Saint of the Week

Saint of the Week 
April 2nd, 2023

Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit

Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit 1416–1507
Patron Saint of boatmen, mariners, and naval officers
Feast Day April 2:
Canonized by Pope Leo X on May 1, 1519

Brothers, I most strongly urge you to work for the salvation of your souls with prudence and diligence.              Death is certain, and life is short and vanishes like smoke. Therefore you must fix your minds on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ who so burned with love for us that he came down from heaven to redeem us. For our sakes he suffered all the agonies of body and mind, and did not shrink from any torment. He gave us a perfect example of patience and love. For our part, we too must be patient when things go against us. ~Letter of Saint Francis of Paola

      James Martotille and his bride wedded and lived in the town of Paola, in the southernmost region of Italy. During the first years of their marriage, they were unable to conceive a child. Being devout Catholics, they turned to prayer and beseeched the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi. Their prayers were answered when they were blessed with the birth of a son. As an expression of gratitude to Saint Francis of Assisi, the couple named their son Francis.

     While still an infant, Francis suffered from a swelling of the eyes, which endangered his sight. The Martotilles once again turned to the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi for healing. In keeping with a pious medieval custom, they vowed that if their son were healed, they would entrust him to a friary for a year as a youth so he could be educated and formed in the practice of the faith. Their infant was indeed cured, and his parents later fulfilled their vow.

     As a youth, Francis showed many signs of piety. He regularly abstained from meat as penance, sought solitude, and found great joy in prayer. When he was entrusted to the care of the Franciscan friars at age thirteen (in the nearby Friary of Saint Mark), his love of God and devotion to prayer and penance grew stronger. Though he was not a professed brother, he lived out the Franciscan vows in ways that surpassed even the friars themselves. After faithfully fulfilling the yearlong stay, in accord with the vow made by his parents, Francis and his parents took a pilgrimage north to Assisi. After stopping in Rome and other places along the way, they completed their pilgrimage and returned home to Paola.

      Back in Paola, Francis’ desire for prayer, penance, and solitude grew strong. In response, Francis sought permission from his father to live as a hermit. His father granted Francis’ request, permitting him to live on a nearby portion of his property. Francis quickly discovered that life as a hermit suited him well and was his calling. The only problem was that his solitude was too often interrupted by friendly visits. To remedy this, he moved to an even more remote spot, taking up residence in a cave by the sea. In that “hermitage,” Francis relied solely upon divine providence. His food was that which he could gather from the land, and that which people would bring to him from time to time. His bed was the ground, and his pillow a rock or log. He lived this life for six years, alone in peace and fulfillment.

      When Francis was about twenty years old, his holy example inspired two other young men to join him in the wilderness. With the help of some local townsmen, who were inspired by Francis’ vocation, they built small hermitages and a chapel in which a nearby priest would come to offer Mass for them. The three of them engaged in a common life of prayer, penance, and solitude. In the years that followed, more were drawn to join them to live as hermits. Over the next few decades, the local archbishop gave Francis and his companions permission to build a larger church and monastery, and Pope Sixtus IV asked Francis to formally write down a rule of life and submit it for approval. The pope also gave these men of God the name “Hermits of Saint Francis.” Some years later, Pope Alexander VI changed their name to the “Hermits of the Order of the Minims,” and then just to “Order of Minims,” or Minims friars. This simplified name meant they were to be seen as the least of all the friars. In everything they did, they sought lowliness and humility as their central aim.

      Many quickly came to know and admire the newly established hermits who attempted to inspire a revival of the practice of Lenten penance among the faithful by practicing a perpetual Lent themselves. Their perpetual penance consisted of limiting their diet to only plants, refraining not only from meat and eggs, but from everything derived from animals. This fast became a fourth vow of the order, in addition to poverty, chastity and obedience.

      When Jesus walked the earth, He continually performed miracles which confirmed His sacred identity in the eyes of His first followers. By the grace of God, Francis of Paola also performed many miracles, read minds, and spoke prophetically. One day Francis was on a journey to Sicily and was hungry. He encountered some poor men looking for work along the way and asked the men for food, but they had none. Francis told them to look in their bags, and there they found freshly baked bread that seemed to multiply as they ate it. On another occasion, a boatman refused to take Francis to Sicily one day because Francis was poor and could not pay him, so Francis simply walked or sailed across the ocean on his cloak. On other occasions, Francis is said to have raised the dead; healed the sick and crippled; averted plagues; expelled demons; spoken prophetically to bishops, popes, and kings; and performed many other miracles.

As a result of Francis’ holy life, coupled with miraculous signs, many people sought him out, despite his vocation of solitude. Popes called on him and kings sought his counsel. Through it all, Francis continually proclaimed that all he did was done “out of love.” Love, the pure and holy love of charity, was the sole purpose of his life.

      At the age of ninety-one, Francis sensed death was coming for him, so he returned to complete solitude for his final three months. On Holy Thursday he went to confession, received Holy Communion, and prayed in preparation for death. Holy death came for him on Good Friday, April 2, 1519. He had lived a perpetual Lent throughout his life; thus, it was fitting that his Lent come to an end on Good Friday. Twelve short years later, Pope Leo X canonized Francis a saint. Fifty-three years after his death, a group of French Calvinists broke into the church where he was buried, dug up his grave and found his body incorrupt. They quickly desecrated his body and burned it so that the faithful would no longer pray before his tomb. This final act of humility that God permitted Saint Francis of Paola to embrace flowed from the glories of Heaven.

      From an early age, Francis sensed God calling him to a radical vocation. Francis responded in such a way that his actions quickly became extraordinary. Each one of us is called to an extraordinary life of holiness. We are called to become radical, totally given to God, doing all out of love of God and others. Ponder how radical you are every day, and deepen your commitment to radical holiness so that “radical” eventually becomes normal for you, just as it was for Saint Francis.

     Saint Francis, the closer you grew to God, the more radical your daily life became. However, the radical life you lived eventually became normal to you and your ordinary way to holiness. Please pray for me that I may live a life so completely given over to God that this total self-giving becomes my ordinary way of life. Saint Francis of Paola, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
March 19th, 2023

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

      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

      The Father in Heaven sent His Son into the world to be born of the Virgin Mary. The Father chose her who was the Immaculate Conception to bear His Son in her womb, bring Him into the world, and raise Him from infancy to adulthood. But the Father also needed to choose a foster father for His divine Son. Of all the men in Israel that He could have chosen, He chose Joseph of Nazareth, a carpenter. Today’s solemnity not only honors him, but it also points us to his marital union with the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the effect that that marriage had not only upon him, Mary and Jesus, but also upon us as members of the Body of Christ.

Joseph was born in the small town of Bethlehem but moved to Nazareth with Mary and Jesus after returning from Egypt in order to keep Jesus safe from Archelaus, the ruler of Judea. Though there are a number of apocryphal writings about him from the first several centuries, nothing is known about him for certain except what is contained in the Gospels. But the Gospels tell us all we need to know about this holy, obedient, and just man, who was given authority over the Son of God and continues to exercise a holy authority over the entire Church.

      Saint Joseph was truly the father of Jesus. Of this truth, Saint Augustine writes, “By reason of their faithful marriage, both of them deserve to be called Christ’s parents, not only his mother but also his father, who was a parent in the same way that he was the mother’s spouse: in mind, not in the flesh.” Joseph’s fatherhood is also clearly established by the fact that the angel gave him the responsibility of naming Jesus. “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus…” (Matthew 1:21).

      Saint Joseph was obedient to the Father in Heaven, and that obedience deepened his union with Mary his spouse, making their marriage the ideal family for the Son of God. Pope Saint John Paul II speaks of this fact in his apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer, when he says, “One can say that what Joseph did unite him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as truth, coming from God, the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation” (#4). Saint Joseph’s obedience is clearly seen in his response to four dreams by which an angel instructs Joseph how best to guard and protect the Son of God. Joseph acts immediately, in obedience, to the angel’s instructions. The Vatican II document, Dei Verbum states, “‘The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him” (#5). Thus, since Saint Joseph’s obedience was absolute, then that obedience fully united him to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her obedience, and to the Father in Heaven. His obedience to the Father also enables him to become a powerful instrument of the Father’s authority on earth, exercised through him.

     Saint Joseph exercised the authority of the Father by protecting the Son of God and expecting obedience from the Son as His earthly father. That Jesus was obedient to Joseph is made clear in the Gospels: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them…” (Luke 2:52). The Son of God could only be obedient to the will of His Father. Therefore, in order for Joseph to exercise authority over Jesus, he had to enact nothing other than the will of the Father to which he, himself, was obedient.

       On December 8, 1847, Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph to be the Universal Patron and Protector of the Catholic Church. This unique title reflects the same truth that Mary is the Mother of God and the Mother of the entire Church. Since she was the mother of the Son of God, and we, the Church, are members of the Body of Christ, then she is our Mother. And since Joseph was the father of the Son of God, His guardian and protector, over whom he was given authority, and from Whom he received obedience, then we, too, can trust in Joseph’s guardianship over us. We must have confidence in submitting to his spiritual authority in our lives, for we are members of the Body of Christ.

