Ash Wednesday

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Ash Wednesday

In Genesis 3:19 we hear God tell us “for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return,” but nowadays, when someone dies, they are rushed from deathbed to funeral home to be embalmed and to be worked over by a make-up artist so that that “dusty reality” is hidden from us. Their deaths are spoken of as almost an embarrassment; “he passed,” they say, or “he is no longer with us.” These comforting but sterile luxuries weren’t an option in the past when plagues felled so many people that there weren’t enough survivors to bury them, when bodies had to be stored all winter until the ground was soft enough to dig, when most of the children a woman bore died before they were able to grow up. In our culture, with our medicines and “funeral sciences,” we are afraid to look at death, and we are a poorer people because of it. No matter how long science can prolong life, no matter how much embalming fluid is pumped into a corpse, nature will have her way. This is Truth. And when nature has her way, we can either rest in the knowledge that the ultimate Victor is Christ, Our Lord, Who walked out of His tomb 2,000 years ago and offers resurrection to us, or we can believe that decay is all that is left. This is the meaning of Ash Wednesday. Continue reading

Pope St. Leo IX

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Pope St. Leo IX

(1049-54), b. at Egisheim, near Colmar, on the borders of Alsace, 21 June, 1002; d. 19 April, 1054. He belonged to a noble family which had given or was to give saints to the Church and rulers to the Empire. He was named Bruno. His father Hugh was first cousin to Emperor Conrad, and both Hugh and his wife Heilewide were remarkable for their piety and learning. As a sign of the tender conscience which soon began to manifest itself in the saintly child, we are told that, though he had given abundant proofs of a bright mind, on one occasion he could not study out of an exceptionally beautiful book which his mother had bought and given to him. At length it transpired that the book had been stolen from the Abbey of St. Hubert in the Ardennes. When Heilewide had restored the volume to its rightful owners, the little Bruno’s studies proceeded unchecked. When five years of age, he was committed to the care of the energetic Berthold, Bishop of Toul, who had a school for the sons of the nobility. Intelligent, graceful in body, and gracious in disposition, Bruno was a favourite with his schoolfellows. Whilst still a youth and at home for his holidays, he was attacked when asleep by some animal, and so much injured that for some time he lay between life and death. In that condition he saw, as he used afterwards to tell his friends, a vision of St. Benedict, who cured him by touching his wounds with a cross. This we are told by Leo’s principal biographer, Wibert, who was his intimate friend when the saint was Bishop of Toul. Continue reading

Blessed Jordan of Saxony 

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Blessed Jordan of Saxony

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection: 

Blessed Jordan of Saxony (1190-1237) was the second general of the Order of Preachers, the immediate successor of St. Dominic.

One day he asked to be received by the Emperor of the Holy Roman German Empire, Frederic II, who persecuted the Church. When he entered, the Emperor invited him to sit, but did not address a word to him.

After a long silence, Blessed Jordan said: “I am amazed that after having traveled through diverse provinces in fulfilling my mission, you have nothing to inquire of me.”

The Emperor replied: “I have my emissaries in all the courts and provinces, and I know everything that happens in the world.”  Continue reading