Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31 : St Ignatius of Loyola, Class III

St Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556) founded the Jesuits. 

Originally a soldier by profession, he underwent a conversion process induced by a long period of recovery from broken bones.

His famous spiritual exercizes drew heavily on a Benedictine set of exercizes, but in general it must be said that, while at various times attempts to combine Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality have been made with some success, in their fundamentals, such as approach to liturgy, they are deeply at odds!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 31: Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Woodcut by Francis Barlow, 1687

The readings at Matins for this Sunday are from the first book of  Kings, Chapter 1, and deals with assorted plots over the succession as David became old.  The Magnificat antiphon at I Vespers provides us with the outcome, in the form of the text made famous by Handel's Coronation Anthem using it, "Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon King".  Enjoy the version from the wedding of Australia's favourite royals (not the UK lot!). 

Today's Gospel is Matthew 7:15-21, warning against false prophets and pastors, those wolves in sheep's clothing.

July 30: SS Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs, Memorial

SS Abdon and Sennen were early Persian martyrs.  The Golden Legend relates their story:

"Abdon and Sennen suffered martyrdom under Decius the emperor. When Decius the emperor had surmounted Babylon and the other provinces, he found some christian men within the city, and brought them with him to the city of Corduba. And made them there to die by divers torments. And then Abdon and Sennen, which were as governors of the country, took the bodies and buried them.

Then were they accused and brought to Decius, and he did do lead them with him bound in chains to Rome. Then were they brought before Decius, and before the senators. Then was it commanded that they should do sacrifice, and they should have all their things freely, or else they should be devoured by bitings of wild beasts.

But they despised to make sacrifice, and spit against the false idols and statues; and then were they drawn to the place of martyrdom, and made to be brought to them two lions and two bears, which did to them no harm, nor touched them, but rather kept them from harm. Then began they to cast spears and swords at them, and at last they were all torn with swords, and then they were bound by the feet and drawn through the town unto the idol of the sun, and when they had lain there three days, Quirinus, sub-deacon, took the bodies up and buried them in his house. And they suffered death about the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three."

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29: SS Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice, Martyrs, Memorial

c14th manuscript

Today's saints are all early martyrs - Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice were siblings martyred under Diocletian around 302. Nothing is known of St Felix beyond his name, not least because of a longstanding confusion between him and an antipope of the same name.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26: SS Joachim and Anne, Class III

Tradition, drawing on the (non-canonical but very early) Gospel of James, gives us Saints Joachim and Anne as the names of the father and mother of the Mother of God.

In the Protoevangelium of James, Joachim is described as a rich and pious man of the house of David who regularly gave to the poor and to the temple (synagogue) at Sepphoris.  However, as his wife was barren, the high priest rejected Joachim and his sacrifice, as his wife's childlessness was interpreted as a sign of divine displeasure. Joachim consequently withdrew to the desert where he fasted and did penance for forty days. Angels then appeared to both Joachim and Anne to promise them a child. Joachim later returned to Jerusalem and embraced Anne at the city gate.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that "the apocryphal character of these writings, that is to say, their rejection from the canon, and their ungenuineness do not imply that no heed whatever should be taken of some of their assertions; side by side, indeed, with unwarranted and legendary facts, they contain some historical data borrowed from reliable traditions or documents; and difficult though it is to distinguish in them the wheat from the tares, it would be unwise and uncritical indiscriminately to reject the whole."

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25: St James the greater, Class II

St James the Moorslayer
Anonymous, 18th century, Cuzco School of Peru

St James was the son of Zabadee and Salome, and brother of St John.  He was executed by the sword on the orders of Herod around 44 AD (Acts 12).  His remains are at Compostela in Spain, the destination of many of the major pilgrimage routes of Europe.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on the apostle in 2006:

"We are continuing the series of portraits of the Apostles chosen directly by Jesus during his earthly life. We have spoken of St Peter and of his brother, Andrew. Today we meet the figure of James. The biblical lists of the Twelve mention two people with this name: James, son of Zebedee, and James, son of Alphaeus (cf. Mk 3: 17,18; Mt 10: 2-3), who are commonly distinguished with the nicknames "James the Greater" and "James the Lesser".

