that he lacked both aptitude and health, and he was sent home. He was then regarded everywhere as a vagabond and a fool, and his mother in particular was harsh, as had been her custom for long years. She did, however, obtain permission for him to take charge of the stable for the conventual Franciscans, wearing the habit of the Third Order.

Saint Joseph proved himself many times to be perfectly obedient. His humility was heroic, and his mortification most exceptional. His words bore fruit and wakened the indifferent, warned against vice and in general were seen to come from a man who was very kind and very virtuous. He was finally granted the habit. He read with difficulty and wrote with still more difficulty, but the Mother of God was watching over him. When by the intervention of the bishop he had been admitted to minor Orders, he desired to be a priest but knew well only one text of the Gospel. By a special Providence of God, that was the text he was asked to expound during the canonical examination for the diaconate. The bishop who was in charge of hearing candidates for the priesthood found that the first ones answered exceptionally well, and he decided to ordain them all without any further hearings, thus passing Joseph with the others. He was ordained in 1628.

He retired to a hermitage where he was apparently in nearly continuous ecstasy, or at least contemplation. He kept nothing for himself save the tunic he wore. Rejoicing to be totally poor, he felt entirely free also. He obeyed his Superiors and went wherever he was sent, wearing sandals and an old tunic which often came back with pieces missing; the people had begun to venerate him as a Saint, and had cut them off. When he did not notice what was happening, he was reproached as failing in poverty. The humble Brother wanted to pass for a sinner; he asked for the lowest employments, and transported the building materials for a church on his shoulders. He begged for the community. At the church he was a priest; elsewhere, a poor Brother.

Toward the end of his life all divine consolations were denied the Saint, including his ecstasies. He fell victim to an aridity which was unceasing, and he could find no savor in any holy reading. Then the infernal spirits inspired terrible visions and dreams. He shed tears amid this darkness and prayed his Saviour to help him, but received no answer. When the General of the Order heard of this, he called him to Rome, and there he recovered from the fearful trial, and all his joy returned.

He still had combats with the enemy of God to bear just the same, when the demons took human form to attempt to injure him physically. Other afflictions were not spared him, but his soul overcame all barriers between himself and God. He died on September 18, 1663, at the age of 63, in the Franciscan convent of Osino. He had celebrated Holy Mass up to and including the day before his death, as he had foretold he would do.


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: Ember Day - Fast
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019
: St. Januarius & Companions, MM
Thursday, September 19, 2019

SAINT JANUARIUS
Bishop of Beneventum, Martyr
(305)

Many centuries ago, Saint Januarius died for the Faith during the persecution of Diocletian. God, through the blood which His servant shed for Him, some of which is conserved in Naples, continues to strengthen the faith of the Church, and to work there a regular miracle by its means.

This beloved Saint of the late third century was the bishop of Beneventum, and had a friend, a deacon named Sosius, who like himself was occupied with fortifying the Christians faced with martyrdom. When the prefect of Pouzzoles, where Sosius had been imprisoned, heard that Januarius was coming to visit him and three other fervent Christians being held there, he had him arrested. He urged him to cease his exhortations, forbidden by the imperial edicts, and to offer incense to the idols, if he wanted to avoid torture. The holy bishop replied that he could not do so. He was submitted to torments, the first one of which left him miraculously uninjured. The judge attributed the miracle to magic, as was often said of the Christians whom God chose to spare. He ordered another torture which left the bishop lame, before he was sent to the same prison as the others.

When two ecclesiastics of Benevent came to visit the confessors, they were arrested and condemned to die with the other five in an amphitheater, by the teeth of wild beasts. The animals, furious when released into the space where the seven Confessors stood, came and quietly lay down at their feet, renewing a miracle seen more than once in the history of the first centuries. By this prodigy and other miracles which preceded their execution, five thousand persons were converted. The bishop and his companions were decapitated on September 19, 305. A church was built on a nearby mountain to honor the memory of Saint Januarius.

