Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, First Century AD

St.Joseph copysmall“I know by experience that the glorious Saint Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” —Saint Teresa of Avila

Patron of: Fathers, Carpenters, Catholic Church, Families, Homeless, Pregnant Women, Unborn Children, Workers, Family Protection, To Find Work, A Happy Death, To Sell A Home.

A righteous man who never shirked his responsibilities as protector of his family, Saint Joseph offers a perfect example for fathers everywhere. He is invoked by families for all matters of support needed to sustain a household, both material and spiritual.

A descendant of the House of David, there is very little written about Joseph in the gospels. He was said to be betrothed to Mary when she became pregnant with Jesus. Instead of leaving her in scandal, he accepted the word of the angel Gabriel who told him that the child was divinely given and Joseph and Mary were chosen by God to be his earthly parents. It was Joseph who protected Mary on the journey to Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He also suffered the frustrations of a man who could not find proper shelter for his family as his wife was about to give birth. Upon returning to their native city of Nazareth, Joseph was once again visited by an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of the innocents. On faith alone, he dispensed with his business and personal effects, taking Jesus and Mary to Egypt where they stayed for seven years until Herod’s death. It fell upon Saint Joseph to support his young family in this foreign country.

The last mention of Joseph comes when Jesus is twelve years old and strayed from his family while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is thought that he died well before Jesus began his mission with Jesus and Mary at his deathbed. For this reason, more than any other saint, he is invoked for a happy death, one where a person is older and has their family at their side.

Though of noble lineage, Joseph was a carpenter and it was from him whom Jesus learned his trade. Because he worked with his hands and frequently put his family ahead of any personal ambitions, workers everywhere who live similar lives call on him as a patron. It is no mystery that the cult of Saint Joseph became more popular in modern times with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Many saints throughout the ages have declared him to be a powerful advocate as well, since it is thought that Jesus obeyed him in his earthly life, he is inclined to listen to Joseph in his heavenly life. Teresa of Avila always buried medals with his image when she needed land for a new convent. This tradition has extended itself to realtors of all faiths who bury statues of Saint Joseph on properties they wish to sell.

It is assumed that since Joseph respected his wife’s virginity that he was an older man when he married. He is depicted in art with a staff, which he led his family ( precursor to the bishop’s staff) a lily for purity, and with carpenter tools or holding the baby Jesus

Novena

O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the spiritual grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request.)

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God. (The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph.)

O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

115_GrottoLourdes, an ancient village in the valley of the Pyrenees mountains, is in the extreme southwest of France near the Spanish border. It is the site of the most famous series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary and the most visited pilgrimage shrine in Christendom. Credited with exuding a powerful healing energy, it is inundated by those in need of physical and spiritual renewal. Attracting well over 200 million visitors since its discovery, Lourdes is a relatively modern holy site, having only been recognized by the Church as an official pilgrimage place since 1862. It became famous after a poor, illiterate local 14 year old girl, Bernadette Soubirous saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a grotto near a great rock mound called Massabeille. Despite much ridicule and persecution inflicted on her by the local authorities, Bernadette could not be shaken from her story. While communing with the Virgin, Bernadette uncovered a trickle of muddy water in a place where water had never been. Today, that tiny spring gushes forth with thousands of gallons of water daily. Considered to contain inexplicable healing properties by the devout, many terminally ill people of all faiths flock to Lourdes as a last resort in curing their ailments. Catholics go to spiritually refresh themselves and to honor this visitation by the Mother of God.

Though officially ruled over by France, the villages of the Pyrenees had little to do with their country on any cultural or social level. Most spoke in patois, their own language, never learning French at all. They dressed in their own local costumes, disdained the central government and were known as the ‘Indians’ of France for the exotic way they lived. While the 19th century was celebrated as a great secular age, when France was finally freed of all political domination of the Catholic Church and science and logic replaced faith, the villagers of the Pyrenees defied all official teachings and held on to their religious beliefs. They were hostile to the French government and suspicious of any forms of official beauracracy. Living in a harsh, mountainous landscape, they held much of nature as sacred. They had little faith in modern medicine and combined ancient Celtic beliefs with their Catholic prayers. The love of the Virgin Mary was at the heart of their religious life. Since the 13th century shepherds and shepherdesses had reported direct contact with her, either through visions or the miraculous discovery of statues of her. Shrines to the Madonna were abundant and most towns had a special day of pilgrimage honoring her.

