Blog Post - August 8th
S. Dominic| S. John Vianney| SS. Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.
Born in old Castile, Spain, he was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.
On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, “the pure”) held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.
Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses.
Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.
His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God."
Legend has it that Dominic saw the sinful world threatened by God’s anger but saved by the intercession of Mary, who pointed out to her Son two figures: One was Dominic himself, the other a stranger. In church the next day he saw a ragged beggar enter—the man in the vision. He went up to him, embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was Francis of Assisi. The meeting of the two founders is commemorated twice a year, when on their respective feast days Dominicans and Franciscans celebrate Mass in each other’s churches and afterward sit at the same table “to eat the bread which for seven centuries has never been wanting” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).
The Dominican ideal, like that of all religious communities, is for the imitation, not merely the admiration, of the rest of the Church. The effective combining of contemplation and activity is the vocation of truck driver Smith as well as theologian Aquinas. Acquired contemplation is the tranquil abiding in the presence of God, and is an integral part of any full human life. It must be the wellspring of all Christian activity.
Patron Saint of:
St. John Vianney
A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.
His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.
Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)
With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.
His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.
Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.
Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.
Indifference toward religion, coupled with a love for material comfort, seem to be common signs of our times. A person from another planet observing us would not likely judge us to be pilgrim people, on our way to somewhere else. John Vianney, on the other hand, was a man on a journey with his goal before him at all times.
Recommending liturgical prayer, John Vianney would say, “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”
Patron Saint of:
Today in the Latin Calendar we also commemorate SS. Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found by below.
Saint Cyriacus (also known as Cyriac) was born of a noble patrician family. He embraced the Christian religion and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus.
Diocletian was emperor at that time, assisted by Maximian. The latter decided to build a beautiful palace for the emperor, with magnificent baths, and made the Christians work at the construction. Among the new slaves were elderly gentlemen along with clerics and priests. The labor was hard and the food scanty. A Roman nobleman desired to relieve the sufferings of these laborers. He sent four Christians with alms and encouragements. These were Saint Cyriacus, Saint Sisinius, Saint Largus and Saint Smaragdus. They pursued their charities at the risk of their lives, and they worked vigorously alongside those who were growing very weak. When Maximian heard of it, he had Saint Sisinius and an old gentleman whom he had helped, decapitated.
Then Emperor Diocletian's little daughter became possessed by an evil spirit. No one was able to deliver her from it. To the idolatrous priests who were called, the evil spirit declared that he would leave the girl only when commanded to do so by Cyriacus. He was summoned, and prayed and made the sign of the cross over the girl. The evil spirit departed. The emperor loved his daughter, therefore he was grateful to the holy deacon. Emperor Diocletian presented Cyriacus with a house, where he and his companions might serve God unmolested by their enemies.
About this time the daughter of the Persian King Sapor was attacked by a similar malady. When he heard what Cyriacus had done for Diocletian's daughter, he wrote to Diocletian , asking him to send the Christian deacon. It was done, and Cyriacus, on foot, set out for Persia. Arrived at his destination, he prayed over the girl and the evil spirit left her. On hearing of this miracle, four hundred and twenty heathens were converted to the Faith. These the saint instructed and baptized, and then set out on his homeward journey.
Returned to Rome, he continued his life of prayer and good works. But when Diocletian soon afterward left for the East, his co-emperor Maximin seized the opportunity to persecute the Christians. One of the first victims was Cyriacus. He was loaded with chains and brought before the judge, who first tried blandishments and promises to induce him to renounce Christ and to sacrifice to the idols, but in vain. Then the confessor of Christ was stretched on the rack, his limbs torn from their sockets. He was beaten with clubs. His companions shared the same tortures. Finally, when the emperor and the judge were convinced that nothing would shake the constancy of the holy martyrs, they were beheaded. They gained the crown of glory on March 16, 303.