      As we honor Saint Joseph as the husband of Mary today, ponder the effect of that unique marriage bond. Saint Joseph was not perfect, but his absolute obedience to the Father’s will and his unity in marriage to the Mother of God makes him our father, just as he was the father of Jesus. As a loving father, he will direct us with the authority of God the Father, will protect us in times of trouble as he did for Jesus and Mary, and must always be seen as one uniquely chosen to be the father of the family to which we belong.

     Saint Joseph, you were obedient to the will of the Father in Heaven as it was revealed to you by an angel. You took Mary as your wife and Jesus as your Son. You raised Him, protected Him, and exercised a fatherly authority over Him. Please exercise that same fatherly authority, given to you by the Father in Heaven, over my life. I entrust myself to your intercession and authority and pray that you protect me always, guiding me to your Son in Heaven. Saint Joseph, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
March 5th, 2023


Saint Katharine Drexel

Saint Katharine Drexel, Virgin 1858–1955
Feast Day March 3:

Patron Saint of racial justice and philanthropists

Canonized October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II

      Like the little girl who wept when she found that her doll was stuffed with sawdust and her drum was hollow, I too have made a horrifying discovery and my discovery like hers is true. I have ripped both the doll and the drum open and the fact lies plainly and in all its glaring reality before me: All, all, all (there is no exception) is passing away and will pass away . . . I am disgusted with the world. God in His mercy has opened my eyes to the fact of vanitas vanitatis, and as He has made me see the vile stark emptiness of this earth. I look to Him—the God of Love—in hope. ~Letter to her spiritual director

     On November 26, 1858, Catherine Marie Drexel was born in Philadelphia to Hannah Langstroth Drexel and her husband, Francis Drexel, an international banker and one of the wealthiest men in the United States. Her mother died when Catherine was only five weeks old, so Catherine and her older sister Elizabeth were cared for by their aunt and uncle until their father remarried in 1860. Three years later, Francis and his new wife, Emma, had a daughter, Louisa.

      The three girls had what many would describe as an ideal childhood. They were lovingly cared for, lived in a large home in Philadelphia, received an excellent education from private tutors, frequently traveled with their father and stepmother throughout the United States and Europe, and were taught the Catholic faith in both word and deed. Francis and Emma Drexel were devout Catholics who regularly prayed and performed charitable works. They taught the girls that their wealth was a gift to be used for the good of others. One way they put this conviction into practice was by opening their large home to the community a few times each week, distributing food, clothing, and money for rent assistance to the poor. When widows or single women were embarrassed to come, Emma would quietly seek the women out to assist them. She often taught the girls that “Kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind.” The girls also learned about prayer by witnessing their father and stepmother praying daily before an altar in their home.

     When Catherine was only fourteen years old, she formulated a spiritual plan for her life with the help of her spiritual director, Father James O’Connor, who later was named the first bishop of Omaha. Catherine’s parents’ witness greatly influenced her, and she began to understand that spiritual riches were worth more than all the material wealth in the world.

      After completing her formal education at the age of twenty, Catherine made her social debut and was presented to Philadelphia high society, as was the custom for young wealthy women. Her heart, however, was not drawn to the life of a social elite, but to God and care for the poor. Over the next few years, Catherine’s stepmother suffered from cancer and died on January 29, 1883, at the age of forty-nine, which helped Catherine to realize that money cannot buy health or happiness. The following year, Catherine and her sisters traveled to the Western United States with their father where they saw firsthand the poverty of the Native American community on reservations. In 1885 their father died, leaving his fortune to his three girls. Francis’ will set up trust funds that stipulated that each daughter would equally receive the income produced by his remaining $14 million estate, which translated into about $1,000 every day for each daughter. By comparison, in the year 2023, the $14 million estate would be equivalent to almost $500 million, and each daughter would receive about $35,000 per day.

      Despite receiving this fortune, Catherine’s heart remained with the poor, especially the Native Americans out West, and impoverished Black communities. Over the next two years, with the help of two priests, she made substantial donations to reservations and visited them herself. In 1887, she was struggling with what she would do with her life. She felt drawn to the contemplative religious life but knew that this would make it impossible for her to use her inheritance for charitable work. During a visit to Rome, she had a private audience with Pope Leo XIII during which she begged the Holy Father to send an order of missionaries to the Native Americans. The pope lovingly said to her, “But why not be a missionary yourself, my child?” The pope’s words resonated deeply within her heart, and she soon found herself in tears outside Saint Peter’s Basilica, knowing what she must do.

       In 1889, Catherine entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, taking the name Sister Mary Katharine. The news traveled quickly among the social elite. Philadelphia’s Public Ledger printed an article with the headline: “Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent—Gives Up Seven Million.” She made her final vows in 1891, and with thirteen companions founded the “Blessed Sacrament Sisters for Indians and Colored People.” Sister Katharine was chosen as the first superior general.

      Mother Katharine quickly went to work, using her inheritance to found a boarding school for Pueblo Indians in New Mexico and a school for African American girls in Virginia. Over the next sixty-four years, Mother Katharine and her sisters established forty-nine elementary schools, twelve high schools, Xavier University in New Orleans for Black students, and fifty-one convents. At the time of her death, her order had grown to more than 500 women religious.

       In 1935, following a heart attack at the age of seventy-seven, Mother Katharine retreated to a life of prayer. Her original longing for a contemplative life was realized and lasted for the next twenty years. Her father’s will was set up in such a way that the income she received from the trust fund could only be passed on to her children. If she had no children, the money was to be distributed to religious organizations that her father had specified. Of course, Mother Katharine’s order was not one of them, being founded after her father’s death. Some believe that God allowed her to live until the age of ninety-six so that her annual earnings from her trust fund could be used for the ongoing charitable work of her order. She lived her last years in prayer, in personal poverty, simplicity, and charity, giving all she had and all she was to the poor. She was canonized in the year 2000, only the second person born in the United States to be canonized up to that time (after Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton).

       Many people dream of being rich. Saint Katharine Drexel teaches us that money is not the source of fulfillment in life. Love is. Whether you are rich or poor, your happiness comes from lovingly serving the will of God. Be inspired by this holy woman and learn from her example by choosing the poverty of Christ over the riches of the world, and you will discover the true riches of Heaven.

       Saint Katharine, you gave up earthly wealth so that you could receive the spiritual riches of a life of grace, and better the lives of many. God called and you responded. Please pray for me, that I may never give my heart over to worldly and passing goals, but will seek only a life of selfless service to all whom you give me to love. Saint Katharine Drexel, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
February 26th, 2023


Saint Gregory of Narek, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
951–c. 1003 Widely venerated in the Armenian Church
Declared a Doctor of the Church in 2015 and inscribed on the Church Calendar by Pope Francis in 2021
Feast Day February 27:


        Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart. The voice of a sighing heart, its sobs and mournful cries, I offer up to you, O Seer of Secrets, placing the fruits of my wavering mind as a savory sacrifice on the fire of my grieving soul to be delivered to you in the censer of my will. ~From Prayer One, Book of Narek, by Saint Gregory

     The Apostles Saint Jude Thaddeus and Saint Bartholomew are believed to have traveled to Armenia to share the Gospel. In 301 A.D., the Armenian king was converted who, in turn, made Christianity the kingdom’s official religion, making Armenia the first nation to do so. In the centuries that followed, churches and monasteries were built, the faith was taught, liturgies were celebrated, and an extensive Christian culture emerged.

      In the year 451 A.D., the Armenian Church separated from the Church of Rome over disagreements on doctrine from the Council of Chalcedon. Though the Armenian Church remained an apostolic Church, being founded by the Apostles, it became separated from the pope. Its Sacraments and life of prayer continued, but the division also continued. In recent decades, greater attempts at unification have been made, and the saint we honor today is the most recent attempt by the Roman Church to more fully unite with the Eastern Church of Armenia.

      By the tenth century, the Kingdom of Armenia was celebrated for its faith, many churches, literature, art, and architecture. It was a relatively peaceful time. In the year 951 A.D., a boy named Gregory was born near Lake Van, the largest lake in the Kingdom of Armenia, modern-day Turkey. His mother died when he was young. His father was the ruling prince of the Andzevatsiq province and also an Armenian bishop and scholar. His father was vocally supportive of some of the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon and believed that the head of the Armenian Church, called the Catholicos, enjoyed only the rank of bishop. This did not sit well with the Catholicos, who later excommunicated Gregory’s father from the Armenian Church.

     After their mother’s death, Gregory and his older brother were sent to live at the Monastery of Narek, under the guardianship of their maternal great-uncle Abbot Anania, the monastery’s founder. At about the age of twenty-six, Gregory was ordained a priest for the monastery and remained there for the rest of his life, teaching theology in the monastery’s school.

