Saint Sebastian, Martyr

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Saint Sebastian, pray for us!

St. Sebastian was born at Narbonne, in Gaul, but his parents were of Milan, in Italy, and he was brought up in that city. He was a fervent servant of Christ, and though his natural inclinations gave him an aversion to a military life, yet to be better able, without suspicion, to assist the confessors and martyrs in their sufferings, he went to Rome and entered the army under the emperor Carinus about the year 283. It happened that the martyrs, Marcus and Marcellianus, under sentence of death, appeared in danger of being shaken in their faith by the tears of their friends: Sebastian—seeing this, steps in and made them a long exhortation to constancy, which he delivered with the holy fire that strongly affected all his hearers. Zoe, the wife of Nicostratus, having for six years lost the use of speech by a palsy in her tongue, fell at his feet, and spoke distinctly; by the saint making the sign of the cross on her mouth. She, with her husband Nicostratus, who was master of the rolls,[1] the parents of Marcus and Marcellianus, the jailer Claudius, and sixteen other prisoners, were converted; and Nicostratus, who had charge of the prisoners, took them to his own house, where Polycarp, a holy priest, instructed and baptized them. Chromatius, governor of Rome, being informed of this, and that Tranquillinus, the father of SS. Marcus and Marcellianus, had been cured of the gout by receiving baptism, desired to be instructed in the faith, being himself grievously afflicted with the same distemper. Accordingly, having sent for Sebastian, he was cured by him, and baptized with his son Tiburtius. He then enlarged the converted prisoners, made his slaves free, and resigned his prefectship.

Chromatius, with the emperor’s consent, retired into the country in Campania, taking many new converts along with him. It was a contest of zeal, out of a mutual desire of martyrdom, between St. Sebastian and the priest Polycarp, which of them should accompany this troop, to complete their instruction, and which should remain in the city to encourage and assist the martyrs, which latter was the more dangerous province. St. Austin wished to see such contests of charity amongst the ministers of the church.[2] Pope Caius, who was appealed to, judged it most proper that Sebastian should stay in Rome as a defender of the church. In the year 286, the persecution growing hot, the pope and others concealed themselves in the imperial palace, as a place of the greatest safety, in the apartments of one Castulus, a Christian officer of the court. St. Zoe was first apprehended, praying at St. Peter’s tomb on the feast of the apostles. She was stifled with smoke, being hung by the heels over a fire. Tranquillinus, ashamed to be less courageous than a woman, went to pray at the tomb of St. Paul, and was seized by the populace and stoned to death. Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorius, and Victorinus were taken, and, after having been thrice tortured, were thrown into the sea. Tiburtius, betrayed by a false brother, was beheaded. Castulus, accused by the same wretch, was thrice put on the rack, and afterwards buried alive. Marcus and Marcellianus were nailed by the feet to a post, and having remained in that torment twenty-four hours, were shot to death by arrows.

St. Sebastian, having sent so many martyrs to heaven before him, was himself impeached before the Emperor Diocletian, who, having grievously reproached him with ingratitude, delivered him over to certain archers of Mauritania, to be shot to death. His body was covered with arrows, and he left for dead. Irene, the widow of St. Castulus, going to bury him, found him still alive, and took him to her lodgings, where, by care, he recovered of his wounds, but refused to flee, and even placed himself one day by a staircase where the emperor was to pass, whom he first accosted, reproaching him for his unjust cruelties against the Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person, too, whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus. A church was afterwards built over his relics by Pope Damasus, which is one of the seven ancient stationary churches at Rome, but not one of the seven principal churches of that city, as some moderns mistake; it neither being one of the five patriarchal churches, nor one of the seventy-two old churches which give titles to cardinals. Vandelbert,

St. Ado, Eginard, Sigebert, and other contemporary authors relate that, in the reign of Louis Debonnair, Pope Eugenius II gave the body of St. Sebastian to Hilduin, Abbot of St. Denys, who brought it into France, and it was deposited at St. Medard’s, at Soissons, on the 8th of December, in 826 With it is said to have been brought a considerable portion of the relics of St. Gregory the Great. The rich shrines of SS. Sebastian, Gregory, and Medard were plundered by the Calvinists in 1564, and the sacred bones thrown into a ditch, in which there was water. Upon the declaration of two eye-witnesses, they were afterwards found by the Catholics, and in 1578 enclosed in three new shrines, though the bones of the three saints could not be distinguished from each other.[3] The head of this martyr, which was given to St. Willibrord by Pope Sergius, is kept at Esternach, in the duchy of Luxemburg. Portions of his relics are shown in the cathedral at St. Victor’s; the Theatins and Minims at Paris; in four churches at Mantua; at Malacca, Seville, Toulouse; Munich in the ducal palace; Tournay in the cathedral; Antwerp in the Church of the Jesuits; and at Brussels in the chapel of the court, not at St. Gudule’s, as some have mistaken.[4] St. Sebastian has been always honoured by the church as one of her most illustrious martyrs. We read in Paul the deacon in what manner, in the year 680, Rome was freed from a raging pestilence by the patronage of this saint. Milan in 1575, Lisbon in 1599, and other places, have experienced in like calamities the effects of his intercession with God in their behalf.

