S. Felix of Valois| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar, we commemorate the Feast Day of S. Felix of Valois, Confessor. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
Saint Felix of Valois, (born c. 1127, France—died 1212, Cerfroid; feast day November 20), legendary religious hermit who, with St. John of Matha, has traditionally been considered a cofounder of the Trinitarians, a Roman Catholic religious order. Felix’ existence is known only from a spurious history of the order compiled in the 15th century.
According to legend, Felix lived a solitary ascetic life in the forest near Cerfroid in the diocese of Soissons. The founding of the Trinitarians, an order originally devoted to freeing Christian slaves from Muslim captivity, was supposedly suggested by John of Matha, a disciple of Felix. Although he was 70 years old at the time, Felix is said to have agreed to help, establishing the new order in France and Italy, while John traveled to Spain and Barbary. Felix then returned to administer the motherhouse of the order at Cerfroid.
Although the tradition of the Trinitarians holds that the two were canonized in 1262 by Pope Urban IV, there is no evidence of any decree to that effect. Their cult was officially recognized, however, by Alexander VII in 1666.
A Second Story:
St. Felix of Valois (1126-1212) was a member of the royal family of France, the grandson of King Henry I. While carrying the future saint, his mother had a vision where she saw the Child Jesus holding a cross and another child holding a garland of flowers. The two boys traded their objects. The mother understood that the boy with the flowers was her son.
Because of troubles in the family, the young man left his home and went to the court, where he became a crusader to follow the King in the Crusade. During the preparatory training, the King fell from his horse and died. Felix approached the fallen monarch and ordered: “In the name of the Holy Trinity, arise.” Instantly the young King obeyed, alive and well.
During the Crusade Felix gave proof of his great courage and virtue. In the military quarters he maintained the austere life of a Cistercian religious. He was notable in all the battles he took part in.
When he returned to Paris he determined to give himself to God. Even though he was a close heir to the throne, he exchanged the fleur-de-lys of France for the cross of Our Lord and became a hermit. The vision of his mother was confirmed.
The fame of his sainthood spread and St. John of Matha sought him out for advice about founding the Order of the Trinitarians. St. Felix decided to join him in founding that order for the redemption of Catholic captives.
One who visits southern Spain today and admires the beautiful architecture of buildings in Toledo and Granada has no idea of what the substance of the Muslim State was at that time. It was not a State organized like the Western nations. They did not have kings or a regular dynastic succession as in China or old Egypt. It was a State made up of bandits who lived like barbarians from their pillaging and looting on land and sea, fighting not only with the Catholics but also among themselves. They did not have harmonically distributed social classes; there were the powerful persons who made those extraordinary buildings and then the rest of the population living in slums. The powerful were surrounded by sycophants who easily rose and fell from the positions of power.
The piracy at sea and pillaging on the land were the habitual sources of income. Making captured Catholics slaves was, therefore, both a way to spread fear among Catholics and a source of funds.
How did taking captives spread fear? In the Catholic society of that time, there was virtually no slavery, which existed only as a very rare exception to the rule. Prisoners of war were treated with respect by the Catholics. Hence, in the fighting between Catholics and Muslims, the Mohammedans had much less to fear should they lose a battle than the Catholics, because the former had the security that they would be treated decently if they were captured.
On the contrary, if Catholic warriors fell prisoners, they knew that they would be reduced to slavery and treated atrociously. It was not rare, for example, for the Muslims to cut out the eyes of Catholic prisoners to prevent them from escaping. Those blind slaves would work more efficiently in jobs calling only for brute animal labor, such as pulling ships out of the water to be repaired, for example, without the danger that they would run away. Other times, the Moors would morally and physically abuse nobles and important men. Finally and worst of all, they would corrupt the faith of those Catholics and use every means possible to make them apostatize and become Mohammedans. So, the condition of a captive was miserable from several points of view.
This situation generated a great compassion in all Christendom for the captives and the idea of doing whatever they could to liberate their Christian brothers from that abominable condition. Another decisive reason to liberate them was to redress Catholic honor and prevent their Catholic leaders and relatives from being reduced to slaves without any vigorous action to save them.
