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Friday, November 29, 2013

Nov. 30th, is the Feast of the Apostle St. Andrew and to Start His Christmas Novena


The above Christmas Novena is to be prayed starting November 30th straight through to Christmas Day and prayed 15 times a day.  You can divide it up: 5 in the morning, 5 at noon and 5 at night or all at once.  It is piously believed thta whoever recites St. Andrew's Christmas Novena 15 times a day from St. Andrew's feast day of Nov. 30th until Christmas Day will obtain what is asked.  Imprimatur: Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York 2/6/1897.

The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in the honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas. It is attributed to Saint Andrew given the prayers traditionally begin on his feast day. It is also often called the Christmas Anticipation Novena.
The feast day of St. Andrew also marks the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of the new one on the first Sunday of Advent.  Prayer is an essential part of Advent. Reciting this special novena prayer each day is a simple yet beautiful way to celebrate the spiritual significance of the Advent season and to experience a deeper conversion to Jesus.  The St. Andrew Christmas novena is commonly found in many Advent prayer books which are also loaded with many other beautiful prayers and traditions for this time of year.


St. Andrew, the Apostle:

"The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter.  He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, Behold the Lamb of God, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him.   Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ, going by, called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  They made no delay, but left their nets, and followed him.  After the death and Resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia as the province of his preaching, and, after labouring there, he went through Epirus and Thrace, where he turned vast multitudes to Christ by his teaching and miracles.  Finally he went to Patras in Achaia, and there also he brought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth.  Aegeas the Proconsul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all.

Then Aegeas, being angry, answered him, Boast no more of this thy Christ.  He spake words even such as thine, but they availed him not, and he was crucified by the Jews.  Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ had given himself up to die for man's salvation ; but the Proconsul blasphemously interrupted him, and bade him look to himself, and sacrifice to the gods.  Then said Andrew, We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One, and the True, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot: and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth.  Then Aegeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison.  Now, the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitude, and earnestly besought them not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near.

Some short while after, he was brought before the judgment seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross, and rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness.  Then Aegeas could bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ.  Andrew, then, was led to the place of martyrdom, and, as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out: O precious cross, made so fair and goodly by the sweet body of my Lord, how long have I desired thee! how warmly have I loved thee! how constantly have I sought thee!  And, now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee!  Welcome me from amongst men, and join me anew to my Master, that as by thee he redeemed me, so by thee also he may take me unto himself.  So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and, finally, passed into the Presence of him the likeness of whose death he had loved so well.  All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge.  Under the Emperor Constantine the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi.  In the Pontificate of Pope Pius II, his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X (1955 ed)

Today is the Feast of All Franciscan Saints of the Seraphic Order (Franciscans)

(Above, Our Lady depicted with some Franciscan Saints)

“Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
today we rejoice in the holy men and women
of every time and place.
May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.”


Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!
Christ have mercy! Christ have mercy!
Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!
God, the Father, have mercy on us!
God, the Son, have mercy on us!
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us!
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us!
Holy Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Queen of the Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Holy Father Francis, (1220 – Oct 4) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy martyrs of the Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Saints Berard, Accursius, Adjustus, Otto, and Peter, Protomartyrs (1220 – Jan 16) pray for us!

Saints Daniel, Angelo, Domnus, Hugolinus, Leo, Nicholas, and Samuel, Martyrs of Africa, (1227 – Oct 10) pray for us!

Saints Nicholas Tavelic, Deodat of Aquitaine, Peter of Narbonne, and Stephen of Cuneo, Martyrs of the Holy Land, (1391 – Nov 14) pray for us!

Saint Thomas More, Martyr of England, (1535 – Jun 22) pray for us!

Saints Nicholas Pick, Anthony Hornaer, Anthony of Weert, Cornelius, Francis, Godfrey, Jerome, Nicasius, Peter, Theodoric, Willehad, Martyrs of Holland, (1572 – Jul 9) pray for us!

Saints Peter Baptist Blasquez, Martin de Aquirre, Francis Blanco, Philip of Jesus of Mexico, Gonzalo Garcia of India, Anthony of Nagasaki, Bonaventure, Cosmas, Francis of Fahelante, Francis of Miyako, Gabriel, Joachim, John, Leo, Louis, Matthias, Michael, Paul Ibaraki, Paul Zuzuki, Peter, Thomas Danki, and Thomas Kosaki, Protomartyrs of Japan, (1597 – Feb 6) pray for us!

Saints John Jones and John Wall, Martyrs of England, (1598 and 1679 – Jul 12) pray for us!

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Protomartyr of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, (1622 – Apr 24) pray for us!

Saints Gregory Grassi, Francesco Fogolla, Elia Facchini, Théodore Balat, Andreas, Antonio Fantosati, Giuseppe Maria Gambaro, Cesidio Giacomantonio, Marie Hermina of Jesus, Maria della Pace, Maria Chiara, Marie de Sainte Nathalie, Marie de Saint Just, Marie Adolfine, John Zhang Huan, Patrick Dong Bodi, John Wang Rui, Philip Zhang Zhihe, John Zhang Jingguang, Thomas Shen Jihe, Simon Chen Ximan, Peter Wu Anbang, Francis Zhang Rong, Matthew Feng De, Peter Zhang Banniu, James Yan Guodong, James Zhao, Peter Wang Erman, Martyrs of China, (1900 – Jul 8) pray for us!

Saint Maxmillian Kolbe, Martyr of Auschwitz, (1941 – Aug 14) pray for us!
All you holy priests of the First Franciscan Order, pray for us!

Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Gospel and Wonderworker, (1233 – Jun 13) pray for us!

Saint Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor, (1274 – Jul 15) pray for us!
Saint Benvenute of Osimo, Bishop, (1282 – Mar 22) pray for us!
Saint Louis of Tolouse, Bishop, (1297 – Aug 19) pray for us!
Saint Bernardine of Siena, (1444 – May 20) pray for us!
Saint John Capistran, (1456 – Oct 23) pray for us!
Saint Peter Regalado, (1456 – Mar 30) pray for us!
Saint James of the March, (1476 – Nov 28) pray for us!
Saint John of Dukla, (1484 – Oct 3) pray for us!
Saint Peter of Alcantara, (1562 – Oct 19) pray for us!
Saint Francis Solano, (1610 – Jul 14) pray for us!
Saint Joseph of Leonissa, (1612 – Feb 4) pray for us!
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church, (1619 – Jul 21) pray for us!
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, (1663 – Sep 18) pray for us!
Saint Pacificus of San Severino, (1721 – Sep 24) pray for us!
Saint Ignatius of Santhia, (1770 – Sep 22) pray for us!
Saint Thomas of Cori, (1792 – Jan 19) pray for us!
Saint John Joseph of the Cross, (1734 – Mar 5) pray for us!
Saint Theophilus of Corte, (1740 – May 19) pray for us!
Saint Francis Fasani, (1742 – Nov 27) pray for us!
Saint Leonard of Port Maurics, (1751 – Nov 26) pray for us!
Saint Antoino de Santa Ana, (1822 – Oct 25) pray for us!
Saint Leopold Mandic, (1942 – May 12) pray for us!
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, (1968 – Sep 23) pray for us!
All you holy lay brothers of the First Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Saint Didacus of Alcala, (1463 – Nov 7) pray for us!
Saint Simon of Lipnica, (1482 – Jul 18) pray for us!
Saint Salvator of Horta, (1567 – Mar 18) pray for us!
Saint Felix of Cantalice, (1585 – May 18) pray for us!
Saint Benedict the Black, (1589 – Apr 3) pray for us!
Saint Paschal Baylon, (1592 – May 17) pray for us!
Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro, (1604 – Oct 12) pray for us!
Saint Umile de Bisignano, (1637 – Nov 27) pray for us!
Saint Bernard of Corleone, (1662 – Jan 12) pray for us!
Saint Charles of Sezze, (1670 – Jan 6) pray for us!
Saint Crispin of Viterbo, (1750 – May 19) pray for us!
Saint Felix of Nicosia, (1787 – Jun 2) pray for us!
Saint Ignatius Laconi, (1781 – May 11) pray for us!
Saint Giles Mary of St. Joseph, (1812 – Feb 8) pray for us!
Saint Francis Camporosso, (1866 – Sep 20) pray for us!
Saint Conrad of Parzham, (1894 – Apri 21) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy virgins of the Second Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Holy Mother Clare of Assisi, (1253 – Aug 11) pray for us!
Saint Agnes of Assisi, (1253 – Nov 19) pray for us!
Saint Agnes of Bohemia, (1282 – Mar 2) pray for us!
Saint Cunegunda, (1292 – Jul 23) pray for us!
Saint Colette of Corbie, (1447 – Feb 7) pray for us!
Saint Catherine of Bologna, (1463 – May 9) pray for us!
Saint Eustochia Calafato, (1485 – Jan 19) pray for us!
Saint Beatrice of Silva, (1490 – Sep 1) pray for us!
Saint Camilla Battista of Varano, (1524 – May 31) pray for us!
Saint Veronica Giuliani, (1727 – Jul 10) pray for us!
Saint Marianne Cope, (1980 – Jan 20) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy priests of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Saint Yves of Brittany, (1303 – May 19), pray for us!
Saint Charles Borromeo, Archbishop and Cardinal, (1584 – Nov 4) pray for us!
Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, (1842 – Apr 30) pray for us!
Saint Vincent Palotti, Founder, (1850 – Jan 22) pray for us!
Saint John Mary Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, (1859 – Aug 4) pray for us!
Saint Joseph Cafasso, (1860 – Jun 23) pray for us!
Saint Michael Garicits, (1863 – May 14) pray for us!
Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Founder, (1868 – Aug 3) pray for us!
Saint John Bosco, Founder (1883 – Jan 31) pray for us!
Saint Zygmunt Felinski, Archbishop and Founder, (1895 – Sep 17) pray for us!
Saint Pius X, Pope, (1914 – Aug 21) pray for us!

