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From KITV.com

The Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican has voted to canonize Father Damien of Molokai to sainthood.

After the verification of two medical miracles, after decades of investigation into the life and works of Damien De Veuster, the Consisterie at the Vatican has at long last voted to elevate the Martyr of Molokai to its Pantheon of Saints. The measure now awaits the signature of Pope Benedict XVI.

Read the rest here.

Despite the heretical and offensive reference to the “Pantheon of saints” mentioned in the article, this is great news.

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Wow! A local man may be the recipient of a miracle through the intercession of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II.

From the Standard Times:

With neck bent and gripping forearm crutches, Jose Amaral slowly climbed the stairs to the Bullard Street entrance of St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Once settled in the pew near the door, he stowed the crutches until it was time to receive Holy Communion. Then, with great devotion, he made the painful journey to the altar.

When Mr. Amaral was 19, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which caused him great discomfort and pain.

“I also have had for years arthritis all over,” he said.

In February 2003, Mr. Amaral’s condition worsened. He collapsed at work and was diagnosed with cervical myelopathy, a stroke of the spine.

“The neurologist and neurosurgeon both said that there was considerable nerve damage. I’ve gotten progressively worse and had to have five surgeries.”

On Jan. 26, Mr. Amaral was reading from a booklet of meditations on the Gospel when his eyes fell on the passages about Jesus curing the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26).

“You remember the story,” he said. “Jesus first healed the paralyzed man of his sins and then cured him of his physical paralysis.”

Mr. Amaral said that he went to confession that afternoon so that Jesus could heal him of his sins.

“Something happened during that confession that I cannot explain,” he said. “But I felt different.”

Later that night, Mr. Amaral was thinking about the experience in the confessional, and his eyes lit upon a picture he had beside him of Pope John Paul II.

“Pope John Paul the Great, please help me,” he prayed. “Help me to understand God’s will.”

Turning on the TV to EWTN, he watched the movie, “Witness to Hope,” a biography of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II.

“That is when something came over me that is very difficult to explain,” he said. “I just kept remembering the late pope’s words, ‘Be not afraid!'”

Over the next few days, Mr. Amaral said that he began to walk a little better with his forearm crutches.

“But I didn’t say anything about it to anyone,” he said. “I was very calm and peaceful.”

On Jan. 30 at 3 p.m., Mr. Amaral prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and looked over at Pope John Paul II’s picture.

“I decided to get up and try to walk around without my crutches,” he said. “I just walked back and forth, and I didn’t stop — and I’ve never stopped since. My strength came all at once.”

Mr. Amaral attended morning Mass on Feb. 2, and after the service, he approached the sacristy.

“I was taking off my vestments, and then all of a sudden I saw him,” said the Rev. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony’s. “He was standing completely erect, and I had never seen him stand erect. I knew then as a person who had been trained as a scientist and worked at Mass. General for five years that the only way that happens is by direct intervention of the Lord.”

The Rev. Landry said that his eyes welled up with tears and the men embraced and cried together.

“One of the most beautiful moments in my priestly life was when I saw him leaving the church, and this man whom I had never seen walk before, genuflected to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I’ll never forget that. Awesome.”

Editor’s note: The Rev. Landry has written a letter to the procurator at the Vatican relating Mr. Amaral’s healing through the intercession of Pope John Paul II. A medically certifiable miracle is required for the late pontiff’s canonization. Mr. Amaral visited his doctor last week and related that the physician had no scientific explanation for the healing. Last weekend, Mr. Amaral went shopping at the local Target for the first time and bought a pair of sneakers and a football.

If you are wondering, yes it is the Fr. Landry from EWTN and the Catholic Preaching site.

In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented the Instruction “Sanctorum Mater” for conducting diocesan or eparchial enquiries in the causes of saints.

Cardinal Saraiva was accompanied by Archbishop Michele Di Ruberto and Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In his remarks, the cardinal affirmed that the aim of the document “is to contribute to ensuring that current norms for the diocesan inquiry of a cause of beatification and canonisation are applied with ever greater care”.

The Instruction is divided into six sections, said Cardinal Saraiva, going on to explain: “The first draws attention to the need for a true reputation of holiness before beginning a process, and explains the duties and roles of the petitioner, the postulator and the competent bishop. The second part describes the preliminary phase of the cause which extends as far as the ‘Nihil Obstat’ of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The third section concerns the instruction of the cause. The fourth part concentrates on the gathering of documentary proof and the fifth on the gathering of proof from witnesses. Finally, the sixth section of the document outlines the procedures for the closing of the inquiry”.

