Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September 8

Today is the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our Blessed Mother is one of only three people the Church celebrates on the day of their birth (the other two being Christ on Christmas, born without sin, and Saint John the Baptist, free from sin at birth after being cleansed of his sins by Christ during the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth). The remainder of the saints are celebrated on their date of death—their birth into everlasting life with Christ. The Blessed Virgin, however, was conceived without sin because the Lord, in His wisdom, had chosen her to become the Mother of God. Nine months after our celebration of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate the Nativity of our hope and light of salvation!

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Dom Gueranger

VIEW THE YOUNG VIRGIN ‘

LET us celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her Son, Christ our Lord.’  Such is the invitation addressed to us today by the Church. Let us hearken to her call; let us enter into her over-flowing joy. The Bridegroom is at hand, for His throne is now set up on earth; yet a little while, and He will appear in the diadem of our human nature, wherewith His Mother is to crown Him on the day of the joy of His heart, and of ours. Today, as on the glorious Assumption, the sacred Canticle is heard; but this time it belongs more to earth than to Heaven.

Truly a better Paradise than the first is given us at this hour. Eden, fear no more that man will endeavor to enter thee; thy Cherubim may leave the gates and return to Heaven. What are thy beautiful fruits to us, since we cannot touch them without dying? Death is now for those who will not eat of the fruit so soon to appear amid the flowers of the virgin earth to which our God has led us.

Hail, new world, far surpassing in magnificence the first creation! Hail blessed haven, where we find a calm after so many storms! Aurora dawns; the rainbow glitters in the heavens; the dove comes forth; the ark rests upon the earth, offering new destinies to the world. The haven, the aurora, the rainbow, the dove, the ark of salvation, the paradise of the heavenly Adam, the creation whereof the former was but a shadow: all this art thou, sweet infant, in whom already dwell all grace, all truth, all life.

Thou art the little cloud, which the father of prophets in the suppliant anguish of his soul awaited; and thou bringest refreshment to the parched earth. Under the weakness of thy fragile form, appears the Mother of fair love and of holy hope. Thou art that other light cloud of exquisite fragrance, which our desert sends up to Heaven. In the incomparable humility of thy soul, which knows not itself, the Angels, standing like armed warriors around thy cradle, recognize their Queen.

O Tower of the true David; citadel withstanding the first shock of satan’s attack, and breaking all his power; true Sion, founded on the holy mountains, the highest summits of virtue; temple and palace, feebly foreshadowed by those of Solomon; house built by eternal Wisdom for herself: the faultless lines of thy fair architecture were planned from all eternity.

Together with Emmanuel, who predestined thee for His home of delights, thou art thyself, O blessed child, the crowning point of creation, the divine ideal fully realized on earth.

Let us, then, understand the Church, when, even on this day, she proclaims thy Divine maternity, and unites in her chants of praise the birth of Emmanuel and thine own. He Who, being Son of God by essence, willed to be also Son of man, had, before all other designs, decreed that He would have a Mother. Such, consequently, wall the primordial, absolute character of that title of mother, that, in the eternal decree, it was one with the very being of the chosen creature, the motive and cause of her existence, as well as the source of all her perfections natural and supernatural. We too, then, must recognize thee as Mother, even from thy very cradle, and must celebrate thy birthday by adoring thy Son our Lord.

Inasmuch as it embraces all the brethren of the Man-God, thy blessed maternity sheds its rays upon all time, both before and after this happy day. ‘God is our king before ages: He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.’ [Ps. 73:12] ‘The midst of the earth,’ says the Abbot of Clairvaux, ‘admirably represents Mary. Mary is the center of the universe, the ark of God, the cause of creation, the business of ages. Towards her turn the inhabitants of Heaven and the dwellers in the place of expiation, the men that have gone before us, and we that are now living, those who are to follow us, our children’s children and their descendants. Those in Heaven look to her to have their ranks filled up; those in Purgatory look for their deliverance; the men of the first ages, that they may be found faithful prophets; those who come after, that they may obtain eternal happiness. Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Sovereign of the world, all generations shall call thee blessed, for thou hast brought forth life and glory for all. In thee the Angels ever find their joy, the just find grace, sinners pardon; in thee, and by thee, and from thee, the merciful hand of the Almighty has reformed the first creation.’

Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast, full of joy and confidence for all. ‘All ye nations, come hither,’ cries St. John Damascene; ‘come every race and every tongue, every age and every dignity, let us joyfully celebrate the birthday of the world’s gladness.’ ‘It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast,’ says St. Peter Damian; ‘for behold! the Mother of the Bridegroom is born. With good reason does the whole world rejoice today; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.’

Not only do the Doctors of east and west use similar language in praise of Mary’s birth, but moreover the Latin and Greek Churches sing, each in its own tongue, the same beautiful formula, to close the office of the feast: ‘Thy birth O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God: Who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.’

This union of Rome and Byzantium in the celebration of today’s festival, dates back as far as the seventh century at least; beyond that we cannot speak with anything like certitude, nor is it known when the feast was first instituted. It is supposed to have originated at Angers, towards the year 430, by an apparition of our Lady to the holy bishop Maurillus in the fields of Marillais; and hence the name of Notre Dame Angevine often given to the feast. In the eleventh century Chartres, the city of Mary, claims for its own Fulbert, together with Robert the Pious, a principal share in the spreading of the glorious solemnity throughout France. It is well known how intimate the bishop was with the king; and how the latter himself set to music the three admirable responsories composed by Fulbert, wherein he celebrates the rising of the mysterious star that was to give birth to the Sun; the branch springing from the rod of J ease, and producing the divine Flower whereon the holy Spirit was to rest; and the merciful power which caused Mary to blossom in Judaea like the rose on the thorn.

In the year 1245, in the third session of the first Council of Lyons, (the same session which deposed Frederick II from the empire), Innocent IV established for the whole Church, not the feast which was already kept everywhere, but the Octave of the Nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary. It was the accomplishment of a vow made by him and the other Cardinals during the Church’s widowhood, through the intrigues of the crafty emperor, lasted nineteen months after the death of Celestine IV, and which was brought to a close by the election of  Sinibaldo Fieschi under the name of Innocent.

In 1377, the great Pope Gregory XI, who broke the chains of captivity in Avignon, wished to add a vigil to the solemnity of our Lady’s birthday. But whether he merely expressed a desire to this effect, as did his successor Urban VI with regard to a fast on the eve of the Visitation, or whether for some other reason, the intentions of the holy Pope were carried out for only a very short time during the years of trouble that followed his death.

Together with the Church, let us ask, as the fruit of this sweet feast, for that peace which seems to flee ever farther and farther from our unhappy times. Our Lady was born during the second of the three periods of universal peace wherewith the reign of Augustus was blest, the last of which ushered in the Prince of Peace Himself.

The temple of Janus is closed; in the eternal city a mysterious fountain of oil has sprung up from the spot where the first sanctuary of the Mother of God is one day to be built; signs and portents are multiplied; the whole world is in expectation; the poet has sung: ‘Behold the last age, foretold by the Sybil, is at hand; behold the great series of new worlds is beginning; behold the Virgin!’ In Judæa, the sceptre has been taken away from Juda; but the usurper of his power, Herod the Idumæan, is hastening to complete the splendid restoration, which will enable the second temple worthily to receive within its walls the Ark of the new Covenant.