Little did the heathen governor think, when he condemned them, that he would be the instrument in God's hand for ushering in a long succession of miracles which commemorate the faith and attest the sanctity of Januarius. His relics repose in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr's head, it melts and flows like the blood of a living man. This ordinarily occurs on his feast day celebrated on September 17th in Naples, and on anniversaries of miracles attributed to him, which have preserved the city from eruptions of Mount Vesuvius or the plague. Some have tried to explain this miracle by natural causes, but none have ever contested the reality of the facts.


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Friday, September 20, 2019
: St. Eustace & Companions, MM
Friday, September 20, 2019

SAINT EUSTACHIUS
and HIS COMPANIONS
Martyrs
( ca. 118)

The remarkable story of Saint Eustachius, named Placidus before his conversion, is a lesson given by God Himself on the marvels of His Divine Providence. He was a distinguished and very wealthy officer of the Roman army under the Emperor Trajan, in the beginning of the second century. He practiced generous charity to the poor, although he had not yet perceived the errors of idolatry.

One day, while this distinguished officer was vainly pursuing a deer, the animal suddenly stood immobile before him in the light of a hilltop, and he perceived between its horns a luminous cross. On the cross was the image of the crucified Saviour, and a voice said to him, "I am the Christ whom you honor without knowing it; the alms you give to the poor have reached Me." Like Saint Paul, he fell from his horse and remained inert for a time. Coming to himself, he said interiorly, "What is this voice I have heard? You who speak to me, who are you, that I may believe in you?" And the Lord told him interiorly that He was the Creator of the light, of the seasons, of man and all things visible, that he had suffered to save the human race, died and been buried, but had risen the third day.

This was sufficient, and the officer went home to fulfill the prescription he had received to be baptized with his wife and two young sons. His spouse had received a similar revelation at the same time as himself, and they all went to the Christian authority of the region in secret, to be baptized the same night.

In a short time he lost all his possessions through natural catastrophes and robbers. But he had been advised beforehand that the Lord wanted to make of him another Job, that already the ancient enemy had plotted against him, and that he was not to allow any thought of blasphemy to arise in his heart amid the sufferings that were awaiting him. He prayed for strength, and retired from the region after the calamities, with his wife and children. When by unforeseeable and extraordinary accidents, his wife and children were also taken from him, and he believed the children dead, he was close to despair and wished his life might end; but the warning of the Lord returned to his mind, and he entered into the service of a land-owner of a village called Badyssus, to tend the fields. He remained for fifteen years in this occupation. During this time his loved ones were well and safe, all spared in the perilous circumstances which had removed them from his sight, but separated, each one like himself, from the three others.

In those days the empire was suffering greatly from the ravages of barbarians, and was sinking under the assaults. The emperor Trajan had Eustachius sought out, and when he was found, had him clothed in splendid garments to give him command over the troops he intended to send against the invaders. During the celebration that accompanied his return, he related to the emperor all that had occurred to him. When the troops were being assembled, his own sons were conscripted. Seeing them, he noticed them as young men taller than most and of great nobility of bearing and countenance, and kept them near him without yet recognizing them. One of the two, while on bivouac near the very house of his own mother, who like Eustachius had taken employment in the garden of a landowner, related the confused memories of his childhood to his companion. Suddenly, the two brothers recognized one another and embraced in an effusion of joy.

Their mother, by a delicate attention of Providence, had chanced to overhear them, and reflecting on what she heard, became certain they were her own sons. She went to the captain of the campaign to inquire about them, and immediately recognized him. Not wishing to startle him, she began to relate her story, identifying herself as the wife of a certain Placidus, and saying she believed she was now in the presence of her two sons from whom she had been separated, and whom she had not seen for long years. One must imagine the sentiments of the captain on hearing this narration, the reunion which followed, and the prayers of thanksgiving sent up to God by the family and also the troops, who joined them in their joy and prayers.

