S. Thomas of Villanova| S. Maurice and Companions| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Thomas of Villanova
St. Thomas was from Castile in Spain and received his surname from the town where he was raised. He received a superior education at the University of Alcala and became a popular professor of philosophy there.
After joining the Augustinian friars at Salamanca he was ordained and resumed his teaching–despite a continuing absentmindedness and poor memory. He became prior and then provincial of the friars, sending the first Augustinians to the New World. He was nominated by the emperor to the archbishopric of Granada, but refused. When the see again became vacant he was pressured to accept. The money his cathedral chapter gave him to furnish his house was given to a hospital instead. His explanation to them was that "our Lord will be better served by your money being spent on the poor in the hospital. What does a poor friar like myself want with furniture?"
He wore the same habit that he had received in the novitiate, mending it himself. The canons and domestics were ashamed of him, but they could not convince him to change. Several hundred poor came to Thomas's door each morning and received a meal, wine and money. When criticized because he was at times being taken advantage of, he replied, "If there are people who refuse to work, that is for the governor and the police to deal with. My duty is to assist and relieve those who come to my door." He took in orphans and paid his servants for every deserted child they brought to him. He encouraged the wealthy to imitate his example and be richer in mercy and charity than they were in earthly possessions.
Criticized because he refused to be harsh or swift in correcting sinners, he said, "Let him (the complainer) inquire whether St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom used anathemas and excommunication to stop the drunkenness and blasphemy which were so common among the people under their care."
As he lay dying, Thomas commanded that all the money he possessed be distributed to the poor. His material goods were to be given to the rector of his college. Mass was being said in his presence when after Communion he breathed his last, reciting the words: "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
Thomas of Villanova was already called in his lifetime "the almsgiver" and "the father of the poor." He was canonized in 1658.
The absent-minded professor is a stock comic figure. This absent-minded professor earned even more derisive laughs with his determined shabbiness and his willingness to let the poor who flocked to his door take advantage of him. He embarrassed his peers, but Jesus was enormously pleased with him. We are often tempted to tend our image in others’ eyes without paying sufficient attention about how we look to Christ. Thomas still urges us to rethink our priorities.
Also in the Latin Calendar there is commemorated S. Maurice and Companions, Martyrs.
The Emperor Carus, who had impiously assumed the title of a god, being killed by lightning, and his son Numerianus Augustus being cut off by the treachery of his uncle Aper, Dioclesian, a man of low birth, was saluted emperor by the army which he then commanded in the East, on the 17th of September, 284. He defeated and slew Carinus, the second debauched son of Carus, the year following, in Mæsia, and after this victory took the haughty name of Jovius from Jupiter, and creating Maximian Cæsar, allotted to him the care and defence of the West. The Bagaudæ, a people consisting chiefly of peasants in Gaul, who had been attached to the interest of Carinus, took up arms to revenge his death, under two commanders, Amandus and Ælian. Dioclesian ordered Maximian to march against them, and on that occasion declared him Augustus and partner in the empire; and this new emperor assumed the surname of Herculeus, from the god Hercules. In this expedition the most judicious historians place the martyrdom of the Thebean legion. It seems to have received its name from being raised in Thebais or Upper Egypt, a country full of zealous Christians. This legion was entirely composed of such; and Saint Maurice, who seems to have been the first commanding officer who was then with it, might make it a point to admit no others among them.
Dioclesian, in the beginning of his reign, was no enemy to the Christian religion, and employed many who openly professed it, near his own person, and in posts of trust and importance, as Eusebius assures us. Yet even private governors, and the giddy populace were at liberty to indulge the blindest passion and fury against the servants of Christ; and Maximian, on certain extraordinary occasions, stained his progresses with the blood of many martyrs. The Thebean legion was one of those which were sent by Dioclesian out of the East to compose his army for his expedition into Gaul. Maximian in crossing the Alps made a halt with his army some days, that the soldiers might repose themselves in their tedious march, while some detachments filed off towards Triers. They were then arrived at Octodurum, at that time a considerable city on the Rhone, above the lake of Geneva, now a village called Martignac or Martigni in the Valais. Its episcopal see seems to have been transferred to Sion in the sixth century. Here Maximian issued out an order that the whole army should join in offering sacrifice to the gods for the success of their expedition. The Thebean legion hereupon withdrew itself, and encamped near Agaunum, now called Saint Maurice, three leagues from Octodurum. The emperor sent them repeated orders to return to the camp, and join in the sacrifice; and, upon their constant and unanimous refusal, he commanded them to be decimated. Thus every tenth man was put to death, according as the lot fell; the rest exhorting one another all the while to perseverance. After the first decimation, a second was commanded, unless the soldiers obeyed the orders given; but they cried out over their whole camp, that they would rather suffer all extremities than do any thing contrary to their holy religion. They were principally encouraged by three of their general officers, Maurice or Mauricius, Exuperius, and Candidus. Saint Eucherius does not style Saint Mauricius the tribune, but Primicerius, which was the dignity of the first captain, next to that of the tribune or colonel. He calls Exuperius Campiductor or Major, and Candidus the senator of the troops.