It is the sabbatical month, the first of the civil year, the seventh of the sacred cycle; the month of Tisri which begins the repose of each seventh year, and in which is announced the holy year of Jubilee; the most joyous of months, with its solemn Neomenia celebrated with trumpets and singing, its feast of tabernacles, and the commemoration of the completion of Solomon’s temple.  . . . On earth, two obscure descendants of David, Joachim and Anne, are thanking God for having blessed their long-barren union. (7)

Sermon I on the Dormition of Mary By St. John Damascene (John of Damascus), (A.D. 676 – 754/787)

The birth of her, whose Child was marvellous, was above nature and understanding, and it was salvation to the world; her death was glorious, and truly a sacred feast. The Father predestined her, the prophets foretold her through the Holy Ghost. His sanctifying power overshadowed her, cleansed and made her holy, and, as it were, predestined her. Then Thou, Word of the Father, not dwelling in place, didst invite the lowliness of our nature to be united to the immeasurable greatness of Thy inscrutable Godhead. Thou, who didst take flesh of the Blessed Virgin, vivified by a reasoning soul, having first abided in her undefiled and immaculate womb, creating Thyself, and causing her to exist in Thee, didst become perfect man,, not ceasing to be perfect God, equal to Thy Father, but taking upon Thyself our weakness through ineffable goodness. Through it Thou art one Christ, one Lord, one Son of God, and man at the same time, perfect God and perfect man, wholly God and wholly man, one Substance from two perfect natures, the Godhead and the manhood. And in two perfect natures, the divine and the human, God is not pure God, nor the man only man, but the Son of God and the Incarnate God are one and the same God and man without confusion or division, uniting in Himself substantially the attributes of both natures. Thus, He is at once uncreated and created, mortal and immortal, visible and invisible, in place and not in place. He has a divine will and a human will, a divine action and a human also, two powers of choosing divine and human. He shows forth divine wonders and human affections–natural, I mean, and pure. Thou hast taken upon Thyself, Lord, of Thy great mercy, the state of Adam as he was before the fall, body, soul, and mind, and all that they involve physically, so as to give me a perfect salvation. It is true indeed that what was not assumed was not healed. Having thus become the mediator between God and man, Thou didst destroy enmity, and lead back to Thy Father those who had deserted Him, wanderers to their home, and those in darkness to the light. Thou didst bring pardon to the contrite, and didst change mortality into immortality. Thou didst deliver the world from the aberration of many gods, and didst make men the children of God, partakers of Thy divine glory. Thou didst raise the human race, which was condemned to bell, above all power and majesty, and in Thy person it is seated on the King’s eternal throne. Who was the instrument of these infinite benefits exceeding all mind and comprehension, if not the Mother ever Virgin who bore Thee?

Realise, Beloved in the Lord, the grace of today, and its wondrous solemnity. Its mysteries are not terrible, nor do they inspire awe. Blessed are they who have eyes to see. Blessed are they who see with spiritual eyes. This night shines as the day. What countless angels acclaim the death of the life-giving Mother! How the eloquence of apostles blesses the departure of this body which was the receptacle of God. How the Word of God, who deigned in His mercy to become her Son, ministering with His divine hands to this immaculate and divine being, as His mother, receives her holy soul. O wondrous Law-giver, fulfilling the law which He bad Himself laid down, not being bound by it, for it was He who enjoined children to show reverence to their parents. “Honour thy father and thy mother,” He says. The truth of this is apparent to every one, calling to mind even dimly the words of holy Scripture. If according to it the souls of the just are in the hands of God, how much more is her soul in the hands of her Son and her God. This is indisputable. Let us consider who she is and whence she came, how she, the greatest and dearest of all God’s gifts, was given to this world. Let us examine what her life was, and the mysteries in which she took part. Heathens in the use of funeral orations most carefully brought forward anything which could be turned to praise of the deceased, and at the same time encourage the living to virtue, drawing generally upon fable and fiction, not having fact to go upon. How then, shall we not deserve scorn if we bury in silence that which is most true and sacred, and in very deed the source of praise and salvation to all ? Shall we not receive the same punishment as the man who hid his master’s talent ? Let us adapt our subject to the needs of those who listen, as food is suited to the body.

Joachim and Anne were the parents of Mary. Joachim kept as strict a watch over his thoughts as a shepherd over his flock, having them entirely under his control. For the Lord God led him as a sheep, and he wanted for none of the best things. When I say best, let no one think I mean what is commonly acceptable to the multitude, that upon which greedy minds are fixed, the pleasures of life that can neither endure nor make their possessors better, nor confer real strength. They follow the downward course of human life and cease all in a moment, even if they abounded before. Far be it from us to cherish these things, nor is this the portion of those who fear God. But the good things which are a matter of desire to those who possess true knowledge, delighting God, and fruitful to their possessors, namely, virtues, bearing fruit in due season, that is, in eternity, will reward with eternal life those who have laboured worthily and have persevered in their acquisition as far as possible. The labour goes before, eternal happiness follows. Joachim ever shepherded his thoughts. In the place of pastures, dwelling by contemplation on the words of sacred Scripture, made glad on the restful waters of divine grace, withdrawn from foolishness, he walked in the path of justice. And Anne, whose name means grace, was no less a companion in her life than a wife, blessed with all good gifts, though afflicted for a mystical reason with sterility. Grace in very truth remained sterile, not being able to produce fruit in the souls of men. Therefore, men declined from good and degenerated; there was not one of understanding nor one who sought after God. Then His divine goodness, taking pity on the work of His hands, and wishing to save it, put an end to that mystical barrenness, that of holy Anne, I mean, and she gave birth to a child, whose equal had never been created and never can be. The end of barrenness proved clearly that the world’s sterility would cease and that the withered trunk would be crowned with vigorous and mystical life.

Hence the Mother of our Lord is announced. An angel foretells her birth. It was fitting that in this, too, she, who was to be the human Mother of the one true and living God, should be marked out above every one else. Then she was offered in God’s holy temple, and remained there, showing to all a great example of zeal and holiness, withdrawn from frivolous society. When, however, she reached full age and the law required that she should leave the temple, she was entrusted by the priests to Joseph, her bridegroom, as the guardian of her virginity, a steadfast observer of the law from his youth. Mary, the holy and undefiled, went to Joseph, contenting herself with her household matters, and knowing nothing beyond her four walls.

In the fulness of time, as the divine apostle says, the angel Gabriel was sent to this true child of God, and saluted her in the words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” Beautiful is the angel’s salutation to her who is greater than an angel. He is the bearer of joy to the whole world. She was troubled at his words, not being used to speak with men, for she had resolved to keep her virginity unsullied. She pondered in herself what this greeting might be. Then the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary. Thou hast found grace before God.” In very deed, she who was worthy of grace had found it. She found grace who had done the deeds of race, and had reaped its fulness. She found grace who brought forth the source of grace, and was a rich harvest of grace. She found an abyss of grace who kept undefiled her double virginity, her virginal soul no less spotless than her body; hence her perfect virginity. “Thou shalt bring forth a Son,” he said, “and shalt call His name Jesus” (Jesus is interpreted Saviour). “He shall save His people from their sins.” What did she, who is true wisdom, reply? She does not imitate our first mother Eve, but rather improves upon her incautiousness, and calling in nature to support her, thus answers the angel: “How is this to be, since I know not man? What you say is impossible, for it goes beyond the natural laws laid down by the Creator. I will not be called a second Eve and disobey the will of my God. If you are not speaking godless things, explain the mystery by saying how it is to be accomplished.” Then the messenger of truth answered her: “The Holy Spirit shall come to thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore He who is born to thee shall be called the Son of God.” That which is foretold is not subservient to the laws of nature. For God, the Creator of nature, can alter its laws. And she, listening in holy reverence to that sacred name, which she had ever desired, signified her obedience in words full of humility and joy: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

