Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saint Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila - Doctor of the Church
1515-1582 A.D.

Feast day: October 15


Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515. She is extroverted, hyperactive and an imaginative child. Her parents were people of position in Avila. Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda has 3 children from his first marriage and 9 children (Teresa was the third) from his second wife Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada.  At the age of 7 Teresa left home with her brother Rodrigo with the intention of going to Moorish territory to be
martyred for Christ, but their uncle upon knowing it hindered them as they were leaving the city.

Teresa grew up to be a beautiful lady and enjoyed being with people. Her mother died when she was only fourteen and a visit from a girl cousin made her less lonely but this had a not so good effect on her as she became interested in mundane things.  Though Teresa was raised piously, her father noted some changes in his daughter's personality and seeing the need of prudent guidance, decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila.

She recovered her piety after a year and a half in the convent but got sick and was brought home. After recovering, Teresa began to discern if she should enter the religious life and reading the Letters of St. Jerome led her to the decision to enter a convent.Teresa entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation at Avila on Nov. 2, 1535 and began wholeheartedly to give herself to prayer and penance. Teresa started to
learn and practice mental prayer and progressed towards the "prayer of quiet," or when the soul rest in divine contemplation.

She had mystical experiences, visions, raptures and enjoyed a vivid experience of God's presence within her.

However, some people thought her favors were the work of the devil and she had to endure the distrust given to her.

She reformed Carmel and founded the discalced Carmelites or shoeless Carmelites and went back to the basics of a contemplative order. She braved all obstacles to spread her reform movement and soon she had postulants desiring to join her reform convents. Soon her reform movement swept across Europe. But Teresa's great work of reform began with herself as she always try to follow what pleases the Lord.

She died in Alba on October 4, 1582 and was canonized in 1662. Teresa was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 for her writing and teaching on prayer.







Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saint Sebastian


St. Sebastian (256-288)
Feastday: January 20

Patronage: Soldiers, archers, athletes and is appealed to for protection against plagues.


Sebastian was born to a wealthy Roman family at Narbonne, Gaul. His parents are from Milan, Italy and he was educated in Milan.  Sebastian was a fervent servant of Christ and in his desire to help the persecuted Christian, he went to Rome and entered the army. During the persecution of the Christians when Diocletian was the emperor, Sebastian became an officer of the Imperial Roman army and was named captain in the praetorian guards.

Instead of making the prisoners suffer, Sebastian ministered to the prisoners and encouraged them to remain firm in their faith. He would give food and comfort them as well.  Because of this, many Christians held on to their faith and died a martyr's death. St. Sebastian's presence was said to have brought miraculous healing and he made numerous converts including soldiers, prefect of Rome and a governor. 

When it was discovered that Sebastian was indeed a Christian and that he was helping the prisoners, he was ordered executed. He was tied to a tree and shot with arrows and left for dead.  But when the widow of St. Castulus went to recover his body, she found Sebastian still alive. Soon after, Sebastian was at it again denouncing the Emperor for his cruelty to Christian. This didn't last long however, for on the Emperor's orders, Sebastian was beaten to death.


Reflections:

Great was his love for Christ and his fellow Christian that Sebastian risk his life to be with them and minister to them.  He did not only encourage them to remain firm in their faith.  But he too lived and died remaining firm to his faith and defending it till the end.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Saint Lucy also known as Saint Lucia or Santa Lucia


Feast day: December 13
(283–304) VIRGIN, MARTYR
Patron of Blindness/eye problems

Saint Lucy or Santa Lucia's name is derived from Lux/Lucis which means
"light" and she is also the patron saint of the blind and those with eye
problems.

Lucy was a young, wealthy Christian lady of Syracuse, Sicily.  Her mother
singly took care of her as she lost her father when she was still an
infant. As she grew older, her mother urged Lucy to marry a young pagan
gentleman.  Her mother didn't know then that Lucy has already chosen to
live single for the Lord and has consecrated her life  to the service of
Christ.  Her mother continued to press Lucy to marry but she refused. When
her mother was afflicted with sickness and for four years suffered from it.

