Saints

The Carmelites and Elijah

Today the church commemorates the Prophet Elijah, a foundational figure for the Carmelite Order. A statue of Elijah on Mt. Carmel depicts Elijah denouncing a prophet of Baal whom he has conquered through the power of the God of Israel.

"And the prophet Elijah stood up, and his word burned like a torch" is inscribed in several languages on the base of the statue. 

Elijah


St. Camillus de Lellis

Founder of the Camillans, an order of priests and brothers who care for the sick even at peril to their own lives. St. Camillus first popularized the sign of his order, The Red Cross, as a symbol for help and protection on the battle field or the bed of illness. Later, the International Red Cross adopted his already popular emblem. 

Camillus


Augustine on Spiritual and Bodily Virginity

 

AugustineThe sanctity of the soul remains even when the body is violated, the sanctity of the body is not lost; and that, in like manner, the sanctity of the body is lost when the sanctity of the soul is violated, though the body itself remains intact. 

City of God, Book I, chapter 16.

Augustine's comments were made during a discussion of the virgin martyrs in the early church who chose martyrdom rather than be sexually violated.

He counsels that victims of sexual abuse should not feel shame since the blame for the sexual transgression is not their own, but rather on the aggressor. 

The mind and will can remain pure and chaste, even in face of non voluntary acts the body is made to perform.


St. Swithun

An English abbot renowned for miracle working and his sanctity of life. Since it rained on the day his relics were translated from outdoors to indoors, the legend grew that it would rain continuously for 40 days if it rained on his feast day. The same is said to be true for sunny weather. Apparently even meteorologists note that the weather pattern in England on this day tends to be rather stable and might be a predictor of weather to come.

He is the patron saint of Winchester Cathedral where a modern shrine stands over his original resting place which was desecrated during the reign of Henry VIII.

Shrine
Swithun

 


The Witness of John the Baptist

Musée_de_Lille_P._F._de_Grebber

 

Luke’s gospel this morning
Should remind us of Christmas.

The carefully balanced stories
Of John the Baptist’s birth
With Jesus’ birth
Including that they were both
Announced by the Angel Gabriel

Prepare us
As everything John the Baptist
Said and did for the coming
Of the Lord.

By the time he was born
He had already recognized
The Christ child
Dancing in Elizabeth’s womb
For joy.

Once he spotted Jesus
On the shore of the River Jordan
His ministry became focused
On pointing the way to Christ.

There He is, The Lamb of God!

Drop everything and follow Him,
He is the culmination of history;
All your hopes and dreams
Reside in Him.

For calling out authority
For immorality
He eventually lost his life.
Beheaded in a game of
Jealousy and anger and lust
At the court of the king.

He’s the perfect saint to
Celebrate during Religious Liberty week,
Especially when our media culture
The press, corporations, universities,
Some government leaders
Get as angry as Herod’s court
When confronted with the teachings
Of Christ and his church.

Direct confrontation isn’t even necessary
In some cases,
Just the very fact that Christians dare
To practice their faith in public
Is deemed a direct threat
And must be curtailed.

Many years ago
Public schools in this country
Taught American Protestantism
And ridiculed the Catholic faith
Leading many to found the
Catholic schools as a place
Where the faith could be taught
And not mocked.

Today it would be hard to characterize
Exactly what the public schools
Are teaching about religious faith
Or civic faith or faith in relationships.

In some cases, educators seeking
To remake society
View the American family itself
As a threat.

At a time when Catholic institutions,
Schools, adoption agencies, hospitals,
Are needed now more than ever
Their very existence is threatened
Not only by market economics
But by maneuvering in
Our toxic political square.

Our prayers during Religious Liberty week
Are to strengthen the laws which protect
Our God given right to worship
And witness our faith as we must,
In the spirit of John the Baptist.

Democracies depend on virtuous citizens
And virtuous leaders to survive;
May we be encouraged by
The Holy Spirit to be strong witnesses.

All of us can give witness to the virtues
About which Jesus spoke:
Mutual sacrificial love
And the beatitudes.

Sometimes it takes the courage of John the Baptist.


St. Boniface, martyr

In today's gospel Jesus warns us about potential difficulty in allocating our allegiance between God and state. St. Boniface cast his lot with the Word of God and along with travelling companions met a violent death at the hands of a mob who felt God's Word had no place among them.

Boniface


Saint Giulia Salzano

GiuliaSaint Giulia was noted for her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary and founded a congregation of nuns called the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to teach children about the faith and spread the love of the gospel.

