Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Monday, December 26, 2011

Feast of Saint John the Apostle (Goffine's Devout Instructions)


December 27

JOHN, the brother of Saint James the Greater, was a son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee, and of Salome, a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Matthew 4:21). He was the youngest of the apostles, and, with Peter and James, was the most trusted of the disciples of Jesus, by Whom he was most tenderly loved, on which account he is called the Disciple of Love. Of this Jesus gave the most convincing evidence when, at the Last Supper, He allowed that disciple to lean upon His breast, and when, from the cross, He committed to the care of John His own Mother. After the ascension John preached the Gospel in Palestine; afterwards went to Asia Minor, fixed his residence in Ephesus, and established many churches there. He was, with the other apostles, taken prisoner and scourged by the Jews, and in the year 95, under the Emperor Domitian, before the Latin Gate, at Rome, was thrown into a vessel of boiling oil. Having endured this torture without injury, he was then banished to the island of Patmos, where, by command of the Lord, he wrote the Apocalypse, or Revelation, concerning the fortunes of the Church. On returning from hIs banishment he again governed the churches of Asia Minor as chief pastor, as he had done before, and, at the age of nearly one hundred years, died at Ephesus a peaceful and natural death.

The Introit of the Mass reads: "In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth, and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and clothed him with a robe of glory. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most High." Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Amen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Mercifully illustrate Thy Church, O Lord, that, enlightened by the doctrines of Thy blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, she may arrive at gifts everlasting. Through Christ our Lord, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 15:1-6

He that feareth God will do good: and he that possesseth justice shall lay hold on her, and she will meet him as an honorable mother, and will receive him as a wife married of a virgin. With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink; and she shall be made strong in him, and he shall not be moved; and she shall hold him fast, and he shall not be confounded; and she shall exalt him among his neighbors, and in the midst of the Church she shall open his mouth, and shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and shall clothe him with a robe of glory. She shall heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness, and our Lord God shall cause him to inherit an everlasting name.

On Purity

"He that loves wisdom," saith the Holy Ghost, "will obtain it, for it will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins" (Wisdom 1:4). Saint John was from his childhood an angel of purity, on which account he was particularly beloved by Jesus, and endowed by the Holy Ghost with such wisdom and knowledge that, as Saint Augustine has remarked, he begins his gospel in a manner more lofty and sublime than the other three evangelists. For while they walk with the God-man upon earth, speaking comparatively little of His divinity, Saint John, as if despising the world, soars beyond the vault of heaven, above the hosts of angels, and comes to Him by Whom all things are made, saying, "In the beginning was the Word." At the Last Supper he was permitted to lean on the bosom of Jesus, but what he there drank in secretly he imparted openly. Apply thyself, therefore, to purity of heart, and thou shalt be like Saint John, a beloved disciple of Jesus, and shalt be filled with heavenly wisdom.

Gospel: John 21:19-24

At that time Jesus said to Peter: Follow Me. Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on His breast at supper, and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray Thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou Me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vatican calls Whatcom boy's survival a miracle - seattlepi.com

Vatican calls Whatcom boy's survival a miracle - seattlepi.com

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha's Intercession


KATERI TEKAKWITHA: FIRST NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN SAINT



VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday signed decrees acknowledging miracles attributed to the intervention of seven blesseds (four women and three men) who will shortly be canonised. One of the new blesseds is Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (present-day Auriesville, U.S.A.). Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a Roman Catholic Algonquian who had been educated by French missionaries. At the age of four she lost her family in a smallpox epidemic which also left her disfigured and with poor eyesight. Adopted by a relative, the chief of neighbouring clan, she continued to nurture an interest in Christianity and was baptised at the age of 20.

The members of her tribe did not understand her new religious affiliation and she was marginalised, practising physical mortification as a path of sanctity and praying for the conversion of her relatives. Having suffered persecutions which put her life at risk, she was forced to flee to a native American Christian community in Kahnawake, Quebec where she made a vow of chastity and lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and elderly. She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Her last words were: "Jesus, I love you". According to tradition, Kateri's scars disappeared after her death to reveal a woman of great beauty, and numerous sick people who participated in her funeral were miraculously healed.

