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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (also known as Inigo Lopez de Loyola) was born in 1491A.D. at Loyola, Guipuzcoa, Spain, as Inigo Lopez de Loyola. He was Spanish nobility, and the youngest of twelve children. He was a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and he received a military education.

He entered the army in 1517, and served in several campaigns. He was seriously wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna on May 20, 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life.

During his recuperation, the only books he had access to were “The Golden Legend”, a collection of lives of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.

Upon his recovery, he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim's robes. He lived in a cave from 1522 to 1523, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. He wrote about his religious experiences, and later made them the foundation for the spiritual exercises, which he drew up for his Order.

He was a pilgrim to Rome and the Holy Land in 1523, where he worked to convert Muslims. In 1528, he began studying theology in Barcelona, Alcala, and Paris, receiving his degree in 1534. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus in August of 1534, and the order received papal approval in 1541.

Ignatius was a friend of James Lainez, Alonso Salmerón, Nicholas Bobadilla, Simón Rodriguez, Blessed Peter Faber, and Saint Francis Xavier, the group that formed the core of the new Society. He never used the term Jesuit, which was coined as an insult by his adversaries. Today the Society uses the term with pride.

He traveled Europe and the Holy Lands, and then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuits. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death.

Today the Jesuits have over 500 universities and colleges, 30,000 members, and teach over 200,000 students each year.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola died of fever in 1556 at Rome, Italy. His relics are at the Gesu in Rome, Italy.

Below are some quotations from Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

Do not let any occasion of gaining merit pass without taking care to draw some spiritual profit from it; as, for example, from a sharp word which someone may say to you; from an act of obedience imposed against your will; from an opportunity which may occur to humble yourself, or to practice charity, sweetness, and patience. All of these occasions are gain for you, and you should seek to procure them; and at the close of that day, when the greatest number of them have come to you, you should go to rest most cheerful and pleased, as the merchant does on the day when he had had most chance for making money; for on that day business has prospered with him.

If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.

Idleness begets a life of discontent. It develops self-love, which is the cause of all our miseries, and renders us unworthy to receive the favors of divine love.

He is generous even to exhaustion; and what is most wonderful is, that He gives Himself thus entirely, not once only, but every day, if we wish it. Every fresh Communion is a new gift which Jesus Christ makes of Himself. 

Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (also known as Julius Caesar Rossi; Laurence of Brindisi; Lorenzo da Brindisi) was born in 1559 A.D. at Brindisi, Italy as Julius Caesar Rossi. He was a son of Guglielmo de Rossi and Elisabetta Masella. He felt an early call to the religious life, and was educated by the Friars Minor Conventuals of Brindisi. Lawrence's father died when the boy was twelve.

Saint Lawrence joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575 at the age of 16, taking the name Brother Lorenzo. His studies at the University of Padua included theology, the Bible, Bohemian, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was a brilliant student known for his facility with languages. Lawrence was a priest, and he taught theology. He served as linguist and military chaplain. He became a famous, effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages. Lawrence became head of his order and founded convents at Vienna, Prague, and Graz.

Lawrence was chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601. He rallied the German princes to fight a superior Turkish force, and was asked to lead the army into battle at Stuhlweissenburg (modern Albe-Royal) carrying no weapon but a crucifix. The Turks were completely defeated.

Saint Lawrence was the master general of his order from 1602 to 1605 and he was the choice for another term, but turned it down. He was assigned in 1605 to evangelize in Germany, where he had great success. He also convinced King Philip III of Spain to join the German Catholic League. Lawrence was the commissary general of his order for the provinces of Tyrol and Bavaria, and he was spiritual director of the Bavarian army.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi died of natural causes on July 22, 1619 at Lisbon, Portugal. He is buried in the cemetery of the Poor Clares at Villafranca. In 1956, the Capuchin Order compiled fifteen volumes of his sermons, letters and writings. Pope John XXIII proclaimed Lawrence an Apostolic Doctor of the Church in 1959. 

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