Thursday, September 03, 2015

St. Rose of Viterbo: Miracle Worker

On September 4, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Rose of Viterbo (1235-2352), miracle worker, Franciscan tertiary, and Virgin. She is the patron saint of exiles, teriaries, and those rejected by religious orders.

Rose was born of poor and pious parents, in Viterbo, Italy. She entered the world at a time when Emperor Frederick II was oppressing the Church and denouncing the Papacy, in order to regain control of the “Roman Empire.” Pope Gregory IX excommunicated the heretic and war raged across Italy. Many were unfaithful to the Holy See.

Rose was filled with grace from birth. Before she could walk, her parents would find her kneeling before Jesus in His tabernacle, praying before sacred images.

At the age of three, she miraculously brought her aunt back from death by laying her hands upon her and calling out her name. At the age of seven, she professed her intention to live the life of a hermit, devoting herself to penance and fasting.

At that time, Rose became very ill and nearly died of consumption. The Blessed Mother appeared to her on her sickbed, and Rose suddenly exclaimed to those gathered beside her: “All of you here, why do you not greet the Queen of the world? Do you not see Mary, the august Mother of my God, coming forward? Let us go to meet her, and prostrate ourselves before her majesty!”

Knowing Rose to possess supernatural gifts, they turned toward the door and knelt down. Mary, the Mother of God, spoke to Rose, telling her she must enter the Third Order of Saint Francis, then go out to “reprove, convince, exhort and bring back the erring to the paths of salvation. If your endeavors bring upon you sarcasm and mockery, persecution and labor, you must bear them patiently... Those who assist you will be enriched with all the graces of the Lord.”

Rose miraculously recovered, and donned the habit of the Third Order Franciscans. Shortly afterwards, she had another vision. This time, our Lord appeared to her on the cross, wearing the crown of thorns on His head and bleeding profusely from all His wounds. He revealed to Rose that his love for men and their sins had caused his great suffering.

Consequently, Rose carried a cross in her hand and went out into public squares of her city, telling people of the terrible tortures our Lord suffered and of the evil of sin. At the age of 8, she began preaching penance to the city of Viterbo, and defending the papacy and continued this for the next two years. As Viterbo had been captured by the forces of the emperor, her father eventually forbade her to preach. However, it was the prefect of the city banished her from Viterbo.

The family left Viterbo and took refuge in the city of Sorriano. On December 5, 1250, Rose foretold the speedy death of the emperor, a prophecy that was realized on December 13. Soon afterwards she went to Vitorchiano, whose inhabitants had been corrupted by a famous sorceress. Rose obtained the conversion of all, even of the sorceress, by standing unharmed for three hours in the flames of a burning pyre. With the restoration of the papal power in Viterbo in1251, Rose returned.

Rose then attempted to enter the convent of Saint Mary of the Roses, but was turned away due to the lack of a dowry. She returned home and lived in a private cell in her father’s house, where she increased her prayer and mortification, continued to pray for the faith of the Catholic Church, and demonstrate great zeal for the Lord. Several young women came to live with her, and she instructed them in the faith.

At the young age of 18, Rose died, having prophesized her own death (of what is now believed to have been a heart defect). Her dying words to her parents were: "I die with joy, for I desire to be united to my God. Live so as not to fear death. For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening, but sweet and precious."

Saint Rose of Viterbo was buried in the church of Santa Maria in Podio. After her death, Pope Alexander IV ordered that her body by laid to rest in the convent that had refused her admission and her incorrupt body was translated to the convent of Saint Mary of the Roses. Her body remains fragrant and beautiful. For more than 700 years it has remained supple and unchanged, except for its color, which was darkened after a fire in the chapel where her body reposed had occurred.


Heavenly Father,
in the youthful Saint Rose, Your servant,
You combined wonderful courage of soul
and unsullied innocence.
As we celebrate her merits
may we imitate the example of her virtues.

