S. Sylvester, Abbot| S. Peter of Alexandria| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Sylvester, Abbot. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Sylvester, Abbot
Sylvester was born in 1177 to the noble Gozzolini family, of Gislerio Guzzolini and Bianca, of Osimo, Italy. Little is known of his early life. He did study law at Bologna and Padua, but became interested in theology. The story is told that when he switched his studies to theology and sought the priesthood, his father was so infuriated that he refused to speak to Sylvester for ten years.
After ordination Sylvester was a canon at Osimo where he worked diligently to bring the Gospel values to his people. His zeal did get him into difficulties with his bishop who lived a lax and disedifying life. When Sylvester respectfully rebuked him for his behavior, the bishop threatened to remove him from his post.
In 1227, Sylvester, who had long been drawn to the contemplative life, is said to have had a vision of the decaying body of a very handsome man. He resigned his rich post and became a hermit 30 miles from Osimo in a very lonely spot. He subsequently moved to Grotto Fucile and was soon surrounded by disciples who were drawn to his simple and holy life.
In 1231 He built his first monastery in a pagan ruins at Monte Fano near Fabriano, Italy. He chose a very austere interpretation of the Rule of St. Benedict as the rule for his monks to follow, and thus was born the Syvestrine order. This community was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247.
Sylvester governed his community for 36 years with great wisdom, prudence and love. At his death in 1267 there were 11 monasteries, either new or reformed, under his rule and guidance. These would later increase to 56 throughout Italy, Portugal and Brazil. Sylvester was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in 1598.
Today the congregation is part of the larger Benedictine Confederation, and while small, has monasteries in Italy and Ceylon. They are identified by their dark blue habits. While we don’t have a lot of historical data about Sylvester, what we do have gives us a picture of a man of great courage and simplicity. He faced the anger of his noble father to pursue a call to the unpopular service of God. He was not afraid to confront sin and was willing to give up his comfortable and rich position to live a life totally dedicated to prayer and service to God.
An account of his miracles and of the growth of his cultus can be found in Bolzonetti. His body was disinterred and placed in a shrine (1275–85) and is still honored in the church of Monte Fano. Clement IV first recognized the title of blessed popularly bestowed on Sylvester, who was inscribed as a saint in the Roman Martyrology by order of Clement VIII in 1598. His office and Mass were included in the General Roman Calendar in 1890 by Leo XIII with the rank of Double (third-class feast in the 1960 reform of Pope John XXIII), for celebration on 26 November, reducing to the status of a commemoration the celebration of Saint Peter of Alexandria, whose feast-day 26 November had been previously. In 1970, the celebration of Saint Sylvester Gozzolini was removed from the General Roman Calendar and left to local calendar as not of really universal importance.
When, at the funeral of a certain dead nobleman, he saw the decaying corpse of the handsome man who had been his neighbor, he said: "“I am what this man was; what he is, I shall be"”; and soon, from a desire for greater perfection, he withdrew into solitude and there devoted himself to vigils, prayers and fasting.
That he might hide more completely from men’s eyes, he changed his location several times. Finally he went to Monte Fano, a place deserted at that time, where he built a church in honor of St. Benedict and laid the foundation of the Congregation of the Sylvestrines. There his monks saw in him a wonderful model of holiness; he was famous for the spirit of prophecy, for power over demons and for other gifts, which in his deep humility he always kept hidden.
He fell asleep in the Lord in the year of salvation 1267.
O God who bestowed upon Saint Sylvester zeal for the sweetness of solitude and for the labors of the cenobitical life, grant us, we beseech You, to seek You always with a sincere mind and in humble charity hasten toward the eternal tabernacles. (antiphon)
On the Benedictine liturgical calendar the 13th century founder and abbot St Sylvester Guzzolini (1177-1267), is recalled.
A few marks of this saintly abbot’s spirituality would be his emphasis on the mysteries of the Passion of Our Lord, a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and the intense love of the Most Holy Eucharist. You can see the two of these marks expressed in parting by Claudio Ridolfi in 1632.
Historically, some will remember that St Silvester founder of the so-called Blue Benedictines (from the color of their habit) or what became known as Silvestrines. The Benedictine way of life proposed by St Sylvester was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. As a founder of a new expression of Benedictine monasticism Sylvester wanted his community to focus on contemplation thus being places of away from the cities, and he wanted relatively small communities of men who lived very modestly (even quite poor) in contradistinction to the large monasteries of his time that had power and wealth and little regard for the Holy Rule. Today, this congregation of Benedictines is relatively small and not too well-known.
St Sylvester teaches us through his example and living the three marks noted above: attend to the Cross, be in relation to the Mother of God, and prepare your heart to receive the Lord in the Eucharist worthily.
O most merciful God, Who, when the holy Abbot Sylvester was piously pondering over the vanity of earthly things whilst he stood by an open grave, didst vouchsafe to call him to the desert, we supplicate Thee that, despising earthly things, after his example, we may forever enjoy Thy presence.
Also in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Peter of Alexandria, Bishop and Martyr.
SAINT PETER OF ALEXANDRIA, BISHOP AND MARTYR
Saint Peter of Alexandria, the successor of St. Theonas in the See of Alexandria, was, by his learning and holiness, the glory of Egypt and the light of the whole Church of God. Such was his courage under the terrible persecution raised by Maximian Galerius, that the example of his admirable patience strengthened a great many in Christian virtue. He was the first to cut off from the communion of the faithful Arius, deacon of Alexandria, for favoring the schism of the Meletians.
