Blog Post - October 5th
S. Placid and Companions| S. Maria Faustina Kowalska| Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Placid and Companions, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Placidus and his Companions, Martyrs by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
St. Placidus, a religious of the Order of St. Benedict, was born at Rome. Tertullus, his father, was greatly esteemed in the city, not only for his ancient nobility but also for his great wisdom, which raised him to the highest offices of the state. As he was as pious as he was noble, rich and learned, he gave Placidus in charge of St. Benedict, when the child had not yet reached his seventh year. Placidus made such progress in learning and in all Christian virtues, that he served as an example even to the religious, and when further advanced in years, he desired to be admitted among the disciples of St. Benedict. Tertullus not only consented to his son's wish, but also gave the holy Founder several estates, which lay not far from Monte Cassino, that the monastery which he had begun might be completed, and that he might have means to maintain it. Besides this, he gave him an estate in Sicily, consisting of eighteen villages, as he thought that his property could not be better used than in the maintenance of those who served God zealously, and who faithfully educated the young.
Some who lived in the neighborhood of this estate, were displeased at this generous gift, and each of them appropriated as much of the ground as he could to himself. Benedict, informed of this, thought it best to send Placidus to Sicily; for, though he was only twenty-one years of age, he possessed such deeply rooted virtue and was endowed with such abilities, that the holy Founder promised himself the best result from his mission. Fortified with the blessing of the Saint and accompanied by two religious, Placidus commenced his journey. The Almighty favored him with many miracles on the way. He restored two sick persons to health, he gave sight to a blind man, and speech and hearing to the dumb and deaf, and cast out the unclean spirits from the possessed. The fame of these miracles spread quickly, and had reached Sicily before the Saint's arrival. Hence he was received with great honors and had but little difficulty in regaining possession of that portion of the estate which had been usurped by others.
Having happily concluded this affair, with the consent of St. Benedict, he selected a suitable spot whereon to build a monastery for the order. He chose a place not far from the harbor of Messina, where he erected a monastery and a chapel. As soon as he had made his dwelling there with his brethren, several came who desired to live under his guidance. He received them, and led them in the path of perfection with so much wisdom and ability, that they all loved and honored him like a father. Not only by words, but also, and more especially, by his example, did he teach those under him. He devoted many hours to prayer, which he seldom performed without tears. During Lent, he partook of bread and water, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; on the other days he abstained from food altogether. He never tasted wine, and always wore his rough hair-shirt. He gave very little time to rest at night and slept sitting. He was very circumspect in speaking, and never permitted any one to say a disparaging word of a neighbor in his presence, as he himself never spoke ill of others. He was kind and good to all, and no one ever saw him angry, which is surely worthy of admiration. Each moment he endeavored to use to a good purpose; he was never idle, but always occupied in good works.
He had two brothers and a sister, who resided at Rome, but who went to visit him in Sicily, as they had heard so much that was praiseworthy spoken of their brother. Soon after their arrival, it happened that Manucha, a powerful pirate of the Moorish king of Africa, and a bitter enemy of the Christians, sailed into the harbor of Messina, and invaded the monastery of St. Placidus. After having robbed and plundered the whole building, the barbarians took St. Placidus, his two brothers, his sister, the two monks whom St. Benedict had given him as companions, with thirty other religious, as prisoners. Manucha commanded them to deny Christ, but as they refused to obey him, the pirate commenced to torture them, especially St. Placidus, as he encouraged the others to remain constant. The savage daily invented a new torment: they were most cruelly scourged; hung up by the feet over a fire, so that the smoke might suffocate them; and as this did not kill them, they were hung by their hands, with heavy stones tied to their feet, besides being tortured in numberless other ways. St. Placidus, who, during all this terrible suffering, did not cease to sing praises to God, had all his teeth knocked out with a stone, and his tongue torn from his mouth. Seeing at length that they could not be conquered, the inhuman tyrant had them all beheaded.