All you holy foundresses of religious congregations who were members of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us!

Saint Bridget of Sweden, (1373 – Jul 23) pray for us!
Saint Jane of Valois, (1505 – Feb 14) pray for us!
Saint Angela Merici, (1540 – Jan 27) pray for us!
Saint Mary Batholomea Capitanio, (1833 – Jul 26) pray for us!
Saint Mary Magdalen Postel, (1846 – Jul 16) pray for us!
Saint Vincentia Gerosa, (1847 – Jun 28) pray for us!
Saint Joachima de Mas y de Vedruna, (1854 – May 22) pray for us!
Saint Mary Josepha Rossello, (1880 – Oct 3) pray for us!
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, (1917 – Nov 13) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy men of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Saint Ferdinand, King of Castile and Leon (1252 – May 30) pray for us!
Saint Louis, King of France, Patron of the Third Order, (1270 – Aug 25) pray for us!
Saint Elzear of Sabran, (1323 – Sep 26) pray for us!
Saint Roch of Montpellier, (1327 – Aug 16) pray for us!
Saint Conrad of Piacenza, Hermit, (1351 – Feb 19) pray for us!
Saint Pedro of San Jose Betancor, (1667 – Apr 25) pray for us!
Saint Albert Chmielowski, (1916 – Jun 17) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy women of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Third Order, (1231 – Nov 19) pray for us!
Saint Veridiana, (1242 – Feb 1) pray for us!
Saint Rose of Viterbo, Virgin, (1252 – Sep 4) pray for us!
Saint Zita of Lucca, Virgin, (1278 – Apri 27) pray for us!
Saint Margaret of Cortona, (1297 – May 16) pray for us!
Saint Clare of Montefalco, Virgin and Religious, (1308 – Aug 17) pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, (1336 – Jul 4) pray for us!
Saint Joan of Arc, Virgin, (1431 – May 30) pray for us!
Saint Frances of Rome, (1440 – Mar 9) pray for us!
Saint Catherine of Genoa, (1510 – Sep 15) pray for us!
Saint Hyacintha Mariscotti, Virgin and Religious, (1640 – Jan 30) pray for us!
Saint Mariana of Jesus of Quito, Virgin, (1645 – May 28) pray for us!
Saint Crescentia Höss, Virgin and Religious, (1744 – Apr 5) pray for us!
Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, Virgin, (1791 – Oct 6) pray for us!
Saint Alphonsa Muttathupaduthu, Religious, (1946 – Jul 28) pray for us!
* * *
All you holy Cordbearers of St. Francis, pray for us!
Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop, (1622 – Jan 24) pray for us!
Saint Joseph Calasanctius, Founder, (1648 – Aug 25) pray for us!
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, (1782 – Apr 17) pray for us!
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, Virgin and Religious, (1879 – Apr 16) pray for us!
* * *
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace!

Let us pray

Almighty everlasting God, we thank you for granting us the joy of honoring our holy Father Francis and his sainted followers and enjoying the protection of their unceasing prayers. Grant us also the grace to imitate their example and so attain their fellowship in eternal glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today is the Feast of St. James of the March, Franciscan Priest

James was born in the March of Ancona. His parents raised him in the fear and love of God, and in due time he was sent to the University of Perugia, where he studied civil and canon law with such remarkable success that he received a doctor's degree in both subjects. Despite the fact that brilliant positions were already open to him, he soon recognized the vanity of the world and felt a singular attraction for the religious life. At first he thought of joining the contemplative Carthusians, but almighty God, who had destined him to labor for the salvation of thousands of souls in the active life, led him to the Order of St. Francis.

During his novitiate James distinguished himself by the practice of all virtues, so that he became a model of religious perfection. In order to preserve angelic purity, which he had kept unsullied from his youth, he led a most austere life. He never slept more than three hours, and that on the bare floor; the remainder of the night he spent meditating on the sufferings of Christ. He constantly wore a coat of mail having sharp points. and scourged himself daily; Like our holy Father St/ Francis, he observed a 40-day fast 7 times a year. Bread and water were his regular fare, although he sometimes added uncooked beans or vegetables. Some years later, St. Bernardin of Siena prevailed upon him to mitigate these austerities somewhat in order to conserve his strength.

Soon after his ordination, when he was 30 years old, he was sent out as a missionary. He undertook this high calling with untiring zeal. For more than 50 years he traveled through Italy, Dalmatia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia, Austria, Bohemia, Saxony, Prussia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Russia. During the years 1427 and 1428 he preached in Vienna, Augsburg, Ratisbon, Ulm, Limburg, Brandenburg, and Leipzig. Inspired by his apostolic example, more than 200 of the noblest young men of Germany were impelled to enter the Franciscan Order. The crowds who came to hear him were so great that the churches were no large enough to accommodate them, and it became imperative for him to preach in the public squares.

At Milan he was instrumental in converting 36 women of bad repute by a single sermon on St. Mary Magdalen. It is said that he brought 50,000 heretics into the bosom of the Church, and led 200,000 unbelievers to baptism. In addition, God granted St. James such wisdom, that popes and princes availed themselves of his services, seeking counsel from him. He possessed the gifts or miracles and of prophesy in great measure, yet his humility surpassed all those distinctions. He was offered the archepiscopal dignity of the see of Milan, but he declined with these words, "I have no other desire upon earth than to do penance and to preach penance as a poor Franciscan."

Worn out by his many labors as well as advanced age, he died at Naples, November 28, 1476, in the 85th year of his life, 60 years of which were consecrated to God in the religious state. He was entombed in the Franciscan church at Naples, where his body can still be seen in a crystal coffin, incorrupt, flexible, and emitting a fragrant perfume. Pope Benedict XIII canonized St. James in 1726.

O God, who in order to save souls and to call back sinners from the abyss of vice and the path of virtue, didst make Thy confessor St. James a distinguished preacher of the Gospel, mercifully grant that through his intercession we may repent of all our sins and attain to eternal life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Recently (1st to 3rd November 2008) his body which is preserved beneath an altar was subject to scientific investigation at the University of Pisa, below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today is the Feast of St. Francis Anthony Fasani, Franciscan Priest

Born in 1681 at Lucera, southeastern Italy, Francis Anthony was the son of very poor peasants; but he was a bright lad, and received a good education from the Conventual Franciscans in his native town. When he was 14 he received the habit of St. Francis among the Conventuals, and in 1705 he was ordained to the priesthood. He was then sent to the Sagro Convento, adjoining the basilica in Assisi where St. Francis is buried, for the purpose of continuing his studies. Two years later he received the doctorate in theology, and he was then appointed lector of philosophy in the college conducted by the Conventuals in his home town. He was promoted successively to regent of studies, guardian, and provincial, which latter office he held from 1721 to 1723. After that he served as master of novices, and then as pastor of the church of St. Francis in Lucera. A bishopric was offered to him, but he declined it.

From the process of beatification we learn that Francis Anthony was diligent in study, fervent in piety, prompt in his obedience to his superiors, devout in meditation, and most exact in the fulfillment of all his duties. He was also mortified and given to the exercises of penance even to bloodshed. From his youth he was an "angel in the flesh, more an angel than a man."

Among the devotions that he cherished there were especially a tender love for the Immaculate Mother of God, a childlike affection for the Infant Jesus, and fervent devotion, also night adoration, of the Holy Eucharist. Once, while he was absorbed in prayer, someone who happened to be in the church heard a voice saying: "This priest prays much for his people."

As a priest, he also became an eloquent preacher, a lover of the poor, a friend of the unfortunate. He was a missionary, a retreat-master, and a Lenten preacher. For hours he would sit in the confessional, hearing and absolving the sins of his penitents, consoling the afflicted, warning the hardened of heart. He spent much time in visiting the sick, the orphans, and the imprisoned. As a pastor he was a real father to his people.

After 35 years in the priesthood and a life of penance, union with God, and intense labor the salvation of souls, God called Father Francis Anthony to Himself on November 29, 1742. On that day the people of Lucera came hurrying to the church of St. Francis, exclaiming as did the children at the death of St. Anthony of Padua, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" And for 200 years since then, they have continues to kneel and pray at his tomb. The cause of his beatification was introduced in Rome in 1832; and in 1951 Pope Pius XII solemnly enrolled him among the blessed.


