Saint of the Week

 

Saint of the Week 
July 7, 2024

St. Henry | July 13

    Saint Henry was born in 972 to Henry, Duke of Bavaria, Germany, and his wife Gisela of Burgundy. Saint Henry’s early life was permeated with Christianity, among those who guided his education was Bishop Wolfgang of Ratisbon, who became a saint himself. In 995, Saint Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin, Otho III, he was elected emperor. In 1014, Saint Henry undertook the long journey from Germany to Rome to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Benedict XIII.

      In 1022 Saint Henry assisted Pope Benedict VIII in holding the Council of Pavia, which promoted clerical celibacy and sought to end simony (the buying and selling of ecclesiastical goods and offices). During his reign, Saint Henry used his wealth and position for the Church. He confirmed Benedict’s authority over Rome, was a patron of churches and monasteries, supported the Cluniac Reforms, restored episcopal sees, and founded the Diocese of Bamburg where he built a cathedral.

      Saint Henry was married to Cunigunde of Luxembourg, to whom he was incredibly devoted. Although disputed by some historians, some stories of the couple’s marriage report they took vows of chastity because their union was childless. Saint Henry died in July of 1024 and was canonized in 1146 by Pope Eugene III

 

Saint of the Week 
June 23, 2024

St. Faustina (1905-1938)

 St. Faustina (1905-1938) was born Helena Kowalska in Poland to a poor family with ten children. They were devoutly Catholic, and she felt a call to the religious life at age seven, when praying in front of the exposed Eucharist. Despite wanting to become a sister as soon as she finished her schooling, she was sent to work as a housekeeper to help support the family instead.

When she was 18, she had a vision of Jesus suffering and, in the vision, Jesus asked her how long she would keep putting off entering religious life. She decided, at that moment, to travel to Warsaw and join the Congregation of the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Upon entering the Congregation, she took the name Sister Maria Faustina.

      During her 13 years in the Congregation, Sister Faustina experienced and recorded extraordinary revelations from Jesus. She recorded these experiences and messages into notebooks which became later known as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. In these writings, she reveals Jesus asking her to proclaim God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.

     Alongside her writings, Sister Faustina also experienced many miraculous phenomena. There are stories of her experiencing hidden stigmata, bilocation, prophecy, and the ability to read into human souls. Despite these occurrences, she maintained that miraculous events were simply ` “ornaments” for the soul and that her real sanctity came from her deep relationship with Jesus and desire to do God’s will.
 

      After her death at age 33, her writings on Divine Mercy sparked a great movement in the worldwide Catholic church with a strong focus on the Mercy of Christ and how to extend that mercy to others. Saint Pope John Paul II called her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time

 St. Faustina, pray for us!

 

 

Saint of the Week 
May 19, 2024

St. Gregory VII (c.1015-1085)     

     St. Gregory VII (c.1015-1085) was born in Italy and originally named Ildebrando di Sovana which translates to Hildebrand of Sovana. He grew up in a devout Catholic family and his uncle, Laurentius, was abbot of a monastery in Rome.

      As a young man, Hildebrand became close with Pope Leo IX. He was made a cardinal subdeacon and a legate. As a papal legate he served in France, Germany, and Italy. After Pope Leo IX’s death, Hildebrand became a leading figure in the papal court of the next few popes.

     Shortly after the death of Pope Alexander II, Hildebrand was quickly ordained a priest and raised to the papacy. He chose the name Pope Gregory VII in honor of the first Pope Gregory whose writings heavily influenced him. During his time as pope, Gregory VII worked hard to reform the
Church he so loved.

     At the time, the Church was facing corruption. People in leadership were selling sacred offices and sacramentals, some clergy were unlawfully marrying, and kings and nobles, were controlling the appointment of Church officials. Pope Gregory VII fiercely resisted these corruptions. In fact, in order to put an end to the Roman Emperor Henry IV’s control over which bishops were appointed, he excommunicated him three times. Pope Gregory VII’s desire was to reunite the Church under the banner of Christ and the Holy Eucharist, instead of under the banner of whoever was richest and desired the most control.

     Pope Gregory VII is remembered as one of the most important popes in Church history and lends his name to the Gregorian Reform, the period of reform in the Church that secured freedom from the intrusion of civil rulers. Saint Pope Gregory VII, pray for us!