Returning to Rome victorious, Eustachius was received in triumph and greatly honored, but when commanded to sacrifice during the celebration to the false gods, refused. The infuriated emperor Adrian - for Trajan had died - ordered him with his wife and children to be exposed to a starved lion. But instead of harming these servants of God, the beast came up to them, lowered its head as if in homage, and left the arena. The emperor, more furious still, caused the martyrs to be shut up inside a brazen bull, under which a fire was to be kindled, that they might be roasted to death. Saint Eustachius prayed aloud and thanked God, asking Him who had reunited them to cause that their lives end at the same time, so they might be received together by Him into the happiness of His presence. They expired, but neither their bodies nor even their hair was injured. They were found entire the next day, and at first it was believed they were still alive. Many believed in Christ through this final miracle, which to us today seems perhaps less miraculous than the story of their existence while alive. A church in honor of the martyrs still exists in Rome: Saint-Eustachius in Thermis.


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: Ember Day - Fast & Abstinence
Friday, September 20, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019
: St. Matthew, Ap & Ev
Saturday, September 21, 2019

SAINT MATTHEW
Apostle
( First Century)

One day, as Our Lord was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw, seated in his customs bureau, Levi the publican, whose business it was to collect the taxes from the people for their Roman masters. Jesus said to him: "Follow Me." Leaving all behind, Matthew arose and did so, thereby giving us all an example of the way in which we should respond to grace. The humble Matthew, as he was thereafter called, tells us himself in his Gospel that he was Levi, one of those publicans abhorred by the Jews as enemies of their country, outcasts and notorious sinners, who enriched themselves by extortion and fraud. No Pharisee would sit with one at table; Our Saviour alone had compassion for them.

Saint Matthew prepared a great feast, to which he invited Jesus and His disciples, with a number of these publicans, who thereupon began to listen to Him with attention and joy. It was there, in answer to the murmurs of the Pharisees saying that this "pretended prophet" ate with publicans and sinners, that Jesus said, "They that are in good health have no need of a physician. I have not come to call the just, but sinners to penance."

After the Ascension, Saint Matthew remained for over ten years in Judea, writing his Gospel there in about the year 44, to teach his countrymen that the kingdom of heaven had already been instigated, for Jesus was their true Lord and the King foretold by the prophets. He departed then to preach the Faith in Egypt and especially in Ethiopia, where he remained for twenty-three years. When he resurrected the son of the Ethiopian king who had received him, the miracle brought about the conversion of the royal house and with them the entire province.

The king's daughter consecrated herself to God with several other maidens. When a young man wished to marry the beautiful Iphigenia, Saint Matthew invited him to come and listen to a discourse he was to make to that community of virgins, to hear what he would say to them. When the Apostle extolled the state of virginity, the suitor became enraged and arranged to have him slain as he came from the altar. Saint Hippolyte calls Saint Matthew the victim and martyr of holy virginity.

It is said in the Constitutions of Pope Saint Clement that Saint Matthew instituted holy water, for protection of soul and body; the prayer he used for the purpose is reported in that document. The relics of Saint Matthew were for many years in the city of Naddaver in Ethiopia, where he suffered his martyrdom, but were transferred to Salerno in the year 954, where they remained concealed in a cave, for protection, for over a hundred years.

Reflection: Obey all inspirations of Our Lord as promptly as Saint Matthew, who, at a single word, Saint Bridget says, "laid down the heavy burden of the world, to take the light and sweet yoke of Christ."


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: Ember Day - Fast
Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019
Sunday, September 22, 2019

: St. Thomas of Villanova, EC
Sunday, September 22, 2019

SAINT THOMAS of VILLANOVA
Bishop of Valencia
(1488-1555)

Saint Thomas, the glory of the Spanish Church in the sixteenth century, was born in the diocese of Toledo in 1488. His mother was a Christian of extraordinary tenderness for the poor. God worked a miracle for her one day, when her servants had given away absolutely all the flour in their storeroom. When another beggar came to the door, she told them to go back once more and look again, and they found the storeroom filled with flour. Her little son followed his mother's example, and one day gave away, to six poor persons in succession, the six young chicks which had been following the hen around in the yard. When his mother asked where they were, he said, "You didn't leave any bread in the house, Mama, so I gave them the chicks! I would have given the hen if another beggar had come."

