Saint of the Week

Saint of the Week 
April 21, 2024

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

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

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

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



Saint of the Week 
April 14, 2024

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

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

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


St. Paschal Baylón (1540-1592)

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

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

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

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



Saint of the Week 
April 7, 2024

Divine Mercy Sunday         
Eighth Day of the Octave of Easter


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint of the Week 
March 24, 2024

Holy Thursday        


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

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

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


Saint of the Week 
March 17, 2024

Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary

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

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


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

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

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


Saint of the Week 
March 10, 2024

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque   

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

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

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

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

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


Saint of the Week 
March 3, 2024

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem  

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor c. 315–c. 387
Feast Day March 18

Declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883

      The legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire in 313 ended persecutions, but the Church continued to suffer. Politics entered the Church, emperors inserted themselves into doctrine, and theological and territorial divisions became fierce. The theological divisions in the fourth century centered on Jesus’ nature. Arius, a priest from Alexandria in North Africa, believed that the Father created the Son, making the Son subordinate to the Father and neither co-eternal nor co-equal with the Father. These teachings came to be known as the Arian Heresy. Others believed that the Son was “begotten of the Father,” meaning He existed from all eternity with the Father and was of the same divine nature. This theological battle was initially addressed in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea but was not settled until 381 by the Council of Constantinople. It was in this fifty-six-year period of Church history and controversy that today’s saint was born, lived, and fought for the true faith.

      Cyril was born in or near the city of Jerusalem around 315. He was well-educated in the Scriptures and philosophy prior to his ordination as a deacon and then to the priesthood at age twenty-eight. His superior, Bishop Maximus, assigned Cyril the responsibility of assisting him as a preacher and catechist. Cyril preached every Sunday and catechized those preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation. A surviving set of twenty-four of his catechetical instructions are remarkable for their content and clarity. The first eighteen lessons explained what catechumens needed to know about baptism, how to change from pagan morals, the meaning of the Creed, and the errors of Arianism. Cyril’s last six lessons led the newly baptized in how to live the new life they received from the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Most Holy Eucharist, as well as lessons on prayer, especially found in the Lord’s Prayer.

      Cyril was chosen to succeed Maximus as Bishop of Jerusalem in 348. Soon after Cyril became bishop, a miraculous sign appeared over the holy site of Jesus’ crucifixion. A large cross of light, surrounded by a rainbow, appeared in the sky and stretched for about two miles over the city, perhaps an affirmation of Cyril or a sign of the suffering he would endure in office. Cyril encountered opposition from bishops sympathetic to Arianism and persecution from emperors. Cyril was deposed and exiled from Jerusalem three times during his almost forty years as a bishop.

      Even so, Bishop Cyril was a true shepherd of his flock, preaching and catechizing just as he had done as a priest. His gentle, pastoral, conciliatory, and humble approach to his ministry led some more orthodox bishops to suspect him of being sympathetic to the Arians. He was finally declared orthodox in his faith in 378. In 381, the Council of Constantinople gave further clarity on the Arian Heresy, clarified the Creed of Nicaea, and affirmed Bishop Cyril’s office of Bishop of Jerusalem. He remained a holy shepherd of his people until his death six years later. An eyewitness to Bishop Cyril’s catechetical lessons that were delivered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre said that whenever Cyril completed a lesson, all of the people would enthusiastically applaud.

     Saint Cyril, you never wavered from the Truth, not even during persecution and exile, but proclaimed Christ Jesus to your flock. Please pray for me, that I will always remain firm in my faith in a hostile world and will lovingly proclaim the truth to those who need it most. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

Saint of the Week 
February 24, 2024

Saint Gregory of Narek   

Saint Gregory of Narek, 951–c. 1003
Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day February 27

Widely venerated in the Armenian Church Declared a Doctor of the Church in 2015 by Pope Francis in 2021

     Evangelized by the Apostles Saint Jude Thaddeus and Saint Bartholomew, Armenia became – in 301 – the first kingdom to make Christianity its official religion. The Church thrived in Armenia, but in 451, the Armenian Church separated from the Church of Rome over disagreements on doctrine from the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian Church remained an apostolic Church, its Sacraments and life of prayer continued, but the division remained. Attempts at reunification have intensified in recent decades, and the honoring of Saint Gregory of Narek is the Roman Church’s most recent attempt to more fully unite with the Eastern Church of Armenia.