Reflection: Our lives are useless and meaningless if it’s not for God. God who is the source of all good and pleasure, is the the only one who deserves our highest honor and praise. Even given a thousand lives yet not for God seems nothing. God alone suffices. Our longing should be for Him. Our longing should aspire for what is eternal not temporal!

Prayer: Lord, fill us with that spirit of courage  which gave your martyr Sebastian strength to offer his life in faithful witness. Help us to learn from him to cherish Your law and to obey you rather than men. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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Saint Wulfstan, Bishop

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Saint Wulfstan, pray for us!

Saint Wulfstan (1008-1095) + Bishop and reformer, also called Wulstan and Wolstan. Born at Long-Itch ington, Warwickshire, England, he studied at the abbeys of Evesham and Peterborough, received ordination, and joined the Benedictines at Worcester. Wulfstan served as treasurer of the church at Worcester, was prior of the monastery, and finally was named bishop of Worcester in 1062. After overcoming initial doubts about his ability to hold the office of bishop, he demonstrated such skill after the Norman Conquest that he was the lone bishop to be kept in his post by William the Conqueror (r. l066-l087). For the next three decades, Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor, and struggled to alleviate the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons. He was canonized in 1203. Feast day: January 19.

REFLECTION: God has entrusted His Church through the Apostles, and through them to the Bishops, from the hands of the Bishops down to priests and deacons. We should follow the hierarchy that God ordained in His Church for through it graces overflow. We should not doubt our superior’s qualifications instead pray for them that they may be qualified for the work and task given them. Hand in hand with them, we can make things happen for God’s greater glory!

PRAYER: Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Wulfstan to preside as Bishop over your holy people, we pray that, by his merits, you may bestow on us the grace of your loving kindness. 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 Margaret of Hungary

18Saint Margaret, the daughter of King Bela IV, champion of Christendom, and Queen Mary Lascaris of Hungary, was offered to God before her birth, in petition that the country would be delivered from the terrible scourge of the Tartars. The prayer having been answered, the king and queen made good their promise by placing the rich and beautiful three-year-old in the Dominican convent at Vesprim. Here, in company with other children of nobility, she was trained in the arts thought fitting for royalty.

St. Margaret was not content with simply living in the house of God; she demanded the religious habit–and received it–at the age of four. Furthermore, she took upon herself the austerities practiced by the other sisters–fasting, hairshirts, the discipline (scourge), and night vigils. She soon learned the Divine Office by heart and chanted it happily to herself as she went about her play. She chose the least attractive duties of the nuns for herself. She would starve herself to keep her spirit humble. No one but St. Margaret seemed to take seriously the idea that she would one day make profession and remain as a sister, for it would be of great advantage to her father if she were to make a wise marriage.

This question arose seriously when St. Margaret was 12. She responded in surprise. She said that she had been dedicated to God, even before her birth, and that she intended to remain faithful to that promise. Some years later her father built for her a convent on the island in the Danube between Buda and Pest. To settle the matter of her vocation, here she pronounced her vows to the master general of the order, Blessed Humbert of the Romans, in 1255, and took the veil in 1261.

Again, when St. Margaret was 18, her father made an attempt to sway her from her purpose, because King Ottokar of Bohemia, hearing of her beauty, had come seeking her hand. He even obtained a dispensation from the pope and approached St. Margaret with the permission. St. Margaret replied as she had previously, “I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the King of Bohemia.” Having established that she was not interested in any throne but a heavenly one, she proceeded with great joy to live an even more fervent religious life than she had before.

St. Margaret’s royal parentage was, of course, a matter of discussion in the convent. But the princess managed to turn such conversation away from herself to the holy lives of the saints who were related to her by blood–King Saint Stephen, Saint Hedwig, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and several others. She did not glory in her wealth or parentage, but strove to imitate the saints in their holiness. She took her turn in the kitchen and laundry, seeking by choice much heavy work that her rank might have excused her from doing. She was especially welcome in the infirmary, which proves that she was not a sad-faced saint, and she made it her special duty to care for those who were too disagreeable for anyone else to tend.