These titles are certainly not intended to measure their holiness, but simply to state the different importance they receive in the writings of the New Testament and, in particular, in the setting of Jesus' earthly life. Today we will focus our attention on the first of these two figures with the same name.

The name "James" is the translation of Iakobos, the Graecised form of the name of the famous Patriarch, Jacob. The Apostle of this name was the brother of John and in the above-mentioned lists, comes second, immediately after Peter, as occurs in Mark (3: 17); or in the third place, after Peter and Andrew as in the Gospels of Matthew (10: 2) and Luke (6: 14), while in the Acts he comes after Peter and John (1: 13). This James belongs, together with Peter and John, to the group of the three privileged disciples whom Jesus admitted to important moments in his life.

Since it is very hot today, I want to be brief and to mention here only two of these occasions. James was able to take part, together with Peter and John, in Jesus' Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and in the event of Jesus' Transfiguration. Thus, it is a question of situations very different from each other: in one case, James, together with the other two Apostles, experiences the Lord's glory and sees him talking to Moses and Elijah, he sees the divine splendour shining out in Jesus.

On the other occasion, he finds himself face to face with suffering and humiliation, he sees with his own eyes how the Son of God humbles himself, making himself obedient unto death. The latter experience was certainly an opportunity for him to grow in faith, to adjust the unilateral, triumphalist interpretation of the former experience: he had to discern that the Messiah, whom the Jewish people were awaiting as a victor, was in fact not only surrounded by honour and glory, but also by suffering and weakness. Christ's glory was fulfilled precisely on the Cross, in his sharing in our sufferings.

This growth in faith was brought to completion by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, so that James, when the moment of supreme witness came, would not draw back. Early in the first century, in the 40s, King Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, as Luke tells us, "laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword" (Acts 12: 1-2).

The brevity of the news, devoid of any narrative detail, reveals on the one hand how normal it was for Christians to witness to the Lord with their own lives, and on the other, that James had a position of relevance in the Church of Jerusalem, partly because of the role he played during Jesus' earthly existence.

A later tradition, dating back at least to Isidore of Seville, speaks of a visit he made to Spain to evangelize that important region of the Roman Empire. According to another tradition, it was his body instead that had been taken to Spain, to the city of Santiago de Compostela.

As we all know, that place became the object of great veneration and is still the destination of numerous pilgrimages, not only from Europe but from the whole world. This explains the iconographical representation of St James with the pilgrim's staff and the scroll of the Gospel in hand, typical features of the travelling Apostle dedicated to the proclamation of the "Good News" and characteristics of the pilgrimage of Christian life.

Consequently, we can learn much from St James: promptness in accepting the Lord's call even when he asks us to leave the "boat" of our human securities, enthusiasm in following him on the paths that he indicates to us over and above any deceptive presumption of our own, readiness to witness to him with courage, if necessary to the point of making the supreme sacrifice of life.

Thus James the Greater stands before us as an eloquent example of generous adherence to Christ. He, who initially had requested, through his mother, to be seated with his brother next to the Master in his Kingdom, was precisely the first to drink the chalice of the passion and to share martyrdom with the Apostles.

And, in the end, summarizing everything, we can say that the journey, not only exterior but above all interior, from the mount of the Transfiguration to the mount of the Agony, symbolizes the entire pilgrimage of Christian life, among the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, as the Second Vatican Council says. In following Jesus, like St James, we know that even in difficulties we are on the right path."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 24: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

The Magnificat antiphon for I Vespers (I beseech you, Lord take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have been foolish) refers to the first nocturn reading  for Sunday Matins, from 2 Samuel 12, where Nathan the prophet confronts King David over his sin with Bethsheba. 

Lambert Lombard, 1505-1566
The Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons for this Sunday reflect the day's Gospel (at Matins and in the EF Mass), St Mark 8:1-9, Our Lord miraculously feeds four thousand people.

