Pentecost Thursday

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Pentecost Thursday:
Fire, a Symbol of the Effects of the Graces of the Holy Ghost
By Rev. John Evangelist Zollner, 1911

There appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them.–Acts 2: 3. 

We celebrate the feast of Pentecost, on which the Holy Ghost, in the form of fiery tongues, came down upon the Apostles and the other believers. Why did the Holy Ghost choose the form of fire? There certainly is a mystery contained in it, for whatever God does has its reason and significance. St. Luke did not in vain record the fact that on the feast of Pentecost there suddenly came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and that there appeared parted tongues, as it were, of fire, and that it sat upon each of them.–Acts 2: 2, 3. Fire symbolizes the effects which the Holy Ghost produced in the first believers on the day of Pentecost, and which He still produces in the hearts of Christians. The effects of grace, symbolized by fire, shall be the subject of our meditation to-day. Fire has three effects:

I. It illumines;
II. It cleanses;
III. It warms.  Continue reading

Mary, Help of Christians

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Mary, Help of Christians

By Fr. Francis Cuthbert Doyle, 1896

I. Pope Pius VII. established the feast which, under this glorious title, is celebrated in honour of our Blessed Lady. It is usually kept upon the twenty-fourth of May. Upon that day the much-enduring and saintly Pontiff, after an exile of several weary years, returned to his capital, whence the violence and tyrannical injustice of the first Napoleon had banished him. Almighty God, in a most unexpected and almost miraculous way, restored him to the arms of his exulting flock, and the holy Pope ever afterwards attributed that restoration to the intercession of Mary, the Help of Christians. In order to show his gratitude to her he ordained that this feast should be kept throughout the Church.

Already at several critical junctures in comparatively modern times, had she proved herself the buckler and defence of the Christian people. When, in the sixteenth century, the Turks were threatening to pour down their devastating hordes upon Europe, and sweep away the civilization bequeathed to us by many generations of patient toilers and men of genius, another Pius–the fifth of that glorious name–like a watchman upon the towers of Israel, roused up the nations to a sense of the peril which threatened them. They responded to his call; gathered together their forces, under the leadership of John of Austria; and invoking the aid of Mary, Help of Christians, began, in the Gulf of Corinth or Lepanto, that famous seafight which ended in the destruction of the fleet destined to bear the forces of Islam into Europe. Continue reading

St. John Baptist de Rossi

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St. John Baptist de Rossi

(De Rubeis).

Born at Voltaggio in the Diocese of Genoa, 22 February, 1698; died at Rome, 23 May, 1764; feast on 23 May. His parents, Charles de Rossi and Frances Anfossi, were not rich in earthly goods, but had solid piety and the esteem of their fellow-citizens. Of their four children, John excelled in gentleness and piety. At the age of ten he was taken to Genoa by friends for his education. There he received news of the death of his father. After three years he was called to Rome by a relative, Lorenzo de Rossi, who was canon at St. Mary in Cosmedin. He pursued his studies at the Collegium Romanum under the direction of the Jesuits, and soon became a model by his talents, application to study, and virtue. As a member of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin and of the Ristretto of the Twelve Apostles established at the college, he led the members in the meetings and pious exercises, in visits to the sick in the hospitals and in other works of mercy, and merited even then the name of apostle. At the age of sixteen he entered the clerical state. Owing to indiscreet practices of mortification he contracted spells of epilepsy, notwithstanding which he made his course of scholastic philosophy and theology, in the college of the Dominicans, and, with dispensation, was ordained priest on 8 March, 1721. Having reached the desired goal, he bound himself by vow to accept no ecclesiastical benefice unless commanded by obedience. He fulfilled the duties of the sacred ministry by devoting himself to the labourers, herds, and teamsters of the Campagna, preaching to them early in the morning, or late in the evening, at the old Forum Romanum (Campo Vaccino), and by visiting, instructing, and assisting the poor at the hospital of St. Galla. In 1731 he established near St. Galla another hospital as a home of refuge for the unfortunates who wander the city by night (“Rom. Brev.”, tr. Bute, Summer, 573). In 1735 he became titular canon at St. Mary in Cosmedin, and, on the death of Lorenzo two years later, obedience forced him to accept the canonry. The house belonging to it, however, he would not use, but employed the rent for good purposes.