Saint Quote

"Prayer reveals to souls the vanity of earthly goods and pleasures. It fills them with light, strength and consolation; and gives them a foretaste of the calm bliss of our heavenly home."
-- St. Rose of Viterbo

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Pope St. Gregory the Great, Father and Doctor of the Church

September 3 is the memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great (540 - 604), Father and Doctor of the Church.

St. Gregory was born in Rome, the son of a wealthy Roman Senator. His mother was St. Sylvia. He followed the career of public service that was usual for the son of an aristocratic family, becoming Prefect of the City of Rome, but resigned within a year to pursue monastic life. He founded with the help of his vast financial holdings seven monasteries, six of which were on family estates in Sicily. A seventh, which he placed under the patronage of St. Andrew and which he himself joined, was erected on the Clivus Scauri in Rome. For several years, he lived as a good and holy Benedictine monk.

Then Pope Pelagius made him one of the seven deacons of Rome. For six years, he served as permanent ambassador to the Court of Byzantium.

In the year 586, he was recalled to Rome, and with great joy returned to St. Andrew's Monastery. He became abbot soon afterwards and the monastery grew famous under his energetic rule.

When the Pope died, Gregory was unanimously elected to take his place because of his great piety and wisdom. However, Gregory did not want that honor, so he disguised himself and hid in a cave, but was found and made Pope anyway.

He was elected Pope on September 3, 590, the first monk to be elected to this office. For fourteen years, he ruled the Church. Even though he was always sick, Gregory was one of the greatest popes the Church has ever had. He reformed the administration of the Church’s estates and devoted the resulting surplus to the assistance of the poor and the ransoming of prisoners. He negotiated treaties with the Lombard tribes who were ravaging northern Italy, and by cultivating good relations with these and other barbarians he was able to keep the Church’s position secure in areas where Roman rule had broken down.

His works for the propagation of the faith include the sending of Augustine and his monks as missionaries to England in 596, providing them with continuing advice and support and (in 601) sending reinforcements. He wrote extensively on pastoral care, spirituality, and morals, and designated himself “servant of the servants of God”, a title which all Popes have used since that time.

In the field of moral theology, he is often considered the first of the Latin Fathers. St. Thomas Aquinas later cited him some 374 times in the 242 articles of the second part of SUMMA THEOLOGIAE.

He never rested and wore himself down to almost a skeleton. Even as he lay dying, he directed the affairs of the Church and continued his spiritual writing.

He codified the rules for selecting deacons to make these offices more spiritual. Prior to this, deacons were selected on their ability to sing the liturgy and chosen if they had good voices.

Because he loved the solemn celebration of the Eucharist, St. Gregory devoted himself to compiling the Antiphonary, which contains the chants of the Church used during the liturgy (the Gregorian Chant). He also set up the Schola Cantorum, Roman's famous training school for chorusters.

St. Gregory died on March 12, 604 and was buried in St. Peter's Church. He is designated as the fourth Doctor of the Latin Church. His feast is celebrated on the date of his election as Pope.

St. Gregory is the patron of: choir boys, masons, music, musicians, choirs, singers, stonecutters, teachers, popes, and students,


"If we knew at what time we were to depart from this world, we would be able to select a season for pleasure and another for repentance. But God, who has promised pardon to every repentant sinner, has not promised us tomorrow. Therefore we must always dread the final day, which we can never foresee. This very day is a day of truce, a day for conversion. And yet we refuse to cry over the evil we have done! Not only do we not weep for the sins we have committed, we even add to them.... If we are, in fact, now occupied in good deeds, we should not attribute the strength with which we are doing them to ourselves."

"We must not count on ourselves, because even if we know what kind of person we are today, we do not know what we will be tomorrow. Nobody must rejoice in the security of their own good deeds. As long as we are still experiencing the uncertainties of this life, we do not know what end may follow...we must not trust in our own virtues. "

"Although He (Christ) who rose from the dead shall die no more - death no longer has power over Him - still, although He is immortal and His living form incorruptible, He is being slaughtered for us in this mysterium of the holy sacrifice. Because there His body provides nourishment, His flesh being divided up, His blood pours out - no longer into the hands of non-believers, but into the mouths of believers."