Memorable was the end of Flavia, the sister of St. Placidus, Manucha had her brought before him, and endeavored to make her deny Christ. When he perceived that he could gain no power over her, he ordered her to-be hung up by the feet, and scourged most barbarously. He then said to her: "You pretend to be a noble Roman lady, and are not ashamed to appear naked!" Flavia answered: " What I suffer for the Christian faith cannot dishonor me. Do you not know any other torments? I am ready to suffer and to die." Manucha, enraged at these words, gave her up to his servants. This was more terrible to the chaste virgin than all other suffering, and she called on God for aid. The Almighty delayed not to succor her. When the wretches went to seize her, their arms became powerless, and thus the purity of the virgin was saved. She ended her life by the sword.
I. St. Placidus was never seen angry. This is saying a great deal in few words; for there is hardly a passion which is so general, and which causes so many sins, as anger. Just wrath is in itself no sin; and we know that the most holy men, even Christ Himself, became incensed. Yet it is sure that we may become guilty of great sin by anger; for example, when we are angry without just cause; when we are incensed at things that ought not to provoke us; when we go too far in our wrath, and, perhaps, utter invectives, curses or even blasphemies; when we carry anger too long in our hearts, and when hatred and enmity proceed from it. In such cases, we become guilty of venial or mortal sin, and at the same time, we may cause others also to commit great sin.
Hence, be very careful that you never become angry without just reason, that you never be angry at something that ought not to arouse your wrath; that in your anger you never overstep the proper bounds; never utter invectives, curses or blasphemies. Should you, however, have become guilty of sin through anger, try to banish it from your heart. "Every one should be slow to wrath," admonished St. James. (James, i.) "He that is easily stirred up to wrath, shall be more prone to sin," says the Proverb. (Prov. xix.) "Remove anger from thy heart," says the Holy Ghost. (Eccl. xi.) Follow these admonitions; and to be able to follow them, pray daily to God that He would give you the grace to overcome the dangerous passion of anger. God will not refuse your prayer; all will depend on your working with His grace to control yourself. Should you, however, still become guilty of anger, give yourself a penance, pray God to pardon you, and resolve to conquer yourself in future. In this manner, those of the Saints, who were by nature easily provoked, overcame their passion to their great benefit and merit.
II. St. Placidus endeavored to use every moment to the best advantage. He was never seen idle or unemployed. He recognized the value of time, and the aim and end for which God has bestowed it upon us. Ah! if you only possessed such esteem for time, you would not trifleaway a single moment. "Nothing is more precious than time," writes St. Bernard; but unhappily nothing is less esteemed; the days of our salvation pass, and no one rightly considers the consequences. During a short period, man can gain pardon for his sins and eternal salvation. How valuable, therefore, must time be! None recognize this better than those to whom God gives no more time. "Should any one," says the same holy Doctor, "bring only half an hour of repentance into hell and offer it for sale, the reprobate would give thousands of worlds for it, if they had them!" Thousands of worlds for half an hour! So precious is time.
But consider also, that this precious time which you have is short and irreparable. It is short. St. Paul writes: "The time is short." (1 Cor. vii.) The holy Job says: "Man lives but a short time. The days of men are short." (Job, xi.) "For behold, short years pass away." (Job, xvi.) Should your life be prolonged to one hundred years, it might yet be said with truth, the time given you is short. "Our life on earth, compared with eternity, is short, though we live ever so long," says St. Jerome. Look at your own life. The years which are past are already gone; they are yours no longer. Whether there is any time for you in the future, you do not know, nor how much of it you may call your own. Only the present time is yours, and that quickly passes; it never stands still; it is short, it is irrevocable. The hours you possessed yesterday have fled, never to return again. With the grace of God, you may be able, if you live long enough, to make good the days you have employed ill, but they themselves will never more return.