The cardinal then went on to consider the reasons for the publication of the document, pointing out that 25 years have passed since the promulgation by John Paul II of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Divinus Perfectionis Magister’, and of the ‘Normae servandae’ by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Since then, he said, “in some dioceses, certain provisions of the law have not always been understood and, consequently, not been put into practice with the necessary meticulousness, the which has sometimes made it necessary for the congregation to supply clarifications or to ask diocesan curias to correct errors”.

Furthermore, he added, “dioceses do not always have access to specialised individuals with practical experience of the various procedures involved in a cause of canonisation”. For this reason, “it is evident that a practical document, such as this Instruction, was useful, indeed necessary”.

“When the current legislation on causes of saints came into force”, said the cardinal outlining another reason for the publication of the present document, “an unfounded idea became widespread that the traditional methodology … had been substituted by some kind of historical-critical investigation”. And he identified the reason for this confusion in “the fact that the term ‘inquisitio’ used in Latin (the only official text) to designate the procedure of the diocesan phase of a cause of canonisation was translated in Italian as ‘inchiesta’ (inquiry)”. This Instruction, then, highlights “the importance of procedure” in causes of beatification and canonisation, “and accurately highlights the norms that must be observed”.

Turning to the last reason for which the document was published, Cardinal Saraiva noted how, “in the move from the earlier legislation to that in force today, it was unclear to some people that a serious and rigorous verification of the fame of sanctity or martyrdom, undertaken in dioceses, is a prior requirement of absolute importance. Hence, a procedure must not be begin without irrefutable proof that the Servant of God … is held to be a saint or martyr by a considerable number of faithful, who invoke him or her in their prayers and attribute graces and favours to his or her intercession”.

Thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, there have been 20 beatification ceremonies during which 563 Servants of God were beatified (36 confessors and 527 martyrs), including 48 diocesan priests, 485 male and female religious, and 30 lay people, for a total of 509 men and 54 women.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has presided at 31 ceremonies, 18 in Italy and 13 in other countries (Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, France, Poland and Austria).

The canonisation ceremonies celebrated thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI number four (three in Rome and one in Brazil), during which 14 people were canonised (two bishops, four priests, five male religious and three female religious).

The current total of saints and blesseds of this pontificate is 577.

VIS

Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas, the eighth of nine children, was born 1225 into a noble family.

The youngest son of a noble family was traditionally given to the Church, so Thomas was brought to the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino, most likely with the hope that he would eventually become the Abbot there. However, war broke out in 1240 and the Abbey was closed. Thomas went to study and the University of Naples. In Naples, Thomas Aquinas encountered two things which changed the course of his life and Catholicism: the writings of Aristotle, and the Dominicans.
The Order of Preachers had opened a friary in Naples in 1231. Although there were only two friars living there at the time Thomas was there, one had a profound influence on Thomas. John of San Guiliano, introduced Domincan prayer, study and preaching to Thomas.

Although Thomas felt called to the Dominicans, his family had other plans. They thought it a mendicant’s life was beneath him and desired for him to enter the Benedictines and eventually become the Abbot of Monte Cassino. After discovering that he had joined the Dominicans, his father kidnapped Thomas and locked him up, hoping the would change his mind. While under house arrest, Thomas studied the Sentences of Peter Lombard (another driving force in Thomas’ writings) and helped his sister discern a vocation to the Benedictines. As a sort of final test, his brothers brought a prostitute to Thomas. Thomas did not succumb to temptation, but kept her at bay by brandishing a flaming stick and burning a cross on the wall.

Finally, his family realized that there was nothing they could do to prevent Thomas from following his vocation.

In this case, Thomas family desired for Thomas to choose his vocation based on what would bring honor, wealth, and prestige rather than what would give honor, praise, and glory to God. Yes, to be the Abbot of Monte Cassino could be the fulfilment of one’s true vocation, but not if one’s sights were on the externals. How often do we decide what God must want from us or others rather than letting Him tell us Himself? Many times, what God asks of us is not what we want or what we think should be, but He has His reasons. In addition, as the story of St. Thomas Aquinas shows, God has ways of making the events which prevent His plans from becoming realized way of furthering and deepening his will.

