The CAPG's Blog
Leprosy of the soul
"Ignorance is the leprosy of the soul. How many such lepers exist in the Catholic Church, even in Rome, where many men do not even know what is necessary for their salvation. It must be our business to try to cure this disease. In old times conversions of whole cities and countries were not unusual, for the zeal and faith of our predecessors in the ministry worked miracles; they were filled with the Spirit of God. Are we less strong than they were, that we are so easily tired, and so slack in our labors among the poor? Spiritum nolite extinguere.
Have we, then, hopelessly degenerated? But we need not go back to past centuries for examples. Vaselli and his fellow-missionaries did wonders in the Campagna. Let us try and deserve the like graces. Besides, if we neglect to labor for the salvation of our neighbors, let us tremble for our own. The conversion of our brethren is the object of our mission, the only real reason of our existence. It is enough for a layman to keep the commandments of God, Who will not require more at his hands. But for us it is different; as faithful imitators of our Lord, we must give our lives for the brethren. Let no fatigue, then discourage or slacken our zeal; never let us mind the hardness, or the indifference, or the rudeness of the poor. Only let us persevere, and if we have the right spirit we shall triumph over all obstacles with the grace of God, and obtain our own salvation as well as theirs."
Source: The life of st. John Baptist de Rossi by E. Mougeot
Called for the Sanctification of souls
"We are called by God Himself for the sanctification of souls. How many among the common people are lost for want of instruction! if we do not do this, laymen certainly will not; and yet, if many of these laymen were in our place, what would they not do? Even as it is, do not they often shame us by their activity and their zeal? is it not disgraceful to think that very often they labor harder than ourselves, and contribute more to the sanctification of souls? Gospel adds that after the departure of St. John the Baptist's messengers our Lord said to His disciples, " Quid exiistis in desertem videre, arundinem vento agitatam?" ( Matt. xi.8.) No, the precursor was not a feeble reed driven by the wind; his strength and courage were great, and equally remarkable was his constancy. Although in prison, he did not fear to tell Herod, Non licet tibi habere eam. He neither dreaded the anger of the tyrant, not the prison, nor the death which were in store for him; and so our Saviour adds: "Non Surrexit inter natos mulierum major Joanne Baptista."
"A generous constancy, therefore, is as necessary to us as to St. John. But how often does a slight obstacle suffice to make us give up a work we have begun, or stop us as we are beginning to undertake some useful scheme to help others?
Our predecessors were far more zealous. Persecution, ridicule, cold, heat, rain, rebuffs, nothing discouraged them, however much they might have to suffer. And so their works were accomplished, and God blessed and rewarded their constancy. Remember that we are the inheritors, not only of their position, but of their labours. We are priests, chosen by God for the salvation of His people; not to seek our own ease and comfort. let us, then, be known by our works, and may men say of us as our Lord did of St. John, "Pauperes evangelizantur."
Source: The Life of St. John Baptist de Rossi by E Mougeot
Saint John Baptist de Rossi
"He spoke often with enthusiasm of the wonderful holiness which would exist in the world if all priests really followed their vocation, and gave themselves up without reserve to the good of souls. When he had to preach the clergy retreats his words mad an indelible impression on the hearts of those who heard him and the very doors of the chapel were crammed with eager listeners. Once, at Spello, he was asked to give conferences to the clergy of the town and neighborhood. His success was such that no one would miss a single one of his instructions, and the convents were closed so that all the religious, without exception, might be able to attend them. He took special pains with those who had the power of hearing confessions, for they were the most actively employed in saving souls. Such was the work done by our saint among the Roman clergy.
March 20: St. Cuthbert
So devout and zealous was he in his desire after heavenly things, that when saying Mass, he could never come to the conclusion thereof without a plentiful shedding of tears. When celebrating the mysteries of our Lord's Passion, he would, very appropriately, imitate the action that he was performing, ie. in contrition of heart he would sacrifice himself to the Lord; and he exhorted those present to "lift up their hears," and " to give thanks to the Lord," more by raising up his heart than his voice, and more by his groans then his singing.
