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AUGUST 9

BLESSED JOHN OF RIETI

Blessed John lived in the first half of the fourteenth century. He has a sister who is also "blessed," Blessed Lucy of Amelia. They were members of the Bufalari family from the Umbria region of Italy. John felt a call to religious life. He was attracted to the order of St. Augustine and wanted to be a brother. John was accepted into the order and found himself immediately at home. He loved to pray and to meditate about Jesus, Mary and the saints. He learned how to talk to God, his Father, and he especially took the opportunities to serve at Mass. People from the neighboring towns came to Mass at the church of the Augustinians. They noticed the brother who was always there. He was so peaceful and kind. Brother John went out of his way to welcome them. He made them feel at home.

When people came to the monastery in need, Brother John was there to greet and welcome them. For those who were staying overnight, he would bring them to the guest rooms and wait on them. He would make sure they had food, medicine and whatever else the monastery could give.

The years passed. Brother John continued his religious life with the quiet rhythm of a clock. He was steady and stable. Blessed John remained joyful in his vocation until his death in 1350. It was no surprise to anybody who had come to the monastery when miracles started to be reported at his tomb. Brother John was not going to let his death stop him from performing his ministry for Jesus.

AUGUST 10
ST. LAWRENCE

St. Lawrence, the famous martyr of Rome, lived in the third century. He was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus II was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping. "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the pope. "In three days you will follow me." Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand. He even sold expensive church vessels to have more to give away.

The prefect of Rome, a greedy man, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. He ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. He showed them to the prefect and said: "This is the Church's treasure." The prefect was furious. In his anger he condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted him. God gave him so much strength and joy that Lawrence is said to have joked. "Turn me over," he said to the judge. Before he died, he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus. He prayed that the Catholic faith would spread all over the world.

Lawrence died on August 10, 158. His feast spread throughout Italy and northern Africa. Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Lawrence's honor. St. Lawrence is among the saints mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.

AUGUST 11
ST. CLARE

St. Clare was born around 1193 in Assisi, Italy. She lived at the time of St. Francis of Assisi. Clare became the foundress of an order of nuns called the "Poor Clares." When she was eighteen, she heard St. Francis preach. Her heart burned with a great desire to imitate him. She also wanted to live a poor, humble life for Jesus. So one evening, she ran away from home. In a little chapel outside Assisi, she gave herself to God. St. Francis cut off her hair and offered her a rough brown habit to wear. She stayed with the Benedictine nuns until more nuns would join her. Her parents tried in every way to make her return home, but Clare would not. Soon her fifteen-year-old sister Agnes joined her. Other young women wanted to be brides of Jesus, too. Before long there was a small religious community.

St. Clare and her nuns wore no shoes. They never ate meat. They lived in a poor house and kept silent most of the time. Yet they were very happy because they felt that Jesus was close to them. Once an army of rough soldiers came to attack Assisi. They planned to raid the convent first. Although very sick, St. Clare asked to be carried to the wall. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed right where the soldiers could see it. Then she knelt and begged God to save the nuns. "O Lord, protect these sisters whom I cannot protect now," she prayed. And a voice within her seemed to say: "I will keep them always in my care." At the same time, a sudden fright struck the attackers. They fled as fast as they could.

St. Clare was abbess of her convent for forty years. Twenty-nine of those years she was sick. But she said that she was joyful anyway because she was serving the Lord. Some people worried that the nuns were suffering because they were so poor. "They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly poor?" St. Clare died on August 11, 1253. Just two years later she was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander IV

AUGUST 14
ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

Raymond Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. He joined the Franciscan order in 1907 and took the name that we know him by: Maximilian. Maximilian loved his vocation very much, and he especially loved the Blessed Mother. He added the name "Mary" when he pronounced solemn vows in 1914. Father Maximilian Mary was convinced that the world of the twentieth century needed their Heavenly Mother to guide and protect them. He used the press to make Mary more widely known. He and his fellow Franciscans published two monthly newsletters that soon went to readers around the world.

The Mother of God blessed Father Maximilian's work. He built a large center in Poland. This center was called "City of the Immaculate." By 1938, eight hundred Franciscans lived there and labored to make the love of Mary known. Father Kolbe also started another City of the Immaculate in Nagasaki, Japan. Still another was begun in India. In 1938, the Nazis invaded the Polish City of the Immaculate. They stopped the wonderful work going on there. In 1941, the Nazis arrested Father Kolbe. They sentenced him to hard manual labor at Auschwitz. He was at Auschwitz three months when a prisoner successfully escaped. The Nazis made the rest of the prisoners pay for the escape. They chose ten prisoners at random to die in the starvation bunker. All the prisoners stood at attention, while ten men were pulled out of line. One chosen prisoner, a married man with a family, begged and pleaded to be spared for the sake of his children. Father Kolbe, who had not been picked, listened and felt deeply moved to help that suffering prisoner. He stepped forward and asked the commander if he could take the man's place. The commander accepted his offer.

