Aug 2 - The Feast of Portiuncula
At the foot of the mountain on which Assisi is situated, hermits from Palestine had built an oratory in the first centuries of the Christian era. This oratory together with a small plot of land was given to St. Benedict in the 6th century. The name Portiuncula, that is, Little Portion, is supposed to have been derived from the transfer of this small piece of property. The little church was called St. Mary of the Angels, and the inhabitants of Assisi went there frequently to pray.
When St. Francis forsook the world, it was his first pious act to restore this sanctuary of the Queen of heaven, which had become somewhat dilapidated. Many extraordinary favors were granted to him in this little church. The Queen of heaven designated this place as the cradle of his order. Here, likewise, she implored for him the great indulgence by which the Portiuncula chapel became famous throughout Christendom.
A special impulse led St. Francis on a certain night to go to the chapel. There he saw our Lord and His holy Mother surrounded by a great host of angels. Filled with astonishment and reverence, the saint prostrated himself upon the ground and adored the Divine Majesty. Then he heard the voice of our Lord urging him with ineffable tenderness to ask some special favor. Nothing was so near to the heart of Francis as the salvation of souls, and so, after a few moments of reflection, he asked for the grace of a full pardon for all who, being contrite and having confessed their sins, would visit this little sanctuary. Mary cast herself upon her knees before her Divine Son, and repeated the petition of her faithful servant.
Thereupon the Lord said to Francis: "It is a great favor that you request, nevertheless it shall be granted to you. Go to my Vicar on earth, to whom I have given the power to bind and to loose, and ask him in My name to grant this indulgence."
Forthwith Francis presented himself to Pope Honorius III, who, after having assured himself of the truth of the vision, granted his request, but with the restriction that the indulgence could be gained on one day of the year. The 2nd of August was the designated day, that being the anniversary of the little church's dedication. At the command of the pope and in the presence of 7 bishops, St. Francis preached the extraordinary indulgence at the Portiuncula before a great concourse of people. From that time the Portiuncula was annually the goal of innumerable pilgrims. Subsequently the indulgence was extended to every day of the year.
A large basilica was built over the chapel, and so the little sanctuary of the Portiuncula has been preserved in its original condition. By virtue of their apostolic power the popes have extended this indulgence to all Franciscan churches, and under special conditions even to some other churches. They have also granted that the indulgence can be gained not only once, but as often as anyone, who has been to confession and to holy Communion, visits the appointed church on Portiuncula day and prays 6 Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorys for the intention of the Holy Father. Besides, the indulgence can be applied to the holy souls in purgatory.
ON THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE
It cannot be denied that this indulgence is one of the most precious favors that comes to us from the treasury of the divine mercy. Not only the Vicar of Christ but Christ Himself granted it at the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Mercy. It is recorded that when the pope first granted his approval St. Francis departed without having obtained a written document as a testimonial. When his attention was drawn to the fact, St. Francis remarked: "God Himself will testify to this indulgence." Was that not actually verified by the great confidence of all Christians? One may well say of this indulgence what was said of the gracious condescension of our Lord in the Incarnation: "Through the heart of the mercy of our God, the Orient from on High has visited us unto the remission of sins." (Luke 1:78) Who would not use this day of grace well?
Consider how extraordinary are the graces of the Portiuncula indulgence. If we have contritely confessed our sins and gone to holy Communion, we can gain this indulgence as often as we visit the designated church and pray the 6 Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorys for the intention of the pope. If we have gained the indulgence and leave the church, we can re-enter and gain it again. In the event that we have really gained the plenary indulgence so that there remains no further punishment to be remitted, we can help the holy souls each succeeding time if we apply the indulgence to them. How many souls may be waiting for this day, to be aided by your charity and mercy. Shall their trust in you be in vain?
Consider that the effects of the Portiuncula indulgence depend on the disposition of him who sets out to gain it. It was the spirit of penance and of trust in God that made St. Francis worthy of obtaining this indulgence. His entire life was one continuous act of penance, and when this great grace was granted to him, our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and a great number of angels appeared to him: this increased his confidence still more. With a similar disposition of mind and heart you will assuredly share the benefit of the indulgence. Awaken in yourself the true spirit of penance and of great confidence, so that our Lord may also say to you: "Go, and as you have believed, so be it done to you." (Matt 8:13)
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who dost permit us annually to celebrate anew the dedication Day of Thy temple, and dost grant that we may attend the sacred mysteries in good health, hear the prayers of Thy people and grant that everyone who enters this church to ask graces for himself, may rejoice in the complete answer to his prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Visit to the Parochial Church (Visitatio ecclesiae paroecialis)
A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit the parochial church: on the titular feast; on the 2nd of August, when the indulgence of the "Portiuncula" occurs.
Both indulgences can be acquired either on the day designated above or on some other day designated by the Ordinary for the benefit of the faithful.
The same indulgences apply to the Cathedral church and, where there is one, to a Co-Cathedral church, even if they are not parochial churches; they apply to quasi-parochial churches also.
The above indulgences are contained in the Apostolic Constitution The Doctrine of Indulgences, Norm 15, with account being taken at the same time of proposals made to the Sacred Penitentiary in the meanwhile.
In visiting the church, it is required, according to Norm 16 of the same Apostolic Constitution, that "one Our Father and the Creed be recited."
What is a plenary indulgence?