At the age of fifteen years he began his studies and succeeded so well he was judged fit to teach philosophy and theology in a college of Alcala, and then at Salamanca. When his father died he returned to Villanova to dispose of his patrimony. He made his house into a hospital, keeping only what was needed for his mother, and gave the rest to the poor. At the age of twenty-eight he entered the Order of the Hermits of Saint Augustine at Salamanca, becoming professed in 1517.

When ordained a priest three years later, he continued his teaching of theology, but also began to preach so remarkably well that he was compared with Saint Paul and the prophet Elias. The city was reformed, and after the Emperor Charles V heard him once, he returned and often mingled with the crowd to listen, finally making Saint Thomas his official preacher.

He became Prior of his Order in three cities, then three times a Provincial Superior. His sanctity continued to increase, and he was nominated archbishop of Valencia in 1544; he had refused a similar offer sixteen years earlier, but this time was obliged to accept. After a long drought, rain fell on the day he assumed his new office. He arrived as a pilgrim accompanied by one fellow monk, and was not recognized in the convent of his Order when the two travelers came asking for shelter during the rain. He was obliged to reveal his identity when the Prior, who wondered where the awaited archbishop might be, asked him if perchance it was he.

The new Archbishop was so poor that he was given money for furnishings, but he took it to the hospital for the indigent. On being led to his throne in church, he pushed the silken cushions aside, and with tears kissed the ground. His first visit was to the prison. Two-thirds of his episcopal revenues were annually spent in alms. He daily fed five hundred needy persons, made himself responsible for the bringing up of the city's orphans, and sheltered neglected foundlings with a mother's care. During his eleven years' episcopate, not one poor maiden was married without an alms from the archbishop. Spurred by his example, the rich and the selfish became liberal and generous. And when, on the Nativity of Our Lady, 1555, after one week of illness, Saint Thomas was about to breathe his last, he gave his bed to a poor man and asked to be placed on the floor. It has been said that at his death he was probably the only poor man in his see.

Reflection: When a refractory priest had not heeded his bishop's remonstrances, Saint Thomas took him into a room apart, uncovered his shoulders and knelt before his crucifix, saying: "My brother, my sins are the reason you have not changed your life and listened to my warnings. It is just for me to bear the penalty of my fault." And he scourged himself cruelly. This frequent practice brought many to tears and reform of their lives. In this way a perfect Pastor inspired his entire flock with truly Christian sentiments.


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Monday, September 23, 2019
: St. Linus, PM
Monday, September 23, 2019

SAINT LINUS
Pope and martyr
(67)

Saint Linus was converted in Rome in the days when Saint Peter was preaching the Gospel there. This nobleman, originally from the city of Volterra in Tuscany, left his father and renounced his heritage, to practice with greater perfection the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He soon gave admirable proofs of his zeal, learning and prudence, and the first Vicar of Christ employed him in preaching and the administration of the Sacraments.

He crossed into Gaul, and became the bishop of the city of Besançon. The number of the faithful increased daily by the conversion of many idolaters. The Saint one day attempted to turn some of those away from the celebration of a festival in honor of their gods, telling them that these idols were but statues without breath or sentiment, and represented only human beings whose vices were public knowledge. He exhorted them to turn to the unique God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, to whom alone man owes the homage of sacrifice. A prodigy followed his words; a column of their temple crumbled and caused the fall of an idol, which broke into a thousand pieces. The worshipers, unmoved by this, drove the Saint out of the city of Besançon, as the city's tradition still attests.

He returned to Rome and was there when the prince of the Apostles was martyred. He wrote an account of the double martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, and was himself judged worthy to replace the first Vicar of Christ. The register of his reign records the creation of fifteen bishops and eighteen priests. The Roman breviary says that the faith and sanctity of this blessed Pope were so great that he drove the demons from many possessed persons. He had governed the Church for scarcely a year before he, too, shed his blood for his Saviour. His body was buried in the Vatican near that of Saint Peter. It was only in the 17th century that his tomb reappeared, marked Linus, when Pope Urban VIII had the work on the Confession of Saint Peter completed in the Basilica bearing his name.