The emperor sent forth fresh threats that it was in vain they confided in their multitude; and that if they persisted in their disobedience, not a man among them should escape death. The legion, by the advice of their generous leaders, answered him by a dutiful remonstrance, the substance of which was as follows: “We are your soldiers, but are servants of the true God. We owe you military service and obedience; but we cannot renounce Him who is our Creator and Master, and also yours, even whilst you reject him. In all things which are not against his law we most willingly obey you, as we have done hitherto. We readily oppose all your enemies, whoever they are; but we cannot dip our hands in the blood of innocent persons. We have taken an oath to God before we took one to you: you can place no confidence in our second oath, should we violate the first. You command us to punish the Christians: behold we are all such. We confess God the Father, author of all things, and his Son, Jesus Christ. We have seen our companions slain without lamenting them; and we rejoice at their honour. Neither this extremity to which we are reduced, nor any provocation hath tempted us to revolt. We have arms in our hands; but we do not resist, because we had rather die innocent than live by any sin.”
This legion consisted of about six thousand six hundred men, who were all well armed, and might have sold their lives very dear. But they had learned to give to God what is God’s, and to Cæsar what is Cæsar’s, and they showed their courage more in dying than they had ever done in the most hazardous enterprises. Maximian having no hopes of overcoming their constancy, commanded his whole army to surround them, and cut them to pieces. They made no resistance, but, dropping their arms, suffered themselves to be butchered like innocent sheep, without opening their mouths, except mutually to encourage one another; and not one out of so great a number failed in courage to the last. The ground was covered with their dead bodies, and streams of blood flowed on every side. Maximian gave the spoils of the slain to his army for their booty, and the soldiers were making merry over them, when Victor, a veteran soldier, who belonged not to that troop, happened to pass by. They invited him to eat with them; but he, detesting their feast, offered to retire. At this the soldiers inquired if he was also a Christian. He answered that he was, and would always continue one: upon which they instantly fell upon him and slew him. Ursus and Victor, two straggling soldiers of this legion, were found at Solodora, now Soleure, and massacred upon the spot. Their relics are still preserved at Soleure. There suffered at Turin, about the same time, SS. Octavius, Adventitius, and Solutor, who are celebrated by Saint Maximus in his sermons, and by Ennodius of Pavia, in his poems. These martyrs were styled by Fortunatus, “The happy legion.” Their festival is mentioned on this day in the Martyrologies of Saint Jerom, Bede, and others. Saint Eucherius, speaking of their relics preserved at Agaunum, in his time, says: “Many come from divers provinces devoutly to honour these saints, and offer presents of gold, silver, and other things. I humbly present this monument of my pen, begging intercession for the pardon of my sins, and the perpetual protection of my patrons.” 1 He mentions many miracles to have been performed at their relics, and says of a certain woman who had been cured of a palsy by them: “Now she carries her own miracle about her.” 2 The foundation of the monastery of Saint Maurice at Agaunum is generally ascribed to King Sigismund in 515; but Mabillon 3 demonstrates it to have been more early, and that Sigismund only repaired and enlarged it.
In the martyrs we learn the character of true fortitude, of which virtue many may form a very false idea. Real valour differs infinitely from that fury, rashness, and inconsiderate contempt of dangers, which the basest passions often inspire. It is founded in motives of duty and virtue; it doth brave and great things, and it beareth injuries and torments; nor this for hope or reward, the desire of honour, or the fear of punishment; but out of a conscience of duty, and to preserve virtue entire. So infinitely more precious is the least part of integrity than all the possessions of this world, and so much does it overbalance all torments, that, rather than suffer it to be lost or impaired in the least point, the good man is ready to venture upon all perils, and behaves amidst them without terror. This foundation of great and heroical performances, this just and rational, this considerate and sedate, this constant, perpetual, and uniform contempt of dangers, and of death in all its shapes, is only derived from the Christian principle. The characters of true virtue go along with it, especially patience, humility, and gentleness. The Christian hero obeys the precepts of loving his enemies, doing good to those who persecute him, bearing wrong, and being ready to give his coat, without repining, to him who would take away his cloak.
Our flaws are part of his plan to bring forth holiness in us. He calls; we answer. By responding to his call with courage and faith, we can become saints. —Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Resignation to God's will in all of life's adversities, that ardent desire to see God's kingdom established in one's heart and in the hearts of others, are the clearest proof of the soul's love for the Supreme Good.
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 265: The Danger and Blessing of Passions
God created us with passions. These can be either great blessings in our Christian walk or they can become great snares. It all depends on what controls each passion. Passions of anger, for example, can either be used for good or ill. When anger takes over and the source of this anger is a wound or lack of mercy toward another, then we become bound by this sin. But holy anger is a gift from God in that the Lord may inspire us to be “fierce” in one act or another. A parent protecting an innocent child from danger or the direct confrontation with evil may require a certain holy anger as a supporting force. Sexual passions are the same way. When they are used for marital union in accord with God’s design, they are holy. When they are the source of adultery, self-gratification, or any other form of lust, they do us great damage. Seek to be free from unruly passions and allow the Mercy of God to so consume them that these natural gifts are given over to the service of love and the Will of God (See Diary #1331).
Are your passions under the control of the powerful Mercy of God or do your passions control you? This is an important question to honestly answer. Passions, when they become strong and untamed, can be hard to control. But when properly surrendered to God, they become a great motivating source of love. Reflect honestly upon your struggle with your passions. Know that God wants to turn them into a great blessing and a source of much mercy in your life. Turn them over to Him, over and over, through prayer, fasting and Confession and the Lord will bring order and stability to these natural gifts.
Lord, I offer You my heart, my soul, my body, my mind and my passions. Please bring order and stability to me in every way and use me as an instrument of Your holy and passionate Love. Jesus, I trust in You.