      The loss of his mother early in life led Gregory to a deep devotion to our Blessed Mother. He would later write, “This spiritual, heavenly mother of light cared for me as a son more than an earthly, breathing, physical mother could (Prayer 75).”

     Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, Gregory wrote a commentary on the Song of Songs. He also wrote commentary on the Book of Job, numerous chants, homilies, and speeches that sang the praises of holy men. Toward the end of his life, he wrote his most famous work, The Book of Lamentations, or, as it is commonly known today, The Book of Narek.

      Gregory’s father had taught him to always remain in a state of continuous dialogue with God, ever attentive to His divine presence. The Book of Narek seems to flow from Gregory’s ongoing dialogue. The book is a compilation of ninety-five prayers. Each prayer begins with the phrase, “Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart.” The prayers then go on to express the deepest love of God by a soul that seems troubled, and even tormented at times. The torment, however, is not despair, but an interior expression of hope from a soul who is in touch with his fallen humanity and sin, while at the same time keenly aware of God’s mercy. His prayers reflect the psalms and are similar to Saint Augustine’s Confessions. Saint Gregory states that these prayers were written “by the finger of God” (Prayer 34) and that Gregory saw God, as he says, “with my own eyes” (Prayer 27f). In one of the final prayers, Gregory states, “although I shall die in the way of all mortals, may I be deemed to live through the continued existence of this book…This book will cry out in my place, with my voice, as if it were me” (Prayer 88b; c). He believed his book was written not only for himself, his monks, or the Armenian people, but for all people, for the entire world.

      Less than a century after Saint Gregory’s death, the Kingdom of Armenia was invaded by the Byzantines, then by the Turks. In the centuries that followed, these once-flourishing people suffered greatly under foreign domination. This suffering culminated in the twentieth century during the Armenian genocide when the Turks murdered an estimated 1–1.8 million Armenians. Throughout those centuries of great suffering and oppression, Saint Gregory’s book of prayers became the daily prayers of the Armenian people. Everyone had a printed copy; many people even slept with a copy under their pillow. In 2015, when the pope declared Saint Gregory a Doctor of the Church, and in 2021 when Saint Gregory was placed on the liturgical calendar for the Roman Church, his book of prayers suddenly became prayers for the entire world. They are prayers that need to be prayed by all people today so that the world will humble itself before God and become acutely aware of its sin and need for God’s mercy. Let us conclude with the conclusion of Saint Gregory’s final prayer.

Prepare the earth for the day of light and let the soil bloom and bring forth fruit, heavenly cup of life-giving blood, ever sacrificed, never running dry all for the salvation and life of the souls in eternal rest. And though my body die in sin, with Your grace and compassion, may I be strengthened in You, cleansed of sin through You, and renewed by You with life everlasting, and at the resurrection of the righteous be deemed worthy of Your Father’s blessing. To Him together with You, all glory, and with the Holy Spirit, praise and resounding thanks, now, always and forever, Amen.


Saint of the Week 
February 19th, 2023

The Chair of Saint Peter

Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Feast Day February 22

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. ~Matthew 16:17–19

      In Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, visitors are immediately struck by the large alabaster window on the back wall of the apse that depicts the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Below the window is an ancient wooden chair, believed to have been used by Saint Peter. In the seventeenth century, that ancient chair was encased in bronze by the famous artist Bernini and then placed above the altar in the apse. Surrounding the chair are statues of four early Doctors of the Church. Two of them represent the Eastern Church: Saint John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius. Two of them represent the Western Church: Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine. These great saints represent the universality of the Church, both East and West, as well as the unity of their theological teaching with the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Above the chair are two angels jointly holding the triple crown tiara used by the Bishop of Rome, symbolizing that he is the father of kings, governor of the world, and Vicar of Christ. In their other hands, each angel holds a key, symbolizing the authority of the Bishop of Rome in matters of faith and morals.

      Today’s feast celebrates not only that chair as a precious relic from the time of Saint Peter, it also celebrates all that this chair represents. This feast was formally celebrated in Rome as early as the fourth century, but honor for the supremacy of Saint Peter and his successors was celebrated from the moment Jesus entrusted Peter with his unique mission.

      In the Gospel of Matthew 16:13–20, we have the discourse between Jesus and His disciples, which is the basis of today’s feast and our belief in the unique and universal authority of Saint Peter and his successors. Jesus asked the disciples, “[W]ho do you say that I am?” Simon responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” With that profession of faith, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, saying to him, “And I tell you, you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church.” “Peter” in Greek is Petros, meaning a single movable stone. The Greek word petra means a solid rock formation that is fixed, immovable, and enduring. Therefore, Jesus chose to transform Peter from a single stone into a solid, fixed, and immovable foundation of rock on which the Church would be built and endure until the end of time. Jesus went on to tell Peter that He would give him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and that whatever he bound and loosed on earth would be bound and loosed in Heaven.

      It’s interesting to note that immediately after this discourse between Jesus and Peter, Jesus rebukes Peter for giving into fear after Jesus spoke about His impending death. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the eve of Jesus’ saving Passion, Peter chooses to sleep rather than stay awake and pray with Jesus. Then, after Jesus is arrested, Peter denies three times that he even knows Jesus. God chose a man of weakness and fear to become the rock foundation for the Church. This shows that God’s power is not limited by the instruments to whom He entrusts His power.

      After Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, Peter and the others are filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After this gift, Peter is more prepared for his mission. He is the first one to go forth courageously to preach the Word of God to the people in Jerusalem. He resolved conflicts within the Church when they arose. He became the first bishop of the newly evangelized city of Antioch and then chose to go to Rome, becoming the first bishop of Rome, where he would die a martyr. However, the death of Saint Peter was not the death of his authority and singular mission. Saint Linus followed him as the second bishop of Rome, and then Saint Cletus, Saint Clement, and so forth until today.

      Of the pope’s authority, Vatican Councils I and II affirmed that when the pope speaks Ex Cathedra, meaning, “From the Chair,” he speaks with the authority of Saint Peter who was entrusted with full, supreme, and universal authority to teach and govern. His teaching extends to all matters of faith and morals, and his governance encompasses the entire world. (Lumen Gentium, #22).

      As we ponder the authority and infallibility of the one who sits in the Chair of Saint Peter, try to see this sacred power, given to one weak and sinful man after another, as an act of the love of Christ for His Church. It is the power of Christ and His divine love that makes it possible for these men to shepherd the Church, providing stability, longevity, certitude, and hope. When popes are also saints, we are doubly blessed. When they are not, our Lord still works through them, providing the Church with the ongoing rock foundation it needs to endure all things until the end of time. Pray for the pope today. Pledge your obedience to him when he speaks Ex Cathedra, and know that your unity with him assures your unity with Christ, Who governs through him.

     Saint Peter, you were a weak and sinful man, but God entrusted you with great responsibility, despite your unworthiness. Please pray for me, that despite my unworthiness, I may be open to all that God entrusts to me and that I may use those gifts for His glory and the salvation of souls. Saint Peter and all your successors in Heaven, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.



Saint of the Week 
February 5th, 2023

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes
Feast Day February 11
Patron Saint of the sick, asthma sufferers.

      I went every day for a fortnight, and each day I asked her who she was, and this petition always made her smile. After the fortnight I asked her three times consecutively. She always smiled. At last I tried for the fourth time. She stopped smiling. With her arms down, she raised her eyes to Heaven and then, folding her hands over her breast she said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” ~Testimony of Saint Bernadette Soubirous

        Bernadette Soubirous was born on January 7, 1844, into a humble and very poor family in Lourdes, France. Her father was a miller and her mother washed laundry. The eldest of nine children, Bernadette received a simple education from the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction, but frequent illness hindered her studies. Growing up, she spoke the local dialect of Occitan and learned some French in her teenage years. Her family was so poor that all eleven lived together for free in a relative’s one-room basement that was formerly used as a prison or dungeon.

       When Bernadette was fourteen years old, she went with her sister and a friend to gather some firewood to heat their home. Bernadette fell behind as they searched for wood near a naturally occurring rock grotto. She then heard the sound of a rushing wind but saw only a wild rose moving. Then, from within the grotto, she saw a dazzling light and the figure of a small young lady in white with yellow roses on her feet. The other two girls saw nothing. Bernadette asked her sister not to tell anyone, but her sister later told their mother. Bernadette’s mother punished the girls for lying and forbade them to return to the grotto.

        Three days later, Bernadette felt drawn to return to the grotto, so she and her two companions begged for permission from her mother who reluctantly agreed. Bernadette brought with her a bottle of holy water. When they arrived at the cave, the three girls knelt to pray the rosary. Before finishing the first decade, the young woman in white appeared. Bernadette sprinkled holy water in her direction, telling her that if she were from God she should stay; if not, she should leave. The woman smiled and stayed for the rest of the rosary and then departed.