For a number of years John was afraid, on account of his sickness, to enter the confessional, and it was his custom to send to other priests the sinners whom he had brought to repentance by his instructions and sermons. In 1738 a dangerous sickness befell him, and to regain his health he went to Cività Castellana, a day’s journey from Rome. The bishop of the place induced him to hear confessions, and after reviewing his moral theology he received the unusual faculty of hearing confessions in any of the churches of Rome. He showed extraordinary zeal in the exercise of this privilege, and spent many hours every day in hearing the confessions of the illiterate and the poor whom he sought in the hospitals and in their homes. He preached to such five and six times a day in churches, chapels, convents, hospitals, barracks, and prison cells, so that he became the apostle of the abandoned, a second Philip Neri, a hunter of souls. In 1763, worn out by such labours and continued ill-health, his strength began to ebb away, and after several attacks of paralysis he died at his quarters in Trinità de’ Pellegrini. He was buried in that church under a marble slab at the altar of the Blessed Virgin. God honoured his servant by miracles, and only seventeen years after his death the process of beatification was begun, but the troubled state of Europe during the succeeding years prevented progress in the cause until it was resumed by Pius IX, who on 13 May, 1860, solemnly pronounced his beatification. As new signs still distinguished him, Leo XIII, on 8 December, 1881, enrolled him among the saints.

HERBERT, St. John B. de Rossi (New York, 1906), Roman Breviary; SEEBÖCK, Herrlichkeit der kath. Kirche (Innsbruck 1900), 1; BELLESHEIM, Der hl. Joh. B, de Rossi (Mainz, 1882): CORMIER (Rome, 1901); Theol. prakt. Quartal-Schrift, XXV, 752.

About this page
APA citation. Mershman, F. (1910). St. John Baptist de Rossi. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Mershman, Francis. “St. John Baptist de Rossi.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

St. Julia

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St. Julia, Virgin and Martyr

Fifth Age.

SHE was a noble virgin at Carthage, who, when that city was taken by Genseric in 439, was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria. Under the most mortifying employments of her station, by cheerfulness and patience she found, besides her sanctification, a present happiness and comfort which the world could not have afforded. All the time she was not employed in her master’s business was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety. She fasted very rigorously every day but Sunday; nor could all the entreaties of her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues, nor the hardships of her situation, prevail with her to be more tender of herself. The merchant thought proper to carry her with him in one of his voyages to Gaul, where he imported the most valuable commodities of the Levant. Having reached the northern part of Corsica, or that point now called Capo-Corso, he cast anchor and went on shore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival kept there at that time with the sacrifice of a bull. Julia was left at some distance because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies, which she openly reviled. Felix, the governor of the island, who was a bigoted pagan, asked the merchant who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. He informed him that she was a Christian, and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail with her to renounce her religion; but that he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her. The governor offered him four of his best female slaves in exchange for her. But the merchant, whose name was Eusebius, replied: “No: all you are worth will not purchase her; for I would freely lose the most valuable thing I have in the world rather than be deprived of her.” However, the governor, whilst Eusebius was drunk and asleep, took upon him to compel her to sacrifice to his gods. He proffered to procure her liberty if she would comply. The saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ; and whatever should happen, she would never purchase her liberty by so abominable a crime. Felix thinking himself derided by her undaunted and resolute air, in a transport of rage caused her to be struck on the face, and the hair of her head to be torn off; and lastly, ordered her to be hanged on a cross till she expired. Certain monks of the isle of Gorgon (which is now called La Gorgona, and lies between Corsica and Leghorn) carried off her body; but in 763, Desiderius, king of Lombardy, removed her relics to Brescia, where her memory is celebrated with great devotion. 1
St. Julia, whether free or a slave, whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout. She adored all the sweet designs of Providence; and far from complaining, she never ceased to praise and thank God under all his holy appointments, making them always the means of her virtue and sanctification. God, by an admirable chain of events, raised her by her fidelity to the honour of the saints, and to the dignity of a virgin and martyr. 2

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

Wednesday in Whitsun Week 

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Wednesday in Whitsun Week
By Dom Prosper Gueranger 1870

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

We have seen with what fidelity the Holy Ghost has fulfilled, during all these past ages, the Mission he received from our Emmanuel, of forming, protecting and maintaining His Spouse the Church. This trust given by a God has been executed with all the power of a God, and it is the sublimest and most wonderful spectacle the world has witnessed during the eighteen hundred years of the new Covenant. This continuance of a social body,–the same in all times and places,–promulgating a precise Symbol of Faith which each of its Members is bound to accept,–producing by its decisions the strictest unity of religious belief throughout the countless individuals who compose the society,–this, together with the wonderful propagation of Christianity, is the master-fact of History. These two facts are not, as certain modern writers would have it, results of the ordinary laws of Providence; but Miracles of the highest order, worked directly by the Holy Ghost, and intended to serve as the basis of our faith in the truth of the Christian Religion. The Holy Ghost was not, in the exercise of His Mission, to assume a visible form; but he has made His Presence visible to the understanding of man, and thereby He has sufficiently proved His own personal action in the work of man’s salvation.
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