St. Eugene De Mazenod, Founder and Bishop

St. Eugene, pray for us !

St. Eugene, pray for us !

St. Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the poor and he ministered to them. He was always eager to find new ways to reach out to the young. He wanted to bring them to the love and practice of their faith. He believed in the value of parish missions. He realized that missionary priests in a parish could do so much good to reawaken in people dedication to their faith.

Father de Mazenod began a new religious order of priests and lay brothers in 1826. They were missionaries called the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Their particular ministry was to go to people who had never heard of Jesus and his Church. Father de Mazenod and his order were courageous in answering the requests of bishops who needed their help. Bishops of North America eagerly awaited the Oblates. Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal was especially eager. He must have been very convincing because the founder sent several of his members. Within ten years, the Oblates had grown rapidly. They reached all of Canada and had begun to minister in the United States, too.

In 1837, Father de Mazenod was consecrated bishop of Marseilles, France. He became known for his loyalty and love for the pope. He was also a gifted organizer and educator. Bishop de Mazen-od remained superior of his order until he died in 1861.

The great work Bishop de Mazenod started continues today through the Oblate missionaries around the world. They staff mission posts, parishes and universities.

Reflection: There is no zeal if love is lacking.

Prayer: Look, O Lord, upon your family, which  blessed Eugene de Mazenod engendered by the Word of truth and fed with the Sacrament of life, that your grace, which has made them faithful through his ministry, may through his prayers make them fervent in charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Celestine V, Pope

Saint Celestine V, pray for us !

Saint Celestine V, pray for us !

Pietro (Peter) di Morrone was the born in Isernia, Italy. He was the eleventh of twelve children and his father died when he was small. The family was poor, but Peter’s mother raised her children with great love. She sent Peter to school because he showed such promise and an eagerness to learn. Once she asked as usual, “Which one of you is going to become a saint?” Little Peter who was to become Pope Celestine answered with all his heart, “Me, Mama! I’ll become a saint!” And he did. But it wasn’t easy.

When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit. He spent his days praying, reading the Bible and doing his work. Other hermits kept coming to him and asking him to guide them. Eventually, he started a new order of monks.

When Peter was eighty-four years of age, he was made pope. It came about in a very unusual way. For two years there had been no pope. This was because the cardinals could not agree on whom to choose. Peter sent them a message. He warned them to decide quickly, because God was not pleased with the long delay. The cardinals did as the monk said. Then and there, they chose Peter the hermit to be pope! The poor man wept when he heard the news. He accepted sadly and took the name Celestine V.

He was pope only about five months. Because he was so humble and simple, people took advantage of him. He could not say “no” to anyone. Soon there was great confusion. Pope Celestine felt very responsible for all the trouble. He decided that the best thing he could do for the Church was give up his position. He did so. He asked forgiveness for not having governed the Church well.

All St. Celestine wanted was to live in one of his monasteries in peace. But the new pope, Boniface VIII, thought it would be safer to keep him hidden in a small room in one of the Roman palaces. St. Celestine spent the last ten months of his life in a plain cell-like room. But he became his cheerful self again. “All you wanted was a cell, Peter,” he would repeat to himself. “Well, you’ve got it.” He died on May 19, 1296. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement VI in 1313.

Reflection: When we feel discouraged because we do not see the fruits of our work, this might be an invitation from the Lord to simply do our best and leave the results up to him.

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Celestine V to preside over your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, pray for us !

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, pray for us !

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who worked under Emperor Trajan. In 398, Pope Siricius built a church in their honor in Rome. Pope Damasus wrote a brief tribute to the martyrs.

He explained that Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were converted to the Christian faith. They gave up their jobs in the army and left behind their weapons forever. They were true followers of Jesus even at the cost of their own lives.

Around the year 304, Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were exiled (sent away) from Rome to the island of Terracina where they were beheaded. These martyrs willingly died for their faith in Jesus.

Reflection: With the help of the prayers of these three saints, may we understand what it means to be members of the Church of Christ.

Prayer: O God, from whom faith draws perseverance and weakness strength, grant, through the example and prayers of the Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus, that we may share in the Passion and Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son, so that with the Martyrs we may attain perfect joy in your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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St. Rose Venerini, Virgin

St. Rose Venerini, pray for us !

St. Rose Venerini, pray for us !

Saint Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy. Her father, Godfrey Venerini was a doctor. St. Rose grew up, and was engaged to get married, when suddenly her fiancé died. She decided to dedicate her life to Jesus instead and entered the convent. But a few months later, her father died, so she returned home to care for her widowed mother.

St. Rose, who knew she could be a leader gathered the young women in her neighborhood. They prayed the Rosary together in the evenings. As they all got to know each other, St. Rose became aware of how little the young people knew about their faith.

Fr. Ignatius Martinelli, her spiritual director, told St. Rose that God really wanted her to be a teacher and not a nun. So St.Rose and two helpers opened a free school for girls in 1685. The parents who sent their daughters there were very pleased with the quality of education and the atmosphere.

St. Rose was a gifted educator who was able to teach others to teach. In 1692, Cardinal Barbarigo invited Rose to his diocese of Montefiascone, requesting her to organize his schools and train his teachers. It was in his diocese that she became a friend and teacher of Lucy Filippini. Lucy then started a religious order and years later, was declared a saint.

St.Rose organized schools in various places. Some people disliked her work and attacked her and her teachers. But the teachers did not let that stop them. St. Rose even opened a school in Rome in 1713. Pope Clement XI congratulated Rose for starting such a wonderful school.