Their bodies were first buried near the place of their execution on the Salarian Way, but were later removed to the city. An abbey in France, at Altorf in Alsace, possesses relics of Saint Cyriacus and bears his name. Saint Cyriacus is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases. This group of Nothelfer (“helpers in need”) originated in the 14th century at first in the Rhineland, largely as a result of the epidemic (probably of bubonic plague) that became known as the Black Death.
EMPEROR MAXIMIN in token of his gratitude to Diocletian, who had ceded the western half of his empire to him, ordered the building of that magnificent structure in Rome, whose ruins are still known as the "Baths of Diocletian." The Christians imprisoned for the Faith were compelled to labor under cruel overseers at this building. A zealous Christian Roman, touched with pity at this moving spectacle, resolved to employ his means in improving the condition of these poor victims of persecution.
Among the deacons of the Roman Church at that time was one by the name of Cyriacus, who was distinguished by his zeal in the performance of all good works. Him, with two companions, Largus and Smaragdus, the pious Roman selected for the execution of his plan. Cyriacus devoted himself to the work with great ardor. One day, whilst visiting the laborers to distribute food amongst them, he observed a decrepit old man, who was so feeble that he was unable to perform his severe task. Filled with pity, Cyriacus offered to take his place. The aged prisoner consenting, the merciful deacon thenceforth worked hard at the building.
But after some time he was discovered, and cast into prison. There he again found opportunity to exercise his zeal. Some blind men who had great confidence in the power of his prayer, came to ask him for help in their affliction, and he restored their sight. He and his companions spent three years in prison, and during that time he healed many sick and converted a great number of heathens from the darkness of paganism.
Then Emperor Diocletian's little daughter became possessed by an evil spirit, and no one was able to deliver her from it. To the idolatrous priests who were called, the evil spirit declared that he would leave the girl only when commanded to do so by Cyriacus, the deacon. He was hastily summoned, and prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the girl, and the evil spirit departed. The emperor loved his daughter, therefore he was grateful to the holy deacon, and presented him with a house, where he and his companions might serve their God unmolested by their enemies.
About this time the daughter of the Persian King Sapor was attacked by a similar malady, and when he heard what Cyriacus had done for Diocletian's daughter, he wrote to the emperor, asking him to send the Christian deacon. It was done, and Cyriacus, on foot, set out for Persia. Arrived at his destination, he prayed over the girl and the evil spirit left her. On hearing of this miracle, four hundred and twenty heathens were converted to the Faith. These the Saint instructed and Baptized, and then set out on his homeward journey.
Returned to Rome, he continued his life of prayer and good works. But when Diocletian soon afterward left for the East, his co-emperor Maximin seized the opportunity to give vent to his hatred for the Christians, and renewed their persecution. One of the first victims was Cyriacus. He was loaded with chains and brought before the judge, who first tried blandishments and promises to induce him to renounce Christ and to sacrifice to the idols, but in vain. Then the confessor of Christ was stretched on the rack, his limbs torn from their sockets, and be was beaten with clubs. His companions shared the same tortures. Finally, when the emperor and the judge were convinced that nothing would shake the constancy of the holy Martyrs, they were beheaded. They gained the crown of glory on March 16, 303.
Note: St. Cyriacus is also called simply St. Cyriac. He is invoked in eye diseases and against diabolical possession.
IN THE life of St. Cyriacus two virtues shine forth in a special manner; his love of God and his charity toward his fellow men. His love of God impelled him to sacrifice all, even his life, for His sake, thereby fulfilling the commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind" [Matt. 12: 37]. A greater love of God no man can have than giving his life for Him.
St. Cyriacus also fulfilled the other commandment, of which Our Lord declared, "And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" [Matt. 12: 39]. He helped his fellow Christians to bear their burdens, relieved them in their sufferings, assisted and encouraged them by word and deed, and edified them by his example. His sole aim was to do good to all men, mindful of the words of the Royal Prophet: "Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor" [Ps. 40: 2]. He was so imbued with the virtue of charity, that he was disposed even to sacrifice his life for the relief and assistance of others.