A plenary indulgence is a very great spiritual good and favor. In the words of the "Enchirdion," http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/indulge/ it is the remission, before God, of all the temporal punishment due to sin, already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned, which the follower of Christ, with the proper dispositions and under certain conditions, acquires, through the intervention of the Church, which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction, won by Christ and the saints.
There are two general requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence:
Performance of a designated good work or act of piety;
Freedom from all attachment to sin, even venial sin.
Besides these, there are three conditions which must be fulfilled for any and all plenary indulgences (except the one granted for the moment of death): Sacramental confession. However a single confession suffices for several plenary indulgences.
The reception of Holy Communion, once for each indulgence.
Prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. One Our Father and Hail Mary are sufficient, but other prayers for the Pope's intentions may be said. This is required for every plenary indulgence, except the one for the moment of death.
Aug 4 - St. John Mary Vianney 1786-1859
Seldom has a priestly life been so holy, so self-sacrificing, so fruitful of good for the salvation of souls as the life of the Cure' of Ars in France, St. John Mary Vianney, who died August 4, 1859. It is a distinct honor for the Third Order of St. Francis that he was one of its members.
He was born in Dardilly, not far from Lyons, of simple and devout parents. Very early his pure heart experienced a burning desire to consecrate himself to God in the priestly vocation, and to win very many souls for our dear Lord. His talents were very meager; but his diligence and piety helped him to overcome all obstacles so that he was ordained in 1815.
Three years later his bishop sent him as curate to Ars, a little village in the diocese of Lyon. His parish was at the time in a very pitiable condition. The fear of God and the practice of virtue were rare things there. Attendance at divine services and the reception of the sacraments were quite generally neglected, and the young folks were mindful of nothing but amusement, a dance taking place practically every Sunday.
It was, therefore, with a heavy heart and yet with great confidence in God that the curate entered upon his duties. He realized that God's help was his first great need. Throughout the entire day he knelt before the blessed sacrament and prayed for his erring sheep.
This zeal at prayer was soon noticed, and the grace he had asked for continued its work. The people were astonished at the devotion John Mary displayed while celebrating holy Mass. His very mortified life made a deep impression upon them. His love for the poor and the sick, his mild word to everyone soon won for him all hearts.
He invited them to pray, in the morning to attend holy Mass, in the evening to recite the rosary. He also introduced a Eucharistic confraternity. He strove to eliminate the dangers to which the people were exposing themselves by their weekly dances. When a certain person, who was earning his livelihood by means of these dances, said to him, "But a person must live," the priest replied, "True, but one must also die." He conducted the divine services with all possible solemnity, and this proved at attraction for the people. By means of frequent instructions, especially in catechism, he taught his parishioners about virtue and vice, and portrayed in vivid terms the reward God has reserved for the good and the punishment that will be inflicted on the wicked.
He was tireless in administering the sacrament of penance, always showing not only great zeal but also practicing meekness and charity in an extraordinary degree. In a few years the parish was completely transformed. The few dissenting voices were entirely ignored, and their worldly attractions were not heeded. The fame of the blessed success and the holy life of the priest of Ars spread rapidly. Strangers came in ever increasingly numbers in order to have their consciences set aright and to obtain advice and consolation in every type of need.
From the year 1828 the concourse of people took on the semblance of organized pilgrimages; the number of strangers was estimated to be at least 20,000 annually. Numerous conversions of a most remarkable nature occurred, and many sick persons were miraculously restored to health. These cures the humble pastor ascribed to the intercession of St. Philomena, who was venerated in his church.
The demands made upon the servant of God were, naturally, very great. He spent from 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. Besides, he conducted a catechetical instruction in the church each day, and led the rosary every evening. Along with these superhuman exertions he also practiced rigorous mortification, fasted almost constantly, and slept on a board. In his way he spent himself in the fullest sense of the word as a good shepherd, and labored for the salvation of souls until he was 74 years old.
Completely worn out, he collapsed at the last day of May, 1859, and died peacefully in the Lord without any agony on August 4. Pope Pius X beatified him and Pope Pius XI canonized him and made him the patron of all priests who have the care of souls.
CONCERNING PASTORAL DUTY
1. The saintly pastor of souls Vianney bore the marks of the true shepherd, according to the words of our Lord: "The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep" (John 10:11). He beheld the sheep entrusted to his care in the claws of the infernal wolf, given over to sensuality and dissoluteness. A hireling would have fled from such a situation. Vianney, however, set himself to the task of saving them and innumerable other sheep of Christ's fold. God has appointed all those as shepherds of souls who have been entrusted with Christian guardianship over others, not only as actual pastors, but also as parents and teachers. -- If you belong to those classes, do you also deserve the name of a good shepherd, or do you abandon the sheep to the wolves? If that is the case, woe to you!
2. Consider by what means St. John Mary accomplished so much. By his good example he led his flocks forward, and he guided the erring back by his meekness and charity. He kept the picture of the Good Shepherd constantly before his eyes, and this "began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1) and pursued the lost sheep until he was able to place it joyfully upon his shoulders and bring it back. The Good Shepherd severely reproved the Pharisees for placing upon the people heavy burdens which they themselves avoided, and he pronounced His judgment on these rude shepherds: "Because you thrusted with sides and shoulders, and struck all the weak cattle with your horns, I will judge" (Ezech 34:21). -- According to what standard have you performed your pastoral duty?