Bernadette Soubirous was a 14 year old girl who’s impoverished family lived in a dank former dungeon. Stricken with asthma, she was considered slow and held back from receiving her First Holy Communion because she had trouble learning her catechism. On February 11, 1858 her mother needed firewood for cooking and could not afford to buy any. She sent Bernadette, her younger sister and a friend out to look for some. So that they would not be accused of stealing, the girls had to go outside of town to public lands. There was an outcropping of rock facing the river with a grotto at its base known as Massabielle. The pigs of Lourdes grazed there and respectable residents did not go to that area because it was considered filthy. According to legend, the Massabeille had been sacred to the pagans in prehistoric times and those passing by it always crossed themselves to ward off the aura of evil that they felt emanated from it. Because of her illness, Bernadette stayed behind while the two younger girls waded across the river to get wood. She decided to join them and began taking off her stockings. It was at this point she heard the sound of a wind and then saw a soft light coming from the niche in the grotto. A beautiful, smiling girl in white seemed to beckon to her. Bernadette was startled and instinctively reached for her rosary. She was unable to pick it up until the young girl produced one herself. They made the sign of the cross together and as Bernadette prayed the rosary, the young girl passed her own beads through her fingers in silent prayer. When Bernadette finished, the young girl smiled and disappeared. Despite her mother’s opposition, Bernadette returned to the site that Sunday after mass. She was joined by a group of friends. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette said, “If you come from God, stay. If you don’t, go away.” She then sprinkled holy water at the girl to make sure she was not from the devil. Bernadette was relieved when the girl laughed and inclined her head to receive more water. Bernadette was the only one who could see or commune with the girl. Her friends were astounded by the physical change in her demeanor. She had fallen into a beautiful rapture and seemed totally relieved of her asthma. One threw a large stone in the direction of the niche and Bernadette did not flinch. Fearing she had had some sort of fit, they ran to get help. The towns residents who came were shocked at the beautiful transformation in Bernadette. Word of her visions started to spread.

Each time she returned to the grotto she was joined by a larger crowd. Many thought the apparition was either the ghost of a devout townswomen who had recently died or a soul who had wandered away from purgatory. Bernadette’s third vision was on the 18th of February and two important townswomen brought along a pen and paper. The girl in white laughed when Bernadette held out the writing instruments and for the first time spoke to her, addressing her with great politeness, “Boulet aoue ra gracia de bie aci penden quinze dias?” she asked in the patois dialect. (“Would you have the grace to come here for fifteen days?”) When Bernadette replied that she would ask her parents’ permission, the girl said, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.” During these next two weeks news rapidly spread through Lourdes about the apparitions and the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. Bernadette was taken to the local police station for questioning. The authorities tried to make her admit that it was all a hoax. When she refused, they began to threaten her family. The Church was also skeptical and embarrassed by what they regarded as superstitious worship. The local pastor, Father Peyramale did not want to give the apparitions any credence. Even though the girl in the visions had not named herself, the belief that she might be the Virgin was growing among the townspeople.

For her part, Bernadette did not speculate on the mysterious girl’s identity, always referring to her as ‘Aquero’, the patois word for indescribable being. It was on February 25th, the ninth apparition of the girl that Bernadette was told to go drink at the spring and wash in it. Thinking the girl meant the river, she went towards the Gave. In her words, “…Aquero called me back and pointed to a spot beneath the rock. I found some moisture there but it was mud. Three times I threw it away even though the Lady said to drink it. Then I washed in it only to have my face besmeared with mud. When the Lady left, my Aunt Bernarde slapped my face. ‘Stop your nonsense,’ she said as she sent me home to the jeers of the people…” By the afternoon the muddy area was flowing with pure water and many in the laughing crowd were amazed.because they had never seen a spring there before. In subsequent apparitions the girl asked for penitence and the conversion of sinners. Bernadette said that she was afraid that the people climbing all over the grotto would disturb the rosebush where the girl stood. “I was afraid she might fall, but she kept on smiling at the people. She loved them, and she always seemed sorry to leave them.” At 13th visit Bernadette was told to tell the priests to come to the grotto on procession and to build a chapel. Father Peyramale was enraged and told her that if the girl in white wanted a chapel she should say who she was and she should make the wild rose bush in the niche blossom. It was after this 13th visit that the water in the spring was first accredited with healing properties. A pregnant woman with a paralyzed hand became totally cured and a stonecutter had his sight restored after he bathed his eyes in the water. Before this, there had been no physical proof of Bernadette’s visits.

