"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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June 26 is the memorial of St. Joachim (whose name means "Yahweh prepares") and St. Anne (whose name in Hebrew means "grace"), the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. Tradition has it they first lived in Galilee and later settled in Jerusalem where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born and raised.
Joachim and Anne were a rich and pious couple who had been married for a long time, but found themselves childless. The couple prayed fervently for a child and promised to dedicate their first born to the service of God. An angel appeared to Anne and told her, "The Lord has looked upon thy tears; thou shalt conceive and give birth and the fruit of thy womb shall be blessed by all the world". Joachim also received the same message from the angel. Anne gave birth to a daughter whom she called Miriam (Mary), who was conceived without sin. As a child, Mary was taken to the temple and her parents suffered great sorrow but at the same time joy for fulfilling the vows they had made to the Lord.
We know very little about the lives of Joachim and Anne, but we do know that they must have been outstanding people to have been entrusted with raising the Mother of God.
St. Anne is the patron saint of the province of Quebec, where the well-known shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, (the site of many miracles) is located. She is patroness of women in labor and those who have difficulty conceiving; she is represented holding the Blessed Virgin Mary in her lap, who again carries on her arm the Both Joachim and Anne are the patron saints of grandparents.
Devotion to St. Anne dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome. St. Joachim was honored very early by the Greeks, who celebrate his feast on the day following the Blessed Virgin's birthday.
My memories of celebrating today's feast as a child are very vivid. My home parish held a novena to St. Anne nine days prior to her feast day and I remember going to church every evening with mom to the devotions. I was always in awe of how my mom and the other women in our small French community were so devoted to St. Anne. When mom asked which of us kids wished to accompany her, I always volunteered -- it was a special treat and a privilege to participate in this summer evening novena praying the beautiful devotions in the quiet, candle lit church that smelled of incense and sweet perfume. It was so meditative and mystical --at times I could almost feel St. Anne's holy presence in the contemplative setting. I also remember feeling a sense of joy and accomplishment when it was over -- as if I had helped mom in achieving something special for our family and for the Lord. PRAYER TO ST JOACHIM AND ST ANNE
Great and glorious patriarch, St Joachim, and good St Anne, what joy is mine when I consider that you were chosen among all God’s holy ones to assist in the fulfillment of the mysteries of God, and to enrich our earth with the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. By this singular privilege, you have become most powerful with both the Mother and her Son, so as to be able to obtain for us the graces that are needful to us.
With great confidence I have recourse to your mighty protection, and I commend to you all my needs, both spiritual and temporal, and those of my family. Especially do I entrust to your keeping the particular favor that I desire and look for from your intercession.
And since you were a perfect pattern of the interior life, obtain for me the grace to pray earnestly, and never to set m heart on the passing goods of this life. Give me a lively and enduring love for Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me also a sincere devotion and obedience to Holy church and the sovereign pontiff who rules over her, in order that I may live an die in faith and hope and perfect charity. Let me ever invoke the holy Names of Jesus and Mary. And may I thus be saved. Amen.
Paul VI published seven encyclicals in his 15-year pontificate.
The last one was Humanae Vitae, perhaps one of the most debated documents in the recent history of the Church.
FR. ROBERTO REGOLI
Pontifical Gregorian University
"For him, the intense debate over this document was so shocking that from 1968 until his death, he never published another encyclical. He wrote other documents, apostolic exhortations, letters, constitutions, but never an encyclical.”
In 1968, the United States and much of the Western World were undergoing dramatic changes in their cultural and social landscape.
The newer generations of students from the late 1960's rebelled against their parents' values, especially in the areas of morality and sexuality.
FR. ROBERTO REGOLI
Pontifical Gregorian University
"Paul VI had to implement the changes of the Second Vatican Council in the middle of a wider crisis. It went beyond the Church, it was a social, political and cultural crisis.”
Paul VI decided to write Humanae Vitae. The document sheds light on responsible parenthood and addressed moral issues such as the use of contraceptives among Catholics. In it, the Pope wrote that the "unitive significance and the procreative significance are both inherent to the marriage act.”
The Church expected opposition from non-Catholic sectors in society, but was astounded by the push back from many Catholics themselves.
FR. ROBERTO REGOLI
Pontifical Gregorian University
"Something like this had never happened within the Church. There was criticism of many encyclicals from the 1800's from liberal sectors, but never a widespread response from within the Church. Theologians, the people of God, even bishops rejected his Magisterium.”
