Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

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Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

Confessor, Jesuit Coadjutor
(1531-1617)

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez was born in Spain in 1531, of a well-to-do commercial household of Segovia, the third of eleven children. When Alphonsus was eleven years old, he and his older brother were sent to a Jesuit college which had just been founded. He had already manifested great joy in serving the Jesuits when they had given a mission in Segovia and lodged in his father’s country home; now he rejoiced in the one year of study he was able to undertake, before the death of his father interrupted these pursuits. His brother, after certain affairs were settled, returned to school, but Alphonsus was obliged to remain at home, destined one day to replace his father.

He accepted this lot and in 1557 married a virtuous wife; they were blessed with a daughter and two sons. But God intended to sanctify this soul of predilection by great and heroic sufferings. Only five years later he was already a widower, with only one little boy of three years remaining for him to raise. He believed this calamity must have come upon him for his sins, and he developed a great horror of sin; he asked God to let him bear even the torments of hell here below, rather than fall into a single mortal sin. He offered himself entirely to God, for whatever He might desire of him. Then he began a life of severe penance. A year later his mother died. He looked at his beautiful and innocent child, the only bond which still attached him to the earth; and he prayed to God that if ever that child should offend Him, to take him at once. His prayer was granted before long.

Alphonsus left Segovia and went to Valencia, where a Jesuit priest he had loved and admired earlier in Segovia was then stationed. This priest helped him to attain a loving confidence in God. He was thirty-eight years old when he requested his admission to the Order, but insufficient instruction and his unstable health, affected by his austerities, were regarded as obstacles. For two years he was employed as a preceptor of the young by two families of that city; finally, when he renewed his request for admission, he was accepted.

His religious life was spent primarily as a porter in a Jesuit college on the island of Majorca; his interior life was a succession of moral tortures, borne with perfect humility and love of God. The demons would not leave alone this holy man who made it his joy to take upon himself all the most humble and fatiguing offices. He cast himself, as it were, into the abyss of the love of Jesus Crucified. Twice he was thrown down a cement staircase by the adjured enemies of man’s salvation; but his love for his crucified Saviour was proof against all such attempts on his virtue. He was afflicted with various illnesses, which plunged him into a sort of preliminary purgatory but did not change his life of effacement and service.

In 1591 he was already 60 years old when he received an order to sleep thereafter in a bed; until then he had contented himself with a few hours of sleep on a table or in a chair. He served a chapel where the elderly or infirm fathers celebrated late Masses. He was told to write the story of his life, which work he began with hesitation in 1604. He was not spared the trial of being misunderstood and underestimated by a new Superior, but he found only joy and consolation in the public reproaches he received. He wrote in his book of maxims: In the difficulties which are placed before me, why should I not act like a donkey? When one speaks ill of him — the donkey says nothing. When he is mistreated — he says nothing. When he is forgotten — he says nothing. When no food is given him — he says nothing. When he is made to advance — he says nothing. When he is despised — he says nothing. When he is overburdened — he says nothing… The true servant of God must do likewise, and say with David: Before You I have become like a beast of burden.

The story of his association in his old age with Saint Peter Claver, the novice whose future mission he saw by a vision and foretold to him, is written into the annals of the Church in letters of gold; the two Saints were canonized together by Pope Leo XIII after more than two centuries.

Saint Alphonsus died in 1617; already he was known and loved as a Saint by the population. In 1825 he was beatified, and in 1888 Pope Leo XIII closed the inquiries after two new miracles had been verified, and proceeded to the ceremonies of canonization in Rome. The memory of Saint Alphonsus remains in benediction in the Order and in the hearts of those who know the value of the Cross of Christ and its perpetuity in His Mystical Body.

Biography of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, text by Abbé L. Tabourier, in Un Saint pour chaque jour du mois (Paris: 1932), Vol. 10, October

Saint Narcissus

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Saint Narcissus

Bishop of Jerusalem
(† Second Century)

Saint Narcissus from his youth applied himself with great care to the study of both religious and human disciplines. He entered into the ecclesiastical state, and in him all the sacerdotal virtues were seen in their perfection; he was called the holy priest. He was surrounded by universal esteem, but was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem only in about the year 180, when he was already an octogenarian. He governed his church with a vigor which was like that of a young man, and his austere and penitent life was totally dedicated to the welfare of the church.