The process of canonisation began in 1884. She was declared venerable by Pius XII in 1943 and beatified by John Paul II in 1980. As the first native North American to be beatified she occupies a special place in the devotion of her people.Her feast day falls on 14 July.

OP/ VIS 20111220 (320)



You can find more information at: www.visnews.org
The news items contained in the Vatican Information Service may be used, in part or in their entirety, by quoting the source:
V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Saint John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church



Saint John of the Cross (also known as Doctor of Mystical Theology) was born in 1542 A.D. at Fontiveros, Spain. John had been born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital at Medina, and in 1563, at the age of 21, entered the Carmelite Order at Medina, and was ordained in 1567. 

He was persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, and he took the name John of the Cross. He assisted Saint Teresa in establishing a monastery of friars, carrying out the primitive rule. He was made first master of novices, and was called to Avila by Saint Teresa to serve as spiritual director and confessor in the convent of which she was the superior. 

His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and his provincial ordered him to return to Medina. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months. After his escape, he became the vicar-general of Andalusia. He strove for papal recognition of the order, and as a result suffered indignities under his displeased superior. His reforms revitalized the Carmelite Order.

He was a great contemplative and spiritual writer, and his two best-known works are “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” and “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church on August 24, 1926.

Saint John of the Cross died of natural causes on December 14, 1591 at Ubeda, Andalusia, Spain. His relics are at Segovia, Spain.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Virgin and Martyr



Saint Lucy of Syracuse (also known as Lucia of Syracuse; Lucia de Syracuse), virgin and martyr, was a rich, young Christian of Greek ancestry born in Syracuse, Sicily, around 283. She was of a noble Greek family, brought up as a Christian by her mother, Eutychia. Her Roman father died when she was young. Her mother had arranged a marriage for her. For three years she managed to keep the marriage on hold. To change the mother's mind about the girl's faith, Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha, and her mother's long hemorrhagic illness was cured. After her mother's miraculous cure Lucy was allowed to make a vow of virginity and to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor, and Lucy became known as a patron of those with illnesses like her mother's.

This charitableness stirred the greed of Paschasius, the unworthy young man to whom Lucy had been unwillingly betrothed, and he denounced her to the Governor of Sicily as a Christian. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution, but when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. The governor ordered her killed instead. After torture that included having her eyes torn out, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire, but again God saved her, and the fire went out. She prophesied against her persecutors, and was executed by being stabbed in the throat with a dagger or sword . Her name is listed in the prayer "Nobis quoque peccatoribus" in the Canon of the Mass.

Legend says her eyesight was restored before her death. This and the meaning of her name (Light; Bringer of Light) led to her connection with eyes, the blind, eye trouble, and epidemic diseases.

Saint Lucy of Syracuse died in Syracuse, Sicily around 304, her relics are honored in churches throughout Europe.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Saint Francis Xavier


Priest and Missionary


Saint Francis Xavier (also known as Apostle to the Far East) was born in 1506 Castle of Xavier, near Sanguesa, Navarre, Spain. He was a nobleman from the Basque region. He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and planned a career as a professor. He was a friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. Francis is one of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary.

In Goa, India, while waiting to take ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. It is said that he converted the entire city.

Francis was a tremendously successful missionary for ten years in India, the East Indies, and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000. His journey finds him dining with headhunters, washing sores of lepers in Venice, teaching catechism to Indian children, and baptizing 10,000 in a single month. He tolerated the most appalling conditions on long sea voyages, enduring extremes of heat and cold. Wherever he went, he would seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He traveled thousands of miles, mostly on his bare feet, and he saw the greater part of the Far East.

Saint Francis Xavier died of a fever contracted on a mission journey on December 2, 1552 at Sancian, China. His body is at the former Jesuit church in Goa, and his right arm at the church of Gesu in Rome, Italy.

Patronage 

African missions; diocese of Agartala, India; diocese of Ahmedabad, India; diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; black missions; archdiocese of Bombay, India; Borneo; archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa; China; diocese of Dinajpur, Bangladesh; East Indies; Fathers of the Precious Blood; foreign missions; Freising, Germany; Goa India; diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana; Japan; diocese of Joiliet, Illinois; diocese of Kabankalan, Philippines; diocese of Malindi, Kenya; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; missions, black; missions, foreign; missions, parish; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith 

Representation 

crucifix; preacher carrying a flaming heart; bell; globe; vessel; young bearded Jesuit in the company of Saint Ignatius Loyola; young bearded Jesuit with a torch, flame, cross and lily 

Quotations:

"It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a man's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken." -- Saint Francis Xavier 

We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. The country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God's Law. 