July 23: Our Lady on Saturday; St Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr, Memorial

c6th mosaic,
Basilica of St Apollinaris in Classe, Ravenna
 St Apollinarius was the first bishop of Ravenna, appointed by St Peter according to tradition.

One of the first great martyrs of the Church, his forthright preaching against paganism led to him being  was beaten up and left for dead on the seashore.  Although kept in hiding for a while by his fellow Christians, he was captured again and compelled to walk on burning coals and a second time expelled from the city. But he remained nearby, and continued to preach. 

When he returned to Ravenna a third time, he was captured, hacked with knives, had scalding water poured over his wounds, was beaten in the mouth with stones because he persisted in preaching, and then, loaded with chains, was flung into a horrible dungeon to starve to death; but after four days he was put on board ship and sent to Greece.

After three years of preaching there, he returned once more to Ravenna. At this time the Emperor Vespasian issued a decree of banishment for all Christians, and as the bishop was passing out of the gates of the city, he was set upon and savagely beaten, probably at Classis, a suburb, but he lived for seven days, foretelling meantime that the persecutions would increase, but that the Church would ultimately triumph.

The precise date of his consecration cannot be ascertained, but he was Bishop of Ravenna for twenty-six years.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22: St Mary Magdalen, Class III

Today is the feast of the most famous penitent saint, St Mary Magdalene. 

Few saints have attracted so many attempts at revisionist history. On the one hand, protestant horror at the idea of a sinner turned saint has gained new followers amongst those attempting to make her a feminist heroine; while on the other, assorted conspiracy theorists have seized on apocryphal works on her life. The traditional Latin liturgy, however, insists on her identity as both the penitent woman and the sister of Lazarus and Martha.  Tradition holds that St Mary and her brother went to Provence after the Resurrection, where St Mary became a hermit.

In a General Audience on 'Women at the service of the Gospel', Pope Benedict XVI commented:

"The Gospels then tell us that the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his Passion (cf. Mt 27: 56, 61; Mk 15: 40). Among them, Mary Magdalene stands out in particular. Not only was she present at the Passion, but she was also the first witness and herald of the Risen One (cf. Jn 20: 1, 11-18).

It was precisely to Mary Magdalene that St Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, "Apostle of the Apostles" (apostolorum apostola), dedicating to her this beautiful comment: "Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life" (Super Ioannem, ed. Cai, 2519)."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20: SS Jerome Aemiliain, Joseph Calanctius and John Baptist de la Salle, Confessors, Memorial

Today's saints are all founders of religious orders.

St Jerome Emiliani (1481 – February 8, 1537) is the founder of the Somaschi Fathers Fathers.

Born in Venice, St Jerome joined the army and, in 1508, defended Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray. Taken prisoner and miraculously liberated, he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1518, he spent much time working in and establishing hospitals and other institutions for the poor. In 1532 St Jerome founded a religious society whose principal work of the community was to be the care of orphans, poor and sick, and demanded that dwellings, food and clothing would bear the mark of religious poverty. St Jerome fell a martyr to his zeal; contracting a disease at Bergamo, he died at Somasca in 1537.

Goya, The Last Communion of
St Joseph of Calasanz
 Saint Joseph Calasanctius  (1557 – 1648), also known as Joseph Calasanz and Josephus a Matre Dei, was the founder of the Pious Schools and the Order of the Piarists, the first teaching order.

St Joseph studied law, and following the deaths of his mother and brother, his father wanted him to  marry and perpetuate the family. But a sickness in 1582 soon brought Joseph to the brink of the grave, and on his recovery he was ordained a priest.   After holding a variety of offices in his home diocese and two surrounding ones, he moved to Rome in 1592.  He joined the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and gathered the boys from the streets and brought them to school, and after some struggles, established first free public school in Europe.  In 1600 Calasanz opened his “Pious Schools” in the center of Rome and soon there were extensions in response to growing demands for enrollment from students. He was able to convince the Pope of the need to approve a religious Order with solemn vows dedicated exclusively to the education of youth, and his the congregation was made a religious order on November 18, 1621.  The Order of the Pious Schools was the last of the religious Orders of solemn vows approved by the Church.