St. Margaret’s austerities seem excessive to us of a weaker age. The mysteries of the Passion were very real to her and gave reason for her long fasts, severe scourgings, and other mortifications detailed in the depositions of witnesses taken seven years after her death (of which records are still in existence). Throughout Lent she scarcely ate or slept. She not only imitated the poverty- striken in their manual labor and hunger, but also in their lack of cleanliness–a form of penance at that time. Some of her acts of self-immolation have been described as “horrifying” and verging on fanaticism, and there seems to have been an element of willfulness in her mortifications.

She had a tender devotion to Our Lady, and on the eve of her feasts, St. Margaret said a thousand Hail Mary’s. Unable to make the long pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, or to any of the other famous shrines of Christendom, the saint developed a plan by which she could go in spirit: she counted up the miles that lay between herself and the desired shrine, and then said an Ave Maria for every mile there and back. On Good Friday she was so overcome at the thoughts of Our Lord’s Passion that she wept all day. She was frequently in ecstasy, and very embarrassed if anyone found her so and remarked on her holiness.

A number of miracles were performed during St. Margaret’s lifetime and many more after her death because St. Margaret had an implicit faith in the power and efficacy of prayer. The princess nun was only 28 when she died. Most of the particulars of her life are recorded in existing depositions of witnesses taken in 1277. Her friends and acquaintances petitioned for her to be acclaimed a saint almost immediately after her death. Among them was her own servant, Agnes, who rightly observed that this daughter of a monarch showed far more humility than any of the monastery’s maids. Although their testimony expressed St. Margaret’s overpowering desire to allow nothing to stand between her and God, the process of canonization was not complete until 1943. The island where her convent stood, called first the “Blessed Virgin’s Isle,” was called “Isle of Margaret” after the saint (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Dorcy, Farmer).

Reflection: Wealth and riches are nothing before the Omnipotent God. As the Psalmist says, “In his riches man lacks wisdom.” The reason why Saint Margaret though consecrated before her birth, left everything for seeking God’s glory and not otherwise. If we know how to use them for God and neighbor we are sure of our salvation but if not condemnation in Hell is waiting for us. Let us be like Saint Margaret of Hungary who did not seek for worldly pleasure and prestige of life.

Prayer: O God, the lover and guardian of chastity, by whose gifts Thy handmaid Margaret united the beauty of virginity and the merit of good works, grant we pray, that through the spirit of salutary penance we may be able to recover integrity of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

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Saint John Eudes

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SAINT JOHN EUDES, pray for us!

St. John Eudes was born in Normandy, in France and was the oldest son of a farmer. Even as a child, he tried to copy the example of Jesus in the way he treated his family, friends and neighbors.

When he was only nine years old, another boy slapped his face and John felt himself becoming angry. Then he remembered Jesus’ words in the Gospel: ‘to turn the other cheek’ and he did.

John’s parents wanted him to marry and have a family. He gently but firmly made them understand that he wanted to become a priest. He joined the congregation of the Oratory and studied for the priesthood.

After John was a priest, there was plague in Normandy which brought terrible suffering and death. Father Eudes went to help the sick, caring for both their souls and bodies.

Later, he became a well-liked preacher of missions in parishes. In fact, during his lifetime he preached 110 missions.

St. John started many important religious congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd nuns. He also started the Congregation of Jesus and Mary for priests. This congregation was dedicated to training young men to become good parish priests.

St. John was very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Holy Heart of Mary. He wrote a book about these devotions.

John became sick after he preached an outdoor mission in very cold weather. He never fully recovered and died in 1680.

The Pope called John Eudes the apostle of devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

REFLECTION: When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people, and is visiting His most dreadful anger upon them. That is why He cries unceasingly to Christians, “Return O ye revolting children … and I will give you pastors according to My own heart”. (Jer. 3:14,15) Thus, irregularities in the lives of priests constitute a scourge upon the people in consequence of sin.
-St. John Eudes

PRAYER: O God, who wonderfully chose the Priest Saint John Eudes to proclaim the unfathomable riches of Christ, grant us, by his example and teachings, that, growing in knowledge of you, we may live faithfully by the light of the Gospel. 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 Dominic De Guzman, Patriarch (Order of Preacher)

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Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us !

Dominic was born in Castile in Spain. He was a member of the Guzman family and his mother was a holy woman – Blessed Joan of Aza.

When Dominic was seven, he began to go to school. His uncle who was a priest, guided him all through his school years. After years of study, Dominic became a priest too.

He lived a quiet life of prayer and obedience with other good priests. But God had amazing plans for Dominic. He began a new religious order called the Order of Preachers or “Dominicans,” after St. Dominic.

The Dominicans preached the faith to the people. They helped correct false teachings called heresies.