The vast crowds that had started to accompany her did not see or hear the girl in white. They only believed in these visions because of Bernadette’s great physical transformation. Thursday, March 4th was the last of the 15 days. Over 8,000 people went to the grotto expecting to see something miraculous. At the end of her vision, 45 minutes, Bernadette put out her candle and went home. The rosebush did not bloom, the girl in white did not declare any message. Bernadette, unconcerned about the wild emotions she had aroused, went home content. For the next three weeks, Bernadette later wrote, “The people pestered me, the police watched me, and the public prosecutor almost crushed me…” Then, on the night of March 24th she awoke with the familiar urge to return. On March 25th,the day of the Annunciation, she returned to the grotto at 5AM. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette asked her four times to say who she was. “Aquero extended her hands towards the ground, swept them upwards to join them on her heart, raised her eyes, but not her head to Heaven, leaned tenderly towards me and said, ‘Que soy era Immaculada Concptiou.’ (‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’) She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.” Father Peyramale was astounded at this announcement. This expression meant nothing to a simple peasant girl like Bernadette. The Catholic tradition that Mary had been conceived without original sin so that she might be worthy to be the Mother of God had only been formally defined as Church doctrine in 1854. Eventually, the parish priest would be Bernadette’s greatest defender as she was harassed and examined by government officials, psychologists and church hierarchy.

She never altered the account of her story to any of them, “I do not ask you to believe; I only told you what I had seen.” Three eminent Parisian doctors declared that she was mentally and emotionally sound but that she suffered from asthma. (“My mother could have told them that and saved them the trouble.”) Under increased pressure from the authorities, the grotto was closed off and anyone visiting it threatened with arrest. On the 16th of July, Bernadette saw the girl in white for the last time. She knelt in the meadow on the far side of the river. “…I began my rosary and my Lady stood in the Grotto smiling at me. It was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her. This would be the last time I would see her on this earth….She left heaven in my heart and it has been there ever since.” While Lourdes developed into a world famous place of pilgrimage, Bernadette, disliking the attention her presence created, joined the Sisters of Nevers in 1866. Her novitiate was difficult and her health deteriorating. She never showed any interest in the miraculous healings promised by the water in the spring. Her insistence that the girl in white was no older than 12 was ignored and priestly experts stated that since Mary had to be between the age of 15 and 17 at the time of the Annunciation, the official image of the apparition should depict her at that age. Bernadette never liked the statue that was erected in the Grotto in 1864, declaring it “too big and too old”. She died of tuberculosis in 1879. When her body was exhumed in 1908, it was found to be uncorrupted. She was recognized as a Saint by the Catholic church in 1933. Gradually, the local officials had to relent and re-open the grotto to the public. The Bishop accepted the apparitions and approved the shrine in 1862. After the railroad line was finished in 1866, pilgrims began arriving in the tens of thousands. After 1873, when incidents of healing at the spring began to be reported, the shrine rapidly developed an international reputation for having healing powers. Bathing pools filled with cold water piped from Bernadette’s spring were created for visiting pilgrims. Much effort was put on the scientific community to repudiate the healings at Lourdes.

Many illnesses were declared to be hysterical in nature and therefore cured by the powers of suggestion. Studies of the water from the spring showed it had no special chemical properties In 1882 a medical bureau was established to test the validity of the cures. Before a cure can be officially considered, a patient’s medical records are studied by a commission of doctors and independent medical professionals. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. When an investigation does occur, the conclusion is placed in one of four possible categories: (1)There has been no cure. (2)A partial cure has taken place. (3)There has been a cure, but there are medical or psychological reasons for it. (4) There has been a cure for which there is not natural or scientific explanation. The pilgrim must then return after a year for further examination. Since March 1, 1858, the Church has recognized 65 miracles at Lourdes. There are countless undocumented healings and over 5,000 documented “inexplicable healings”. Father Peyramale completed the first basilica upon the rock of Massabielle in 1873. After the great “national” French pilgrimages were initiated where Catholics of all classes came to bathe the sick at Lourdes, a larger church had to be built. The Church of the Holy Rosary was consecrated in 1901.