Canonized by John Paul II as a saint of the "new evangelization," she reminded her sisters they must always be ready to defend the faith and teach its truths, especially to young children. She hoped this mission would be hers until her dying day.

 

 


St. Brendan the Navigator

Holy Cross Church doesn't have a window dedicated to St. Brendan, but he is pictured in one of our windows. He is shown as one of the saintly students of St. Ita, who does have a dedicated window. St. Brendan was inspired to set out into unknown waters to preach the gospel in far off lands. 

The statues in Ireland depicting him emphasize his courage and his great zeal. 

St Brendan Vikings
St Brendan Vikings

 


Sts. Philip and James

Philip and james

Though each was an apostle of the Lord, each was very different. James, observant Jew not insistent on imposing Jewish law on Gentile converts, was the first bishop of Jerusalem and conferred with St. Paul on the mission of the early church. Philip recruited Nathaniel and was rebuked by Jesus in this morning's gospel for failing to understand that Jesus and the Father are One.

The diversity of the Universal Catholic Church was established from the beginning and should be seen as a strength not a weakness. Let us pray for a spirit of mutual respect as we each follow the Lord.

 


St. Athanasius

Athanasius

Our Catholic concept of God, Trinity and the Union of Divine and Human Natures in Christ owes much to the preaching, teaching and courageous persistence of St. Athanasius. For hundreds of years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church wrestled with how the human nature of Jesus interacted with his identity as the Son of God. An early and persistent heresy in the church held that Jesus, though most perfectly human was created by God the Father and hence not equal to God the Father in His Divinity.

St. Athanasius, despite being exiled five different times for his belief, preached that Jesus was truly Divine and truly human and developed theological language to help us understand this mystery, or at least teach it clearly.

It is because Jesus was truly human and truly Divine that our redemption by his death and resurrection are assured, not merely a fine point in theological debate!

Thanks be to St. Athanasius for his courage and preaching.


St Mark, Evangelist

https://theurgetowander.com
St. Mark's Square With Leonine Column in Venice

 

MarkLion
A close-up of the lion atop the column. From theurgetowander.com

The lion has been the iconographic symbol for St. Mark from the early days of the church. The lion is the symbol of the city of Venice, Italy, which has claimed St. Mark as their patron. The courage of a roaring lion is sometimes required to witness the gospel in inimical times and places.

 


Bread is the Staff of Life

Shutterstock_237888646
My father used to say this all the time, but he didn't have the spongy, tasteless Wonderbread in mind. I wasn't really sure how exactly food was a staff, but we had bread available for most dinners, especially when company visited. The discovery of harvesting grain, removing the chaff, grinding the flour and baking the dough for nourishment gave us one of the most important foodstuffs for the human family. The bad nutritional rap modern, chemically adulterated, bleached and fiber-free bread has given this staple food should not be what we think about when we hear Jesus reassure us that He is the Bread of Life. 

Jesus' Body and Blood in the Eucharist is the basic food for human spiritual thriving and He has promised us that whoever eats this Bread will live forever. 

 


Saint Stephen and Saint Paul

In this morning's reading from Acts chapters 7 and 8, we have the ironic and hard to comprehend scene of St. Stephen being stoned to death while Saul (St. Paul) supervises. Most artistic representations of the scene avoid clearly depicting Saul at the martrydom, but this icon from The Holy Order of St. Stephen does not shirk from depicting it.

With this jarring scene bouncing around in our heads, it is well to remember that God's plan for the Church is sometimes unclear to us, but always leads to salvation. We can also take solace in the forgiveness extended to us for any wrongdoing, even a notorious one.

I'm not aware of any churches named jointly for Sts. Stephen and Paul, but it would be a spiritually challenging idea.

https://en.holyorderofststephen.org/


Solemnity of the Annunciation

Annunication
It's always interesting when the liturgical cycle and the temporal cycle collide and give us pause to reflect on Salvation History, God's plan for the world. Though we celebrate the timeless truth of the Logos, we also avow that Jesus became the Christ in time. The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God and her acceptance of the role, her "fiat," is placed nine months before the liturgically celebrated date of Jesus' birth on December 25th. Yet, since the date of Easter is not fixed and varies according to the lunar/solar calendar, this year the feast is celebrated at the conclusion of the Octave of Easter.

Confusing perhaps, but a reminder that we all have one foot in time and one in eternity thanks to the Paschal Mystery of Christ in which we participate by our baptisms.

Alleluia!