From the best historical evidence, we learn that this schism began when St. Peter was forced into temporary exile by the persecution. Nonetheless, St. Peter arranged for the continued government of his See, as well as those of others who were subject to him as Bishop of Alexandria, and whose bishops were then in prison for the Faith. A certain Meletius, Bishop of Lycopolis, who apparently considered St. Peter too lenient with those who had compromised their Faith under the persecution, took advantage of his absence to usurp his patriarchal functions, and, contrary to Church Law, consecrated bishops for those Sees whose bishops were in prison. Meletius then went to Alexandria, where, encouraged by the deacon Arius and others, he set aside those whom St. Peter had left in charge of the government of that See. St. Peter eventually excommunicated Meletius and Arius. He returned to Alexandria in 311 and was promptly arrested.
After Peter of Alexandria had been apprehended and cast into prison, Arius became fearful that the Saint would die without giving him absolution. He asked, then, for principal members of the clergy to intercede for him before the Bishop. Those priests went to visit St. Peter in the prison.
After the customary oration, they prostrated themselves before him, and with groans and tears while kissing his hands, they implored him, saying: “Most blessed father, by the excellence of your faith, the Lord is calling you to receive the martyr's crown. Therefore, do you not think it is right that, with your accustomed piety, you should pardon Arius, and extend your indulgence to his lamentations?”
The man of God, moved by indignation, raising his hands to Heaven, exclaimed: “Do you dare to supplicate me on behalf of Arius? Both here and in the next world, Arius is forever banished and separate from the glory of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Struck with terror, the priests were silent, realizing that the Bishop gave forth such a sentence against Arius by divine inspiration.
In fact, St. Peter later took aside Fr. Alexander, his companion in prison, and told him the reason for his severity:
“The hidden treachery of Arius surpasses all iniquity and impiety. What I said, I did not assert of my own self. For last night, while I was solemnly pouring forth my prayers to God and you were sleeping, a Boy of about 12 years, the brightness of whose face I could not endure, appeared to me in this cell, making it radiant with an intense light. He was clothed with a linen tunic torn into two parts, from the neck to the feet.
“At this vision I was stupefied with astonishment. When I could make bold to speak, I exclaimed: ‘Lord, who has rent your tunic thus?’
“He answered me: ‘Arius has rent it.’ And he added: ‘By all means beware of receiving him into communion; for tomorrow priests will come to intercede for him. See, therefore, that you not be persuaded to acquiesce. Rather, tell Aquillas and Alexander the priests, who will be your successors and will rule My church, not by any means to receive him. As for you, you shall very quickly fulfill the lot of the martyr.’”
St. Peter was beheaded and thus went to receive the crown of martyrdom on the sixth of the Kalends of December (November 26), in the twelfth year of his episcopate.
Let us offer our homage and prayers to the great Bishop whom the Church thus commemorates today. He has been called the seal and complement of the Martyrs, as he is believed to have been the last Christian officially executed by the Roman authorities. For a long time he went by the name of Peter the Martyr, until in the thirteenth century another Peter the Martyr (St. Peter of Verona), himself illustrious among all, came to claim the title, leaving his glorious brother in the Faith to be known as St. Peter of Alexandria.
Why, Oh, Why?
Wanting to know why is a powerful human drive. Asking a child why, however, often leads to no answer. When seeking the roots of misbehavior, whys aren't always wise.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Be constant in doing good and fight your defects.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Six: 327-365
We enter, now, the last of the six notebooks that Saint Faustina filled with revelations from our Lord about His unfathomable and perfect Mercy. At this point, the Message of Mercy should be clear and evoking of a deep trust in the incomprehensible love of God. All that has been shared to this point reveals that God is relentless in His pursuit of you, seeking only to love you unconditionally and to draw you into His glorious life for all eternity.
The greatest obstacle to this call to holiness is sin. But it is abundantly clear that sin is no match for the Mercy of God. His Mercy dispels your sin in an instant, disposing of your past errors forever. God’s only desire is the present moment, for in this present moment He comes to you, descending from the heights of Heaven, entering into the inner core of your soul so as to form a perfect communion with you, lifting you up to share in His divine life.
This final notebook will be reflected upon as a summary of all that has been reflected upon thus far. Just like the reflections on the first notebook, the reflections for this notebook will be short and to the point. Once you finish this chapter you are invited to return to it often as a way of quickly and easily reminding yourself of the abundant Mercy of God. The Lord’s love is perfect in every way. Allow Him to speak this truth to you with clarity and conviction.
Reflection 330: Praying for Others
Do not underestimate the power of your prayers. The greater your trust in the Mercy of God, the more powerful will your prayers be for those who need them. The Lord knows all things and He knows who needs what. But He wants to dispense His grace in union with those who ask for it. Your prayers for others are the most powerful way that you can bring the Mercy of God into this world (See Diary #1603).
Do you pray for others? If not, resolve to do so. Your prayer may be for a specific need or a struggle that another is enduring. But we should always leave the specific result to the Mercy of God. Offering others to God and trusting that He knows the best outcome for any situation pleases our Lord and wins an abundance of grace for those in need.
Lord, I offer You, this day, all who are troubled and burdened. I offer You the sinner, the confused, the ill, the imprisoned, the weak of faith, the strong of faith, the religious, the laity and all Your priests. Lord, have Mercy on Your people, especially upon those in most need. Jesus, I trust in You.