November Feast Days

St.Andrew

Andrew, Peter’s brother, and John were the first disciples to follow the Lord. With tender delicacy the Gospel (John 1:35-42) describes their first meeting with Jesus. Andrew did not belong to the inner circle of the apostles, Peter, James and John, and the evangelists narrate nothing extraordinary about him (John 6:8); but tradition (resting on apocrpyhal Acts) extols his great love of the Cross and of the Savior; and the Church distinguishes him both in the Mass (his name occurs in the Canon and in the Libera since the time of Pope St. Gregory I who had a special devotion to him) and in the Breviary.

The story of his martyrdom rests on the apocryphal Acts which lack historical foundation. The pagan judge exhorted him to sacrifice to the gods. Andrew replied: “I sacrifice daily to almighty God, the one and true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living.” Angered by the reply, Aegeas commanded him to be thrown into prison. With little difficulty the people would have freed him, but Andrew personally calmed the mob and earnestly entreated them to desist, as he was hastening toward an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.

When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from a distance he cried out: “O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.” Forthwith he was nailed to the cross. For two days he hung there alive, unceasingly proclaiming the doctrine of Christ until he passed on to Him whose likeness in death he had so vehemently desired. –The legendary account of our saint’s martyrdom has this value: it presents to us the mysticism of the Cross of later times.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

November Feast Days

BLESSEDS DENIS OF THE NATIVITY AND REDEMPTUS OF THE CROSS

BLESSEDS DENIS OF THE NATIVITY (OCD), AND REDEMPTUS OF THE CROSS (OCD), RELIGIOUS AND MARTYRS

Blessed Denis and Blessed Redemptus died for their faith on 29 November 1638. Both of these two men are interesting as they were late vocations, having had successful careers before becoming Carmelite friars. They both earned the title of the first martyrs of the Carmelite Reform.

Blessed Denis of the Nativity was born Denis Berthelot at Honfleur, France on December 12, 1600. As a young man he sailed abroad to Spain, England and America, becoming a skilled pilot. He worked as a cartographer and naval captain for the kings of France and Portugal. Because of his valor and genius, he became first pilot of the kings of France and Portugal. Some of his cartography, the Maritime Tables, is still preserved in the British Museum.

In 1635, while in Goa, he took counsel with his spiritual director, Father Philip of the Most Trinity, and consequently joined the Discalced Carmelites. He made his profession on Dec. 25, 1636, with the name of Dionysius of the Nativity. He was ordained a priest on Aug. 24, 1638. According to the testimony of the same Father Philip, he was an example of virtue to all the religious, both in the novitiate and after his profession. He was graced with the gift of contemplation; and more than once during prayer he appeared surrounded by heavenly splendors.

Thomas Rodriguez de Cunha ,born in  Portugal in 15 March 1598  had made his own profession as a lay brother in 1615 in the same house, taking the name in religion of Redemptus of the Cross. His early career before becoming a Carmelite included military service in India at Goa. He accompanied the viceroy, Joao Coutinho, Count of Redondo, to India.  He distinguished himself for bravery and had become captain of the guards in Mylapore. He  became acquainted with the Carmelites in Tatta (Sind) and later evinced a desire to join them as a non-cleric.

Shortly after the Ordination to the priesthood of Blessed Denis, the Portuguese ambassador to the sultan of Achen wanted Bl. Denis to join him as a spiritual guide, as well as a Maritime expert.   Brother Redemptus was sent by the superiors of the Order to accompany Father Denis of the Nativity as part of an ambassadorial mission from the Portuguese Empire to the Sultan of Aceh. The mission was led by Dom Francisco Sousa de Castro as ambassador. Father Denis, in turn, took as companion, Brother Redemptus.

The two left Goa with the delegation on Sept. 25, 1638, and after a successful voyage arrived at Achén on Oct. 25.  However, the Sultan of Achen imprisoned them. They were tormented and their persecutors tried mightily to convince them to renounce their Catholic faith and become Muslims. This they steadfastly refused to do and they suffered a cruel death for their Christian faith on November 29, 1638. They were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 10 June 1900.

November Feast Days

St.Catherine Laboure

The fact that Saint Catherine rested her hands on the lap of the Blessed Mother did not make her a saint. She personally worked no miracles, nor did she practice externally heroic charity like other great saints. She was not materially poor as were the children of Fatima and Saint Bernadette… She sprang from upper middle class parents among the meadows and vineyards of Burgundy, France. Her father was an educated man and an excellent farmer living in the village of Fain-les-Moutiers not far from Djon. Her sanctity consists in half a century of faithful service as a simple Daughter of Charity.