        By this time, some of the local townspeople began to hear about these encounters. Some were superstitious, thinking it was the souls of dead relatives. Others believed it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Four days later, Bernadette returned to the cave accompanied by a few grown-ups. When the lady appeared, she spoke to Bernadette for the first time, in Occitan. The lady spoke to Bernadette in a remarkably formal and respectful manner, not the way an adult would normally speak to a poor peasant girl. She asked Bernadette if she was willing to return for the next fourteen days. Bernadette agreed.

         Bernadette recounts the following about the next two weeks of visions: “I came back for a fortnight. The vision appeared every day, except one Monday and one Friday. She repeated to me several times that I was to tell the priests they were to build a chapel there, and I was to go to the fountain to wash, and that I was to pray for sinners. During this fortnight, she told me three secrets which she forbade me to tell anyone. I have been faithful until now.

       As word spread, the numbers in attendance grew to 30, 100, 350, 800, 1000, 1,500, culminating with almost 10,000. During the fortnight, the local police got involved and threatened Bernadette and her family. However, Bernadette persevered. The lady asked people to pray for sinners and to do penance. During the ninth vision, the lady asked Bernadette to drink from a spring of water in the cave. She found only a small muddy puddle so she drank from it. This left mud on her face, which caused many of the onlookers to ridicule her, to the embarrassment of her family. Over the next two days, the little mud puddle turned into a flowing spring of clear water. Many began to believe when a woman’s paralyzed arm was cured after bathing it in the new spring of water. Throughout the fourteen days, Bernadette continually asked the lady’s name, because the parish priest had asked her to do so. Each time, the lady only smiled.

       Upon the conclusion of the fourteen days, life returned to normal for the next three weeks. However, on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, Bernadette was drawn once again to the grotto. This time, she repeatedly asked the lady’s name. The lady responded, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette was a young, simple, and poorly educated peasant girl. She had no idea what the “Immaculate Conception” was. But she repeated the name to herself over and over so she wouldn’t forget. When she told the parish priest, he was stunned. Only four years prior, the pope had issued the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This fact, especially, helped convince the Church leaders that the apparitions were authentic.

      Since that time, the waters in Lourdes have continued to flow, and over seventy healings have been recorded, studied, and confirmed by a rigorous scientific process. Countless thousands more healings have been professed by the faithful. Millions of people now visit Lourdes every year, making it one of the most frequented pilgrimage sites in the world. The sick flock to this holy grotto to bathe in or drink the miraculous water, seeking a cure for their ailments.

       Several years after her visions, Bernadette entered religious life. Of the visions, she would later say, “The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.” This “broom” was canonized in 1933. The grotto of Lourdes, however, was much bigger than Bernadette. It was Our Lady’s gift to the people. It was her proclamation that she was the Immaculate Conception and her formal acceptance of the title here on earth.

        Mother, the Immaculate Conception, you chose the humblest of instruments in Bernadette to proclaim your universal message of repentance. You declared to the world that you are, indeed, the Immaculate Conception. Please pray for me, bring healing to my soul, and help me to be freed of all sin so that I may one day share in your glory in Heaven. Saint Bernadette, pray for me. Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
January 29th, 2023

Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor 1567–1622 
Feast Day January 24:

Patron Saint of authors, journalists, writers, deaf persons, educators
Canonized April 8, 1665, by Pope Alexander VII
Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877 by Pope Pius IX


     Finally, my beloved child, I intreat you by all that is sacred in heaven and in earth, by your own Baptism, by the breast which Jesus sucked, by the tender Heart with which He loves you, and by the bowels of compassion in which you hope—be stedfast and persevere in this most blessed undertaking to live a devout life… ~“The Devout Life,” St. Francis de Sales

       Saint Francis de Sales was born fifty years after an Augustinian priest named Father Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation, and just twenty-five years after John Calvin’s anti-Catholic teachings spread to Geneva, Switzerland. Francis was born into a noble family in the Duchy of Savoy, modern-day France, not far from Geneva. Because of his noble family heritage and his father’s influence, Francis was given an excellent education, eventually earning doctorates in civil law and theology. His father had selected a noblewoman for Francis to marry. He also had planned for his gifted son to enter into politics, but Francis was led in a different direction.

     In 1586, at the age of nineteen, Francis attended a Calvinist lecture on predestination, which led him to believe he was destined for hell. This greatly affected him, and he struggled with the idea for months. Eventually, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and the Memorare prayer, Francis was freed from this error and turned his focus to the pure love of God. After experiencing firsthand the effects that erroneous theology can have on a person, Francis devoted himself to a life of celibacy and began pursuing his God-given desire to be a priest. Though reluctant at first, his father eventually agreed to his son’s ordination and then helped to have him appointed to an important position in the Diocese of Geneva.

      Because Geneva was under the control of the Calvinists, Father de Sales preached and resided in a cathedral some twenty miles south of Geneva. As a newly ordained priest, he began to make a name for himself. His sermons were preached with gentlemanlike qualities, showing great respect for those who disagreed with him. He never shied away from the theological truths under attack by the errors of the Reformation. He avoided controversy and criticism, focusing instead on virtues, prayer, holiness, and overcoming sin. Despite his kind nature and charitable approach, he was harshly treated by the many local anti-Catholics, some of whom even threatened his life.

      In 1602, at the age of thirty-five, Father de Sales was ordained Bishop of Geneva, and his evangelical fervor moved ahead at full throttle. His intention was to win back the citizens of Geneva to the Catholic Church. So many had left, following the teachings of Calvin. For the first couple of years, Bishop de Sales was ineffective in winning over many converts. But little by little, one soul at a time, he began to have success. His success especially came in the form of placing written explanations of the faith under people’s doors, inviting them back to the Catholic Church. His preaching was clear, respectful, truthful, and charitable. His motto was “He who preaches with love, preaches effectively.”

       Bishop de Sales was a very practical man, especially when it came to his theology. He believed that holiness was not reserved for those in the monastery or convent. He believed that everyone, in every state in life, within every occupation, was called to a life of sanctity. This conviction is most clearly seen in his most famous published book, Introduction to the Devout Life. This book was a compilation of letters he had sent to his spiritual directees over the years, which began by giving clear and practical advice on the importance of being purged of sin and of attachment to sinful habits. It then taught how to grow in the virtues, especially humility; navigate temptations; and overcome anxiety and sadness. It also provided exercises on how to renew one’s life of devotion, which was nothing other than loving and pleasing God with one’s life. This book, along with other writings, won many to the faith. In 1610, he assisted one of his spiritual directees, the future Saint Jane de Chantal, to establish the women’s Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. His inspiring letters to her became a source of spiritual formation for the women of her newly founded order.

       After turning down advancements within the Church, Bishop de Sales chose instead to devote his time and energy to the salvation of souls within his local diocese. It is said that Bishop de Sales won back as many as 40,000 Catholics who had become Calvinists. After nine years as a priest and twenty years as a bishop, Bishop de Sales suffered a stroke and died soon after. It is believed that one of the last things he wrote were the words “Humility, humility, humility,” his dying exhortation to his flock.

      As we honor this holy bishop, try to imagine what it would have been like had he been your shepherd. He would have taken your call to holiness seriously. He would have exhorted you to overcome sin by fully confessing your sins in the Sacrament, and to then grow in virtue, especially humility. He would have helped you to learn and believe every truth revealed by God through His Catholic Church, and to seek every practical way imaginable by daily prayer and meditation to become a saint. He would have regularly reminded you that holiness is not reserved for the monk alone. You, within the context of your state in life, are also called. Respond as one of his flock and resolutely determine to follow the path God has in store for you, seeking to love Him and glorify Him with your life.

Saint Francis de Sales, you became a true shepherd of your flock, tirelessly preaching the faith to them, calling them to repentance, exhorting them to embrace a life of prayer and virtue, and helping them to more fully love God by fulfilling His will in their lives. Please pray for me, that I may also respond to your preaching and may seek to become a saint within the context of the vocation I have been given. Saint Francis, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
January 15th, 2023

St. Anthony of the Desert


Saint Anthony of Egypt, Abbot 251–356

Feast Day January 17:
Patron Saint of basketmakers, gravediggers, butchers, swineherds, motorists, amputees, monks, and farmers
Invoked against skin diseases and epilepsy.

      And the place was suddenly filled with the forms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions, and wolves, and each of them was moving according to his nature….with boldness Anthony said, “If you are able, and have received power against me, delay not to attack; but if you are unable, why trouble me in vain? For faith in our Lord is a seal and a wall of safety to us.” So, after many attempts they gnashed their teeth upon him, because they were mocking themselves rather than him. ~Life of St. Anthony, by Saint Athanasius

       Anthony was born into an upper-class Catholic home. His parents raised Anthony and his younger sister in a small village in southern Egypt. He received a basic education and was twenty years old when his parents suddenly died. He was left with a large inheritance and the responsibility of caring for his sister. Some months later, Anthony was attending Mass and heard the Gospel story of Jesus’ command to the rich young man: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven(Matthew 19:21). As Anthony heard these words, he knew Jesus was speaking directly to him. Shortly after, he gave away most of his property, sold almost everything else, and kept only what he needed to care for himself and his sister. But that’s not exactly what the Lord had commanded! Jesus said that perfection is obtained only if one were to sell everything and give it to the poor.

