Saint Thérèse de Lisieux, or “the Little Flower of Jesus”

Standard

A briefest of biographies. Therese felt an early call to religious life. Although she had faced many challenges in her personal life, including frail health and emotional distress, at age of 15 she became a nun. Thérèse joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. Thérèse was a magnificent writer, and through that writing, she became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. Through Pope Pius XI she was beatified in 1923, She was canonized Saint by the Roman Catholic Church May 17, 1925.On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church. Thérèse is the youngest of all Doctors of the Church, and one of three woman Doctors.

Thérèse lived a hidden life that is the lifestyle of Carmelite nuns. Even though she in her words ‘wanted to be unknown’ yet her writings made her one of the most well known and loved Saint. The saint had a way with words, prolific and poetic and wise well beyond her youthful years. Along with her autobiography she recorded letters, poems, religious plays, prayers and various notes. Through technology (she is a saint in the early technological age) her last conversations were recorded by her sister. By the photographs (a new art form) taken by her sister Céline, she was beloved worldwide.

Popular devotion to Thérèsè suffered from the sentimentality of her age, flowery and embellished kitsch, something that was in direct contrast to the true nature of this popular Saint. In her own words: “I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretense”, and:” we should not say improbable things, or things we do not know (about Saints). We must see their (the saints) real, and not their imagined lives.” One should definitely become familiar with Thérèsè through her writings, and not through what has been written about her. Her writings are her story, and her devotion in her own words. Briefly her devotion to Jesus can be summed up in one word, Love. It is through love that she sought to serve her Lord. That was her mission in a single word. Love. In her own words:

“Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church being a body composed of different members, the most essential, the most noble of all the organs would not be wanting to her; I understood that the Church has a heart and that this heart is burning with love; that it is love alone which makes the members work, that if love were to die away apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love comprises all vocations, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places because it is eternal!”

The thing is, with a saint just as this, what is one to do one her festive day? She was a Carmelite, should someone seek their advice? She was a Carmelite, what was their charism? Carmelites are contemplative, so let’s contemplate something. The saint contemplated Love, Christian love, and that is a good beginning. Thérèse enjoyed leaving little signs of kindness. Carmelites are based in prayer, so say a prayer or seek out a prayer of Thérèse, she was a writer. Carmelites are based in community, make a community better. Discover a new community, one lived in faith. Participate in a community. Thérèse did. Carmelites serve, the third part of their charism. Contemplation, community, prayer, service. Therese was infirm, a hint. Celebrate those, in the spirit of the saint. But how does one learn that spirit? That’s easy, simple! Thérèse was a writer, her spirit lives in those writings. Celebrate her with a good read, read what she wrote. She is a doctor of the Church after all and in this age of technology her bibliography is widely available. Read her books, her story, and her prayers. The memory of this saint has been recorded, in her own words. If there is one saint that can be memorialized in a technological age, it is her.

Saint Bonaventure

Standard

BonaventureOne should neither read first about Saint Bonaventure , or write quickly about Saint Bonaventure.  One should simply read Saint Bonaventure

“Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation.”

From the Journey of the Mind to God by St. Bonaventure

San Bonaventura (1221 – 15 July 1274) born Giovanni di Fidanza. He was an Italian medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher. Bonaventure was the seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor. The saint was also Cardinal Bishop of Albano. Saint Bonaventure was a friend of the Saint Thomas Aquinas, and received his doctorate with St. Thomas Aquinas.

Can you imagine the conversations between those two saints?

psst; you can read more about him here: http://bit.ly/2tX1rDV

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Standard

*This is a post that is from 2012 and it includes the prayer for the saints canonization:

250px-CatherinaeTekakwithaVirginis1690
Prayer for the Canonization
of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the
same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s date of canonization is 21 October 2012
Memorial 14 July

Kateri was born in1656 of a Catholic Algonquin mother(Tagaskouita) and the Mohawk chief Kenneronkwa in the village of Ossemenon(Auriesville) along the Mohawk river in northern New York. A smallpox epidemic that swept through that region took the lives of Kateri’s(Catherine’s) parents and her  brother. This disease also left her with the diseases characteristic scars,limited vision , and also physically weak. She was adopted by her aunt and uncle(Chief of the Turtle Clan) at four years of age.Since Kateri’s mother was Christian, see encouraged that faith in Kateri. Her father however was of a Native American religion and had an opposite opinion on the subject. Her uncle too discouraged her interest in Christianity.The battle between Christianity,and her families Native American religion would be a source of friction for much of Kateri’s life.Kateri was a devout follower of Christ; she was baptized at the age of 20 by the Jesuit priest Father Jacques de Lamberville.On Christmas Day of 1677 Kateri received her first holy communion. In March of 1679 she professed her vow to perpetual virginity. She devoted her life to teaching prayers to children, helping the sick and aged. On 17 April 1680 she died at 24-years of age.The last words she uttered were “Jesus, I love you”: “lesos konoronkwa.” Shortly after her death her scars from smallpox began to disappear.