"Fittingly did the Spirit appear in fire in every heart that he enters, he kindles the desire of his own eternity."

"When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice."

"The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist."

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

St. Ingrid of Sweden

The saint of the day for September 2 is St. Ingrid of Sweden, one of the patron saints of Sweden. Born in Skänninge, Sweden, in the 13th century of a noble family, St. Ingrid lived under the spiritual direction of Peter of Dacia, a Dominican priest. She married young and when her husband died, she dedicated all her possessions to God. After a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she became the first Dominican nun in Sweden and in 1281 she founded the first Dominican cloister there, St. Martin's in Skänninge. She died in 1282 surrounded by an aura of sanctity. Miracles obtained through her intercession followed and led to a popular cult.

In 1405, a canonization process was begun and the Swedish Bishops introduced her cause at the Council of Constance. An inquest was held in Sweden in 1416-1417 and the results were inconclusive. In 1497, the cause was reactivated and in 1507 her relics were solemnly translated, and a Mass and Office were composed - but formal canonization seems never to have occurred. During the Reformation, her cult came to an end and her convent and relics were destroyed.

Pope makes history by participating in “virtual audience” ahead of US trip

Image Source: ABC News

On Monday evening, Pope Francis held a “virtual audience” in several cities across the United States as part of the lead-up to his visit later this month.

During the interactive event, those taking part were able to share their stories and ask the Holy Father questions.

In one instance, the Pope asked a teenage girl, who had been a victim of bullying, to sing for him.

Speaking from the Vatican, and alternating between English and Spanish, Pope Francis addressed those taking part at various locations across the US. These included students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, faithful at a Texas Church near the Mexican border, as well as homeless people and those who work to assist them in Los Angeles.

The event was hosted by ABC News and moderated by network’s "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir.

The entire virtual audience is scheduled to air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4, and will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on the website.

Pope Francis visit the United States for the first time from September 22-27. The papal visit will include the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C., a meeting with the United Nations in New York, and the participation in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

(from Vatican Radio)

Monday, August 31, 2015

St. Giles, patron of the poor and disabled

The saint of the day for September 1 is St. Giles (650-710), abbot, hermit, and patron of the poor and disabled. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Giles is invoked for protection in times of plague and epidemic.

Giles was born to a wealthy Greek family during the 6th century. When his parents died, he gave away all of his wealth to the poor and the sick and attracted many followers who wished to emulate his piety.

Giles moved to France, where he lived alone in a cave near Nimes, and spent his days in prayer, meditation, and conversation with the Lord. The cave he made his home in was guarded by a thick thorn bush. In this solitude, he lived on wild herbs and roots, and water. A hind (deer) came daily to be milked by him, thus providing him with additional sustenance.

The fame of his miracles became so great that his reputation spread throughout France. He was highly esteemed by the French king, but he could not be prevailed upon to forsake his solitude. He admitted several disciples, however, to share it with him. He founded a monastery, and established an excellent discipline therein. In succeeding ages it embraced the rule of St. Benedict.

He died of natural causes and the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Gilles was founded during the 7th century in his honor.

Pope's Prayer Intentions for September 2015

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month of September are:

Universal Intention -  That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.

Evangelization Intention - That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

St. Raymond Nonnatus, Patron of Expectant Mothers, Midwives, and Newborn Babies

The saint of the day for August 31 is St. Raymond Nonnatus. He is the patron of: children, expectant mothers, infertile couples, midwives, newborn babies, and obstetricians.

Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain in 1204, the son of wealthy parents. He was delivered by cesarean section when his mother died in childbirth. Hence his name non natus (not born). In his childhood, he seemed to find pleasure only in his devotions and serious duties. His father, sensing that Raymond was drawn to religious life, ordered him to manage one of the family farms. Raymond readily obeyed but spent his time with the shepherds and workers, studying and praying until his father abandoned the idea of making his son a worldly success.

Raymond later joined the Mercederians, which was founded by St. Peter Nolasco, who devoted to ransoming Christians captured by the Moors. He succeeded Peter as chief ransomer and went to Algeria to ransom slaves. He remained as hostage for several slaves when his money ran out and was sentenced to be impaled when the governor learned that he had converted several Mohammedans. He escaped the death sentence because of the ransom he would bring, but was forced to run the gauntlet. He was then tortured for continuing his evangelizing activities but was ransomed eight months later by Peter Nolasco.

On his return to Barcelona, he was appointed Cardinal by Pope Gregory IX. He died the following year in 1240 and was canonized in 1657.

Prayer of an Expecting Mother

Friday, August 28, 2015

7QT: Beauty, Books,and Saints

1. This has been a super-busy week as I continue to blog daily and to work on my second book. Here is also what I have been doing.

2. Enjoying nature and nature walks. Last week it was in the upper 70's, so we took a walk on my favorite trail. 

3. Making friends with the wildlife on the trail:

4. Enjoying the beauty of God's work in my own yard:

5. Reading about some of my favorite saints:

Read my brief review at Goodreads. And, while you are there, be sure to friend and follow me.

6. Happy Feast of St. Augustine! His mother, St. Monica is a wonderful model of evangelization, while St. Augustine is an illustrious theologian, bishop, and Doctor of the Church.

7. Mark your calendars! The Fast4Francis novena for the pope's visit to the USA starts September 18th. 

Have a wonderful weekend and a great week! :)


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.   

Photos copyright Jean M. Heimann 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

St. Augustine of Hippo: Illustrious Theologian, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church

By Jean M. Heimann

August 28th is the feast of St. Augustine, a Western Father of the Church whose conversion to Christianity is well-known as one of the most important events in the history of the Church. He was an illustrious theologian, a bishop, and a great Doctor of the Church. St. Augustine is the patron of theologians, brewers, printers, and sore eyes.

Augustine was born in Tagaste, Africa in 354 to Patricius, a pagan Roman official, and to Monica, a devout Christian. Monica raised Augustine in the Christian faith, but when he went to college to study law in Carthage, he turned away from his Christian beliefs and led a life of immorality and hedonism.

At age 15, he took a took a mistress who bore him a son, Adeodatus, which means “the gift of God,” and at age 18, he and his friend, Honoratus became members of the Manichaean heretical sect, which accepted the dual principle of good and evil.

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen explained his attraction to the heresy: “The conflict between flesh and spirit in him was resolved by the heresy of Manichæanism because it enabled him to pursue a voluptuous life without ever being held accountable for it. He could say that the evil principle within him was so strong, so deep, and intense that the good principle could not operate.”

Augustine turned away from his pursuit of law to literary endeavors and won poetic tournaments and made a name for himself in the world of philosophy. Augustine made plans to teach in Rome, but instead went to Milan.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen describes St. Augustine’s conversion so beautifully:

“Monica prayed that her son would never go to Italy because she feared that there would be more evil companionship there than in Northern Africa. Her prayers seemed to go unanswered, but at the same time, they were answered in a mysterious way.

In the year 384, Augustine told his mother to go to visit the Church of St. Cyprian the Martyr while he went to visit friends. He slipped away from Africa that night and went to Rome, against his mother's wishes. His reputation as an orator and rhetorician preceded him and he was recognized as one of the most learned men of his time.

When Augustine went to Milan, to plead for the restoration of paganism to the City, he heard of the scholarship and the oratorical powers of Ambrose, the Bishop. Many days he would sit under the pulpit in veneration of Ambrose. Later, he spent many hours in his company, discussing philosophy and he took manuscripts from Ambrose's library to read.