Grant, we pray, O Lord, that Thy faithful people may ever rejoice in venerating Thy blessed servant Francis Anthony and all Thy saints and may be aided by their unceasing prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today is the Feast of Saint Leonardo de Porto Maurice, Franciscan Priest

Saint Leonardo de Porto Maurizio, Priest
Porto Maurizio, Imperia, 1676 – Rome, November 26, 1751 

It is this saint to whom we owe the credit for having conceived the Via Crucis. Ligure (1676-1751), was the son of a sea captain. Born in Porto Maurizio, Imperia today, he studied in Rome at the Collegio Romano, then entered the retirement of St. Bonaventure, on the Palatine Hill, where he would wear the Franciscan habit. Posted in Corsica by the Pope to restore harmony among the citizens, he was able to obtain, despite the serious divisions among the inhabitants, an unthinkable embrace. The theme of the Cross was at the center of his preaching drew crowds to repentance and Christian piety. Alfonso Maria de Liguori called him “the greatest missionary of our century.”

Roman Martyrology: In Rome in the convent of Saint Bonaventura on the Palatine Hill, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Priest of the Order of Friars Minor, who, full of love for souls, engaged all his life in preaching, in publishing books of devotion and to visit in over three hundred missions in Rome, Corsica and Northern Italy.

Young Franciscan Leonardo had asked to be a missionary in China. Cardinal Colloredo had replied: “Your China will be Italy.”

And at the end of the seventeenth century, Italy had enough misery and misfortune enough to be considered mission territory.

Leonardo was a student in Rome, when a friend suggested going to hear a sermon. A few steps, they found that a hanged man dangling from the gallows. “This is the sermon,” said the two young men.

A few days later, the son of a sea captain of Porto Maurizio, Liguria, followed by two figures of monks who climbed to the convent of San Bonaventura on the Palatine Hill, where he donned the habit of the Franciscans called “the riformella” or “displaced”.

Devoting himself to preaching, perhaps remembering that torture hanging from the gallows, including Leonardo was always in mind the other execution, hanging on the Cross. Therefore, his favorite theme was that of the Via Crucis, typically Franciscan devotion to which he gave the largest spread.

His preaching had something dramatic and tragic, often by torchlight and voluntary torture, which underwent between Leonardo, now placing his hand on the torch lit, now scourging blood.

Immense crowds flocked to hear him and be impressed by his fiery speech, which re-called to repentance and Christian piety. “He is the greatest missionary of our century,”said St. Alphonsus de Liguori. Often, the entire audience, during his sermons, burst into sobs.

He preached throughout Italy, but the region of Tuscany was beaten because of the cold Jansenism, he wanted to fight first of all with the fervor of his heart, then with his themes more effective, namely the Name of Jesus, the Madonna and the Via Crucis.

In a visit to Corsica, the island’s troubled robbers fired their muskets into the air, shouting: “Viva friar Leonardo, long live peace.”

Back in Liguria, was launching a galley, named in his honor, San Leonardo. But he was gravely ill, the sailors said: “The boat is water.”

Consumed by the missionary labors, he was finally recalled to Rome, where, with his impassioned sermons, which also assisted the Pope, he prepared the spiritual climate for the Jubilee of 1750. On that occasion, he planted the Via Crucis at the Colosseum, declaring that place sacred to the martyrs.

Historians have also demonstrated that the Colosseum was never martyred Christians, but the preaching ~ in good faith – of San Leonardo prevented the further destruction of the monument, hitherto regarded as a quarry of good stone.

It was his last effort. He died the following year, and San Bonaventura al Palatino it took the soldiers to hold back the crowd who wanted to see the Holy priest and take away his relics. “We lose a friend on earth – the Pope Lambertini said – but we gain a protector in heaven.”

It was he who suggested the definition of the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception, through consultation letters with all the pastors of the Church.

Source: Parish Archives
Note: The site of the Compagnia di San Leonardo da Porto Maurizio
source: Santi e Beati

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today is the Feast of St. Agnes of Assisi, Virgin, Poor Clare and blood sister of St. Clare of Assisi

When St. Clare received the veil in 1212, she left behind her at home a young sister of 14 named Agnes. In answer to Clare's prayers and inspired by God, Agnes betook herself to the same convent where Clare was then staying only 16 days after her sister's departure from home.

Their father, much enraged, hastened to the convent in company with several relatives. He used force to remove her and was in the act of dragging her along by the hair, when Agnes suddenly became fixed to the spot. The united efforts of the entire company were powerless to move her. But he was seized with a violent pain in his arm and the weapon dropped from his hand. Overcome with fear, he and the rest of the band fled from the scene.

Agnes was overjoyed and returned to her sister Clare. St. Francis then led the two maidens to the convent of St. Damian, where he gave the holy habit also to Agnes. She now endeavored to imitate her saintly sister in everything, and devoted all her spare time to prayer and contemplation. She lived a very austere life, partaking only of bread and water, and wearing a coarse garb all her life.

St. Francis soon recognized the rich treasure of virtue hidden in this privileged soul. When a new convent of Poor Clares was to be founded at Florence in 1221, St. Francis sent Agnes, despite her youth, to act as superior there. Later he sent her also to Mantua and to several other cities in northern Italy to establish additional houses of the order. Wherever she went, she edified everybody by her holy life. Many devout young women renounced the world in order to consecrate themselves to God in monastic seclusion under her direction. She had the gift of infusing the Franciscan spirit into them, both by word and example.

She was favored with many extraordinary graces by God. In the great fervor of her devotion she was often raised above the earth, and once our Lord appeared to her in the form of an infant. From Holy Thursday until Holy Saturday she was once so rapt in the contemplation of the sufferings of Christ that she was under the impression she had spent an hour in this mystical state.

When St. Clare was about to die, she sent for Agnes to assist her in her final days. In her last moments Clare addressed her sister in these words, "My beloved sister, it is the will of God that I go, but be comforted, you will soon come and rejoin me with our Lord." Three months later Agnes followed her sister to eternity. It was on November 16, 1253. Her body rests in Assisi in a side chapel of the church of St. Clare. Numerous miracles occurred at her tomb, and Pope Benedict XIV canonized her.


1. On the feast of St. Agnes, Holy Church has us pray for the seraphic or Franciscan spirit. In what does that spirit consist? The seraphic spirit consists in ardent holy love, in a heart which seeks and sees God in all things and is bent on spending itself for His honor and using all things to glorify Him. The seraphic spirit takes its name from the Seraphim, who are ever aflame with love for God. Our seraphic father St. Francis was all aglow with this love of God and, like the three young men in the fiery furnace, wished all creatures to join in praising God. St. Agnes was at times so inflamed with this love that she was bodily raised above the earth. This love of God is conspicuous in all the saints of the Franciscan Order, for which reason the order itself is often spoken of as the Seraphic Order. As in the material world everything is attracted to the sun and revolves around it, so should all rational creatures be drawn to God and all the desires of their hearts should tend towards Him. -- Do you possess this seraphic spirit?

2. Consider the obstacles that oppose this seraphic spirit in the heart of man. There is, above all, worldliness which makes us so attached to material goods, sensual pleasures, and earthly honors, and thus hinders us from rising to God. Christ spoke thus to the Jews: "You are from beneath -- that is, earthly-minded -- I am from above" (John 8:23). That is the reason, said He, why they could not come to Him, and would die in their sins. Sins for which atonement has not yet been made also stand in the way and prevent the flame of love from rising upwards. Finally, conceit and pride hold many people captive. Such pride cast Lucifer out of heaven, and it permits no human heart to ride to God. Therefore, detachment from material things, penance for sins committed, and sentiments of humility must prepare our hearts, otherwise they will not be in a condition to receive so much as a spark of true divine love. -- What is it that prevents you from truly loving God?

3. Consider that this fire of love, which fills the heart with the seraphic spirit, must come from the Father of Light. What we can do, is make ourselves receptive for this grace. But, if we do our part, God will give it to us, for He said; "I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?" (Luke 12:49). Let us, therefore, pray for the seraphic spirit and do what lies in us that it may not be weakened or stifled in us. Then, too, let us be mindful, especially during the month which is devoted to the souls in purgatory, of these souls who are filled with the seraphic spirit but suffer great anguish in their desire for God. Let us pray that God may satisfy their ardent longing.


O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst set up Blessed Agnes before many virgins as a model and guide to evangelical perfection, grant, we beseech Thee, that the seraphic spirit, which she so wisely taught and confirmed by her holy example, may be preserved in us from all taint. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today is the Feast of Blessed Salome, Virgin and Poor Clare Nun

Salome was a daughter of the royal family of Prince Lescon V, and a sister of Boleslas the Chaste, the virginal spouse of Blessed Kinga (July 23). She was born at Crakow, the capital of Poland, in 1201. At the age of 3, according to the custom of the time, she was betrothed to Prince Colman of Hungary, a brother of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (Nov 17), and was sent to the court of King Andrew II in order to be raised according to the customs of the country.

