COVETOUSNESS & ITS OPPOSING VIRTUES

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The covetous, avaricious man hoarding and guarding his property is like an unreasoning baby, chortling and gloating and beaming in the possession of a Christmas-tree ornament. All tinsel and glitter it is, but hollow inside– full of rosy promise, but empty of fulfillment, attractive but fragile. And when it breaks, what pitiful nothingness! So too, it is with created riches. They are as empty as an ornament, yet they are as attractive. And the seductive whisper of the great deceiver keep coming: “Reach and take and taste. You shall be like gods.” Nature already inclines. Earthly possessions are so pleasant—it seems Continue reading

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St. Leander

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St. Leander, Bishop of Seville, Confessor

From St. Isidore of Seville, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. l. 5. See Fleury, b. 34, 35, 36. Mabillon, Sæc. Ben. 1. Ceillier, t. 17.

A.D. 596.

ST. LEANDER was of an illustrious family, and born at Carthagena in Spain. He had two brothers, St. Fulgentius, bishop of Ecija and Carthagena, and St. Isidore, our saint’s successor in the see of Seville. He had also one sister, Florentia by name, who had consecrated herself to God in the state of virginity. He set them an example of that piety which they faithfully imitated. He entered into a monastery very young, where he lived many years, and attained to an eminent degree of virtue and sacred learning. These qualities occasioned his being promoted to the see of Seville: but his change of condition made little or no alteration in his method of life, though it brought on him a great increase of care and solicitude for the salvation of those whom God had put under his care, as well as for the necessities of the whole church, that of Spain in particular. This kingdom was then possessed by the Visigoths, or Western-Goths; who, while Theodoric settled the Ostrogoths, or Eastern-Goths, in Italy, had passed the Alps, and founded their kingdom, first in Languedoc, and soon after, about the year 470, in Spain. These Goths, being for the generality all infected with Arianism, established this heresy wherever they came; so that when St. Leander was made bishop, it had reigned in Spain a hundred years. This was his great affliction: however, by his tears and prayers to God, and by his most zealous and unwearied endeavours both at home and abroad, he became the happy instrument of the conversion of that nation to the Catholic faith. But he suffered much from king Leovigild on this account, and was at length forced into banishment; the saint having converted, among others, Hermenegild, the king’s eldest son and heir apparent. 1
This pious prince his unnatural father put to death the year following, for refusing to receive the communion from the hands of an Arian bishop. But, touched with remorse not long after, he recalled our saint, and falling sick and finding himself past hopes of recovery, he sent for St. Leander, whom he had so much persecuted, and recommended to him his son Recared, whom he left his successor, to be instructed in the true faith; though out of fear of his people, as St. Gregory laments, he durst not embrace it himself. His son Recared, by listening to St. Leander, soon became a Catholic. The king also spoke with so much wisdom on the controverted points to the Arian bishops, that by the force of his reasoning, rather than by his authority, he brought them over to own the truth of the Catholic doctrine; and thus he converted the whole nation of the Visigoths. He was no less successful in the like pious endeavours with respect to the Suevi, a people of Spain, whom his father Leovigild had perverted. It was a subject of great joy to the whole church to behold the wonderful blessing bestowed by Almighty God on the labours of our saint, but to none more than St. Gregory the Great, who wrote to St. Leander to congratulate him on the subject. 2 Continue reading

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

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Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Passionist
(1838-1862)

Saint Gabriel was born at Assisi in 1838. He was guided by Our Lady into the Passionist Order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross, and became a veritable Apostle of Her Sorrows. He was a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times. He allowed no distractions to enter his spirit, and even though Italy, his country, was in a state of ferment when he entered religion, he wanted to know nothing of it.

The way to attain union with our Saviour and our God was, for Saint Gabriel, as for Saint Louis de Montfort, his Heavenly Mother. He wrote home to his father, from the first month of his noviciate, Believe your son, whose heart is speaking by his lips; no, I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent near the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, our consolatrix, our protectress and our hope, for a year or several years spent in the diversions and spectacles of the earth. Among his resolutions was that of visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament each day, and praying for the gift of a tender and efficacious devotion to His Most Holy Mother. He wrote a beautiful Credo, worthy to be printed in letters of gold, expressing all that he believed of the Mother of God.

At twenty-four years of age Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis, having already attained heroic sanctity by a life of self-denial and great devotion to our Lord’s Passion and the Compassion of His Mother.

Although his life was without any miraculous event, after his death in 1862 many miracles occurred at his tomb in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and his feast was extended to the entire church by Pope Pius XI in 1932. He is the patron of youth, and especially of young religious.

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 28.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Co.: New York, 1951-1955)

St. Porphyrius

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St. Porphyrius, Bishop of Gaza, Confessor

From his life, written with great accuracy by his faithful disciple Mark. See Fleury, t. 5. Tillemont, t. 10. Chatelain, p. 777. In the king’s library at Paris is a Greek MS. life of St. Porphyrius, (abridged from that of Mark,) which has never been translated.

A.D. 420.