“O the depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God,” I will exclaim in the apostle’s words. “How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways.” O inexhaustible goodness of God! O boundless goodness! He who called what was not into being, and filled heaven and earth, whose throne is heaven, and whose footstool is the earth, a spacious dwelling-place, made the womb of His own servant, and in it the mystery of mysteries is accomplished. Being God He becomes man, and is marvellously brought forth without detriment to the virginity of His Mother. And He is lifted up as a baby in earthly arms, who is the brightness of eternal glory, the form of the Father’s substance, by the word of whose mouth all created things exist. O truly divine wonder! O mystery transcending all nature and understanding! O marvellous virginity! What, O holy Mother and Virgin, is this great mystery accomplished in thee? Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Thou art blessed from generation to generation, thou who alone art worthy of being blessed. Behold all generations shall call thee blessed as thou hast said. The daughters of Jerusalem, I mean, of the Church, saw thee. Queens have blessed thee, that is, the spirits of the just, and they shall praise thee for ever. Thou art the royal throne which angels surround, seeing upon it their very King and Lord. Thou art a spiritual Eden, holier and diviner than Eden of old. That Eden was the abode of the mortal Adam, whilst the Lord came from heaven to dwell in thee. The ark foreshadowed thee who hast kept the seed of the new world. Thou didst bring forth Christ, the salvation of the world, who destroyed sin and its angry waves. The burning bush was a figure of thee, and the tablets of the law, and the ark of the testament. The golden urn and candelabra, the table and the flowering rod of Aaron were significant types of thee. From thee arose the splendour of the Godhead, the eternal Word of the Father, the most sweet and heavenly Manna, the sacred Name above every name, the Light which was from the beginning. The heavenly Bread of Life, the Fruit without seed, took flesh of thee. Did not that flame foreshadow thee with its burning fire an image of the divine fire within thee? And Abraham’s tent most clearly pointed to thee. By the Word of God dwelling in thee human nature produced the bread made of ashes, its first fruits, from thy most pure womb, the first fruits kneaded into bread and cooked by divine fire, becoming His divine person, and His true substance of a living body quickened by a reasoning and intelligent soul.* I had nearly forgotten Jacob’s ladder. Is it not evident to every one that it prefigured thee, and is not the type easily recognised ? just as Jacob saw the ladder bringing together heaven and earth, and on it angels coming down and going up, and the truly strong and invulnerable God wrestling mystically with himself, so art thou placed between us, and art become the ladder of God’s intercourse with us, of Him who took upon Himself our weakness, uniting us to Himself, and enabling man to see God. Thou hast brought together what was parted. Hence angels descended to Him, ministering to Him as their God and Lord, and men, adopting the life of angels, are carried up to heaven.

How shall I understand the prediction of prophets ? Shall I not refer them to thee, as we can prove them to be true? What is the fleece of David which receives the Son of the Almighty God, co-eternal and co-equal with His Father, as rain falls upon the soil? Does it not signify thee in thy bright shining? Who is the virgin foretold by Isaias who should conceive and bear a Son, God ever present with us, that is, who being born a man should remain God? What is Daniel’s mountain from which arose Christ, the Corner-Stone, not made by the hand of man ? Is it not thee, conceiving without man and still remaining a virgin? Let the inspired Ezechiel come forth and show us the closed gate, sealed by the Lord, and not yielding, according to his prophecy — let him point to its fulfilment in thee. The Lord of all came to thee, and taking flesh did not open the door of thy virginity. The seal remains intact. The prophets, then, foretell thee. Angels and apostles minister to thee, O Mother of God, ever Virgin, and John the virgin apostle. Angels and the spirits of the just, patriarchs and prophets surround thee to-day in thy departure to thy Son. Apostles watched over the countless host of the just who were gathered together from every corner of the earth by the divine commands, as a cloud around the divine and living Jerusalem, singing hymns of praise to thee, the author of our Lord’s life-giving body. (3)

Image: The Birth of the Virgin, artist: Giotto, circa 1266-1337

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/mary2c.htm#2
  2. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/09/august-8-nativity-of-our-blessed-mother.html
  3. http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost6a.html
  4. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Nativity%20of%20the%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary.html
  5. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Nativity%20of%20the%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary%20Novena.html
  6. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Childrens%20Sermon%20Nativity%20of%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary.html
  7. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Feast%20of%20the%20Nativity%20of%20Mary.htm
  8. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/feast-of-the-birth-of-the-blessed-virgin.html
  9. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_nativity_of_the_blessed_virgin.html
  10. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/09-08.html
  11. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j090sdNativity_9-08.htm
  12. http://www.nobility.org/2013/09/05/nativity-of-mary/
  13. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-07-_-_The_Birth_of_the_Virgin.jpg

 

Saint Regina, Martyr

September 7

Today is the feast day of Saint Regina.  Ora pro nobis.

Legend has it that Saint Regina was the daughter of a pagan aristocrat named Clement, in Alise, Burgundy. Her mother died in childbirth.  Regina’s father placed her upbringing in the care of a Christian nurse attached to the family, who recognizing her sanctity.  The nurse secretly baptized her.  Regina was driven from her family’s home because of her faith, and lived as a poor, prayerful shepherdess.

Regina lived with her nurse, worked in the fields by day, tending sheep, to help support the household. In the fields, Regina grew closer to the Lord, meditating and contemplating His love and mercy, and praying to better emulate the lives of the holy saints and martyrs.

At the age of fifteen, Regina caught the eye of the prefect of Gaul, Olybrius, a man of great importance. He became obsessed with the young woman, and was determined to take her as his bride. He delighted in her noble upbringing, but was deeply disturbed to find that she was practicing the Christian faith. At that time, Christians were being violently persecuted and killed, under the direction of the Emperor Decius. Olybrius attempted to persuade her to deny her faith, so as to not only save her from persecution, but to secure her as a wife. She declined, refusing to recant her faith, and professing it all the louder. In retaliation, Olybrius had her imprisoned.

Regina was chained to the walls of a dark prison cell by means of an iron belt that was bolted to the wall. There she was left while Olybrius participated in several military campaigns against invading barbarians, returning to his daily activities. After an absence of some time, he returned, hoping she may have changed her mind. On the contrary, her imprisonment had served to strengthen her resolve to live like the saints and martyrs, and maintain her chastity for the Lord. She refused to sacrifice to idols, and he angrily ordered her tortured. Regina courageously withstood whippings and scourging over the back of a wooden horse, raking with iron combs, burning with hot pincers and torches, and crucifixion. None of these could cause her to doubt the Lord or recant her faith, and as she continued to praise God. Lastly, she was beheaded, ending her life and her conversion of many witnesses present who observed a solitary dove hovering atop her head during her torture.

The relics of Saint Regina are enshrined in Flavigni abbey, having been translated there in 864. Since that time, numerous miracles have been attributed to their presence, and frequent pilgrimages are made by the faithful to venerate them.

Saint Regina is considered the patron saint against poverty, and patroness of shepherdesses and torture victims. Given the accounts of her martyrdom, in art, Saint Regina is portrayed as a maiden bound to a cross with torches applied to her sides, imprisoned with a dove appearing on a shining cross, scourged with rods, or in a boiling cauldron. She is venerated at Autun, France, and in southern Germany.

Image: Statue of the Holy Saint Regina from the church with the same name, Drensteinfurt (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-regina/
  2. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/09/september-7-saint-regina.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StRegina.JPG
  4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/09-07.html

Saint Cloud, Confessor

September 7

Today is the feast day of Saint Cloud.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Cloud (or Clodoald) was born in 522.  He was the grandson of King Clovis of the Franks and youngest son of Clodimir, son of Clovis.  Saint Cloud and his brothers were raised by his grandmother, St. Clotilda; his Uncle Childebert, acted as regent for them. His brothers, Theodoald, ten, and Gunther, seven, were murdered by their Uncle Clotaire of Soissons in a plot with Childebert to seize the throne, but Clodoald, eight, was saved by being sent to Provence. 

Saint Cloud renounced the world, he privately consecrated himself to the service of God. After distributing to the poor what he could salvage of his heritage, he retired to a hermitage to be under the discipline of a holy recluse named Saint Severinus, who dwelt near the gates of Paris and who clothed him with the monastic habit. His uncles left him alone, seeing his inalterable decision to live as a religious, and conceded certain heritages to him. When he became famous through an act of charity rewarded by a miracle, he withdrew secretly to Provence. There again, his hermitage was sought out by petitioners. He decided to return to Paris, where he was received with the greatest joy.

At the earnest request of the people, he was ordained a priest in 551 by Eusebius, Bishop of Paris, and served the Church of that city for some time in the functions of the sacred ministry. Again he found himself in great honor; he therefore retired to Nogent, a place now known as Saint Cloud, two leagues south of Paris, where he built a monastery. There he was joined by many pious men, who fled from the world for fear of losing their souls in its midst. Saint Cloud was chosen by them to be their Superior, and he animated them to virtue both by word and example. He was also indefatigable in instructing and exhorting the faithful of the neighboring regions. He died at Nogent in 560, and the major part of his relics remain still in the parochial church of the village.