These concerns often inspired military expeditions to save the captives. Other times alms were collected to buy the liberty of the prisoners. The idea of their captive brothers was constantly present and generated an enormous sympathy.
Now then, when the Church or Christendom has a pressing need, Divine Providence always calls for a new order to resolve it. The Trinitarian Order was founded for this reason. St. Felix of Valois, who had been a valorous crusader, and St. John of Matha founded the Order of Holy Trinity for the redemption of the Christian captives. That vocation, it could be said, focused the concern of Christendom regarding the captives. The order became famous and carried out prodigious works.
This is what St. Felix of Valois was called to do. He carried out this vocation so well that he became a saint canonized by the Church.
I would like to propose that we contrast the attitude of the Spanish and French Catholics of that time toward the Muslim threat and the attitude of today’s Catholics regarding Communism. There are millions of Catholics living in Russia, China, or other countries who are in true captivity. However, the Catholics of the West pay no attention to them. Almost no one has the desire to save them or fight for them. Many of these Western Catholics are self-righteously proud only because they do not allow Communism to conquer their own countries. They think that this makes them admirable and that they are doing a great thing. But almost nothing is done to liberate our captive brothers in the Catholic Faith who suffer under Communist persecution. Worse, there is a tendency to say that everything is fine under Communist domination, and that we must compromise more and more with Communists in order to placate them.
One can imagine the frustration of those Catholics under Communist dominion when they realize that not only do their Western brothers have no interest in saving them, but that even the Pope is being complacent with those same Communists who persecute them. Indeed, the Vatican established Ostpolitik as a policy to make concessions to Communism.
When I was in Rome for the first session of Vatican II, I became aware of this fact. There was a whole Catholic Russian network in the Catacomb Church that ran all kinds of risks in order to keep Rome well-informed about their latest activities. When John XXIII invited the Schismatics of Moscow to be observers at the Council, the Vatican told this network to close down. What a great trial for those Catholics!
When a son is being persecuted and his suffering reaches its apex, he relies on the love and support of his father. Should he learn that his father is supporting not him but his persecutors, what kind of discouragement would this cause? I use this example to help you understand the kind of trial to which our brothers in the faith were and are subject.
Let us ask St. Felix of Valois, who offered his life to save his brothers in the Faith, to help us not let this mentality conquer us. Let us ask him to help those Catholics to continue to be faithful even when their father – our father, the Pope – orders them to stop fighting for their faith.
On a daily basis, our prayer time might include a brief examination of conscience, looking honestly at the times we failed to live in accord with God's commandments, to live in self-giving love. Such reflection should lead us to an expression of sorrow for our failures and stir in us the desire for the sacramental celebration of God's forgiveness.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Without patience...your imperfections will increase constantly, as there is nothing that nourishes our defects like restlessness and the haste to drive them away.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 324: That Longed-for Moment
What do you long for in life? If you could pick one thing that you desire above all else what would it be? Would it be death? Probably not. Surprisingly, the greatest saint would probably desire death over anything else in life. Not an early death or a death of their own choosing; rather, they would see death as the gateway to their true home and anticipate the joy of that encounter with much hope. This may not be something you normally think about but it’s worth doing so. When a person has Heaven as their greatest desire it means, in part, that they have come to such a point in life that the things of this world do not matter to them. They long for Heaven and to be with God eternally. This does not undermine their love for family and friends. This love is eternal and will remain with them in Heaven to an even greater degree. The key to this desire is the realization that Heaven will be so glorious and fulfilling that there is much excitement about obtaining it. This may not be your normal way of thinking about death but it is worth pondering and examining your earthly desires in the light of this ultimate goal (See Diary #1573).
Spend time today pondering death. But do so in a new way. Look at it not as an end to your life; rather, see it as the beginning of a new and glorious life of perfect fulfillment. Reflecting upon death does not mean you wish for it to come soon. We should only desire to obtain Heaven in accord with God’s timing. But, nonetheless, we should desire it and desire it with all our soul. In fact, keeping our eyes on this ultimate prize will help us walk through the hardships we endure here and now.
Lord, of all the many desires and goals I have in life I pray that I may desire Heaven above all else. Please free me from the foolish desires of this life and set my heart solely on You. Jesus, I trust in You.