Paul VI warned about the possible consequences this new life style could have on the family. Consequences such as infidelity, a loss of respect towards women, and the use contraceptive methods as a state policy.
In an interview published this past March, Pope Francis said that Humanae Vitae was prophetic and the Paul VI had the "courage to go against the majority,” and "defend moral discipline.”
The topic for the Pope's very first synod will precisely be the family. It's little surprise then that Paul VI will be beatified on October 19, the last day of the Synod.
Today, July 25, is the feast day of St. James the Greater. St. James, known as the Greater, in order to distinguish him from the other apostle James, our Lord's cousin. St. James the Greater was one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of John the Evangelist, and, like him, a fisherman. James and John came to be called "Boanerges" ("Sons of Thunder") -- a name given to them by Jesus Himself -- due to their passionate preaching style and their evangelical zeal.
James the Greater and his brother John were mending the nets on their boats on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them to follow Him to become "fishers of men." With Peter and John, he witnesses the cure of Peter's mother-in-law, the raising of Jairus' daughter, Jesus' Transfiguration, and Christ's Agony in the garden of Gethsemani.
In his own ministry, James spread the gospel message to Samaria, Judea, and Spain. He returned to Jerusalem, where he was beheaded by the sword under King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44, becoming the first of the apostles to be martyred.
Tradition tells us the remains of St James were brought to Spain some time after his martyrdom and a chapel was built over it. Santiago de Compostela in Galicia grew in importance and has become the greatest pilgrimage site in western Europe.
Patron: Against arthritis; against rheumatism; Antigua, Guatemala; apothecaries; blacksmiths; Chile; Compostela, Spain; druggists; equestrians; furriers; Galicia, Spain; Guatemala; horsemen; knights; laborers; Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Nicaragua; pharmacists; pilgrims; Pistoia, Italy; rheumatoid sufferers; riders; soldiers; Spain; Spanish conquistadors; tanners; veterinarians. Prayer to St. James the Greater
O Glorious St. James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and His agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven.
Today, July 24, is the feast day of Saint Sharbel (Charbel) Makhlouf, a Maronite Catholic monk from Lebanon. Sharbel is known for his great devotion to contemplative prayer and has been called "the hermit of Lebanon" and "the Wonder Worker of the East."
Saint Sharbel was born in 1828 in the small mountain village of Beqa-Kafra, Lebanon. His family was poor, but pious and had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. As a child, Sharbel tended the sheep in the fields, where he built an outdoor shrine to Our Lady, spending hours in prayer. As he matured, he also spent time reading Scriptures and Thomas a Kempis's “The Imitation of Christ,”which was was his favorite book.
At the age of twenty-three, he left his family to enter the Lebanese-Maronite Monastery, Notre-Dame de Mayfouk, later transferring to the Monastery of St. Maron monastery in Annaya. He received his religious habit and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. Sharbel was ordained in 1859. The priest-monk lived and served in the monastery for 19 years, showing great devotion to the life of prayer, manual work, and contemplative silence.
He spent the last twenty-three years of his life in solitude at a hermitage near Annya. Saint Sharbel suffered a stroke on December 16th, 1898 while celebrating the Holy Liturgy. He was reciting the prayer, “Father of Truth, behold your Son, a sacrifice pleasing to you. Accept this offering of Him who died for me.” He fell to the floor holding the Holy Eucharist in his hands. He died on Christmas Eve, 1898.
Sharbel was known for his mortification, obedience, and chastity. He was gifted with occasional levitations during prayer, and he had great devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament. He celebrated Mass close to noon so as to devote the morning to preparation, and the rest of the day to thanksgiving. In all things, Sharbel maintained perfect serenity. His charity and kindness endeared him to all, both Christians and Muslims.His tomb has been a site for pilgrimages since his death. Numerous healings of the body, heart and mind have been obtained through his intercession. Hence, he is known as the Miracle-Worker.
He was beatified in 1965 by Pope Paul VI and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1977.
When Sharbel was canonized, Bishop Francis Zayek, head of the U.S. Diocese of St. Maron, Bishop Zayek wrote: “St. Sharbel is called the second St. Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honor of our Aramaic Antiochian Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal. Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer, on top of a mountain.”