3. Consider that a pastor's work can only then produce results and blessings when those who are being tended follow their shepherd. When the sheep of St. John Mary's flock perceived the charity and the good intentions of their shepherd, they followed him willingly and no longer gave ear to stranger and seducer. It is thus that the Divine Shepherd describes the good sheep. "And the sheep follow him because they know his voice; but a stranger they follow but not fly from him" (John 10:4-5). Moreover, they should pray for their shepherd, according to the advice of the Apostle: "Remember your prelates" (Heb 13:7), that God may give them light and strength to lead their flocks to their goal. -- Pray with this intention for the supreme shepherd on earth as well as for all other shepherds.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH (for the Pope)
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, graciously regard Thy servant whom Thou hast been pleased to appoint pastor over Thy Church; grant, we beseech Thee, that he may profit his subjects both by words and example, and together with the flock entrusted to his care, attain to eternal life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Aug 7 - Blessed Agathangel and Blessed Cassian
Agathangel was born in Vendome in 1589 and Cassian in Nantes in 1607. Both received the habit of the Franciscan Order among the Capuchins and were sent to the African missions shortly after they had completed their studies. They met in Cairo. There they learned of the persecution of the Christians in Abyssinia. Filled with a desire to labor and suffer for Christ among their separated brethren, they went to that country. They had scarcely begun their work when they were seized and put in chains. They languished in prison for the space of a month, and then during another 25 days they were dragged to Gondar amid unheard-of treatment and during the extreme heat of a July sun. The king intended to force them to renounce their faith.
Father Cassian replied with firm determination: "We wish to live and die as children of the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church, outside of which there is no salvation. We do not wish to purchase our lives with the price of infamous apostasy. We do not wish to enjoy honors and riches, which you offer us at the price of our immortal souls."
Both confessors were then sentenced to he hanged. When the executioners were looking about for ropes, the two confessors, inflamed with a desire for martyrdom, called out: "If you need ropes, use our cords." So it was done. A few moments later the holy missionaries had won the crown of martyrdom. This happened on August 7, 1638. Pope Pius X beatified them with great solemnity.
THE ONLY CHURCH IN WHICH THERE IS SALVATION
1. Because it has been founded by Christ as the institution of salvation, the Catholic Church is the only one in which we can be saved. Christ always speaks of only one Church: "On this rock, I will build My Church," "he who will not hear the Church...", "there will be but one flock and one shepherd..." The Church would forfeit its own rights where it to recognize any other churches. The martyrs eloquently proclaimed this truth to the world by laying down their lives for the Faith and in defense of the only saving Church. -- We too must have the spirit of the martyrs; we must be ready to act as they did.
2. The Catholic Church, as the body of Christ, is the only saving Church. It is the mystical body of Christ, the incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Is it possible to think of more than one body belonging to this Head? That is plainly impossible. Besides, it is the task of the Church to lead souls to God. There is only one such goal, and there cannot be various ways which are opposed to one another, as in the non-Catholic churches. The Catholic Church, therefore, says with Christ: "I am the way" (John 14:6). Be faithful to this way.
3. The Catholic Church is the only saving Church for all men. Of her it can be said: "Neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12). That is: He who attains to salvation is saved through the Church. either as a member of the Church or as belonging to the soul of the Church. Non-Catholics and heathens will be saved through the Church, if they live according to the dictates of their conscience and co-operate with the necessary graces which God gives them and thus belong to the soul of the Church. -- Rejoice that you are a member of the Church, and pray for those who are not within the fold.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst inflame Blesseds Agathangel and Cassian with Thy love and grant them to shed their blood for Thee, graciously grant at their intercession we may in this life so struggle against the enemy of our salvation that we may merit to be crowned by Thee in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Aug 8 - Holy Father Dominic 1170-1221
Born of wealthy Spanish nobility, but eventually turned his back on all worldly goods. At his baptism, his mother saw a star shining from his chest. Studied theology at Palencia. Canon of the church of Osma. Priest. Augustinian. Lifelong apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. Founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who live a simple, austere life, and an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls. Visionary. Friend of Saint Amata of Assisi.
At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; the heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, and told him to say the rosary daily, and teach it to all who would listen. Eventually the true faith won out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary, but it predates him.
Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.
"A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil." - Saint Dominic
Aug 11 - St. Clare of Assisi 1194-1253
At the beginning of the 13th century, when luxury and sensuality held sway, St. Francis of Assisi made his appearance, giving to men the example of a poor and penitential life. But God wished also to give the vain and pleasure-loving women of that period an example of contempt of the world's vanities. For this mission he chose Clare, the daughter of a prominent and noble family of Assisi, born January 20, 1194. Her father was Favarone de Offreduccio, count of Sassorosso; her mother, the servant of God Ortolana, who died in the odor of sanctity.
Before the child's birth it was revealed to the mother that her offspring would be a brilliant light in the world. This light the mother detected in her daughter from her earliest years. Besides being favored with personal beauty, Clare possessed a charming personality and rare qualities of mind. She was a favorite in the family, and hardly had she attained to young womanhood, when several suitors sought her in marriage.
But her virtues surpassed the gifts with which nature endorsed her. She interested herself in the poor and frequently denied herself things so as to be able to give more to the poor members of Christ. She loved prayer, and it was her sweetest delight to surrender her heart to sentiments of ardent devotion before Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Beneath her beautiful garments she wore a sharp penitential belt in order to honor the sufferings of Christ and to preserve herself a chaste virgin for His sake.