      Not long afterward, Anthony was at Mass once again and heard the Gospel passage, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). Again, he knew Jesus was speaking directly to him, so he gave away even the little he had saved back, entrusted his sister to the care of some holy women, and entered the desert to live a life of poverty, solitude, prayer, and mortification.

      In that harsh desert landscape, the devil attacked him in countless ways. “Think about all the good you could have done with that money you gave away!” These were the words of the evil one, trying to deter Anthony from embracing his unique vocation as a hermit. Then the devil appeared to him in physical form and sent vile creatures to frighten him. Satan tempted Anthony with boredom, laziness, and even appeared as a female temptress to seduce him. Firm in prayer and mortification, Anthony fought off the devil and his manifestations. Though beaten senseless during these spiritual battles, he recovered in the care of some friends who visited him.

      After spending fifteen years living in a desert cave once used as a tomb, Anthony retreated even deeper into solitude, spending another twenty years in self-imposed solitary confinement. He ate only bread that friends threw over the wall of the abandoned Roman fort he called home. He never opened his mouth to speak to anyone, for God called him to the unique life of complete solitude.

      Eventually, Anthony’s holy example stirred up devotion and admiration in the hearts of others. Though they could not speak to him, many wanted to imitate him. They began to build huts nearby and imitate his vocation. Then, after twenty years of solitude, God directed Anthony to exit his fort and assist the other nearby hermits with their vocations. For the next five years, he instructed the new hermits on how to organize their lives.

       Anthony then withdrew once again into seclusion for the last forty-five years of his very long life. However, this time he did accept visitors from time to time and even entered nearby cities to occasionally preach and teach. Most notably, he preached firmly against the rampant Arian heresy, directly opposed the emperor for persecuting Christians, and fearlessly offered himself up to be martyred. God did not grant his desire for martyrdom, however. Instead, Anthony lived to the ripe old age of 105. He made a powerful impact upon the lives of many by his radical obedience to God’s will, through his life devoted to prayer, his embrace of poverty, his courageous preaching against heresy, and his assistance to those daring to live as hermits. He was so influential that another heroic saint of that time, the bishop Saint Athanasius, wrote a biography of Saint Anthony, supplying much of what we know about him today.

       Saint Anthony, you heroically embraced the unique vocation you were given by God. You entered into silence and solitude so as to enter more deeply into communion with the Triune God. Please pray for me, that I will learn from your life of prayer and always spend time seeking God in the solitude of prayer each and every day. Saint Anthony, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
January 8th, 2023

              Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor c. 315–367
Feast Day January 13:
Patron Saint of rheumatism, snake bites, children academically behind, children learning to walk, mothers, the sick
Pre-Congregation canonization

Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851 by Pope Pius IX

     Let me, in short, adore You our Father, and Your Son together with You; let me win the favor of Your Holy Spirit, Who is from You, through Your Only begotten. For I have a convincing Witness to my faith, who says, “Father, all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine” (John 17:10), even my Lord Jesus Christ, abiding in You, and from You, and with You, forever God: Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen. ~De Trinitate 12.57

      Born into a wealthy pagan family in Poitiers, France, Hilary was well educated in the classics. As he looked into his own soul, however, he knew that he did not exist for the sole purpose of seeking pleasure, enjoying leisure, obtaining wealth, or merely satisfying his fleshly desires. Hilary reasoned that the human soul did not exist simply to die. Instead, it must exist for something more, something eternal, something glorious. When his pagan culture did not suffice and philosophy fell short, Hilary finally found what he was searching for when he stumbled upon the Scriptures.

    Hilary was first struck by the mysterious name of God in the Old Testament: “I AM WHO I AM.” God had revealed Himself as eternal, without beginning or end—Existence itself. Then Hilary discovered the Son of God in the Gospel of John 1:1–14. Of this discovery, Hilary said, “My soul measured the mighty workings of God, wrought on the scale of His eternal omnipotence . . .by a boundless faith . . .that God was in the beginning with God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (De Trinitate 1.12).

    Hilary had the will to believe, and in the years that followed he was given the power and gift to understand the beauty, mystery, omnipotence, and nature of the Most Holy Trinity. Shortly after these discoveries of faith, Hilary was baptized a Christian and went on to defend the doctrine of the Trinity against the “insanity and ignorance of men.” He so impressed the faithful that they chose him to be their bishop, a dignity to which he reluctantly agreed.

     Among those who shared in the “insanity and ignorance” of that time were a group of bishops and laity who followed the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, instead holding that the Son was inferior to the Father. This heresy was especially strong in the Eastern Church but was starting to spread throughout France. After Hilary was a bishop for only about five years, the emperor, an Arian himself, ordered every bishop to pledge their support for this heresy. Hilary refused. Instead, he vigorously defended the truth, and for his brave stance was exiled to Phrygia, in modern-day Turkey. In His love and providence, God used Hilary’s time of exile in powerful ways.

      While in Phrygia, Bishop Hilary spent much time studying and writing. He had already composed a marvelous commentary on the Gospel of Matthew while in Poitiers, and now he set his mind to his greatest work, De Trinitate (On the Trinity). Drawing from his classical education, his knowledge of Greek, his love of the Scriptures, and from the “insanity” and “ignorance” of Arianism itself, Bishop Hilary composed a comprehensive defense of the doctrine of the Trinity as it was taught in the Nicene Creed. Bishop Hilary caused so much trouble for the Arians in Phrygia that the Arian bishops pleaded with the emperor to send him back home, a request the emperor honored.

     On his return to Poitiers, Bishop Hilary took the long way home through Greece and Italy, preaching all the way, weeding out the beginnings of Arianism in the Western Church. His effectiveness came not only from his clear teaching, but also from his conciliatory approach and resolute determination. Back in Poitiers, he continued to preach, write, attend councils, and even to compose hymns. The hymns were his way of introducing the doctrines of the faith to the people of God in song. He was a true pastor who burned with a desire that everyone come to a deeper knowledge of the One God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

     Saint Hilary, your heart was restless as a pagan, but you turned that restlessness into a search for the Truth. Upon finding it, you dove in head-first, entering deeper and deeper into the great mystery of the Trinity. Please pray for me, that I will also be diligent and resolute in my determination to discover the great mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. As I grow in faith, may I also share in your zeal to model the faith to others. Saint Hilary, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
January 1st, 2023


Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774–1821

Feast Day January 4
Patron Saint of Catholic schools, widows, loss of parents and children, people ridiculed for their piety, in-law problems, those who oppose the Church

Canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975

      I often asked [William] when he could not speak, ‘You feel my love that you are going to your Redeemer’ and he motioned yes with a look up of Peace at a quarter past 7 on Tuesday morning 27th December—his Soul was released—and mine from a struggle next to death.  (Journal of Saint Elizabeth)

      Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first citizen of the United States to be canonized a saint. She was born in New York into a prestigious and loving Anglican family of strong faith just two years before the Declaration of Independence was written. Her father was a well-respected physician. Unfortunately, her mother died when Elizabeth was only three. One of her sisters would die a year later. Her father remarried shortly after, and he and his new wife had seven children. Elizabeth was very fond of her stepmother and often accompanied her on charitable rounds caring for the poor. Sadly, when her stepmother and her father eventually separated, Elizabeth’s stepmother abandoned her, leaving young Elizabeth without a mother once again.

     After a materially comfortable but difficult childhood, Elizabeth entered into a beautiful marriage at the age of nineteen with a wealthy shipping magnate named William Seton, with whom she had five children. While Elizabeth was pregnant with their third child, her father-in-law died, so the couple took William’s six younger siblings into their home to care for them. Soon after, a shocking event occurred. William’s business went bankrupt, and the entire family had to abandon their home and move in with Elizabeth’s father who died shortly afterward in 1801.

     By 1803, William was suffering from tuberculosis. At the recommendation of a physician, Elizabeth, her husband, and their eldest daughter spent their last bit of money to travel to the warmer climate of Italy to see if William could regain his health. Shortly after their arrival, William died. Elizabeth, only twenty-nine years old, was now fatherless, twice motherless, widowed, in a foreign land, and far from four of her children, for whom she had no way to provide.

    When one has faith, heavy crosses can elicit much grace, which is what happened to Elizabeth. A month before her beloved William died, Elizabeth wrote in a journal, “Oh well may I love God—well may my whole soul strive to please him, for what but the strain of an Angel can ever express what he has done and is constantly doing for me—While I live—while I have my being in Time and thro’ Eternity let me sing praises to my God.” She was not bitter or resentful; instead, she praised God for all the good He had done for her.