A Prayer for the Intercession of St. Sharbel
O Merciful Father, through the Holy Spirit, you chose Saint Charbel as a voice crying in the wilderness. His monastic life is an example to Your Church. In the Scriptures he discovered Your Holiness as Word Made Flesh, and darkness gave way to light. In the Eucharist he encountered Your Divinity as Bread of Life, and the poverty of this world gave way to the treasures of Your Kingdom. In prayer he experienced Your Silence as Mystery Present, and loneliness gave way to communion. Through the Virgin Mother he embraced Your Son as Lover of Mankind, and hostility gave way to hospitality. We now beseech You, through his intercession, to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, and to grant our special request …. We give praise to You, Your Only Begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
A Pope and a family woman. They're the saints chosen as the patrons of the 8th World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
The first is St. John Paul II, canonized on April 27, and the founder of these events.
FR. SLAWOMIR ODER
Postulator, Sainthood cause of John Paul II
"He himself said he wanted to be remember, if the Church ever remembered him... he wanted to be remembered as the Pope of life and of family. He promoted a revaluation of the family as the place where a person develops humanely, and grows spiritually.”
St. Gianna Beretta was a pediatrician and mother of four, who passed away in 1962. During her fourth pregnancy, doctors discovered a tumor in her uterus. She decided to delay surgery to remove it until after the birth of her child, but by then it was too late.
Beretta is considered the patron saint of pregnant women. John Paul II canonized her on May 16, 1994.
The 8th World Meeting of Families will take place from September 22-27, 2015. Although it's not yet confirmed, Pope Francis is widely expected to attend the last part of the gathering.
On July 23, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden, who was a widow and Third Order Franciscan (1303 – 1373). She is one of the most prominent women of the Christian Middle Ages.
St. Bridget is known for her astonishing revelations documented carefully by her confessors, filling several volumes. Their accounts of her visions of biblical scenes, especially the nativity and the crucifixion, have greatly inspired imagery in Christian art and her devotions have inspired popular piety. It was, however, for her practical works of charity, that e was canonized, and not for her private revelations – which had some very harsh things to say about popes.
Bridget was born in Finista in Sweden. From childhood, the Lord granted her special graces, visions and an extraordinary understanding of divine mysteries. At age seven, she had a vision of the Crucified Jesus in all the suffering and sorrow of his Passion, which enkindled within her a deep devotion for our Savior.
The daughter of a wealthy governor and judge, at age 13, Bridget married Ulf Gudmarsson, a prince, who was then eighteen; they lived happily together for twenty-eight years and had eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget convinced her husband, by her own example, to live a life of piety and to strive for holiness.
At age 32, Bridget became the lady in waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur and King Magnus II of Sweden. She was known for her charitable acts, especially caring for the sick, but the royalty appeared more content to admire her piety rather than to follow her example.
After her youngest son died in 1340, she and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. On the return trip, Ulf became quite ill, and they returned home soon afterwards. Upon their return, Ulf' entered the Cistercian monastery and died there at the age of 46. Bridget was a widow at age 41. She continued to live in the world, but became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, spending much of her time in prayer and penance.
At this time, Bridget’s visions became more frequent and intense and she began to wonder if they were from the devil; however, God assured her that they were not, but that she was to become His bride and his mouthpiece.
It was His voice in her visions that dictated to her to found a new religious order, even specifying the details of the Rule for that order. She then founded The Order of the Most Holy Savior, or Bridgettines, which consisted of a double monastery for both men and women at Vadstena. King Magnus and his queen generously supported the monastery. Any surplus of money they received was given to the poor and used to provide books for study.
Through Bridget, Christ reprimanded the popes for not returning to Rome from Avignon; but even calling Clement VI (1342-52) “a destroyer of souls, worse than Lucifer, more unjust than Pilate, and more merciless than Judas” failed to change his mind. She also delivered several messages to Pope Innocent VI, Urban V, and Gregory XI.
Directed by God to go the Holy Land in 1371, Bridget set out on pilgrimage with her daughter, Catherine, two of her sons, and other pilgrims. Her son Charles died in Naples on the way there (after an affair with the notorious Queen Joanna), and they were nearly shipwrecked, but once they made it there, Bridget was blessed with extraordinary graces. In the Holy Land, she received detailed visions of episodes in the life of Jesus in the places where they were said to have occurred. She also admonished the people of Cyprus and Naples for their immoral ways, with little effect. She arrived back in Rome early already ill and died on July 23, 1373, at the age of seventy – one. Her remains were taken back to the monastery at Sweden. She was canonized in 1391 Pope Boniface IX.