 Lucy persuaded her mother to go to Catania where the tomb of Saint Agatha
(patroness of Catania) was already a site of pilgrimage to ask for her
intercession.  It was here that Lucy disclosed her desire to devote herself
to God and convinced her mother that the dowry be spent on alms so that she
might retain her virginity.

Healed by the divine power, Lucy's mother, Eutychia, relented and allowed
Lucy to pursue her pious inclinations.

The young gentleman, however, did not take this kindly and in his rage
denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse.

Saint Lucy died a Christian martyr during the Diocletian persecution.

The relics of Saint Lucy were venerated in a church dedicated to her in
Venice until 1961 when it was demolished and transferred to the church of
San Geremia.


Reflection:

During Diocletian's reign, many Christians suffered much torture and painful death for their faith.  St. Lucy was one of those who stood up with courage in defense of the faith.  At an early age, she committed her life fully to God, she chose to stay single and committed her life to God until she died.  May we also impart to the little kids the same faith and trust that Saint Lucy demonstrated.  We may live and die for Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Feast Day: August 14
1894-1941

Patronage:

    drug addicts (against drug addiction)
    prisoners
    journalists
    pro-life movement
    families

Known as Apostle of Consecration to Mary

Pope John Paul II declared him the “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”



Maximilian was born in 1894 as Raymond Kolbe. He is the second of the 3 sons born to a poor Catholic family in Poland which was then occupied by Russia.   His parents were both Franciscan lay tertiaries who worked at home as basket weavers. His father later ran a religious book store then enlisted in the army.  His mother, on the other hand, soon worked as a midwife and owned a grocery store in part of her rented house. In 1907, Kolbe and his elder brother Francis decided to join the Conventual Franciscan junior seminary in Lwów. In 1910, Raymond Kolbe was allowed to enter the novitiate and professed his first vows a year after. He adopted the name Maximilian Maria to show his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
and received the final vows at age 20. That same year, his father who fought for Polish independence from Russia was captured and hanged by the Russians as a traitor. Maximilian's mother eventually became a Benedictine nun.

While in seminary, Maximilian and his six friends founded the Immaculata Movement to work for the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry, as well as the spread of the Miraculous Medal and devotion to Our Lady.

During this time, he contracted tuberculosis which nearly killed him and though he recovered, Maximilian remained frail all his life. In 1915, he earned a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University,
and a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure for years after. 
After receiving a doctorate in theology, Maximilian Kolbe spread the Immaculata Movement through a monthly magazine publication called "The Knight of the Immaculata" which had over a million circulation.  The Immaculata friars also published catechetical and devotional tracts as well as newspapers reaching thousands of people daily.

Maximilian founded the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw. He established a seminary, a radio station (used to spread Catholic faith and to speak out against the atrocities of the Nazi regime) and several other
organizations and publications. Kolbe is the only canonized saint to have held an amateur radio license.

In 1930, Maximilian along with 4 brothers left for Japan and within a month upon their arrival was printing a Japanese version of the Knight of the Immaculata. Six years after, the magazine grew to a circulation of 65,000.  Maximilian founded a monastery in Nagasaki in 1931 that still stands today as a center of Franciscan work in Japan.

He was forced to return to Poland because of poor health and by 1939, following the Nazi invasion of Poland, Maximilian along with several of his brothers were arrested.  They were released barely 3 months later.  But on 17 February 1941, Maximilian was imprisoned in Pawiak, Warsaw and the brothers dispersed for housing Polish refugees many of whom were Jewish and for publishing materials considered to be anti-Nazi.  He was transferred to Auschwitz and branded as prisoner #16670. Maximilian suffered a lot from the abusive guards and was even left for dead after being beaten and lashed. Nevertheless, Maximilian ministered to other prisoners and spent his time hearing confessions, conducting Mass and giving communion when unleavened bread is made available.