John Baptist de La Salle (1651 – 1719) was a priest, educational reformer, and founder of the Christian, or De La Salle, Brothers, the first community of men composed solely of lay brothers. He is patron saint of teachers. He dedicated much of his life for the education of poor children in France; in doing so, he started many lasting educational practices.

Named a canon of Rheims Cathedral when he was sixteen, he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died.He nonetheless completed his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 26. Two years later he received a Doctorate in Theology. De La Salle became involved in education little by little, without ever consciously setting out to do so. In 1679, what began as a charitable effort to help Adrian Nyel establish a school for the poor in De La Salle's home town gradually became his life's work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19: St Vincent de Paul, memorial

One of the most famous saints by virtue of the society bearing his name, St Vincent de Paul (24 April 1581 – 27 September 1660) was a Catholic priest dedicated to serving the poor.

Captured by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery, he managed to convert his owner to Christianity and then escape.

He studied in Rome for several years before being sent back to France on a mission to Henry IV of France.  He served as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois, as a parish priest, and then as chaplain to the Gondi family, at which time he began giving peasant missions. He subsequently served as chaplain to galley slaves.

In 1625 founded the Vincentians, and in 1633 assisted in the foundation of the Daughters of Charity.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17: St. Leo IV OSB Pope and confessor

Today is the feast of Pope St. Leo IV, whose pontificate lasted from 847 to 855. A Roman by birth, he was a Benedictine monk who served in the papal curia under Pope Gregory IV, was made a cardinal by Pope Sergius II and was unanimously chosen to succeed him.

His main claim to fame relates to his efforts to defend Rome against Muslim attacks. He had defensive walls built, including around St. Peter's, and repaired much of the damage done by attacks during the reign of his predecessor.

When the Muslim fleet again threatened, he rallied the leaders of Rome, Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi to form a league. The subsequent Battle of Ostia (depicted above in a painting by Raphael or his disciples, with the Pope at the left), in which the attacking Saracen force was destroyed, was one of the most famous in the history of the papacy during the Middle Ages.

Leo held three synods, including one in 850, that was distinguished by his crowning of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis II. He also reportedly anointed the young King Alfred the Great of England.

Leo's papacy is also noted for his attempts to bring rebellious bishops and political leaders into line with Rome. He excommunicated Cardinal Anastasius of San Marcello (later Antipope Anastasius Bibliothecarius) for disobedience and censured the soon to be famous Archbishop Hincmar of Reims.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 17: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost; St Leo IV OSB, memorial

Today's Gospel is from St Matthew 5:20-24, the Sermon on the Mount.  The Magnificat antiphon at I Vespers refers to 2 Kings (Samuel), which is started today at Matins.

Today is also the memorial of Pope St. Leo IV, whose pontificate lasted from 847 to 855. A Roman by birth, he was a Benedictine monk who served in the papal curia under Pope Gregory IV, was made a cardinal by Pope Sergius II and was unanimously chosen to succeed him.

His main claim to fame relates to his efforts to defend Rome against Muslim attacks.

He had defensive walls built, including around St. Peter's, and repaired much of the damage done by attacks during the reign of his predecessor.

When the Muslim fleet again threatened, he rallied the leaders of Rome, Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi to form a league. The subsequent Battle of Ostia (depicted above in a painting by Raphael or his disciples, with the Pope at the left), in which the attacking Saracen force was destroyed, was one of the most famous in the history of the papacy during the Middle Ages.

St Leo held three synods, including one in 850, that was distinguished by his crowning of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis II. He also reportedly anointed the young King Alfred the Great of England.