The little girl proved to be a child of grace and a model to all with whom she associated. When the day of her marriage arrived, both spouses resolved to preserve their virginity. They preserved their vow intact to the end of their lives.

The pious couple vied with each other in their practices of piety and penance. With the consent of her husband, Salome received the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis at the hands of her confessor, a Franciscan friar. Following her example, many of the ladies at court renounced worldly pomp and vanity, and the palace took on the appearance of a convent. Even when her husband became king of Galicia, and Salome, in addition to the crown that was here by birth, received a royal crown, she remained the simple daughter of St. Francis in the Order of Penance.

King Coleman fell in battle against the Tatars in 1225. Salome then resolved to consecrate herself to God, and used her wealth in supporting the poor and in building churches. In 1240 she entered the convent of the Poor Clares at Zawichost. The convent was later removed to the vicinity of Crakow, to protect it against the inroads of the Tatars, and it was known as St. Mary of the Stairs. Here Salome continued to live for 28 years, highly respected by her fellow sisters because of her virtue. On several occasions she was elected to the office of abbess.

When she was 67 years old, she was seized with an illness one day during holy Mass, and she predicted that her death would follow shortly. Admonishing those about her deathbed to practice charity and harmony, and faithfully observe the rule, she died November 17, 1268, favored and fortified in her last hour with a vision of our Lady and the Child Jesus. A heavenly sign that she was receiving a third crown, the best of them all, was the fact that her sisters in religion, at the moment of her death, saw a brilliant start rise from her lips and mount to heaven.

When her body was exhumed seven months after burial, it was found incorrupt and giving forth a sweet odor. She was then entombed in the Franciscan Church at Crakow beside her husband, King Colman. Many miracles occurred in testimony of her sanctity, whereupon Pope Clement X beatified her.


1. Consider how precious is the virtue of purity of heart, which shone so brightly in Blessed Salome. Christ pronounced Salome blessed in advance when He said: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:18). Blessed are such souls even here on earth, for they possess that interior bliss which results from a good conscience and from the right order of things preserved despite the warring emotions of the heart. The pure of heart also win the affections of their fellowmen, just as little children are believed by everyone. The greatest blessing of purity, however, is the assurance of eternal happiness; for, says Eternal Truth, "they shall see God." -- Should we not be eager to acquire this precious virtue?

2. Consider what contributes purity of heart. It considers, not only in rejecting all indecent, impure desires and affections, but also in conquering all the other passions which stain the soul, especially injustice and avarice, pride and vanity, lying and deceit. In answer to the question as to who will be admitted to the vision of God, the Psalmist says: "The innocent in hands, and clean of heart, who has not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor" (Ps 23:4). -- How do matters stand with you?

3. Consider how we can preserve purity of heart. Be ever mindful of the high origin of your soul. A person of high birth needs only to remember his distinguished extraction in order to refrain from doing anything unbecoming. Your soul is of utmost distinguished origin. It has been created by God Himself according to His image and likeness; it has come forth from baptism a child of God and an heir of heaven. If sensuality, pride, or avarice attack your soul and threaten to stain it, say with Blessed Salome: "I am of too noble an extraction, I am too distinguished in birth to yield to anything of that sort," and then banish the tempter with contempt. -- Mindful, however, of your weakness, so not fail to plead with the prophet: "Create a clean heart in me, O God!" (Ps 50:12).


O God, who didst combine in Blessed Salome contempt of an earthly kingdom with the luster of virginity in the married state, grant, we beseech Thee, that imitating her example, we may serve Thee with a pure and humble heart and deserve to attain to the imperishable crown of glory in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Today is the Feast of St Elizabeth of Hungary 1207-1231, Patroness of the Third Franciscan Order

In 1207 a daughter was born to pious King Andrew II of Hungary. She received the name of Elizabeth in baptism. The child was so lovable that the wealthy landgrave of Thuringia and Hesse sought her as the bride of his eldest son Louis. His request was granted, and a solemn embassy went to get Elizabeth, then only three years old, so that she could be raised at her future husband's castle.

The two children loved each other like brother and sister, and vied with each other in acts of piety and charity. Those who beheld Elizabeth at prayer might well have believed they saw an angel. Her greatest joy was to give things to the poor. When she grew a little older, she visited the poor and the sick, and waited on them with as much reverence as if she were serving Christ Himself.
The proud dowager Landgravine Sophia was displeased with Elizabeth's conduct and endeavored to talk her son into sending Elizabeth back to Hungary and choosing a bride of more princely ways. But Louis was aware of the treasure he possessed in Elizabeth. Succeeding his father at the age of 18 he took over the government and married Elizabeth. Their marriage was unusually happy, and Louis gave his wife full liberty to do all the good her heart desired.
At Eisenach Elizabeth built a large hospital. During a famine she daily fed nine hundred needy people. The story is told that once when she was on her way with her cloak full of good things for her dear poor and sick, she met her husband, who teasingly blocked her path until she would show him what she was carrying away this time. How astonished was he to behold fresh, fragrant roses in midwinter. Reverently he permitted his spouse to go on her charitable way.

When Louis was away, it was Elizabeth's duty to take over the regency, and this she did with great prudence and care. Whatever spare time she had, she spent on the poor, the sick, and especially the lepers. It is related that once she took in a little leper boy whom no one cared to have about, and after caring for him as if he were her own child, placed him in the royal bed. But Louis returned unexpectedly at this time, and the angry dowager ran to tell him what Elizabeth had done and how she would surely cause him to be infected. Quite stirred, Louis went to the bed and tore aside the covers. But he was amazed and moved to tears when he beheld there the form of the Crucified. Turning to his wife he said, "Dear Elizabeth, you may always receive guests like that. I shall even thank you for it."

But Elizabeth, too, was to be tried by the crucible of suffering. Emperor Frederick II set out on a crusade to the Holy Land in 1227, and pious Landgrave Louis joined the expedition. But he died on the way, in southern Italy. When the news reached Thuringia, Louis' brothers rose up against Elizabeth. She was driven out of the palace; only two faithful maids went with her. In Eisenach the people dared not give her shelter fearing the resentment of the new masters. It was midwinter and night was at hand. The daughter of a king, a widowed princess, with four little children, the youngest scarcely 2 months old was completely destitute and homeless.

A man finally offered her shelter in a stable. Grateful for the kindness. Elizabeth thought of how the Son of God on coming down from heaven, was refused admittance at all doors of Bethlehem and found refuge in a stable. The thought filled her with greater joy than she had ever experienced in her palace. At midnight, when the bells of the nearby Franciscan convent, which she had built, announced the chanting of the Divine Office, she begged the friars to sing the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the favor that she and her children were made so like Jesus.

With her faithful servants, Elizabeth now arranged things as best she could. She spun flax for a livelihood, saving something from the meager income to give to the poor.

Later Elizabeth was reinstated in the Wartberg, and Emperor Frederick II, whose wife had died, asked her hand in marriage. But Elizabeth had so learned to love poverty and seclusion that she had no desire for worldly greatness. Her children were given the education due to princes, but she and her two maids repaired to a small house near the Franciscan church in Marburg. Elizabeth had joined the Third Order of St. Francis during the lifetime of her husband. Indeed, she was the first member in Germany, and received a message from St. Francis himself. Now, vested with the habit and the cord, she led a quiet religious life, meanwhile nursing the sick in the hospitals, and submitting her whole life to the direction of the learned and devout Friar Conrad.

Our Lord announced to her that He would soon call her to heaven. She told her Father Confessor, who had fallen seriously ill, that he would recover, but that she would die soon. Within 4 days she became ill, and was prepared for her final hour by her confessor, who had recovered.

Elizabeth was admitted into heaven on November 19, 1231, when she was only 24 years old. The miracles that took place at her tomb were so numerous that Pope Gregory IX canonized her already in 1235. She is the special patroness of the sisters of the Third Order Secular of St. Francis, and also of some religious sisterhoods of the Third Order Regular. Pope Leo XIII placed all charitable organizations of women under her patronage.

1. Consider how noble Elizabeth was by birth: the daughter of a king, the wife of a prince who governed a beautiful and wealthy country. But nobility of soul meant more to her who was God's child, destined to serve the Most High here on earth, and to be an heir of the heavenly kingdom. Filled with the spirit of God, Elizabeth appreciated her dignity from childhood on. She found her sweetest delight in being united with God by prayer and pious practices, and her favorite occupation was to serve God in His poor and sick members. She did this with such holy sentiments that our Lord deigned to take the place of the leper she was nursing. She was always aware of the nobility of her own soul and acted accordingly. -- Is your soul not equally noble? Are your sentiments and conduct in keeping with your no nobility?

2. Many people believe that the way to maintain their dignity is by proud and domineering manners and by exterior pomp and finery. Elizabeth thought otherwise. She looked upon vain pomp as a form of slavery in which the soul basely serves the detestable vice of pride, the sin through which our first parents lost their nobility in Paradise. The Son of God gave His own blood to atone for that sin; and only by means of that royal purple have we been restored to the position of children of God. That is why Elizabeth loathed everything that savored of pride, always remaining as humble and submissive as a child. -- Do you permit the nobility of your soul to be sullied by pride and vanity?