How shall we justify our unfeeling hardness of heart, by which we seek every trifling pretense to exempt us from the duty of aiding the unfortunate? Remember the threat of the apostle, "Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy" [James 2: 13].
Prayer of the Church
O GOD, Who rejoicest us by the remembrance of Thy blessed Martyrs Cyriacus, Largus,
and Smaragdus; grant, we beseech Thee, that we, by celebrating their memory, may imitate their fortitude in suffering. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Novena in Honor of St. Cyriacus
ALMIGHTY and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.
Prayer in Honor of St. Cyriacus
O GOD, Who didst grant to St. Cyriacus the grace of heroic charity and trustful resignation to Thy holy will; bestow upon us, through his intercession, the grace to walk before Thee in self-denying charity and to know and fulfill Thy will in all things. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. Cyriacus
ST. CYRIACUS, great servant of God, loving Christ with all thy heart, thou didst for His
sake also love thy fellow men, and didst serve them even at the peril of thy life, for which charity God rewarded thee with the power to overcome Satan, the arch-enemy, and to deliver the poor obsessed from his dreadful tyranny; implore for me of God an effective, real, and true charity. Show thy power over Satan also in me; deliver me from his influence when he tries to tempt me. Help me to repel his assaults and to gain the victory over him in life and in death. Amen.
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.
There is something innately spiritual in eating together. Without food we die. As we eat together, we affirm life and our life together. We recognize our dependence on God, for our food comes from him—as does every breath we take.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
I thank the Lord, though, that despite the fact that ... I suffer moments of real anguish, I am invariably cheerful though I must do great violence to myself, and it seems to me that fresh courage is gently invading my heart.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Three: 189-236
We continue now to the third notebook that Saint Faustina filled with messages of Mercy from our Lord. As you enter into this notebook, pause and reflect upon all that you have read so far. Has it changed your perspective on life? Has it changed you? If it has, then continue down that same path and trust that the Lord will continue to do great things in your life. If it has not, reflect upon why!
Sometimes we need more than the words we read. We also need true prayer, deep prayer and what we may call “soaking prayer.” Consider this as you read through the reflections flowing from this notebook and allow the words to not only enter your mind, but to also enter deeper. Read them prayerfully and carefully. Speak to our Lord as Saint Faustina did. Read some more of her actual diary in addition to these reflections and learn from her humble and childlike faith.
The Lord wants to do great things in your life! Open the door, through prayer and reflection, and let Him in!
Reflection 220: The Tormented Soul
Some people feel deeply tormented in the depths of their souls. Sometimes this is caused by sin, sometimes it is caused by a special Mercy of God which enables the soul to experience the sufferings Jesus went through. Whatever the case may be, if you encounter any torment, whatsoever, in the depths of your soul, know that you have a special right to the Mercy of God. Why do you have this “right” to Mercy? Not because you deserve it; rather, because God wishes to bestow it. The greater your suffering the greater your right to the Mercy of God. For that reason, do not be afraid to run to God in your misery and pain. Do not be afraid of any form of rejection from God. The soul that suffers is dearer to Him than any other (See Diary #1146).
The term “tormented soul” is powerful language. But it’s also very honest language, describing the experience of many people. So many people feel this deep interior torment, especially on account of their sins. They feel dry, alone and trapped in this cycle of pain. If this is you in any way, reflect upon the truth that God offers you a right to His Mercy more than any other. He chooses you as His special object of compassion and lavishes upon you more than you could ever ask for. Let yourself grow in confidence as you seek the Mercy of God and allow it to penetrate every torment you feel, no matter the cause, even if it comes from your sin.
Lord of utmost compassion, please help me to know, with certainty, that You love me and will never reject me. I believe in Your Mercy and I trust that You desire to dispense it in abundance. When I feel lost, confused and even tormented by my sin, help me to turn to You all the more, calling upon You to fulfill Your promise of love. Jesus, I trust in You.