     While in Italy, before returning to New York to be reunited with the rest of her children, Elizabeth stayed with a devout Catholic family whose father had been a business partner of her husband. Through their inspiration and example, Elizabeth began to discover the Catholic faith. She visited many churches, discovered the Memorare prayer to the Virgin Mary, experienced the Sacred Liturgy, inquired about Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and began to understand the Church’s unbroken Apostolic succession.

      When she arrived back in New York the following summer, her sister-in-law and closest friend, Rebecca, also died. Though heartbroken, Elizabeth strengthened her faith, deepened her devotion to our Blessed Mother, and continued seeking the will of God. When family and friends learned of her interest in Catholicism, she was shunned. Despite personally experiencing the anti-Catholicism so rampant in that era, Elizabeth persevered and entered the Church the following Ash Wednesday.

      The journey that God had in mind for Elizabeth from that point forward would turn out to be monumental. She became a teacher in New York, but when word of her conversion to Catholicism spread, the Episcopalian parents whose children she taught withdrew them. Eventually, in 1809 at the invitation of the Sulpician Order, she moved to Maryland where she founded a congregation of sisters and started the first Catholic grade school in America. The school offered a free education to poor girls. Elizabeth was elected superior of the congregation and was henceforth called “Mother Seton.” Her daughters were able to live with her and continue their education at the school, and her sons lived and were educated at the nearby boys’ school. She remained superior until her death at the age of forty-six. She continued her childhood love of caring for the poor and inspiring many others to do the same.

       Mother Seton faced many challenges in life, but she faced them with faith, with the tenderness of her personality, and with affection, determination, and concern for the poor and outcasts. She was a woman of great personal faith who discovered the true objective faith in the Catholic Church. For these and many other reasons, this poor woman became rich in eternity, while also enriching the lives of many others along the way.

Saint Elizabeth, God permitted you to endure many trials in life, but through them all you persevered and deepened your trust in Him. Please pray for me when I encounter difficulties. May I have the faith that you had and discover the riches that you discovered. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Saint of the Week 
December 25th


Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist c. Early First Century–c. 100
Feast Day December 27
Patron Saint of authors, loyalty, and friendship

Outside of Christianity, there are few reasons to believe God is love

      Saint Jerome, while living in Palestine in the late 300s, relates a touching anecdote still being told at that time about John the Evangelist. When John was old and feeble, Jerome recounts, and no longer able to walk or preach, he would be carried among the faithful in church and would repeat only one thing over and over again: “My little children, love one another.” Saint Polycarp, through Saint Irenaeus, tells us that Saint John’s long life ended peacefully in Ephesus about 100 A.D. John was the only Apostle not to die a martyr.

     John’s old age in Ephesus was a long way from where his life began on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Young John was sitting in his boat mending his nets alongside his brother James when an enigmatic but straight-talking teacher who lived in nearby Capernaum (Mt 4:13) walked by. Jesus saw the brothers on the water and challenged them to follow Him and become fishers of men (Mt 4:21–22). John and his brother said “Yes.” Their immediate and generous response put them at the red-hot center of a movement which would change the world. From that decisive moment onward, John was at Christ’s side in the quiet times and in the momentous times. Peter, James, and John were the select Three inside of the Twelve. John saw Christ transfigured on Mount Tabor and wondered at what it meant. He leaned against Jesus at the Last Supper and stood under His drooping body at the foot of the cross. John was the first to reach the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday, though he deferred to age and authority and let Peter enter the tomb first. John sees the resurrected Jesus in the upper room and then back where it all began, at the Sea of Galilee. John perseveres despite persecution, even the religiously inspired murder of his brother. John likely accompanied the Virgin Mary to Ephesus, where both shared their memories and tender faith with the Christian community there over many years.

      John’s Gospel is stylistically distinct from those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He likely wrote it in his old age. Perhaps many calm years mellowed the Gospel’s tone, allowing John to draw out God’s pure love more than His fight. John’s Gospel, his letters, and his Book of Revelation soar. They offer a high theology of Christ, a supernatural, often mystical vision of Christ’s role in salvation. John is the Apostle who best conveys God’s love. It is a commonplace to say that God is love. It is also commonplace to say that any further description of God complicates His simplicity and leads to arguments, division, and violence. Yet the Christian attestation that “God is love” is like a flag snapping in the wind at the summit of a mountain of thought—complicated and nuanced theological and philosophical thought. The simplest thing we can say about God is tied to the most complex thing we can say about God. It took centuries of hard climbing to plant that flag of love at the summit. To say God is love implies a wealth of supportive truths.

       The harshness and apparent injustice of life does not naturally lead to the conclusion that God is love, and no one said that God was love before Christians said it. For many, God was, and is, a master, a warrior, a hero, an oak, a waterfall, or a sunrise. God was a growling earthquake, a mighty storm, a tidal wave that drowned the new colony. God took vengeance for sins and flooded the earth when the people disobeyed. He was like a hunter on the prowl, his bow arched with arrow ready to fly. Reading the history of man and experiencing daily life, it is in no way clear that God is love. We have to be told this. We have to see this. We have to experience this. And the Church tells us and shows us this constantly. That many people the world over instinctively think that God is love is a triumph of the Church and of Saint John the Evangelist. To say this and to think this is to break one’s lance against the brick wall of daily life. But it is also to say the truth, a received truth. God loves Himself in the Holy Trinity first, and then that loves radiates outward to all of us. Without knowing that, we cannot know the rest.

      Saint John the Evangelist, you wrote of God’s love for you, Christ’s Beloved Disciple. Through your intercession in heaven, inspire all writers and evangelists to convey God’s goodness and love, so that the entire world knows that there is one person, a divine person, who cares.



Saint of the Week 
December 11th
3rd Sunday of Advent

Our Lady of Guadalupe 1531
Feast day December 12
Patroness of the Americas

A miracle which sparked a mass conversion hangs, frozen in time, in Mexico City

     The humble Aztec Juan Diego and his wife, Maria Lucia, had accepted baptism from the Franciscan missionaries laboring in Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), the greatest city of Spain’s most impressive colony, the future Mexico. After his wife died in 1529, Juan moved to the home of his Christian uncle, Juan Bernardino, on the outskirts of Mexico City. On Saturday, December 9, 1531, Juan Diego arose very early to walk to Mass. It was a quiet, peaceful morning. As he walked by the base of a hill called Tepeyac, Juan heard the gentle singing of many birds. He looked up. On the top of the hill was a radiant white cloud encircling a beautiful young woman. Juan was confused. Was this a dream? Then the gentle, bird-like singing ceased, and the mysterious young woman spoke directly to him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito!…I am the perfect and always Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God.” Mary went on to say many beautiful things to Juan, concluding with her desire that a church be built in her honor on that very hill of Tepeyac.

      The Virgin Mary, a faithful Catholic, placed herself under obedience to the local bishop. She would not build the shrine herself, or work directly with the nearby faithful. She required the bishop’s cooperation and support, and so told Juan, “…go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire that I have to see a church dedicated to me built here.” There followed meetings with the good but incredulous Bishop Zumárraga, more brief apparitions, and more drama until matters culminated on Tuesday, December 12, 1531. Juan was waiting patiently in the Bishop’s parlour for hours. The Bishop’s aids wished he would just go away. But Juan carried a secret gift for the Bishop in his coarse poncho. It was stuffed full of fragrant Castilian roses. Juan had gathered them from Tepeyac despite the cold December weather. Mary had told Juan to present the roses to the Bishop as a sign.

      After a long wait, Juan was finally brought into the presence of His Excellency. He recounted his conversations with Mary and then proudly unfurled his poncho. The fresh and dewy roses fell gracefully to the floor. Juan was content. But there was a gift within the gift. There was more than gorgeous roses. Everyone in the room fell to their knees in wonder. Juan was the last to see it. A gentle image of the Virgin Mary was impressed on Juan’s poncho. Could it be? Who could have possibly… It was a miracle! The Bishop immediately took possession of the poncho and placed it in his private chapel. Events now moved quickly. The miraculous image was put in the Cathedral. It was then brought in holy procession to a quickly built shrine on Tepeyac. Then there were more and more miracles. Then there were more and more pilgrims.

      Mary is the woman who, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, spoke with Juan on the Hill of Tepeyac. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the woman whose image is impressed upon Juan’s poncho. And it is that very same poncho which hangs to this day in the shrine built for and at the request of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The miracle first unfurled in the Bishop’s office in 1531 has been frozen in time. It is perpetually 1531 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Everyone who gazes on the image stands in the shoes of Bishop Zumárraga. The image teems with mysterious symbols and meanings. The wholesale conversion of the tribes of old Mexico, a missionary effort that until 1531 had been a struggle, was directly attributable to Mary’s miraculous intercession. It was the greatest and most rapid conversion of a people in the history of the Church. It is Mary to whom we turn on this feast. She made herself a humble, indigenous, local, expectant mother to bring a good but pagan people into the embrace of her Son and His Holy Church. She models the precious gift of life and the costs required to protect it from harm.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, your miraculous image was made possible because of the humble cooperation of Saint Juan Diego. May our work in the mission fields of everyday life be as fruitful as your own. May we cooperate with you just as Juan did.