Image: A statue of Clodoald (Saint Cloud) from the St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints9-5.htm
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_cloud_or_clodoald.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saintcloudstatue.jpg
  4. http://www.nobility.org/2013/09/05/cloud-nobility/

Saint Pius X, Pope, Confessor

September 3 Today is the feast day Saint Pius X.  Ora pro nobis. Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born 2 June, 1835, at Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita (née Sanson).  He was the oldest of eight children.   Giovanni Sarto was a postman, and his wife Margarita was a … Read more

Saint Raymond Nonnatus, Confessor

August 31

Today is the feast day of Saint Raymond Nonnatus.  Ora pro nobis.

St. Raymond Nonnatus was born in Portella in the Diocese of Urgel, Catalonia, around the year 1203. He received the name of Raymond at his Baptism and the nickname of Nonnatus [non natus in Latin means not born] because he was not born normally, but was delivered by a caesarian operation. His father was a shepherd according to some, and a member of the noble family of Cardona, according to others. His mother died during child birth and his father had high expectations for Raymond to serve in the country’s Royal Court.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Catalonia was the native country of St. Raymund who, to the astonishment of the Physicians, was born after his mother’s death. As soon as he was old enough to comprehend how early he had become an orphan, he chose the Queen of Heaven as his mother, and to his last day, called her by no other name. When he had studied for some time with great success, his father, fearing the youth would enter a Religious Order, sent him into the country to take care of a farm. Raymund obeyed, and found there also opportunity to serve God. He became very fond of solitude and therefore chose for his occupation the care of the sheep, in order to gain more time for prayer and meditation.

At the foot of the mountain to which he generally led his flock, was a small, deserted hermitage, with a chapel, in which an extremely lovely picture of the Blessed Virgin was kept, which was a source of great joy to him. He there spent several hours daily, in devout exercises. Other shepherds, who observed this, and to whom the piety of Raymund was a reproach of their own negligence, reported to his father that he was doing nothing but praying, and thereby neglected his flock. The father came to convince himself of the fact, but although he found his son praying in the chapel, he saw that the flock was meanwhile attended to by a youth of uncommon beauty of form and features. Asking his son who this young shepherd was, and why he had engaged him, Raymund, to whom it was unknown that Providence had worked a miracle in his behalf, fell on his knees before his father, and begging forgiveness, earnestly promised not to commit the fault again.

The Divine Mother, of whom he begged the grace of knowing his vocation, appeared to him, saying that she desired him to take the habit of the newly established Order for the redemption of captives. He did so, and was sent to Algiers where he found a great many Christians in slavery, and as the money he had brought for their ransom was not sufficient, he offered himself as a hostage to redeem the others. He was induced to this by the danger in which the prisoners were of losing their faith and with it eternal life. This great and heroic charity gave him occasion to suffer much for the sake of Christ. At first, he was treated very harshly by his masters, but when they began to fear that he would die before the ransom was paid, they allowed him more liberty, which the holy man used only for the salvation of the captive Christians. He strengthened them in their faith, and, at the same time, endeavored to convert the infidels.

Accused of this before the Judge, he was condemned to be impaled alive, and nothing but the hope of a large ransom prevented the execution of this barbarous sentence, and caused it to be changed into a cruel bastinado. Raymund, who desired nothing more fervently than to die for Christ’s sake, was not intimidated by what he had undergone, but wherever an opportunity offered itself, he explained to the infidels the word of God. The Judge, informed of it, ordered him to be whipped through all the streets of the city, and then to be brought to the market-place, where the executioner, with a red hot iron, pierced his lips, through which a small chain was drawn and closed with a padlock, in order that the holy man might no more use his tongue to instruct others. Every three days the lock was opened, and he received just enough food to keep him from starvation. Besides this, he was loaded with chains, and cast into a dungeon, where he lay for eight months, until his ransom arrived. Although it was the desire of the Saint to remain among the infidels, as he would there have an opportunity to gain the crown of martyrdom, obedience recalled him to his monastery.

When the Pope was informed of all that Raymund had suffered during his captivity, he nominated him Cardinal; but the humble Saint returned to his convent and lived like all the other brothers of the Order, without making the least change in his dress, food, or dwelling, nor accepting any honor due to him as so high a dignitary of the Church. Gregory IX, desired to have so holy a man near him, and called him to Rome. The Saint obeyed and set out on his journey. He had, however, scarcely reached Cardona, six miles from Barcelona, when he was seized with a malignant fever, which soon became fatal. He desired most fervently to receive the holy Sacraments, but as the priest called to administer them to him, delayed to come, God sent an angel, who brought him the divine food. After receiving it, he returned thanks to God for all the graces he had received from Him during his life, and peacefully gave up his soul, in the 37th year of his age.

After his death, the inhabitants of Cardona, the clergy of Barcelona and the religious of his order, contended as to where the holy body should be buried. Each party thought they had the greatest claim to possess his tomb. At last they resolved to leave the decision to Providence. They placed the coffin, in which the holy body reposed, upon a blind mule, determined that the treasure should be deposited in the place to which this animal should carry it. The mule, accompanied by a large concourse of people, went on until it had reached the hermitage and chapel where the holy cardinal, as a shepherd boy, had spent so many hours in prayer, and had received so many graces from God. There the Saint was buried, and St. Peter Nolasco, in the course of time, founded there a Convent, with a Church in which the holy remains are still preserved and greatly honored by the people of Catalonia. (1)

 

Patron of: Christian Motherhood, Newborns, Midwives, Obstetricians, Expectant Mothers, Women In Labor, Falsely Accused, Secrets, Fever.

Novena
Glorious St. Raymond, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee and with love for those who suffer heavily leaden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under thy special protection. ( your request here.)

Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary and lay it before the Throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to Face, and with thee and Mary and the saints praising and blessing to all eternity. Amen.

Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.
Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.
Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

Image: Cristo premiando a San Ramón Nonato (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Raymond%20Nonnatus.html
  2. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=580
  3. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j144sd_RaymondNonnatus_8-31.shtml
  4. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12671b.htm
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gonzalez_de_la_vega.jpg

 

 

 

 

Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin

August 30

Today is the feast day of Saint Rose of Lima.  Ora pro nobis.

Born Isabella de Flores, Saint Rose was the daughter of a Spanish immigrant father and a Peruvian mother. She was personally confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Saint Turibiuis de Mongrovejo, and took the name Rose. Her family and friends had been calling her “Rosa,” as when she was still an infant, one of the family’s servants had seen her face miraculously transform into the vision of a mystical Rose.  All of Saint Rose’s sufferings were offered for the conversion of sinners, and the thought of the multitudes in hell was ever before her soul. She died in 1617, at the age of thirty-one.

by F. M. Capes, 1899

We may not say that St. Rose was the first saint of the New World, for God only knows His own; but she was the first of America’s children to be placed in the calendar of canonized saints–the first flower gathered from that part of the great garden over which St. Dominic has been placed as the husbandman of Jesus Christ.

Almost before she was out of her infancy, that love of Our Lord’s suffering, which was afterwards to become the ruling passion of her life, began to lay hold of little Rose’s heart. How God speaks to the baby souls of those early-chosen children of His special delight; by what channels the Divine secrets are imparted to their barely-opened minds; what marvelous gift enables them to entertain and understand thoughts far beyond their years–we cannot know; but that such special communications are made to some of the Saints even as little children is certain.

In St. Rose’s case the working of these mysterious operations in her heart was witnessed to by the fact that, as a little thing barely able to walk, she would often be found, having managed to escape from her guardians or companions, absorbed in deep infantine contemplation before a picture of the thorn-crowned Christ, in His mantle of scorn, which hung in her mother’s room.

Her own apprenticeship in her Master’s school, too, began early; for from the time that she was three years old Rose de Flores was the subject of one accident or complaint after another, and was kept perpetually in states of suffering which were sharp trials to her childish patience.