Patronage: Bridget is the patron saint of Sweden and widows. She is the co-patroness of Europe, along with St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein).
Prayer to St. Bridget
With hearts full of confidence, we turn to you, O Saint Bridget, in these times of darkness and unbelief, to invoke your powerful intercession on behalf of those who are separated from the true Church of Jesus Christ. Conscious of your deep knowledge of the cruel sufferings of our crucified Savior, we beseech you to obtain the gift of Faith for all those who are outside the one fold, so that all the scattered sheep may be return to the one true Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
St. Bridget, fearless in the service of God, pray for us.
St. Bridget, patient in suffering and humiliation, pray for us.
St. Bridget, marvelous in thy love towards Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
"To trust God means that we must know that whatever comes to us comes from his hands. If we do not see that sorrow comes from his hand and cannot get the comfort of his love from it, it may be because we do not acknowledge our joys as his gifts. If we felt grateful for our food, for the sunlight, for our work, our homes, for those we love, if we were conscious that these were all given by God, we should have formed a clear enough idea of his love to know him; we should know him well enough to know, because we know him, that he does not want us to suffer, but allows it because there is good for us in it. To resist, to be bitter, to say it is no use, all increases the pain. To accept it gratefully from God eases the pain."
"Now, is there is a way in which a busy person could practice this growing trust without having to meditate all day long? Yes, it is very simple. Make a mental picture of two huge giving hands, God's hands, and every so often in the day or night, stop for a moment and think: 'At this moment, God is handing me all I have, my life-- 'and so on, mentioning all that you are conscious of. It may be at some moments you will realize what a lot of obvious good God is giving you still; at other times it will help you to understand that the trials you suffer also come from his hands."
-- Caryll Houselander, (excepted from This War is the Passion: The Comforting of Christ, NY: Sheed & Ward 1941).
On July 22, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the patron of penitent sinners and contemplatives. Her name is derived from her native town of Magdala in Galilee. She plays a vital role in the New Testament, as she was the first to announce Christ's resurrection from the dead.
Scriptures tell us that she was a follower of Christ, who was exorcised of seven demons, ministered to Christ and His disciples, stood at the foot of the Cross during Jesus’ Crucifixion, went to anoint the body of Jesus before daybreak on Easter morning, and witnessed the Risen Lord.
The Gospels all describe Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on Easter morning. When she saw that the tomb was empty, she stood outside, weeping. Jesus appeared to her and asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” (Jn. 20:15)
She did not recognize him, however, and thought he was the gardener, until he said her name, “Mary!” (Jn. 20:16) Upon hearing this, Mary recognized him. She returned to the grieving disciples to announce to them the message of the Resurrection.
The Greek tradition holds that Mary Magdalen retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin, and died there, her relics being transferred to Constantinople. The French tradition holds that she migrated to Marseilles with Lazarus and Martha, and retired to a hill, La Sainte-Baume, near the city, where she lived in seclusion for 30 years.
St. Mary Magdalene is called the "apostle to the Apostles". "Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life (St. Thomas Aquinas).
Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love
You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that someday
I may share in the same everlasting joy.
On July 21, we commemorate St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the first Capuchin Franciscan to be honored as a Doctor of the Church.
St. Lawrence was born at Brindisi, in the kingdom of Naples, Italy, on July 22, 1559 and named Caesar de Rossi. He took the name Lawrence when he became a Capuchin Franciscan at the age of 16.
While still a deacon, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became known for his powerful preaching and after his ordination startled the whole of northern Italy with his amazing sermons. Because he could speak Hebrew, he worked for the conversion of the Jews living in Rome.
In 1596, he became a high-ranking superior in the order, and five years later was sent to Germany with Blessed Benedict of Urbino. They founded several priories throughout Europe. Lawrence also helped to raise an army to combat the Turks in Hungary, where he won a battle against them by leading the troops into battle with only a crucifix to protect himself.