In the year 195, with Theophilus of Cesarea he presided at a council concerning the celebration date of Easter; it was decided then that this great feast would always be celebrated on a Sunday, and not on the day of the ancient Passover.

God attested his merits by many miracles, which were long held in memory by the Christians of Jerusalem. One Holy Saturday the faithful were distressed, because no oil could be found for the church lamps to be used in the Paschal vigil. Saint Narcissus bade them draw water from a neighboring well and after he blessed it, told them to put it in the lamps. It was changed into oil, and long afterwards some of this oil was still preserved at Jerusalem in memory of the miracle.

The virtue of the Saint did not fail to make enemies for him, and three wretched men charged him with an atrocious crime. They confirmed their testimony by horrible imprecations. The first one prayed that he might perish by fire, the second that he might be wasted by leprosy, the third that he might be struck blind, if the accusations they made against their bishop were false. The holy bishop had long desired a life of solitude, and at this time he decided it was best to withdraw to the desert and leave the Church in peace. But God intervened on behalf of His servant, when all three of the bishop’s accusers suffered the penalties they had invoked. Narcissus could then no longer resist the petitions of his people; he returned to Jerusalem and resumed his office. He died in extreme old age, bishop to the last.

Reflection: God never fails those who trust in Him; He guides them through darkness and through trials, in silence but securely, to their end.

Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Love of Novelty and Variety

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Love of Novelty and Variety

CHRIST:

MY CHILD, curiosity is a good thing as long as it is controlled by reason and grace. In many things, curiosity does more harm than good. Some people have such a desire to be considered learned and intelligent that they try to answer all difficulties and solve all problems.

2. No man knows all the answers. In fact, there are times when it is better not to know the answer. just go along, doing your daily tasks and fulfilling your obligations. Learn whatever may help you to live a more useful and more virtuous life. Such knowledge will help you find My peace.

3. At times curiosity can interfere with your best interests. In dealing with My teachings, take them with simplicity and humility, instead of trying to understand the why and wherefore of every statement. At times it is necessary to accept My teachings simply because they are Mine. Some truths are too deep for your limited human intelligence. If you could have learned them by yourself, I would not have come down to reveal them to you. You must accept them with faith, humility, and simplicity. Am I not the Author of all truth?

4. Control your curiosity. It is better to ignore some things as though they did not exist. You will sometimes find it best to be deaf, dumb, and blind for My sake. You are not ready yet to learn the full truth. For the present fill your mind and heart with those thoughts and desires which will help you gain eternal life. Direct your interest toward things which will make you more honest and content in your daily duties.

5. Remember, the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear satisfied with hearing. There is more to your daily life than what you see and hear. You are surrounded by an invisible world, the world of spiritual reality. It will go on existing after this earthly world has passed away.

6. Try to learn as much as you can about the truths which I have revealed. Beware, however, of proud curiosity, which presumes to understand all things or seeks to impress others with knowledge.

THINK:
Curiosity can lead to greater knowledge, but it can also be harmful. In relation to God’s words, man’s first concern must be to believe them because God inspired them. If one is more interested in studying God’s words than in living them, then his curiosity is not a good thing. As long as one is doing his best to obey Christ’s Church, he can safely study God’s holy revelation in order to understand it better.

PRAY:
Holy Ghost, divine Inspirer of human hearts, grant me the grace to study Your words humbly and to obey them unselfishly. Let me understand ever more deeply how I may apply Your Wisdom in my daily life. The more faithfully I follow Your holy Will, the more safely and profitably will I be able to understand what You have revealed to the world through Holy Scripture and Christ’s Church. Amen.

Saints Simon and Jude

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Saints Simon and Jude

Apostles and Martyrs († First Century)

Simon was a simple Galilean, a brother of Jesus, as the ancients called one’s close relatives — aunts, uncles, first cousins; he was one of the Saviour’s four first cousins, with James the Less, Jude and Joseph, all sons of Mary, the wife of Alpheus, or Cleophas, either name being a derivative of the Aramaic Chalphai. The latter was the brother of Saint Joseph, according to tradition. All the sons of this family were raised at Nazareth near the Holy Family. (See the Gospel of Saint Matthew 13:53-58.) Simon, Jude and James were called by Our Lord to be Apostles, pillars of His Church, and Joseph the Just was His loyal disciple.

