St. Raymond of Penafort

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St. Raymond of Penafort, Confessor

St. Raymond, sprung from the noble race of Penafort, was born at Barcelona, in Catalonia, in the year 1175. Even in early childhood his only delight was in prayer and study, and when but a mere youth he was so advanced in learning as to be deservedly appointed to instruct others. Subsequently he devoted himself to canon and civil law, and soon excelled the most celebrated jurists of his time.

At Bologna he lectured publicly and gratuitously. At this time, Berengarius, Bishop of Barcelona, happening to pass through Bologna, and hearing of Raymond’s wide-spread fame, persuaded him to return to his native land, where he first installed him as canon, subsequently, however, as provost. Nor did the Bishop hesitate to consult him in his most important affairs. Continue reading

Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr

Vincent, the Victorious, vested in the sacred dalmatic, and holding his palm in his hand, comes, today, to his Jesus’ Crib, and right welcome is he to Stephen, the Crowned, his leader and his brother. Spain is his country. He is a Deacon of the glorious Church of Saragossa, and, by the strength and warmth of his faith, he is a type of that land, which is, by excellence, the Catholic Kingdom, But he does not belong to Spain only: like Stephen, and like Laurence, Vincent is the favourite and hero of the whole Church. Stephen, the Deacon, preached the divinity of Jesus amidst the shower of stones which were hurled upon him as a blasphemer; Vincent, the Deacon, confessed his faith in Jesus upon his red-hot gridiron, as did that other Deacon, Laurence. This triumvirate of Martyr-Deacons cluster together in the sacred Litany, and when we hear their three grand names, the Crown, the Laurel, and the Conqueror, we hail them as the three bravest Knights of our most dear Lord. Continue reading

Saint Agnes

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Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

How rich is the constellation of Martyrs, which shines in this portion of the sacred Cycle. Yesterday, we had St. Sebastian; tomorrow, we shall be singing the name which means Victory, for it is the Feast of Vincent; and now, today, between these two rich palm-branches, we are rejoiced with the lovely rose and lily-wreath of Agnes. It is to a girl of thirteen that our Emmanuel gave this stern courage of martyrdom, which made her meet the enemy with as bold a front as either the valiant Captain of the Pretorian band or the dauntless Deacon of Saragossa. If they are the soldiers of Jesus, she is his tender and devoted Spouse. These are the triumphs of the Son of Mary! Scarcely has He shown himself to the world, and lo! every noble heart flies towards Him, according to that word of his: Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together (St. Matth. xxiv. 28).

It is the admirable result of the Virginity of His Blessed Mother, who has brought honour to the fecundity of the soul, and set it far above that of the body. It was Mary that first opened the way, whereby certain chosen souls mount up even to the Divine Son, and fix their gaze, in a cloudless vision, on His beauty; for He Himself said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Continue reading

The Name of Jesus: A great foundation of faith by St. Bernardine of Siena

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The Name of Jesus: A great foundation of faith by St Bernardine of Siena

Great therefore is the Name of Jesus, foundation of the faith, making us children of God. For the faith of the Catholic religion consists in bringing us the knowledge of Jesus Christ and light: he is the light of the soul, the door to life, the foundation of eternal salvation. So if a man does not have this light or has left it, he walks through the darkness of the night as one without light and, with eyes closed, rushing among dangers and, however bright the excellence of his reason may be, he is following a blind guide in seeking to understand the heavenly mysteries with his own intellect; or in trying to build a house but neglecting the foundation; or, forgetting the door, wanting to enter through the roof.

Jesus is, therefore, this foundation, light and door, who, to show himself as the way to those who had gone astray, brought to everyone the light of faith, by which the unknown God can be sought and, sought, can be believed and, believed, can be found. This foundation sustains the Church, built in the Name of Jesus. The Name of Jesus is the splendour of preachers, because with luminous splendour it announces his word and makes it heard. How do you think the light of faith spread across the globe so much, so quickly and so fervently, if not by Jesus being preached? Did not God call us into his admirable light by the light and taste of this name? Because we have been enlightened and have seen the light in that light, Paul rightly says: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light”.This indeed is that most Holy Name which was so desired by the patriarchs of old, so anxiously longed for, so long awaited with so much suffering, so much invoked with so many sighs, so begged for with so many tears, but then mercifully given in the time of grace. Hide, I plead, the name of power, may the name of vengeance not be heard, the name of justice be held back. Give us the name of mercy, may the Name of Jesus sound in my ears, because truly then sweet is your voice, and beautiful your face.

O, therefore, glorious name, O gracious name, O lovable and virtuous name! Through you crimes are forgiven, through you enemies are defeated, through you the weak are set free, through you those suffering adversities are comforted and cheered. You, honour of believers; you, teacher of preachers; you, strengthener of those who work; you, sustainer of those who weaken. Thanks to your burning fervour and warmth desires are enkindled, petitions made, contemplating souls intoxicated and, through you, all are glorified triumphing in heavenly glory. With them, O most sweet Jesus, make us reign through this your most holy Name.

Saint Fabian

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Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr and Saint Sebastian, Martyr

Two great Martyrs divide between them the honours of this twentieth day of January:–one, a Pontiff of the Church of Rome; the other, a member of that Mother-Church. Fabian received the crown of martyrdom, in the year 250, under the persecution of Decius; the persecution of Dioclesian crowned Sebastian, in the year 288. We will consider the merits of these two champions of Christ separately.

Saint Fabian

St. Fabian, like St. Clement and St. Antheros, two of his predecessors, was extremely zealous in seeing that the Acts of the Martyrs were carefully drawn up. This zeal was no doubt exercised by the clergy in the case of our holy Pontiff himself, and his sufferings and martyrdom were carefully registered; but all these interesting particulars have been lost, in common with an immense number of other precious Acts, which were condemned to the flames, by the Imperial Edicts, during the persecution under Dioclesian. Nothing is now known of the life of St. Fabian, save a few of his actions as Pope; but we may have some idea of his virtues, by the praise given him by St. Cyprian, who, in a letter written to St. Cornelius, the immediate successor of St. Fabian, calls him an incomparable man. The Bishop of Carthage extols the purity and holiness of life of the holy Pontiff, who so peaceably governed the Church amidst all the storms which then assailed her. There is an interesting circumstance related of him by Eusebius. After the death of St. Antheros, the people and clergy of Rome assembled together, for the election of the new Pontiff. Heaven marked out the successor of St. Peter: a dove was seen to rest on the venerable head of Fabian, and he was unanimously chosen. This reminds us of the event in our Lord’s Life, which we celebrated a few days back, when standing in the river Jordan, the Dove came down from heaven, and showed him to the people as the Son of God. Fabian was the depository of the power of regeneration, which Jesus, by his Baptism, gave to the element of water; he zealously propagated the Faith of his Divine Master, and, among the Bishops he consecrated for divers places, one or more were sent by him into these western parts of Europe. Continue reading