Today, the Basilica rises in 3 tiers over the grotto. Across the stream is a cavernous underground church which seats 20,000. In the grotto the miraculous spring has been channeled into a long row of spigots where visitors may collect the “Lordais water” and take it home. A small hospital and a number of hostels serve the needs of the seriously ill There is a Rosary procession held by torchlight each evening and the entire shrine is active throughout the day and evening with various services, processions and blessings of the sick. At the heart of the Lourdes pilgrimage is service to the sick and the infirm. Many devotees do not go for themselves but to aid others and to commune with God in a holy atmosphere.

There are four traditional gifts imparted by Lourdes: 1) The gift of miraculous water 2) The gift of healing 3) The gift of reconciliation 4) The gift of strength and friendship.

SAINTS: Ancient & Modern

SAINTS_COVER_web
Announcing the Electronic Version of “Saints: Ancient and Modern”

Journey through time as Saints reveals the wonder and power of God through full color illustrations, images and inspirational prayers.

For more than two thousand years, the Christian saints have had great influence worldwide. They lived full, passionate lives and remain compelling examples of God’s work here on Earth. Now, this new, inspiring collection of biographies reveals the legendary stories, little-known facts, and inspiring beliefs of some of the best-loved saints.

Saints explores a select group of these individuals whose influence can be felt profoundly in the modern day. Each profile includes an extensive biography with patronage and feast dates throughout the world, along with prayers both to and about each saint. These saints inspired countless classic artworks and you’ll also learn the symbols used to identify each.

Saints included in this collection:

Ancient Saints

Saint Michael The Archangel
Saint Anne
Saint Joseph
Saint Mary Magdalene
Saint Jude
Saint Cecilia
Saint Valentine
Saint Christopher
Saint Lucy
Saint Nicholas
Saint Ursula
Saint Benedict
Modern Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Clare of Assisi
Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Rita of Cascia
Saint Joan of Arc
Saint Teresa of Avila
Saint Martin de Porres
Saint Therese of Lisieuex
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Saint Pio (Padre Pio)

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, January 28

FullSizeCard_1@2“There must be must be a first mover existing above all – and this we call God.”

Patron of: Students

As one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. Yet on his deathbed, this intensely popular teacher and lecturer, who had lived in the cosmopolitan environments of Paris, Cologne and Naples, was said to give the innocent final confession of a child. Known in his lifetime as “The Angelic Doctor”, Thomas lived through his higher mind, taking intense pleasure in intellectual pursuits. Because he was an excellent teacher, able to clarify the most complicated points of learning, Thomas Aquinas is invoked by students whenever they are presented with a challenging test, a demanding course of studies or difficulty in passing an entrance exam.

Thomas was born in his noble family’s castle just outside of Naples, the youngest of four brothers and two sisters. As a child, one of his sisters was killed by lightning while sleeping in the same room as Thomas. He was forever fearful of thunderstorms, he is invoked by those with the same fears for protection against lightning strikes and sudden death. At the age of five Thomas was sent to study to the legendary Monastery of Monte Cassino. Considered the seat of Western Civilization through the dark ages, all manners of the arts and sciences were taught there. By the time Thomas left at the age of thirteen to attend the University of Naples, he was already tutoring his elders in their studies. While a student in Naples he horrified his noble family by joining the new order of mendicant Friars known as the Dominicans. Instead of begging in the streets with the Dominicans, his parents wanted to see Thomas using his great intellectual gifts to earn a higher ecclesiastical office. His brothers kidnapped him and locked him up in another family home, tempting him with every worldly thing they could think of. When they presented him with a prostitute, Thomas chased her out with a burning brand from the fireplace. After two years of confinement, his family relented and freed him The Dominicans sent Thomas to Cologne, Germany to study with Albert the Great, the most famous teacher of his times. Because of his quiet, kindly manner and his large size, his fellow students labeled him “the dumb ox”. Thomas quietly surpassed every student he ever had and Albert insisted he go to the University of Paris where he was made a teacher and received a doctor’s chair. His writings attracted both the Pope and the King of France who consulted him on matters of state. In 1272, the Dominicans sent him to Naples to run their school there. It was during the following year that experienced an ecstasy that caused him to suddenly stopped writing his greatest work , Summa Theologica, a tome that consisted of over two million words and he had spent the last seven years on. Compared to his vision, he declared, “all that I have written seems like so much straw.”

