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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.