3. Consider how almighty God prepares the soul, which He has endowed with such nobility, for its destiny in eternity. In company with all the angels and saints the soul is to enjoy the most intimate union with God. That is why God permits many trials and hardships to come upon human beings, so that their fidelity may be proved and everything unworthy may first be removed. But he who tries to escape the test of the cross and seeks sensual pleasures makes himself unworthy of nobility of soul and exposes himself to the danger of losing it. He who wants to be faithful to God but submits only imperfectly to His ordinances must pass through a severe purification in purgatory before he can enter heaven. Only the soul that has been thoroughly purified here on earth can be admitted to heaven immediately after death. When Elizabeth departed from this life, her soul was radiant in the full brilliance of its nobility. In trials she had thanked God in the words of the Te Deum; and then she submitted to the strict guidance of a confessor who completed the preparation of her soul for heaven. -- While there is time, prepare your soul so that, when you die, it may be ready for heaven.

Enlighten, O God of mercy, the hearts of the faithful, and through the prayers of St. Elizabeth, do Thou cause us to think little of worldly prosperity and ever to be gladdened by the consolation which is of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today is the Feast of Saints Nicholas Tavelic, Stephen of Cuneo, Deodato Aribert from Ruticinio and Peter of Narbonne Franciscan Priests, Martyrs

Above Sts Nicholas Tavelic, Stephen of Cuneo, Deodato Aribert from Ruticinio and Peter of Narbonne Franciscan Priests, Martyrs

Roman Martyrology: In Jerusalem, the Holy Nicholas Tavelic, Deodato Aribert, Stephen of Cuneo and Peter of Narbonne, Priests of the Order of Friars Minor and Martyrs who were burned in the fire for preaching boldly in the public square in front of the Saracens, the Christian religion, professing Strongly Christ Son of God.

The personal stories of these Franciscan missionaries, are intertwined in 1383, when, coming from different places in Europe, they flowed into the Franciscan convent of Mount Zion in Palestine, where the Order of St. Francis has been for centuries the Custodian of the Holy Places of Christianity.

The Friars Minor, Nicholas Tavelic, Deodato by Aribert Ruticinio, Stephen of Cuneo and Peter of Narbonne found themselves in that Franciscan monastery, where they lived for eight years, according to the Rule of St. Francis, performing their duties, for the care of Places sanctity of life and death of Jesus, and trying to do apostolate in the Muslim world, where Mount Zion was almost like an island amid a sea of Muslims.
With Muslims, the apostolate was almost fruitless, since the deepening of their faith, they were not open to interreligious dialogue.

Nevertheless, the four Friars Minor, decided to bring the Gospel to the Mohammedans, publicly exposing the arguments of Christianity and Islam and comparing them with those after consultation with two theologians, prepared a memorandum in which, in a detailed and rich in historical references and theological, meticulously exposed the Christian doctrine by refuting Islam.
On November 11, 1391, they went before the Cadi (judge) of Jerusalem in the presence of many Muslims, they were exposed reading this, they worked out with great courage. While they listened carefully, it was not accepted by those present, in the end they went into a rage and then the monks were asked to recall what they said; the four monks refused and so were sentenced to death for three days were put behind bars where they suffered abuse.

On November 14, they were brought back to the streets, again asked to recant what was said against Islam, after rejection this they were killed, blown to pieces and burned, the Muslims did disappear any remains, even the ashes, so that they were not honored by Christians.

Their martyrdom was described in detail in a report by the Guardian of the Holy Land, Father Gerald Calvet, two months after their death.
Their Cult was recognized by the Franciscan Order, dating from the fifteenth century; Pope Leo XIII, in 1889, confirmed only the cult of Nicholas Tavelic, the leader, who had great reverence in his native Yugoslavia.

In 1966, Pope Paul VI confirmed the cult for the other three Franciscan Martyrs, staring at their feast to November 17, but in the Franciscan Martyrology they were remembered on the date of their death (dies natalis) that November 14.

Pope Paul VI, on June 21, 1970, in Rome, elevated them to the altars, proclaimed them saints, and their liturgical celebration was extended to November 14 for all, and inserted into the Roman Martyrology on the same date; they are the first martyrs and saints the Custody of the Holy Land.

Nicola Tavelic:

First saint of the Croatian nation, Nicola Tavelic, was born about 1340 in Šibenik, Dalmatia; as a teenager he walked among the Friars Minor of St. Francis, became a priest, was a missionary in Bosnia, along with his father by Deodato Ruticinio, where for nearly 12 years he preached against the Bogomil, a heretical sect that had its stronghold in Bosnia (they contrasted the spirit world than that of matter, considered an expression of force of evil, they denied the Trinity, the human nature of Christ, the Old Testament, did not recognize the rites and sacraments of baptism and marriage, nor the church hierarchy).

Then in 1383, along with the French father of Aribert Ruticinio Deodato, he was sent to the Mission of Palestine Mont Sion in Jerusalem, where he met the other two future fellow martyrs, Father Stephen of Cuneo and Father Peter Narbonne, France.

Deodato Ruticinio (diode Aribert):

Was from the Franciscan Province of Aquitaine. We do not know his date of birth, which was probably around 1340. His country of birth, which in Latin is called Ruticinio was identified by some with the modern French city of Rodez, while some other shows the Roussillon, the historical region of southern France, but at that time depended on Catalonia. In 1372 he was sent as a missionary in Bosnia, where he met Father Nicola Tavelic, to whom he was bound by sincere friendship, all preaching against the Bogomil; in 1383 with his brother he was assigned to the Franciscan convent of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where he also met the Fathers by Stefano Cuneo and Peter of Narbonne outfit.

Peter of Narbonne:

All that is known of this Franciscan Martyr from the Franciscan Province of Provence in southern France, where at one point,he went down into Italy, attracted by the Franciscan Observance Reform, launched in Umbria in 1368, by Blessed Paul or Paoluccio Trinci of Foligno (1309-1391). He was at the hermitage Umbrian Brogliano, located between Foligno and Camerino, fifteen years, living in prayer and meditation on the spirituality of St. Francis. In 1381 he left as a missionary to the Holy Land, received into the convent of Mount Zion in Jerusalem where he met Nicola Tavelic in 1383, Deodato from Ruticinio, his compatriot and Stephen of Cuneo, with whom he will later be martyred so horribly, on November 14, 1391.

Stephen of Cuneo: 
Very little is known about the Franciscan Saint Martyred in Jerusalem, Stephen of Cuneo, made from precious ‘report’ made by the Father Superior of the convent of Mount Sion, on the martyrdom of the four priests belonging to the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land. Father Stephen of Cuneo, was of the Franciscan Province of Genoa and spent eight years in the vicarious in Corsica, before being transferred to Jerusalem in 1383, where he could fulfill his apostolic activity among the Muslims for another eight years before his martyrdom, suffered along with fellow French by Deodato Ruticinio and Peter of Narbonne and the Croatian Nicola Tavelic. The city of origin of the Franciscan saint, Cuneo, seems doubtful, since an historic renaissance, claimed to have collected a local tradition, which made him a native of Fiumorbo in Corsica, with a separate family Prunelli.

Be well, but the martyr is well known for 600 years as Stephen of Cuneo.

Author: Antonio Borrelli
Source: Santi e Beati


Nicholas was the son of a noble and wealthy family of Dalmatia. His illustrious parents gave him a good education, and his progress in learning was marvelous. But no less marvelous was his progress in virtue. 
When Nicholas finished his studies, a bright future smiled upon him. Everything the world could give was at his command and awaited his pleasure. However, he resolved to quit the world and enter the Order of St. Francis. In spite of the great obstacles and the stubborn opposition he met, he received the humble habit of St. Francis and made his novitiate with the simplicity and docility of a child. 
Manual labor, study, power, and mortification were his delight and chief employment. After he was ordained a priest, his fervor in saying Mass caused edification and all were impressed by his sermons. 
Due to his great learning and piety, he was sent as a missionary to Bosnia, a most difficult field of labor. Undaunted, Nicholas labored with ardent zeal among the heretics. refuting their false doctrines, repaying insult with blessing, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted. He gained innumerable souls for Christ by his extreme kindness and charity.

Many esteemed him another Christ, while others persecuted him with relentless hatred. At heart he loved the latter more, for he desired martyrdom and thought they might procure for him the coveted crown. This thought gave him tremendous supernatural strength. It increased his charity and zeal, his spirit of prayer, meditation and penance. But, after 12 years of tireless labor in Bosnia, all opposition died down, and Nicholas was convinced he must seek martyrdom elsewhere.

He now asked for permission to go to the Holy Land, where so many of his brethren had already attained the martyr's crown. The permission was granted to him, and he was sent to Jerusalem. Once more he led a hidden life of prayer, penance, and study, but more than ever he yearned to die the death of a martyr, desiring, like Christ, to be an oblation of love for the salvation of others.

