Featured Saints

St. Rita of Cascia

Our saint of the week is one whose whole sanctity is based on her great virtue of hope. St. Rita of Cascia was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, Italy. She lived a very difficult life on earth, but she never let it destroy her faith or her hope.

Although she had a deep wish to enter religious life, her parents arranged her marriage at a young age to a cruel and unfaithful man. Because of Rita’s prayers, he finally experienced a conversion after almost 20 years of unhappy marriage, only to be murdered by an enemy soon after his conversion. Her two sons became ill and died following their father’s death, leaving Rita without family.

She hoped again to enter the religious life, but was denied entrance to the Augustinian convent many times before finally being accepted. Upon entry, Rita was asked to tend to a dead piece of vine as an act of obedience. She watered the stick obediently, and it inexplicably yielded grapes. The plant still grows at the convent, and its leaves are distributed to those seeking miraculous healing.

For the rest of her life until her death in 1457, Rita experienced illness and an ugly, open wound on her forehead that repulsed those around her. Like the other calamities in her life, she accepted this situation with grace, viewing her wound as a physical participation in Jesus’ suffering from His crown of thorns. Through it all she never last hope. Although her life was filled with seemingly impossible circumstances and causes for despair, St. Rita never lost her hope in the loving mercy and help of God.

Her feast day is May 22. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us.

St. Philip Neri

At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.

As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.

At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.

Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services.

The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.)

Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.

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Saint Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross

Born in northern Italy in 1694, Paul lived at a time when many regarded Jesus just as a great moral teacher nothing else.

After a brief time as a soldier, he turned to solitary prayer, developing a devotion to Christ’s passion.

Paul saw in the Lord’s passion a demonstration of God’s love for all people. In turn that devotion nurtured his compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners.

He was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy.

At the age of 26 – Paul founded the Congregation of the Passion, whose members combined devotion to Christ’s passion with preaching to the poor and rigorous penances.

Known as the Passionists, they added a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ’s passion among the faithful.

Paul of the Cross died in Rome at the age of 81.

Quote:

“Take the holy crucifix in your hands, kiss its wounds with great love, and ask Him to preach you a sermon. Listen to what the thorns, the nails, and that Divine Blood say to you. Oh! What a sermon.” (St. Paul of the Cross)

St. Henry de Osso

Our Saint of the Week this week is a very special friend for Pilgrim Center of Hope, St. Henry de Osso. Our building at Pilgrim Center of Hope was formerly a convent of the Teresian Sisters, and St. Henry de Osso was the founder of their community. In fact, as you drive onto the property, you see a life-size bronze sculpture of St. Henry!

He was born in Spain in 1840, and had a love for God and others at an early age. As a boy, he would pause while playing with friends, to accompany the parish priest as he brought Holy Communion to the sick.

He himself became a priest, and was deeply inspired by the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila. He began founding different groups for every ages, all based on her spirituality—friendship with Jesus in prayer that leads to action. An example is “The Friends of Jesus Club” for children, to teach them to love Jesus, to talk to Him every day, and to do whatever He asks.

Father Henry wrote numerous publications, many of which were directed to women, because he believed in the power of impacting women to transform communities and their love for God and one another. In January 1896, he wrote the following words in St. Teresa’s Magazine:

“My Jesus and my all. Let me love you or die, rather, to live and die loving you above everything else. Do not let me leave this world without having loved you and made you known and loved as much as I can. Give glory, honor and riches to others, but give me, your servant, only your love and that will be enough. My Jesus and my all. Praised be Jesus my love.”

He died January 27, 1896. Upon hearing of his death, a friend, Father Francisco Marsal wrote, “The servant of God, Henry de Ossó, was the most faithful model of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. His speech, conduct and actions always made me think: That is how Christ acted.”

St. Henry de Osso was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 1993; just six days before Pilgrim Center of Hope was officially consecrated.

 

St. Mary Magdalene

(Feast Day: July 22)

Mary Magdalene’s life has been a source of interest for two thousand years. There are many women named Mary who are mentioned in Scripture, but Mary Magdalene is distinguished by the name of a place: Magdala, a city on the Sea of Galilee. Some scholars argue that this does not necessarily mean that she was born there, but at least she lived there for a significant time.