A Prayer to Saint Cuthbert
Hail, father of thy country! hail, man of renown! hail, thou who often bestowest upon the miserable the comforts of health! hail, lovely glory! hail, great hope of thy servants! Farewell merit of our own! do thou act, thou man of piety! To thee be praise! to thee let worthy honour, to thee let thanks be given! who frequently bestowest blessings upon me, undeserving though I be. Thou art my mighty help; often hast thou been my glory. Always dost thou cherish me with thy sweetly-flowing love. Oh from how many evils, from what enemies and dangers, my father, hast thou rescued me, and still nourishest thou me in prosperity! What worthy return can I make to thee, my father? Oh thou pious Bishop! Oh father! Oh merciful Pastor! give me thy aid. As it pleases thee, O father, and as thou knowest my wants, give help to thy petitioner. I pray thee to remember me, thou sweet friend of God.
Blessed Catherine of Racconigi (The Catholic Church during epidemics)
When any public calamity befell the town, the faithful of all classes, even from distant districts, repaired in pilgrimage to this sanctified center of devotion in Racconigi, where they heard Mass, presented offerings, petitioned for favors or returned thanks for favors received through her intercession. IN 1835, when an epidemic of cholera brought death and desolation in its train, they carried her image in procession, promising to fast for twenty years on the eve of her feast and present a rich chalice of gold and silver, whereupon the epidemic ceased. In gratitude they erected a church, dedicated under her invocation, in the vicinity of her birth place.
Feb. 18: St. Simeon, Bishop and Martyr
St. Simeon was the son fo Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Savior. We cannot doubt that he was an early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser, his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. ST. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, 29 years after Our Savior's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the sedition of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year, before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea, and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints
Feb.17: St. Flavian, Bishop and Martyr
Flavian was elected Patriarch of Constantinople in 447. His short episcopate of two years was a time of conflict and persecution from the first. Chrysaphius, the emperor's favorite, tried to extort a large sum of money from him on the occasion of his consecration. His fidelity in refusing this simoniacal betrayal of his trust brought on him the enmity of the most powerful man in the empire.
A graver trouble soon arose. In 448 Flavian had to condemn the rising heresy of the monk Eutyches, who obstinately denied that Our Lord was in two perfect natures after His Incarnation. Eutyches drew to his cause all the bad elements which so early gathered about the Byzantine court. His intrigues were long baffled by the vigilance of Flavian; but at last he obtained from the emperor the assembly of a council at Ephesus, in August 449, presided over by his friend Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria. Into this "robber council," as it is called, Eutyches entered, surrounded by soldiers. The Roman legates could not even read the Pope's letters; and at the first sign of resistance to the condemnation of Flavian, fresh troops entered with drawn swords, and, in spite of the protests of the legates, terrified most of the bishops into acquiescence.
The fury of Dioscorus reached its height when Flavian appealed to the Holy See. Then it was that he so forgot his apostolic office as to lay violent hands on his adversary. St. Flavian was set upon by Dioscorus and others, thrown down, beaten, kicked, and finally carried into banishment. Let us contrast their ends. Flavian clung to the teaching of the Roman Pontiff, and sealed his faith with his blood. Diosocorus excommunicated the Vicar of Christ, and died an obstinate and impenitent in the heresy of Eutyches.
Reflection: By his unswerving loyalty to the Vicar of Christ, Flavian held fast to the truth and gained the martyr's crown. Let us learn from him to turn instinctively to that one true guide in all matters concerning our salvation.