      Gregory was born in 951, near Lake Van in modern-day Turkey. His mother died when he was young, leading to his deep devotion to our Blessed Mother. His father was the ruling prince of the Andzevatsiq province and an Armenian bishop and scholar whose support of some of the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon led to his excommunication from the Armenian Church.

     After their mother’s death, Gregory and his older brother were sent to live at the Monastery of Narek. 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.

     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, and 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 taught him to remain in continuous dialogue with God, ever attentive to His divine presence. The Book of Narek is a compilation of ninety-five prayers that flow from that dialogue. Each begins with the phrase, “Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart.” The prayers express a troubled – even tormented – soul’s deepest love of God. The torment is not despair, but an interior expression of hope from a soul in touch with its fallen humanity and sin, while also 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 he saw God, as he says, “with my own eyes” (Prayer 27f).

     In the centuries after Gregory’s death, Armenia suffered greatly under foreign domination, culminating in the Armenian genocide when the Turks murdered an estimated 1 – 1.8 million Armenians in 1915-16. During their suffering, the Armenian people relied on Saint Gregory’s book of prayers. When Pope Francis declared Saint Gregory a Doctor of the Church, the book of prayers became accessible to the whole world. Let us conclude with the ending of 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 18, 2024

Polycarp of Smyrna

Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr c. 65–c. 155 (or 166)

Feast Day February 23

Invoked against earaches and dysentery.

      As a disciple of St. John, the Evangelist, St. Polycarp was able to hear about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection directly from those who witnessed it. Because Polycarp was ordained as Bishop of Smyrna by St. John, he is one of three chief Apostolic Fathers, along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.

      During his life Polycarp defended the Church against heresies. His important writing, the Letter to the Philippians, quoted the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, stressing Paul’s authority in the Church and setting out clear arguments against the gnostic heresy that denied Christ’s divinity.

     The early period of the Church was a dangerous time to be a Christian and like many, St. Polycarp was martyred. He was captured by Romans and sentenced to burn at the stake. However, the fire did not touch him, instead rising up like sails around him. Seeing that the flames would not injure Polycarp, the Romans stabbed him instead. The Martyrdom of Polycarp is perhaps the earliest fully preserved account of a Christian martyr.


Saint of the Week 
February 11, 2024

Ash Wednesday             

February 14. 2024

      It was a common practice within the early Church that those who were found guilty of grave public sin needed to do public penance before they were admitted back into communion with the Church and admitted to the Most Holy Eucharist. The public sinners came forward in sackcloth forty days before Easter and were sprinkled with ashes, in keeping with many Old Testament examples of public penance. They fasted and prayed for forty days and then, on Easter, were readmitted into full communion with the Church. Eventually, prior to the end of the first millennium, this practice was extended to the entire Church as a way of highlighting everyone’s need for penance.

     Today, as a sign of our ongoing need to repent of our sins and do penance, the faithful are invited to come forward to be marked with ashes as a sign of their commitment to the penitential season of Lent, so as to celebrate with great joy the Solemnity of Easter. Lent is forty-six days long. Forty of those days are penitential days, and six of them are Sundays. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes with the Easter Vigil. The forty penitential days are an imitation of Jesus’ forty days in the desert.

     As we come forward to receive ashes, the minister traditionally says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This line is taken from the Book of Genesis when God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. To both of them, God said this curse would last “Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Thus, the final curse of original sin is death: “…to dust you shall return.”

     As we come forward to receive ashes, we should hear God saying to us that we also suffer the consequences of original sin and will die. While we acknowledge that the curse of death will endure, we also hold onto the hope of resurrection made possible through Christ. Ash Wednesday is our liturgical and public statement that we have chosen both repentance and redemption.

     As you come forward to receive the ashes today, make this act a prayer and one of deep interior devotion. Call to mind your sins and the sins of your whole life, as best you can. Acknowledge the just punishment of eternal death that you deserve for your sins. But then call to mind the infinite and unmerited mercy of God. He has reached down from Heaven to offer you the gift of eternal salvation through your repentance and humility. Humble yourself today in “sackcloth and ashes,” so God will use this Lent to more fully unite your soul with His through His glorious death and resurrection.

  Most glorious and Triune God, as I enter this season of Lent, I wholeheartedly acknowledge my sin and repent. Please be merciful to me, a sinner. Help me to make this Lent a truly penitential season so that my soul will be more disposed to receive You this Easter. Jesus, I trust in You.