As the evening Angelus sounded, Catherine was born of Pierre and Madeleine Louise Labouré on May 2, 1806. She was the ninth child of a family of eleven. Fifteen minutes after her birth, her name was entered on the city records. The next day, she was baptized on the feast of the Finding of The True Cross. It seems more than a coincidence that Catherine was born at the ringing of the Angelus; surely it was God’s charming touch—the heralding by our Lady’s bells of the saint who was to be so highly favored by Mary. Nor was it an accident that Catherine’s name received the prompt attention of the world… certainly it was her holy mother’s intuition that led Madeleine Louise Laboure to call attention to her special child. Even the feast of Catherine’s baptism was prophetic, for Catherine was to find the cross in every turn of her life, to have deep devotion for it, and to see a mysterious vision of the cross.

When Catherine was nine years old, her mother died. After the burial service, little Catherine retired to her room, stood on a chair, took our Lady’s statue from the wall, kissed it, and said: “Now, dear Lady, you are to be my mother.”

After living a year in Paris with her Aunt Margaret, Catherine came back to her father’s home to supervise the household. She was her father’s favorite child, and this efficient, stern, upper middle class farmer depended on her. On January 25, 1818, Catherine received her First Holy Communion. From that day on she arose every morning at 4:00 a.m., walked several miles to church in order to assist at Mass, and to pray.

One day she had a dream in which she saw an old priest say Mass. After Mass, the priest turned and beckoned her with his finger, but she drew backwards, keeping her eye on him. The vision moved to a sick room where she saw the same priest, who said: “My child, it is a good deed to look after the sick; you run away now, but one day you will be glad to come to me. God has designs on you—do not forget it.” Later, she awoke, not knowing the significance of the dream.

Sometime later, while visiting a hospital of the Daughters of Charity, she noticed a priest’s picture on the wall. She asked a sister who he might be, and was told: “Our Holy Founder Saint Vincent de Paul.” Catherine had seen this same priest in the dream.

In January of 1830, Catherine Laboure became a postulant in the hospice of the Daughters of Charity at Catillon-sur-Seine. Three months later, she was again in Paris, this time to enter the Seminary at the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity. Shortly after she entered her new home, God was pleased to grant her several extraordinary visions. On three consecutive days she beheld the heart of Saint Vincent above the reliquary in which his relics were exposed, each time under a different aspect. At other times, she beheld our divine Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament; this would occur especially during Mass when he would appear as he was described in the liturgy of the day.

THE FIRST APPARITION

On the eve of the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, July 19, the Sister Superior spoke to the novices about the virtues of their Holy Founder and gave each of them a piece of cloth from his surplice. Catherine earnestly prayed to Saint Vincent that she might see the mother of God with her own eyes.

She was convinced that she would see the Blessed Virgin Mary that very night. In her conviction, Catherine fell asleep. Before long, a brilliant light and the voice of a child awakened her. “Sister Labouré, come to the Chapel; the Blessed Virgin awaits you.”

Catherine replied: “We shall be discovered.”

The little child smiled, “Do not be uneasy; it is half past eleven, everyone is sleeping… come, I am waiting for you.” She rose quickly and dressed. The hall lights were burning. The locked chapel door swung open at the angel’s touch. Amazed, Catherine found the Chapel ablaze with lights as if prepared for midnight Mass. Quickly she knelt at the communion rail, and suddenly, she heard the rustle of a silk dress… the Blessed Virgin, in a blaze of glory, sat in the director’s chair. The angel whispered: “The Blessed Mother wishes to speak with you.”

First ApparitionCatherine rose, knelt beside the Blessed Mother and rested her hands in the Virgin’s lap. Mary said: “God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world.”

A pain crossed the Virgin’s face.

“Come to the foot of the altar. Graces will be shed on all, great and little, especially upon those who ask for them. You will have the protection of God and Saint Vincent. I always will have my eyes upon you. There will be much persecution. The cross will be treated with contempt. It will be hurled to the ground and blood will flow.” Then after speaking for some time, the Lady like a fading shadow was gone.

Led by the child, Catherine left the chapel, marched up the corridor, and returned to her place in the dormitory. The angel disappeared and as Catherine went to bed, she heard the clock strike two in the morning.

Second Apparition

Catherine lived the normal life of a novice of the Daughters of Charity until Advent. On Saturday, November 27, 1830, at 5:30 p.m., she retired to the Chapel with the other Sisters for evening meditation. Catherine heard the faint swish of silk… she recognized our Lady’s signal. Raising her eyes to the main altar, she saw her beautiful Lady standing on a large globe.

The Virgin Spoke, this time giving a direct order: “Have a Medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”Third Apparition

Catherine asked how she was to have the medal struck. Mary replied that she was to go to her confessor, a Father Jean Marie Aladel saying of this saintly priest: “He is my servant.” Father Aladel at first did not believe Catherine; however, after two years, he finally went to the archbishop who ordered two thousand medals struck on June 20, 1832. When Catherine received her share of these first medals from the hands of the priest she said: “Now it must be propagated.”