It all began when Dominic was on a trip through southern France. He realized that some people had formed a group and were going about teaching people things that were not true. This was doing them great harm. St. Dominic felt such pity for all the people who had joined the group and wanted to help them.

The Dominicans conquered that dangerous heresy with prayer, especially by praying the Holy Rosary. Dominic also encouraged the people to be humble and to make sacrifices.

Once someone asked St. Dominic what book he used to prepare his wonderful sermons. “The only book I use is the book of love,” he said. He always prayed to be filled with true love of neighbor. He begged the Dominicans to be devoted to the study of the Bible and to prayer.

No one did more than St. Dominic and his preachers to spread the beautiful practice of saying the Rosary.

St. Dominic was a brilliant preacher, while St. Francis of Assisi was a humble beggar. Yet, they were very close friends. Their two orders of Dominicans and Franciscans helped Christians become holier.

Dominic’s friars opened centers in Paris (in France); Madrid (in Spain); Rome and Bologna (in Italy). He lived to see his order spread to Poland, Scandinavia and Palestine. The friars also went to Canterbury, London, and Oxford (in England).

Dominic died in Bologna (Italy) on August 7, 1221.

His great friend, Cardinal Ugolino of Venice became Pope Gregory IX and a few years later he proclaimed Dominic a saint.

Reflection: “Arm yourself with prayer rather than a sword; wear humility rather than fine clothes.” — St. Dominic de Guzman

Prayer: Wonderful Saintly Founder of the eloquent Order of Preachers and friend of Saint Francis of Assisi, you were a fiery defender of the Faith and a fighter against the darkness of heresy. You resembled a great star that shone close to the world and pointed to the Light which was Christ. Help astronomers to study the stars and admire their wonderful Maker, proclaiming: “Give glory to God in the highest.” Amen.

 

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St. Botvid

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Saint Botvid,pray for us !

Saint Botvid was born in the province of Sudermannland in Sweden and came from a pagan family. Pagans were people who believed in false gods and false teachings. When he went to England, he got converted and became a Christian. Although he was not a priest, he had a great wish to spread the good news of the gospel. He wanted to share the gospel message with his own countrymen and decided to be a lay missionary.

St. Botvid returned to Sweden to work for the Lord there. After many years he decided it would be good to have the Gospel preached in Finland, too. So he bought a Finnish slave and taught him the Catholic religion. He then set the slave free to go back to Finland and take the good news of salvation to his people.

That man repaid the saint for his goodness by a terrible act of ingratitude. St. Botvid set out in a boat to take him across the Baltic sea to Finland. When they went ashore and the saint was asleep, the wicked slave killed Botvid and sailed away with the boat.

When the saint did not return, friends searched for him until they found his body. He died in 1100. St. Botvid is honored as a martyr of charity and as one of the apostles of Sweden.

Reflection: Today we might consider showing our appreciation and gratitude to people who have helped us in so many ways, especially our parents and teachers.

Prayer: O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Botvid with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. 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. Pantaleon

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Saint Panteleon, pray for us !

St. Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He was such a famous doctor that Emperor Galerius Maximian asked him to be his own personal doctor. There, at the wicked, pagan court, he got into trouble. Pagans were people who believed in false gods and false teachings. Pantaleon was a Christian, but little by little, he began to follow the bad example of the people around him. He began to agree with the false wisdom praised by the pagans. At last, he committed the great sin of completely giving up his Christian faith.

A holy priest named Hermolaos was very sad to see the famous doctor desert Jesus. He went to him and with his wise, kind words, he made Pantaleon realize what a big sin he had committed. Pantaleon realized he had made a horrible mistake. He hated his sin and joined the Church once more.

To make up for what he had done, he wanted with all his heart to suffer and die for Jesus. He followed Jesus’ example by doing works of charity and by taking care of poor sick people without any charge. He healed many sick people only by prayer.

When Emperor Diocletian began torturing the Christians, Pantaleon at once gave away everything he owned to the poor. Soon afterward, some jealous doctors accused him of being a Christian. He had two choices. He could either give up his religion or he could tell the truth and be put to death. Pantaleon absolutely refused to hurt Jesus anymore. He bravely admitted he was a Christian and no amount of torture could make change his mind.

At the trial he challenged the pagan priest to cure a man who was paralyzed. The called upon their false gods but nothing happened. Then Pantaleon in the name of Jesus cured the man. Many pagans who saw this miracle became Christians. After he was killed for his faith, people showed a strong devotion to this saint. In the East he is called the “great martyr and wonder-worker.”

Reflection: Do I listen to friends or do things that might weaken my faith in Jesus? We pray that the Holy Spirit may guide our hearts and minds.

Prayer: O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Panteleon with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his  footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. 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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