Novena:

Saint Thomas Aquinas, patron of students and schools, I thank God for the gifts of light and knowledge God bestowed on you, which you used to build up the church in love. I thank God, too, for the wealth and richness of theological teaching you left in your writings. Not only were you a great teacher, you lived a life of virtue and you made holiness the desire of your heart. If I cannot imitate you in the brilliance of your academic pursuits, I can follow you in the humility and charity that marked your life. As Saint Paul said, charity is the greatest gift, and is open to all. Pray for me that I may grow in holiness hand charity. Pray also for Catholic schools and for all students. In particular, please obtain the favor I ask during this novena.

(Mention your request).

Amen.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12

guadalupe
“Am I not your mother?”

Patron of: Motherly Comfort, The Americas.

This image of Mary is the preeminent cultural icon of Mexico and the American Southwest, cherished by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Unlike other apparitions of Mary, where she sometimes issues warnings to mankind, in her visitation to the Aztec people, she promised hope, love and comfort at a time when their own way of life had been destroyed. We invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe anytime we need the wisdom and comfort of a motherly force.

In December of 1531, the world of the once great Aztec civilization lay in ruins. The native inhabitants of what would become Mexico City were suffering brutally under the domination of Spanish Colonialists who had first invaded in 1519. Within two short years the forces of Hernan Cortes, with the help of native enemies of the Aztecs had completely overrun and destroyed a dual culture of light and dark, one of gracious cities and blood filled temples. Believing that their superiority and way of life depended on feeding their gods human sacrifices, the Aztecs routinely invaded neighboring tribes, sacrificing tens of thousands of captives a week. Gradually, the images of their own gods, particularly the female ones, took on more monstrous and grotesque features. The Spanish responded to these sacred sites by wreaking havoc and destruction upon them. Within ten years the remaining Aztec residents were heart-sick, depressed and dying off.

On December 9, 1531, and Aztec convert to Catholicism called Juan Diego, was on his way to mass. Distracted by the singing of birds on a hillside, he stopped. He then heard the kindly calling of his name in his native Nahuatl language. He approached the noble Aztec woman n the hill and was stunned at the heightened glow of her surroundings. She introduced herself as the perfect maiden Saint Mary, honorable mother of the true God. She asked him to go to the bishop and request a temple be built to her on the hill. She added, “I am the compassionate mother of you and your people, here in this land and of all the people who love me, search for me and confide in me…” After a long wait, the bishop told Juan Diego that he needed a sign proving that this was a true appearance of Mary. In subsequent days, when Juan Diego again saw the woman on the hill, he begged her to get someone who the bishop would respect more to deliver her request. She kindly replied that he was the perfect one for her message. The next day Juan Diego walked another way into town in order to avoid the woman as his uncle was sick and he did not want to waste any time doing her errands. Nonplussed, she came down from the other side of the hill to meet him. Flustered, he told her he had to tend to his uncle and had no time to wait for the bishop who did not believe him anyway. The woman assured him that his uncle was already well and then told him to gather roses among the rocks. This being winter he was amazed at how many roses were in full bloom. The woman arranged the roses in his cloak and again sent him off to the bishop. When he was finally granted this audience, it was the bishop’s turn to gasp in amazement. As Juan Diego unwrapped his cloak of roses, there imprinted on his cloak was the exact image of the lady on the hill. The bishop fell to his knees and begged Juan’s forgiveness. Today, tens of millions of pilgrims flock to Mexico City to see this original cloth which is in the cathedral named after this apparition of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Virgin Mary appears to each visionary as a member of their own culture. This image of a kindly, loving mother figure so impressed the native people of Mexico, that thousands of them came to be baptized within the first few months of the cloth being put on display.

Prayer

Our Lady of Guadalupe, according to your message in Mexico I venerate you as “the Virgin Mother Of the true God for whom we live, the Creator of all the world, maker of heaven and earth.” In spirit I kneel before your most holy image which you miraculously imprinted upon the cloak of the Indian Juan Diego. And with the faith of the countless numbers of pilgrims who visit your shrine, I beg you for this favor: (mention your request).
Remember, O Immaculate Virgin, the words you spoke to your devout client, “I am a merciful Mother to you and to all your people who love me and trust in me and invoke my help. I listen to their lamentations and solace all their sorrows and their sufferings.” I beg you to be a merciful Mother to me, because I sincerely love you and trust in you and invoke your help. I entreat you, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to grant my request, if this should be the will of God, in order that I may bear witness to your love, your compassion, your help and protection. Do not forsake me in my needs. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria 290-305, November 25

St.CatherineofA“If you are ruled by the mind you are king, if by the body you are a slave.”

