Saint Januarius

Saint Januarius

Bishop of Beneventum, Martyr
(† 305)

Many centuries ago, Saint Januarius died for the Faith during the persecution of Diocletian. God, through the blood which His servant shed for Him, some of which is conserved in Naples, continues to strengthen the faith of the Church, and to work there a regular miracle by its means.

This beloved Saint of the late third century was the bishop of Beneventum, and had a friend, a deacon named Sosius, who like himself was occupied with fortifying the Christians faced with martyrdom. When the prefect of Pouzzoles, where Sosius had been imprisoned, heard that Januarius was coming to visit him and three other fervent Christians being held there, he had him arrested. He urged him to cease his exhortations, forbidden by the imperial edicts, and to offer incense to the idols, if he wanted to avoid torture. The holy bishop replied that he could not do so. He was submitted to torments, the first one of which left him miraculously uninjured. The judge attributed the miracle to magic, as was often said of the Christians whom God chose to spare. He ordered another torture which left the bishop lame, before he was sent to the same prison as the others.

When two ecclesiastics of Benevent came to visit the confessors, they were arrested and condemned to die with the other five in an amphitheater, by the teeth of wild beasts. The animals, furious when released into the space where the seven Confessors stood, came and quietly lay down at their feet, renewing a miracle seen more than once in the history of the first centuries. By this prodigy and other miracles which preceded their execution, five thousand persons were converted. The bishop and his companions were decapitated on September 19, 305. A church was built on a nearby mountain to honor the memory of Saint Januarius.

Little did the heathen governor think, when he condemned them, that he would be the instrument in God’s hand for ushering in a long succession of miracles which commemorate the faith and attest the sanctity of Januarius. His relics repose in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr’s head, it melts and flows like the blood of a living man. This ordinarily occurs on his feast day celebrated on September 17th in Naples, and on anniversaries of miracles attributed to him, which have preserved the city from eruptions of Mount Vesuvius or the plague. Some have tried to explain this miracle by natural causes, but none have ever contested the reality of the facts.

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

Our Lady of La Salette

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Our Lady of La Salette

(1846)

On September 19, 1846, the Mother of God appeared to two young shepherds, Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, on the heights of the mountain of La Salette in France. There She dictated to them a public message which She asked to make known to all Her people. And to each little shepherd privately She confided a secret, concerning which She gave special directives. Our text for the feast of Blessed Maximin Giraud, September 20th, gives in his own words a brief description of the apparition. And we summarize [tomorrow] the public message, with its warnings and predictions, all of which have already been fulfilled. Blessed Melanie Calvat was invested with the mission of founding a new religious Order, the Order of the Mother of God, which would associate under one single common rule more than one community, and would include the Apostles of the Latter Times announced by Saint Louis Mary de Montfort in his Prophetic Prayer.

Blessed Melanie was told by the Mother of God to make known her secret after the year 1858, and she published it herself in the face of great difficulties. It was important, and remains important, for the Church to be aware of its contents. We therefore will summarize today, briefly, the secret of La Salette for those who may not yet know it, or even of it.

The Blessed Virgin announced that it was primarily the defections of the Church which will bring down on the world the exemplary chastisement:

God is going to strike in an unprecedented manner. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God is going to exhaust His wrath, and no one will be able to resist so many concerted woes… Many will abandon the faith, and the number of priests and religious who will dissociate themselves from the true religion will be great… Many religious institutes will lose the faith entirely and will cause the loss of many souls. The Church will pass through a frightful crisis… The Holy Father will suffer greatly. I will be with him to the end to receive his sacrifice… For a time God will not remember France or Italy because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer known… [But the] prayers, penance and tears of the just will ascend to heaven, and the entire people of God will beg for pardon and mercy and will ask My assistance and My intercession. Then Jesus Christ, by an act of His justice and His great mercy toward the just [will intervene and] then there will be peace, the reconciliation of God with men… Charity will flourish everywhere.. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great progress in the faith, because there will be unity among the workers of Jesus Christ and men will live in the fear of God.

She foretells: Rome will lose the faith and will become the seat of Antichrist. To call Her children to combat for God in the days of darkness and sin, the Mother of God concludes:

I address an urgent appeal to the earth: I summon the true disciples of God who lives and reigns in heaven; I summon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Saviour of men; I summon My children, My true devotees, those who have given themselves to Me so that I might lead them to My divine Son, those whom I carry, so to speak, in My arms, those who have lived according to My spirit; finally, I summon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in scorn of the world and of themselves, in poverty and in humility, in contempt and in silence, in prayer and in mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world. It is time for them to arise and come forth to enlighten the earth.

Go, and show yourselves as My cherished children; I am with you and in you, provided that your faith be the light that enlightens you in these days of woe. May your zeal cause you to be as famished for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Fight, children of light, you little number who see; for behold the time of times, the end of ends.

The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin on the Mountain of La Salette (Editions Magnificat: Mont-Tremblant (St. Jovite), Québec, Canada, 1973).

Saint Joseph of Cupertino

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Saint Joseph of Cupertino

Franciscan Priest
(1603-1663)

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

(†1224)

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.