Monday, January 17, 2022

January 23--St. Marianne Cope (St. Marianne of Moloka’i), Virgin and Religious


Today’s saint went to minister to people who were infected with a highly contagious disease, knowing she could contract it and die. It wasn’t Covid, but rather, Hansen’s disease, leprosy. When she received the plea from King Kalākaua of Hawai’i, she responded: “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders... I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’” 

Born in Germany in 1838, her family emigrated to Utica, New York where her father worked in a factory. When her father died in 1862, she joined the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. She became a teacher, principal, and hospital administrator. By 1883 she was Superior General of the congregation and answered the call to go to Hawai’i with six sisters. Her first responsibility was to manage a hospital on Oahu to process leprosy patients. Then she opened a general hospital, reformed government abuse of lepers, opened a home for homeless female children of leprosy patients, opened a home for leprous women and girls on Moloka’i, cared for St. Damien of Moloka’i, and took over his ministry when he died. She stayed in Hawai’i until her death in 1918, due to natural causes. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

St. Marianne Cope rejoiced when she found she would not return to New York: “We will cheerfully accept the work….” We are also thrown into difficult circumstances at times; the current pandemic is one of them. Let us maintain our cheerfulness in ministering to our brothers and sisters. St. Marianne Cope, pray for us.

* billsoPHOTO, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 9, 2022

January 19—Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum, Parents and Sons—Martyrs


Today we celebrate a family of martyrs! They were martyred in A.D. 270 in Rome. They buried other martyrs and then became the object of persecution and torture. Maris and his sons were beheaded, and their bodies burnt. Martha was drowned outside of Rome at a place now called Santa Ninfa. According to tradition, a Roman woman gathered the remains of the family and had them buried on her estate, which became a place of pilgrimage. They are inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, which is the official list of saints recognized by the Church. They are not on the General Roman Calendar because we only know with certainty their names and their place of burial.

How is it that a whole family could be martyred? They were willing to die for what they believed in. They were witnesses to their faith in Jesus Christ and the hope of the Resurrection. Are our families prepared to do the same? Do we believe to the point of witnessing to our faith in Jesus Christ? Are we willing to live lives of heroic virtue? Do people see in us what others saw in our saints—a love of God which can’t be denied or suppressed?

Do we live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy so that others cannot but see our faith? We need to clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, give food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, bury the dead, instruct the ignorant, comfort the afflicted, warn the sinner, counsel the doubtful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses patiently, and pray for the living and the dead. This is Jesus’ command! Then everyone will know we are Christians, by our love! May Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum guide us and pray for us!


Monday, January 3, 2022

January 13—St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor


Is Jesus God or not? That was key question of the fourth century and beyond that faced the Church. Some, with Arius, said that since Jesus was “begotten of the Father,” that meant he was a creature, albeit the first creature of God. Others, with St. Athanasius, said that Jesus is “begotten, not made” and thus consubstantial with the God the Father. Today’s saint helped hammer home the truth of who Jesus is by his opposition to the Arians and support of St. Athanasius, so much so he was called “Hammer of the Arians” and “Athanasius of the West.”

Born about A.D. 310 in Poitiers, France to pagan parents, St. Hilary received a good pagan education, later studying Scripture, thus resulting in his conversion to Christianity, along with his wife and daughter. He was elected bishop of Poitiers around A.D 350. Even though Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 it was still in force throughout the empire, much due to the efforts of different emperors. So St. Hilary attempted to get Arian bishops turned back to the true faith. He also wrote Emperor Constantius II to stop Arians persecuting orthodox Christians, which resulted in his exile in 356. After his exile in 361, he returned in Poitiers and continued to fight for the true understanding of the Trinity against the Arians. He died in 367.

Falsehoods and lies take a long time to die. They are like a many-headed hydra, which keeps sprouting new variations on lies that are condemned and refuted. We need to endure and persevere in living the Truth. St. Paul wrote: “No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). We must remain faithful to the Truth of Jesus Christ. St. Hilary, pray for us.

Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, December 18, 2021

January 2—Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church


Jeopardy! time: This heresy from the third and fourth century taught Jesus was not God, but the first creature created by God. The correct Jeopardy! question: What is Arianism? Next Jeopardy! answer: These two bishops, along with St. Gregory of Nyssa, are known as the Cappadocian Fathers and opposed Arianism, which was condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 381, which provided the final version of the Nicene Creed. The correct Jeopardy! question: Who are Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. 

Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazianzen were instrumental in contributing to the definition of the Trinity. They preached, taught, debated, and worked strenuously to bring the faithful who had been misled into thinking Jesus was not God and the Holy Spirit was not God back to the truth. God is “one substance (ousia) in three persons (hypostases)”. What this means is that the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, three persons, one God. But they are three persons in relationship to each other: The Father is NOT the Son; the Son is NOT the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is NOT the Father. They are in relationship with each other in a divine dance of love unified in the godhead. 

St. Basil, born in 330, first became a hermit, then later a monk, and eventually became Bishop of Caesarea in 370, dying in 379. Born in 329, St. Gregory Nazianzen, friend of St. Basil, is also called St. Gregory the Theologian for his advancement of the Trinity. He became a priest in 361, then Bishop of Sasima, and finally Bishop of Constantinople, dying in 390. Both men advanced the true faith through their teaching and holiness. They gave us a better understanding of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

*  Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  Unknown authorUnknown author, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, December 16, 2021

December 26--St. Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr


On the first day of Christmas, we receive the gift of the birth of Jesus, the source of all salvation. On the second day of Christmas, we have the feast of the first martyr, St. Stephen. What we know of St. Stephen comes to us directly from the Acts of the Apostles. He was chosen as one of the seven deacons, who then served the Greek-speaking Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. But there is more to the story of St. Stephen.

He came to the attention of the Sanhedrin. He then explained the history of Israel to them and told them how Jesus fulfilled all that had been prophesied. “When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and when he said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:54-60). 

The feast of St. Stephen is immediately after Christmas to show us what discipleship truly means, the sacrifice of oneself in love of God for others, namely, martyrdom. May every day remind us of our call to discipleship. St. Stephen, pray for us.

*  Jacopo & Domenico Tintoretto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, December 11, 2021

December 23--St. John of Kanty, Priest


It’s Christmas! Let’s celebrate! Wait, we have two days left and today’s a saint’s feast day! But why is there a feast day right before Christmas? Let’s look at the saint and find out. Our saint is St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, a priest, philosopher, physicist, and theologian. He was born in 1390 in Kanty, Poland, became a priest and then a professor of theology at his alma mater at what would later be called the Jagiellonian University, where St. John Paul II graduated. As a physicist, he helped develop a theory of falling objects. He made pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Rome. He died on December 24, 1473 at the age of 83. This doesn’t speak a whole lot to sainthood! 

But wait, there’s more. Sainthood is based on holiness, not on achievement! St. John Cantius became “well known in the city for his generosity and compassion toward the poor, especially needy students at the university. He subsisted on what was strictly necessary to sustain his life, giving alms regularly to the poor.” His first biographer pointed out his extreme humility and charity by citing his motto: “Beware disturbing: it’s not sweetly pleasing,/Beware speaking ill: for taking back words is burdensome.” He became a popular saint in Poland, which was transferred to America by Polish immigrants. 

So, what we have here is a man who lived his life, did his work, ministered to others, and followed Jesus in the way Jesus called him. Thus, what we have here is a disciple of Christ, a saint! Humility and charity could be our watchwords to becoming “hidden” saints, those who are not necessarily famous, but are holy in all we think, say, and do. He’s a perfect saint for two days before Christmas! Have a blessed Christmas!

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Monday, December 6, 2021

December 13—St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr


If you are a fan of C. S. Lewis, you may remember one of the main characters in his classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy Pevensie. It was Lucy who brought the other Pevensie children to the magical land of Narnia and met its ruler, Aslan, the lion, who is an allegorical figure for Christ. She was the first to believe in Aslan and sometimes saw him when the rest didn’t. The name Lucy is from the Latin word, “lux”, meaning light. It is also the name of today’s saint. 

St. Lucy was one of the virgin martyrs mentioned in the Church’s Eucharistic canon. She was born about 283 and died during the worst persecution of Christians in the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian in 304. After her father’s death, her mother arranged for a marriage with a young man from a wealthy pagan family. However, St. Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God. Her dowry was distributed to the poor, but her betrothed objected and denounced her to the Governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Lucy was ordered to sacrifice to the emperor’s image. Upon refusal, she was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel. When guards came to take her away, she was unmovable. She was then killed by a sword to her throat. According to some legends her eyes were gouged out, leading to her patronage of the blind. 

So how does this relate to Lucy Pevensie? Both could SEE what others could not, Jesus, who said of himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Both followed Jesus, one in a magical land, the other to the land of eternal life. St. Lucy, pray for us.