New Saints!

On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 802 new saints!

Their names are:

  • Saint Laura Montoya, Colombia’s first saint, who lived in the late 19th century as a spiritual mother to the indigenous peoples of the region
  • Saint Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, known as Mother Lupita, who dedicated her life to helping the sick and also assisted Mexican Catholics in avoiding persecution during the government’s enactment of anti-clerical laws during the 1920s
  • The Martyrs of Otranto, a group of over 800 Italian laymen who, when their citadel in southern Italy was overrun by a Turkish invasion, refused to convert to Islam and killed

Saint Laura, Saint Maria, and the Holy Martyrs of Otranto, pray for us!

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The Catechismal Crusader: Prayer

As part of the Year of Faith, we will post what we hope are thought provoking excerpts from the Catechism each Wednesday.  As you will see, it is hard to find a paragraph in the Catechism that is not thought provoking. If these tidbits happen to strike your fancy, float your boat, or leave you wanting more by all means please read more in the Catechism, which can be found here.  And for those that don’t speak Latin here. Let us know what you find!

It seems only fitting that our first issue of The Catechismal Crusader, highlights prayer, the center of the spiritual life.  As we discussed in an earlier post referencing Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical “Novo Millennio Ineunte” prayer is essential for a deeper relationship with the one, true God, and is a vital part of every apostolate.  But don’t take my word for it, here’s what the Catechism has to say.

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. -St. Therese of Lisieux

2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16

As we settle into our semester schedules, let us not forget the importance of prayer and strive with all our heart to pray everyday.

“Without the aid of mental prayer, the soul cannot triumph over the forces of the demon.” -Saint John of the Cross

“I am certain of it that Our Lord will eventually bring to the harbor of salvation, the one who gives himself to prayer.” – Saint Teresa of Avila

Angelic Doctor, pray for us!

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Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, Italian Dominican priest, whose influence on the study of philosophy, ethics, natural law, and theology is still felt today throughout spheres of both Catholic and secular thought.  Born in the Kingdom of Naples to a noble family around the year 1225, Thomas determined by the age of 19 that he wanted to join the Dominican Order, facing intense pressures from his family (and even imprisonment at the family castles) not to do so.  He eventually traveled to Paris to study under St. Albert the Great.  He proceeded to teach in Cologne and Paris before being summoned back to Italy to assume duties for the Dominicans.  In 1265, he came to Rome at the summons of Pope Clement IV, who asked him to serve as papal theologian.  It was during this time in Rome that he began work on the Summa Theologica, his most revered work.  From Rome, he traveled back to Paris for a second time to teach, and eventually took leave to return to Italy, where he spent the remainder of his days preaching, writing, and teaching.

It is said that in December 1273, a Dominican sacristan saw Thomas levitating in prayer, tears in his eyes, before an image of Christ at the Crucifixion.  “You have written well of me, Thomas,” Our Lord said to him.  “What reward would you have for your labor?”  Thomas responded simply: “Non nisi te, Domine: Nothing but you, Lord.”

In March of the following year, near a Cistercian Abbey in Fossanova, Italy, he took ill after striking his head on the branch of a tree.  When he received the last rites from the monks of the abbey, he prayed, “I receive Thee, the ransom of my soul.  For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught…” He died shortly thereafter, on March 7, 1274.  He was canonized fifty years after his death, on July 18, 1323.

Thomas’s feast day is celebrated in the liturgical calendar on this day.  His patronages include, but are not limited to: academics, apologists, Catholic academies, schools and universities, learning, scholars, students, and theologians.

Why not ask the intercession of St. Thomas today for success in your work and study?

“There is nothing better or more necessary than love.”

John of the Cross

Today is the feast day of St. John of the Cross, the Spanish Carmelite to whom the above quote is attributed.  Very often, feast days for canonized saints fall either on their birthday or on the day they entered eternal life.  In the case of St. John of the Cross, he died on this day in 1591.  Born Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, he entered the Carmelite order around the age of twenty.  In September of 1567, he met Teresa of Avila and together they led a major reform for the Carmelites, which lead to increased prayer, study, and fasting throughout the order.

Between 1574 and 1577, John received a vision of the Crucified Christ from which came his famous drawing of Christ below.

John_of_the_Cross_crucifixion_sketch

Throughout his life, St. John of the Cross embraced a spirit of self-denial and love of the Cross of Christ.  Following his death in 1591, he was beatified in 1675 and eventually canonized in 1726.  In 1926, Pope Pius XI declared St. John of the Cross a Doctor of the Church, recognizing the significant contribution of his writing and teaching for the good of the whole Church.

Let us ask St. John of the Cross to pray for us especially in those times when we encounter great difficulty or suffering, that through his prayers a great love of the Cross of Christ would abide in our hearts!