In the end, few remember the name of the Benedictine who became the Abbot of Monte Cassino, but St. Thomas Aquinas has become a driving force is Catholic theology. All this from a man who summed up his immense contributions to the faith and study of theology as “straw”.

When one reads the Summa Theologiae or sings one of the five beautiful hymns which Thomas wrote, the thought enters the mind, “How can he have thought this was straw? This is extraordinary!” Yes, it is and I am sure that Thomas knew what an immense contribution he made, but he had seen something better. He had seen a glimpse of the things yet to come. What a comfort! How spectacular must the presence of God be, if it makes the works of St. Thomas seem like straw.

Below is one of the hymns which St. Thomas wrote, Adoro Te Devote. I have posted the Latin first and the English translation below. Yes, if the prayer in verse seven is granted even partially everything in the world will seem like straw.

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quae sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subiicit,
Quia te contemplans, totum deficit.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur;
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius,
Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius.

In Cruce latebat sola Deitas.
At hic latet simul et humanitas:
Ambo tamen credens, atgue confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro paenitens.

Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor,
Deum tamen meum te confiteor:
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.

O memoriale mortis Domini,
Panis vivus vitam praestans homini:
Praesta meae menti de te vivere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.

Pie pellicane Iesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo Sanguine:
Cuius una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud, quod tam sitio,
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beatus tuae gloriae. Amen.

and the translation by E. Caswall

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed:
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.

God only on the Cross lay hid from view;
But here lies hid at once the Manhood too:
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be:
Make me believe Thee ever more and more;
In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.

O thou Memorial of our Lord’s own dying!
O Bread that living art and vivifying!
Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live;
Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.

O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood;
Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
Is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.

Jesu! Whom for the present veil’d I see,
What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me:
That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,
And may be blest Thy glory in beholding. Amen.

Continuing the catechesis he began last week on the subject of St. Augustine, in today’s general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope considered the final years in the life of that Doctor of the Church.

The Holy Father highlighted how, four years before his death, St. Augustine had appointed a successor, Heraclius, as bishop of Hippo, because he “wished to dedicate the years that remained to him to a more profound study of Holy Scripture”.

“What followed were four years of extraordinary intellectual activity” during which time the saint also “intervened to promote peace in the African provinces which were being assailed by barbarian tribes from the south”, said the Pope. He then quoted St. Augustine’s own words – “it is a higher glory to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war” – and highlighted how the siege of Hippo by the Vandals in 429 brought great suffering to the saint.

“Though he was old and tired, Augustine remained at the breach, comforting himself and others with prayer and meditation on the mysterious designs of Providence. … If, indeed, the world grows old, Christ is ever young, and so I invite you: ‘Do not refuse to be rejuvenated with Christ, Who tells you not to fear as ‘your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle’,” said Pope Benedict quoting from the sermons of Augustine. “Hence Christians must not be dejected but make every effort to help those in need”, he added.

After recalling how “Augustine’s house-monastery used to open its doors to welcome his colleagues in the episcopate who came asking for hospitality”, the Holy Father noted that the Doctor of the Church, finally free of commitments, took advantage of his time “to dedicate himself with greater intensity to prayer. He used to say that no-one, bishop, religious or lay person, however irreproachable their behaviour, could face death without adequate penance, and it was for this reason that he continually and tearfully repeated the penitential psalms which he had so often recited with his people”.

The bishop of Hippo died on 28 August 430, said the Pope, “at some uncertain date his body was transferred to Sardinia and thence, around 725, to the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, where it rests today”.

“We discover him ‘living’ in his writings”, said Pope Benedict. “When I read the works of St. Augustine, I do not get the impression that here is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago, rather that he is man of today, a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, to us, with his fresh and topical faith”.

In the saint’s works, “we see the permanent relevance of his faith, of the faith that comes from Christ, the eternal Word incarnate, Son of God and Son of man. And we see”, the Holy Father concluded, “that this is not yesterday’s faith, even though it was preached yesterday, it is today’s because Christ really is – yesterday, today and forever – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and so find the path of life”.
VIS

I finally finished “The Apostles”. It’s an awesome book that I recommend for everyone to read. It is written in a way that is very easy to read, yet it is filled with great insight and interesting details. While it is not groundbreaking and does not introduce anything new, unlike so many modern works, it introduces traditional teaching about the apostles and the early church in a simple way without being watered down.