All these are truths which no one can deny. How is it possible that you do not weep tears of blood for the loss of so many inestimable hours, days, months and years, which you have not employed to your salvation? How is it possible that you do not make to-day the resolution to employ the time still left you, to the best of your ability? Recall often to memory what I have now told you: time is precious; time is short; time is irrevocable. May it animate you to make good use of it. Perhaps this is the last year, the last month, which God gives you. If you do not employ it well, fear that what St. Bernard said may happen to you: "God cuts short suddenly the time of those sinners who abuse it." Should this happen to you, woe to you for all eternity! Hence, think always of the end, and forget not, that time once lost does not return," says the blessed Thomas a Kempis.
The Sin of Anger by Johann Evangelist Zollner
"Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil." St. Paul speaks here, first, of the first motions of ill-will and anger. These motions are involuntary, and it is not in our power to prevent them. But we must keep them within bounds and control them, that they may not degenerate into enmity, hatred or revenge, or break forth in sinful words and actions. When the Apostle says that we must not let the sun go down upon our anger, it is not to be understood that it is lawful to cherish anger and ill-will till evening, but that we ought to suppress our anger immediately, for if one entertains it longer, the devil gains access to the heart and fills it with hatred, enmity and other grievous sins. Hence he says: "Give not place to the devil." St. John the Almoner one day modestly spoke to Nicetus, the governor, against the project of a new tax, very prejudicial to the poor. The governor in a passion left him abruptly. St. John sent him this message towards evening: "The sun is going to set." This admonition had the desired effect on the governor and pierced him to the quick. He arose, went to the partiarch, and bathed in tears, asked his pardon, and by way of atonement promised never more to give ear to informers and talebearers. Do likewise and never keep anger long in your heart.
(b) The words of the Apostle, "Be angry, and sin not," may be referred to that anger which has its cause in zeal for the honor of God and the salvation of our neighbor, or in love for him who sins. This anger is evidently not sinful, but is just and holy. Such a holy anger or zeal Christ had when he drove out the profaners of the temple. "He cast out all who were selling and buying in the temple; and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves. And he said to them: It is written: "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves."--Matt. 21: 12, 13. And although our anger may have its origin in a just cause, we must see to it that it does not transgress the bounds of moderation and become sinful. Thus parents sin who are so much enraged at their children's faults, that they break out into curses and blasphemies, and, like madmen, strike their children; so also Christians sin who become so angry at wicked people, that they wish God to take vengeance on them and to damn them forever. Even the most just anger becomes sinful when the desire of revenge, not charity, is at the bottom of it. Do not forget this.
Prayer Against Anger
O MOST meek Jesus, Prince of Peace, who, when Thou wast reviled, reviled not, and on the Cross didst pray for Thy murderers: implant in our hearts the virtues of gentleness and patience, that, restraining the fierceness of anger, impatience, and resentment, we may overcome evil with good, for Thy sake love our enemies, and as children of our heavenly Father seek Thy peace and evermore rejoice in Thy love. Amen.
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
St. Faustina's name is forever linked to the annual feast of the Divine Mercy (celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter), the divine mercy chaplet and the divine mercy prayer recited each day at 3 p.m. by many people.
Born in what is now west-central Poland (part of Germany before World War I), Helena Kowalska was the third of 10 children. She worked as a housekeeper in three cities before joining the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925. She worked as a cook, gardener and porter in three of their houses.
In addition to carrying out her work faithfully, generously serving the needs of the sisters and the local people, she also had a deep interior life. This included receiving revelations from the Lord Jesus, messages that she recorded in her diary at the request of Christ and of her confessors.
At a time when some Catholics had an image of God as such a strict judge that they might be tempted to despair about the possibility of being forgiven, Jesus chose to emphasize his mercy and forgiveness for sins acknowledged and confessed. “I do not want to punish aching mankind,” he once told St. Faustina, “but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart” (Diary 1588). The two rays emanating from Christ's heart, she said, represent the blood and water poured out after Jesus' death (John 19:34)
Because Sister Maria Faustina knew that the revelations she had already received did not constitute holiness itself, she wrote in her diary: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God” (Diary 1107).