Saint of the Week 
December 4th
2nd Sunday of Advent


Saint Nicholas, Bishop c. Third–Fourth Century
Feast Day December 6
Patron Saint of Russia, sailors, merchants, and children

Santa Claus signed the Nicene Creed

     Traditions the world over are so embedded in the rhythms of daily life that their ubiquity goes unnoticed. Why a birthday cake with lighted candles? Why make a wish and then blow those candles out? The origin of this charming tradition is obscure. Why shake hands, toast by clinking glasses, cross fingers for good luck, or have bridesmaids? The sources of many traditions are so historically remote and culturally elusive as to allow diverse interpretations of their meaning. Today’s saint is without doubt, however, the man behind the massively celebrated tradition of Santa Claus, the most well-known Christmas figure after Jesus and the Three Kings. Santa Claus’ mysterious nocturnal visits to lavish children with gifts at Christmastime is not a tradition whose origin is lost in the mists of history. It is a tradition firmly rooted in Christianity.

      Little is known about the life of Saint Nicholas; besides that, he was the Catholic Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor in the early fourth century. It is likely that he suffered under the persecution of Diocletian and certain that he later attended the Council of Nicea in 325. “Nicholas of Myra of Lycia” appears on one of the earliest and most reliable lists of the Bishops at Nicea. Some of the bishops at Nicea looked like soldiers who had just crawled off the battlefield; eyes gouged out, skin charred black, stumps for legs. These were the front-line torture victims of Diocelatian. The Emperor Constantine had called the Council, and when he entered the dim hall to inaugurate the great gathering, this colossus, the most powerful man in the world, dressed in robes of purple, slowly walked among the hushed and twisted bodies and did something shocking and beautiful. He stopped and kissed each eyeless cheek, each scar, gash, wound, and mangled stub where an arm had once hung. With this noble gesture, the healing could finally begin. The Church was free. The mitred heads wept tears of joy, and Saint Nicholas was among them.

     At his death, Saint Nicholas was buried in his see city. Less than a century later, a church was built in his honor in Myra and became a site of pilgrimage. And the Emperor Justinian, in the mid-500s, renovated a long-existing church dedicated to Saint Nicholas in Constantinople. In Rome, a Greek community was worshipping in a basilica dedicated to Saint Nicholas around 600. The church can still be visited today. These churches, and hundreds of others named for Saint Nicholas, prove that devotion to our saint was widespread not long after his death.

        When Myra was overrun by Muslim Turks in the 1000s, there was a risk that the saint’s bones would disappear. So in 1087, sailors from Bari, Italy, committed a holy theft and moved Saint Nicholas’ relics to their own hometown. In 1089 the Pope came to Bari to dedicate a new church to Saint Nicholas. And just a few years later, Bari became the rendezvous point for the First Crusade. Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of travelers and sailors, making him popular with the crusading knights. These knights, in turn, later brought the devotion to Saint Nicholas they learned in Bari back to their villages dotting the countryside of Central and Western Europe. Thus, it happened that a saint famous along the shores of the Mediterranean became, in ways not totally understood, the source of gift-giving traditions that perdure until today in every corner of Europe.

       Legends state that Nicholas saved three sisters from lives of shame by secretly dropping small sacks of gold through their family’s window at night, thus giving each a marriage dowry. Other legends relate that Nicholas secretly put coins in shoes that were left out for him. Nicholas’ legacy of gift-giving became a Central-European and Anglo-Saxon expression of the gift-giving formerly exclusive to the Three Kings. Christmas night gift-giving in Northern lands thus slowly replaced the more biblically solid traditions of giving gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany, a custom more popular in Southern Europe and in lands which inherited its traditions.

      The antiquity of the Church means it has played a matchless role in the formation of Western culture, a role that no faux holidays or new “tradition” can replicate. Santa Claus has roots. He wears red for the martyrs. He dons a hat resembling a bishop’s mitre. He often holds a sceptre similar to a bishop’s crozier. And he distributes gifts to children in humble anonymity on the night of Christ’s birth. Old Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or Santa Claus is real, in one sense. In all likelihood, he signed the Nicene Creed. Our “Santa,” then, was an orthodox Catholic bishop who argued for correct teaching about our Trinitarian God. The gift of the truth was, then, his first and most lasting gift to mankind.

     Saint Nicholas, your service as a bishop included not only teaching correctly the mysteries of our faith but also generous and humble charity in alleviating the material needs of your neighbor. Help all of us to combine good theology with Christian action like you did.







Saint of the Week 
November 27th
1st Sunday of Advent

Saint Andrew the Apostle First Century
Feast Day November 30th
Patron Saint of Scotland, Greece, fishermen, sailors, and spinsters

A big-hearted fisherman becomes a daring Apostle of the Lord

       Andrew was a fisherman from Bethsaida in Northern Israel. He lived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which is really a lake, where many of Jesus’ miracles took place. Jesus chose mostly fishermen and small farmers to be His disciples, perhaps because in these professions a man can plan, sweat, and calculate, and still, in the end, fail. Success is not appreciated unless failure is an option. Farmers and fishermen must depend on God’s providence for success. No amount of preparation can make the clouds open, and the rains pour down, and no amount of careful planning will make the nets burst with fish. Farmers and fishermen are hard-working, careful, thoughtful, and yet entirely dependent on the weather and other factors outside of their control. They must work, pray and trust in God in equal measure. They must have the discipline of faith. These are the qualities that made Andrew and others such great disciples.

         Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was at John’s side when a man whom John had recently baptized walked by. “Look, here is the Lamb of God,” John exclaimed (Jn 1:36). Andrew was curious and, along with a few of John’s other disciples, followed the mysterious man. The next day Andrew breathlessly told his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41) and brought him to Jesus, who renamed Simon as Peter. From that point forward, Andrew became one of Jesus’ most reliable Apostles, a leader among the Twelve whose name recurs time and again in the Gospels. There are various traditions about where Andrew evangelized after the Ascension of the Lord, with most focusing on Greece, Turkey, and north of the Black Sea. There are no certain facts about his manner of death, although various apocrypha state that he was tied to an x-shaped cross and then preached from that high pulpit for days until he died.

        Saint Andrew sat at the table of the Last Supper, felt the hot breath of the Holy Spirit on his cheeks at Pentecost, saw the radiant body of the risen Lord with his own eyes, and endured physical hardships as he carried a new religion into old lands. We can suppose that he, like many of the Apostles, was content with his way of life before he met the Lord. Fishing on the tranquil waters of a lake, sharing daily meals with his extended family, chatting in the evenings with old friends before a fire. The Apostles did not abandon their lives to follow Jesus because their lives were miserable. It was a question of more. More meaning. More truth. More fulfillment. More challenge. More daring. There is nothing wrong with a good life, but there is something better about a great life.

        The Apostles were mostly simple, intelligent, hardworking men whose outstanding characteristics were courage and daring. Many people who could have followed the Lord did not. The rich young man went away sad for he had many possessions. Perhaps the greatest thing that young man had was his youth. Andrew and Peter and John and Simon and all the others were young too. Yet they did not go away sad. They stayed, they followed, they were challenged, and they were contented. Andrew renounced his father, his boat, his nets, and all that was known and comfortable. He traded what was good for what was better. And for that generosity and daring we remember him today, so many centuries later. He was of that generation of pathbreakers who sowed the seeds whose harvests the Christians of today have reaped and enjoyed.

Saint Andrew, we ask your intercession as an Apostle in heaven to make all Christians more generous in responding to the Lord’s invitation to follow Him. Embolden us to share the faith with our families, as you did with your brother Simon Peter, and to be outspoken in our beliefs.



Saint of the Week 
November 20th
34th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr. Third Century
Feast Day November 22
Patron Saint of Music and Musicians

A girl martyr’s mysterious death seizes the imagination

      The First Eucharistic Prayer, also known as the Roman Canon, is principally a liturgical document. But like so many things liturgical, it also has immense historical value. Only a tiny fraction of the ancient world’s documents has survived. Archives flood, libraries burn to ash, monasteries collapse, castles are sacked, and coastlines erode—the cities perched above them crumbling into the waves, everything lost, as the sea pushes inland. When documents disappear, historians must work from scraps of pottery and marble, or from the detritus of watery shipwrecks, to gather just tiny pieces of the fuller mosaic of what once was. The Catholic Church is a phenomenal exception to culture’s progressive Alzheimer’s. In its law, catechisms, calendar, feasts, buildings, hierarchy, and most especially in its liturgy, the Church’s past is never really past. Catholicism’s collective memory is stored, not in rack upon rack of digital servers in hermetically sealed rooms, but in the minds of its hundreds of millions of adherents. The faithful are the cloud. Priests and religious in particular circulate the living faith, ensuring that it is perpetually churning, flowing, and spreading like a rushing river.