She was 18 years old when she heard St. Francis preach in the cathedral of Assisi during the Lent of 1212. His words on contempt of the world and on penance, and particularly the holy example he set, so earnestly affected Clare, that she conferred with him and soon recognized that God was calling her to lead a life similar to his in the seclusion of a convent. She did not hesitate to carry out God's plans. Realizing that her family, intent only on a brilliant future for her in the world, would oppose her vocation in every way, she had to leave home in secret.
On Palm Sunday she went to church, dressed in her richest garments, to attend divine services. That night, attended by an elderly relative, she went to the little chapel of Sty. Mary of the Angels, where St. Francis and his brethren came to meet her with lighted candles in their hands. Before the altar she removed her beautiful head-dress, then St. Francis cut off her hair and covered her head with a veil of common linen. In place of rich garments, she received a coarse penitential garb and was girded with a white cord. This was the way in which the mother and founder of the Poor Clares was invested on March 18, 1212. For the time being, St. Francis placed her in a convent of Benedictine sisters.
When Clare had successfully overcome the great opposition of her family, who had intended to force her to return home, her sister Agnes joined her in the sacrifice. St. Francis arranged a little convent for them near the church of St. Damian. There the number of consecrated virgins soon increased. They served God in great poverty, strict penance, and complete seclusion from the world according to a rule which St. Francis gave them as his Second Order. Clare was obliged in obedience to accept the office of abbess in 1215 and to continue in it for 38 years until her death. But her love for humility found compensation in the performance of the lowliest services toward her sisters. In spite of her great physical sufferings, she set her sisters a striking example of zeal in penance and prayer.
In the year 1240 an army of Saracens who were in the service of Emperor Frederick II drew near Assisi. They rushed upon the little convent of St. Damian that lay outside the city and had already scaled the walls of the monastery. In mortal fear the sisters had recourse to their mother, who was ill in bed.
The saint, carrying the pyx containing the Most Blessed Sacrament, had herself carried to a convent window. There she pleaded fervently with the Lord of heaven in the words of the Psalmist (Ps 73:19), "Deliver not up to beasts the souls, that confess to thee, and shield thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood." A mysterious voice coming from the Host said, "I shall always watch over you." Immediately panic seized the besiegers. A ray of brilliant light which emanated from the Blessed Sacrament had dazzled them. They fell down from the walls and fled from the place. The convent was saved and the town of Assisi was spared.
After suffering from serious illness for 30 years, Clare felt that her end was drawing nigh. After she had received the last sacraments, she and one of her sisters beheld the Queen of Virgins coming with a large escort to meet her, the spouse of Jesus Christ. On August 11, 1253, she entered into the joys of eternity and on the following day her body was buried. Pope Alexander IV canonized her already in the year 1255. She was chosen as the universal patroness of television in 1958.
THE GREATEST GLORY
1. "Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory!" (Wisdom 4:1). This praise of heaven St. Clare and her company of sisters have merited for themselves. Corporal beauty, personal charm, and costly clothes in which the children of the world take so much pleasure, this wise virgin considered as naught. She understood the meaning of the Psalmist's words: "All the glory of the king's daughter is within" (Psalm 44:14). Untainted purity of soul. humility, voluntary poverty, penance, ardent love of God; these were the virtues in which she sought her glory, and in them she found imperishable beauty. Where are now the beautifully dressed women of Assisi of that period? Their memory has vanished. But Clare, like St. Francis, shines in heaven and on earth. Both have made their town famous throughout the world. -- Do you want true and lasting glory? It is to be found only in virtue. Where have you sought it in the past?
2. Consider that, like a wise virgin, St. Clare did not make a display of her virtues before the world, but strove to hide them in the strictest seclusion. If the violet, which give forth such a sweet scent in its seclusion, is planted in an open garden, its beauteous color fades and the sweetness of its scent diminishes. The same thing happens with our virtues and good works. That is why St. Gregory, commenting on the Gospel parable of the ten virgins, says: "The good that we do must be carefully concealed, so that we do not look for favor and honor among men, otherwise that which externally appears as virtue would be inwardly deprived of its merit." Christians who are interested in their salvation, and especially Christian women and girls, even though they do not live in a convent, are included in the words of the Apostle: "For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:3). -- Can this be said of you?
3. Consider what happiness St. Clare found even here on earth in her life of seclusion. This did not consist in material comfort, nor even in continual spiritual consolation, but in sacrifices made for God, by which she became ever more intimately united with the Source of all happiness. She once said to a young girl: "Our alliance is arrived at by self-denial and the renunciation of earthly things, by the crucifixion of the body and the sacrifice of the will, but the joys attached to it are eternal, the bond is indissoluble, it begins in the world, death puts the final seal to it." On the morning of the day on which she died she received the holy Viaticum; in the afternoon, Pope Innocent IV paid her a visit and have her the general absolution. But Clare felt happier at having received the Lord of heaven in holy Communion than at having been honored by a visit from the pope. -- May we, too, become indifferent to all earthly glory so that we may be permitted to enjoy the eternal!
