Archive for January, 2014

Saint Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.

To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.

After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, “I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin.” He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.

Symbols: Chalice; monstrance; ox; star; sun; teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet; teaching.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2014-01-28

Saint Anthony of Egypt

Old Calendar: St. Anthony, abbot

St. Anthony, the father of monks, retired to the desert at about the age of eighteen in order to live in perfect solitude. He laid the foundations of community life, and gave to his disciples that profound broad and sane instruction, the mature result of solitude and prayer, which forms the surest basis of Christian asceticism.

St. Anthony
Anthony “the Great”, the “Father of Monks”, ranks with those saints whose life exercised a profound influence upon succeeding generations. He was born in Middle Egypt (about 250) of distinguished parents. After their untimely deaths, he dedicated himself wholly to acts of mortification.

One day while in church he heard the words of the Gospel: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor” (Matt. 19:21). It seemed as if Christ had spoken to him personally, giving a command he must obey. Without delay he sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went into the desert (about 270). When overcome by fatigue, his bed was the hard ground. He fasted rigorously, ate only bread and salt, and drank only water. Nor would he take food before sundown; at times he passed two days without any nourishment. Often, too, he spent whole nights in prayer.

The saint suffered repeatedly from diabolical attacks, but these merely made him more steadfast in virtue. He would encourage his disciples in their struggle with the devil with such words: “Believe me; the devil fears the vigils of pious souls, and their fastings, their voluntary poverty, their loving compassion, their humility, but most of all their ardent love of Christ our Lord. As soon as he sees the sign of the Cross, he flees in terror.” He died in 356 on Mount Kolzin by the Red Sea, 105 years old. A year later his friend, the fearless bishop and confessor St. Athanasius, wrote his biography, which for centuries became the classic handbook of ascetics. As seen by St. Anthony, the purpose of asceticism is not to destroy the body but to bring it into subjection, re-establishing man’s original harmonious integrity, his true God-given nature.

St. Anthony lived in solitude for about twenty years. “His was a perfectly purified soul. No pain could annoy him, no pleasure bind him. In him was neither laughter nor sadness. The sight of the crowd did not trouble him, and the warm greetings of so many men did not move him. In a word, he was thoroughly immune to the vanities of the world, like a man unswervingly governed by reason, established in inner peace and harmony.”

Here are a few of his famous sayings to monks. “Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man’s whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity. . . . Therefore, my children, let us persevere in our acts of asceticism. And that we may not become weary and disheartened, it is good to meditate on the words of the apostle: ‘I die daily.’ If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle’s words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.”

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; brushmakers; butchers; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; ergotism (Saint Anthony’s fire); erysipelas; gravediggers; hermits; hogs; monks; pigs; relief from pestilence; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherds.

Symbols: Bell; pig; t-shaped staff; tau cross with a bell on the end; man with a pig at his side.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2014-01-17

Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord

Old Calendar: Feast of the Holy Family; First Sunday after Epiphany ; Other Titles: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord’s second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. Jesus descended into the River to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to beget sons of God. The event takes on the importance of a second creation in which the entire Trinity intervenes.

In the Eastern Church this feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons. The baptism of John was a sort of sacramental preparatory for the Baptism of Christ. It moved men to sentiments of repentance and induced them to confess their sins. Christ did not need the baptism of John. Although He appeared in the “substance of our flesh” and was recognized “outwardly like unto ourselves”, He was absolutely sinless and impeccable. He conferred upon the water the power of the true Baptism which would remove all the sins of the world: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sin of the world”.

Many of the incidents which accompanied Christ’s baptism are symbolical of what happened at our Baptism. At Christ’s baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; at our Baptism the Trinity took its abode in our soul. At His baptism Christ was proclaimed the “Beloved Son” of the Father; at our Baptism we become the adopted sons of God. At Christ’s baptism the heavens were opened; at our Baptism heaven was opened to us. At His baptism Jesus prayed; after our Baptism we must pray to avoid actual sin.

— Excerpted from Msgr. Rudolph G. Bandas

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2014-01-12

Feast of the Baptism of Christ

January 12, Feast of the Baptism of Christ

Today we celebrate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. This is the second epiphany, or manifestation, of the Lord. The past, the present, and the future are made manifest in this epiphany.

The most holy one placed Himself among us, the unclean and sinners. The Son of God freely humbled Himself at the hand of the Baptist. By His baptism in the Jordan, Christ manifests His humility and dedicates Himself to the redemption of man. He takes upon Himself the sins of the whole world and buries them in the waters of the Jordan. — The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/Christmas_days_baptist.cfm

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

January 5, Solemnity of the Epiphany


Epiphany is a large celebration, especially in Spanish speaking countries. Things look different around the household: the infant Jesus in the manger now has a small gold crown and is wearing regal robes. The figures of the wise men have reached Bethlehem, completing the nativity scene.

The Church extends itself on Epiphany to the homes of the faithful. The custom of blessing the home on this day probably originated from these words in the Gospel, “And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary, His Mother, and falling down they adored Him.” The priest blesses the house if he can be present, but if not, the father of the family may do so.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/Christmas_days_epiphany.cfm

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

January 4, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


Elizabeth Seton was born on August 28, 1774, of a wealthy and distinguished Episcopalian family. She was baptized in the Episcopal faith and was a faithful adherent of the Episcopal Church until her conversion to Catholicism.

She established her first Catholic school in Baltimore in 1808; in 1809, she established a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland. After seeing the expansion of her small community of teaching sisters to New York and as far as St. Loius, she died on January 4, 1821, and was declared a saint by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975. She is the first native born American to be canonized a saint.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/christmas_days11.cfm

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

January 3, Most Holy Name of Jesus


The name of Jesus is a name of gladness, a name of hope and a name of love. A name of gladness, because if the remembrance of past transgressions afflicts us, this name comforts us, reminding us that the Son of God became man for this purpose, to make himself our Savior.

A name of hope, because he that prays to the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus may hope for every grace he asks for: If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you.

A name of love. For the name of Jesus brings to our remembrance all the sufferings which Jesus has endured for us in his life and at his death. — Excerpted from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Incarnation Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/christmas_days10.cfm

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

January 2, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen


In celebrating the feasts of St. Basil of Caesarea and St. Gregory Nazianzen on the same day, the Church extols a virtue which she has always esteemed, friendship. The friendship between Basil and Gregory was admirable. Born in Cappadocia around 330, they studied together in Athens and then returned to their homeland where they led a monastic life for several years. Their temperaments were very different. While Basil had the qualities of a leader and a gift for organization that made him a legislator for monks in the East, Gregory was a contemplative and a poet.

The Orthodox Church has placed Basil and Gregory with John Chrysostom in the first rank of ecumenical doctors. They are “the three Hierarchs.” — Excerpted from Magnificat, PO Box 91, Spencerville, MD © 2001

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/christmas_days9.cfm

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

January 1, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


Although New Year’s Day is not celebrated by the Church, this day has been observed as a holy day of obligation since early times due to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Each family and country has different traditional foods to eat on New Year’s Day, with lentils being the main superstition: ill luck befalling those who do not eat lentils at the beginning of the year.

New Year’s is a day of traditional hospitality, visiting and good cheer, mostly with a secular view, but there is no reason that this day, too, could not be sanctified in Christ.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/christmas/christmas_days8.cfm

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