St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen

Bellarmine by Bernini


St. Robert Bellarmine played an important role in the counter-reformation of the Catholic Church. He helped clarify Catholic teachings and orthodoxy and wrote two catechisms, including one for children. He opposed censuring Galileo and urged him to more clearly define his view of the universe as a theory to prevent him from contradicting the rather literal view of Scripture held the time (e.g. that the sun rises, runs is course in the sky and sets in the west - impossible if it is stationery as Galileo posited).

Hildegard of Bingen was a healer and mystic, using medicinals and plants to treat many ailments. She composed liturgical music, including hymns which has survived to this day. Her playfulness, piety and visions attracted much attention and generated resentment in some church leadership though she was eventually declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.


The Holy Name of Mary

HolyNameOfMaryThis Marian feast was promulgated ever more widely as victorious Christian forces successfully withstood assaults from non-Christian and Muslim invaders.

Through the intercession of Mary with her Son, may the Church of Christ always stand firm against unholy assaults from within and without.


Saint Nicholas of Tolentine

Saint Nicholas of Tolentine was named by his mother in honor of St. Nicholas (December 6th) after intercession to the saint to bear a child.

He was dedicated to the church at an early age and became noted for the sanctity of his life, his preaching and miracles through his intercession.

His frequent requests to pray for the souls in purgatory led to his being named Patron of the Holy Souls.




Common Sense

Common SenseIn this morning's gospel, Jesus is once again being tested by the Pharisees. This time it's what we should do when two rules conflict. In his parables about repairing a torn garment and an old wine skin, he suggests common sense should prevail.

We're born with the capacity to acquire wisdom and a "starter kit," but accumulated common sense or wisdom, is a lifelong pursuit.

Wisdom, right-judgment, prudence and fortitude are spiritual gifts which help us travel our life's journey under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


The Passion of St. John the Baptist
John the Baptist by August Rodin

We can see how lust, greed for power and approval, the need to save face and other vices tempted King Herod who condemned St. John the Baptist to the chopping block. If John was the conscience of the king, the king chose to silence him rather than listen and mend his ways. 

Modern day events are uncomfortably similar. 

As the school year begins and we welcome our teachers back to school today, let us prepare in earnest to help our children form their consciences clearly and not let worldly concerns muffle the voice of the prophet within them.




St. Rose of Lima and the Golden Mean

Golden MeanAristotle's definition of virtue was the Golden Mean between two extremes of vice. Courage, for example, is neither the extreme vice of cowardice nor the extreme vice of foolhardiness. 

Examining the lives of the saints gives us an opportunity to look at the heroic virtues in their lives and emulate them. 

It's a challenge to walk the path of virtue between utter disdain for the passing things of this world and abject attachment to them. St. Rose's life helps us discern if we are on a virtuous path or have strayed into the woods. 

Queenship of Mary


Piero della Francesa's Mother of Mercy highlights not only Mary's Queenship, but her protective role over each of us as mother.

Pope Benedict XVI once remarked that her queenship is intimately related to Jesus' kingship by love. Neither Jesus nor Mary are royalty as the world would have it. Jesus reigns from his Cross as King. Mary at his side protecting and guiding the Church and its children.


Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those


Today's gospel reading reminds us that we can never tire of forgiveness, since we ourselves are beneficiaries of God's great mercy through the sufferings of His Son. Instead of spending mental energy on calculating how to get even with those who have harmed us, we can surrender the right ot get even in the spirit of what can be eventually become a more thoroughgoing forgiveness.




Tizian_041A copy of this painting by Titian was gifted to the Basilica of the Assumption in Washington, D.C. by Popes Pius XII and John XXIII.

Today our prayer can be one of gratitude to Jesus Christ for his saving power of the cross and resurrection, veneration of Mary as the best of us and reassurance that where she goes, so shall we, and hope and joy in expectation of our own bodily glory in heaven with Mary and all the saints.



Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus


Reconciliation can often happen when former adversaries unite against a common foe. Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus put aside personal animosity when they realized they were not only facing a common foe, the Roman emperor, but also united by a common Savior, Jesus Christ.

When we understand our common foe to be sin and death and our shared salvation to be Jesus Christ, the differences which divide us can seem minimal.

St. Dominic and St. Francis

St. Dominic was said to have dreamed about meeting a beggar on the road who together with himself would do great things for the Church. The next day, Dominic met St. Francis, the beggar - an important encounter between the founders of two important religious communities which would challenge the Church and change it for the better.

Dominic and Francis

Jeremiah or Jonah

When we set out as disciples, we never know whether we'll meet with success like Jonah or opposition, like Jeremiah.

















It isn't always something connected with us, sometimes it's simply due to people's hardness of hearts. It's not always the packaging of the message, nor the tailoring of the information to the target audience, sometimes it's a stiff-necked situation. Nor should we think Jonah a more successful, effective prophet than Jeremiah.

Our witness to Christ is our responsibility. The results are up to Him. Frustrating, perhaps in the short run, but consoling in the long run.


The Potter's Wheel

PotterAnother great image from the Book of Jeremiah, God's creative hands as the hands of potter and we as clay in His hands. Each pot hand-made and slightly different, though identical in our human dignity and the reverence we owe to our Creator and the respect we show each other.

St Alphonsus Liguori

St. Alphonsus' statue in St. Peter's Basilica


One I the reasons I think there isn't much philosophy written which is easy to understand is that most philosophers never had to teach CCD!

Alphonsus Liguori was highly educated and from an aristocratic family, but spent much of his life teaching and ministering to the poor of Naples. This may be the reason so much of his writing is accessible and still widely read today.



















St. Simeon the Stylite

SaintsimonSt. Simeon's pillar was quite a unique way to escape the world and get closer to God and it even made St. Simeon a tourist attraction and site of pilgrimage for prayer and advice.

Each of our calls to holiness is unique and becomes manifest to the world in the particular circumstances of our life. May we pray for the grace to find how best to make holiness come alive in the world.

Santiago de Compestela

Today's feast of St. James (the greater), commemorates the first of Jesus' apostles to meet with martyrdom. 

Called James the Greater because he was called by Jesus before James, Son of Alphaeus and to distinguish him from St. James the Just, the cathedral of Santiago (a local corruption of the Latin for St. James) de Compestela containing his relics became a site of pilgrimage from the earliest days of the church. 

James is therefore a patron of pilgrims and is sometimes depicted clothed as one. His immediate readiness to follow Jesus and his courage in defending the faith are examples in every age.

CathedralCathedral of Santiago de Compestela.