When St. Rose finally died in Rome on May 7, 1728, at the age of seventy-two, she was directing forty schools in many parts of Italy. After her death, Saint Rose’s lay teachers became religious sisters. The Venerini sisters continue to perform their teaching ministry the way Saint Rose would in USA and other places.

Reflection: Today, let us pray for all teachers that they may be good examples to their students.

Prayer: O God, who raised up blessed Rose Venerini in your Church to show others the way of salvation, grant us, by her example, so to follow Christ the master, that we may come with our neighbor into your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano, pray for us!

This saint was born near the city of Monte pulciano, Italy, in 1268. When she was just nine years old, she begged her mother and father to let her live at the nearby convent. Agnes was very happy with the sisters. They led a quiet, prayerful life. They worked hard, too. Even though she was young, Agnes understood why the sisters lived and prayed so well. They wanted to be very close to Jesus.

The years passed. St. Agnes received her training as a novice. She was such a good nun that the other sisters were pleased to have her. Agnes prayed with all her heart. She gave the sisters a good example. Some young women came to join them. Agnes and the sisters belonged to the Order of Preachers, called Dominicans.

Eventually, Agnes was chosen superior or “prioress” of the convent. She tried to be fair and honest with each sister. She kept reminding herself that everything she did was for Jesus. She believed that Jesus was really in charge of the convent. He was taking care of them.

Mother Agnes performed hard penances. She was kind and gentle even when she didn’t feel like it. God filled Agnes with joy and sometimes gave her spiritual favors. One time he even let her hold the Christ Child in her arms.

Agnes was a sickly woman. But she was patient even when she was very ill. She never complained or felt sorry for herself. Instead, she offered everything to God. Toward the end of her life, the sisters realized she was not going to get better. They were very sad. “If you loved me, you would be glad,” Agnes said. “I am going to enter the glory of Jesus.”

St. Agnes died in 1317 at the age of forty-nine. She was proclaimed a saint in 1726. Her tomb became a place of pilgrimage. Many people came to pray to this holy woman and to seek her help. Among the pilgrims was the famous St. Catherine of Siena. We celebrate St. Catherine’s feast day on April 29.

Reflection: Let us pray today for those who have dedicated their whole lives serving others.

Prayer: Lord, you gave us Saint Agnes of Montepulciano to be our model. Help us through her prayer that we may obtain the purity of life to attain eternal bliss with you in Heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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St. William of York

St. William of York, pray for us

St. William of York, pray for us

William Fitzherbert was born in England in the twelfth century. He was the nephew of King Stephen. As a young man, William was rather easy-going and even a bit lazy. He seems to have given the impression to some that he was not very serious about taking responsibility in life. However, William was very popular with the people of his city of York.

Years later, when the archbishop of York died, William was chosen to take his place. In those times, princes used to interfere in the election of the bishops. This is why many priests did not think William had been properly chosen. It was his uncle, the king, who had appointed him. Even the great St. Bernard persuaded the pope to make someone else archbishop of York. William was asked to step aside because they felt his appointment was not valid. He left his bishop’s house feeling hurt and humiliated. He went to live with another uncle, a bishop. It seems that William became a much more spiritual person. He would not accept any of the comforts his uncle offered him. He prayed and performed penances. He began to show how much he cared about his faith and about the Church.

The people of York were angry at what had happened to their archbishop. They could not understand how something like this could take place. There were street fights between those who wanted William and those who did not. Six years passed. William lived a quiet life of prayer in the home of his uncle, the bishop. He asked the Lord for peace for his archdiocese. It did not matter any more if he had been treated unjustly. What mattered was that his people be taken care of.

Finally, his prayers were answered. When the other archbishop died, the pope sent William back to York. He arrived in May, 1154. The people were very happy. But William was an old man by this time, and about a month later, he died. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Honorius III in 1227.

Reflection

Hurts sometimes make us strong and perceptive about things that could happen. But how can we move on with our lives and not waste time thinking about them who cause our hurts? We can turn to Jesus and ask Him to free us from things that block us from living our life to the full.

Prayer

St. William, you were chosen by God to be Archbishop of York, but were unjustly accused of simony.  You’re election was opposed by many in favor of another.  Even through all this, you never took your eyes off of Christ and his will for you.  You devoted yourself to a life of prayer and mortification.  After many years, you were finally restored to the See that was rightfully yours.  Instead of reserving spite, you showed the utmost amount of forgiveness and love for those who had before been in opposition to your election.  Please help us to follow your example of perseverance and forgiveness so that we may forgive our transgressors and always persevere in the Lord’s will. Amen.

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St. Norbert

St. Norbert, pray for us

St. Norbert, pray for us

In the twelfth century in the French region of Premontre, St. Norbert founded a religious Order known as the Praemonstratensians or the Norbertines. His founding of the Order was a monumental task: combating rampant heresies (particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament), revitalizing many of the faithful who had grown indifferent and dissolute, plus effecting peace and reconciliation among enemies.

Norbert entertained no pretensions about his own ability to accomplish this multiple task. Even with the aid of a goodly number of men who joined his Order, he realized that nothing could be effectively done without God’s power. Finding this help especially in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, he and his Norbertines praised God for success in converting heretics, reconciling numerous enemies and rebuilding faith in indifferent believers. Many of them lived in central houses during the week and served in parishes on weekends.

Reluctantly, Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a territory half pagan and half Christian. In this position he zealously and courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134.

Reflection

On the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood, Norbert said, “O Priest! You are not yourself because you are God. You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing. What then are you? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you: ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save!'”

Prayer

Father,
you made the bishop Norbert
an outstanding minister of your Church,
renowned for his preaching and pastoral zeal.
Always grant to your Church faithful shepherds
to lead your people to eternal salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

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