St Leo's papacy is also noted for his attempts to bring rebellious bishops and political leaders into line with Rome. He excommunicated Cardinal Anastasius of San Marcello (later Antipope Anastasius Bibliothecarius) for disobedience and censured the soon to be famous Archbishop Hincmar of Reims.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15: St. Henry II - Patron of Benedictine Oblates

Today's saint in the Roman EF calendar, St Henry, actually has a strong Benedictine connection: indeed, Pope St Pius X declared him the patron saint of the Benedictine Oblates. Quite why he doesn't feature in the 1962 Benedictine calendar is therefore a mystery...

According to Catholic Online:

"The saint was probably born in Hildesheim, Bavaria, Germany, on May 3, 973. When his father died he became the duke of Bavaria in 995 and emperor in 1002 when his cousin Otto III died. His wife was St. Cunegundis, and St. Herisbert was his chancellor. A patron of the Benedictines, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Benedict VIII. He was also miraculously cured by St. Benedict. Tradition states that Henry wanted to be a Benedictine and lived as an Oblate. He was canonized in 1146 by Pope Eugene III."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14: St Bonaventure, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor, Class III

Claude François (Frère Luc), c1650-60
Pope Benedict XVI gave three General Audiences on the saint in 2010.  Here is the first, which outlines his life:

"Today I would like to talk about St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. I confide to you that in broaching this subject I feel a certain nostalgia, for I am thinking back to my research as a young scholar on this author who was particularly dear to me. My knowledge of him had quite an impact on my formation. A few months ago, with great joy, I made a pilgrimage to the place of his birth, Bagnoregio, an Italian town in Lazio that venerates his memory.

St Bonaventure, in all likelihood born in 1217, died in 1274. Thus he lived in the 13th century, an epoch in which the Christian faith which had deeply penetrated the culture and society of Europe inspired imperishable works in the fields of literature, the visual arts, philosophy and theology. Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture Bonaventure stands out, a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government.

He was called Giovanni di Fidanza. An episode that occurred when he was still a boy deeply marked his life, as he himself recounts. He fell seriously ill and even his father, who was a doctor, gave up all hope of saving him from death. So his mother had recourse to the intercession of St Francis of Assisi, who had recently been canonized. And Giovanni recovered.

The figure of the Poverello of Assisi became even more familiar to him several years later when he was in Paris, where he had gone to pursue his studies. He had obtained a Master of Arts Diploma, which we could compare with that of a prestigious secondary school in our time. At that point, like so many young men in the past and also today, Giovanni asked himself a crucial question: "What should I do with my life?". Fascinated by the witness of fervour and evangelical radicalism of the Friars Minor who had arrived in Paris in 1219, Giovanni knocked at the door of the Franciscan convent in that city and asked to be admitted to the great family of St Francis' disciples. Many years later he explained the reasons for his decision: he recognized Christ's action in St Francis and in the movement he had founded. Thus he wrote in a letter addressed to another friar: "I confess before God that the reason which made me love the life of blessed Francis most is that it resembled the birth and early development of the Church. The Church began with simple fishermen, and was subsequently enriched by very distinguished and wise teachers; the religion of Blessed Francis was not established by the prudence of men but by Christ" (Epistula de tribus quaestionibus ad magistrum innominatum, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Introduzione generale, Rome 1990, p. 29).

So it was that in about the year 1243 Giovanni was clothed in the Franciscan habit and took the name "Bonaventure". He was immediately sent to study and attended the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris where he took a series of very demanding courses. He obtained the various qualifications required for an academic career earning a bachelor's degree in Scripture and in the Sentences. Thus Bonaventure studied profoundly Sacred Scripture, the Sentences of Peter Lombard the theology manual in that time and the most important theological authors. He was in contact with the teachers and students from across Europe who converged in Paris and he developed his own personal thinking and a spiritual sensitivity of great value with which, in the following years, he was able to infuse his works and his sermons, thus becoming one of the most important theologians in the history of the Church. It is important to remember the title of the thesis he defended in order to qualify to teach theology, the licentia ubique docendi, as it was then called. His dissertation was entitled Questions on the knowledge of Christ. This subject reveals the central role that Christ always played in Bonaventure's life and teaching. We may certainly say that the whole of his thinking was profoundly Christocentric.