In 1602, St. Lawrence became the master general of his order. He worked, preached and wrote to spread the Good News. He went on important peace missions to Munich, Germany, and Madrid, Spain. The rulers of those places listened to him and the missions were successful. But St. Lawrence became very ill. He had been tired out by the hard traveling and the strain of his tasks. He died on his birthday, July 22, in 1619. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. He was honored as "Apostolic Doctor" by Pope John XXIII in 1959.
St. Lawrence, like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, had an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God. He was the first to write on all aspects of theology that concern the Blessed Virgin.
In the practice of the religious virtues St. Lawrence equals the greatest saints. He had the gift of contemplation and often fell into ecstasy when he celebrated Holy Mass. He had a great devotion to the Rosary and the Office of the Blessed Virgin.
His written works include a commentary on Genesis, several treatises against Luther, and nine volumes of sermons.
"God called me to be a Franciscan for the conversion of sinners and heretics."
"God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for his own sake. For him all things were created and to him all things must be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have been the case even if Adam had not sinned.
When I was attending our parish parochial school, the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame (founded in Montreal in 1652 by St. Marguerite Bourgeoys) taught there and they continue to teach there today. At that time, they wore full habits, with full length skirts (covering the ankles) and rosaries around their waists. You can view the older habit here. Today, they dress in modern, but conservative clothing -- shorter skirts, blouses, and blazers.
Here is a sampling of my blog posts for this past week:
On Thursday, we remembered the Blessed Carmelite martyrs of Compiègne -- the sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris.
On Friday, we commemorated St. Camillus of Lellis, founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick. He is the patron of the sick, hospitals, and nurses.
St. Macrina the Younger, whose brothers were the renowned teachers St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa, was Saturday's saint of the day. She spent a good deal of her time helping her mother raise these two great men and served as their teacher.
The saint of the day for July 19 is St. Macrina the Younger.
St. Macrina (330-380) was the eldest child in a family of saints. Her grandparents were martyrs. Her parents, Basil and Emmelia, are also recognized as saints. She was well educated by her mother and was able to read at an early age. Macrina, in turn, became the teacher of her younger brothers Basil, later bishop of Neocaesarea, and Gregory, later bishop of Nyssa, who themselves became two of the greatest teachers in the Universal Church.
At age 12, Macrina was engaged to be married, but when her fiancé died quite suddenly, she decided she would not marry despite subsequent offers. Instead, she dedicated her life to raising her brothers and assisting her mother with housework, cooking, and directing the servants. She also devoted a good part of her time to prayer. After her siblings had grown up, they called her Macrina the Great, as they had in their childhood, a sign of the high respect they had for her.
On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate in Pontus. Here, with their servants and other companions, they consecrated themselves to God and led a contemplative life. Macrina succeeded her mother in becoming the head of the double monastery of women and men founded by Basil.
Kissing an iron crucifix that held the relics of the Cross of the Savior, which she always had close to her, St. Macrina died peacefully in the year 379. She was buried beside her parents.
An English translation of the Life of Macrina by her younger brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, in the form of a letter to a mutual friend, is available online. St. Gregory tells us that Macrina "reached the highest summit of human virtue by true wisdom."
The saint of the day for July 18 is St. Camillus of Lellis, founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick. He is the patron of the sick, hospitals, and nurses.
St. Camilus was born in Bacchianico, Italy in 1550 and died in Rome, Italy in 1614. His mother died while he was still a child and his father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies, leaving him neglected. While still a youth, he became a soldier in the service of Venice and later of Naples, remaining there until 1574.
While Camillus referred to himself as a great sinner, his only vice seemed to be gambling. He gambled away everything he had and, to atone for actions, he went to work as a laborer on the new Capuchin buildings in Manfredonia. Here, after a moving appeal from the Friar, he completed his conversion and begged God for mercy, at the age of twenty-five.
Camillus entered the Capuchin novitiate three times, but a nagging leg injury, received while fighting the Turks, each time forced him to give it up. He went to Rome for medical treatment where Saint Philip Neri became his priest and confessor. He moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.
He decided to become a priest at the encouragement of St. Philip Neri, and was ordained at the age of 34. He established his Order, the Fathers of a Good Death, for the care of the sick. Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear upon their black cassocks, and he taught his volunteers that the hospital was a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven. Once when he was discouraged, he heard the consoling words from the crucifix, “This is my work, not yours”.