 

Saint of the Week 
May 5, 2024

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c.315-386)

     St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c.315-386) was born and raised in Jerusalem. He was educated in the Faith and had a love of Scripture at an early age that guided him toward the priesthood.

     After he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem, he went on to serve as a catechist for those newly baptized in his congregations. The writings he produced during the early years of his priesthood have gone on to help give the modern Church a clear example of how the Church of the East did things during those first few centuries of Christianity. They included teachings on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, prerequisites for Baptism, the Eucharistic liturgy, and more.

     During the fourth century the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, was threatening to tear the young Church apart. It was during this time that Cyril was ordained Bishop of Jerusalem and accused by his contemporaries of Arianism. They exiled him from his homeland on three different occasions, but he was ultimately acquitted of the accusations both in his own time and a thousand years later when he was named a Doctor of the Church in 1822. Once back in Jerusalem, he and a bishop named Gregory, who would become St. Gregory, attended the Council of Constantinople, where the Nicene Creed was officially adopted. During this time, he publicly accepted and promoted the word “consubstantial,” the word the Council of Nicaea chose to describe Christ’s divinity and the relationship between God the Father and the Son.

     His life reminds us that even a prominent theologian of the Church can suffer pain from controversy. Despite this, he never gave up and went on to be recognized as a Doctor of the Church.

St. Cyril, pray for us!

 

Saint of the Week 
April 28, 2024

      St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes (1900-1920) was born Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts Fernandez Solar. Her family and friends nicknamed her Juanita. As a youth she read a biography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux that inspired her to grow in her faith and choose a path in life that led toward a religious vocation. By the age of 14 she knew she wanted to consecrate herself as a religious Carmelite nun.

      At the age of 19, she began her novitiate with Carmelites and took the name “Teresa of Jesus.” She was particularly drawn to the religious life with the Carmelites because she enjoyed the simple life offered in the convent, the companionship of the other sisters living and serving Jesus alongside her. She also found joy in her proximity to the Blessed Sacrament where she would often be found in prayer.

      During her short time with the Carmelites before her death, she wrote many letters to friends, family, and other community members. She considered these letters her apostolate and shared her thoughts as well as spiritual encouragement with those with whom she corresponded. Her writings frequently focused on her experiences of and thoughts on living a fulfilling spiritual life.

      After a particularly violent attack of typhus, she was permitted to take her vows early because it was feared she would die. After her vows and receiving her last rites, she succumbed to the disease just three months before her twentieth birthday. St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes’s short yet faith-filled life stands as a lasting testament to believers everywhere that one’s life doesn’t have to be long and filled with lofty accomplishments to be an amazing example of faith and Christ’s love.

 St. Teresa, pray for us!

 

 

Saint of the Week 
April 21, 2024

    Born to nobility, St. Norbert of Xanten (c. 1075-1134), was ordained as a subdeacon and served in the court of Henry V, Emperor of Germany, however, at court it was easy to be distracted by wealth, power, and luxury and he lived a worldly and corrupt life there. By the grace of God while traveling in a storm he was nearly struck by lightning and almost killed. This experience changed St. Norbert and he became penitent, left his court post, and after a period of discernment in a monastery, felt called to be a priest.

     Norbert became an itinerant preacher, preaching against worldly attitudes but at the Pope’s request finally settled in northern France and founded the Norbertine order established according to the rule of St. Augustine. The order grew rapidly and soon

founded a women’s branch. Norbert traveled and preached across Germany where he also founded a lay branch of the Norbertines. In Belgium he preached against heresies which denied the Blessed Sacrament, this earned him the title “Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament”. He and those of his orders had a great love of and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, with a devout faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

      Eventually he was made Archbishop of Magdeburg, Germany, and later he traveled to Rome in support of Pope Innocent II, against the antipope. Afterward he returned to Germany to court of Emperor Lothar as advisor, at end of life, in failing health, St. Norbert was carried back to Magdeburg where he died. St. Norbert of Xanten, pray for us!

 

 

Saint of the Week 
April 14, 2024

  St. Paul the Apostle (c.4-c.64) was named Saul of Tarsus before his conversion. He was born to a devout Jewish family who followed strict Pharisaic traditions for generations. He spoke Greek and was formally educated in Jewish culture, scripture, and traditions. As an adult he worked as a tentmaker as well as an enforcer for the Jewish leadership in their efforts against new Christian converts. He is known to have taken an active part in the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr, and considered himself to be a shining example of Judaism.