This ideal she realized in her life. It is this life of penance and mysticism which is presented to the reader in these pages. Everything in her life calls for admiration, many things for imitation, some, maybe, for explanation. The reader of this record of her ways and works will perforce exclaim: ‘Wonderful is God in His saints’–wonderful in their number, in their graces, in their variety.

St. Rose’s life was eminently wonderful in its marvelous penance, its deep, earnest, and all but continuous prayer, its perfect union with God. She studied in the school of Christ; her book was the Cross; her Master the Crucified. Naturally of delicate health, weak in body, and physically feeble, hers was a life of chronic suffering. To this she added much fasting, abstinence, and penances of every kind, as will be seen from the perusal of this interesting and instructive life. But all her sufferings, whether sent by God or self-inflicted, were borne for God, with God, and in God.

She could say with the Apostle: ‘With Christ I am nailed to the Cross; and I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me. Her suffering life was a life of detachment from the world–a life of union with God. If she could make her own the words of St. Paul, ‘The world is crucified to me, and I to the world, she could add with equal truth, ‘I live in the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and delivered Himself for me.’ (1)

St. Rose of Lima, Virgin
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

God gave to the Christians of America, and all over the world, a beautiful example of holiness, at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, in the Saint whose festival is this day commemorated by the Catholic Church. Her native place was Lima, the capital of Peru. She was named Isabel, but while yet in the cradle, she was called Rose, as her face, in its loveliness, resembled a rose. She took the surname of St. Mary, by order of the Blessed Virgin. Already in her childhood, her conduct was holy. Her intention was to follow the example of St. Catherine of Sienna, whose life she had read, and therefore she entered the third order of St. Dominic. When five years old, she consecrated her virginity to God, and was such a perfect hand-maiden of the Lord, that during her whole life, she never offended Him by a mortal sin, nor even intentionally by one that was venial. Her time was divided between prayer and work. Twelve hours she gave to devout exercises, two or three to sleep, the rest to work.

When grown to womanhood, her hand was sought by several, but she always unhesitatingly gave the answer, that she was already promised to a heavenly spouse. That, however, her parents might no further urge her, she herself cut off her hair, as a sign of her consecration to God. She treated her innocent body with extreme severity. From her childhood she abstained from fruit, which, in Peru, is so delicious. Her fasts and abstinences were more than human; for, when scarcely six years old, her nourishment consisted almost entirely of water and bread. At the age of fifteen, she made a vow never to eat meat, except when obliged by obedience. Not even when sick did she partake of better food. Sometimes for five or eight days, she ate nothing at all, living only on the bread of angels. During the whole of Lent, she took only five citron seeds, daily. Incredible as this may appear to the reader, it is told by unquestionable authority. Her bed was a rough board, or some knotted logs of wood. Her pillow was a bag filled with rushes or stones.

Every night she scourged her body with two small iron chains, in remembrance of the painful scourging of our Saviour, and for the conversion of sinners. When, however, her Confessor forbade her this, she, after the example of St. Catherine of Sienna, bound, three times around her body, a thin chain, which in a few weeks, had cut so deeply into the flesh that it was scarcely to be seen. Fearing that she would be compelled to reveal it, she prayed to God for help, and the chain became loose of itself. Hardly were the wounds healed, when she again wore the chain, until her Confessor, being informed of it, forbade her to do so, She then had a penitential robe made of horse-hair, which reached below her knees, and occasioned her intense suffering. She wore under her veil, in remembrance of our Saviour’s crown of thorns, a crown which was studded inside with pins, and which wounded her head most painfully. To attend the better to her prayers, she loved solitude above everything.

To this end, she asked the permission of her parents to build a small cell for herself in the corner of the garden. This cell was only five feet long and four feet wide; but she lived more happily in it than many others do in royal palaces. O, how many graces she obtained from heaven in this place! How many visions she had there of St. Catherine of Sienna, her Guardian Angel, the Blessed Virgin, and even of Christ Himself! She was also frequently favored with visions in other places. The most remarkable of these was one which she had on Palm Sunday, in the chapel of the Holy Rosary, before an image of the Blessed Virgin. Rose, gazing at the picture, perceived that the Virgin Mother, as well as the divine Child, regarded her most graciously, and at last she heard distinctly from the lips of the divine Child, the words: “Rose, you shall be my spouse.” Although filled with holy awe, she replied, in the words which the Blessed Virgin had spoken to the Angel: ” Behold, I am a handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.” After this, the Virgin Mother said: “May you well appreciate the favor which my Son has accorded to you, dear Rose!”

I leave it to the pious reader to picture to himself the inexpressible joy which this vision gave to Rose. It served her as a most powerful incentive to the practice of all virtues. Among these virtues, surely not the least was the heroic patience which this holy virgin showed, as well in bodily suffering, as in interior, spiritual anguish. The Almighty permitted her, for fifteen years, to be daily tormented, at least, for an hour, by the most hideous imaginations, which were of such a nature, that she sometimes thought that she was in the midst of hell. She could think neither of God nor of the graces He had bestowed upon her; neither did prayer or devout reading give her any comfort. It sometimes seemed as if she had been forsaken by God. In this manner, God wished to prove and purify her virtue, as He had done in regard to many other Saints. Her patience was also most severely tried by painful diseases, as she sometimes had a combination of two or three maladies at the same time, and suffered most intensely.

During the last three years of her life, she was disabled in almost all her limbs; but her resignation to the will of God was too perfect to allow her to utter a word of complaint. All she desired and prayed for was to suffer still more for Christ’s sake. She, at the same time, encouraged other sick persons, whom she served with indescribable kindness, as long as she was well. She endeavored to comfort them when it was necessary to prepare them for a happy death; for, her greatest joy was to speak of God and to lead others to Him. One day when she was greatly troubled about her salvation, Christ appeared to her and said: ” My daughter, I condemn those only who will not be saved.” He assured her at the same time, first, that she would go to heaven; secondly, that she never would lose His grace through mortal sin; thirdly, that divine assistance would never fail her in any emergency. God also revealed to her the day and hour of her death, which took place in her thirty-first year. After the holy sacraments had been administered to her, she begged all present to forgive her faults, and exhorted them to love God. The nearer the hour of her death approached, the greater became her joy.

Shortly before her end, she went into an ecstasy, and after it, she said to her Confessor: ” Oh! how much I could tell you of the sweetness of God, and of the blissful heavenly dwelling of the Almighty!” She requested her brother to take away the pillow that had been placed under her head, that she might die on the boards, as Christ had died on the cross. When this was done, she exclaimed three times: “Jesus, Jesus, be with me!” and expired. After death, her face was so beautiful, that all who looked at her were lost in astonishment. Her funeral was most imposing. The Canons first carried the body a part of the way to the church; after them the senate, and finally, the superiors of the different orders, so great was the esteem they all entertained for her holiness. God honored her after her death, by many miracles; and Clement X. canonized her in 1671 and placed her among the number of the holy virgins. (2)

Image: Crop of Santa Rosa de Lima, artist: Claudio Coello, circa 1683. (5)

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Rose%20Book.html
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Rose%20of%20Lima.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_rose_of_lima.html
  4. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-30-saint-rose-of-lima.html
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sta_Rosa_de_Lima_por_Claudio_Coello.jpg

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

August 29

Today is the feast day of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. 

Saint John the Baptist was called by God to be the precursor of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless, and to improve upon the extraordinary graces which he had received in his earliest infancy, he was directed by the Holy Spirit to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness. There he devoted himself to the continuous exercise of devout prayer and penance.

The tradition is that after his beheading the disciples of John the Baptist took his body and buried it at Sebaste (Samaria) near modern-day Nablus in the West Bank. His relics were certainly honoured there at the middle of the fourth century and although the tomb was desecrated by Julian the Apostate, it was restored and still even today is housed in the Nabi Yahya Mosque (“John the Baptist Mosque”) at that same place.  The story of St John’s  beheading is told in Mark 6:14-29 in the context of Herod hearing about Jesus and the miraculous powers at work in him. Herod feared that this Jesus was John whom he had beheaded risen from the dead.