On July 31, 1941, there was an escape from the camp and in retribution for one prisoner's escape, ten men were to be starved to death. One of the selected men, Francis Gajowniczek, was a young married man and father.  Father Kolbe offered himself in place of him.

In the prison cell, Kolbe led the other 9 men in prayer and worship. Each time the guards checked on him, he was seen praying and ministering to others or would be singing hymns to the Virgin Mary. After enduring 3 weeks of starvation and dehydration, only Kolbe remained alive. 

The guards wanted the bunker emptied so Maximilian Kolbe was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid. 

Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982 in the presence of Franciszek Gajowniczek and declared Maximilian Kolbe a martyr of charity.
   
Maximilian Kolbe's beatification miracles include the cure of intestinal tuberculosis of Angela Testoni in July 1948 and the cure of calcification of the arteries/sclerosis of Francis Ranier in August 1950.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Saint Boniface also known as Bonifacius

Saint Boniface also known as Bonifacius


680-754 A.D.
Patron Saint of Germany (The Apostle of the Germans)

Feast Day: June 5

Boniface, or Winfrid (his baptismal name), was born into a Christian family of noble rank. At a very young age, Winfrid found himself listening to the conversation of some monks then visiting their home.  Soon after, he devoted himself to the monastic life.  At first, the boy's father was againsts it but a serious illness made him change his decision and sent Winfrid to the neighboring abbey of Exeter.  He received further theological training in the Benedictine monastery and minster of Nursling and after completing his studies he was appointed head of the school.

At the age of thirty, Winfrid was ordained priest but God revealed to him that their was greater work needed in the foreign lands. Northern Europe and most of Central Europe were still living in paganism. Willibrord, the Northumbrian missionary, had long been striving to bring the Gospel to these people and it was to this region that Winfrid felt himself called.


In 716, he set out on a missionary expedition to Frisia but after a year their efforts were frustrated by the war and had to go back.  He went straight to Rome, where Pope Gregory II renamed him Boniface and appointed him missionary bishop for Germania.

Boniface along with Saint Albinus, Saint Abel and Saint Agatha propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. Although, isolated missionary groups had penetrated central German, it was not until the 8th century that a systematic effort was formed to Christianize the vast pagan territory. From that time the work of evangelization proceeded steadily. Saint Boniface paved the way to this region and created a hierarchy under direct commission from the Holy See. Boniface established the first diocese in Germany at the Frankish fortified settlement of Büraburg. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites.


Boniface became the first Archbishop of Mainz. Saint Boniface is regarded as a unifier of Europe, and is seen as a German national figure.
He reformed the churches in his see and became the chief fomentor of the alliance between the papacy and the Carolingian family.  Boniface helped shape Western Christianity through his efforts to reorganize and regulate the church of the Franks.  St Boniface built religious houses in Germany, founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Austrasia, Alemannia, Franconia, Thuringia etc.  Boniface was able to carry through many important reforms and many of the dioceses remain until today.  Boniface has been called the pro-consul of the papacy.


After 36 years of missionary labor, Saint Boniface was killed in Frisia in 755, along with 52 others including Saint Adaler and Saint Eoban.

Ending at last in martyrdom, Saint Boniface was quickly given the designation "Apostle of Germany".


Reflection:

It is said that St. Boniface won more than 100,000 people to Christianity in the course of his ministry. Boniface shaped the church through his zeal, love, faith and evangelization efforts.
It was for Christ's sake that Boniface toiled for souls and that in Jesus Christ, salvation is offered to all men. 

Evangelization is a duty of every Christian. It is an essential mission of the Church and we must embrace this calling and make it a part of our every day life.

For most Catholics, however, evangelization is perceived to be the work of a special group of people within the Church like the priests, missionaries and those with a special vocation.

We take for granted what we have today.

Let us remind ourselves to be thankful to those who like Saint Boniface labored for us. 