I have not stopped since the day I arrived. I conscientiously made the rounds of the villages. I bathed in the sacred waters all the children who had not yet been baptized. This means that I have purified a very large number of children so young that, as the saying goes, they could not tell their right hand from their left. The older children would not let me say my Office or eat or sleep until I taught them one prayer or another. Then I began to understand: "The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 

I could not refuse so devout a request without failing in devotion myself. I taught them, first the confession of faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; then the Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, and Hail Mary. I noticed among them persons of great intelligence. If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians. 

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. 

I wish the university students would work as hard at converting these people as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them. 

This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God's will and his choice. 

They would cry out with all their heart: "Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do?" Send me anywhere you like - even to India!" -- Saint Francis Xavier from his letters to Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saint Martin of Tours

Saint Martin of Tours (also known as Martin the Merciful; The Glory of Gaul) was born around 316 A.D. at Upper Pannonia (in modern Hungary) of pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Saint Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. He discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. He was baptized into the Church at age 18.

He joined the Roman imperial army at age 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer, and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (modern France). Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul , he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. He later had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak. Just before a battle, Martin announced that he was Christian, and that his faith prohibited him from fighting. This resulted in his being charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. The invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

After he was released he journeyed to Poitiers to labor under Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. There he organized a community of monks, erected the monastery of Liguge, and in 371 became Bishop of Tours. He later founded the monastery of Marmoutier and resided there. He was an opponent of Arianism. After a last visit to Rome, Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese, where he died in 397. By his request, he was buried in the Cemetery of the Poor on 11 November 397 and his relics rested in the basilica of Tours until 1562 when the catheral and relics were destroyed by militant Protestants. Some fragments of his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

He was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Saint Charles Borromeo



Saint Charles Borromeo (also known as Carlo Borromeo; Father of the Clergy; Apostle to the Council of Trent) was born in 1538 A.D. in at Aron, diocese of Novara, Italy. Born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, Charles was the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Margherita de' Medici. He was a nephew of Pope Pius IV. He studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, studying at one point under the future Pope Gregory XIII. Charles was a civil and canon lawyer at age 21. He became a cleric at Milan, taking the habit in October 1547. Charles became abbot commendatario of San Felino e San Graziano abbey in Arona, in November 1547. Then he became abbot commendatario of San Silano di Romagnano abbey in May 1558. He was made prior commendatario of San Maria di Calvenzano abbey in December 1558.

He was summoned to Rome upon the election of Pius IV, the administration of all the Papal States was entrusted to him, and he was made cardinal-deacon and administrator of the archdiocese of Milan though only 22 years old. He was legate of Bologna, Romagna, and the March of Ancona, and Protector of the Kingdom of Portugal, Lower Germany, and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. Under his protection were placed the orders of Saint Francis, the Carmelites, the Humiliati, and the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Christ in Portugal. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the Order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of 26 October 1569. He was shot at, but he was not hit. He founded at Rome the Vatican Academy for literary work, and many of the contributions to the Academy are found in Saint Charles's "Noctes Vaticanre."

As papal secretary of state, he labored for the reassembling of the Council of Trent, which took place, 1562, and Charles was active in enforcing its reforms, and in composing the Roman Catechism, embodying the teachings of the Council. Charles participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII.

Saint Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese at Milan. He directed and enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, and he fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther. Charles founded schools for the poor, seminaries, hospitals, conducted synods, instituted children's Sunday school, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.

Saint Charles Borromeo died of a fever on November 3, 1584 at Milan, Italy. His relics are in the Cathedral of Milan.


Monday, October 24, 2011

LIVES OF THE NEW SAINTS WERE TRANSFORMED BY DIVINE CHARITY



VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica, and canonised the following three blesseds: Guido Maria Conforti, Italian archbishop-bishop and founder of the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions (1865-1931); Luigi Guanella, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Charity and of the Institute of the Daughters of Our Lady of Providence (1842-1915), and Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph (1837-1905).