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Tuesday, September 24, 2019
: Our Lady of Ransom
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

OUR LADY of RANSOM
(Her Order's establishment 1218)

The story of Our Lady of Ransom is, at its outset, that of Saint Peter Nolasco, born in Languedoc about 1189. At the age of twenty-five he took a vow of chastity and made over his vast estates to the Church. After making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, he went to Barcelona where he began to practice various works of charity. He conceived the idea of establishing an Order for the redemption of captives seized by the Moors on the seas and in Spain itself; they were being cruelly tormented in their African prisons to make them deny their faith. He spoke of it to the king of Aragon, James I, who knew him well and already respected him as a Saint; for the king had already asked for his prayers when he sent out his armies to combat the Moors, and he attributed his victories to those prayers.

In effect all the Christians of Europe, and above all of Spain, were praying a great deal to obtain from God the remedy for the great evil that had befallen them. The divine Will was soon manifested. On the same night, August 1, 1218, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Pennafort, and to the king, and through these three servants of God established a work of the most perfect charity, the redemption of captives.

On that night, while the Church was celebrating the feast of Saint Peter in Chains, the Virgin Mary came from heaven and appeared first to Saint Peter, saying that She indeed desired the establishment of a religious Order bearing the name of Her mercy. Its members would undertake to deliver Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as a gage. Word of the miracle soon spread over the entire kingdom; and on August 10th the king went to the cathedral for a Mass celebrated by the bishop of Barcelona. Saint Raymund went up into the pulpit and narrated his vision, with admirable eloquence and fervor. The king besought the blessing of the bishop for the heaven-sent plan, and the bishop bestowed the habit on Saint Peter, who emitted the solemn vow to give himself as a hostage if necessary.

The Order, thus solemnly established in Spain, was approved by Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. By the grace of God and under the protection of His Virgin Mother, the Order spread rapidly. Its growth was increased as the charity and piety of its members was observed; they very often followed Her directive to give themselves up to voluntary slavery when necessary, to aid the good work. It was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin that a feast day was instituted and observed on September 24th, first in this Order of Our Lady, then everywhere in Spain and France. It was finally extended to the entire Church by Innocent XII.

Reflection: Saint Peter Nolasco and his knights were not priests, and yet they considered that the salvation of their neighbor was entrusted to them. We, too, can by good counsel and by prayer, but above all by holy example, assist the salvation of our brethren, and thereby secure our own.


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Wednesday, September 25, 2019
: Feria
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019
: Sts. Cyprian & Justina, V MM
Thursday, September 26, 2019

SAINT CYPRIAN
and SAINT JUSTINA
Martyrs
(314)

The detestable superstitions of Saint Cyprian's idolatrous parents delivered him, from his infancy, to the devil, and he was brought up in all the impious mysteries of idolatry, astrology, and black magic. Cyprian, having learned all the extravagances of these schools of error and delusion, hesitated at no crime, blasphemed Christ and committed secret murders.

In the time of the emperor Diocletian, there lived at Antioch a young Christian called Justina, of high birth and great beauty. A pagan nobleman fell in love with her, and finding her modesty inaccessible and her resolution to evade him invincible, he applied to Cyprian for assistance. Cyprian tried every secret with which he was acquainted to overcome her resolution. Justina, perceiving herself vigorously attacked, armed herself by prayer, watchfulness, and mortification against all his demonic artifices and the power of his spells. Cyprian, realizing he was being bested by a superior power, began to recognize the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service and become a Christian himself. Agladius, the suitor of the holy virgin, was likewise converted and baptized.

When the persecution of Diocletian broke out, Cyprian and Justina were seized and presented to the same judge. She was inhumanly scourged, and Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this they were sent in chains to Diocletian, who commanded their heads to be struck off. This sentence was executed at Nicomedia, in the year 304.

Reflection: If the errors and disorders of Saint Cyprian show the degeneracy of human nature corrupted by sin and enslaved to vice, his conversion displays the power of grace and virtue to repair it. Let us beg of God to send grace to those who are still slaves of error today, and be confident that He will not be deaf to our charitable prayer.