Early Life:

When she first met Jesus, Mary had major problems in her life; the Gospels tell us that Jesus cast seven devils out from her (Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2). She encountered  Jesus and was healed by Him, and discovered in him her Teacher, Friend, Lord and Savior. Not only did she become his disciple, but also one of the strongest benefactors of his work.

Contributer to the ministry of Christ:

Mary Magdalene was a wealthy woman with sufficient resources to be able to support Jesus in such a significant way that she is always listed first among the group of Jesus’ supporters (Mt 27:55-56, Mk 15:40-41, Lk 8:2-3). In ancient times, just as today, the biggest donor’s name is on top of the list. Based on socio-economic analysis of Gospel language and contemporary life at that time, author Christoph Wrembek argues that today she would be ranked as a millionaire.

Constantly Loyal:

Above all, we should remember Mary Magdalene as the “Constant Woman” who remained close to Christ and His Mother even at the lowest point of their lives: Jesus’ torture, crucifixion, and death. In this extreme adversity, Mary Magdalene remained faithful; we are told that she stood at the Cross (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25), and was present through Jesus’ death and burial (Mk 15:47). Even after his burial, Mary Magdalene would not leave her Lord. She came to the tomb early in the morning on the third day, while it was still dark, but saw that the stone across the entrance had been rolled away. “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.’” Imagine her fear and confusion! After Peter and the beloved disciple came and went from the empty tomb, Mary remained there, weeping. (Jn 20:1-10)

The first witness of the Resurrection:

As she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. (v. 11-16) Jesus called her by name, and she recognized him as her teacher: Jesus teaches Mary Magdalene a new way of relating to him, saying to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (Jn 20:17) She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. (Mk 16:10-11)

Benedict XVI said “Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus ‘my hope’: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. ‘Christ my hope’ means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfillment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.”

St. Andre Bassette

Learn more about St. Andre Bassette’s life  – http://www.holycrosscongregation.org/news/st-andre-believe-pray-serve-and-trust-god/

Special thanks to Lucha Ramey, Director of Communications for the Congregation of the Holy Cross for help and permission in using photos and helping us promote this inspiring saint. Photo (c) courtesy of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Rome. Used with permission.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Born: 22 July 1647, L’Hautecour, France

Died: 17 Oct. 1690, Paray-le-Monial, France

Beatified by Pius IX in1864

Canonizedby Benedict XV in 1920

Feast Day:Oct. 16

Patronage: of polio patients, against loss of parents, of devotion to the Sacred Heart

As a youth she suffered a terrible illness, followed by a fifteen year period of emotional suffering.

At twenty-three, while in prayer, she saw Jesus as he had appeared after his scourging. She recalls, “He let me see that I would never find a lover like him – the richest, most attractive and powerful, most perfect and accomplished of all lovers.” She made up her mind to become a sister.

On the Apostle John’s feast day, Margaret—aged 26—found some free time and slipped into the chapel. God’s presence seemed to envelop her and she completely forgot where she was. Jesus appeared to her and had her rest her head on his chest—just as the Apostle John had done at the Last Supper. Then, he showed her his heart, saying, “My Divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race and, of you in particular, that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst out through you and reveal My Heart to the world, so as to enrich mankind with my precious treasures.” Margaret shared her heart with Jesus and he gave her a new name: The Beloved Disciple of My Sacred Heart.

Following this revelation, on every first Friday of the month, she suffered burning pain in her side. In June, she received another revelation of Jesus, “flames issuing […] especially from his Divine Breast which was like a furnace, and which he opened to disclose his utterly affectionate and lovable Heart, the living source of all those flames.”  He asked her to receive Holy Eucharist as often as possible, especially the first Friday of each month, and to keep vigil with him Thursday night for an hour, “not only to allay God’s anger by asking mercy for sinners, but also to soothe in some way the heartache I felt when my apostles deserted me…” Thus began a now-common practice: the Holy Hour.

During that Octave of Corpus Christi, Margaret received the third revelation from Jesus, who asked this lowly nun to have the Church establish a liturgical feast for his Sacred Heart. She responded, “I do not know how to fulfill your wish.” Jesus had her speak to Fr. Claude, who encouraged Margaret Mary. He was convinced that her revelations had been real and gave her the confidence.