May we evangelize as he did. By the example of Saint Boniface, may we be reminded that we have been called to bring home those who have lost their way, to heal wounds and to proclaim Christ to all peoples.

We may not be living in pagan darkness but our challenge today as Catholics is to evangelize to those who do not yet believe in Christ and to bring back Christ to the non-practicing Christians.








Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saint Emerentiana also known as St. Emerentia


Feast Day: January 23

Patronage: against abdominal pains/colic


Saint Emerentiana was the milk sister of Saint Agnes for Emerentiana's mother was the nanny and wet nurse of Saint Agnes. One of the obscure saints and a Roman virgin- martyr, who lived in the 3rd century,

Emerentiana was much of the same age as St. Agnes when she suffered martyrdom. This little girl was a catechumen and was still learning about Christianity before she was even officially baptized. Martyrs, as catholic believe, are "baptized by blood".

A few days after St Agnes' death, Emerentiana she was found weeping and praying by her tomb.  The pagans who were as furious as ever, attacked the little girl but Emerentiana refused to leave the place, claiming she was a Christian. Emerentiana was stoned to death by the crowd of pagans and her
body was buried alongside Agnes.

Emerentiana's relics were recovered near the Church of Saint Agnes on the Via Nomentana when it was being restored during the reign of Pope Paul V. The relics were later transfered to the Basilica of Saint Agnes. The body of Saint Agnes lies under the altar, together with that of her milk sister Saint Emerentiana.

Emerentiana is represented as a young girl who either carries stones in her lap, also with a palm/lilies in her hand, or a girl being stoned to death by a mob.


Reflections:  St Agnes lived her faith by example and Emerentiana is the first fruit of her labor.  Emerentiana stood up to the pagans out of love and fidelity to what Agnes believed in. These two saints bore witness to
their faith and it is through the witness of lives such as these that others will come to believe and find salvation as well.

As Christians, it is through our works that others will come to see the faith that we have in God.  May others see our good works and give glory to our God.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saint Ines (Saint Agnes)


Feast Day: January 21
Patron saint of young girls, chastity, gardeners, engaged couples and rape victims


Saint Agnes who also goes by the name of Saint Ines (c. 291 – c. 304) was a member of the Roman nobility and raised in a Christian family. At age 12 or 13 year old Agnes suffered martyrdom in the time of the persecutions of Christians during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. She has a foster sister, Emerentiana, who like her became a saint.

The Prefect Sempronius wanted Agnes to marry his son but when Agnes refused, he reported her to the authorities as being a Christian. Ines/Agnes was condemned to death but as Roman law did not permit the
execution of virgins, they planned to rape her as a sacrifice to the gods they worshiped.  The authorities had the naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel but her purity was miraculously preserved.

Legend has it that while walking the streets, she prayed to the Lord and this was answered by making her hair grow to cover up her body. Another legend says that the men who attempted to rape her were struck blind immediately.  There was also a story about one being struck dead but when Agnes prayed for him the man was revived.  Since none of them succeeded, they tried to burn St Agnes at the stake but the wood didn't burn even a slightest bit.  Because of this, a frustrated lieutenant decided to take matters into his own hands and ended up beheading Agnes with a sword.

She maybe too young to know of death, yet she bravely faced it than be offered to the pagan gods and lose her virginity by rape.  Being the good Christian that she was, she showed awesome virtue and gave up her life for her faith. Her virginity and heroism are renowned and has help bring an end to the persecutions.

One of Emperor Constantine's daughters built a church where Agnes was buried.

Reflection:

St.Agnes' martyrdom inspire us to be pure, courageous and loyal to our God. Agnes had the courage and the faith to act as boldly as she did in standing up for the teachings of Christ. She trusted the Lord no matter what. We, too, must believe and trust God and pray in humility and patience especially when we are in most need of help.   Let us pray to gain that confidence to fight our own battles and to be courageous witnesses of God.