Here is a quote which deserves to be repeated over and over again.

The saints have not ‘fallen from Heaven’. They are people like us, who also have complicated problems.
Holiness does not consist of never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again, and, especially for reconciliation and forgiveness.

An even greater passage appears in the ninth chapter “Peter the Apostle”. Pope Benedict explains the subtle message behind John 21:15. That blew me away as I read the page over and over. I’ll make you read the book for that one, though. Let me just say that much is lost in the translation we hear at Mass and I now feel cheated because of it. I hope that someday I will hear a homily based on the real text.

Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during today’s general audience, held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, to St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, “a man of passion and of faith, of exalted intelligence and of tireless pastoral activity”, he said.

The Pope made it clear that he intended to dedicate this catechesis to St. Augustine’s biography, leaving the saint’s numerous works to be considered in coming weeks. It could be affirmed, said the Holy Father, that “all the threads of Latin Christian literature lead to Hippo” and that “many of the subsequent developments in Christianity, and in Western culture itself, lead out from this city of Roman Africa where St. Augustine was bishop from 395 to 430”.

The author of the “Confessions”, that “extraordinary spiritual autobiography … with its great concern for the mystery of the self, for the mystery of God hidden in the self”, was born in Tagaste in the year 354, the son of Patricius and of St. Monica. His mother educated him in the Christian faith, which the saint would later abandon despite his persistent interest in the figure of Christ.

Augustine studied rhetoric and grammar, a subject he went on to teach. While in Carthage, he read Cicero’s “Hortensius” because although he had abandoned the practices of the Church he still always sought the truth. The book “awoke in him the love of wisdom”, but “being convinced that without Jesus it is not possible to discover the truth”, and as “Hortensius” contained no mention of Christ, he began to read Sacred Scripture.

However his encounter with the Bible left him disappointed, not only because of the poor Latin style of the translations, but also because “the content matter itself did not satisfy him. In the biblical accounts of wars and other human vicissitudes, he did not find that exalted philosophy,” or “that splendour of the search for truth which characterises it”, said the Pope.

Yet Augustine did not want to live without God and continued to seek “a religion that responded to his desire to find truth … and to draw close to Jesus”. For this reason he was attracted by Manichaeism, the followers of which claimed that theirs was a “completely rational religion”. Their dualist morality attracted the future bishop of Hippo who was convinced he had found the right fusion between “rationality, search for truth, and love for Jesus Christ”; yet Manichaeism proved incapable of resolving the saint’s doubts.

When Augustine moved to Milan he began to frequent the sermons of Ambrose, as a way of improving his own rhetoric. The bishop of Milan taught “a typological interpretation of the Old Testament, as the road that leads to Jesus Christ”. Thus it was that Augustine “discovered the key to understanding the beauty, and even the philosophical profundity, of the Old Testament, and he came to understand all the unity of the mystery of Christ in history, and the synthesis between philosophy, rationality and faith in the Logos, in Christ the eternal Word made flesh”.

Augustine converted to Christianity on 15 August 386, “the end of a long and painful interior journey”, and was baptised on 24 April 387. Ordained a priest in 391 following his return to Africa, he became a bishop four years later. “In his tireless pastoral commitment”, said the Pope, “he was an exemplary bishop, … he supported the poor, … concerned himself with the formation of the clergy and the organisation of monasteries and convents”, and in a very short space of time became “one of the most important exponents of Christianity of that time”.

“The bishop of Hippo”, the Holy Father went on, “exercised a huge influence in his guidance of the Catholic Church in Roman Africa” and stood up against “tenacious and disruptive religious movements and heresies such as Manichaeism, Donatism and Pelagianism”.

Pope Benedict recalled how “Augustine entrusted himself to God every day, until the end of his life”, and how shortly before his death “he asked for the penitential psalms to be written in large letters and hung on the wall so he could see and read them from his bed”. The bishop died on 28 August 430.

VIS

Despite the excitement over the “attack” on Pope Benedict, the audience went on as usual and the real story of today’s audience is the homily he taught on St. Cyprian.

St. Cyprian, “the first African bishop to achieve the crown of martyrdom,” was the subject of Benedict XVI’s catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of 40,000 people.