Father Kolbe and the other prisoners were marched into the starvation bunker. They remained alive without food or water for several days. One by one, as they died, Father Kolbe helped and comforted them. He was the last to die. An injection of carbolic acid hastened his death on August 14, 1941. Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a saint and a martyr in 1982.

AUGUST 15
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

This feast of Mary celebrates a special privilege of Mary, our Mother. The Assumption means that she entered into the glory of heaven not only with her soul, but also with her body. The Son of God took his body from Mary's pure womb. It was fitting, then, that her body should be glorified as soon as her life here on earth was ended.
Now Mary is in heaven. She is queen of heaven and earth. She is the Mother of Jesus' Church and queen of apostles. Every time Mary asks Jesus to give us graces, he listens to her request.

After the resurrection from the dead, we, too, can go to heaven with our bodies. If we use our bodies now to do good, those bodies will share in our heavenly reward.
After the resurrection, our bodies will be perfect. They will not be subject to illness anymore. They will not need any more food and drink to keep alive. They will be able to go every place without time or effort. They will be beautiful and splendid!

Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven is a dogma of faith. This wonderful truth was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950.

AUGUST 16
ST. STEPHEN OF HUNGARY

St. Stephen was born around 969 in Hungary. This saint's name had been Vaik. When he became a Christian at the age of ten, he was given the name of Stephen. At the same time, his father, the duke of Hungary, and many nobles also became Christians. However, when Stephen himself became king, the country was still quite pagan. Some people were violent and fierce. So he decided to establish the Church solidly in Hungary. His efforts were blessed by God. The secret of St. Stephen's amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his devotion to Mary. He placed his whole kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor.

Pope Sylvester II sent a beautiful king's crown to Stephen. This treasure became known as the crown of St. Stephen. During the Second World War, American soldiers captured the crown. However, it was returned to Hungary in 1978.
Stephen was a strong, fearless ruler. He enforced just laws. But he was also gentle and kind to the poor. He tried to avoid war as much as he could. He loved to give gifts of money to beggars without letting them know who he was. Once he was giving these gifts in disguise when a crowd of rough beggars knocked him down and struck him. They pulled his hair and beard, and stole his money pouch. They never could have imagined they were bullying their king. And they never found out from him. He took the insult quietly and humbly. He forced his thoughts to turn to Mary and prayed: "See, Queen of heaven, how your people have treated him whom you made king. If they were enemies of the faith, I would know what to do with them. But since they are your Son's subjects, I will take this joyfully. I say thank you for it." In fact, King Stephen made a promise then and there to give more than ever to beggars. Stephen was king of Hungary for forty-two years. He died on August 15, 1038. St. Stephen was proclaimed a saint by Pope St. Gregory VII in 1083.

AUGUST 17
BLESSED JOAN DELANOUE

St. Joan Delanoue was born in 1666. Her family had a small but successful business. When her widowed mother died, she left the store to Joan. She was not an evil girl, but she thought only of making money. She committed many little sins to do it. She had once been devout, but now there was little love in her heart. Her mother had always been generous to beggars. Joan, instead, would buy food only just in time for dinner. This way she could tell any beggars who came to the door during the day: "I have nothing to give you."

Joan was not happy living like this. At last, when she was twenty-seven, a good priest helped her start living up to her faith with love and fervor. Then she finally saw that her "business" was to give away money, not hoard it. Joan began taking care of poor families and orphans. Eventually, she closed her shop entirely to devote her time to them. People called her house full of orphans, "Providence House." Later, she persuaded other young women to help her. They became the Sisters of St. Anne of Providence in Saumur, France, Joan's town.

Joan lived a very self-sacrificing life. She performed hard penances. St. Grignon de Montfort met Joan. He thought at first that her pride was causing her to be so hard on herself. But then he realized that her heart was really full of love of God. He said: "Go on in the way you have begun. God's Spirit is with you. Follow his voice and fear no more." Joan died peacefully on August 17, 1736. She was seventy years old. The people of Saumur said, "That little shopkeeper did more for the poor of Saumur than all the town councilors put together. What a woman! And what a holy person!" Joan was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1947, the same year St. Grignon de Montfort was declared a saint.

AUGUST 18
ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL

St. Jane was born in Dijon, France, in 1572. Her father was a devout man. He brought up his children well after the death of his wife. Jane, whom he dearly loved, married Christopher, the baron de Chantal. Jane and Christopher loved each other very much. God blessed them with six children, four of whom lived. Jane showed her love for God by loving her husband and children with her whole heart. Then, suddenly, a great sorrow fell upon that happy home. Baron Christopher was accidentally shot by a friend who had gone hunting with him. When he died, Jane was heart-broken. She forgave the man who had caused his death and even became his child's godmother.