On November 11, 1391, he entered the Turkish mosque and with the zeal of a Saint Paul preached to a vast assembly there. He pleaded with tact and eloquence that Christ and His religion be accepted by the Turks in their hearts and homes. Before he had finished, he was apprehended and taken to the magistrates.

Questioned as to his faith, Nicholas joyfully professed his belief in the one true Church of Christ, defending it against every objection. This incensed the court to such an extent that he was knocked to the ground and attacked with great fury. Beaten almost to death, he was dragged into a dungeon, chained hand and foot, and kept for three days without food or drink. 
On the fourth day he was taken out into the street, where he died the glorious death of a martyr, slashed to pieces with scimitars. God glorified His martyr by miracles, and Pope Leo XIII solemnly confirmed the veneration paid to him from time immemorial. 

1. Eternal goods should be treasured above all things. Reflecting on the permanence of heavenly goods, Blessed Nicholas left everything the world offered him and became a poor Franciscan. He followed the admonition of our Lord: "Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where the rust and the moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither the rust nor the moth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matt 6:19-20). -- Which treasures do you seek to acquire?

2. Eternal goods are not properly evaluated. Most people are bent on acquiring temporal goods, money, possessions, distinctions, honor, and pleasure. They put themselves to much trouble by day and by night to acquire them. How many there are who ignore the goods of eternity for the sake of some temporal benefit, a momentary pleasure! The words of our Lord are directed to them: "I have sworn in My wrath! They shall not enter into My rest" (Heb 3:11). -- Which goods are you trying to acquire?

3. Temporal goods are quite worthless. They are transient and cannot satisfy the heart of man. Solomon reveled in worldly luxury, and in the end he was forced to admit: "I was weary of my life when I saw that all things under the sun are evil, and all vanity and vexation of spirit" (Eccl 2:17). -- Do you permit yourself to be dazzled by the things of this world? 


O God, who didst glorify Thy confessor Blessed Nicholas by spreading the Gospel and by the palm of martyrdom, grant in answer to our prayer, that we may merit to walk in his footsteps and through his intercession deserve to receive the victor's reward of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For the Feast of St. John of Capistrano's today

St John Capistrano was known as the defender of the rights of God preaching throughout Europe and fought many heresies and led the Christians troops against the invading Muslims. Ave Maria!

Today, Oct. 23rd, is the Feast of St. John Capistrano, Franciscan priest, the Soldier Saint

Today, October 23, we celebrate the feast day of Saint John of Capistrano (1386-1456), “the Soldier Saint,” confessor, acclaimed preacher, miracle worker, and crusader. Saint John lived at a time of difficulty and despair across Europe, having just suffered the plague, currently embattled in several wars, and attacks from Muslim forces of the East. Similarly, the Church was embroiled in battles regarding the identity of the pope (as schisms had created three separate individuals identified as pope), and the Franciscan Order was similarly divided. Saint John was a man of hope and action. His deep Christian optimism and complete faith in the Lord drove him to attack problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by trust in Christ.

John was born at Capistrano in the Italian Province of the Abruzzi. His father, who died while John was quite young, had been a well-respected German knight. John received a thorough education, seen to by his mother. As a student, John excelled, leading to immediate career successes. He became a lawyer and was granted the position of governor of Perugia at the young age of 26. He fought corruption and bribery and became renowned for his high ethical standards and commitment to justice.

When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker peace between the regions. Unfortunately, his efforts led only to his imprisonment. During his time in prison, while he had plenty of time for contemplation, John felt a deep spiritual stirring within in, vowing to change his life for the better upon his release. Shortly thereafter, following the death of his wife, he entered the order of Friars Minor, was ordained a priest, and began to lead a very penitential life.

John became a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena and was immediately recognized for his sermons and ability to touch the hearts of those who listened to him. As an Itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, Saint John preached to tens of thousands. He reportedly healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day. His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. Together with Saint Bernadine of Siena, Saint John spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Mary, Mother of God.

History tells us, “Saint John traversed the whole of Italy; and so great were the crowds who came to listen to him that he often had to preach in the public squares. At the time of his preaching all business stopped. At Brescia, on one occasion he preached to a crowd of one hundred and twenty-six thousand people, who had come from all the neighboring provinces. On another occasion during a mission over two thousand sick people were brought to him that he might sign them with the Sign of the Cross, so great was his fame as a healer of the sick.”

When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, Saint John was commissioned (at age 70) by Pope Callistus II to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Barefoot and dressed in his humble robe, Saint John visited the kings of Europe, uniting them and their armies against the invading forces. He led an army of 70,000 Christian soldiers to Belgrade, and when it appeared that they were outmatched by the Muslim army, he ran to the front lines. Holding his crucifix up high, this thin, small old man kept crying, "Victory, Jesus, victory!" Full of courage in Christ, the Christian army won an overwhelming victory and freeing the city from siege. Worn out by his age and efforts, Saint John succumbed to the infections present on the battlefield and died several months later. “An infinity of miracles” followed his death.

Saint John of Capistrano was a man of action, who gave up a successful and lucrative career and life to follow Christ. His commitment to the Word of God reminds us that the highest goal of this life is not worldly honors, but union with God in heaven. On his tomb in the Austrian town of Villach, the following message is inscribed: "This tomb holds John, by birth of Capistrano, a man worthy of all praise, defender and promoter of the faith, guardian of the Church, zealous protector of his Order, an ornament to all the world, lover of truth and religious justice, mirror of life, surest guide in doctrine; praised by countless tongues, he reigns blessed in heaven."

From the writings of Saint John of Capistrano:

“Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a praiseworthy and blameless life. They must completely remove from their lives the filth and uncleanness of vice. Their upright lives must make them like the salt of the earth for themselves and for the rest of mankind. The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to others. They must learn from their eminent teacher, Jesus Christ, what he declared not only to his apostles and disciples, but also to all the priests and clerics who were to succeed them, when he said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what is salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Jesus also said: “You are the light of the world.” Now a light does not illumine itself, but instead it diffuses its rays and shines all around upon everything that comes into its view. So it must be with the glowing lives of upright and holy clerics. By the brightness of their holiness they must bring light and serenity to all who gaze upon them. They have been placed here to care for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they must live in the house of the Lord.”

you raised up Saint John of Capistrano
to give your people comfort in their trials.
May your Church enjoy unending peace
and be secure in your protection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The letter of St John Capistrano to St Colette
November 1442
StJohnCapistranoFulda school 1766
It can be your greatest friends that cause you the greatest anguish. St John wanted Colette to join his reform of the Franciscan order, accept his constitutions and submit to the jurisdiction of the friars he would appoint as visitators. He was full of sincere enthusiasm for the restoration of the Franciscan order - but he was not a Poor Clare and he had never lived the life Colette professed. Colette and her sisters prayed desperately to God that God would enlighten John’s heart and mind. And God did. John completely reversed his position. Not only did he not interfere with the life of the Sisters he place the Friars who had joined Colette’s reform under her jurisdiction and empowered her to appoint her own visitators. This is unique in Church legislation!

To Sister Colette of the Order of St. Clare, entirely devoted to Christ our Lord, our very dear daughter in the heart of the Spouse of virgins, John Capistran of the Order of Minors, on the part of the Apostolic See and the Most Reverend Father General wishes health and everlasting peace in the Lord.

Desiring, with a father’s affection, to console you in the Lord, I ratify and I confirm by these letters present, and declare ratified and confirmed all the favours which the Most Reverend Minister-General has accorded you and your chaplain, Pierre de Vaux, and the chaplains of the convents of nuns which you have built and will build

I declare that you have power to appoint one or more friars of our Order to fill the office of Visitator of the nuns in the said convents, or of friars who live in monasteries (of your way of life). To these friars so chosen, in virtue of these letters present, I accord and declare accorded the same faculties and the same power that preceding Ministers General have heretofore given these Visitators.

I ordain, in virtue of holy obedience, that the friars so named accept, the office of Visitator with respect, and that they fulfil it with diligence and devotion.

Given by me, at Besançon,
the eighth day of the month of November,
in the year of our Lord, 1442.

Brother John Capistrano, Commissary General

St. Anthony in Frescoes

By the Poor Clare nuns of Galway, Ireland. A beautiful video on frescoes of St. Anthony of Padua and a short description of the event and/or miracle.

Monday, October 21, 2013

For the Feast of St. Peter of Alcantara

On the memorial of St. Peter of Alcantara (Oct. 19th), Fr. George preached on this Franciscan's remarkable life of extreme penance and lofty contemplation, and explains that although many can't imitate his austerities, we must strive to live a continual life of penance and sacrifice.
Ave Maria!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Today is the Feast Day of St. Peter of Alcantara

Born at Alcántara, Spain, 1499; died 18 Oct., 1562. His father, Peter Garavita, was the governor of the place, and his mother was of the noble family of Sanabia. After a course of grammar and philosophy in his native town, he was sent, at the age of fourteen, to the University of Salamanca. Returning home, he became a Franciscan in the convent of the Stricter Observance at Manxaretes in 1515. At the age of twenty-two he was sent to found a new community of the Stricter Observance at Badajoz. He was ordained priest in 1524, and the following year made guardian of the convent of St. Mary of the Angels at Robredillo. A few years later he began preaching with much success. He preferred to preach to the poor; and his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, breathe the tenderest human sympathy. The reform of the "Discalced Friars" had, at the time when Peter entered the order, besides the convents in Spain, the Custody of Sta. Maria Pietatis in Portugal, subject to the General of the Observants. 