Cyprian, said the Pope, “was born in Carthage to a rich pagan family” and “converted to Christianity at the age of 35. … He became a priest and later a bishop. In the brief period of his episcopate, he had to face the first two persecutions authorized by imperial edict, that of Decius (250) and that of Valerian (257-258),” following which many faithful “renounced their faith, or at least failed to comport themselves correctly when under trial. These were the so-called ‘lapsi,’ that is, the ‘lapsed’.”

Cyprian was “severe but not inflexible towards the ‘lapsi,’ giving them the chance of forgiveness after an exemplary penance.” The saint also “showed great humanity and was pervaded by the most authentic evangelical spirit in exhorting Christians to offer fraternal help to pagans during the plague.” But he was “irremovable in combating the corruption and sins that devastated the moral life, especially that of avarice.”

“Cyprian wrote many treatises and letters, all of them associated with his pastoral ministry. Little given to theological speculations, he wrote above all for the edification of the community and to encourage the faithful to good behavior.”

In the saint’s works, the Holy Father explained, “the Church is by far the topic most dear to him. He distinguishes between the visible hierarchical Church and the invisible mystical Church, at the same time forcefully affirming that the Church is one, founded upon Peter. He never tires of repeating that ‘whoever abandons the chair of Peter, upon which the Church is founded, deludes himself if he believes he remains in the Church’.”

Hence, “the indispensable characteristic of the Church is unity, as symbolized by the seamless robe of Christ; a unity that finds its foundation in Peter and its perfect realization in the Eucharist,” said the Holy Father. He then referred to Cyprian’s teaching on prayer “which highlights how in the Our Father Christians are shown the correct way to pray.” That prayer refers to “us” and “our” rather than to “me” and “mine,” said the Pope, “so that he who prays does not pray only for himself. Ours is a public and community prayer. … The Christian does not say ‘my Father,’ but ‘our Father,’ even when praying in the privacy of a closed room, because he knows that everywhere and in all circumstances, he is a member of the one Body.”

“Cyprian, then, lies at the origins of that fruitful theological-spiritual tradition that sees the heart as the privileged place of prayer. … It is there that God meets and talks to man, … and man listens to God.”

“Let us make our own that ‘understanding heart’ about which the Bible and the Fathers speak,” the Pope concluded. “We have such great need of it.”

VIS

The Holy Father also spoke about the G-8 summit, which began today.

At the end of today’s general audience, celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope made an appeal to heads of State and government of the G8 countries – the seven most industrialized countries in the world plus the Russian Federation – who are holding their annual summit meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany from June 6 to 8.
The Pope recalled how on December 16, 2006 he had written to Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, at the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union, “thanking her, in the name of the Catholic Church, for the decision to keep the theme of world poverty on the agenda of the G8, with specific reference to Africa. Chancellor Merkel kindly replied to me on 2 February last, assuring me of the G8’s commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

“Now,” he added, “I should like to make a further appeal to the leaders meeting at Heiligendamm, not to retreat from their promises to make a substantial increase in development aid in favor of the most needy populations, especially those of the African continent.

“In this regard, the second Millennium Goal merits special attention: ‘to achieve universal primary education – to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.’ This is an integral part of the attainment of all the other Millennium Goals: it is a guarantee of the consolidation of goals already reached; it is the starting-point for autonomous and sustainable processes of development.

“It must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the field of education, reaching places, particularly in the poorest countries, that State structures often fail to reach. Other Christian Churches, religious groups and organizations of civil society share this educational commitment. According to the principle of subsidiarity, this reality should be recognized, valued and supported by governments and international organizations, among other things by the allocation of sufficient funding, so that greater efficacy may be guaranteed in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Let us hope,” he concluded, “that serious efforts be made to reach these objectives.”

VIS

The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning’s general audience to the figure of St. Justin, philosopher and martyr, the most important of the Apologist Fathers of the second century. The audience took place in St. Peter’s Square and was attended by around 25,000 people.

St. Justin, said the Pope, was born in Samaria around the year 100. He “long sought after the truth” by studying Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity after meeting a mysterious old man who spoke to him “of mankind’s incapacity to satisfy his aspiration to the divine through his own efforts,” then indicated “in the ancient prophets … the path to God and ‘true philosophy’,” exhorting Justin to pray in order to open the “doors of light.”