  In the homily he pronounced following the rite of canonisation, the Pope first recalled how today marks World Mission Day, which annually seeks "to reawaken energy and commitment for the mission". He then went on to describe the characteristics of the three new saints who, he said, "allowed themselves to be transformed by divine love, around which they moulded their entire lives. In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart, and their neighbours as themselves, becoming an example to all believers".

  The Holy Father explained how the motto of St. Guido Maria Conforti, "Caritas Christi urget nos" (Christ's Charity impels us), "sums up the programme of the missionary institute ... he founded: a religious family entirely dedicated to evangelisation, under the protection of the great apostle of the East, St. Francis Xavier". In his episcopal mission this new saint "dedicated his every effort to the good of the souls entrusted to his care, especially those who had abandoned the way of the Lord. His life was marked by many trials, some of them serious", but "in all circumstances, even amidst the most mortifying failures, he was able to recognise the plan of God Who guided him to build His Kingdom, particularly by self-denial and daily acceptance of divine will. ... He was the first to practise and bear witness to what he taught his missionaries: that perfection consists in doing God's will, following the model of the crucified Christ".

  Speaking of St. Luigi Guanella, the Pope highlighted how "he practised the Gospel of Charity, which is 'the great commandment', with great courage and determination". He was "companion and teacher to the poorest and the weakest, their comfort and relief. Love of God made him desire the good of the people in his care, in the tangible reality of everyday life". Don Guanella, as he is known in Italy, "cultivated in his heart the hope that all human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, ... may draw out and give the best of themselves to others. ... In his witness, so charged with humanity and concern for the weakest, we see a glowing sign of the presence and benevolent action of God", the Holy Father said.

  "From her beginnings", St. Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, "was able to unite her daily activities with adherence to Christ. She worked from childhood, not just as a way to avoid being a burden to others, but also a means to be free to realise her own vocation. This gave her the chance to attract and form other women who recognised God and heard His loving call in the world of work, discerning and realising their own life project. Thus the Sisters Servants of St. Joseph came into being, in the midst of that evangelical humility and simplicity which sees the home of Nazareth as a school of Christian life. ...We entrust ourselves to her intercession and plead to God for all workers, especially those who undertake the most humble and sometimes insufficiently appreciated tasks, so that, in the midst of their daily cares, they may discover the friendly hand of God and bear witness to His love, transforming their fatigue into a hymn of praise to the Creator".
HML/                                                                                                 VIS 20111024 (650)


You can find more information at: www.visnews.org

The news items contained in the Vatican Information Service may be used, in part or in their entirety, by quoting the source:
V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle (Goffine"s Devout Instructions)




MATTHEW, also called Levi, a son of Alpheus, and brother of the holy apostle James the Less, was a receiver in the Roman custom-house on Lake Tiberias. Such officers were hated by the Jews for their injustice, and were called publicans, or public sinners. While he was sitting at the receipt of custom he was called by Christ to be one of His disciples, and immediately leaving his lucrative office and all that he had, followed Him. On account of his distinguished zeal he was afterwards received into the number of the apostles. After the descent of the Holy Ghost he remained in Judea, preached the Gospel, wrote the passion of Our Lord as coutained in his gospel, and lived strictly in the fear of God. At a later day he travelled through Persia, Ethiopia, and other countries. At last he was killed at the altar, by command of King Hutacus, for opposing his marriage with the Princess Iphigenia, who, by Saint Matthew's direction, had vowed to God perpetual virginity. His holy remains were brought to Salermo in the tenth century. Thus may great sinners become great saints by following faithfully, like Saint Matthew, the voice of God.

At the Introit of the Mass the Church sings:
"The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment; the law of God is in his heart."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

May we be assisted, O Lord, by the prayers of the blessed apostle Matthew, that what of ourselves we are unable to obtain may be given to us by his intercession. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Epistle: Ezechiel 1:10-14 []

The likeness of the face of the four living creatures: the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four, and the face of an ox on the left side of all the four, and the face of an eagle over all the four. And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of everyone were joined, and two covered their bodies, and everyone of them went straight forward; whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went, and they turned not when they went. And as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like that of burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps. This was the vision running to and fro in the midst of the living creatures, a bright fire, and lightning going forth from the fire. And the living creatures ran and returned like flashes of lightning.

Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13

At that time Jesus saw a man sitting in the custom-house, named Matthew; and He saith to him: Follow Me. And he rose up and followed Him. And it came to pass as He was sitting at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came, and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. And the Pharisees seeing it, said to His disciples: Why doth your master eat with publicans and sinners? But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill. Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.

Explanation

This gospel teaches us:

  1. That when God calls we should obey at once, lest, by not giving heed to His voice, He should cease to call us, or withdraw from us His grace.

  2. To forsake the occasions of sin; as Saint Matthew not only left the place where he sinned, but abandoned entirely the very house and office which had led him into sin.

  3. That we should not only cease to sin, but, like Saint Matthew, should follow Christ in poverty, humility; meekness, patience, if we would enter the kingdom of God.
Prayer

O holy apostle, who hast made ready for us a glorious feast in thy gospel, pray for me that thy gospel may be in truth food for my soul; pray that in it I may devoutly consider the life, virtues, passion and death of Jesus Christ, that I may faithfully follow, in all things, thy words, written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and by the operation of the same Spirit may be able to exclaim: "How sweet are thy words to my palate I more than honey to my month."

-- Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle


Saint Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles, and probably a close friend of the Apostle Saint Philip. He was brought to Jesus by Philip, and Bartholomew’s name is usually mentioned in the Gospels in association with Philip.

He is called Bartholomew in the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Most scholars believe that Bartholomew is called Nathaniel in the Gospel of John, and that Bartholomew was actually his last name. The name Bartholomaios means “son of Talmai” (Tolomai or Tholmai), an ancient Hebrew name. (The King of Gessur, whose daughter was a wife of David, bore the name; see 2 Samuel 3:3.) So, in this article, I will refer to him as Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai (this would amount to him being known as Nathaniel son of Tolomai, just as Peter was called Simon bar Jonah, which would mean Simon son of Jonah.)

We see Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai mentioned sixth in order as follows in the synoptic (this refers to the first 3 Gospels being similar in content, order, and statement) Gospels:

Matthew 10:3. James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus

Mark 3:18. And Andrew and Philip, and Bartholomew and Matthew, and Thomas and James of Alpheus, and Thaddeus and Simon the Cananean:

Luke 6:14. Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

And then again in the Gospel of Saint John:

John 1:45. Philip findeth Nathanael and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.
1:46. And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see.
1:47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.
1:48. Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
1:49. Nathanael answered him and said: Rabbi: Thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel.
1:50. Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest: greater things than these shalt thou see.
1:51. And he saith to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Once more in John:
John 21:2. There were together: Simon Peter and Thomas, who is called Didymus, and Nathanael, who was of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee and two others of his disciples.

The last time that Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai is mentioned in the New Testament is in The Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 1:13. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes and Jude the brother of James.

Outside the references mentioned, there are no other instances of the name of Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai being mentioned in the New Testament. What we know of him after the New Testament is not certain. There is no mention of him in ecclesiastical literature before Eusebius, who mentions that Pantaenus who was the master of Origen, was evangelizing in India, and was told that Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai had preached there before him, and had given them a copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew written in Hebrew. This was treasured by the Church there. India, was the name given to a vast area, and was not limited to the geographical area we know as India today. Other traditions indicate that Saint Nathaniel bar Tolomai also preached and evangelized in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and on the shores of the Black Sea.

There are conflicting traditions regarding his death. According to one, he was beheaded at Albanopolis in Armenia. According to another he was flayed (skinned alive) alive and crucified head down by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. Because of the latter legend, he is often represented as a man holding his skin. His relics are at Saint Bartholomew-on-the-Tiber Church, in Rome, and in the cathedral in Canterbury, England.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Vatican Diary / A new doctor of the Church. And seventeen more on hold



The new one is Saint John of Avila, a great preacher and spiritual master of the sixteenth century. Another, Bernardino of Siena, is close to the goal. The candidates include six women. 

Vatican Diary / A new doctor of the Church. And seventeen more on hold

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr



Saint Agatha has been honored since ancient times, and her name is included in the canon of the Mass. We have little reliable information about her, except that she was a martyr. The following is according to her Latin Acts which is from around the sixth century.

