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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)


June 29

PETER, formerly called Simon, was a son of Jonas, of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and It brother of Andrew, by whom he was brought to Christ, Who at once changed his name and called him Peter. When, soon after, Jesus said to both of them on the Sea of Tiberias, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” they both left their nets and followed Him. From this time forward Jesus was constantly giving him particular proofs of His love. From the ship of Peter He taught the thronging multitude, and to him He promised that on him; as upon a rock, He would build His Church, against which the gates of hell should not prevail. Our Lord took Peter with Him at the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead; at His own transfiguration on Mount Thabor; at the beginning of His passion in the Garden of Gethsemani. To him He promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven; for him He specially prayed that his faith might not fail; and him He commanded to strengthen his brethren. After His resurrection He appeared particularly to Peter, and three times commanded him to feed His flock. But Peter had, above all the other apostles, made himself worthy of this pre-eminence by his living faith, his humility, his love, and his zeal for the honor of Jesus; for he it was who, before the other apostles, made the confession, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” He showed his humility when, at the miraculous draught of fishes, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Out of love he desired to remain always with Christ on Mount Thabor to prevent Him from suffering; and out of love he declared himself ready with Christ to live or die; nay, he even declared most confidently that, though all should be scandalized in Christ, yet he would not be. When Jesus was taken prisoner, Peter showed himself to be most courageous by cutting off the ear of one of his Master’s enemies, and by following Him to the house of Caiphas. Three times, indeed, did he, as no one else did, deny his Lord out of fear; but the look of forgiving love which Jesus cast upon him forced from him tears of the deepest contrition, and three times afterwards, accordingly, he made that coufession, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

After he had received the Holy Ghost, full of courage, he confessed Christ crucified, and preached Him in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Ionia, and Bithynia. At Jerusalem he was once already condemned to death, but was set free by an angel. In the year 54 he went to Rome, whence, after a nine years’ residence, he was banished, with many other Christians. Upon returning thither again he was confined in the Mamertine prison, and finally, on June 29, in the year A.D. 67, under the Emperor Nero, he was crucified; his head, by his own desire, hung downwards, because he thought himself unworthy to die like Christ.

PAUL, before his conversion called Saul, was of the tribe of Benjamin, a native of Tarsus, in Cilicia, and a pupil of Gamaliel. Full of zeal for the law, he bitterly opposed the Christians. As he was travelling to Damascus to persecute them he was, on the way, converted by Christ. How indefatigably he thenceforward worked in the vineyard of the Lord, and what dangers and persecutions he underwent, no pen can describe. It is almost incredible with what zeal and perseverance he preached Christ, in chains and fetters, under blows and scourges, in hunger and thirst, and untold times at the peril of his life. And yet he was so humble that he counted himself the least of the apostles, and always praised God that He had thought him worthy to suffer for His name. After he had at last fought a good fight, and finished his course – having everywhere zealously preached the Gospel, and still more zealously practised it – he received the crown of justice (II Timothy 4:6). The Emperor Nero caused him to be beheaded on the same day tl1at Peter was crucified.

The Introit of the Mass is in the words spoken by Saint Peter after his delivery from the prison at Jerusalem:
“Now I know in very deed that the Lord hath sent His angel and hath delivered me out of the hands of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” (Acts 12:11)
“Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.” (Psalms 138:1, 2)
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

O God, Who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of Thy apostles Saints Peter and Paul, grant to Thy Church, in all things, to follow their doctrines, through whom the true faith was first proclaimed. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.


Epistle: Acts 12:1-11

In those days: Herod the king stretched forth his hands, to affiict some of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to take up Peter also. Now it was in the days of the Azymes. And when he had apprehended him, he cast him into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers to be kept, intending after the Pasch to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the Church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shined in the room, and he striking Peter on the side raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said to him: Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. And he did so. And he said to him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And going out he followed him, and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel, but thought he saw a vision. And passing through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And Peter coming to himself, said: Now I know in very deed that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

At that time Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, saying: Who do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them; But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth it shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Why did Christ ask His disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?”