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
We beseech Thee, O Lord, grant us Thy servants who devoutly celebrate the feast day of the holy virgin Clare, to be made partakers of the joys of heaven and co-heirs of Thy only-begotten Son. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
Aug 14 St MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
Also known as Apostle of Consecration to Mary; Maximilian Mary Kolbe; Massimiliano Maria Kolbe
Suffered from tuberculosis in youth, and frail in health all his life. Joined the Conventual Franciscan Order at age 16. Ordained at age 24. Doctor of Theology; his insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II. Founded the Milita Immaculatae, and published the magazine The Knight of the Immaculate in an effort to fight religious apathy. Imprisoned in Auschwitz for his anti-Nazi publications. Ministered to other prisoners, including conducting Mass and delivering communion using smuggled bread and wine. Died when he traded places with a young married man who was to be slaughtered in retribution for an escaped prisoner.
"Kolbe is the patron saint of our difficult century." -Pope John Paul II
Born: 7 January 1894 at Zdunska Wola, Poland
Died: August 1941 by lethal carbonic acid injection after starvation at Auschwitz; body burned in the ovens
Beatified:17 October 1971 by Pope Paul VI
Canonized: 1982 by Pope John Paul II
Patronage: drug addiction, drug addicts, families, imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners, pro-life movement
Writings: A Rule of Life for Those Consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin
Readings: Courage, my sons, Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes. Saint Maximilian Kolbe
The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.... And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.... Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers. Saint Maximilian Kolbe
For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more. Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Aug 17 - St. Roch of Montpellier 1295-1378
Roch was the only son of a wealthy nobleman in France, who seems to have been governor of the town of Montpellier. In answer to the persevering prayers of the parents, this child was granted to them. His future career was indicated by a birthmark in the form of a red cross that was deeply marked on his breast.
The parents raised their boy in a devout manner. Proof was given when, at the age of 20, he lost both parents. He did not use the immense fortune he inherited for his personal benefit, but he sold all the personal property and distributed the proceeds among the poor while he transferred the ownership of the real estate to his uncle. This done, he joined the Third Order of St. Francis, put on a pilgrim's garb, and journeyed to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles.
When he arrived at Acquapendente in northern Italy about the year 1315, he found that an epidemic had broken out there and was making fearful ravages. Roch did not hasten on, as many another person, fearful for his life, would have done, but according to the example of Christ and the admonition of the beloved disciple (1 John 3:16), he offered his life in the service of his brethren in Christ. He went to the hospital of St. John, which was filled with the plague stricken, and offered his services to the brothers there. He also went to individual homes and sought out the sick, serving them without rest by day and by night. God rewarded his heroic charity by causing many to be cured at the mere Sign of the Cross which Roch made over them. When the plague abated, Roch proceeded on his journey to Rome.
But there, too, an epidemic had broken out. Besides visiting the holy places, Roch again devoted himself to the care of the sick, many of whom were miraculously cured by him. He performed the same services in many other towns of Italy until he arrived in Piacenza and was himself stricken with the dread disease. In the very hospital where he had cured so many sick, he was now looked upon as an intruder, who as an outsider had no right to claim a place there. In order not to be a burden to others, he arose, left the house, and with the support of a staff dragged himself wearily to a neighborhood woods. There he came upon a dilapidated hut with a bit of straw, where he lay down, thanking God for the quiet lodging.
God also provided for his nourishment. As He once took care of Elias, sending him bread by means of a raven, so He now sent bread to Roch by means of a dog from a neighboring country house. The sick man gradually recovered. When he had regained sufficient strength, he was divinely inspired to return to his native town.
There furious warfare was raging. The soldiers whom he encountered thought he was a spy. He was led before the governor of Montpellier, his own uncle, who, however, did not recognize his nephew in the emaciated prisoner, and had the supposed spy cast into prison. Roch did not say a word in his defense; he wished, like Christ, to accept in silence whatever heaven had ordained for him. Because of the disturbances of the war, he was almost completely forgotten, and languished in prison for 5 years. Then death put an end to his trials on August 16, 1378.
When he felt that his end was drawing near, he asked that a priest might come and administer the last sacraments. The priest, on entering the prison, beheld it supernaturally lighted up and the poor captive surrounded with special radiance. As death claimed its victim, a tablet appeared on the wall on which an angelic hand wrote in golden letters the name of Roch, and the prediction that all who would invoke his intercession would be delivered from the plague.
Informed of all that took place, Roch's uncle came to the prison and, shortly after, also the governor's mother, that is, Roch's grandmother. She identified the dead man as her grandson by the birthmark of the red cross on his breast. They gave him a magnificent funeral and had a church built in his honor, in which his body was entombed. His veneration was approved by several popes and soon spread throughout Europe. He was canonized by Pope Urban VIII. He is the patron against contagious diseases.
ST. ROCH, PATRON AGAINST CONTAGIOUS DISEASES
1. The prediction that St. Roch would be a special patron against contagious diseases has been so remarkably verified that he is invoked by all Christian peoples in such sad times. In 1415, when a general council was held in Constance, an epidemic broke out. A great procession was inaugurated in honor of St. Roch to invoke his intercession, and immediately the epidemic was checked. We read in the annals of the Franciscan Order that many convents were preserved from contagious disease due to the devotion they tendered the saint, and for this reason prayers are offered daily in the convents of the order to obtain his protection. -- Could you not say a prayer each day in honor of St. Roch, so that he will protect you and your house from contagious disease?