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Friday, September 27, 2019
: Sts. Cosmas & Damian, MM
Friday, September 27, 2019

SAINT COSMAS
and SAINT DAMIAN
Martyrs
( ca. 286)

Saints Cosmas and Damian were brothers, born in Arabia in the third century, of noble and virtuous parents. Saint Gregory of Tours wrote that they were twins. They studied the sciences in Syria, and became eminent for their skill in medicine. Being Christians and filled with the charity which characterizes our holy religion, they practiced their profession with great application and wonderful success, but never accepted any fee. They were loved and respected by the people for their good offices and their zeal for the Christian faith, which they took every opportunity to propagate.

When the persecution of Diocletian began to rage, it was impossible for persons of such distinction to remain concealed. They were denounced to the governor of Cilicia, named Lysias, as "Christians who cured various illnesses and delivered possessed persons in the name of the one called Christ; they do not permit others to go to the temple to honor the gods by sacrifices." The two brothers were apprehended by the order of the governor, and after various preliminary torments were sentenced to be bound hand and foot and thrown into the sea. Their prayer has been conserved: "We rejoice, Lord, to follow the path of Your commandments, as in the midst of immense riches; and even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil." And they recited the 23rd Psalm. The sentence was accomplished, but an Angel untied their bonds and drew them out of the sea. The witnesses of this fact returned to announce to the governor what had happened. They were brought back to Lysias as magicians, and he decided to imprison them until he could decide upon their fate.

He condemned them to be burnt alive, but they prayed to God to manifest His power, lest His name be blasphemed, and an earthquake moved the fire into the midst of the pagans and spared the martyrs. When the rack also left them unharmed, the prefect swore by his gods he would continue to torture them until they became the food of birds of prey. They were crucified and stoned by the people, but this and still other tortures were ineffectual. They were finally beheaded with three Christian companions.


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: Abstinence
Friday, September 27, 2019

Saturday, September 28, 2019
: St. Wenceslas, Duke, M
Saturday, September 28, 2019

SAINT WENCESLAS
Martyr
(938)

Wenceslas, born towards the end of the ninth century, was the son of a Christian Duke of Bohemia, but his mother was a harsh and cruel pagan. His holy grandmother, Ludmilla, seeing the danger to the future king, asked to bring him up. Wenceslas was educated by her good offices in the true faith, and under her tutelage acquired an exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At the death of his father, however, he was still a minor, and his mother assumed the government and passed a series of persecuting laws. In the interests of the Faith, Wenceslas, encouraged by his grandmother, claimed and obtained through the support of the people, a large portion of the country as his own kingdom. Soon afterwards his grandmother was martyred, out of hatred of her faith and services to her country, while making her thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

His mother secured the apostasy and alliance of her second son, Boleslas, who became henceforth her ally against the Christians. Wenceslas in the meantime ruled as the brave and pious king of Bohemia. When his kingdom was attacked, the prince of the invading army, which had been called in by certain seditious individuals, was approaching with a lance to slay him. This prince, named Radislas, saw two celestial spirits beside him; he had already seen him make the sign of the cross and then heard a voice saying not to strike him. These marvels so astonished him that he descended from his horse, knelt at the feet of Wenceslas and asked his pardon. Peace was then reestablished in the land.

In the service of God Saint Wenceslas was constant, planting with his own hands the wheat and pressing the grapes for Holy Mass, at which he never failed to assist each day. He provided for the poor and himself took what they needed to them at night, to spare them the shame they might incur if their poverty became public knowledge. He desired to introduce the Benedictine Order into his kingdom, but was struck down by a violent death before he could do so and himself enter a monastery, as he wished to do.

His piety provided the occasion for his death. After a banquet at his brother's palace, to which he had been treacherously invited and where he manifested great gentleness towards his brother and mother, he went to pray at night before the tabernacle, as he was accustomed to do. There, at midnight on the feast of the Angels in the year 938, he received the crown of martyrdom by the sword, at the hand of his own brother.