Saint Agatha was a young, wealthy and beautiful woman who lived a life consecrated to God. When the Roman Emperor Decius (Caius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius 249-251) announced his edicts against Christians, the Roman magistrate Quinctianus tried to profit by Agatha's sanctity; he planned to blackmail her into sex in exchange for not charging her. 

Saint Agatha was handed over to a brothel, but she refused to accept customers. After rejecting Quinctianus' advances, she was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, her breasts were crushed and cut off. One version says that Saint Peter appeared to her and healed her. She was imprisoned further and rolled onto live coals. She was near death when an earthquake struck. In the earthquake the magistrate's friend was crushed, and the magistrate fled. Agatha thanked God for an end to her pain, and died. Her death occurred around 250 A.D.

Legend says that carrying her veil, taken from her tomb in Catania, in procession has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is also reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551. Her popular veneration is of a very early date; her name occurs in the prayer, "Nobis quoque peccatoribus," in the Canon of the Mass, and in some places bread is blessed after the Consecration of the Mass on her feast and called Agatha bread.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vote For the 2011 Bloggers Choice Awards



The time is right to vote for the 2011 Bloggers Choice Awards. Once again, I was nominated by some kind soul and I do appreciate it!

However, I would like to ask all of the readers to the Faith of the Fathers Blogs, to vote for my favorite Catholic blog, "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" by Father John Zuhlsdorf, known as Father Z to those who regularly read his blog. 

I never miss a day reading his blog, and in fact, I use a service to tweet his posts to my twitter account so those who follow me on twitter can read his posts, and I use the same service to share his blog posts on Facebook, too. His blog is also listed on the right hand sidebar of Faith of the Fathers Blogs under the heading "My Favorite Catholic Blogs" (they are in alphabetical order so scroll down to find WDTPRS).

To vote for Father Z's blog you can click here to vote. You will have to sign up to cast your vote, but don't worry. They don't share your email and do not send you any kind of spam or unwanted emails. So go vote for Father Z now!

And if you don't read his blog, then you are missing out my friends!

If by some chance you'd also like to vote for me (you CAN vote for more than one blog, it would be nice to see THREE Catholic blogs take the top three spots) you can vote for me by clicking here. I'd be happy to get more than the 4 or 5 votes I got last year!

Regardless of who else you vote for, please do cast a vote for Father Z's blog first. He has a strong start at the moment, and I for one would like to see him finish strong because to be honest, the man truly deserves it for all of his hard work!!

Saint John Bosco



John Bosco was born into an impoverished family in the year 1815 in a small house around the Piedmont area of Italy. Both his parents tried their hardest to provide for their family, but, when John was only 2 years old his father died, leaving his mother, Margaret to be the sole provider. To help support his Mother and family, John was hired out as a shepherd to the local farmers of the region. This was hard for the young John as he was an extrovert by nature and he possessed an avid curiosity to learn as much as he could.

The young John would sometimes go to circuses, and then to the amusement of his friends he would play act the performances he saw, and also some of the tricks that were used, but this was not enough to satisfy the longing John had in his wish to enter the Priesthood. He confided this longing to his Mother who allowed him to attend school for part of the year in order to gain an education to enter the Seminary. Though times were hard, like many mothers, Margaret wanted the best for her children, so she made no objections upon hearing of John's desire to enter the Priesthood at such a young age.

Finally the day came when John could fulfill his deepest desire and enter the Seminary to become a Priest. In order for him to attend college and the Seminary John worked at many jobs as a shoemaker, baker and carpenter, whilst studying diligently at the same time. Johns Gift in being able to retain facts would be of great benefit to him, as his curious mind grasped the deepest mysteries of our Faith.

But being exuberant in nature, Johns love of people shone forth and his compassion for young and troubled boys soon became evident to those around him. Johns sense of humour also made him accessible to these troubled young lads. Finally the day came when he entered the Priesthood his Mother, Margaret who was overcome with joy at the Faith John displayed begged him to always be a good role model and Priest, John indeed was to keep his word!

But it was as he worked in these different jobs that John Bosco came to see and recognise the plight of the poor young boys of his country and soon realised that if help was not given to them then they would probably enter into the criminal underworld. But though Don Bosco knew the plight of the boys he also knew that it would take more than handouts to help them gain self respect and also to maintain their Faith in God and the Church.