2. It was not granted to St. Roch to be preserved from the dread disease, but his patience and resignation to God's will greatly increased his heavenly merits. It may please God also to permit such an evil to befall us and our associates, for many a person to whom it might not otherwise be granted, is thus led back to God, has a good death, and attains eternal blessedness. Our good Lord afflicts the body with sickness in order to save the soul. When sickness attacks a community, pray fervently to St. Roch that through his intercession the souls of men may be benefited by it.
3. Consider that certain diseases of the soul are communicable and spread like contagion. They are much worse than the plagues which attack the body. Such diseases are the various vices: impurity, intemperance, inordinate love of pleasure. Roch fled the dangerous occasions of these vices with so much zeal that he relinquished his wealth and prominent position that, in the guise of a poor pilgrim and servant of the sick, he might preserve his soul from sin. -- Think frequently of the example he has given, and invoke his intercession for yourself and yours against contagion of the body and of the soul.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who did grant to St. Roch the promise, which an angel recorded on a tablet, not to permit anyone who sought his intercession to be afflicted with a contagious disease; grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who celebrate his memory, may be preserved from every contagion of soul and body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Aug 19 - St. Louis of Toulouse 1274-1297
The son of Charles II of Naples and Sicily, Louis was born in 1274 and named after his uncle, the holy king of France. It was the great concern of his mother, the niece of St. Elizabeth, to rear her many children as true servants of the King of Kings.
The devout queen observed in her son Louis particularly blessed results of his maternal solicitude. He loved prayer, was reserved and gentle, and his whole conduct radiated angelic purity. Even as a child he practiced mortification. On a certain occasion, after he had retired, his mother found him sleeping on a rug on the floor of his room instead of in his comfortable bed.
Sweets and delicious foods he carried to the poor and sick with his mother's permission. It is related that once he was leaving the dining room with a roasted pullet under his mantle and so met his father. The king wished to see what he was carrying. Timidly the boy laid back his mantle, and lo, it was a beautiful bouquet of flowers!
When he was 14 Louis was taken to Barcelona with two of his brothers, as a hostage for the release of his father, who had been taken a prisoner of war. Gladly did Louis accept this misfortune to obtain his father's freedom; but at the same time, the disposition with which he accepted it was astonishing in a boy of his age. "Misfortune," he said, "is more useful to the friends of God than good fortune, for on such occasions they can prove their loyalty to their Lord."
Under the guidance of several excellent Franciscan friars who were appointed teachers to the young princes, Louis made remarkable progress in virtue as well as in secular knowledge. In public debates he manifested his mastery of the various branches of knowledge, both sacred and profane. Theology was his favorite subject. So devoid was he of ambition that he planned to renounce his claims to the throne in order to devote himself entirely to the service of God.
About this time he became seriously ill. He made a vow that if he recovered, he would join the Order of Friars Minor. The sickness immediately took a turn for the better, but the superiors of the order hesitated to receive the young prince without the consent of the king, his father. Louis was thus obliged to defer his pious design.
At the end of six years his captivity ended. On returning home, after much pleading he finally obtained the permission of his father to settle his claims on his brother Robert, and to become a priest. Not very long after his ordination, and although he was only 21 years old, he was selected by Pope Boniface VIII for the bishopric of Toulouse. "Whatever is lacking to the young priest in age and experience, " said the pope, "his extraordinary knowledge, his maturity of mind, and his holiness of life will amply supply."
Louis had to yield to the pope's wishes, but he requested that he might first be admitted into the Order of Friars Minor. That request was granted. The royal prince was overjoyed to be permitted, for a time at least, to perform the humblest exercises in the garb of a son of St. Francis; in Rome he went from door to door gathering alms.
The pope himself officiated at the ceremony of episcopal consecration, and shortly afterwards Louis left to assume the government of his diocese. His noble birth and above all the fame of his sanctity caused him to be received at Toulouse like a messenger from heaven. The entire city went out to meet him, and everybody was enchanted with his modesty, sweetness, and angelic virtue which radiated from his face and bearing. A sinner who for many years had lived a wicked life, cried out at the sight of him: "Truly, this man is a saint!" and then turned away from his sinful habits and led a better life. A woman who doubted the sanctity of the young man went to church one morning to attend the Mass which the bishop was celebrating. Then she, too, cried out: "Ah, yes, our bishop is a saint!"
Bishop Louis led the poor and rigorous life of a Friar Minor and devoted himself with all solicitude to the welfare of his diocese. The poor were his best friends, and he fed 25 of them daily at his own table. His ministry, however, was destined to be short-lived. He died in the 24th year of his life, having been bishop no longer than a year and a half.
He received the last sacraments on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady; and on the 19th of August, 1297, while pronouncing the holy name of Mary, he yielded his soul to God. Because of the many miracles that were wrought at his tomb, he was canonized as early as 1317, during the lifetime of his mother.
A PATRON FOR YOUTHFUL STUDENTS
1. What better example than that of St. Louis could be held up to youthful students. He distinguished himself from his youth by modesty and docility, and throughout his life he preserved his purity unsullied. He appreciated and loved his teachers, and applied himself diligently to his studies, in which he was very successful. He directed all his efforts to the honor of God and the salvation of his fellowmen, and preserved a cheerful disposition even in adversity. That is the type of student every Christian youth should desire to be. The saint, who gave them so brilliant an example on earth, will also be a powerful patron and intercessor for them in heaven.
