Saint Joseph of Cupertino

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Saint Joseph of Cupertino

Franciscan Priest

Joseph Desa was born in the little city of Cupertino, near the Gulf of Tarento, in 1600. It is said in the acts of the process of his canonization that at the age of five he already showed such signs of sanctity that if he had been an adult, he would have been venerated as a perfect man. Already in his youth he was ravished in ecstasies which literally tore him away from the earth; it has been calculated that perhaps half of his life for some sixty years was spent literally above the ground. But much remains to be said of Saint Joseph, apart from his visible divine favors.

He almost died at the age of seven from an interior abscess, which only his prayer to Our Lady cured. He learned to be a shoemaker to earn his living, but was often absent in spirit from his work. He treated his flesh with singular rigor. The Cardinal de Lauria, who knew him well for long years, said he wore a very rude hair shirt and never ate meat, contenting himself with fruits and bread. He seasoned his soup, if he accepted any, with a dry and very bitter powder of wormwood. At the age of seventeen he desired to become a conventual Franciscan, but was refused because he had not studied. He entered the Capuchins as a lay brother, but the divine favors he received seemed everywhere to bring down contempt upon him. He was in continuous contemplation and dropped plates and cauldrons. He would often stop and kneel down, and his long halts in places of discomfort brought on a tumor of the knee which was very painful. It was decided that he lacked both aptitude and health, and he was sent home. He was then regarded everywhere as a vagabond and a fool, and his mother in particular was harsh, as had been her custom for long years. She did, however, obtain permission for him to take charge of the stable for the conventual Franciscans, wearing the habit of the Third Order.

Saint Joseph proved himself many times to be perfectly obedient. His humility was heroic, and his mortification most exceptional. His words bore fruit and wakened the indifferent, warned against vice and in general were seen to come from a man who was very kind and very virtuous. He was finally granted the habit. He read with difficulty and wrote with still more difficulty, but the Mother of God was watching over him. When by the intervention of the bishop he had been admitted to minor Orders, he desired to be a priest but knew well only one text of the Gospel. By a special Providence of God, that was the text he was asked to expound during the canonical examination for the diaconate. The bishop who was in charge of hearing candidates for the priesthood found that the first ones answered exceptionally well, and he decided to ordain them all without any further hearings, thus passing Joseph with the others. He was ordained in 1628.

He retired to a hermitage where he was apparently in nearly continuous ecstasy, or at least contemplation. He kept nothing for himself save the tunic he wore. Rejoicing to be totally poor, he felt entirely free also. He obeyed his Superiors and went wherever he was sent, wearing sandals and an old tunic which often came back with pieces missing; the people had begun to venerate him as a Saint, and had cut them off. When he did not notice what was happening, he was reproached as failing in poverty. The humble Brother wanted to pass for a sinner; he asked for the lowest employments, and transported the building materials for a church on his shoulders. He begged for the community. At the church he was a priest; elsewhere, a poor Brother.

Toward the end of his life all divine consolations were denied the Saint, including his ecstasies. He fell victim to an aridity which was unceasing, and he could find no savor in any holy reading. Then the infernal spirits inspired terrible visions and dreams. He shed tears amid this darkness and prayed his Saviour to help him, but received no answer. When the General of the Order heard of this, he called him to Rome, and there he recovered from the fearful trial, and all his joy returned.

He still had combats with the enemy of God to bear just the same, when the demons took human form to attempt to injure him physically. Other afflictions were not spared him, but his soul overcame all barriers between himself and God. He died on September 18, 1663, at the age of 63, in the Franciscan convent of Osino. He had celebrated Holy Mass up to and including the day before his death, as he had foretold he would do.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11

Ember Days This Week

No photo description available.Autumn Ember Days This Week

On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week, we commemorate the autumn Ember Days. The Ember Days take place four times a year near the commencement of the four seasons: on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following Ash Wednesday, and on the same days following Pentecost, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th, and the feast of St. Lucy on December 13th. Observed in Rome at least as far back as the 3rd century, the practice of the Ember Days aims to offer thanks to God for the gifts of Creation, to ask for His grace in using them in moderation and to assist the needy.

The days consist of prayer along with fast and abstinence or other forms of penance. The September Days come at a fortuitous time, when a great deal of reparation and penance are necessary to remedy the ills in the Church. Moreover, the Ember Days were often a time on which ordinations took place, so they are a good occasion to pray for priests. Although all penances and extra prayers on the Ember Days are voluntary, let us join in as we are able and to pray for the Church and her ministers.

Convertére, Dómine, aliquántulum, et deprecáre super servos tuos. Dómine, refúgium factus es nobis, a generatiónes et progénie.

Return, O Lord, a little, and be entreated in favor of Thy servants. Lord, Thou hast been our refuge, from generation to generation.