Camillus was a strong and powerful man, about 6'6" tall, but suffered throughout his life from abscesses on his feet. In spite of this infirmity, he was active in organizing his Order.
After leading the movement throughout Italy, Camillus died on July 14, 1614. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Camillus de Lellis blessed; in 1746 he canonized him, calling him the “Founder of a new school of charity”.
Quote: “Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven.”
~ Saint Camillus de Lellis
Prayer to Saint Camillus of Lellis
Most wonderful Saint, your compassion for the sick and the dying led you to found the Servants of the Sick. As the Patron of nurses and hospital workers, infuse in them your compassionate spirit. Make hospitals resemble the inn in Christ's Parable to which the Good Samaritan brought the wounded man saying: "Take care of him and I will repay you for it." Amen.
Thanks be to God! So very happy to share the good news:
In a procedural vote, the United States Senate decided not to consider the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014,” a bill that would curtail religious freedom in response to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
Fifty-six senators-- four shy of the number necessary-- voted to consider the bill, while 43 opposed it.
“While the outcome of today’s vote is a relief, it is sobering to think that more than half the members of the US Senate, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, would vote for a bill whose purpose is to reduce the religious freedom of their fellow Americans,” said Jayd Henricks, director of government relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We need more respect for religious freedom in our nation, not less.”
On July 17, 1794, sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris.
When the revolution started in 1789, a group of twenty-one discalced Carmelites lived in a monastery in Compiegne France, founded in 1641. The monastery was ordered closed in 1790 by the Revolutionary government, and the nuns were disbanded. Sixteen of the nuns were accused of living in a religious community in 1794. They were arrested on June 22 and imprisoned in a Visitation convent in Compiegne There they openly resumed their religious life.
For a full twenty months before their execution, the sisters came together in an act of consecration “whereby each member of the community would join with the others in offering herself daily to God, soul and body in holocaust to restore peace to France and to her Church.”
The nuns were not just mere victims of the Revolution overcome by circumstances. Each contemplated her martyrdom; each understood her offering. Each sought that “greater love” of giving herself for her fellow man in imitation of the Divine Lamb Who redeemed humanity.
On July 12, 1794, the Carmelites were arrested, taken to Paris, where they were placed on trial, accused of treason, and sentenced to death. Five days later, the sixteen Carmelites were led through Paris in an open cart to the town center to be guillotined. Their hair was cut and clothing ripped to expose their necks in preparation for the execution.
Before their execution they knelt and chanted the "Veni Creator Spiritus", as at a religious profession, after which they all renewed aloud their baptismal and religious vows. They went to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina. Each nun, one by one, from the youngest to the oldest, made their way to the guillotine, pausing to kneel before the Prioress, asking "Permission to die Mother." To which the Mother Superior responded, "Go, my daughter."
The heads and the bodies of the sixteen martyrs were thrown into a common grave, with the bodies of the other 1298 victims of the Revolution. Thus, there was no way to obtain relics.
Shortly after the nuns offered their lives in exchange for peace, the bloodiest part of the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, finally came to an end. They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X. Their martyrdom was immortalized by the composer Francois Poulenc in his famous opera Dialogues des Carmelites.
“Courage, my sister, the yoke of a Carmelite is necessarily very light or very heavy in proportion as one’s courage bears it or one’s cowardice drags it.” --St. Teresa of St. Augustine (Martyr of Compiegne)
“The secret of sweetening our sacrifices is to attend a little less to what costs us and a little more to what we value” --St. Teresa of St. Augustine (Martyr of Compiegne)
“Love will always be victorious. When someone loves, he can do everything.” -- St. Teresa of St. Augustine (Martyr of Compiegne)
Prayer for the feast of July 17th
Lord God, you called Bl. Teresa of St. Augustine and her companions to go on in the strength of the Holy Spirit from the heights of Carmel to receive a martyr's crown. May our love too be so steadfast that it will bring us to the everlasting vision of your glory. 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.
Prayer for obtaining graces through the intercession of the Blessed Carmelites of Compiègne
Lord our God, You called the 16 blessed Carmelites of Compiègne to show you the greatest testimony of love through the offering of their blood that "peace may be returned to the Church and to the State." Remember the joyful and heroic fidelity with which they glorified you. May your goodness manifest their favor with you, in granting through their intercession the grace (the miracle) that we ask you in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!