PORPHYRIUS, a native of Thessalonica in Macedonia, was of a noble and wealthy family. The desire of renouncing the world made him leave his friends and country at twenty-five years of age, in 378, to pass into Egypt, where he consecrated himself to God in a famous monastery in the desert of Sceté. After five years spent there in the penitential exercises of a monastic life, he went into Palestine to visit the holy places of Jerusalem. After this he took up his abode in a cave near the Jordan, where he passed other five years in great austerity, till he fell sick, when a complication of disorders obliged him to leave that place and return to Jerusalem. There he never failed daily to visit devoutly all the holy places, leaning on a staff, for he was too weak to stand upright. It happened about the same time that Mark, an Asiatic, and the author of his life, came to Jerusalem with the same intent, where he made some stay. He was much edified at the devotion with which Porphyrius continually visited the place of our Lord’s resurrection, and the other oratories. And seeing him one day labour with great pain in getting up the stairs in the chapel built by Constantine, he ran to him to offer him his assistance, which Porphyrius refused, saying: “It is not just that I who am come hither to beg pardon for my sins, should be eased by any one: rather let me undergo some labour and inconvenience, that God, beholding it, may have compassion on me.” He in this condition never omitted his usual visits of piety to the holy places, and daily partook of the mystical table, that is, of the holy sacrament. And as to his distemper, so much did he contemn it, that he seemed to be sick in another’s body and not in his own. His confidence in God always supported him. The only thing which afflicted him was, that his fortune had not been sold before this for the use of the poor. This he commissioned Mark to do for him, who accordingly set out for Thessalonica, and in three months’ time returned to Jerusalem with money and effects to the value of four thousand five hundred pieces of gold. When the blessed man saw him, he embraced him, with tears of joy for his safe and speedy return. But Porphyrius was now so well recovered, that Mark scarcely knew him to be the same person: for his body had no signs of its former decay, and his face looked full, fresh, and coloured with a healthy red. He, perceiving his friend’s amazement at his healthy looks, said to him with a smile: “Be not surprised, Mark, to see me in perfect health and strength, but admire the unspeakable goodness of Christ, who can easily cure what is despaired of by men.” Mark asked him by what means he had recovered. He replied: “Forty days ago, being in extreme pain, I made a shift to reach Mount Calvary, where, fainting away, I fell into a kind of trance or ecstacy, during which I seemed to see our Saviour on the cross, and the good thief in the same condition near him. I said to Christ, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom: whereupon he ordered the thief to come to my assistance, who, raising me off the ground on which I lay, bade me go to Christ. I ran to him, and he, coming off his cross, said to me: Take this wood (meaning his cross) into thy custody. In obedience to him, methought I laid it on my shoulders, and carried it some way. I awaked soon after, and have been free from pain ever since, and without the least appearance of my having ever ailed anything.” Mark was so edified with the holy man’s discourse and good example, that he became more penetrated with esteem and affection for him than ever, which made him desirous of living always with him in order to his own improvement; for he seemed to have attained to a perfect mastery over all his passions: he was endued at the same time with a divine prudence, an eminent spirit of prayer, and the gift of tears. Being also well versed in the holy scriptures and spiritual knowledge, and no stranger to profane learning, he confounded all the infidels and heretics who attempted to dispute with him. As to the money and effects which Mark had brought him, he distributed all among the necessitous in Palestine and Egypt, so that, in a very short time, he had reduced himself to the necessity of labouring for his daily food. He therefore learned to make shoes and dress leather, while Mark, being well skilled in writing, got a handsome livelihood by copying books, and had some to spare. He therefore desired the saint to partake of his earnings. But Porphyrius replied, in the words of St. Paul: He that doth not work let him not eat. He led this laborious and penitential life till he was forty years of age, when the bishop of Jerusalem ordained him priest, though much against his will, and committed to him the keeping of the holy cross: this was in 393. 1 Continue reading

St. Alexander

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St. Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, Confessor

A.D. 326.

ST. ALEXANDER succeeded St. Achillas in the see of Alexandria, in 313. He was a man of apostolic doctrine and life, mild, affable, exceedingly charitable to the poor, and full of faith, zeal, and fervour. He raised to the sacred ministry chiefly those who had first sanctified themselves in holy solitude, and was happy in the choice of bishops throughout all Egypt. The devil, enraged to see the havoc made in his usurped empire over mankind, by the disrepute idolatry was generally fallen into, used his utmost endeavours to repair the loss to his infernal kingdom, by procuring the establishment of a most impious heresy. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, was his principal instrument for that purpose. This heresiarch was well versed in profane literature, was a subtle dialectitian, had an exterior show of virtue, and an insinuating behaviour; but was a monster of pride, vain-glory, ambition, envy, and jealousy. Under an affected modesty he concealed a soul full of deceit, and capable of all crimes. He joined Meletius, the bishop of Lycopolis, in the beginning of his schism against St. Peter, our saint’s predecessor, in 300: but quitting that party after some time, St. Peter was so well satisfied of the sincerity of his repentence, that he ordained him deacon. Soon after Arius discovered his turbulent spirit, in accusing his archbishop, and raising disturbances in favour of the Meletians. This obliged St. Peter to excommunicate him, nor could he ever be induced to revoke that sentence. But his successor, St. Achillas, upon his repentance, admitted him to his communion, ordained him priest, and made him curate of the church of Baucales, one of the quarters of Alexandria. Giving way to spite and envy, on seeing St. Alexander preferred before him to the see of Alexandria, 1 he became his mortal enemy: and as the saint’s life and conduct were irreproachable, all his endeavours to oppose him were levelled at his doctrine in opposition to which the heresiarch denied the divinity of Christ. This error he at first taught only in private; but having, about the year 319, gained followers to support him, he boldly advanced his blasphemies in his sermons, affirming, with Ebion, Artemas, and Theodotus, that Christ was not truly God; adding what no heretic had before asserted in such a manner, that the Son was a creature, and made out of nothing; that there was a time when he did not exist, and that he was capable of sinning, with other such impieties. St. Athanasius informs us, 2 that he also held that Christ had no other soul than this created divinity or spiritual substance made before the world: consequently, that it truly suffered on the cross, descended into hell, and rose again from the dead. Arius engaged in his errors two other curates of the city, a great many virgins, twelve deacons, seven priests, and two bishops. 1 Continue reading