St. Leo the Great
With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as "Peter’s successor," guiding his fellow bishops as "equals in the episcopacy and infirmities."
Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism (overemphasizing human freedom).
Manichaeism (seeing everything material as evil) and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.
In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.
It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.
It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his body, the church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and Saint Peter, in whose place Leo acted.
At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace and pastoral care. He avoided an "angelism" that tries to live without the body, as well as the "practicality" that deals only in externals.
A story about S. Gemma Galgani, Virgin (Latin Calendar) can be found by Clicking Here.
Born in 1878 in Lucca, Italy, she was outstanding for her angelic purity, child-like simplicity, candor, and innocence, virtues that no doubt help account for the special privilege she received. Gemma’s confessor and biographer provides us with details of her familiarity with her guardian angel.
“Gemma,” he writes, “saw him with her eyes, touched him with her hand as if he were a being of this world, remained talking with him as one friend with another. ‘Jesus has not left me alone,’ she said. ‘He makes my guardian angel stay with me always….’
“‘If I am sometimes culpable, dear Angel, don’t be angry with me. I want to be grateful to thee,’ she said to him.
“And the angel answered: ‘Yes, I shall be thy guide and inseparable companion. Dost thou not know who it is that gave me charge of thee? It is the merciful Jesus.’
“Unable to restrain her emotion at this, the angelic girl stood rapt in ecstasy with her angel. The angel sometimes let her see him raised in the air with outspread wings, his hands extended over her or joined in an attitude of prayer. At other times, he knelt beside her.
“I myself,” continues her confessor, “have often attended Gemma’s meditations with her angel.… I noted that every time she raised her eyes to look at the angel, listen to him, or speak to him, even aside from the time of meditation and prayer, she lost the use of her senses. At those moments one could prick, burn, or shake her without her feeling it.
“Her angel guardian was to Gemma a second Jesus, so to speak. She made known to him her own wants and those of others. In her sufferings she wanted him always by her side. She entrusted him to lay several matters before the throne of God, before the Divine Mother and her patron saints, giving him closed and sealed letters to them with a request to bring her the answers promptly. Those letters, as a matter of fact, disappeared.”
She also kept the angel busy with many letters to people in this world, often to her confessor.
“It was thus,” he writes, “that she kept the heavenly messenger continually on the move, and he most gladly favored her. Even without being called, he hastened to her in every need and danger. He restrained the power and malicious ruses of the devil, who was always just as vigilant in his efforts to do her harm. Instances are not wanting of this blessed guardian’s constant watchfulness. Once when Gemma was at table with her family, one of those present did not hesitate to blaspheme the Holy Name of God. Upon hearing this, she fainted in horror and, falling, would have dashed her head against the floor had her angel not hastened to her aid. He took her hand, supported her, and with a single word restored her.
“The most important mission of Gemma’s angel was in what concerned her spiritual advancement. While he served on one side as her watchful protector, on the other she found in him a perfect master of Christian perfection.
“The holy guardian knew how to show severity when necessary. One day she told me of this in the following words: ‘My angel is a bit severe, but I am glad for it. During the past few days he called me to order as many as three or four times a day.’
“Seeing the great charity lavished on her, Gemma loved her angel immensely, and his name was always on her lips as well as in her heart. ‘Dear Angel,’ she would say, ‘I so love you!’
“‘And why?’ he would ask.
“‘Because you teach me to be good, to remain humble, and to please Jesus.’
“Another time, Gemma wrote: ‘I was in bed, suffering greatly, when I suddenly became absorbed in prayer. I folded my hands and, moved with heartfelt sorrow for my countless sins, I made an act of deep contrition. My mind was wholly plunged in this abyss of crime against my God when I beheld my angel standing by my bed. I felt ashamed of being in his presence, but he was more than courteous with me, and said kindly: “Jesus loves thee greatly; love Him greatly in return.” Then he added: “Art thou fond of Jesus’ Mother? Salute her very often, for she values such attention very much and unfailingly returns the greetings offered her; and if thou dost not feel that she does, know that thus she makes a proof of thine unfailing trust.” He blessed me and disappeared.’”
May Saint Gemma’s intimacy with her angel, so simple, spontaneous, and full of profound humility, be an example for us all.
Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More (June 22) and Thomas Becket (December 29) for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government.
Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital of Poland, and at Paris. He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquence and example brought about real conversion in many of his penitents, both clergy and laity. He became bishop of Kraków in 1072.
During an expedition against the Grand Duchy of Kiev, Stanislaus became involved in the political situation of Poland. Known for his outspokenness, he aimed his attacks at the evils of the peasantry and the king, especially the unjust wars and immoral acts of King Boleslaus II.
The king first excused himself, then made a show of penance, then relapsed into his old ways. Stanislaus continued his open opposition in spite of charges of treason and threats of death, finally excommunicating the king. The latter, enraged, ordered soldiers to kill the bishop. When they refused, the king killed him with his own hands.
Forced to flee to Hungary, Boleslaus supposedly spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.
John the Baptist, Thomas Becket, Thomas More and Stanislaus are a few of the prophets who dared to denounce corruption in high places. They follow in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who pointed out the moral corruption in the religious leadership of his day. It is a risky business: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone..." (John 8:7b).
"Men desire authority for its own sake that they may bear a rule, command and control other men, and live uncommanded and uncontrolled themselves" (St. Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort).
Patron Saint of:
If we are to be a sacrament-- a visible sign-- of reconciliation, we must actively pursue those works of justice and mercy that will make this reconciliation possible.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
To be inordinately attached to your own opinion is invariably a source and beginning to discord. S. Paul exhorts us to be united in the same mind.