Having been elected minister of St. Gabriel's province in 1538, Peter set to work at once. At the chapter of Plasencia in 1540 he drew up the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants, but his severe ideas met with such opposition that he renounced the office of provincial and retired with John of Avila into the mountains of Arabida, Portugal, where he joined Father Martin a Santa Maria in his life of eremitical solitude. Soon, however, other friars came to join him, and several little communities were established. Peter being chosen guardian and master of novices at the convent of Pallais. In 1560 these communities were erected into the Province of Arabida. Returning to Spain in 1553 he spent two more years in solitude, and then journeyed barefoot to Rome, and obtained permission of Julius III to found some poor convents in Spain under the jurisdiction of the general of the Conventuals. Convents were established at Pedrosa, Plasencia, and elsewhere; in 1556 they were made a commissariat, with Peter as superior, and in 1561, a province under the title of St. Joseph. Not discouraged by the opposition and ill-success his efforts at reform had met with in St. Gabriel's province, Peter drew up the constitutions of the new province with even greater severity. The reform spread rapidly into other provinces of Spain and Portugal.

In 1562 the province of St. Joseph was put under the jurisdiction of the general of the Observants, and two new custodies were formed: St. John Baptist's in Valencia, and St. Simon's in Galicia. Besides the above-named associates of Peter may be mentioned St. Francis Borgia,John of Avila, and Ven. Louis of Granada. In St. Teresa, Peter perceived a soul chosen of God for a great work, and her success in the reform of Carmel was in great measure due to his counsel, encouragement, and defense. It was a letter from St. Peter (14 April, 1562) that encouraged her to found her first monastery at Avila, 24 Aug. of that year. St. Teresa's autobiography is the source of much of our information regarding Peter's life, work, and gifts of miracles and prophecy.

Perhaps the most remarkable of Peter's graces were his gift of contemplation and the virtue of penance. Hardly less remarkable was his love of God, which was at times so ardent as to cause him, as it did St. Philip Neri, sensible pain, and frequently rapt him into ecstasy. The poverty he practiced and enforced was as cheerful as it was real, and often let the want of even the necessaries of life be felt. In confirmation of his virtues and mission of reformation God worked numerous miracles through his intercession and by his very presence. He was beatified by Gregory XV in 1622, and canonized by Clement IX in 1669. Besides the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants and many letters on spiritual subjects, especially to St. Teresa, he composed a short treatise on prayer, which has been translated into all the languages of Europe. His feast is October 22nd for the Franciscans (often seen as October 19th for the general calendar). 

by St. Peter of Alcantara

Chapter I.

Of the Fruit to be Derived from Prayer and Meditation

SINCE this short treatise speaks of prayer and meditation, it will be well to state in a few words what is the fruit which may be derived from this holy exercise, so that men may give themselves to it with more willing heart.  It is a well known fact that one of the greatest hindrances we have to attaining our final happiness and blessedness, is the evil inclination of our hearts, the difficulty and dullness of spirit we have in respect to good rules; for, if this was not in the way, it would be the easiest thing possible to run in the path of virtues, and attain to the end for which we were created.  Concerning which the Apostle says, "I delight in the Law of God, according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin." (Rom. 7:22-23)  This, then, is the universal cause of all our evil.  One of the most efficacious means for overcoming this dullness and difficulty, and for facilitating this matter, is devotion; for as St. Thomas says, "Devotion is nothing else than a certain readiness and aptitude for doing good."  For this takes away from our mind all that difficulty and dullness, and makes us quick and ready for all good.  It is a spiritual refection, a refreshment, like the dew of Heaven, a breath and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural affection.  It so orders, strengthens, and transforms a man's heart, that it imparts a new taste and inspiration for spiritual things, a new distaste and abhorrence for sensible things.  The experience of every day shows us this.  For when a spiritually minded person rises from deep devout prayer, then straight away all his good resolutions are renewed, together with fervor and determination to do good; the desire then to please, and to love, a Lord so good and kind as He has then shown Himself to be, a willingness to endure fresh troubles, and chastenings, even to shedding blood for His sake, then, finally, all the freshness of soul is renewed and blooms again.

If you ask me, by what means so powerful and noble an affection of devotion is attained, the same holy teacher answers that it is by meditation and contemplation of diving things;  for from deeply meditating and pondering over these things there springs up this disposition, and affection in the will, which is called devotion;  and this stirs and moves us to all good.  It is on this account that this holy and religious exercise is so extolled and commended by all the Saints, as being The Means of acquiring devotion, which, though it is but one virtue only, yet it disposes and moves one to all the other virtues, and exists as a general stimulus to them all.

If you would see how true this is, hear how plainly St. Bonaventure declares it in these words:
"If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer.  If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer.  If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer.  If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer.  If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer.  If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer.  If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer.  If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer.  Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things.”
"And besides all this, if you would climb to the height of contemplation, and delight in the sweet embraces of the Bridegroom, exercise yourself in prayer, for this is the way by which the soul mounts up to contemplation and to the taste of heavenly things.
"You see, then, of how great virtue and power is prayer, and for proof of all that has been said (to say nothing of Holy Scripture) let this now be sufficient assurance that we have seen and heard, and see, day by day, many simple persons who have attained to all these things above mentioned and to others greater, through the exercise of prayer."
Thus far the words of St. Bonaventure. Then, what richer treasure? What field can be found more fertile, yielding more abundantly than this?  Hear also what another most religious and holy doctor, speaking of this same virtue, says:
"In prayer the soul is cleansed from sin, pastured with charity, confirmed in faith, strengthened in hope, gladdened in spirit.  By prayer the inward man is directed aright, the heart is purified, the truth discovered, temptation overcome, sadness avoided, the perceptions renewed, languishing virtue restored, lukewarmness dismissed, the rust of vices done away;  and in it there do not cease to come forth living sparkles of heavenly desires, with which the flame of divine love burns.  Great are the excellencies of prayer, great are its privileges!  Before it Heaven is opened, secrete things are made manifest, and to it the ears of God are ever attentive." (St. Lawrence Justinian, In Signo Vitae)
This now is sufficient to show in some way what is the fruit of this holy exercise.

Chapter II.

Of the Subject Matter of Meditation

HAVING seen what fruit may come of Prayer and Mediation, let us now see what are the things on which we should meditate.   To which the answer is, that inasmuch as this holy exercise is ordained to create in our hearts the love and fear of God, and to lead us to keep His Commandments, the most fitting subject for this exercise will be that which should most surely lead to the end proposed.  And although it be true that all created things, whether earthly or heavenly, may move us to this, yet, generally speaking, the Mysteries of our Faith which are contained in the Creed, are the most efficacious, and profitable.  For here are treated the subjects of the Divine blessings, the Last Judgment, the pains of Hell, and the glory of Paradise, where there are the most powerful stimulants to move our hearts to the love and fear of God;  and in it are treated also the Life and Passion of Our Savior Christ, in which consists all our good.  These two subjects especially are treated of in the Creed, and are those on which we for the most part make our Meditations.  And therefore, with much reason it is said, that the Creed is the most fitting subject for this holy exercise, although at the same time, there may be with every one some subject which might more especially move his heart to the love and fear of God.

Agreeably, then, with this, in order to help on the young who are now entering upon this path, to whom we should give food which has been, as it were, already digested, I will now briefly set forth two kinds of Meditation for all the days of the week.  Taken, for the most part, from the Mysteries of our Faith, some are for the evening, and some for the morning;  so that, as we give our bodies their two meals each day, so should we give our souls, whose food is Meditation and the consideration of things Divine.  Of these Mediations, some are upon the Mysteries of Sacred Passion and Resurrection of Christ, and some upon the other Mysteries of which I have spoken.  Those who have not time to make such retirement twice in the day, will, at least, be able to mediate one week upon the former mysteries, and another week upon the latter.  Or, they may fine themselves entirely to those on the Passion and Life of Jesus Christ, which are the principal ones;  although it would not be well, in the beginning of the soul's conversion, to omit the others, seeing that they are especially suitable at such time when the fear of God and detestation of our sins are to be chiefly desired.

On this day, you shall enter upon the memory of your sins, and upon the knowledge of yourself, to see how many evil things you have done, and to see that you have nothing that is good save from God.  For this consideration is the means of acquiring humility, the mother of all the virtues.