Margaret Mary’s short writing, La Devotion au Sacré-Coeur de Jesus(Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus),was published by Fr. John Croiset, SJ. in 1698. Pope Clement XIII instituted the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1765.

 

St. Peter Julian Eymard

Like all of us, Peter Julian Eymard [pronounced A-mard] was conditioned by his cultural background as well as by the sociopolitical atmosphere of his time.

Struggle to Become a Priest

Peter Julian Eymard’s road to the priesthood, as well as his life as a priest, was marked by the cross. On July 20, 1834, at 23 years of age, Eymard was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble.

Devotion to Mary

All his life Peter Julian had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.  It was Eymard’s work for the Society of Mary that put him in contact with the various currents of eucharistic piety that were flowing in the French Church.

Peter and the Eucharist

Other eucharistic communities and organizations were springing up throughout France. Eymard’s intuition about the Eucharist was not limited merely to the worship of the holy sacrament but to actively reach out to those who were estranged from the church and to evangelize them. Father Eymard directed his ministry firstly to the children and young workers that made up a large segment of the labor force of Paris.

Three years prior to his death, Fr. Eymard made a long retreat in Rome. During this retreat, he was powerfully struck by the force of Christ’s love within him – a love he felt taking over his whole person. Anticipating the renewal of the Church brought about by Vatican Councils I and II, Eymard had a vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people living lives of total dedication to the spiritual values that are celebrated and contemplated in the Eucharistic celebration and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope St. John Paul II declared St. Peter Eymard, “Apostle of the Eucharist.”

Read more about this saint from Bob & Penny Lord.

St. Peter Julian Eymard, pray for us, that we would discover Jesus in the Eucharist and become close friends with Him.

Bl. Pier Gorgio Frassati

Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in Turin into a wealthy family, who owned a newspaper called La Stampa. Though an average student, Frassati was known among his peers for his devotion and piety.

He was dedicated to works of social action, charity, prayer and community. He was involved with Catholic youth and student groups, the Apostleship of Prayer, Catholic Action, and was a third order Dominican. He would often say, “Charity is not enough; we need social reform.” He helped establish a newspaper entitled Momento, whose principles were based on Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum.

Despite his family’s enormous wealth and power, Frassati’s father was austere and never gave his children too much spending money. Frassati, however, donated most or all of his money to people he saw as more in need than him, and as a result he became accustomed to giving his train-fare to the poor and running back home or riding in third class.

Despite the many organizations to which Frassati belonged, he was not a passive “joiner”; records show that he was active and involved in each, fulfilling all the duties of membership. He was strongly anti-fascist and did nothing to hide his political views.

Participating in a Church-organized demonstration in Rome, he withstood police violence and rallied the other young people by grabbing the banner which the police had knocked out of someone else’s hands. He held it even higher while using the pole to ward off their blows. When the demonstrators were arrested by the police, he refused special treatment that he might have received because of his father’s political position, preferring to stay with his friends. One night a group of fascists broke into his family’s home to attack him and his father, but Frassati beat them off single-handedly chasing them down the street.

Frassati died in 1925 of poliomyelitis. His family expected Turin’s elite and political figures to come to offer their condolences and attend the funeral; they naturally expected to find many of his friends there as well. They were surprised, however, to find the streets of the city lined with thousands of mourners as the cortege passed by. Poor people from the city petitioned the Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause for canonization. The process was opened in 1932 and he was beatified on 20 May 1990. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati’s feast day is July 4th.

Frassati was called Man of the Beatitudes by Pope John Paul II, who beatified him on May 20, 1990.

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St. Louis de Montfort

Feast Day: April 28
(1673-1716)

He was born Louis Maie Grignon in Montfort, France, in 1673. Educated at Rennes, he was ordained there in 1700, becoming a chaplain in a hospital in Poitiers. His congregation, also called the Daughters of Divine Wisdom, started there. As his missions and sermons raised complaints, Louis went to Rome, where Pope Clement XI appointed him as a missionary apostolic. Louis is famous for fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary. In 1715, he also founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. His book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin remains popular. Louis died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. He was canonized in 1947.

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