2. Consider how important the good behavior of youthful students is to human society. They will be the future teachers and governors, the directors and leaders of society. Their predominant sentiments will be the dominating policies of the majority of the people. For that reason much depends on how youthful students grow up. They are encompassed by many dangers, and how many of them lose their innocence and their faith to the detriment of the many over whom they later exercise influence. Those who are associated with students and can offer them guidance have the obligation to direct them toward virtue and to point out to them such saintly examples as St. Louis of Toulouse. But, it is likewise the duty of every Christian frequently to recommend youthful students to so powerful a patron as St. Louis.
3. Consider how the example and the protection of St. Louis can help youthful students especially in two grave dangers that threaten them: sensuality and ambition. How frequently the one vice wrecks the body and the other gnaws at the young soul! The mortification which Louis practiced from his earliest years and the childlike devotion be fostered to our Blessed Lady made him secure in temperance and purity. His love for the poor and his lively faith kept him so far away from ambition that he chose the lesser station of a Friar Minor to that of a royal throne. That is why he is now wearing the imperishable crown of heavenly glory. In behalf of students let us frequently invoke him in the words of Holy Church in the office of his feast: "Vernal rose of charity, lily of purity, shining star, vessel of sanctity, pray to the Lord for us!"
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who did teach Thy holy confessor and bishop Louis to prefer the heavenly kingdom to one of earth, and didst marvelously clothe him with stainless purity and extraordinary love for the poor, grant that by imitating his virtues here on earth we may deserve to be crowned by Thee in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Aug 21 - St. Pius X 1835-1914
It is the way of almighty God to bring honor to those who are mean in their own eyes. That has been demonstrated in the life of Joseph Sarto, later Pope Pius X. He was born in 1835 in the little Venetian village of Riese, where his parents, who were unimportant but devout people, reared a family of ten children during a period of great need.
The clergy of the parish interested themselves in Joseph, the well-behaved leader of the Mass servers, and assisted him in securing an education. In the year 1858, when he was 24 years old, he received holy orders. For nine years he was chaplain in Tombolo. His superior wrote of him: "I am convinced that some day he will wear the mitre, and then -- who knows?" Chaplain Sarto took the great Franciscan St. Leonard of Port Maurice as his model in life and in the pulpit. At four in the morning he was already kneeling before the tabernacle.
For 9 years he was pastor in Salzano. It was during this period that he joined the Third Order of St. Francis and established 2 fraternities of Tertiaries. Henceforth he strove in his words and in his writings, especially by Franciscan simplicity and frugal standards of life, to emulate the ideals of the seraphic saint.
For another space of 9 years he was vicar general, canon, and regent of the seminary of the diocese of Treviso. "He will not die in Treviso." was significantly said of him at that time.
He was bishop of Mantua for 9 years. This made no change in his habits of life; he would not tolerate any festive receptions. He devoted himself with unflinching zeal to the ever important apostolate of the press, the pulpit of modern times. At the same time, the poor were his favorites.
As patriarch of Venice he wore the purple of the cardinalate for another period of nine years, always remaining a faithful son of the poor St. Francis.
The death of Pope Leo XIII in 1903 brought him to Rome for the papal election. Who would be the new pope? Cardinal Sarto answered: "Leo XIII, who enlightened the world by his wisdom, will be succeeded by a pope who will impress the world by the saintliness of his life." Without suspecting it, he gave a description of himself.
After he had been elected pope he announced his program to be: To renew all things in Christ. He did much for religious revival, especially by promoting early and daily Communion, by enacting measures for the sanctification of the clergy, by encouraging the Third Order, and last, but not least, by his own holy life.
A great heart broke when the catastrophe of the World War befell us. "I wish to suffer, he said in his illness, "I wish to die for the soldiers on the battlefield." On August 20, 1914, Pius X died peacefully at the age of 79. His will was genuinely Franciscan: "I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor."
Many miracles occurred at his tomb, and the process of his beatification was introduced in 1923, and he was beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1954.
THE CATHOLIC PRESS 1. We must support the Catholic press. It was not without reason that St., Pius X again and again, no matter what position he was holding,
exerted his influence in behalf of the Catholic press. The Catholic press deserves this support when we reflect on the battles it has waged for the Catholic cause in religious persecution, in the
struggles concerning the schools, and on numerous other occasions. -- You should be grateful, and manifest your gratitude in a practical way.
2. Without the Catholic press we shall perish. That is why St. Pius X showed such zeal for it. "With the tongues of a thousand Goliaths the evil press utters calumnies against everything that is sacred to us; with the tongues of a thousand Davids, therefore, the good press must defend our sanctuary," said Cardinal Faulhaber. But it can do so only if we stand firmly and solidly behind the Catholic press. A rural mail carrier once remarked: "Our pastor would wring his hands if he knew how many filthy newspapers and other printed material we are constantly obliged to deliver to the homes of the people!" -- How do matters stand with you in this regard?
3. We must show our enthusiasm for the Catholic press. Pius X said: "In vain will you build churches and convents, yes, all your Catholic projects will be useless, if you neglect to take advantage of the weapon of the Catholic press." -- Do not be indifferent in this ever important matter! Promote and participate in the apostolate of the press!
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who dost point out to the erring the light of truth so that they may return to the paths of justice, grant to all who profess the Catholic Faith, that they may despise whatever is contrary to this cause, and aspire to that which is agreeable to it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Aug 25 - St. Louis IX, King of France 1215-1270
Patron of the Secular Franciscan Order
King St. Louis was born in the castle at Poissy near Paris on April 25, 1215. His devout mother, Blanche, was determined that he should be educated not only for the earthly kingdom he was to govern, but still more for the kingdom of heaven. She accustomed him to look upon all things in the light of faith, and thus laid the foundation for that humility in good fortune and endurance in misfortune which characterized the holy king.