St. Catherine of Alexandria 290-305
Patron of: Philosophers, Librarians, Mechanics, Millers, Nurses, Potters, Scholars, Students, Wheels, Unmarried Women.
Brilliant and beautiful, Catherine of Alexandria was a force to be reckoned with. While still in her teens she had mastered philosophy, several languages and medicine. Because of her clarity of mind, she had great poise and self-confidence. One of the Fourteen Heavenly Helpers, the people of the Middle Ages believed she was one of the most powerful of early saints and invoked her for everything. Definite in her beliefs, we call on her for help in our studies or before we begin a major project, as she will clearly guide us.

The daughter of a governor, Catherine lived in a sumptuous palace among beautiful objects and scientific wonders. It is said she told her mother that she refused to marry anyone who was not as brilliant or beautiful as herself. Her mother readily agreed, not realizing that Catherine had discovered Christianity in her philosophical studies and had vowed herself to Christ. While working in her palace she heard the screams of a group of Christians who were being tortured . for refusing to give up their faith. Catherine went straight to the Emperor Maxentius and demanded he stop this persecution. Charmed by Catherine’s beauty, he invited her to debate the leading philosophers in the region to see if she could be persuaded to abandon Christianity by reasonable arguments. Instead of these fifty great scholars winning over the young girl with their scholarly knowledge, Catherine converted them to Christianity. Enraged, the Emperor had all fifty of these great men burned in the public square.

The Emperor then tried to charm Catherine with promises of great riches if she would become his concubine. Reminding him of her promise to Christ, she refused and was instantly imprisoned. While Maxentius was away on a trip, his wife visited Catherine in prison aand Catherine converted her to Christianity along with her prison guards and the Captain of the Emperor’s Legion. Upon his return to Alexandria, Maxentius was outraged at what he regarded to be the betrayal of his wife and legion. He ordered Catherine to be killed by being rolled on a spiked wheel. Catherine was fastened to the giant wheel and just as it was about to be rolled, her straps broke and she was released as the wheel shattered into hundreds of pieces killing many in the crowd. Catherine was then beheaded by sword. According to legend, angels then transported her body to the top of Mount Sinai, where a monastery and church devoted to Saint Catherine still exists.

St. Catherine is always depicted with a wheel and she is the patron of any occupation that requires a wheel. During the Middle Ages St. Catherine was viewed as an exemplary example for unmarried women. Therefore, in France and England St. Catherines’s Day is celebrated by unmarried women asking for husbands.

Novena:

Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in whose honor I make this novena, and following her example imitate, like her, the life of Thy divine Son.

Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mention your request here.) Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us!

Amen.

Feast of St. Martin de Porre, November 3

St.Martin dePatron of: Mixed Race People

Born in Peru, with a Spanish noble fatherand an African freed slave mother, St. Martin de Porres is one of the most popular saints in the New World. A great healer, he was so in tune with the innate rhythms of nature, he could read minds, heal any sickness, communicate with animals and even levitate. Being a person of mixed race he is called on to quell racial tensions, but his patronage extends to bringing harmony to all situations and he is invoked to heal both physical and spiritual wounds.

Martin and sister had a poor and difficult childhood, as people of mixed race were reviled. At the age of twelve Martin was apprenticed to a barber. 17th Century barbers did more than just cut hair, they also performed medical procedures, made medicines and prescribed treatments for every ailment. A naturally devout boy, Martin meditated on Christ’s passion as he mixed his herbs and it is said he healed as many people with his prayers as with his potions. By the time he was eighteen, Martin had a very successful practice. People from all walks of life sought his abilities. Instead of pursuing a lucrative career in town, Martin joined the local Dominican Convent as a Lay Brother, secretly wishing to become a foreign missionary.

While the monastery was founded to tend to Spanish nationals working in Peru, Martin taught his European brethren the true meaning of Christian charity when helping out in the infirmary during a plague. He cared for nobility, slaves, soldiers, merchants and natives with the same respect. The incredible success of his treatments made his superiors install him as the head of the infirmary. Knowing Lima and its citizens as a native of that city made him a very effective fundraiser for the monastery. His superiors gave him full autonomy on dispersing whatever monies he raised to the poor. Every day at noon he opened the doors of the monastery distributing food to whoever needed it. To Martin all creatures in creation were equally loved and he inaugurated the first shelters for stray cats and dogs. When the monastery was overrun by rodents, his superiors ordered poison to be set out. Instead, Martin went out to the garden and called the rodents out their hiding places. He promised to feed them, if they promised to stay out of the building. Both sides kept to their agreement, and Martin has been invoked ever since, to prevent mice and rat infestation. Martin used menial labor as a time of prayer and communion with God. He developed deep wisdom from this form of mediation and Archbishops, city officials and students came to him for spiritual guidance. Because of this he is the patron of jurists.

