Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Feast Day: January 28
Doctor of the Church (Angelicus Doctor), Prince of Scholastics
Patron of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools


Born at Rocca Secca in the Kingdom of Naples, the year of Thomas’ birth is not certain; either 1225 or 1227.

His father, Landulph, was Count of Aquino while his mother, Theodora, was Countess of Teano. His family was related to the Emperors Henry VI and Frederick II, and to the Kings of Aragon, Castile, and France.

At the age of five, as it was the custom of that time, he was sent to obtain his first training from the Benedictines of Monte Casino then to the University of Naples around 1236. At the age of seventeen, in spite of the opposition of his family, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in Naples.

At the request of their mother, the brothers of Thomas, who were soldiers under the Emperor Frederick, took him back forcibly and imprisoned him in the fortress of San Giovanni. He was detained nearly two years; they even went so far as to send a beautiful young lady into Thomas’ room for the purpose of alluring him. But as soon as the lady came inside, he drew a burning stick from the fire and drove her out from his room.

These long months of imprisonment were not put to waste, however, for Thomas spent his time reading the valuable books (Holy Scriptures, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard),which his kind sister obtained for him.

After eighteen months or so in confinement and with all their efforts put in vain, her mother relented and Thomas was set free.

He was ordained priest in 1250. Upon the advice of Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas then journeyed to Paris to continue his studies and to teach in their Study House. This may be regarded as the beginning of his public career, for his teaching soon attracted the attention of both the professors and the students. Subsequently, St. Thomas began teaching, lecturing and writing. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works.

The reputation of Saint Thomas as a Philosopher and theologian spread far and wide, and he was frequently invited to preach and give lectures.

In due time, Saint Thomas was admitted to the degree of Doctor in Theology. By the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.

On his way to the second Council of Lyons, he fell sick and died at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in 1274 leaving the "Summa Theologica" unfinished.

St. Thomas was one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. But despite that, he remained childlike. Once, there was this friar who made a ruse about a horse flying over the priory. The friars were laughing at Thomas as he ran to the window to look at the flying horse. Laughing at himself, he added, “I thought it was easier for a horse to fly than for a friar to utter a lie”.

Saint Thomas was canonized in 1323 and declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V.

Reflections:

Before he began his study, Saint Thomas always prays for God's assistance, for he acknowledged that not all truths are learned by human intellect alone but that some truths are known through revelation (God revealing the truth to us) and through experience (our own personal experience of God).

For Saint Thomas Aquinas, faith and reason are not in conflict.
The fullness of truth is found only in God.
Saint Thomas Aquinas' constant search for truth is essential in a life dedicated to the pursuit of sanctity and perfect charity.

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights to other readers of this blog. Thank you and God bless

Here's a video I saw in YouTube (Fr. Barron comments on St. Thomas Aquinas) that I'd like to share with you.
 




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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saint Genevieve

Feast Day: January 3 
Patroness of Paris

St. Genevieve was born at Nanterre near Paris around the year 422. She was seven years old when Bishop Germanus of Auxerre along with Bishop Lupus of Troyes, stopped at Nanterre, on their way to Great Britain to contest the heresy of Pelagius. Amidst the crowd, Genevieve eagerly listened as her father hoisted her up to his shoulder so that she could have a better view. Her fervor attracted the attention of Bishop Germanus that at the end of his sermon he gave Genevieve a medal engraved with a cross.

At age 15, Genevieve took her religious vows. During her lifetime she had visions and prophesied future events. But these special favors caused her so much suffering for her visions and prophecies were treated as frauds and deceits. Yet, in spite of it she continued to do the will of God.

In 449, the barbaric tribe of the Franks besieged the city of Paris. King Childeric planned on starving the people for them to surrender. Genevieve helped the soldiers procure grain for the starving citizens and though Paris came under enemy control, King Childeric of the Franks respected Genevieve, and at her request spared the lives of many citizens.

Then in the year 451, Attila the Hun went marching toward Rome; Paris lay in his path. The people were terrified and prepared to flee. But Genevieve gathered the people of Paris in prayer for God’s protection. “Do not run to fortified castles in the countryside, but run to your churches here in Paris. Do not rely on arms and armies, but put your trust in God.” She also urged them to do works of penance; and her exhortations prevailed. The barbarians, for no apparent reason, suddenly changed the route of the march, leaving Paris untouched.

The life of St. Genevieve was one of great asceticism and constant prayer and this is seen in her love for the people and her country.

Genevieve was eighty nine when she died.

Reflection:

*Genevieve believed in God and she followed God’s leadings. Despite the calumny she suffered she continued to do God‘s will, that’s how she trusted God. She would rather go through the shame of being maligned than risk being told “Oh, you of little faith!” To her pleasing God is all that matters.

*How people easily believe in rumors and yet remain skeptical in the word of God. Our egos and self-righteousness hinder us from hearing the message; we tend to see only the messenger, who is just like us, a sinner. “Why would God choose her or him over me? “ “What has she or he done to deserve God’s favor?” In our efforts to belittle others to look better ourselves, we misuse our energy and fail to see the loving God behind the messenger and the message.

*St. Genevieve showed us that it is indeed by the path of fidelity, and not by the path of feelings or reasoning that we will know God and begin to hear His voice.

I would be glad to read your reflections/inputs/insights or comments regarding this post. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you and God bless!

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Saint Francis de Sales

Feast Day: January 24
Patron Saint of Journalists, Writers

Francis de Sales was born to a wealthy family in France in 1567. His parents intended for him to become a lawyer, but Francis believed he is pre-destined to be a priest.

During the time of the Protestant reformation (1517-1648), Francis decided to go to Switzerland then a Calvinist territory, to convert around 60,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism. Everyone thought this to be an absurd plan that even his father refused to help him.  By the time he left, he only got one supporter - his cousin.

They trudged through the countryside enduring the bitter winter and patiently evangelizing from district to district.  Doors shut in their faces and rocks thrown at them.  After three years with not a single convert, his cousin left him alone.

Francis kept on praying and continually searched for ways to reach the people.  As no one would even open their doors to him, he wrote out his sermons, made several copies of it and slipped them under the doors. These tracts consist of the leading dogmas of the Church and the logical reasoning behind the teachings of the Church. This first recorded religious tracts were later collected and printed in a volume called Catholic Controversy: St. Francis De Sales Defense of the Faith

By the time Francis left to go back to France, he is said to have converted 40,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism.

In 1602, Francis was made bishop of the diocese of Geneva, another Calvinist territory.
 He believed that the foremost duty of a bishop was spiritual direction.  Francis gave spiritual direction to lay people and proved with his own life that people can grow in holiness even when they are not called for “religious life”.  To keep his flock strong in faith he wrote books such as Introduction to Devout Life, Treatise on the Devout Life and Treatise of the Love of God.   Francis advice to busy people is to "Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others and talk to God."

Through his zeal and kind preaching he brought encouragement and guidance to innumerable persons, one of whom was St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

Reflection:

St. Francis de Sales love for God enabled him to surpass all the obstacles, even conquering his own temper and impatience.  He was convinced of the existence of God and the teachings of the Church instituted by Christ that he defended God and His Church amidst all the difficulties and seemingly hopeless efforts.  He shared this love with others by patiently bringing people to God and accompanying them on their spiritual journey so that they too will experience and see for themselves this wonderful, awesome God.

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights in the comment box.  Thank you and God bless

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