     Saul’s conversation to Christianity took place while he was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians there. According to Scripture, “a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 9:3-4). Stricken blind by the vision, Saul continued to Damascus where he was healed and immediately began meeting with other disciples in the area and preaching that Jesus is Lord. He changed his name to the Roman version of Saul, Paul, after his conversation because it was more common among the Gentiles.

   For years he traveled all over the region starting churches and preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul’s letters to the communities he served make up thirteen of the books of the New Testament today. His writings encourage new believers to learn about Jesus through Scripture and prayer, partaking in the Eucharist, and serving those in need. He was eventually beheaded as part of systematic executions of Christian leaders in Rome. St. Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and the most prolific Christian missionary of all time. St. Paul, pray for us!

 

St. Paschal Baylón (1540-1592)

   St. Paschal Baylón (1540-1592) was born in Spain to impoverished Catholic parents. He worked alongside his father as a shepherd from his childhood until his 20’s. He often prayed while working in the fields, listening daily for the church bells that would ring at the point of Elevation of the Eucharist during Mass to remind him to spend time with the Lord. He was known for his work ethic and honesty among his neighbors and desired a religious life from a young age.

     Baylón taught himself to read so he could pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, a prayer popular in his time. He would give parts of his dinner away to those in need when it was brought to him as he was shepherding in the field. He also had great compassion for the sick.

      At age 24, Baylón joined the Friars Minor and although invited to study to be a priest, he chose to be a brother. In this vocation he served his brothers in many ways, including as a chef, door man, gardener, and official beggar. As a Franciscan lay brother, he took a vow of poverty but remained generous to those poor who came begging at the monastery — to the point that the other friars sometimes tried to limit his giving.

     St. Paschal found particular solace while praying before the Blessed Sacrament. His devotion to Christ in the Eucharist was tangible as he was known to spend most of his free time in adoration and would occasionally experience visions after all-night prayer. Because of this devotion, he is the Patron Saint of Eucharistic Congresses and Societies. He was also known widely for his spiritual council. People all over the region would visit him to talk about faith and life. St. Paschal

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Saint of the Week 
April 7, 2024

Divine Mercy Sunday         
Eighth Day of the Octave of Easter

 

     In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Maria Faustina Kowolska and added the Feast of Divine Mercy to the Church’s official calendar. Saint Faustina, who died in 1938, was a member of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. She came from a poor family of farmers, had only three years of schooling, and performed the humblest of tasks in her convent. But she also was a mystic who was privileged to have many private revelations from our Lord. In obedience to her superior and spiritual director, she recorded these private revelations in six notebooks, known today as Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. The messages in her diary present profound communications from God for our time. There are several ways that God is calling us to a new form of devotion.

       A first way is through meditation on the image of Divine Mercy. This now-familiar image shows Jesus in a white garment with one hand raised in blessing and the other touching His breast. From the breast, a pale ray represents the Water “that makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls” (#299).

      A second way is through our participation in the Solemnity of Divine Mercy on the eighth day of Easter every year by going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion. Those souls are promised “complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (#699).

     A third way is through the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in order to “receive great mercy at the hour of death” (#687).

     A fourth way is by honoring Jesus’ passion at the three o’clock hour, described as “the hour of great mercy for the whole world” (#1320).

    A fifth way is through an apostolic movement to spread the message of Divine Mercy. God is calling each of us not only to receive His mercy but to spread that mercy to others.

    We should see the messages in Saint Faustina’s Diary as messages God especially desires, we learn and live today. With Saint Faustina’s death in 1938, the messages were revealed. After decades of study, Pope John Paul II canonized Faustina in 2000 and established the universal Feast of Mercy on the last day of the octave of Easter. 

     As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, ponder the profound significance of this new form of devotion for the Church and world. We need God’s Divine Mercy to flow from the gates of Heaven upon us more than ever. Only in Heaven will we understand the full depths of God’s Mercy. For now, we must trust all that He has revealed through his humble servant Saint Faustina and respond to the requests He has given to us through her. Commit yourself to the various ways God has called us to call upon His Mercy and do so with as much vigor and devotion you can offer Him. The following is the three o’clock prayer Jesus gave to Saint Faustina:

     You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us (#1319). Jesus, I trust in You.

