Blog Post - January 28th
S. Peter Nolasco| S. Agnes of Rome| S. Thomas Aquinas| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar, we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Peter Nolasco, Confessor. A story about this Feast Day can be found below:
Saint Peter Nolasco
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
Saint Peter Nolasco, founder of the Order of the most holy Virgin Mary, for the redemption of captives, was born at Recaudo, near Carcasson, an Episcopal See in Languedoc, France, in the year of Christ 1190. His family belonged to the noble house of Nolasco. Even when a child he wept on seeing a poor person, and could be consoled only by giving him some alms for the distressed. When he became of age he divided the inheritance bequeathed him by his parents among the poor. Without neglecting the practice of virtue, he industriously and perseveringly applied himself to his studies. His anxiety to preserve his baptismal robe unspotted, and to act as a true servant of his Lord, made him avoid the least sin, for he feared that, any negligence would dampen his fervor in the service of God, and lead to more grievous sins. Having at an early age been deprived of his parents, he withdrew to Spain, to escape the contagion of the Albigensian heresy, which had already devastated many parts of France. For a long time he occupied the post of tutor to James, the heir apparent to the crown of Aragon, and while at Barcelona he wore the livery of Christ beneath the robes of State.
The miserable condition of the Christians who were in captivity under the Moors and other enemies of the Christian name, as well as their imminent danger of losing the Faith, deeply touched his heart: he therefore gave up all his goods and possessions for their ransom, and expressed his wish to be himself sold for their sakes, or held captive in their stead. His generosity was rewarded at one time with the liberation of three hundred Christian slaves. On the following night, while he was engaged in prayer, and considering how he could rescue others from their sad fate, the Mother of God appeared to him, commended his generosity, and told him that it would be highly pleasing to her Divine Son and to herself, if he would found a Religious Order whose chief aim should be the redemption of captives. Peter gave an account of this apparition to St. Raymond of Pennafort, his confessor, who also had a similar vision on the same night. Both of them then went to the King, James, and found that he had already been informed of Heaven's will by the Queen of heaven.
As they could no longer doubt the designs of God, they eagerly set about the prosecution of so holy a work. Raymond wrote rules for the new Order, and Peter, who received at his hands in the Church of the Holy Cross, the habit which they had adopted, was named its first General. Besides the three customary vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, this Order binds itself to a fourth, which consists in the readiness of each of its members to offer himself as a substitute for any Christian captive, if it be deemed necessary. This Order, so well deserving of the highest appreciation, was at first exposed to violent persecutions; but Peter overcame all opposition, and, before the end of his life, had the consolation of witnessing a great number of generous souls in different monasteries, devoted heart and soul to so noble a work. When the persecution was at its height, he addressed his disciples: “Let us fear and praise God: He has the hearts of men in His hands, and can bend them as He wishes.” Peter governed his Order for thirty years, within which time he opened their prison doors to thousands of captives, whom his own incessant labors, joined with those of his disciples, rescued from a miserable fate, and, in all probability, from eternal death.
Before his death, he called his children to his bedside, and exhorted them to perseverance in their love for captives. His last words were those of the Psalmist: “I will praise Thee, O Lord, who hast sent redemption to Thy people!” Previous to this hour he had long and ardently cherished the desire of visiting the tomb of his patron, the Prince of the Apostles, whose name he bore, and was saddened at not finding an opportunity to execute this project. But now this holy Apostle appeared to him and addressed him: “Not all of our pious desires can be fulfilled. God is, however, satisfied with the intention. I know your longing to visit me at Rome; but such is not the good pleasure of the Lord. Yet, because you cannot visit me, I have now come to see you, and to assure you of my assistance till your last breath.” St. Peter Nolasco obtained a similar favor from his Guardian Angel and other Saints, who visibly appeared to him, no doubt to reward his special devotion to them. But Mary, the Queen of all Saints, gave him special proofs of her love and esteem. He saw her in person several times, and was filled with such sweet joy and consolation at her promise always to befriend him, that he cried out ecstatically at his last hour: “O how sweet it is to die under the protection of Mary.” He expired in the year 1256.
