St. Felix of Cantalicio

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St. Felix of Cantalicio, Confessor

A.D. 1587.

ST. FELIX was born of poor but virtuous parents, at Cantalicio, near Citta Ducale in the Ecclesiastical State, in 1513. For his extraordinary piety he was from his infancy surnamed the saint. At the time when in his childhood he kept cattle, and when afterwards he followed tillage and husbandry work, he was careful to sanctify his labour by a perfectspirit of penance. He accompanied all his actions with devout prayer, so as even then to lead the life rather of a hermit than of a country labourer. He watched during part of the night in holy meditation, and to his painful life he added the austerity of rigorous abstinence and fasting. He contrived, without prejudice to his work, every day to hear mass, and he declined the ordinary amusements of those of his age. Oft in the fields, when he had drove his cattle into some solitary pasture, he would pray for several hours together at the foot of some tree before a cross which with his knife he had cut in the bark. At twelve years of age his father put him out to service, in quality first of shepherd and afterwards of husbandman, in the family of Mark Tully Pichi, a virtuous gentleman who lived at Citta Ducale. In his tender years, before the faculties of his mind were sufficiently opened to qualify him for deep reflection and long meditation, his prayer chiefly consisted of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Creed, Glory be to the Father, &c., especially of certain petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, which he seemed almost never to cease repeating in the fields with wonderful devotion. He was yet young, when he learned to habituate himself to the practice of holy meditation during his labour, and he soon attained to the perfection of heavenly contemplation, whereby the fire of divine affections is readily kindled in the heart by the least thought on God, as touchwood catches the flame; whereas holy meditation calls in the succour of reasoning drawn from the truths of faith, to excite ardent affections of virtue in the soul. It is a mistake to imagine that this exercise requires learning or sublime thoughts. Pious meditation is not a dry philosophical speculation. It chiefly consists in the affections of the will, and in profound sentiments of adoration, praise, compunction, humility, and other virtues. To be capable of this exercise, it is enough that a person has an understanding to know God, and a heart capable of feeling the power of his love. The most ignorant man can repeat often to God that he desires earnestly to love him, and always to glorify his holy name; he can bewail his ingratitude and sins, confess his weakness, and implore the divine pity and succour. Continue reading

St. Ethelbert

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St. Ethelbert, King of the East-Angles, Martyr

IN his childhood, after the hours of his studies, he stole away from his schoolfellows when they went to play, and spent most of the time allotted to recreation in prayer. He succeeded young his father Ethelred in his kingdom, which he ruled forty-four years, according to the maxims of a perfect saint. It was his usual saying, that the higher a station is in which a man is placed the more humble and benevolent he ought to be. And this was the rule of his own conduct. To secure the tranquillity of his kingdom by an heir, he was persuaded to marry; and having heard much of the virtue of Alfreda the daughter of Offa the powerful king of the Mercians, he thought of making her his royal consort. In this design he paid a visit to that king, who resided at Sutton-Wallis, on the river Lugg, four miles from the place where Hereford now stands. He was courteously entertained, but, after some days, treacherously murdered by Grimbert an officer of King Offa, through the contrivance of Queen Quendreda, that his kingdom might be added to their own. This happened in 793. He was privately buried at Maurdine or Marden; but his body being glorified by miracles it was soon after removed to a fair church at Fernley, that is, Heath of Fern, now called Hereford; which town had its rise from this church, which bore the name of St. Ethelbert when Wilfrid king of Mercia much enlarged and enriched the same. Quendreda died miserably within three months after her crime. Her daughter Alfreda devoted herself to God, and led a penitential solitary life at Croyland, amidst the fens. Offa endeavoured to atone for the sin of his queen by a pilgrimage to Rome, where he founded a school for the English after the example of King Ina, who had erected one in that city in 726, when he established the Peter-pence among the West-Saxons, which Offa on this occasion extended to the Mercians in 794. Egfrid the only son of Offa, died after a reign of some months, and the Mercian crown was translated into another family of the posterity of Penda. How sharp are the thorns of ambition! whereas virtue finds its peace and crown whether in adversity or in prosperity. See Harpsfield, Malmesbury, and Leland, Itiner. t. 8, p. 56, who quotes the Life of St. Ethelbert written by Giraldus Cambrensis; also by Osbert de Claro. 1
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

St. Bernardin of Sienna

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St. Bernardin of Sienna, Confessor

St. Bernardin, of whom the Roman Martyrology says that he was a light to all Italy, by his teachings and his holy example, was born at Massa, in the republic of Sienna, in the year 1380. He became an orphan early in life and a pious aunt took charge of him and educated him in the fear of the Lord. His only pleasure in boyhood consisted in praying, studying and going to Church. He used to repeat to other boys the sermons that he had heard with so much ability that he even astonished older people. All his words and actions evinced great inclination to retirement and a truly angelic purity. No indecent word was ever heard to pass his lips, and he was so well known for his modesty, that when his school-mates conversed in too unrestraineded a manner and only saw Bernardin far off, they immediately interrupted their conversation, saying: “Hush hush! Bernardin is coming.” A grown man, who was not ashamed to speak indecently, he slapped in the face. Against another, who persisted in indecent discourse, he assembled all his young companions and pelted him with dirt until he was obliged to flee from the town. Diana, his aunt, had a very pious daughter, named Tobia, whom Bernardin sometimes visited in order to receive religious instructions. One day, he told her he had fallen deeply in love with a most bealitiful virgin, and that he had no peace day or night, unless he had paid her a daily visit. The pious Tobia, not a little shocked at this speech, said nothing, but followed him when he left the house, to ascertain who this virgin was, and where she lived. She soon saw, to her great comfort, that it was no other than the Virgin Mother, of whom an exceedingly beautiful image stood on one of the city gates. To her Bernardin went daily to say his prayers on bended knees. He confessed also, later, to Tobia, that it was she, the Blessed Virgin, to whom he was thus devoted and whom he daily requested to guard him from all danger and keep him spotless and pure. To this end he also fasted every Saturday and did other good works.  Continue reading

PENTECOST NOVENA

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PENTECOST NOVENA

Reflection

The visible “sending” of the Holy Ghost, which is the special object of the solemnity of Pentecost, belongs to Jesus in His Divine Nature (as it belongs also to the Father) and on this account it enters into the cycle of the feasts of Our Divine Lord. Christ Jesus prayed for this mission. He said to His disciples at the Last Supper: “I will ask the Father, and He willgive you another Advocate to dwell with you forever.” (John 14:16). He promised to send this Consoler. “When the Advocate has come, Whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness concerning Me… If I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 15:26:, 16:7) Jesus, moreover, merited this mission. By His prayer, as by His Sacrifice on the Cross, He obtained from the Father that the Holy Ghost should be given to us. Finally, the sending of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles has no other end than to achieve the establishment of His One, True Church. Jesus had founded this Church upon Peter, but He left to the Holy Ghost the care of bringing it to perfection after His Ascension into Heaven. The Coming of the Divine Spirit was to serve for the glorification of Jesus, for He would fill the Apostles with power whereby they should render testimony to Jesus everywhere, even to the four corners of the earth. It is because this mission of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles truly belongs to Our Lord that St. Paul calls the Holy Ghost “the Spirit of Christ,” “the Spirit of Jesus.” Continue reading