After his conversion, Justin founded a school in Rome where he taught the new religion to his pupils free of charge. He was denounced for his activities and decapitated during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

In his works “Justin seeks to explain, above all, the divine project of salvation that comes about in Jesus Christ, the Word of God,” said the Holy Father. “All men and women, as rational beings, share in the Logos, they carry in themselves a ‘seed’ and can catch some glimmers of the truth.

“Thus,” he added, “the same Logos that was revealed in prophetic figures to the Jews in the ancient Law, was also partially manifested as ‘seeds of truth’ to the Greeks. … And because Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in its entirety, it follows that ‘everything of beauty that has ever been expressed by anyone belongs to us Christians’.”

Justin, in the conviction that Greek philosophy tends towards Christ, “believed that Christians could draw from that philosophy with complete confidence. … The figure and work of Justin mark the ancient Church’s decisive option in favor of philosophy, rather than of pagan religion,” with which the early Christians rejected “any form of compromise.”

“In fact, pagan religion did not follow the paths of Logos but persisted along those of myth, even though myth was recognized by Greek philosophy as having no foundation in truth. Therefore the decline of paganism was inevitable, stemming as a logical consequence of the removal of religion – reduced to an artificial agglomeration of ceremonies and conventions – from the truth of existence.”

Justin and the other apologists chose “the truth of existence over the myth of convention. … In an age such as our own, marked by relativism in its debate of values, religion and inter-religious dialogue, this is a lesson that must not be forgotten.

At the end of today’s catechesis, the Pope recalled that March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. “May this anniversary,” he said, “favor increased responsibility in the treatment of this sickness and an ever greater solidarity towards those who suffer from it. Upon them and their families I invoke the comfort of the Lord while encouraging the many initiatives the Church promotes in this field.”

VIS

Personal note:
St. Justin Martyr was the first Church Father I studied and his writings were the basis of my very first college paper. In addition, he holds a very special place in my heart because it was by reading his First Apology that I learned the history of the Mass.

Today is the feast day of St. Margaret of Hungary. I knew practically nothing about her until Mass this afternoon, where the Dominicans as school preached about her life and how we can learn from her example. It was powerful stuff and exactly what I needed to hear today.

St. Margaret of Hungary was born in 1242. Her parents were Bela IV, king of Hungary and Croatia and his wife Marie Laskaris. Margaret’s parents dedicated their next child to the Church if Hungary would be freed from the Tartars. Hungary was freed and Margaret was born. She entered the Dominican convent at the age of three.

When Margaret was 18, her father wanted her to marry the Bohemian king, King Ottokar II. She protested this vehemently, wishing to give her life to God and His Church. Saying, “I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the king of Bohemia.”

She practiced severe corporal mortification and was known to spend each Friday in tears, contemplating the suffering of Our Lord.

Margaret died on January 18, 1271 at the age of 29.

She was canonized in 1943 by Pope Pius XII.

Now, what does this have to do with us. Well, everything. Margaret set an example for us that all the riches in the world cannot compare to the wealth of graces which come from God.

As the scripture reading for today, (St. Margaret of Hungary) said:

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne, And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, And I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.

Wisdom 7:7-10

What fitting words for today’s feast. St. Margaret did not turn down figurative jewels and riches, scepter and throne to serve the Lord. They were real, and I am sure they were tempting.

Serving the Lord is not always easy, actually it isn’t even usually easy. We have to think counter-culturally. We have to put aside the things the world tells us is valuable, the jewels, and trappings of power, and pick up the humility, service and self sacrifice. Those things are considered by the world to be sand, but we know the truth.

I as continue on my journey of study and service, it is easy to get caught up and lose focus. I will never become powerful, famous, and definitely will never be wealthy, but that isn’t what matters. It is easy to get caught up in the ways of the world and judge yourself against others. If I think I am holier, smarter or more talented than someone else, in reality I am more sinful, stupider, and less talented.

So, what’s the point of this? I don’t know. Perhaps, I wrote this just to sort things out in my very confused mind. I hope there is someone out there who will find this post at some time and need it just as I needed the readings and homily at Mass today. Perhaps, that is too arrogant an assumption on my part. Let’s just say I am one confused theology student trying to muddle her way though life.

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servusdomini@catholic.org

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