Hence from this Don Bosco was to begin his fledgling vocation, to save the boys from a fate worse than death, he wanted to help save their souls before they were lost to the criminal elements surrounding them. Coming from a poor background himself enabled Don Bosco to connect with the youth in his area and to gain their trust and respect.

In order to teach the boys the Faith of the Catholic Church, Don Bosco chose to weave familiar parables and also short analogues in order for the boys to understand that God never changes but that He could change them for the better. Don Bosco in order to provide a home for these boys bought a derelict farm almost uninhabitable, but with the help of these very same boys he taught them how to do carpentry and other necessities, it was not long before the farm was up and running.

But Don Bosco also knew that young boys also needed time to play and fool around in a jocular manner and he encouraged their play time, in that it allowed them all to exert their energies into a wholesome way of having plain simple good fun. So the daily life of the boys soon fell into a daily routine of building, growing vegetables and generally working the farm to help make it self productive.

Though the boys worked hard and played hard Don Bosco did not neglect their spiritual needs and instructed them in the Faith, and what God expects from each of them, for this Priest embraced the work ethic alongside their spiritual development. So from his example the boys tried to live in order to please God through their work and their lives.

From these early beginnings began Don Bosco's Order the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, which would become known as 'The Salesians', but it was not all plain sailing for this affable Priest. In trying to secure a better future for his beloved boys, also brought criticism from those around him and many complaints were lodged against Don Bosco and his venture to help the poor youth in his area. But Don Bosco was resolute in nature and nothing would deter him from this vocation, in providing a sustainable livelihood for the boys that entered his home, so that their future could also be guaranteed!

Things were to become so difficult for Don Bosco that he was joined by his Mother, Margaret to help provide the boys with a security and a love which only a mother figure could provide. So, Margaret Bosco was soon to become the 'mother' of hundreds of boys. In order to help her son in his mission, Margaret sold everything she possessed in the world for she knew within her own heart that these boys would be lost if help was not provided, therefore she gave all she had, including herself.

Don Bosco was the sole provider and also the only hope for these boys, for this Holy Priest knew that in order for the boys to respect others they must first start with themselves. He knew the vices which could lead any of these young boys astray and so through love, acceptance, compassion and discipline he taught these troubled youths, self control and self discipline not by the rod but by love.

This Holy Priest tried to instill in these boys a sense of self worth, by giving them hope for their futures that there was a way out of the poverty cycle. Don Bosco also instructed the boys in the virtues and to strive with all their might to embrace these virtues and to ward off sin in all its forms. He instructed the boys in all elements of the Faith and encouraged strongly the frequent use of the Sacraments, most especially that of Penance.

From his own youth the young John Bosco was the recipient of many visions, which helped guide him to helping his precious boys to the Light of Jesus and a firm foundation in the Tenets of the Church, he never wavered from the mission that God and our Lady asked of him. Later Don Bosco would be joined in his mission by Mary Mazzarello who would also follow his rule in providing a good and wholesome place to help the troubled young girls of her area. Both Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello would become Saints.

Don John Bosco died at the age of seventy-two in 1888.

Saint John Bosco was Canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI.





Saturday, January 08, 2011

Saint Apollinaris of Hierapolis



Saint Apollinaris of Hierapolis (also known as Apollinaris the Apologist, and Saint Apollinarius Claudius) was a second century bishop of Hierapolis, Phrygia (modern Turkey). He was held in high esteem by other early saints including Saint Jerome. He wrote "Apologia", a defense of the faith to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The work was a reminder to that emperor of a miraculous victory that resulted from the prayers of Christian soldiers, and of his promise of protection for Christians.

Saint Apollinaris worked and wrote against all the major heresies of his time, refuting them by destroying the heresy's philosophical roots. According to Saint Jerome he was a prolific writer, having written six books, but, most of his work has been lost over the centuries, existing only in fragments. He died around (sources vary) 175-178 A.D.

Below is from Saint Jeromes "Lives of Illustrious Men" :




Apollinaris the bishop - Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, flourished in the reign of Marcus Antoninus Verus, to whom he addressed a notable volume in behalf of the faith of the Christians. There are extant also five other books of his Against the Nations, two On truth and Against the Cataphrygians written at the time when Montanus was making a beginning with Prisca and Maximilla.