KATERI TEKAWITHA embraced Jesus Christ,even though many in her family and tribe rejected her for it. Kateri Tekawitha will be the first canonized Native American saint. She is a source of great pride among the many Native Americans who are devout Catholic’s. Her sainthood is an answer to their years of prayer in the past and she will certainly be a faithful intercessor for all Americans in the years to come. Throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada there are many Native American Tribes that enthusiastically embraced Christianity and they are active, vibrant, devout followers of Jesus and his Church today.The memorial and the canonization of Kateri Tekawitha, the “Lilly of the Mohawks” is an especially festive and joyous occasion for them as it is for all in her region.

It’s Saint Lucy Day! Celebrate!

Standard

It’s Saint Lucy’s Day, the Feast of Saint Lucy! Who is she you ask? Lucy is a martyr of the third century. During the Diocletianic Persecution, Saint Lucy brought “food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs. “Using a candle-lit wreath” to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible”. Her feast at one time coincided with the Winter Solstice, and her feast day is a festival of light. I say it is a festival of light though the festival is little celebrated. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as “beacon shining before Christmastide”, and leads the way to Christmas day. Her name means light (Lux). In art she is frequently depicted as holding her eyes on a platter.

Lucy was a martyr. The Diocletian Persecution was one where people were forced to worship the pagan gods of Rome, to give the offerings, and to celebrate those feast days. To this Lucy resisted, and aided others in their resistance. Her feast is a good time to remembers those more recently that face religious persecution. That type of persecution has a long history, and today it rages on. This is a fitting time to remember those who suffered for Christianity, particularly those of  the Mid-East that are persecuted today. They are contemporary martyrs, and their numbers are growing. Remembrance  also of those who battle more subtle forms of persecution should not be forgotten. Those are  belittled by a global secularism. A small point to remember.

For tradition; Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia. Sankta Lucia is represented as a lady in a white dress and red sash with a crown or wreath of candles on her head. Throughout Scandinavia girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung. Boys participate in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. Those northerners’ say that to vividly celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light. This speaks to tradition, and traditions that are being rapidly lost. The Christ child is the light of the world. The challenges of today.

In the gospel Mt 21:28-32 Jesus poses a question. He asks one son to go into the vineyard to labor, and that son at first refuses but has a change of heart. The question is addressed to a second son who agrees to the task but never completes it .The question is who did the Fathers will? The question is presented to chief elders, and they are intelligent people. Does the question seem complicated? Does it involve trickery or deceit? Is it hard to answer? What do you think? To me it is simple, and I am no scholar. The first son was reluctant but obedient. The second quick to answer, but negligent to act . The question is a commentary on those leaders leadership. Quick to reply, and hesitant to act. Right answer, wrong action. What is more important, the action or the response? My guess is it’s the action. The question speaks to empty words and promises. It speaks to a lack of commitment. Flash. Actions speak louder than words. It pits sincerity against insincerity. It speaks of humble actions, like those of Lucia’s, against grandiose speech. A humble and contrite heart the LORD will not spurn.

Here is a prayer to Saint Lucy, the patron of eyes:

Saint Lucy
Whose beautiful name signifies ‘LIGHT’
by the light of faith which God bestowed upon you
increase and preserve His light in my soul
so that I may avoid evil,
Be zealous in the performance of good works
and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and
the darkness of evil and sin.
Obtain for me, by your intercession with God
Perfect vision for my bodily eyes
and the grace to use them for God’s greater honour and glory
and the salvation of souls.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr
hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.
Amen

Aside

 

“In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans. This is why the witness of his life must continue to be the inspiration for the building up of the Mexican nation, encouraging brotherhood among all its children and ever helping to reconcile Mexico with its origins, values and traditions.”

-from the Homily of John Paul II during the canonization of Juan Diego in Mexico City 2002