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1925
Let us pray that our bishops courageously uphold the teachings of the Church:
Prayer for the Bishops
O Jesus, Prince of Pastors, Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, give our bishops ................ all those virtues, which they need for their sanctification! May they watch over themselves and the entire flock, with which the Holy Spirit has entrusted them! Fill their hearts with Thine own Spirit! Give them faith, charity, wisdom and strength! Send them faithful co-laborers in the great work of saving and guiding souls! Make them shepherds after Thine own heart, living only for their holy office, fearing nobody but Thee, and hoping for nothing but Thee, in order that when Thou shalt come, to judge shepherds and flocks, they may obtain the unfading reward of eternal life! Amen
Imprimatur: Most Rev. Vincent S. Waters, D.D. Raleigh, N.C. March 25, 1956
Source: Cure d'Ars Prayer Group
Feb. 14: Saint Valentine, Priest and Martyr
St. Valentine was a Roman priest who lived and labored among the poor Christians amid the cruel persecutions of the earl Church. He was highly respected and venerated for his zeal and piety in the service of the Lord. During the renewed persecution of the emperor Claudius, Valentine was seized and brought before the tribunal of a judge named Asterius, to be tried and condemned to death. Mindful of the words of the Savior "Do good to those who persecute you." he prayed that the good Lord might restore the sight of the blind daughter of his very judge. The Lord heard his prayer and miraculously gave the girl her sight. This miracle and the charity which prompted it so affected Asterius that he embraced the faith of St. Valentine. Forty-two other witnesses of the miracle followed his example. The news of this miracle and the conversion soon reached Claudius, who in his rage sent a body of soldiers to the house of Asterius where all were taken prisoners. They were led to Ostia and killed for their faith. St. Valentine was beaten with clubs and finally beheaded on the Flaminian way, February 14, 270 A.D. His remains were reverently gathered by Christians and brought to Rome. They now rest in the church of St. Praxedes.
It was the generous, noble, and heroic charity of St. Valentine which brought so many of his enemies into the fold of the loving Savior. Charity to our fellowmen will also win many of the enemies of our church to the Lord if we follow in the footsteps of St. Valentine.
Valentine appears to have been a very popular name among the early Christians, if we may judge from the number of saints who bear that name. The feast days of several of the other Saints Valentine are Feb. 14, St. Valentine, Bishop of Terni and martyr, another martyr of that name in Africa; a bishop and confessor, Oct 29, a priest and martyr Nov.3; an officer Dec. 16.
The custom of sending tokens of love on his feast has no bearing on the life of St. Valentine. About thirty years ago it was thought that the custom was dying out. Since then it has been commercialized and this fact no doubt has given it a semblance of popularity.
Source: Our Young People, 1916
Feb. 4: Saint Andrew Corsini (Bishop and Confessor)
Great sorrow oppressed the heart of the princess Corsini, a widow, when she witnessed the daily increasing immorality of her young son Andrew. How often had she begged him to abandon his dissolute life! "Do tear yourself away," she would frequently say, " from those young men who ruin you. You bring disgrace upon our whole house, and shorten the days of my life." But what did it effect? Moved, one moment, by his mother's entreaties he would forget his good resolution in the next. On one occasion, after Andrew had stayed away from home several nights in succession, his mother ordered all the family to put on mourning, and she herself hastened to the church of the Carmelites, there to relieve her soul by most earnest prayer. When she was leaving the church she met Andrew, who upon seeing her exclaimed: "What! you are in mourning? Who has died in the family? " The mother answered: "This is not the place to tell you." When they reached home, she said:"You seem not to know for whom me mourn, Andrew! Is it not for yourself? Yes, indeed, you are dead to us - we mourn for you, and for ourselves! The first part of my dream which I had before your birth, has been verified! I saw a wolf; but the wolf became a lamb at the threshold of the Carmelite convent. But it seems that the latter part of my dream is not to become true, although I have so often offered you to May, our most blessed Mother." Whilst thus speaking she wept bitterly. His mother's words, and the mournful appearance of the whole house cut Andrew to the heart. "Mother," he cried out, "the wolf I was, the lamb I will become." And he went to the Carmelite convent, performed severe penances, conquered the most violent temptations, advanced rapidly upon the path of virtue, and was in after-years made bishop of Fiesoli in Italy. He is the St. Andrew of Corsini whose feast the Church celebrates on the 4th of February. By what circuitous routes Andrew at last attained the end destined for him by Almighty God!