Reflection: Saint Wenceslas teaches us that the safest retreat amid the trials of life, or to prepare for the stroke of death, is the sanctuary of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.


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Sunday, September 29, 2019
Sunday, September 29, 2019

: St. Michael the Archangel
Sunday, September 29, 2019

SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Protector of the People of God

"MI-CA-EL," or "Who is like unto God?" was the cry of the great Archangel when he smote the rebel Lucifer in the conflict of the heavenly hosts. From that hour he has been known as Michael, Captain of the armies of God, the archetype of divine fortitude, the champion of every faithful soul in strife with the powers of evil. What is more, we see him in Holy Scripture as the special guardian of the children of Israel, their comfort and protector in times of sorrow or conflict. It is he who prepares their return from the Persian captivity, when the prophet Daniel prays for that favor (Daniel 10:12-13); who leads the valiant Maccabees to victory in battle, after the prayer of Judas Maccabeus (I Mac. 7:41-44).

Ever since its foundation by Jesus Christ, the Church has venerated Saint Michael as her special patron and protector. She invokes him by name in her Confiteor, when accusing her faults; she summons him to the side of her children in the agony of death, and chooses him as their escort from the chastening flames of purgatory to the realms of holy light. Lastly, when Antichrist shall have set up his kingdom on earth, it is Michael who will unfurl once more the standard of the Cross. This we know from a prophecy of Scripture which states clearly that in those days the great prince Michael will rise up to protect the children of God. (Daniel 12:1-4)

During the plague in Rome in the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great saw Saint Michael in a vision sheathing his flaming sword to show that he would put an end to the scourge which was ravaging the city. In 608 a church was erected in thanksgiving to Saint Michael for the help he gave.

Reflection: Saint Bernard wrote: "Whenever any grievous temptation or vehement sorrow oppresses you, invoke your Guardian, your Leader. Cry out to him and say, Lord, save us, lest we perish!"


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Monday, September 30, 2019
: St. Jerome, CD
Monday, September 30, 2019

SAINT JEROME
Doctor of the Church
(329-420)

Saint Jerome, born in Dalmatia in 329, was sent to school in Rome. His boyhood was not free from faults; his thirst for knowledge was excessive, and his love of books, a passion. He had studied under the best masters, visited foreign cities, and devoted himself to the pursuit of learning. But Christ had need of his strong will and active intellect for the service of His Church. He told him in a supernatural experience he never forgot that he was not a Christian, but a Ciceronian: "Your heart is where your treasure is," said the Lord to him - that is, in the eloquent writings of antique times. Saint Jerome obeyed the divine call, making a vow never again to read profane works, and another of celibacy. In Rome he had already assisted a number of holy women to organize houses of retirement where they consecrated themselves to God by vow. Calumnies, arising from jealousy, made a certain headway against the scholar whose competence was beginning to attract honors.

He fled from Rome to the wild Syrian desert, and there for four years learned in solitude, intense sufferings and persecution from the demons, new lessons in humility, penance and prayer, and divine wisdom. "I was very foolish to want to sing the hymns of the Lord on foreign soil, and to abandon the mountain of Sinai to beg help from Egypt," he declared.

Pope Damasus summoned him back to Rome, and there assigned to the famous scholar, already expert in Hebrew and other ancient languages, the task of revising the Latin Bible. Saint Jerome obeyed his earthly Head as he had obeyed his Lord. Retiring once more in 386 to Bethlehem, the eloquent hermit sent forth from his solitary cell not only a solidly accurate version of the Scriptures, but during thirty years' time, a veritable stream of luminous writings for the Christian world. He combated with unfailing efficacy several heresies being subtly introduced by various personages in his own region and elsewhere.

For fourteen years the hand of the great scholar could no longer write; but Saint Jerome could still dictate to six secretaries at a time, to each on a different subject, in those final years. He died in his beloved Bethlehem in 420, when over 80 years old. His tomb is still in a subterranean chapel of its ancient basilica, but his relics were transported to Saint Mary Major Basilica of Rome, where the crib of Bethlehem is conserved.


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