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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas (also known as Doctor Angelicus; Doctor Communis; Great Synthesizer; The Dumb Ox; The Universal Teacher) was born around 1225 A.D. at Roccasecca, Aquino, Naples, Italy. He was the son of the Count of Aquino, born in the family castle in Lombardy. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244, and when his family discovered he had done so, they kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight, and to get him to give up on the idea of the religious life, but he rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris from 1245 to 1248 under Saint Albert the Great, then accompanied Albert to Cologne, Germany. Saint Thomas was ordained in 1250, and he then returned to Paris to teach and there he taught theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard's Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate, and taught in several Italian cities. Then around 1269 he was recalled to Paris by King Saint Louis IX and the University of Paris. Around 1272, Thomas was recalled to Naples where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On December 6, 1273 he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writings were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.

Saint Thomas Aquinas' works have been influential to the thinking of the Church, as they systematized the great thoughts and teachings of the Church, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied by all theology students. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1567 by Pope Saint Pius V.

Be;ow are some quotations from Saint Thomas Aquinas:

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. 

Charity is the form, mover, mother and root of all the virtues.

We are like children, who stand in need of masters to enlighten us and direct us; and God has provided for this, by appointing his angels to be our teachers and guides.

If you seek the example of love: “Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.” Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake. If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because “when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth.” If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. “For just as by the disobedience of one man,” namely, Adam, “many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.” If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is “the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink. Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because “they divided my garments among themselves.” Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for “weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head.” Nor to anything delightful, for “in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann ( also known as Jan Nepomucký Neumann) was born on March 25, 1811 at Prachititz, Bohemia (Czech Republic). His father Philip, was German and owned a stocking factory, and his mother Agnes Neumann was Czech.

John was a small, quiet boy with four sisters and a brother, and he was named after Saint John Nepomucene. Being an excellent student, John at an early age felt drawn to religious life. He became a seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia in 1813, where he studied astronomy and botany in addition to theological topics. In 1833 John studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague.

The time came for John's ordination but the bishop was ill, and with there being such an over- abundance of priests in Bohemia, the date for the ordination was never reset. John then decided to go to America to ask for ordination and to work with emigrants. So John walked most of the way to France, then took a ship for America.

John arrived in Manhattan in 1836, where Bishop John Dubois was happy to see him as there were just 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in New York and New Jersey. John was ordained on June 28, 1836, and sent to Buffalo. There the parish priest, Father Pax, gave him the choice of the city of Buffalo or of the rural area, and John chose the more difficult rural area.

He stayed in a small town with an unfinished church, and when it was completed, he moved to a town with a log church. There he built himself a log cabin, rarely lit a fire, slept little, often living on bread and water, and walked many long miles to visit farm after remote farm. John's parishioners were from many countries and spoke a variety of languages, but John knew twelve languages, and worked with them all.

In 1840 John joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later he took his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841. John was the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. John was a home missionary in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and became Rector of Saint Philomena church in Pittsburgh in 1844. Then in in 1847 he became the vice-regent and superior of the Redemptorists in America. He became an American citizen in 1848. Then John was appointed as the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852.

As bishop, John built 50 churches and began building a cathedral. He also opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. John wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many other works in German.

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann died of a stroke at 13th and Vine Streets, in Philadephia, Pennsylvania on January 5, 1860. At his own request, Saint John would be buried in a basement crypt in Saint Peter's Church where he would be near his Redemptorist brothers.

Saint John has the distinction of being the first American man and the first American bishop to be canonized. He was canonized on June 19, 1977 by Pope Paul VI.

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