To give them an opportunity to confess their belief in Him as the true Son of God, and upon that open confession to ground a promise of the highest importance.

Why does Christ call Himself the Son of man?

In order that, His Godhead being veiled under the form of man, He might thus test the faith of His disciples, and teach us that He was both true God and true man.

What did Peter mean to say by those words, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God”?

He thereby confesses that Christ is the Son of God, begotten from all eternity, and therefore of the same substance with the Father; that by Him all things were made, and that from Him comes our life in soul and body.

What reward did Peter receive for his confession?

Christ pronounced him blessed that God had given him such grace, conveyed to him the highest authority in His Church, and gave him the pre-eminence above all the apostles.

What is the meaning of the expression “to bind and to loose”?

According to Isaias, it signifies to open and to shut heaven, and here consequently denotes the power, as representative of Jesus Christ, to receive persons into the Church, and to excommunicate them from it; to forgive sins, or to retain them; to impose or to remit punishments for them; to establish laws and prohibitions, to abolish them, to change them, and, in general, to govern and direct in everything, as shall be necessary for the preservation of unity and order in the Church, and for the good of the faithful.

Was the power to bind and to loose given to Peter only?

No, but to the rest of the apostles also; the power of the keys, however, Jesus gave only to Peter.
Peter, therefore, and his successors, possess this supreme power, while the other apostles and their successors, the bishops, possess the authority intrusted to them by Christ, to be exercised by them in unity with the rock, that is, with Peter and his successors.

OF THE POPE

What is the Pope to the Catholic?

The represeutative of Jesus Christ, and the visible head, appoiuted by Him, for the government of His Church.
Did Christ actually appoint such a supreme head?

Yes, and that in the person of Saint Peter.

He gave him the significant name Peter – the rock, distingllished him always above the other apostles, and laid upon him the charge to feed His lambs, that is, the faithful, and His sheep, that is, the bishops themselves; and this power Peter uniformly exercised.

Why did Christ appoint a visible head for the Church?

Because the Church is an outward, visible society, united together not only by inward faith in Christ, but also by outward, visible signs.

Such a visible head is as necessary for the Church as for a body, a family, a society, a state, to prevent disunion, confusion, and the consequent destruction of the whole; this supreme head is the centre of the whole, the final judge, the authoritative teacher.

Who is now this supreme head?

The Bishop of Rome, or the Pope. It is undeniable that Peter occupied the bishop’s see at Rome, and that he died there. Equally indisputable is it that the successor of Saint Peter entered upon possession of his rights, and, together with the episcopal see of Rome, inherited also the office possessed by him. From the first centuries this has ever been acknowledged by the faithful, who have accordingly called the Bishop of Rome Pope – that is, the father of the faithful. And how clearly does history show that Peter and his successors are the rock upon which the Lord has immovably founded His Church! What storms have not broken upon the Church! Persecutions from without and within, heresies and schisms without number, and infidelity in its most hideous form, have raged against the Church, and what has been the consequence? Nations have often fallen away from the Church, single bishops have proved betrayers of their flocks, the sees of the apostles themselves have been subject to the vicissitudes of time. And amid all these storms Rome alone has, for over eighteen hundred years, stood firm. She has come out of every contest victorious, has remained the centre of faith and discipline, and has preserved the unbroken succession of bishops from Peter. Who does not see herein the assistance of Him Who forever fulfils that promise of His, “Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates I of hell shall not prevail against it”? The Pope is, therefore, the visible supreme head of the Church, appointed by Christ for all time; the invisible, all-governing head is Christ Himself.

Prayer

O Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who hast built Thy Church on Saint Peter, as on a rock, Who hast confided to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and constituted him and his successors Thy representatives upon earth, grant us Thy grace, that in all the laws we may obey them as Thyself, that, resting upon the rock of truth, we may be immovable in all storms, and steadfastly persevere in the way of good works.

