Educational: Saint Maria Goretti (1890 - 1902)

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Born on October 16 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona Province in Italy, her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When he died of malaria, Maria's mother had to struggle to feed her children. Maria's mother, brothers, and sisters worked in the fields while she cooked, sewed, kept the house clean, and watched her youngest sister Teresa. Though the family's circumstances were extremely difficult, they were very close and loved God.

On July 5, 1902, Maria was sitting outside the steps of her home sewing her 18-year-old brother or neighbor -it is unclear which - Alessandro's shirt while he threshed beans in the barnyard. As she concentrated on her sewing, Alessandro surprised her and grabbed her from her steps. When he tried to rape her, Maria cried that it was a mortal sin and warned he would go to hell.

When Alessandro persisted, she fought him and screamed, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" At her words, Alessandro began to choke her and she said she would rather die than submit. Upon hearing her words, Alessandro pulled out a knife and stabbed her eleven times. When she attempted to reach the door, he stabbed her three more times then fled.

Teresa woke to the sounds of her sister's cries and began to cry. Maria's family returned home and found her bleeding on the floor. They quickly took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno, where she underwent surgery without anesthesia.

Unfortunately, her wounds were beyond the surgeon's ability to help. Halfway through the surgery, the man asked her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." As she lay on the table, she looked up at him and said, "Well, who knows which of us is going to be there first?" She did not realize how terrible her situation was, and the surgeon replied, "You, Maria." She said, "Then I will think gladly of you." She also mentioned concerns for her mother. The next day, Maria forgave Alessandro and said she wanted to see him in Heaven with her. She died that day while looking upon an image of the Virgin Mary and holding a cross to her chest.

Shortly after Maria's family discovered her, Alexander was captured and questioned. He admitted Maria was a physical virgin as he was unable to assault her and he was sentenced to thirty years. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria's mother.

Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her 82-year-old mother, two sisters and a brother, appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter's. Three years later at Maria's canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.

-taken from: www.catholic.org & www.franciscanrnedia.org

Liturgical Tips

Popular Devotional Practices:

Basic Questions and Answers, Part 3

2. What is the relationship between popular devotions and the liturgy?

As Pope Paul VT recognized, maintaining the proper balance [between liturgy and devo­tions] may not always be easy and may require patient and persistent effort. He indicated that there are two extreme attitudes to be avoided. On the one hand, he rejected the position of those "who scorn, a priori, devotions of piety which, in their correct forms, have been recommend­ed by the Magisterium, who leave them aside and in this way create a vacuum which they do not fill. They forget that the Council has said that devotions of piety should harmonize with the liturgy, not be suppressed." On the other hand, he likewise did not accept the position of those who, without wholesome liturgical and pastoral criteria, mix practices of piety and liturgical acts in hybrid celebrations. It sometimes happens that novenas or similar practices are inserted into the very celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This creates the danger that the Lord's Memorial Rite, instead of being the culmination of the meeting of the Christian community, becomes the oc­casion, as it were, for devotional practices. Here Pope Paul VI admonished us that "exercises of piety should be harmonized with the liturgy, not merged into it."

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

Educational: Saint Cyril of Alexandria (367 - 444)

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St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church was born atAlexandria, Egypt in 376. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him.

He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions.

In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril.

Emperor Theodosius IT arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile.

During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo Xill in 1882. His feast day is June 27th. 

-taken from: www.catholic.org

Liturgical Tips

Popular Devotional Practices:

Basic Questions and Answers, Part 2

2. What is the relationship between popular devotions and the liturgy? - Part 1

Since the liturgy is the center of the life of the Church, popular devotions should never be portrayed as equal to the liturgy, nor can they adequately substitute for the liturgy. What is crucial is that popular devotions be in harmony with the liturgy, drawing inspiration from it and ultimately leading back to it. "These devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them." While the liturgy always remains the primary reference point, "the liturgy and popular piety are two forms of worship which are in mutual and fruitful relationship with each other." Personal and family prayer and devotions should flow from and lead to a fuller participation in the liturgy. 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

    Educational: Saint Paulin us of Nola ( 352 - 431)

    Saint Paulin us of Nola - Luis Borrassa 1414

    Saint Paulin us of Nola - Luis Borrassa 1414

    Pontius Meropius Paulinus was born c.352 at Bordeaux, in southwestern France. He was from a notable senatorial family with estates in the Aquitaine province of France, northern Spain, and southern Italy. Paulinus was a kinsman of Melania the Elder. He was educated in Bordeaux, where his teacher, the poet Ausonius, also became his friend. At some time during his boyhood he made a visit to the shrine of St Felix at Nola near Naples. His father was the praetorian prefect of Gaul who made certain that his son received a sound education. Paulinus studied rhetoric and poetry and learned from the famed poet Ausonius. He subsequently became a well known lawyer. He became the prefect of Rome, married a Spanish noble lady, Therasia, and led a luxury filled life. Following the death of his son a week after his birth in 390, Paulinus retreated from the world and came to be baptized a Christian by St. Delphinus in Aquitaine. With Therasia, he gave away their property and vast fortune to the poor and to the Church, and they pursued a life of deep austerity and mortifications. About 393, he was forcibly ordained a priest by the bishop of Barcelona.