By Abbot Gueranger

At that time, Herod sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison, because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had said to Herod: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” But Herodias laid snares for him, and would have liked to put him to death, but she could not. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and protected him; and when he heard him talk, he did many things, and he liked to hear him. And a favorable day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet to the officials, tribunes and chief men of Galilee. And Herodias’ own daughter having come in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask of me what thou willest, and I will give it to thee.” And he swore to her, “Whatever thou dost ask, I will give thee, even though it be the half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “What am I to ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in at once with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want thee right away to give me on a dish the head of John the Baptist.” And grieved as he was, the king, because of his oath, and his guests, was unwilling to dis-please her. But send-ing an executioner, he commanded that his head be brought on a dish, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. And his disciples, hearing of it, came and took away his body, and laid it in a tomb (Mark 6: 17-29).

Thus died the greatest of them that are born of women: without witnesses, the prisoner of a petty tyrant, the victim of the vilest passions, the wages of a dancing girl! How beautiful, as Saint John Chrysostom remarks, is this liberty of speech, when it is truly the liberty of God’s Word, when it is an echo of Heaven’s language! Then indeed it is a stumbling-block to tyranny, the safeguard of the world and of God’s rights, the bulwark of a nation’s honor as well as of its temporal and eternal interests. Death has no power over it. To the weak murderer of Saint John the Baptist, and to all who would imitate him to the end of time, a thousand tongues, instead of one, repeat in all languages and in all places: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

“O great and admirable mystery!” cries out Saint Augustine. “He must increase, but I must decrease, said John, said the voice which personified all the voices that had gone before announcing the Father’s Word Incarnate in His Christ. Every word, in that it signifies something, in that it is an idea, an internal word, is independent of the number of syllables, of the various letters and sounds; it remains unchangeable in the heart that conceives it, however numerous may be the words that give it outward existence, the voices that utter it, the languages, Greek, Latin and the rest, into which it may be translated. To him who knows the word, expressions and voices are useless. The prophets were voices, the Apostles were voices; voices are in the psalms, voices in the Gospel. But let the Word come, the Word Who was in the beginning, the Word Who was with God, the Word Who was God; when we shall see Him as He is, shall we hear the Gospel repeated? Shall we listen to the prophets? Shall we read the Epistles of the Apostles? The voice fails where the Word increases… Not that in Himself the Word can either diminish or increase. But He is said to grow in us, when we grow in Him. To him, then, who draws near to Christ, to him who makes progress in the contemplation of wisdom, words are of little use; of necessity they tend to fail altogether. Thus the ministry of the voice falls short in proportion as the soul progresses towards the Word; it is thus that Christ must increase and John decrease. The same is indicated by the beheading of John, and the exaltation of Christ upon the Cross; as it had already been shown by their birthdays: for, from the birth of John the days begin to shorten, and from the birth of Our Lord they begin to grow longer.”

The Feast of the Beheading of Saint John may be considered as one of the landmarks of the liturgical year. With the Greeks it was a holyday of obligation. Its great antiquity in the Latin Rite is evidenced by the mention made of it in the martyrology called Saint Jerome’s, and by the place it occupies in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries. The Precursor’s blessed death took place around the feast of the Pasch; but, that it might be more freely celebrated, this day was chosen, whereon his sacred head was discovered at Emesa.

The vengeance of God fell heavily upon Herod Antipas. Josephus relates how he was overcome by the Arabian Aretas, whose daughter he had repudiated in order to follow his wicked passions; and the Jews attributed the defeat to the murder of Saint John. Herod was deposed by Rome from his tetrarchate, and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where the ambitious Herodias shared his disgrace. As to her dancing daughter Salome, there is a tradition gathered from ancient authors, that, having gone out one winter day to dance upon a frozen river, she fell through into the water; the ice, immediately closing round her neck, cut off her head, which bounded upon the surface, thus continuing for some moments the dance of death.

From Macherontis, beyond the Jordan, where their master had suffered martyrdom, Saint John’s disciples carried his body to Samaria, out of the territory of Antipas; it was necessary to save it from the profanations of Herodias, who had not spared his august head. The wretched woman did not think her vengeance complete, till she had pierced with a hairpin the tongue that had not feared to utter her shame. In the reign of Julian the Apostate, the pagans wished to complete the work of Herodias by opening the Saint’s tomb at Samaria, in order to burn and scatter his remains. But the empty sepulcher continued to be a terror to the demons, as Saint Paula attested with deep emotion a few years later. Moreover, some of the precious relics were saved, and dispersed throughout the East. Later on, especially at the time of the Crusades, they were brought into the West, where many churches glory in possessing them. (2, 5)

Image: Crop of The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, artist: Caravaggio, circa 1608. (7)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist/
  2. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-161/Beheading.html
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Beheading%20of%20St.%20John%20Baptist%20popup.html
  4. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-29-martyrdom-of-saint-john.html
  5. http://www.catholictradition.org/Passion/john-baptist4.htm
  6. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_beheading_of_saint_john_the_baptist.html
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_Caravaggio_021.jpg

Saint Moses the Ethiopian, Confessor, Martyr

August 28

Today is the feast day of Saint Moses the Ethiopian .  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Moses was born into slavery to an Egyptian official’s family. However, as a young boy he began stealing things from the home, a habit that eventually grew as the child grew.  Instead of having the slave brought up on charges, Moses was dismissed from the house.  He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley spreading terror and violence. He was a large, imposing figure. On one occasion, a barking dog prevented Moses from carrying out a robbery, so he swore vengeance on the owner. Weapons in his mouth, Moses swam the river toward the owner’s hut. The owner, again alerted, hid, and the frustrated Moses took some of his sheep to slaughter. Attempting to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some monks in a colony in the desert of Scete, near Alexandria (see below).

The conversion of St. Moses is hidden from history.  It seems likely that St. Moses was fleeing from the law and subsequently took cover in the desert, only to stumble upon a community or hermitage of desert monks. The dedication of their lives, as well as their peace and contentment, influenced Moses deeply. He soon gave up his old way of life and joined the monastic community at Scete.

He had a rather difficult time adjusting to regular monastic discipline. His flair for adventure remained with him. Attacked by a group of robbers in his desert cell, Moses fought back, overpowered the intruders, and dragged them to the chapel where the other monks were at prayer. He told the brothers that he didn’t think it Christian to hurt the robbers and asked what he should do with them. The overwhelmed robbers repented, were converted, and themselves joined the community.

The stories of St. Moses as a young monk detail the chronicles of a slowly reformed soul—demonstrating how a man prone to violence, with an enormous temper could gradually become one of the most serene, calm and austere of the desert fathers, well-respected for his peaceable advice and holy counsel. St. Moses once plunging into despair over his own lack of self-control during the early days in the monastery sought counsel from his abbot, St. Isidore.  Upon hearing his complaint about his own spiritual progress, St. Isidore took St. Moses to the rooftop of the house just before sunrise.  As the sun broke on the horizon, St. Isidore said, “See!  The light only gradually drives away the darkness.  So it is with the soul.”

Moses proved to be effective as a prophetic spiritual leader. The abbot ordered the brothers to fast during a particular week. Some brothers came to Moses, and he prepared a meal for them. Neighboring monks reported to the abbot that Moses was breaking the fast. When they came to confront Moses, they changed their minds, saying “You did not keep a human commandment, but it was so that you might keep the divine commandment of hospitality.” Some see in this account one of the earliest allusions to the Paschal fast, which developed at this time.

Once St. Moses did master his own soul, however, the Archbishop of Alexandria heard of his soul’s journey toward the virtues and ordained him a priest.  Eventually, St. Moses was a respected counselor, teacher and confessor among the desert fathers and desert monks.  During a raid by Berbers against many of the desert monasteries and hermitages in the early 5th Century, St. Moses and seven other monks were slaughtered.  The year was 405; St. Moses was 75 years old.

Saint Moses relics at the Church of Al Adra (the Virgin). Canonized: Pre-Congregation.