– the Gradual on Ember Friday and after the Third Lesson on Ember Saturday

The Stigmata of Saint Francis

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The Stigmata of Saint Francis


Saint Bonaventure, biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi, wrote that two years before his holy death he had been praying on Mount Alverno in a solitary retreat, where he had gone to fast for forty days in honor of the Archangel Michael. No one ever meditated more than Francis on the Passion of his Lord. During his retreat he beheld in vision a six-winged Seraph attached to a cross, and received at the same time a painful wound of the heart, which seemed to transpierce it. When the vision ended his own hands and feet bore the marks of the angelic crucifixion which he had seen in the vision. He understood by his vision that the soul must come to resemble Christ by the ardors of its interior fire, rather than by any physical, exterior means. We reproduce here a meditation of the saintly 19th century Abbot, Dom Guéranger of Solemnes in France:

The Feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis, whom we will soon honor again on his feast of October 4th, is not only to glorify a Saint; it commemorates and signifies something which goes beyond the life of any single man, even one of the greatest of the Church. The God-Man never ceases to live on in His Church, and the reproduction of His own mysteries in this Spouse whom He wants to be similar to Himself, is the explanation of history.

In the thirteenth century it seemed that charity, whose divine precept many no longer heeded, concentrated in a few souls the fires which had once sufficed to inflame multitudes. Sanctity shone as brilliantly as ever, but the hour for the cooling of the brazier had struck for the peoples. The Church itself says so today in its liturgy, at the Collect: Lord Jesus Christ, when the world was growing cold, You reproduced the sacred marks of Your passion in the body of the most blessed Francis, in order that Your love might also set our hearts afire.’ The Spouse of Christ had already begun to experience the long series of social defections among the nations, with their denials, treasons, derision, slaps, spittings in the very praetorium, all of which conclude in the legalized separation of society from its Author. The era of the Passion is advanced; the exaltation of the Holy Cross, which for centuries was triumphant in the eyes of the nations, acquires in the sight of heaven, as the Angels look down upon it, the aspect of an ever closer resemblance with the Spouse to the sufferings of her crucified Beloved.

Saint Francis, loved today by all who know of him — and few there are who do not — was like precious marble placed before an expert sculptor. The Holy Spirit chose the flesh of the seraph of Assisi to express His divine thought, thus manifesting to the world the very specific direction He intends to give to souls thereafter. This stigmatization offers a first example, a complete image, of the new labor the divine Spirit is meditating — total union, on the very Cross of Christ itself, of the mystical Body with the divine Head. Francis is the one honored by this primacy of choice; but after him the sacred sign will be received by others, who also personify the Church. From this time on, the Stigmata of the Lord Jesus will be at all times visible, here and there on this earth.

L’Année liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger (Mame et Fils: Tours, 1919), The Time after Pentecost V, Vol. 14, translation O.D.M.


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My CHILD, all human beings are WEAK. Do not think you are stronger than others. Circumstances do not create the weakness of a man. They simply draw it out and show what he really is. You must be convinced of this fact. Your will is weak and your blind human desires are STRONG.

It should not be too hard for you to admit your frailty. See how often you are troubled by a small matter. At times you promise to become a better person. Then along comes a small temptation and away goes your promise. Just when you think you are safe, when you least expect it you find yourself pushed over by a slight temptation. Even when you do not give full consent to it, your feelings and desires confuse you. Hateful imaginations rush in on you and refuse to leave.

Before you become serious about SELF-PERFECTION, you must be convinced of its NECESSITY. See how weak you are! You often tend to what is wrong. You CONFESS your sins today and tomorrow you commit the SAME FAULTS AGAIN. It is only right, then, that you should HUMBLE YOURSELF and refuse to think TOO HIGHLY of yourself.

You are more inclined to go backward than forward. You do not remain in the same state of mind for any length of time. Your MOODS and ATTITUDES CHANGE with the changing hours of the day. IF ONLY YOU WOULD TURN TO ME! I could HELP you RISE ABOVE these changing moods. Let your heart TURN TO ME and FIND ITS REST IN ME.

Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian

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Sts. Cornelius Pope & Cyprian Bishop, Martyrs

There is a peculiar beauty in the meeeting of these two Saints upon the Sacred Liturgical Cycle. St. Cyprian, in a famous dispute, was once opposed to the Apostolic See: Eternal Wisdom now offers him to the homage of the world, in company with one of the most illustrious successors of St. Peter.

St. Cornelius was, by birth, of the highest nobility. The elevation of a descendant of the Scipios to the Soveriegn Pontificate linked the past grandeurs of Rome to her future greatness. Decius, who “would more easily have suffered a competitor in his empire than a Bishop in Rome,” had just issued the edict for the seventh general persecution of Chrisitans. But the Caesar bestowed upon the world’s capital by a village of Pannonia, could not stay the destinies of the eternal city. Beside the bloodthirsty emperor, and others like him, whose fathers were known in the city only as slaves or conquered enemies, the true Roman, the descendant of the Cornelii, might be recognized by his native simplicity, by the calmness of his strength of soul, by the intrepid firmness belonging to his race, wherewith he first triumphed over the usurper, who was soon to surrender to the Goths on the borders of the Danube. And yet, O holy Pontiff, thou art even greater by the humility which St. Cyprian, thy illustrious friend, admired in thee, and by that “purity of thy virginal soul,” through which, according to him, thou didst become the elect of God and of His Christ. Continue reading