-- Goffine’s Devout Instructions

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga


Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (also known as Aluigi Gonzaga; Luigi Gonzaga) was born in 1568 A.D. at the castle of Castiglione, Italy. His family was of nobility, and Aloysius' father was a compulsive gambler. He was the cousin of Saint Rudolph Acquaviva.

Aloysius had been trained to be a soldier and courtier from the age of four. He suffered from kidney disease, which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received his first Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo.

He was educated at the courts of the Medici of Florence and of Philip II of Spain. Upon his return to Italy at the age of 18, he renounced his inheritance in favor of his brother, and entered the Society of Jesus. He made his vows in 1587.

He was the spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine. When the plague and famine struck Italy in 1591, Aloysius devoted himself to the care of the sick, and became ill himself.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga died in 1591 at Rome of plague, fever, and his desire to see God. His relics are entombed under the altar of Saint Ignatius Church, Rome. Devotion to him is widespread, and the practice of receiving communion on six successive Sundays is observed in his honor.

Patronage

AIDS care-givers; AIDS patients; Catholic youth; Jesuit students; relief from pestilence; sore eyes; teenage children; teenagers; young people

Quotes from Saint Aloysius Gonzaga:

  1. There is no more evident sign that anyone is a saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials.
  2. He who wishes to love God does not truly love Him if he has not an ardent and constant desire to suffer for His sake.
  3. O Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody, and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body. To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by they most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son.
  4. May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honored lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last, and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means "to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad," then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.
  5. Take care above all things, most honored lady, not to insult God's boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Savior; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness. From a letter to his mother



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church



Saint Anthony of Padua (also known as Antonio da Padova, Evangelical Doctor) was born as Ferdinand to a wealthy family in 1195 A.D. at Lisbon, Portugal. He was educated in the cathedral school in Lisbon. His family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but, Anthony felt a religious calling and he joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine in 1210 when he was 15.

Two years later, to avoid the distraction of family and friends who visited him frequently, Anthony received permission from his superior to move to the Convent of Santa Croce in Cóimbra where he remained for eight years. There he occupied his time with prayer and study, where he learned a great deal about theology and gained the understanding of Holy Scripture.

When the bodies of Saint Berard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs in 1220, were brought to be buried in the Church of Santa Croce , Anthony was inspired to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize, and become a martyr for Christ. After confiding his intentions to some of the Franciscans, he received the Franciscan habit, and took the name Anthony.

When Anthony first started for Morocco, he was stricken with a severe illness which affected him the entire winter. He set sail for Portugal and then Morocco the following spring, but, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Sicily, where he remained for a time until he regained his health. From there he journeyed to a general chapter of the Franciscans at Assisi where he went entirely unnoticed. He applied to the Provincial of Cóimbra for a place where he could live in solitude and penance and enter more fully in the discipline of Franciscan life. The Provincial was in need of a priest for the hermitage of Montepaolo and sent him there to celebrate Mass for the lay brothers.

While Anthony lived at Montepaolo it happened that a number of Franciscan and Dominican friars were sent together to be ordained. When the time for ordination had arrived, it was found that no one had been chosen to preach. The superior turned first to the Dominicans, but everyone declined, saying he was not prepared. They then chose Anthony, whom they thought only able to read the Missal and Breviary, and told him to speak whatever the spirit of God inspired in him. Anthony obeyed, and at first he spoke slowly and timidly, but soon he was enkindled with the Spirit, and he began to explain the most hidden sense of Holy Scripture with such profound learnedness and beautiful doctrine that all were astonished. That moment began Anthony's public career. He was then constantly travelling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.

Anthony won a reputation as a preacher and teacher of theology, received the praise of Saint Francis, made numerous converts and performed many miracles. He had a vision of the Infant Christ, and he was made provincial of the monastery at Limousin, France in 1226.


Saint Anthony of Padua died of natural cause at Vercelli, Italy in June 1231. His relics are at Padua, Italy. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on January 16, 1946 by Venerable Pope Pius XII.