Image: Crop of St. Moses the Ethiopian, (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmosestheblack.asp
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-moses-the-black/
  3. http://www.newmanconnection.com/faith/saint/saint-moses-the-black
  4. https://www.kisspng.com/png-moses-the-black-monastery-of-saint-moses-the-abyss-1572350/

 

Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

August 28

Today is the feast day of Saint Augustine.  Ora pro nobis.

See our story: https://www.reginamag.com/ambrose-and-augustine-in-milan/

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), bishop, confessor, Doctor of the Church, and one of the Four Great Fathers of the Latin Church. He is at times referred to as the Doctor of Grace. One of the most influential thinkers and writers of the Church, Augustine’s legacy in written works numbers at over 100 books, and 5,000,000 words! Within those words, the philosophy and virtues of our faith are revealed, inspiring us to a closer relationship with the Lord. The conversion of Saint Augustine, following years of sinful living, reminds us that we, too, are called to daily conversion… and that it is never too late to fully turn to the Lord!

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Augustine, that great Doctor of the Church, who stands far above all human praise, was born at Tagaste, in Africa, in the year 354. His father, Patricius, was a heathen; his mother, Monica, a Christian, who is honored as a Saint on the 4th of May. Nature had bestowed upon Augustine the most liberal gifts, and his talents were such as to fit him for the study of all the sciences. He excelled, however, in oratory, to which he early evinced great inclination. His father had educated him in paganism, but his pious mother endeavored to convert him to Christianity. One day, when suffering excessively from cramps, and supposing that he was about to die, he desired to be baptized; but no sooner had his pains ceased than he changed his mind.

When at Carthage, where he studied rhetoric, he was seduced by the Manichees, and became an adherent to their heresy. From his own account, he spent his early youth in great frivolity, and became so great a slave to impurity, that he feared he never should be able to abstain from it. To this horrible vice he was brought, as he wrote himself, by idleness, gaming, the carelessness of his father, who was not strict enough with him, immoral plays which he frequented, and bad company. His pious mother left nothing undone to correct his conduct; she exhorted him, and punished him, but her efforts were entirely fruitless. He continued in this life of sin and shame for nine years, during which St. Monica prayed, with floods of tears, to the Almighty, for her son’s salvation.

God, at length, granted her petition. Augustine began to be displeased with the Manichean heresy, as he perceived it had no foundation. His unchaste life also began to disgust him more and more, and he sought to free himself by changing his residence. He therefore left Carthage, where, after finishing the study of rhetoric, he had taught with great success; and, against the will of his mother, he went to Rome. There he became dangerously sick, and he attributed his recovery to the prayers of his mother. After having made himself famous in Rome by his eloquence, he was sent, by the Roman prefect Symmachus, to Milan, where the emperor desired to establish an able master of rhetoric.

At that period, the holy bishop St. Ambrose, resided at Milan, and was greatly celebrated on account of his holiness and eloquence. Augustine sought his acquaintance, and was often present at his discourses, although it was not from any desire to learn, but simply from curiosity. He desired to become acquainted with the style of the bishop, and to learn whether he truly deserved the great reputation he enjoyed on account of his eloquence. This curiosity, however, led him eventually to the truth; for, while he intended only to listen to the style in which the Saint expressed himself, he heard, at the same time, how well founded his teachings were, and became thoroughly convinced of the falsity of the Manichean heresy. But notwithstanding this, he could not persuade himself to accept the truth of the Catholic Church; his unchaste desires barred the way. He admired the pure life of St. Ambrose, but feared his own inability to follow such an example.

Meanwhile, St. Monica, induced by pious solicitude for her son, had come to Milan. Repairing to St. Ambrose, she made him acquainted with her son’s spiritual condition, and begged him, with tearful eyes, to use all his endeavors to convert him. The holy bishop, deeply touched by the mother’s devotion, consoled her with the hope that her son would surely soon come to the knowledge of the ill use he made of his life, and would reform, which opinion of the Saint was verified. Simplician, a venerable and pious monk, one day accidentally related to Augustine, whose mind was in a very unsettled state, that Victorinus, the most celebrated orator at Rome, was as old as he was at that time, when he received holy baptism. Pontician, a friend and compatriot of Augustine, told him one day, of the conversion of two imperial courtiers who, after reading the life of St. Antony, immediately reformed, left the court and retired from the world, to live as hermits in solitude.

These, and other facts considerably moved the heart of Augustine, and he began to think of changing his conduct. His reason convinced him of its necessity, but he was restrained by his evil habits. Day after day he formed the resolution to change his life, but imaginary causes withheld him, and he deferred from one time to another. One day, when he had struggled severely with himself, on the one hand, told by evil habit, that it would be impossible for him to live chastely, while on the other, the virtue of chastity pointed to so many chaste youths and maidens, men and widows, saying to him: “And are you not able to do what these and those are doing!” he wept bitterly, and walking into the garden, he sat down under a fig-tree and sighed in deep grief to God; “O Lord, how long? Tomorrow, tomorrow? Why do I not at once put an end to this miserable existence?”

When, exhausted with the sorrow within his soul, he was thus sitting there, he heard a voice saying to him; “Take up and read! take up and read!” Full of awe, he arose, took up the nearest book, and opening it, he read the words of St. Paul: “Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in chamberings and impurities, not in strife and envy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.” It needed no more to calm the storm in Augustine’s heart and end his inner strife. His mind was suddenly changed, and he determined, not only to lead a chaste life, but also to abandon heresy and unite himself to the true faith by receiving holy baptism. He immediately imparted his resolution to his pious mother, so devoted to his spiritual welfare, and to St. Ambrose, and after careful preparation, he received holy baptism, on Easter Eve, in the 33d year of his age. It is believed that the well-known hymn, “We praise Thee, O Lord! ” was composed by St. Ambrose and the newly baptized Augustine, and that it was sung on this occasion for the first time, to give thanks to the Almighty for the grace conferred.

The joy of St. Ambrose and of St. Monica, at this conversion, can better be imagined than described. I will only say this; as the pious mother had shed floods of tears, in the bitterness of her sorrow, so she wept tears of joy, when at last the event took place to which she had so long looked forward. Soon after St. Augustine had been baptized, he desired to return to his home, to live only for his salvation. He set out accompanied by his holy mother, who, when they had reached Ostia, became sick and ended her holy life by a happy death. Augustine, after having remained a short time at Rome, continued his voyage and arrived in Africa. He retired to his house in the country and lived there for three years, in solitude and continual prayer, fasting and other penances, and in contemplating the divine mysteries and reading the word of God.

A nobleman requested him to go to Hippo, and as it seemed to Augustine to be for a good and holy purpose, he complied. Having been there for some time, he was ordained priest by bishop Valerius, who was well acquainted with his virtue and great knowledge. After his ordination, which, in his deep humility, he long opposed, he founded a monastery and commenced to live a religious life with several other learned men. He wrote rules for them and thus made the beginning of the “Order of St. Augustine” afterwards so highly celebrated in the Church of Christ. After he had thus spent four years, bishop Valerius ordered him to preach the Gospel, which, at that remote period, was done only by bishops. Incredible is the good which the holy man did by his sermons, and the esteem which he gained. In consideration of this, Valerius, with the consent of the other bishops, and to the great rejoicing of all Catholics, consecrated St. Augustine as his Coadjutor, to assist him in the government of the Diocese, and, at his death, to be his successor.

Want of space prevents us from enlarging on all the good which St. Augustine did, as well during Valerius’ life, as after his death, by abolishing many abuses; by defending the Catholic faith; by vanquishing the most bitter heretics; and especially by writing a great many books, which contain an inexhaustible treasure of erudition. Even the most learned men of that period were unable to comprehend how one man could write with such ability on so many different subjects. Hence the conclusion to which all came was, that his talents and erudition had been an especial gift of God bestowed upon him, because the Church of Christ, assailed and persecuted by so many different heresies, needed a man of such wonderful genius to protect and defend it. None of the heretics were equal to him; they all feared him as much as the Catholics loved and honored him. The fame of his great holiness and wisdom penetrated even into far off lands, and everywhere his praise resounded on account of the many and glorious victories which he won over the heretics, as well in public disputes as on all other occasions. St. Jerome, St. Paulinus, and other holy men who were then living, sought his friendship, corresponded with him, and hesitated not to ask his advice. The Sovereign Pontiffs of his time held him in great esteem, and in all the councils at which he assisted, his voice was listened to with respect and attention.