Prayer

Saint Martin de Porres, your concern and charity embraced not only your needy brethren, but also the animals of the field. You are a splendid example of charity; we thank and praise you. From above, hear the requests of your needy brethren. (mention your request here). By modeling our lives after yours, and imitating your virtues, may we live content knowing that God has looked favorably upon us. Because this is so, we can accept our burdens with strength and courage in order to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and the Blessed Mother. May we reach the Kingdom of Heaven through the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Feast of St. Jude Thaddeus, October 28

St.JudeWhen all else fails, when we are in the most difficult of situations, we turn to Saint Jude, “Helper of the Helpless” and Saint of the Impossible.  

Saint Jude Thaddeus, First Century AD Patron of: Impossible Causes, Desperation.

One of the original 12 apostles, Jude is depicted with the flame of knowledge received from the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost burning above his head. Brother of James the Lesser and cousin of Jesus, Jude was one of Christ’s earliest followers. He earned his title of Patron Saint of Impossible Causes because of a letter he wrote in 60AD to persecuted Christian converts in the East, exhorting them to stay strong in the face of all difficulties.
The name Jude means giver of joy and the name Thaddeus means great hearted one and this saint was said to live up to his name, attracting immense crowds by preaching in an entertaining way, outwitting magicians and local priests. Abgar, the King of Edessa was quite impressed with Jude and appealed to Jesus cure his leprosy. He sent an artist to draw Christ’s image. The artist was so shaken by the glow in Christ’s eyes, he could not draw. Christ wiped his face with a cloth and the image of his face was transferred to it. Jude brought the cloth back to Abgar and the king rubbed the cloth over his body, curing himself of leprosy. Many depictions and statues of Saint Jude include this cloth with Christ’s image on it. Jude was martyred along with Saint Simon in the city of Samir by being beaten with a club. This club, as well as the palms of martyrdom are also part of his iconography.

The cult of Saint Jude all but died out after the Middle Ages because people confused him with Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Christ. Despite being cited as a great influence by the mystics Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Bridget of Sweden, Jude was rarely invoked by the faithful for anything. It is said that because of this, he became the saint to call on in the most impossible of situations. So anxious was he to be of help, he would turn heaven and earth to rectify a desperate situation. By the nineteenth century, it became customary to thank the saint for help with answered prayers by taking an ad in the newspaper. This helped to resurrect his popularity and these small “Thank you Saint Jude” ads can be found in many weekly and daily periodicals in present day.

Prayer

Glorious apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus, I salute you through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through his heart I praise and thank God for all the graces he has bestowed upon you. I implore you, through his love, to look upon me with compassion. Do not despise my poor prayer. Do not let my trust be confounded! God has granted to you the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases. Oh, come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God! All my life I will be your grateful client until I can thank you in heaven.

(Mention your request here).

Saint Jude, pray for us, and for all who invoke your aid.

Feast of St. Gerard Majella, 1726-1755, October 16

 “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

St. Gerardus Majella*

Patron of: Infertility, Expectant Mothers, Infertility, Lay Brothers, Mothers, Pregnancy.