Monday Morning Meditation

For this purpose you must first think of the multitude of the sins of your past life, especially of those committed in the days when you knew not God.  For if you consider them well, you will find that they are more in number than the hairs of your head, and that you lived in that day like the Gentile who knows not God.  Consider then, briefly, the Ten Commandments, and the Seven Deadly sins, and you will see that there are none into which you have not often fallen, in deed or word or thought.  Let your mind, then, rest upon the Divine Blessings, and upon your past time, and consider how you have made use of them.  For you have to give an account of all these before God.  Tell me, then, how have you used the days of your childhood, your youth, your manhood, indeed all the days of your past life?

In what way did you use your bodily senses, and the powers of your soul, which God gave to you for the purpose of knowing and serving Him? In what did you use your eyes, except in things of vanity?
In what did you use your ears, except to hear things of falsehood;  in what your tongue, except in all manner of rash oaths and murmurings? and your taste and all your senses, except in sensual pleasures and flattery?
How have you profited by the Holy Sacraments, which God ordained for your assistance?
What thanksgivings have you made for all His benefits?
How have you responded to His inspirations?
How have you used your health and strength, your natural talents, your earthly goods, your opportunities and occasions for living well?
What care have you taken of your neighbor whom God commended to you, and what works of mercy towards him can you show?
Then what will you answer on that day of reckoning when God shall say unto you:  "Give an account of your stewardship."  O withered tree, destined for eternal torments!  What will you answer on that day, when there shall be required from you the account of your whole life, and of every point and moment in it? Think, next, of the sins which you have committed, and do each day commit, even after your eyes have been opened to the knowledge of God, and you will find that the old Adam still lives in you, with many of the old roots and habits.  See how you have stood aloof from God, how unthankful you have been for His benefits, how rebellious against his inspirations, how slothful in things concerning His service, which you never performed with that readiness and diligence and purity of intention which you do owe Him; nay, think of how you have discharged them even for the sake of human respects and interests!

Consider, also, moreover, how hard you are towards your neighbor, and how gentle with yourself; how you love your own will, your self, your flesh, your honor, and your own interests!

See how you are always proud, ambitious, quick to anger, vainglorious, envious, malicious, prone to amusement, inconstant, full of levity, sensual, given to recreations, laughter and idle talk.  See, too, how inconstant you are in good purposes, how inconsiderate in your words, and imprudent in your deeds, and how cowardly and half-hearted in any matter of importance.

And further, after you have taken note of the multitude of your sins, consider then their gravity, so that you may see how on all sides your misery has grown upon you.  For this you should, in the first place, think of these three circumstances in your past life, namely,
Against Whom have you sinned?
For what end did you sin?
And in what way?
If you think, against Whom you did sin, you will find that it was against God, whose goodness and majesty are infinite, whose blessings and mercies to man are more in number than the sands of the sea-shore.  Or if you think, for what end you did sin, it was for some point of honor, some foul lust, or some trivial interest, or very often for something of no interest whatsoever, for no other reason than habit, and disregard for God.  Or if you think, in what way you did sin, it was with such ease and audacity as to be without scruple or fear; nay, at time with such ease and content as if you were sinning against a god made of wood who neither knew nor saw anything that was done on earth.  Is this the honor which is due to so great a Majesty?  Is this the thanks you gave for so great blessings?  Is this the return you make for that most Precious Blood shed upon the Cross, for those scourgings and buffetings endured on your behalf?  O miserable you, for what you have lost, and more for what you have gained for yourself, and much more still, if with all this, you do not sense your impending perdition!

Monday Evening Meditation

After all this it is most profitable to let your thoughts rest a while on the consideration of your nothingness;  that is, how you have by yourself nothing, but sin, or in other words, nothingness;  how all else is from God alone.  For it is clear that as all natural gifts, so those too, of grace, which are greater, are His only.  From him is the grace of predestination, which is the source of all other graces;  from Him the grace of our vocation, and all the grace accompanying it;  from Him the grace of perseverance, and that of life eternal.

What have you, then, from which to glory, save your nothingness and sin?
Rest, then, awhile in the consideration of that nothingness, and take note that this, and all else, comes from God; so that you may see clearly and manifestly what you are, and what He is;  how poor you are, and how abundant in riches he is; and, consequently, how little you can trust in  and esteem yourself, and how greatly you can trust in Him, love Him, glory in Him!

Then, having considered all these things, think of yourself with thoughts most lowly.  Ponder that you are nothing but "a reed shaken in the wind." of no weights, or virtue, or firmness, or steadfastness or anything else.  Ponder that you are another Lazarus, dead for four days, a carcass foul-smelling and abominable, so much that they who pass by cover their noses, and shut their eyes.  Judge on your own that this is what you are before God and His angels, and hold yourself to be unworthy to lift your eyes up to Heaven, or that this earth should bear you, or that creatures should serve you; unworthy of the bread which you eat and of the air which you breathe.  With that sinner of the street, cast yourself down at the Savior's feet, with your face covered in confusion and shame like the woman taken in adultery; and with much sorrow and compunction of heart, beg of Him pardon for your sins, and that, out of His infinite pity and mercy, He may vouchsafe to turn to you, and receive you into His house.


Chapter I.

What is Devotion?

THE greatest trouble those persons suffer from who give themselves to Prayer is the failing in Devotion which they so often experience in it.  When there is no such failing, there is nothing sweeter, or more easy that to pray.  For this reason, now that we have treated upon the subject-matter of Prayer, and upon the manner of  praying, it will be well to consider the things which help Devotion, and also those which hinder it, and the temptations which most often assail devout people in it;  and certain other points that are necessary to observe in this exercise.  But first it will greatly help the matter to set forth what Devotion is, that we may know to begin with, what is the precious thing for which we are contending.

Devotion, says St. Thomas Aquinas, is a power which makes one prompt and ready for any virtue, and stirs and helps one to do well. (Summa II, II, Q. 82, Art. 1.)  This definition declares manifestly the great necessity and usefulness of this power, for it contains in itself more than some would think.  We have on this account to consider that the chief hindrance to living a good life is the corruption of human nature which came to us through sin, and from which comes the great inclination we have towards evil, and the difficulty and unwillingness we have in respect to what is good.  These two things make the path of virtue most difficult to us, while in itself it is the thing most sweet, most beautiful, most to be desired, most honorable in the world.  It is against this difficulty and unwillingness the Divine Wisdom has provided this most complete remedy in the power and succor of Devotion.  For as the north wind disperses the clouds, and leaves the sky clear and serene, so true Devotion drives away from our mind all that unwillingness and difficulty, and leaves it then free and disposed for all that is good.  This virtue so become as power within us as being at one a very special gift of the Holy Spirit, a heavenly dew, a succor and visitation of God attained through Prayer.  Its very nature is to contend against the difficulty of which we have spoken, and to overcome this luke-warmness, to give us readiness and fill the soul with good desires, to enlighten the understanding, to strengthen the Will, to kindle in us the Love of God, to extinguish the flame of evil desires, to teach hatred of worldly things, and abhorrence of sin, and to give us new fervor, new spirit, new power, and incentive to well doing.

For as Samson, wile possessed of his hair, had greater strength than any man in the world, and when this was taken away from him, became as weak as other men; so is the Christian soul strong when he has this Devotion, and weak when he has it not.

And this is what St. Thomas desired to show in his definition, and, without doubt, this is the greatest praise one could give to this virtue, that, being of itself only one virtue, it is a stimulus and incentive to all others.  Let not him then that would travel by the path of virtues, go without these spurs;  for without them he will never be able to arouse the evil beast of his nature form is sluggishness.

From what has been said it will be clearly seen, then, what is true and real Devotion.  For Devotion is not a certain tenderness of heart, or sense of consolation which those who pray feel sometimes, unless there be also a promptitude and disposition for good works, for, when at times God would prove who are His own, it often happens that the one is found and not the other.  The truth is that form this Devotion and readiness there often arises the consolation spoken of:  and, on the other hand, that very consolation and spiritual delight will increase the Devotion itself, which is the readiness and incentive to well-doing.  And, therefore, God's servants may, with good reason, desire and ask for these joys and consolations, not for the pleasure they give, but because they are the means of increasing the Devotion which fits them for well-doing, as the Prophet showed when he said, "I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou has set my heart at liberty," (Ps. 119:32) that is, with the joy of Thy consolation which was the cause of my readiness.

And now let us proceed to treat of those means by which this Devotion is to be attained, and, since with this virtue are united all others leading to the special knowledge of God, we will consider the means of attaining to the perfection of Prayer and Contemplation, to the consolations of the Holy Spirit and the love and wisdom of God, and to that union of our souls with God, which is the goal of all spiritual life.

And this, lastly, is to consider the mans by which we may attain to the possession of God Himself in this life, which is that Treasure of the Gospel, the "Pearl of great price" for the possession of which the husbandman joyfully despoiled himself of all that he had.

Hence it is we see that the highest aim of our theology is, that from it we may learn the way to the Supreme Good, and may make this life to become a ladder by which we may advance step by step to the eternal happiness awaiting us.

Taken from the English Translation, A Golden Treatise on Mental Prayer,  edited by G. S. Hollings, S.S.J.E., (reedited by the Franciscan Archive), publ. by A. R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd., 1904: a non-copyrighted edition.