Save yourself such by-ways, O Youth! You are not preparing for a happy future, if you misuse, or neglect the present. Lead a pure life, adorn your heart with virtues; then you may hope that God will give you a future field of useful and honorable actions.
Hear, O holy Pontiff, our prayer: we are sinners and would learn from you how we are to return to the God we have offended. His mercy was poured out upon you. Obtain the same for us. Have pity on Christians throughout the world, for the grace of repentance is now being offered to all. Pray for us that we may be filled with the spirit of compunction. We have sinned. We sue for pardon. Intercession like yours can win it for us. From wolves, change us into lambs. Strengthen us against our enemies. Get us an increase of the virtue of humility which you had in such perfection, and intercede for us with our Lord that He may crown our efforts with perseverance, as He did yours, that thus we may be enabled to unite with you in singing forever the praises of our Redeemer.Source: In Lumine Fidei
Feb. 3: Saint Blaise Bishop and Martyr
ST. BLASE, BISHOP OF SEBASTE.
St. Blase was a native of the city of Sebaste, in Armenia, and in his younger days applied himself to the study of philosophy, in which he made considerable progress; he afterwards studied medicine with great success. The science of the saints, however, and a desire to improve in the love of God, occupied his principal attention, whereby being inflamed with an ardent charity towards the poor, he went frequently to relieve them in their sickness. Upon the death of the bishop, his fellowcitizens unanimously elected him their pastor, by reason of his extraordinary virtues and great learning.
He accepted the office, as being unwilling to resist the will of God, which appeared too manifest in his election to be mistaken; but in the government of his church he lost not that spirit of holy retirement which he had had from his youth. He therefore retired to Mount Argeus, without the city, and dwelt in a cave there. During our saint's residence in this place the Lord was pleased to manifest his sanctity by honoring him with the gift of miracles, and numerous crowds of persons used constantly to come to him for the cure of their bodily diseases as well as of their spiritual maladies. Even the most ferocious animals are said to have proceeded to his cave to be relieved. If they found the saint in prayer, they would patiently wait until he had done; nor would they depart until they had received his blessing.
About the year 315, Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia and the lesser Armenia, had been sent, by the Emperor Licinius, to Sebaste, to put to death the Christians of that city; and, immediately upon his arrival, commenced to put his bloody commission into execution, by commanding that all those who had been already imprisoned for the faith should be devoured by wild beasts. He accordingly sent huntsmen into the neighboring forest to catch the ferocious animals, in order to execute his barbarous design. When they arrived at Mount Argeus, they found a multitude of these beasts assembled round the cave of St. Blase, and the holy bishop in the midst of them, performing his devotions. Astonished at this sight, they returned to Agricolaus, and informed him of the fact; which, although it caused him to marvel greatly, did not prevent him from sending his soldiers to arrest our saint. When they intimated to him the order of the governor he answered with a cheerful countenance: "Let us go to shed our blood for Jesus Christ;" then turning to those who stood by, he protested that he had long sighed for the honor of martyrdom, and that on the preceding night the Lord had manifested to him that he would vouchsafe to accept the sacrifice of his life.
As soon as the news was spread among the citizens that their bishop was being led to Sebaste by order of the governor the streets were filled with people who, with tears in their eyes, asked his blessing. Among the rest was a woman, who, weeping bitterly, presented to him her child, who was expiring by reason of a small bone having stuck in his throat; full of holy confidence, she besought the saint to save his life. St. Blase, moved to compassion by the tears of the afflicted mother, prayed to the Lord not only for the relief of that child, but of all those who would find themselves similarly afflicted. Having terminated his prayer the child perfectly recovered; and hence the origin of the peculiar devotion of the faithful to this saint when afflicted with diseases of the throat.