A quiet and humble lay brother in the newly found Redemptorist order, St. Gerard Majella did not display his great mystical gifts until the last three years of his life. Before his early death at the age of twenty-nine, he was known as “The Wonderworker of the Eighteenth Century”, for his ability to read consciences, predict the future, be in two places at once, heal the dying and infuse his surroundings with serenity. He is most invoked by women who want to conceive a child and though there are many different novenas to him, The Prayer for Motherhood is particularly popular throughout the world.
Born in a town south of Naples to a tailor and his wife, Gerard was a sickly child, contemplative by nature. At the age of twelve, his father died, plunging his family into poverty. Gerard was apprenticed to a tailor in order to support his mother and three sisters. He suffered brutally at the hands of this abusive man and eventually got a job as a servant for the local bishop. His hopes of entering the Capuchin order were dashed due to his poor health. Upon returning home, his devout nature and his kindness, especially to children, was noticed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist order. He invited Gerard to join as a lay brother and work in the slums among the poor. It was while he was serving on this mission that Gerard faced the greatest challenge of his life. A young woman accused him of fathering her unborn child. When Gerard refused to comment on these charges or defend himself, the Redemptorists had no choice but to deprive him of the privilege of working with them. Months later when the woman admitted that she had lied, a bewildered Alphonse Liguori asked Gerard why he had remained silent. He answered that he had complete faith in God and that silence was the only answer to unjust accusations.
Raised as the only male in a household of women, St. Gerard was particularly sensitive to the problems women had in conceiving and giving birth. While visiting family friends, he dropped his handkerchief while leaving. The young woman of the family ran to give it to him and he refused to take it saying, “Keep it. One day it will be of service to you.” Though puzzled, she did as he said. Years later, while dying in childbirth she remembered his words and had the handkerchief brought to her and placed on her womb. All deadly complications stopped and she gave birth to a healthy baby. The handkerchief of St. Gerard’s was passed from mother to mother until his canonization in 1904. The remaining shred is still used to bless relics for those seeking to conceive a child or have a safe delivery.

Prayer:

O good St Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and wonder worker of our day, confidently I call upon you and seek your aid. On Earth you always fulfilled God’s designs, help me now to do the holy will of God. Implore the Master of Life, from whom all paternity proceeds, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life, and in the world to come, heirs to the Kingdom of His Glory. Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi, feast day October 4

St.Francis“Lord make me an instrument of they peace, where there is hatred let me sow love.”
St. Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226
Patron of: Ecologists

Love for God and everything in creation so consumed St. Francis of Assisi, that he was able to commune with the natural world on a divine level. Taming wolves, quieting flocks of birds and infusing peace and contentment to the humanity he interacted with, we call on Francis of Assisi to bring us into the harmonious rhythms of the universe, where all of nature and mankind are at one with the divine force of creation.

An unlikely mystic, Francis was born Giovanni Bernadone in the town of Assisi. His father, a proud member of the upper classes was a wealthy cloth merchant married to a woman from Provence. Because he frequently conversed in French with his mother, Giovanni was soon known as “Francesco” or “the Frenchman” by his friends and neighbors. Confident that his son would follow in his footsteps, the elder Bernadone indulged and catered to Francesco’s every whim and the youth enjoyed a pleasure filled existence in the company of others in his social caste. On a lark he set off with friends to take part in a war with Perugia. Much to his shock, he was taken prisoner and it took his family a year to ransom him back. Upon his return, he was bedridden and seriously ill. But in recovering his health, Francesco seems to have lost his identity. He suffered a great spiritual crisis as all interest in his old life and his father’s business waned and disappeared. While wandering the countryside he stopped into the deserted church of San Damiano and heard the crucifix say to him, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Happy to have some direction in his life, he took the request literally and began rebuilding the structure with his bare hands. Ultimately, his father disowned him and when Francis, renouncing his inheritance threw his clothing in the street, he donned the simple brown garment given him by the Bishop of Assisi.

Begging for supplies, Francis continued his work on San Damiano. Eventually he was joined by other disenchanted young men looking for a higher meaning in life. By simply following the exact tenets of Christ, this little band of friars, never owning anything, bartering labor for food and shelter began a movement of religious seekers that revolutionized the Church by the simple and loving way they spread the gospel. Instead of writing in church Latin he used colloquial Italian and in an effort to explain the story of Christ’s birth, he created a living tableau of animals and people – the first Christmas crèche.

A great poet and mystic, Francis was the first saint to receive the stigmata while in a meditative rapture. Filled with humility and though he founded one of the world’s greatest religious orders, Francis of Assisi was never ordained a priest. Upon his death he requested to be buried in the cemetery for criminals, but the people of Assisi so loved him that they took his body and interred it under the altar of their great cathedral.

Just as popular with nonCatholics as Catholics, Francis has inspired great artists, composers and writers. Assisi, Italy remains a great pilgrimage site for those wishing to pay him tribute.

Novena

O Beloved Saint Francis, gentle and poor, your obedience to God, and your simple, deep love for all God’s creatures led you to the heights of heavenly perfection and turned many hearts to follow God’s will. Now in our day, in our ministry to the many who come here searching for peace and intercede for us we come before the Lord with our special requests…

(Mention your special intentions here.)

O Blessed Saint of God, from your throne among the hosts of heaven, present our petitions before our faithful Lord. May your prayers on our behalf be heard and may God grant us the grace to lead good and faithful lives. Amen

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.