St. Jane began to ask the Lord to send a holy priest into her life for guidance. In the meantime, she prayed and brought up her children in the love of God. She visited the poor and the sick and comforted the dying. When she met St. Francis de Sales, she knew this was the holy man God had sent to guide her. We celebrate his feast on January 24. Following his plan, Jane and three other young women started the order of the Visitation. But first, she had to make sure that her children, although older, were settled. She had other responsibilities and challenges too. But Jane tried to follow God's plan as she saw it, no matter how difficult.

St. Jane was courageous in all the difficulties she faced. She opened up many convents and struggled as well with her own temptations. She seems to have struggled with doubts. "Despite all her suffering," wrote St. Vincent de Paul, "her face never lost its peaceful look. And she was always faithful to God. So I consider her one of the holiest souls I have ever met." St. Jane died on December 13, 1641. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement XIII in 1767.

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LIVES OF THE SAINTS

DECEMBER 1
ST. EDMUND CAMPION
St. Edmund lived in the sixteenth century. He was a very popular young English student who was a great speaker. 

DECEMBER 2
ST. BIBIANA
St. Bibiana's father Flavian had been prefect of the city of Rome in early Christian times. 

DECEMBER 3
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER
St. Francis Xavier, the great missionary, was born at Xavier Castle in Spain in 1506.

DECEMBER 4
ST. JOHN DAMASCENE

St. John lived in the eighth century. He was born in the city of Damascus of a good Christian family

DECEMBER 5
ST. SABAS

St. Sabas, born in 439, is one of the most famous monks of Palestine.

DECEMBER 6
ST. NICHOLAS

St. Nicholas is the great patron of children and of Christmas giving.

DECEMBER 7
ST. AMBROSE

St. Ambrose was born around 340. He was the son of the Roman governor of Gaul.

DECEMBER 8
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY

Our first parents offended God by sinning seriously.

DECEMBER 9
BLESSED JUAN DIEGO

St. Juan Diego is well-known because the Mother of God appeared to him.

DECEMBER 10
ST. JOHN ROBERTS

St. John was born in Wales in 1577. Although he was not a Catholic, he was taught by an elderly priest.

DECEMBER 11
ST. DAMASUS I

ST. Damasus was born in Rome and lived in the fourth century-exciting times for the Church.

DECEMBER 12
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

We celebrate the event of Mary's appearances on Tepyac Hill in Mexico.

DECEMBER 13
ST. LUCY

St. Lucy, the beloved saint, lived in Syracuse, Sicily. She was born toward the end of the third century.

DECEMBER 14
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

St. John was born in Spain in 1542. He was the son of a weaver.

DECEMBER 15
ST. NINO

St. Nino was a Christian girl who lived in the fourth century.

DECEMBER 16
ST. ADELAIDE

St. Adelaide was born in 931. At the age of sixteen, this Burgundian princess was married to King Lothair.

DECEMBER 17
ST. OLYMPIAS

St. Olympias was born around the year 361. She belonged to a great family of Constantinople.

DECEMBER 18
ST. FLANNAN

St. Flannan lived around the seventh century. He was the son of an Irish chieftain named Turlough. Flannan was educated by the monks.

DECEMBER 19
BLESSED URBAN V

Blessed Urban's name before he became pope was William de Grimoard.

DECEMBER 20
ST. DOMINIC OF SILOS

St. Dominic, a Spanish shepherd boy, was born at the beginning of the eleventh century.

DECEMBER 21
ST. PETER CANISIUS

ST. Peter, a Dutch man, was born in 1521. His father wanted him to be a lawyer.

DECEMBER 22
ST. CHAEREMON AND ST. ISCHYRION AND OTHER MARTYRS

The third century was marked by Roman persecutions of the Church.

DECEMBER 23
ST. JOHN OF KANTY

St. John, the Polish saint, was born in 1390, the son of good country folk.

DECEMBER 23
ST. MARGUERITE D'YOUVILLE

St. Marguerite was born in Quebec, Canada, on October 15, 1701.

DECEMBER 24
ST. CHARBEL

St. Charbel was born Youssef Makhlouf on May 8, 1828, in a mountain village in Lebanon.

DECEMBER 25
CHRISTMAS, THE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS

The time had come for the Son of God to become man for love of us.

DECEMBER 26
ST. STEPHEN

St. Stephen's name means crown. He was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown.

DECEMBER 27
ST. JOHN THE APOSTLE

St. John was a fisherman in Galilee. He was called to be an apostle.

DECEMBER 28
THE HOLY INNOCENTS

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Wise Men came from the east to worship him.

DECEMBER 29
ST. THOMAS BECKET

St. Thomas Becket was born in 1118, in London, England.

DECEMBER 30
CST. ANYSIA

St. Anysia lived in Thessalonica toward the end of the second century.

DECEMBER 31
ST. SYLVESTER

St. Sylvester dates back to early Christian times, to the reign of Constantine.

 
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“Jesus’ Baptism”

Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

 
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