      The names of the martyrs listed in the Roman Canon include today’s saint, Cecilia. From one perspective, that is all we need to know. She lived. She was martyred. She was remembered. Cecilia’s name was included in the only Eucharistic Prayer then said at Sunday Mass, presumably because she stood out from the many other martyrs for a particular reason. That reason has been lost. Perhaps a stirring homily, committed to writing, preserved moving details of Cecilia’s life and tragic death. But maybe that homily was converted to cinders and slowly floated away when the enormous library of the Monastery of Cluny burned during the French religious conflicts of the 1500s. Perhaps there was a biographically detailed marble epitaph over Cecilia’s grave in the catacombs. Yet maybe that epitaph was wrenched from the wall by a barbarian plunderer who later used it as a sturdy doorstep for his house in Aachen. Cecilia’s details are lost, for reasons unknown. But the Roman Canon is not lost, and it gathers together some notable virgin martyrs of the first few centuries: “…Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia…” Like flies in amber, their names are preserved, to be heard in hundreds of languages by millions of people every week until the end of time.

      Cecilia was likely martyred by cuts to her neck after attempts to steam her to death were unsuccessful. She was then buried in a loculus near the papal crypt in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus. After being the object of devotion in the catacombs for centuries, Cecilia’s remains were transferred by the Pope in the early 800s to her own Basilica in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. During some restoration work on the Basilica in 1599, Cecilia’s body was uncovered and found to be incorrupt. Before contact with the atmosphere caused her fragile, paper-Mache like skin to disintegrate, an artist carefully noted what he saw. His sculpture of Saint Cecilia is evocative and justly famous. The marble itself seems to rest in peace. It is not a forward, glorious pose in the Counter-Reformation tradition dominant when the statue was executed. The marble is white, reflecting Cecilia’s purity. The saint’s face and hair are mysteriously covered by a sheet, inviting the mind to wonder. Cecilia’s fingers seem to form a cryptic Christian symbol of the Trinity—Three in One. And her neck is sliced by the stroke of an axe. The sculptor’s personal testimony is embedded in the floor near his work: “Behold the body of the Most Holy Virgin, Cecilia, whom I myself saw lying uncorrupt in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture and body.” We don’t know the full story of our saint, but we are certain of her end—a generous act of self-gift to Christ.

Saint Cecilia, you died an early death, preserving your virginity and choosing Christ over all others. Be an example to all youth of the true goal of their lives. Help them to seek God first and the good and holy pleasures of life only after Him.


Saint of the Week 
November 13th
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious 1207–1231 

Feast Day November 17
Patron Saint of the Third Order of Saint Francis

A faithful wife and mother lose her husband and becomes a model lay Franciscan

       The marriage of today’s saint was not any less happy for being arranged. Elizabeth of Hungary’s parents betrothed her at the age of four to a young German nobleman named Ludwig and sent her away as a child to live in his family’s court. Elizabeth wed Ludwig when she was fourteen and he twenty-one. Only in a post-industrial age have the teenage years been understood, in some countries but not all, as a time of self-discovery, boundary pushing, rejection of tradition, and excuse for total confusion. Puberty, not the entire span of teen years, was historically understood as the passage to adulthood, responsibility, and a professional life. It was typical of her era, and many other eras, that Elizabeth would marry at fourteen. She was ready and became a contented, serious, and successful wife and mother, bearing three children, while still a teen.

       Before Ludwig left on Crusade in 1227, he and Elizabeth vowed never to remarry if one were to die before the other. Then Ludwig died on his way to the Holy Land. Elizabeth was distraught but fulfilled her promise. So at the age of twenty, her already pious and prayerful soul waded into deeper Christian waters. Her mortifications became more rigorous, her financial generosity more total, and her prayer time more all consuming. Most of all, Elizabeth’s life now began to revolve almost uniquely around the poor, the aged, and the sick. She opened a hospice near a relative’s castle and there welcomed anyone in need.

      Elizabeth also fell under the spell of a charismatic and over-bearing spiritual director who insisted that she make the most severe emotional and physical sacrifices in her quest for perfection. As a sign of her commitment to the poor, and to aid her in conquering herself, Elizabeth took the habit of a Third Order Franciscan in 1227. Franciscanism was spreading like wildfire throughout Europe, and Elizabeth was not the only noblewoman far from Assisi to be drawn to the message of Saint Francis so soon after his death. A native Hungarian, who came in search of Elizabeth in Germany at this time, was shocked to find her dressed in drab grey clothes, poor, and sitting at a spinning wheel in her hospice. He begged Elizabeth to return to her father’s royal court in Hungary. She refused. She would stay near the tomb of her husband, stay near her children, now in the care of nuns and relatives, and stay close to the poor whom she loved so much.

       Most likely worn out by her austerities and near constant contact with the sick, Elizabeth died at the age of twenty-four on November 17, 1231. Miracles were attributed to her intercession soon after her burial, and testimonies to her holiness were collected so rapidly that she was canonized by the pope just four years after her death. In 1236 a shrine was dedicated to her memory in Marburg, Germany, and her remains were transferred there amidst great ceremony. Pilgrims continued trekking to her shrine throughout the Middle Ages, until a Lutheran prince, full of dissenting Protestant spit and vinegar, removed Elizabeth’s relics from her shrine in 1539. They have never been recovered.

      Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, we seek your heavenly intercession on this date of your early death. Help all young mothers to persevere in their vocations and all young widows to not despair but to be confident as they walk forward in life, knowing that Christ is at their side.


Saint of the Week 
November 6th
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time


Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop c. 336 – 397
Feast Day November 11

Patron Saint of France, soldiers, and conscientious objectors

He gave half his cloak to a beggar, had a dream, and then gave all his life to Christ

Many great and holy men and women are unknown to history because they lacked the one crucial ingredient to become well known—a biographer. Today’s saint was one of the fortunate ones. A historian named Sulpicius Severus personally knew and interviewed Martin in the last years of Martin’s life and put it all on parchment. In an age of few books, Sulpicius’ Life of Saint Martin was a blockbuster. Over many decades and centuries, it slipped into the bloodstream of European culture until, by the medieval age, the Life was standard reading in all monasteries. Virtually every priest and monk in Europe was deeply familiar with the details of the life of Saint Martin of Tours.

The typical biography of a saint for the first few centuries of Christianity worked from the back to the front, from death to life. The real drama was how the saint died, not how he or she lived. Tales of bloody martyrdom, solitary exile, starvation and exposure were as moving and unfortunate as they were common. The Life of Saint Martin told of Martin’s adventures and heroism in living the faith, not just about his last few breaths. He was a saint for the new age of legalized Christianity. Martin of Tours died in his bed.

Martin was born to pagan parents in present-day Hungary but desired to become a Christian from a young age. His father resisted his son’s holy desires and obliged Martin to follow in his footsteps and serve as a soldier in Rome’s Imperial Guard. Martin was serving in France when the most iconic moment of his life took place. Martin was slowly approaching the city gates of Amiens on horseback one cold winter evening. A half-naked man shivered on the ground, begging for help. No one stopped. No one helped. So, Martin, clad as a soldier, pulled the cloak from his back, drew his sharp sword from its scabbard, and sliced his cloak in two. The poor man’s skeletal frame was covered with just half of the cloak. That same night, when Martin fell asleep, he had a dream. Jesus appeared to him clad in the cloak and said “Martin, still a catechumen, covered me with this garment.” Upon awakening, Sulpicius tells his reader, “Martin flew to be baptized.”

Martin subsequently befriended one of the great men of Gaul of that era, Saint Hilary of Poitiers, who ordained him into minor orders. After various apostolic adventures, Martin was chosen the Bishop of Tours in 372. In his twenty-five years as bishop, Martin was zealous, and jealous, for the House of the Lord. He aggressively tore down pagan temples, which he understood to be dedicated to demons. He traveled incessantly and was untiring in evangelizing the people of the countryside of Gaul and in founding churches. Martin also developed a reputation as a miracle worker and prophet. He cured the eye problems of Saint Paulinus of Nola, Saint Augustine’s good friend.

By the time of his peaceful death, Bishop Martin of Tours had a well-deserved reputation for holiness. Devotion to Martin spread as Sulpicius’ biography was copied and shared. Numerous churches were named in Martin’s honor in every country of Europe. England had one hundred seventy-three churches dedicated to Martin of Tours in 1800. The Shrine over Martin’s tomb was one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in all of Europe until France was riven by Reformation violence in the 1560s. In an interesting vestige of Martin’s enduring historic importance, Martin’s feast day in the Breviary is more fully elaborated with prayers and antiphons than almost any comparable saint on the Church’s calendar.

Saint Martin of Tours, your encounter with the beggar has fired the imagination of countless Christians. You were generous in every single way in living your faith. Through your intercession in heaven, assist us now to see Jesus in everyone, just as you did then.