Saint Simon the Zealot or the Zealous, was the name this Apostle bore among the twelve. He preached in Egypt, Mauritania (Spain), and Lybia, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they labored and died together. At first they were respected by the king, for they had manifested power over two ferocious tigers who had terrorized the land. With the king, sixty thousand Persians became Christians, and churches rose over the ruins of the idolatrous temples.

But the ancient enemy, who never sleeps, rose up, and when the two went elsewhere the pagans commanded them to sacrifice to the sun. Both Apostles, just before that time, had seen Our Lord amid His Angels. Simon said to Jude, One of the Angels said to me, I will take you out of the temple and bring the building down upon their heads. I answered him, Let it not be so; perhaps some of them will be converted. They prayed for mercy for the people and offered their lives to God. Saint Simon told the crowd that their gods were only demons, and ordered them to come out of the statues, which they did, revealing themselves under hideous forms. But the idolaters fell on the Apostles and massacred them, while they blessed God and prayed for their murderers.

Saint Jude has left us a short but powerful epistle, written after the death of his brother James, bishop of Jerusalem, and addressed to the new Christians being tempted by false brethren and heretics.

Reflection: Zeal is an ardent love which makes a man fearless in defense of God’s honor, and earnest to make known the truth at all costs. If we desire to be children of the Saints, we must be zealous for the Faith.

Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).

Faith

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Faith

CHRIST tells you:

MY CHILD, he who believes My words possesses the truth. I have spoken to the world; firstly, through man’s conscience, secondly through the Prophets, thirdly, through My personal life on earth, and finally through My Church.

2. My Church continues My work on earth. Her voice is My voice, and Her authority was given to Her by Me. “He that heareth you, heareth Me,” I told My Apostles. They still carry on My work through their legitimate successors. The Scriptures and the Traditions would have been subject to errors and misinterpretations, if I had not left an infallible Church.

3. Do not be surprised if you cannot understand all that I teach. As the intelligence of adults is greater than that of a child, so too is My Divine Intelligence far above that of mortal
men.

4. He who believes only what he can understand is limiting himself to a very small portion of the Truth which I revealed. Human reason is weak, and it may be deceived in many things, That is why I told My Church to teach “what I have commanded,” promising to preserve Her from error. Had I not made these promises, you would have no way of being sure that you are following My words correctly. Only to My Church did I grant a guarantee from error. “He that heareth you, heareth Me,” I told My Apostles. The world today needs that guarantee more than ever. And therefore My promise still stands.

5. I do not demand great intelligence. I ask only for faith in My words and loyalty to My Will. I will not deny My grace to any man who is willing to pray and labor for My gift of faith.

THINK:
God wants faith and a holy life. Whatever I cannot understand, I can safely believe on His word. He cannot deceive me because He is the Fountain of all truth. When I take God’s word, I am performing the most intelligent act possible to man. I can learn God’s thoughts and holy Will by learning the doctrines and commands which His Son placed in His holy Church. Christ speaks to me through His Church. He teaches me His unerring view of life and offers me His holy peace. In His sacraments He gives me His own heavenly strength to avoid what is wrong and to do what is right.

PRAY:
God of truth, can I ever doubt what You have revealed through Your Divine Son? Jesus has brought me Your message. Moreover, He has preserved that message from error and misunderstanding in the Church which He founded. Through His Church He has promised to speak to me and to guide me on toward eternal life. Let me never tire of learning ever more and more about Your holy truth. Make me eager to use Your holy sacraments as often as possible. Only when I fail to use these heavenly gifts, does the battle for Heaven become too difficult. Let me prove my faith by a continual effort to know You better and serve You more perfectly in my daily life. Grant that I may make full use of Your wonderful gift to me-the Church. May I never be so foolish as to depend only on my small human knowledge and strength in the daily combat for Heaven. Amen.