    Soon after, he moved to an estate near the tomb of St. Nola near Naples, Italy There, he and his wife practiced rigorous asceticism and helped to establish a community of monks. To the consternation of his other relatives, he sold all of their estates in Gaul and gave the money to the poor. He also helped to build a church at Fondi, a basilica near the tomb of St. Felix, a hospital for travelers, and an aqueduct. Many of the poor and sick he brought into his own house, and he lived as a hermit with several of his friends. In 409, he was elected bishop of Nola, serving in this office with great distinction until his death. He was a friend and correspondent of virtually all of the leading figures of his era, including Sts. Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, Martin of Tours, and Pope Anastasius I. Paulinus was also a gifted poet, earning the distinction of being one of the foremost Christian Latin poets of the Patristic period, an honor he shares with Prudentius. Paulinus retained much of the style of the old classical poets, and composed most of the poems in honor of the feast of St. Felix. He is the author of a body of extant works including fifty-one letters, thirty-two poems, and several prose pieces.

    -taken from: www.catholic.org

    Liturgical Tips

    Popular Devotional Practices:

    Basic Questions and Answers, Part 1

    1. What are the origins of popular devotions?

    Unlike the sacraments themselves, popular devotions ca1mot be traced directly back to the ministry of Jesus and the practice of the Apostles. Most developed gradually over the years and even centuries as people sought ways of living out their faith. The origins of the more ancient devotions are often rather obscure. Some devotions, such as the rosary and scapulars, have come down to us as adaptations of the practices of religious orders. A few, such as devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Miraculous Medal, are considered to have their origin in a private revelation, that is, some vision or message given to one of the faithful.

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

    Educational: Saint Anthony of Padua (1195 - 1231)

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    Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born into a wealthy family and by the age of fifteen asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, the then capital of Portugal. During his time in the Abbey, he learned theology and Latin.

    Following his ordination to the priesthood, he was named guestmaster and was responsible for the abbey's hospitality. When Franciscan friars settled a small hermitage outside Coimbra dedicated to Saint Anthony of Egypt, Fernando felt a longing to join them. Fernando eventually received permission to leave the Abbey so he could join the new Franciscan Order. When he was admitted, he changed his name to Anthony.

    Anthony then traveled to Morocco to spread God's truth, but became extremely sick and was returned to Portugal to recover. The return voyage was blown off-course and the party arrived in Sicily, from which they traveled to Tuscany. Anthony was assigned to the hermitage of San Paolo after local friars considered his health. As he recovered, Anthony spent his time praying and studying.

    An undetermined amount of time later, Dominican friars came to visit the Franciscans and there was confusion over who would present the homily. The Dominicans were known for their preaching, thus the Franciscans assumed it was they who would provide a homilist, but the Dominicans assumed the Franciscans would provide one. It was then the head of the Franciscan hermitage asked Anthony to speak on whatever the Holy Spirit told him to speak of. Though he tried to object, Anthony delivered an eloquent and moving homily that impressed both groups. Soon, news of his eloquence reached Francis of Assisi, who held a strong distrust of the brotherhood's commitment to a life of poverty. However, in Anthony, he found a friend.

    Anthony occasionally taught at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but he performed best in the role of a preacher. So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, most unlettered and the innocent could understand his messages. It is for this reason he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

    He was only 36-years-old when he died and was canonized less than one year afterward by Pope Gregory IX. Upon exhumation some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it. He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus and is commonly referred to today as the "finder of lost articles."

    -taken from: www.catholic.org

     

    Liturgical Tips

    Feasts of Mary and of the Saints

    The mystery of Christ, unfolded through the cycle of the year, calls us to live his mystery in our own lives. This call is best illustrated in the lives of Mary and the saints, celebrated by the Church throughout the year. There is no tension between the mystery of Christ and the celebration of the saints, but rather a marvelous harmony. The Blessed Virgin Mary is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son, and the feasts of all the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in his servants and offer the faithful fitting examples for their imitation. In the feasts of Mary and of the saints, the Paschal Mystery of Christ is proclaimed and renewed.

    -http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/index.cfm

    Educational: Saint Peter of Verona, O.P. (1205 - 1252)

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    Peter of Verona was an inquisitor and martyr born in Verona, Italy, in 1205. His parents were adherents of the Manichrean heresy, which still survived in northern Italy in the thirteenth century. Sent to a Catholic school, and later to the University of Bologna, he there met St. Dominic, and entered the Order of the Friars Preachers. Such were his virtues, severity of life and doctrine, talent for preaching, and zeal £or the Faith, that Gregory IX made him general inquisitor, and his superiors destined him to combat the Manichrean errors. In that capacity he evangelized nearly the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and Como. Crowds came to meet him and followed him wherever he went; and conversions were numerous. He never failed to denounce the vices and errors of Catholics who confessed the Faith by words, but in deeds denied it. The Manichreans did all they could to compel the inquisitor to cease from preaching against their errors and propaganda. Persecutions, calumnies, threats, nothing was left untried.

    When returning from Como to Milan, he met a certain Carino who with some other Manichreans had plotted to murder him. The assassin struck him with an axe on the head with such violence, that the holy man fell half dead. Rising to his knees he recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles, and offering his blood as a sacrifice to God he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground the words: "Credo in Deum". The murderer then pierced his heart. The body was carried to Milan and laid in the church of St. Eustorgio, where a magnificent mausoleum, the work of Balduccio Pisano, was erected to his memory. He wrought many miracles when living, but they were even more numerous after his martyrdom, so that Innocent IV canonized him on March 25, 1253.

    -taken from: www.newadvent.org

    Liturgical Tips

    Ordinary Time

    Christmas Time and Easter Time highlight the central mysteries of the Paschal Mystery, namely, the incarnation, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time, on the other hand, take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.

    Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

    -http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/ordinary-time.cfm