In those years in Paris, Bonaventure's adopted city, a violent dispute was raging against the Friars Minor of St Francis Assisi and the Friars Preachers of St Dominic de Guzmán. Their right to teach at the university was contested and doubt was even being cast upon the authenticity of their consecrated life. Of course, the changes introduced by the Mendicant Orders in the way of understanding religious life, of which I have spoken in previous Catecheses

The storm blew over, at least for a while, and through the personal intervention of Pope Alexander IV in 1257, Bonaventure was officially recognized as a doctor and master of the University of Paris. However, he was obliged to relinquish this prestigious office because in that same year the General Chapter of the Order elected him Minister General.

He fulfilled this office for 17 years with wisdom and dedication, visiting the provinces, writing to his brethren, and at times intervening with some severity to eliminate abuses. When Bonaventure began this service, the Order of Friars Minor had experienced an extraordinary expansion: there were more than 30,000 Friars scattered throughout the West with missionaries in North Africa, the Middle East, and even in Peking. It was necessary to consolidate this expansion and especially, to give it unity of action and of spirit in full fidelity to Francis' charism. In fact different ways of interpreting the message of the Saint of Assisi arose among his followers and they ran a real risk of an internal split. To avoid this danger in 1260 the General Chapter of the Order in Narbonne accepted and ratified a text proposed by Bonaventure in which the norms regulating the daily life of the Friars Minor were collected and unified. Bonaventure, however, foresaw that regardless of the wisdom and moderation which inspired the legislative measures they would not suffice to guarantee communion of spirit and hearts. It was necessary to share the same ideals and the same motivations.

For this reason Bonaventure wished to present the authentic charism of Francis, his life and his teaching. Thus he zealously collected documents concerning the Poverello and listened attentively to the memories of those who had actually known Francis. This inspired a historically well founded biography of the Saint of Assisi, entitled Legenda Maior. It was redrafted more concisely, hence entitled Legenda minor. Unlike the Italian term the Latin word does not mean a product of the imagination but, on the contrary, "Legenda" means an authoritative text, "to be read" officially. Indeed, the General Chapter of the Friars Minor in 1263, meeting in Pisa, recognized St Bonaventure's biography as the most faithful portrait of their Founder and so it became the Saint's official biography.

What image of St Francis emerged from the heart and pen of his follower and successor, St Bonaventure? The key point: Francis is an alter Christus, a man who sought Christ passionately. In the love that impelled Francis to imitate Christ, he was entirely conformed to Christ. Bonaventure pointed out this living ideal to all Francis' followers. This ideal, valid for every Christian, yesterday, today and for ever, was also proposed as a programme for the Church in the Third Millennium by my Predecessor, Venerable John Paul II. This programme, he wrote in his Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, is centred "in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem" (n. 29).

In 1273, St Bonaventure experienced another great change in his life. Pope Gregory X wanted to consecrate him a Bishop and to appoint him a Cardinal. The Pope also asked him to prepare the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, a most important ecclesial event, for the purpose of re-establishing communion between the Latin Church and the Greek Church. Boniface dedicated himself diligently to this task but was unable to see the conclusion of this ecumenical session because he died before it ended. An anonymous papal notary composed a eulogy to Bonaventure which gives us a conclusive portrait of this great Saint and excellent theologian. "A good, affable, devout and compassionate man, full of virtue, beloved of God and human beings alike.... God in fact had bestowed upon him such grace that all who saw him were pervaded by a love that their hearts could not conceal" (cf. J.G. Bougerol, Bonaventura, in A. Vauchez (edited by), Storia dei santi e della santità cristiana. Vol. VI. L'epoca del rinnovamento evangelico, Milan 191, p. 91).