Sister Maria Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow, Poland, on October 5, 1938. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1993 and canonized her seven years later.
Devotion to God's Divine Mercy bears some resemblance to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In both cases, sinners are encouraged not to despair, not to doubt God's willingness to forgive them if they repent. As Psalm 136 says in each of its 26 verses, “God's love [mercy] endures forever.”
Four years after Faustina's beatification, John Paul II visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki (near Krakow) and addressed members of her congregation. He said: “The message of divine mercy has always been very close and precious to me. It is as though history has written it in the tragic experience of World War II. In those difficult years, this message was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for those living in Krakow, but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I carried with me to the See of Peter and which, in a certain sense, forms the image of this pontificate. I thank divine providence because I was able to contribute personally to carrying out Christ's will, by instituting the feast of Divine Mercy. Here, close to the remains of Blessed Faustina, I thank God for the gift of her beatification. I pray unceasingly that God may have 'mercy on us and on the whole world' "(Quote from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy).
The Life of Francis Xavier Seelos
Francis Xavier Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Fussen, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptized on the same day in the parish church of St. Mang. Having expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered the diocesan seminary in 1842 after having completed his studies in philosophy. Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), founded for the evangelization of the most abandoned, he decided to enter the Congregation and to minister to the German speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
After being ordained, he worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor with St. John Neumann, the superior of the Religious Community, and later as Superior himself and for the last three years as pastor. During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice Master. With Neumann he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor.”
His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in biblical content, were always heard and understood even by everyone, regardless of education, culture, or background. A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the parish. In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. Even in this post, he was true to his character remaining always the kind and happy pastor, prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.
In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned. In God’s plan, however, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In the month of September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of yellow fever, he contracted the dreaded disease. After several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he passed on to eternal life on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II, proclaimed Father Seelos Blessed in St. Peter's Square on April 9th of the Solemn Jubilee Year 2000. His Feast Day is October 5.
Giving God Our All:
To anyone who lives in friendship with God, it is natural to praise, to thank, to repent, to petition, and yes, even to tell him of our grief and our sufferings.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
May you be consoled by the sweet thought of your love for Jesus and of being loved by Him much more in return.
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 278: Windows to the Mysteries of God’s Mercy
Saint Faustina was asked to have an image of Jesus painted with rays of Mercy flowing from His Heart. She did so and Jesus affirmed to her that many souls would be drawn to Him through this image. It’s interesting to think about the importance that Jesus and Saint Faustina gave to this image. Indeed it speaks volumes regarding the Mercy flowing radiantly from His wounded Heart. It’s also insightful to think about this in a more general way, namely, that a sacred image of any sort can become a source of Mercy. But the reason for this is that sacred art speaks a language. It communicates the Gospel message and meditating upon a sacred image opens your heart to hear God speak in a new way (See Diary #1379).
Reflect upon the Gospel images that you have in your home. Do you have many or very few? Do not shy away from filling your home with sacred images reflecting the message of the Gospel. Additionally, it is important to spend time in prayer with these images. Take a moment today to find the image of Divine Mercy that our Lord asked Saint Faustina to have painted. Spend quiet time looking at it and “listening” to it. What does God say to you through this image? He will certainly speak the fundamental message of His Mercy in that the rays of blood and water shine forth from His wounded Heart in a radiant way. These rays cover the Earth and shine on you day and night. But what else does God say to you through this image? Spending time prayerfully gazing upon this image and others will allow you to hear God speak of the mysteries of His love.
Lord, I know that any representation of You is but a drop of water compared to the reality. Help me in my prayer to be drawn into the reality of Your perfect love and Mercy as I meditate upon the sacredness that holy images represent. May I meet You, dear Lord, through these treasures of art and grace. Jesus, I trust in You.