When St. Blase arrived at the city and was presented to the governor, he was commanded to sacrifice to the immortal gods. The saint answered: "What a title for your demons, who can bring only evil on their worshippers! There is only One Immortal God, and him do I adore." Agricolaus, infuriated at this answer, caused the saint to undergo a scourging so prolonged and cruel that it was thought the saint could not possibly survive it; but having endured this torture with placid courage, he was sent to prison, where he continued to work miracles so extraordinary that the governor ordered him to be again lacerated with iron hooks.
The blood of the saint ran profusely, and certain pious women were induced to collect portions of it, which act of devotion was amply rewarded, for they were seized, with two of their children, and brought before the governor. He commanded them to sacrifice to the gods under pain of death. The holy women asked for their idols, as some thought, to sacrifice to them, but they no sooner laid hands upon them than they cast them into an adjoining lake, for which they were instantly beheaded, along with their children.
Agricolaus resolved to wreak his vengeance on St. Blase; and not content with the torture which he had already caused him to endure, commanded him to be stretched upon the rack, and his flesh to be torn with iron combs, in which state a red-hot coat of mail was placed upon him. Finally, the tyrant, despairing of overcoming his constancy, ordered him to be cast into the lake; the saint, arming himself with the sign of the cross, walked upon the waters, and, arriving at the middle, sat down, and invited the idolaters to do the same if they believed that their gods could enable them. Some were so rash as to make the attempt, but were immediately drowned.
St. Blase was admonished then by a voice from heaven to go forth from the lake and encounter his martyrdom. When he reached the land the impious tyrant ordered him to be beheaded. This sentence was executed in the year 313. The republic of Ragusa honor him as their principal patron, and he is the titular saint of many cities.
Source: Victories of the Martyrs: Or, The Lives of the Most Celebrated Martyrs of the Church, Saint Alphonse de Liguori
O glorious Saint Blaise, who by thy martyrdom didst leave to the Church a precious witness to the faith, obtain of us the grace to preserve within ourselves this divine gift, and to defend, without human respect, both by word and example, the truth of that same faith, which is so wickedly attacked and slandered in these our times. Thou who didst miraculously restore a little child when it was at the point of death by reason of an affliction of the throat, grant us thy mighty protection in like misfortunes; and, above all, obtain for us the grace of Christian mortification together with a faithful observance of the precepts of the Church, which may keep us from offending Almighty God. Amen.
Source: In Lumine Fidei
The iron combs, hooks, racks, swords, and scaffolds, which were purpled with the blood of the martyrs, are eternal proofs of their invincible courage and constancy in the divine service. But are they not at the same time subjects of our condemnation and confusion? How weak are our resolutions! how base our pusillanimity and cowardice in the pursuit of virtue! We have daily renewed our most sacred baptismal engagements, and our purposes of faithfully serving God; these we have often repeated at the feet of God's ministers, and in presence of his holy altars, and we have often begun our conversion with great fervor. Yet these fair blossoms were always nipped in the bud; for want of constancy we soon fell back into our former sloth and disorders, adding to our other prevarications that of base infidelity. Instead of encountering gibbets and wild beasts, we were scared at the sight of the least difficulty, or we had not courage to make the least sacrifice of our passions, or to repulse the weakest and most contemptible assaults of the world. Its example, or that dangerous company from which we had not resolution to separate ourselves, carried us away; and we had not courage to withstand those very maxims which we ourselves condemn in the moments of our serious reflections as contrary to the spirit of the gospel. Perhaps we often flew back for fear of shadows, and out of apprehensions frequently imaginary, le6t we should forfeit some temporal advantage, some useful or agreeable friend. Perhaps we were overcome by the difficulties which arose barely from ourselves, and wanted resolution to deny our senses, to subdue our passions, to renounce dangerous occasions, or to enter upon a penitential life. Blinded by self-love, have we not sheltered our dastardly pusillanimity under the cloak of pretended necessity, or even virtue?
Source: St. Blaise (The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Volume 1 , Alban Butler)