Monday, October 23, 2017

For them that love Him

The eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man,
what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.

St. Paul, I Cor. 2:9

St. John of Capistrano

Born in the Kingdom of Naples in 1386, John of Capistrano was a most talented youth. He studied law in Perugia, was appointed governor of the city in 1412 and married the daughter of a wealthy citizen.

Imprisoned during hostilities between Perugia and the Malatesta, he had a vision of St. Francis of Assisi inviting him to join his order and resolved to dedicate his life entirely to God. His marriage not being consummated, John obtained a dispensation and joined the Franciscans in Perugia. He was ordained a priest in 1420, and made extraordinary progress in his theological studies, while leading a life of extreme austerity. His master was St. Bernardine of Siena for whom he bore a deep veneration and affection.

Gifted with oratory, he preached extensively throughout the length and breadth of Italy attracting huge crowds wherever he went. He also helped St. Bernardine of Siena with reforms needed within the Franciscan Order. He was especially interested in helping the Franciscan nuns of St. Colette and with the Third Order Franciscans.

Frequently employed as ambassador by the Holy See, his missions on behalf of the Pope took him all over Europe. As Apostolic Nuncio to Austria, he helped Emperor Frederick III in his fight against the Hussite heresy and was appointed Inquisitor. He wrote many books, mainly combating the heresies of his day.

When Constantinople fell to the Turks, John of Capistrano preached a crusade in Hungary. At the age of seventy he personally led a wing of the army in the battle of Belgrade. Both his prayer and example were vital factors in the lifting of the siege. The infection spread by the decomposing bodies left unburied around the city ultimately took his life within a couple of months. He died peacefully at Villach on October 23, 1456.

He was beatified in 1694 and canonized in 1724.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of a pious but self-willed lady who lived in Rome. She was so devout that she put many a religious to shame.
One day, hearing of the holiness of St. Dominic, great apostle of the Rosary, she decided to make her confession to him. For penance the saint told her to say a Rosary and advised her to make it’s recitation her daily practice.
“But, Father, “ she protested, “I already say so many prayers and practice so many exercises…I walk the Stations of Rome every day, I wear sack-cloth and a hair-shirt, I scourge myself several times a week, and often fast…”

St. Dominic insistently advised that she adopt the recitation of the Rosary, but she would not hear it. Moreover, she left the confessional horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who wanted to impose on her a devotion for which she had no taste.
One day, when she was saying her prayers, she was shown a vision. In this vision she saw her soul appear before the Supreme Judge. She also saw St. Michael holding the scale of her life. On one side he placed all her prayers and penances, and on the other all her sins and imperfections. Down went the scale on the side of sins and imperfections, outweighing all her good works.
Wide eyed, the good lady cried out for mercy, and turned to Our Lady imploring her help. Our Lady then gently set down on the tray of her good works the only Rosary she had ever said, which was the one St. Dominic had imposed on her as a penance.
This one Rosary was so heavy that it outweighed all her sins as well as good works.
Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her son Dominic and for refusing to adopt the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary.
When the lady came to, she rushed to St. Dominic and casting herself down at his feet, told him what had happened. She begged forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she grew in holiness, and finally attained the glory of eternal life.
Thus says St. Louis de Montfort, “You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.”

God could not give more

God in His omnipotence
could not give more,
in His wisdom
He knew not how to give more,
in His riches
He had not more to give,
than the Eucharist.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Philip of Heraclea and Companions

Philip, the bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, became a martyr of Christ during the persecution of Diocletian. He was a diligent, courageous shepherd who confirmed the faith of his people, and when induced to flee the persecution, chose to remain.

Severus and Hermes were a priest and deacon who endured tribulation, prison and martyrdom with him. At first, Bassus, the governor, ordered the door of the church sealed, to which Philip retorted: “Do you imagine that God dwells within walls, and not rather in the hearts of men?” and continued to hold assembly outside. Finally the sacred vessels and books were confiscated, the sacred books burned publicly, and the roof of the church incinerated.

Under torture, Philip was invincible. Pointing to a large statue of Hercules, Bassus bid him to only touch it, but the martyr refused saying that graven images had value only to stone-carvers but were helpless to worshipers. Then the deacon Hermes was asked if he would offer sacrifice, he refused.

Bassus’ term as governor being up, another, Justin, a ruthless man, stepped in.

Under Justin, Philip was beaten till his flesh was pulp.

Imprisoned with Hermes and another, the priest Severus, Philip faced martyrdom alongside Hermes by fire. Buried up to their knees, the martyrs were burned. But when the flames died and the smoke cleared, although the martyrs were dead, their bodies were found whole. Justin ordered the bodies to be thrown into the river, but pious citizens fished them out with nets and gave them proper burial.

In prison, the priest Severus rejoicing on hearing of their victory,  begged God to think him not unworthy of following in the footsteps of his bishop and Hermes, and suffered martyrdom the next day.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

O sinner, be not discouraged

O sinner, be not discouraged,
but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities.
Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will
that she should help in every kind of necessity.

St. Basil the Great

St. Hilarion

Hilarion was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha, south of Gaza. He was converted to Christianity in Alexandria and baptized at fifteen.

Visiting St. Anthony of the Desert, he lived with him for two months, but finding the desert hermit’s cave only a little less populated than the city, because of the continuous flow of people seeking the saint’s help and guidance, he retired into the desert of Majuma, in Palestine.

For years he only ate fifteen figs a day, and for an occupation, he tilled the earth and made baskets. His first abode was a small hut woven of reeds. Later, he made himself a cell, one so small that it was more like a tomb. As the years passed, he found he needed more nourishment than figs alone provided and included a few vegetables and bread in his diet.

In 356 he was informed by revelation of the death of St. Anthony. He was sixty-five and was so afflicted by the number of people who crowded to him that he resolved to leave Palestine. From then on, he became a pilgrim of solitude, seeking to be left alone with God. But though silent, his miracles spoke loudly and people sought him out in whatever wilderness he fled to.

Finally, after trying several remote places, including Sicily, Hilarion wished to go into a country where not even his language was understood. And so his friend, St. Heyschius, took him to Dalmatia. But again miracles defeated the saint’s intent of living alone. Fleeing to Cyprus, his popularity followed him there, so traveling inland a dozen miles and climbing to an inaccessible but pleasant place, he at last found peace and quiet.

After a few years in this spot, he died at the age of eighty. Among those who visited him in his last illness, was St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, who later wrote of him to St. Jerome. He was buried near Paphos, but St. Hesychius secretly removed his body to Hilarion’s old home of Majuma.