The spread of a devotion to the medal urged by Saint Catherine was carried out so swiftly that it was miraculous itself.

We might expect that praise and prominence would be the lot of one so favored by heaven. But she sought none of it; rather, she fled from it. She wanted to be left alone to carry out her humble duties as a Daughter of Charity. For over forty years, she spent her every effort in caring for the aged and infirm, not revealing to those about her that she had been the recipient of our Lady’s medal. The Sisters with whom she lived held her in the highest esteem, and each one longed to be her companion.

In 1876, Catherine felt a spiritual conviction that she would die before the end of the year. Mary Immaculate gave Catherine leave to speak, to break the silence of forty-six years. To her Sister Superior, Catherine revealed the fact that she was the sister to whom the Blessed Mother appeared. On the last day of December 1876, Saint Catherine passed on—once again to the Body of St. Catherine Laboure in Parishands of Mary—this time, however, in heaven.

Today her beautiful remains still lie fresh and serene. When her body was exhumed in 1933, it was found as fresh as the day it was buried. Though she had lived seventy years and was in the grave for fifty-seven years, her eyes remained very blue and beautiful; and in death her arms and legs were as supple as if she were asleep. Her incorrupt body is encased in glass beneath the side altar at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris, beneath one of the spots where our Lady appeared to her.

In the Chapel of the Apparition you can gaze upon the face and the lips that for forty-six years kept a secret which has since shaken the world.

~Source:Amm.org

November Feast Days

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

When Our Lady appeared in Fatima in 1917, the Miraculous Medal was well-established in the Church, having been revealed at the 19th century apparition to St.  Catherine Labouré in the chapel at the Rue du Bac convent in Paris.

The medal was given in this way: Our Lady appeared on a number of occasions to Catherine, who was a member of the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The first apparition was in July 1830, and the Blessed Virgin told her that she wanted to give her, like the Fatima children, a mission, one that would involve her in many trials and difficulties.

She spoke of the upheavals that would afflict the Church and society in France and even said that the “whole world will be plunged into gloom.” But despite that, people should come to the foot of the altar in the Rue du Bac chapel, because there, “graces will be poured out on all those, small, or great, who ask for them with confidence and fervor. Graces will be poured out especially on those who ask for them.”

Her confessor, Father Aladel, was skeptical about all this when Catherine spoke about it to him, but this skepticism quickly vanished when, just over a week later, on July 17, 1830, the prophecies were fulfilled as the revolution began in Paris.

Later that same year, on Saturday, Nov. 27, the date which is now the feast of the Miraculous Medal, Catherine was in the chapel in the evening, when a glorious apparition of Our Lady standing on a globe appeared in the sanctuary. The Blessed Virgin, her lips moving silently in prayer, as she turned her eyes to heaven, wore a white silk dress with a white veil that fell to her feet; in her hands she held a golden ball.

The young Sister saw rings on Our Lady’s fingers encrusted with precious stones, which flashed and glittered. Then she heard an inner voice: “The ball which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular. These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.”

Then, the golden ball vanished, as the third apparition began. The Blessed Virgin stretched out her arms and from her fingers rays of light fell upon the globe at her feet. At this point, an oval frame formed around her which had golden lettering that read: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The inner voice came again to Catherine: “Have a Medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”

Then this whole tableau revolved to reveal a large “M” surmounted by a bar and cross, with two hearts beneath it, one of which was crowned with thorns and the other pierced with a sword, all of which was encircled by twelve stars.

This was the way that Our Lady showed Catherine the design for the new medal, both front and back, and these second and third apparitions express very clearly the idea of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces that, although it has not been solemnly defined, is the general teaching of the Church.

Catherine spoke to Father Aladel about submitting this design of the medal to a Paris engraver. He then went to see the Archbishop of Paris, Archbishop de Quélen, who after asking many searching questions, gave permission for the medal to be struck. The result was that the new medal spread very quickly, giving rise to widespread reports of miracles of grace and nature.

All of this led to an investigation into the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception,” which in turn led to a canonical inquiry in February 1836 that concluded Catherine was of good character, that her apparitions were to be accepted as reliable and that the Medal was supernaturally inspired and responsible for genuine miracles.

By then millions of Miraculous Medals had been produced and were in wide circulation. After all the upheavals caused by the French Revolution, and the more recent revolution in Paris, they helped to restore the traditions of Catholicism among ordinary French people.

Thus, the Miraculous Medal became an important sacramental and was responsible for numerous conversions, including that of the Jewish banker, Alphonse Ratisbonne, in 1842. It also prepared the ground, spiritually, for the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.