Louis was crowned king when he was only 12 years old. His mother, however, was entrusted with the actual government of the kingdom during his minority. Meanwhile, Louis was being educated in all the duties of a Christian prince. Among his instructors there were several Franciscan friars, and later on the young king himself joined the Third Order of St. Francis.
Louis had governed his kingdom for several years in his own name, when he vowed, in the course of a serious illness, that if he would recover, he would make a crusade to the Holy Land, to wrest the holy places from the hands of the infidels. Upon regaining his health he at once carried out his vow. He took the fortress of Damietta from the Saracens, but was taken captive after his army had been weakened by an epidemic.
After he had borne the sufferings of a prisoner of the infidels for several months with holy serenity, the terms for his release were submitted to him; but there was attached to these terms an oath, that if he did not fulfill them, he would deny Christ and the Christian religion. The holy king replied: "Such blasphemous words shall never cross my lips." They threatened him with death. "Very well," he said, "you may kill my body, but you will never kill my soul." Filled with admiration at his steadfast courage, the finally released him without objectionable condition. After securing many other terms favorable to the Christians, he was obliged to return to France, since his mother had died in the meantime.
In the government of his kingdom, Louis proved how profitable piety is in every respect. He promoted the welfare of the country and his people in a remarkable manner. His life as a Christian and as a Christian father was so exemplary that he has been found worthy to be chosen as the patron and model of Tertiaries. The most important principal of his life was the observance of the laws of God under all circumstances. His biographer assures us that he never lost his baptismal innocence by mortal sin. He himself set such store by the grace of baptism that, in confidential letters, he took pleasure in signing himself "Louis of Poissy," because it was in the parish church there that he had been baptized.
Louis never tolerated cursing or sinful conversation either among the servants or among the courtiers; and never was he heard to utter an unkind or impatient word. he wished to avoid all unnecessary pomp and luxury at court, so that more help could be rendered to the poor, of whom he personally fed and served several hundred. His wardrobe was as simple as it could fittingly be, and at all times he wore the insignia of the Third Order under his outer garments. On special occasions he publicly wore the habit of the Tertiaries.
In order to curb sensuality he not only observed all the fasts of the Church with unusual severity, but denied himself certain food for which he had a special craving. He was a most solicitous father to the 11 children with which God blessed his marriage. He himself prayed with them daily, examined them in the lessons they had learned, guided them in the performance of the works of Christian charity, and in his will bequeathed to them the most beautiful instructions.
He fostered special devotion to the sufferings of Christ; and it was a great consolation for him when he gained possession of the Crown of Thorns, for the preservation of which he had the magnificent Holy Chapel built in Paris. When serious complaints concerning the oppression of the Christians in the Holy Land reached his ears, he undertook a second crusade in 1270, but on the way he died of the plague, contracted while visiting his sick soldiers.
Amid exclamations of holy joy because he was going into the house of the Lord, he surrendered his soul to God on August 25. St. Louis was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.
MORTAL SIN IS THE GREATEST EVIL
1. "Death rather than a mortal sin!" St. Louis frequently said these words when he recalled what his mother had told him. He was right, because mortal sin is worse than death. It is the greatest evil in the world because it means the loss of the greatest good, which is God Himself. He who commits a mortal sin, that is, violates one of God's commandments in an important matter with full knowledge and free consent, even if it be only in thought, hears God's threaten him with His displeasure, and still he says: "I will not obey." He separates himself from God, falls from grace, and is changed from an object of the love of God, into an object of hatred: "The Highest hates sinners" (Eccli 12:7). -- Can we think of a greater evil than this?
2. Consider how King St. Louis actually carried out the greatest principle of his life in his conduct. He preferred to remain a prisoner of the Saracens, which included loss of his kingdom and even his own life, rather than take a blasphemous oath. No material loss can compare with the loss of God, whereas every temporal suffering is quite bearable if we remain in the grace of God; in fact, it becomes sweet if we bear it because we do not want to offend God. But to offend God in order to escape material suffering means to cast oneself into the greatest suffering. "Your apostasy shall rebuke you, and you shall know and see that it is an evil and bitter thing for you to have left the Lord, your God" (Jer 2:19). -- Therefore, say frequently: "Death rather than mortal sin!"
3. Consider that St. Louis could not have been happy in the possession of his kingdom if he had been obliged to reclaim it by a blasphemous oath. Can a Christian enjoy temporal goods and honors if he must admit that his claim to them was bought at the price of mortal sin? Can he really accept them while he is confronted with the outlook that the next moment can cast him into eternal hell fire? No more than Damocles could enjoy the grand banquet when he saw over his head a drawn sword suspended by a hair. Surely it is better to die with St. Louis in a strange country among the plague-stricken, and to make the sacrifice of one's life in the practice of charity.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst transport St. Louis, Thy confessor, from an earthly kingdom into the bliss of the Kingdom of heaven, we beseech Thee, grant us through his merits and intercession to be made associates of the King of Kings, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
from THE FRANCISCAN BOOK OF SAINTS
edited by Marion Habig, ofm
Copyright 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
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Divine Mercy Fraternity
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