Saint of the Week 
March 24, 2024

Holy Thursday        

  

     Holy Thursday was a power-packed day and night. It began with Jesus sending Peter and John ahead to prepare the Upper Room for the celebration of the Passover meal. That meal would become the beginning of the New Passover. During the meal, Jesus gave a witness of selfless, sacrificial service by fulfilling the role of a servant and washing the feet of the disciples. After that, Jesus transformed the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity for the very first time, and the disciples received Holy Communion. By commanding them to “do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus instituted the new sacramental priesthood. He also predicted that one of those priests would betray Him and another would deny Him, a sign that His chosen priests then and now are sinners. In John’s Gospel, Jesus gave a lengthy discourse and then went out to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray in agony as He awaited His arrest. Peter, James, and John went with Him but fell asleep, abandoning our Lord in His last agony. Jesus was arrested, endured the scrutiny of the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, and then was imprisoned so that He could be sent for judgment by Pilate. During the interrogations, the disciples fled, and Peter, the future leader of the Church, denied he knew Jesus three times.

      Was this truly a “holy” night? Indeed. True holiness is not a matter of having everything in your life be easy. It’s not about having the most entertaining and comfortable life possible. It’s not about avoiding every obstacle and difficulty that might befall you. Holiness is about fidelity to the fulfillment of the will of the Father in Heaven. Jesus fulfilled the Father’s will that night flawlessly. He set the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit, instituted the Sacraments, and prepared to empower those Sacraments with His very life, which would be sacrificed the following day.

      During the evening of Holy Thursday, after the conclusion of the Mass, the faithful accompany Jesus on a procession from the church to an altar of repose where our Lord’s sacred Body is placed until midnight. Whether you are able to kneel before that altar tonight or not, be with our Lord in prayer. Keep vigil with Him. Hear our Lord say to you, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). If you struggle with accompanying our Lord in prayer, then hear Him say to you what He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40–41). If you bring burdens with you tonight, say with our Lord, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” (Matthew 26:42). With a concerted effort, remain recollected throughout this night, tomorrow, and Saturday. It all begins tonight but culminates with Easter joy on Sunday. Enter Jesus’ suffering and death so that you can also share in His Resurrection!

 

Saint of the Week 
March 17, 2024

Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary

Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary First Century
Feast Day March 19

Patron Saint of the Universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and a happy death.

Quote

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. ~Matthew 1:24–25

      On March 19th, we celebrate the holiness in the midst of unpredictable fatherhood. We first meet Joseph when he discovers his betrothed is pregnant…and not by him! St. Joseph does not know who the father is (yet), but he knows the punishment for adultery is death. He decides to divorce Mary quietly, and thus save her life. When an angel appears to reveal that Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph trusts his dream and marries her. As a new foster father, Joseph must help his wife give birth in a stable. Later, he needs to escape the threats to his son’s life by immigrating with his family to a foreign land. We know that St. Joseph is faithful, brave, and willing to sacrifice for those he loves.

On the solemnity of St. Joseph, until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. ~Matthew 1:24–25 we don’t merely celebrate a carpenter. We celebrate a hero!

 

Saint of the Week 
March 10, 2024

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque   

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)
Feast Day: October 16

Patron: of those suffering with polio, devotees of the Sacred Heart, loss of parents

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) was born Margaret Alacoque in a small village in France. After her father died when she was eight years old, she was sent to a convent school run by the Poor Clares where she became bedridden with rheumatic fever. For four years she was confined to her bed until she made a vow to Mary, Mother of God, to consecrate herself to religious life. Following this vow, her health was restored. Throughout her childhood and early adulthood, Margaret continued to have religious visions of Jesus.

 In 1671, at age 24, Margaret entered the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary and took the name Mary when she professed her vows. During her time in the convent, she had series of mystical experiences — most notably, her encounters with the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. According to her accounts, Jesus appeared to her and revealed his Sacred Heart, burning with love for humanity and instructed her to devote herself to adoration of the Eucharist every Thursday night during a holy hour which she immediately incorporated into her routine. He also instructed her to celebrate a new feast, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Margaret Mary dedicated herself to promoting the feast and adoration of the Eucharist. Her visions and messages were met with skepticism initially, but she trusted God’s guidance. In 1688, just two years before she died, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated for the first time in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Eventually, her holy hour of adoration also became a popular tradition among Catholics worldwide. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us!