Saint Peter was canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1628. His Order continues its religious services, now devoted to preaching and hospital service. (2) His order was called the Mercedarians (q.v.) and was solemnly approved by Gregory IX, in 1230. Its members were bound by a special vow to employ all their substance for the redemption of captive Christians, and if necessary, to remain in captivity in their stead. At first most of these religious were laymen as was Peter himself. But Clement V decreed that the master general of the order should always be a priest.
(Second Feast Day in Honor of St. Agnes of Rome - Original Feast Day is January 21st)
Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young—12 or 13—when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. Various modes of death have been suggested—beheading, burning, strangling.
Legend has it that Agnes was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. Agnes was condemned, executed and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.
Like that of modern Maria Goretti (July 6), the martyrdom of a virginal young girl made a deep impression on a society enslaved to a materialistic outlook. Like Agatha, who died in similar circumstances, Agnes is a symbol that holiness does not depend on length of years, experience or human effort. It is a gift God offers to all.
"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married women with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, receives thename of Agnes [Greek: pure] not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be" (from Saint Ambrose's discourse on virginity).
Patron Saint of:
St. Thomas Aquinas
By universal consent, Thomas Aquinas is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor.
At five he was given to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in his parents’ hopes that he would choose that way of life and eventually became abbot. In 1239 he was sent to Naples to complete his studies. It was here that he was first attracted to Aristotle’s philosophy.
By 1243, Thomas abandoned his family’s plans for him and joined the Dominicans, much to his mother’s dismay. On her order, Thomas was captured by his brother and kept at home for over a year.
Once free, he went to Paris and then to Cologne, where he finished his studies with Albert the Great. He held two professorships at Paris, lived at the court of Pope Urban IV, directed the Dominican schools at Rome and Viterbo, combated adversaries of the mendicants, as well as the Averroists, and argued with some Franciscans about Aristotelianism.
His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades his writings. One might expect Thomas, as a man of the gospel, to be an ardent defender of revealed truth. But he was broad enough, deep enough, to see the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and to see reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished.
The Summa Theologiae, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied, “I cannot go on.... All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” He died March 7, 1274.
We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality and inclusiveness. We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn and understand. At the same time we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ.
“Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpasses his natural knowledge” (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 109, 1).
Patron Saint of:
When we reflect on what God has said over the millennia since creation, we become aware of the horror of sin and are drawn more deeply into the mystery of gratuitous salvation. This enables us to communicate with God more easily in prayer.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Jesus wants you to place all of your trust and affection in Him alone.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
The first notebook of Saint Faustina begins her private revelations given from the Heart of Jesus to her. She writes in a beautiful and simple way. Though, as mentioned in the introduction, her actual words are not quoted in these reflections that follow, the messages that she received and articulated are presented.
In truth, her messages are those contained in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our Church. And if you were to read through the lives and teachings of the saints, you would find the same revelations. God has always spoken to us throughout the ages. He speaks the one Message of Truth, and He reveals that Message in love. The revelations to Saint Faustina are one new way that God continues to speak and reveal Himself to us, His sons and daughters.
The reflections based on her first notebook, are intentionally short and focused. They are a way for you, the reader, to slowly and carefully listen to the Heart of God spoken to this great saint. Read these reflections slowly and prayerfully. Ponder them throughout the day and allow the Lord to speak to You the message He wants to give.
Reflection 27: Trials Transformed Into Virtue
At times God imposes trials upon us. This is done out of love to strengthen us and to deepen our love of Him. Look at what it is that you experience as a trial. Ask God if this is from Him and what good He wants to bring from that trial. Trials always have the potential of making us stronger. If you are experiencing a certain interior trial in life, know that it is in this moment, more than any other, that God wants you to renew your trust in Him. Do it even if you do not feel like doing so. Trials are the greatest opportunity for our faith, hope and love to grow (See Diary #24).
What is your greatest trial right now? Identify whatever that may be and know that Jesus understands. Reflect upon Him coming to You in this moment, embracing this trial with you and in you. His strength is perfect and He will lead you through all things. In the process, He will fill you with a greater faith, hope and love.
Lord, I know that my trials in life are a grace. They may not seem to be at the moment I endure them but they are. Help me especially with (state your current intention). I surrender this situation to You and thank You for Your perfect love and strength. Jesus, I trust in You.