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Saints of the Church

St. Kentigern

St. Kentigern was also known as Mungo ("dear one" or "darling"), his mother was a British princess named Thenaw (or Thaney or Theneva). When it was discovered that she was pregnant of an unknown man, she was hurled from a cliff and, when discovered alive at the foot of the cliff, was set adrift in a boat on the Firth of Forth. She reached Culross, was given shelter by St. Serf, and gave birth to a child to whom Serf gave the name Mungo. Raised by the saint, he became a hermit at Glasgow and was so renowned for his holiness that he was consecrated bishop of Strathclyde about 540. Driven to flight because of the feuds among the neighboring chieftains, he went to Wales, met St. David at Menevia, and founded a monastery at Llanelwy. About 553, Kentigern returned to Scotland, settled at Hoddam, and then returned to Glasgow, where he spent his last days. He is considered the first bishop of Scotland and with Thenaw is joint patron of Glasgow.

Five treasures we possess that we can share with others

 

Once, a very poor man came to Buddha.

He asked:  Why am I so poor?

Buddha answered:  You are poor because you don’t practice generosity.  You don’t practice charity.

Poor Man:  But how can I practice charity if I don’t have anything to give?

Buddha:  You have five treasures that you can share with others.

First, you have your *Face.*

You can share your smiles with others.  It’s free and has an amazing and lasting impact on others.

Second, you have your *Eyes.*

You can look at others with eyes full of love and care. Genuinely you can impact millions.  Make them feel so good.

Third, you have your *Mouth.*

With this mouth, you can say nice things to others.  Talk good.  Make them feel valued, spread joy and positivity.

Fourth, you have your *Heart.*

With your loving heart, you can wish happiness to others. Make others feel a bundle of emotions.  Touch their lives.

Fifth, the last treasure that you possess is your *Body.*

With this body, you can do many good things for others.

Help the people who need.

Help is not money.

A small caring gesture can light up lives.

Remember:  True wealth is that which no one can take away from you.  It increases as you give it away.

Money is not the only means by which we can do charity.  Giving love, a smile, talking positively may bring joy and happiness in a person’s life!

Why Mary?

How did she get here? Why was SHE the one holding the Savior of the Nations in her humble hands? She was not wealthy or famous or mature. She was a teenager and about as low on the social ladder as one could get. She lived in the out-of-the-way town of Nazareth of all places.

Why did God choose insignificant little Mary to be the wrapping paper for the most fantastic present ever given or known to humanity?

When someone receives a vital task or position, they usually have the proper qualifications. When a promotion or exclusive assignment is up for grabs in the business world, the privilege usually goes to those who have shown special abilities in a particular area of expertise.

The same is true in other areas of life.

But from what we know about her, Mary did not have any superior talents as a mother or any specific religious training that made her better prepared to raise and train Jesus than any other young maiden. So, what made Mary worthy of being the chosen mother of the holy one Jesus?

She Must Have Done Something

She was not even an experienced mother. So, there must have been something else that made God choose her to be the mother of the Son of God, right? But what could it be? Was it because of her unparalleled grace and virtue, as many have concluded? Was it because she was somehow sinless and entirely in line with God’s will and therefore deserving to be the mother of God?

They say the reason God chose her was her complete adherence to the Father’s will and because of the contributions she would make to her Son’s work of redeeming the world.

Feast of The Holy Family

 

On this, the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, we honor the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  In honoring them, we also honor all families, big or small.  And in honoring all families, we honor the family of God, the Church.  But most especially, we focus in on the hidden, day-to-day life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. What was it like to live day in and day out in the household of St. Joseph?  What was it like to have Jesus for a son, Mary as a wife and mother, and Joseph as a father and husband? 

Their home would have certainly been a sacred place and a dwelling of true peace and unity.  But it would have also been so much more. The family home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have been, in numerous ways, just like any other home.  They would have related together, talked, had fun, disagreed, worked, eaten, dealt with problems, and encountered everything else that makes up daily family life.

Of course, the virtues of Jesus and Mary were perfect, and St. Joseph was a truly “just man.”  Therefore, the overriding characteristic of their home would have been love. But with that said, their family would not have been exempt from daily toil, hurt and challenges that face most families.  For example, they would have encountered the death of loved ones, St. Joseph most likely passed away prior to Jesus’ public ministry.  They would have encountered misunderstanding and gossip from others.  Our Blessed Mother, for example, was found with child out of wedlock.  This would have been a topic of discussion among many acquaintances for sure.  They would have had to fulfill all daily chores, earn a living, put food on the table, attend gatherings of family and friends and the like.  They would have lived normal family life in every way. This is significant because it reveals God’s love for family life.  The Father allowed His Divine Son to live this life and, as a result, elevated family life to a place within the Trinity.  The holiness of the Holy Family reveals to us that every family is invited to share in God’s divine life and to encounter ordinary daily life with grace and virtue.

Saint Peter Canisius’ Story

The energetic life of Peter Canisius should demolish any stereotypes we may have of the life of a saint as dull or routine. Peter lived his 76 years at a pace which must be considered heroic, even in our time of rapid change. A man blessed with many talents; Peter is an excellent example of the scriptural man who develops his talents for the sake of the Lord’s work. Peter was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. He played such a key role that he has often been called the “second apostle of Germany,” in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface. Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master’s degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterwards he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius of Loyola, who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus. At this early age Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life—a process of study, reflection, prayer, and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or imprisoned, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied.  He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way that common people could understand—a great need of that age. At 70, Peter suffered a paralytic seizure, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary, until his death in his hometown of Nijmegen, Netherlands, on December 21, 1597.

Saint John of the Cross’ Story

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.

 

 

Season of Advent

The weeks leading up to Christmas, we often find ourselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday and all the festivities that go along with it.  As cliché as it may sound, we can easily forget what our focus should be those four weeks prior to us celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The church sets aside for us four weeks, essentially four Sundays, to help us calm, re-center, and focus our hearts and minds on the upcoming celebration that is to take place on December 25th. That time is Advent. Advent marks two things – the beginning of a new church year and the preparation of the birth of Christ! How fitting is it that we start our preparation of His birth with the start of a new year? A fresh start, a renewed desire to grow closer to God, and a joyful expectation of Christ entering into our hearts today, tomorrow and every day.

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