In his own eyes, he possessed no merits, and he was so far from all self-esteem, that he humbly received the advice of anyone. He publicly acknowledged and corrected several faults which had crept into his works. Still more to be admired is the fact, that he wrote a book in which he laid bare, before the whole world, all the iniquities he had committed before his conversion to the true faith, in order that the divine mercy bestowed on him might move other sinners to repentance. His income as bishop, and all presents made to him, were given to the poor. From the time of his baptism until his death, he lived in chastity, and proved that a man, although for many years a slave to vice, can, by the grace of God, break all sinful fetters. He, however, avoided carefully every occasion which might endanger his chastity, and used severe means to protect it. The habit of cursing, which he had before he was baptized, he overcame so entirely, that, during all the rest of his life, no one ever heard a curse from his lips. He hated calumny and detraction so exceedingly, that he had written the following words on the wall of his dining-room: “For him who defames the character of his neighbor, there is no place at this table.” One day, it happened that a visitor began to speak ill of a neighbor. The Saint, turning to him, said : “Sir, either I must erase those words or you must change your conversation.”

The great love of God, which burned in his heart, caused him unceasingly to repent of the iniquities of his past life. He therefore often exclaimed with a sorrowful heart: “Too late have I known thee; too late have I loved thee, thou Beauty ever ancient, and ever new! O unhappy time in which I did not love thee!” This repentance he continued until his death, which took place in his 76th year, to the great grief of all Catholics. Four years before he departed, he had entrusted the Episcopal functions to someone else, as he felt exhausted from his incessant labors, and thenceforth passed his time in devout exercises. During this time, Hippo was besieged by the cruel Vandals. The misery awaiting this city grieved the Saint so deeply that he prayed most fervently to the Almighty, either to save the city from the enemy, or not to let him live to see its destruction. After this prayer he was seized by a fever, which he considered as a messenger of approaching death. He received, with the most profound devotion, the holy sacraments, and having requested that the seven penitential psalms should be written out for him, he had them hung near his bed, on the wall, that in reading them he might end his life.

In his last days he desired to be left alone, that he might not be interrupted in his devotional exercises. This solitude lasted twelve days, during which he shed abundant tears in reading the penitential psalms. He said, one day: “Every Christian, how piously soever he may have lived, ought to die a penitent.” With such feelings of intense love and contrition, this great and holy Doctor of the Church died, in the year of our Lord 430. His holy body was buried with great solemnity in the Cathedral, but was afterwards taken to Sardinia, and thence to Pavia, where it rests at this day, and is greatly honored and venerated. The encomiums which the most eminent men have bestowed upon this Saint are almost countless. His works, in which he still continues to live, raise the fame of his learning and virtue above all human praise. (1)

A Mothers Prayer to St. Augustine for her Children

O God, Who enlightened St. Augustine by Your grace, and inflamed him with Your love in the midst of the darkness and miseries of a life of sin, have mercy likewise on my poor soul and upon those of my children and relatives! Pardon our ingratitude, our disobedience, our want of reverence, our indifference, finally, all the offenses of which we have ever been guilty against Your holy name. We acknowledge that there is in this world no pain or punishment so severe as that which we deserve; therefore, full of dread of what is in store for us, we invoke the intercession of Your holy servant Augustine, so inflamed with love of You!

O holy penitent Augustine, seraph of divine love, unspeakable miracle of divine mercy, obtain for us from God a true, perfect, and heartfelt sorrow for our sins, a devout and constant love of God, a love that triumphs over all difficulties, temptations, and tribulations, a wise and unremitting fervor in the observances of the divine Commandments and the fulfillment of our duties! Assist us especially in the training of our children. Behold to how many dangers their virtue and innocence are exposed in the world! See how numerous are the snares and deceits prepared for the ruin of their souls by the flesh, and through the words and example of evil and worldly-minded men! If they do not receive extraordinary help, how can they withstand such allurements? O great St. Augustine, take them under your protection! To our efforts in their behalf, join your intercession for them with God.

Exert all your influence and, with the compassion of your loving heart, intercede with the Most Holy Trinity for them. Permit not that our children, sanctified in the waters of Baptism, should through mortal sin be banished from the presence of God and suffer eternal punishment. Preserve them from the greatest of all evils here below, namely, that of denying the love of Jesus Christ, through affection to some creature or the fear of some misfortune. No, O great St. Augustine! Rather let them and us, their parents, die in the grace of God, than live to offend Him mortally! This favor we implore through your intercession, O holy son of a sainted mother, you who gladly receive and graciously hear the prayers of a mother! I confidently hope that you have already heard my petitions, and that you will obtain for me a favorable answer from God!     Amen. (2)

Image: Crop of St Augustine, Artist: Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1636 and 1638 (8)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Augustine.html
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Augustine.html
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-28-saint-augustine-of-hippo.html
  4. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-19.htm
  5. http://www.nobility.org/2013/08/26/augustine-of-hippo/
  6. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-165/Augustine.html
  7. https://www.reginamag.com/ambrose-and-augustine-in-milan/
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_St_Augustine.JPG

Saint Joseph Calasanctius, Confessor

August 27

Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph Calasanctius. Ora pro nobis.

Saint Joseph Calasanctius was born in Aragon in 1556 of a noble family, who gave him a very Christian education.  His parents, Don Pedro Calasanza and Donna Maria Gastonia, gave Joseph, the youngest of five children, a good education at home and then at the school of Petralta.  When only five years old, he led a troop of children through the streets to find the devil and slay him.

After his classical studies at Estadilla he took up philosophy and jurisprudence at Lerida and merited the degree of Doctor of Laws, and then with honours completed his theological course at Valencia and Alcalá de Henares.  His mother and brother having died, Don Pedro wanted Joseph to marry and perpetuate the family. God interfered by sending a sickness in 1582 which soon brought Joseph to the brink of the grave. On his recovery he was ordained priest 17 Dec., 1583, by Hugo Ambrose de Moncada, Bishop of Urgel.

He heard a voice saying, Go to Rome, Joseph and had a vision of many children who were being taught by him and by a company of Angels. When he reached the Holy City, his heart was moved by the vice and ignorance of the children of the poor, and he saw clearly that ignorance was the mother of vice and misery. Sunday catechism lessons were insufficient to remedy the situation.

Joseph joined a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and gathered the boys and girls from the streets and brought them to school. The teachers, being poorly paid, refused to accept the additional labour without remuneration. The pastor of S. Dorotea, Anthony Brendani, offered him two rooms and promised assistance in teaching, and when two other priests promised similar help, Joseph, in November, 1597, opened the first public free school in Europe. Pope Clement VIII gave an annual contribution and many others shared in the good work, so that in a short time Joseph had about a thousand children under his charge.  Sunday catechism lessons were insufficient to remedy the situation. When he could find no collaboration under the existing frameworks, the children’s need mastered his profound humility, and he undertook to found personally the Order of Clerks Regular of the Pious Schools, or the Piarists.

Enemies arose against Saint Joseph, however, from among his own subjects, thus imposing on the Founder the most sorrowful of all crosses, resembling that of the Lord Himself. They accused him to the Holy Office, and at the age of eighty-six he was led through the streets to prison. The Order was reduced to a simple Congregation under local episcopal authority and was not restored to its former privileges until after the Saint’s death. My work, he said, was done solely for the love of God. Saint Joseph is the first to have given gratuitous instruction to the children of the people. Religion can claim for its own the instruction of the poor, both by birthright and by right of conquest. The body of Saint Joseph Calasanctius reposes in the church of Saint Pantaleon in Rome. He was canonized by Clement XIII in 1767.

Image: The Last Communion of St Joseph Calasanz, by Goya, circa 1810. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_joseph_calasanctius.html
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08518d.htm
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_%C3%BAltima_comuni%C3%B3n_de_san_Jos%C3%A9_de_Calasanz,_Francisco_de_Goya.jpg