From the writings of Saint John of Capistrano

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From the writings of Saint John of Capistrano.

Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a praiseworthy and blameless life. They must completely remove from their lives the filth and uncleanness of vice. Their upright lives must make them like the salt of the earth for themselves and for the rest of mankind. The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the light of the world that brings light to others. They must learn from their eminent teacher, Jesus Christ, what he declared not only to his apostles and disciples, but also to all the priests and clerics who were to succeed them, when He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what is salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Jesus also said: “You are the light of the world.” Now a light does not illumine itself, but instead it diffuses its rays and shines all around upon everything that comes into its view. So it must be with the glowing lives of upright and holy clerics. By the brightness of their holiness they must bring light and serenity to all who gaze upon them. They have been placed here to care for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they must live in the house of the Lord. 

Saint John Capistran

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Saint John Capistran

Confessor
(1385-1456)

Saint John was born at Capistrano, near Naples in Italy, in 1385. Having studied both secular and canon law, he became so skilled in it that his reputation spread over all of Italy. He was imprisoned during a war and abandoned by his protector for some time, during which his young wife died. He resolved while still in prison to serve in the future no other interests but those of God. His property was sold at his command, his ransom paid, and from his prison he entered a monastery near Peruse where the Rule of Saint Francis was observed in its purity.

The superiors, fearing this vocation to be a passing fancy, tested him severely, even sending him away twice; but he remained day and night at the door, suffering joyfully all trials. His heroic perseverance disarmed their fears and severity, and he was admitted to religious profession.

For seven years he practiced great austerities, cared for the sick in the hospitals, and preached on all sides the word of God. In this, say his biographers, he succeeded so admirably that few preachers in the course of all the centuries can be compared with him. He became a disciple of Saint Bernardine of Siena, assisting him in public conferences and discussions. Like many great servants of God he was calumniated, as though he had taught errors; he went to Rome to justify his teachings in the presence of the Pope and a group of cardinals, which he did admirably well, and they recognized the obvious innocence of the accused Saint.

Afterwards he preached all over Italy, and everywhere brought about the reform of lives. Five Popes in succession gave commissions to this remarkable Franciscan to represent them in important affairs, and he traveled to France, Austria, Poland and Germany. Everywhere his negotiations were crowned with success. But none of the Popes succeeded in raising him to the episcopal dignity; their efforts met an absolute resistance in his humility.

His extraordinary qualities proved to be of great assistance to the Holy See in another circumstance. When Mohammed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, Saint John Capistran, at the bidding of Pope Callixtus III, enrolled for a crusade 70,000 Christians. In a vision he was assured of victory in the Name of Jesus and by the Cross he bore. Marching at the head of the crusaders, he entered Belgrade at the head of the army. This General of the Friars Minor won a remarkable victory in that year of 1455, when 40,000 of the enemies of the Christians perished, but virtually none among the latter. He himself died the following year at the age of 71. He is regarded as a martyr, for enemies of the faith twice succeeded in giving him poison, which was ineffectual; he died only from the immense fatigue he had suffered in the defense of the city of Belgrade. An infinity of miracles followed his death. He was canonized in 1690.

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

Meditations for Each Day of Lent – Passion Saturday

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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Passion Saturday

How we, each of us, should wash on another’s feet

If I then being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also out to wash one another’s feet–John xiii. 14

Our Lord wishes that His disciples shall imitate His example. He says therefore, If I, who am the greater, being your master and the Lord, have washed your feet, you also, all the more who are the less, who are disciples, slaves even, ought to wash one another s feet. Whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister . . . . Even as the Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. xx. 26-28).

St. Augustine says every man ought to wash the feet of his fellows, either actually or in spirit. And it is by far the best, and true beyond all controversy, that we should do it actually, lest Christians scorn to do what Christ did. For when a man bends his body to the feet of a brother, human feeling is stirred up in his very heart, or, if it be there already, it is strengthened. If we cannot actually wash his feet, at least we can do it in spirit. The washing of the feet signifies the washing away of stains. You therefore wash the feet of your brother when, as far as lies in your power, you wash away his stains. And this you may do in three ways:

(i) By forgiving the offences he has done to you. Forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also (Coloss. iii. 13).

(ii) By praying for the forgiveness of his sin, as St. James bids us, Pray for one another that you may be saved (James v. 16). This way of washing, like the first, is open to all the faithful.

(iii) The third way is for prelates, who should wash by forgiving sins through the authority of the keys, according to the gospel, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive , they are forgiven them (John xx. 23).

We can also say that in this one act Our Lord showed all the works of mercy. He who gives bread to the hungry, washes his feet, as also does the man who harbours the harbourless or he who clothes the naked.

Communicating to the necessities of the saints (Rom. xii. 13).