Like the Fatima seers, Catherine’s life after the apparitions was no bed of roses, and she was not destined to bask in celebrity status as a recognized seer – in fact she remained completely anonymous as regards what happened in 1830, and settled down into the routine of looking after old men at a hospice.

Catherine died on Dec. 31, 1876, but when her body was disinterred in May 1933 at the time of her beatification, it was found to be incorrupt. She was canonized in 1947 and Pope John Paul II visited the Rue du Bac convent in May 1980, to pray before the statue of the Virgin with the globe.

A number of saintly Marian figures from the 20th century were great supporters of the Miraculous Medal, including St. Maximilian Kolbe, Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary, and St. Mother Teresa.

St. Maximilian actually had the inspiration for the founding of his organization, the Militia Immaculate, during the 75th anniversary year of the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, following a meditation he heard on this conversion experience. This led St. Maximilian to choose the Miraculous Medal as the emblem of his new society, and he was zealous in using it to gain converts.

St. Mother Teresa, too, had a great love for the Miraculous Medal and used to press medals into the hands of those who flocked to see her. To this day, her Sisters distribute millions of these medals each year.

The Miraculous Medal is an important sacramental and the promises attached to it by Our Lady are just as necessary and efficacious today as they were in the 19th century. It would be good if more Catholics handed out Miraculous medals to those they come into contact with, safe in the knowledge that Our Lady will impart copious graces to them.

~Source:bluearmy.com

November Feast Days

St.Leonard of Port Maurice

Leonard, called “the great missionary of the 18th century” by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, was another Franciscan who tried to go to the foreign missions (China), failed at that and succeeded tremendously in some other work.

Leonard’s father was a ship captain whose family lived in Port Maurice on the northwestern coast of Italy. At 13, Leonard went to Rome to live with his uncle Agostino and study at the Roman College. Leonard was a good student and was destined for a career in medicine. In 1697, however, he joined the Friars Minor, a decision that his uncle opposed bitterly.

After ordination Leonard contracted tuberculosis and was sent to his hometown to rest or perhaps to die. He made a vow that if he recovered he would dedicate his life to the missions and to the conversion of sinners. He soon was able to begin his 40-year career of preaching retreats, Lenten sermons and parish missions throughout Italy. His missions lasted 15 to 18 days, and he often stayed an additional week to hear confessions. He said: “I believe that in those days the real and greatest fruit of the mission is gathered. As much good is done in these days as during the mission.”

As a means of keeping alive the religious fervor awakened in a mission, Leonard promoted the Stations of the Cross, a devotion which had made little progress in Italy up to this time. He also preached regularly on the Holy Name of Jesus.

Since he realized that he needed time simply to pray alone, Leonard regularly made use of the ritiros (houses of recollection) that he helped establish throughout Italy.

Leonard was canonized in 1867; in 1923 he was named patron of those who preach parish missions.

November Feast Days

Blessed Miguel Pro

Miguel Pro was born January 13, 1891, at Guadalupe Zacatecas, Mexico. From his childhood, high spirits and happiness were the most outstanding characteristics of his personality. The loving and devoted son of a mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes which he retained all his life.

At 20, he became a Jesuit novice and shortly thereafter was exiled because of the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua and Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered greatly from a severe stomach problem and when, after several operations his health did not improve, in 1926 his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the religious persecution in the country.

The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. Father Pro spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. He adopted many disguises to carry out his secret ministry. In all that he did, he remained filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King, and obedient to his superiors.

Falsely accused in a bombing attempt on the President-elect, Pro became a wanted man. He was betrayed to the police and sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On the day of his death, Father Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold, and died proclaiming “Long Live Christ the King!”

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

November Feast Days

Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti

Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti was born on February 10, 1827 in Veroli, Italy as Anna Felicia Viti.Her father was a gambler and a heavy drinker. After her mother died when she was 14 years old, she cared for her eight younger siblings. She also worked as a servant to support the family.

Anna joined the Benedictines in Veroli, Italy on March 21, 1851 at the age of 24, taking the religious name of Sister Maria Fortunata. She spent more 70 years in the monastery, always faithful to the Rule of “Prayer and Work” and to her personal motto: “Oh, the power and love of God.” Her work consisted of simple tasks: spinning, sewing, washing, mending. Sister Maria never learned to read or write and she never held a position in her house, but she had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Her prayers were very powerful, and she had a special insight into recognizing the needs of others. When they came to her discouraged or burdened, she encouraged them, reminding them: “Short is the suffering, eternal the joy!”

Religious and lay people alike learned from her quiet, humble, happy, and prayerful example. Blessed Maria Fortunata died on November 20, 1922 in Veroli of natural causes. She was put into a mass grave and there are reported miracles at the grave site. She was beatified on October 8, 1967 by Pope Paul VI and awaits canonization.