Let us gather the heritage of this holy doctor of the Church who reminds us of the meaning of our life with the following words: "On earth... we may contemplate the divine immensity through reasoning and admiration; in the heavenly homeland, on the other hand, through the vision, when we are likened to God and through ecstasy... we shall enter into the joy of God" (La conoscenza di Cristo, q. 6, conclusione, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Opuscoli Teologici / 1, Rome 1993, p. 187)."

You can read more on the saint in Pope Benedict XVI's second General Audience on him.  And the third one can be found here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12: St John Gualbert OSB

Fresco, Florence, Neri di Bicci (1419-91)
St John Gualbert (985 or 995 - 12 July 1073) was the founder of the Vallumbrosan Congregation of the Order.

He was born at Florence, in Italy.

Hoffman's Benedictine Martyrology states that he:

"...was carefully instructed in religion and in various branches of human learning.

Influenced by the example of worldly-minded companions, he indulged in the frivolities to which careless youths de­liver themselves when they cast off the restraints of religion.

His brother,Hugh, was slain by a nobleman and John undertook to avenge his death.

On a Good Friday he met his brother's slayer in a narrow passage and was on the point of killing him, when the latter fell upon his knees, entreating him by the passion of our Lord, to spare his life. This appeal touched John so deeply that he not only spared the man's life, but even offered him his friendship.

Pur­suing his way, he arrived at the monastery of San Miniato, where he felt an im­pulse to spend some time in the church in devout prayer. Shortly after, he called upon the abbot of San Miniato and asked to be admitted among the candidates for the Order.

The abbot dreading the wrath of John's father was reluctant to grant his desire. In the mean time, the father came to the monastery and re­proached his son bitterly for the step he was about to take, but observing that John was steadfast in his resolution, he blessed him and exhorted him to perse­vere.

As a religious, John subdued his body with much fasting and watching. After the abbot's death, he was elected to succeed him, but he resolutely refused to accept the office, and some time after departed from the monastery to seek a place of solitude.

At Vallombrosa he met two hermits who consented to assist him in establishing a Benedictine monastery in that place. The abbess of St. Hilary's near by, furnished the grounds. A monastery and church were built within a short time, and were dedicated by the bishop of Paderborn. John, although but a layman, was elected abbot.

In the course of a few years he founded monasteries at St. Salvi, Moschetta, Passignano, Rozzuolo, and Monte Salario which, together with the motherhouse at Vallombrosa, formed a Con­gregation which was approved by Pope Alexander II in 1070. One of John's leading traits was his great love for the poor, to supply whose needs he would empty all the chests and granaries of his house. Having summoned all the su­periors of the dependent houses, he delivered to them his final instructions and exhortations, devoutly received the last sacraments and expired on this day in 1073 at the age of seventy-four years.

He was canonized by Pope Celestine III in 1193."

His Order united with the Slyvestrines in 1680.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11: Feast of St Benedict, Class I/II

Today is the feast of the translation of the relics of St Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order.   He is also co-patron of Europe, hence the feast is a solemnity there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 10: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Ducchio, c14th

At I Vespers, the Magnificat antiphon refers to the readings for Matins, I Samuel 17, which starts the story of David and Goliath.

The Gospel set for this Sunday is Luke 5:1-11, Jesus preaches at Genesareth, and instructs the disciples to cast out their fishing nets.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

SS Processus and Martinian, Memorial

Valentin de Boulogne 001.jpg

SS Processus and Martinian were warders assigned to SS Peter and St Paul, were converted and baptized by St Peter after a spring flowed miraculously in the prison. They were martyred along with St Paul after being arrested and tortured.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 2: Novena to St Benedict

Carolingian fresco, Malles Venosta
July 11 is the second feast in the calendar of St Benedict, this time for the translation of his relics.  Though included in the Benedictine 1962 calendar, it doesn't make it into the Roman 1962 calendar.  But it is the main feast of St Benedict in the Ordinary Form, and is a solemnity in Europe.

Accordingly, start your novena today.  Here is the official prayer to use each day until July 10, the eve of the feast:

"O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen."

July 2: The Visitation, Class II