All the while, the chains of habit were strong in Augustine and his carnal nature was resisting his spiritual birth. In August, 386, he met Pontitianus who told Augustine the story of St. Anthony of the Desert. St. Anthony spent more than seventy years in the desert.

After hearing the story, Augustine said: "Manes is an impostor. The Almighty calls me. Christ is the only way and Paul is my guide.

"If Anthony has conquered the libido and sex, why could not he, Augustine asked himself.

Augustine eager to be alone went into the garden. There he underwent a conflict between the old ego and the new one that was being born.

Casting himself at the foot of a spreading fig tree, he cried hot and bitter tears, which overflowed and bathed his spirit. He cried aloud:

"When shall I achieve salvation, when shall I cast off my fetters? Tomorrow perhaps, or the day after? Why not this very hour?"

Suddenly he became aware of the voice of a child, a boy or girl, he knew not, speaking in a neighboring house.

"Take up and read," said the sweet voice.

He hurried back into the room. He found a copy of the epistles of St. Paul, which Pontitianus had been fingering. Seizing it, and opening it at random, his eyes fell upon the words of St. Paul to the Romans 13:13:

"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh."

In that one moment, the carnal passions, which had for sixteen years appeared invincible, were annihilated.

Augustine cries out in deep regret:

"Too late, O Ancient Beauty, have I loved Thee."

On Holy Thursday, which fell on April 22, 387 AD, he recited the Credo aloud in the presence of an assembled congregation. He fasted until Holy Saturday and in the evening he went to the Basilica, where Bishop Ambrose pronounced the last exorcisms over him, made the sign of the Cross upon his forehead and breast, and poured the baptismal waters.

Then, in accordance with the custom used only in the church in Milan, Ambrose got on his knees and washed the feet of Augustine. The two saints were united for perhaps the last time on earth. The elder humbled himself before the younger, the more famous before the more obscure.

Adeodatus, the carnal son of his sinning, received Baptism at the same time.

The nameless woman whom Augustine lived with, and mother of Adeodatus, returned to Carthage and spent her remaining days in penance.

One of the effects of Augustine's conversion was a return to joviality, and a deep sense of inner peace. There was also a great increase of literary productiveness. Between the years 380 and 386, before his conversion, he had not written a single page. Now, in a short space of time, he composed four brief books in succession.

In 397, or twelve years after his conversion, Augustine wrote his Confessions, the greatest spiritual autobiography ever written. It is the work of a teacher who explains, a philosopher who thinks, and a theologian who instructs. It is the work of a poet who achieves chaste beauty in the writing, and a mystic who pours out thanks for having found himself in peace.

"Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You. You have called to me, and have cried out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after You. I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst after You. You have touched me, and I have burned for Your peace" (Confessions 10,27).

None of the Freuds or Jungs or Adlers of our 20th century has ever pierced the conscious and the unconscious mind with a rapier as keen as Augustine's. No man can say he has ever understood himself if he has not read the 'Confessions' of Augustine.”

-- St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

St. Monica died in Ostia (modern Italy) and St. Augustine remained in Italy, for a time, praying, studying and writing, before returning to Tagaste, Africa, where he sold all his possessions and distributed the money to the poor. He was ordained as a priest in 391. He was later made bishop of Hippo at the age of 41 and became one of the four great founders of religious orders and a Doctor of the universal Church. He died on August 30, 430.

 St. Augustine Quotes

“Love God, and do what you will.” - Sermon on 1 John 7:8.

“Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.” - Sermons 358, 1. “Victoria veritatis est caritas.”

“Love is the beauty of the soul.” - Sermon on 1 John 4:19-21

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord". - Confessions

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” - Confessions

 “I was looking for you outside myself and I did not find the God of my own heart.” - Confessions

“The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed. The mind commands itself and meets resistance.” - Confessions

“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” - City of God

~ copyright 2015 Jean M. Heimann