"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven." --Saint Pope Pius X
APOSTLE OF THE ENGLISH.
[From Bede, b. 1, c. 23, &c., and the Letters and Life of St. Gregory.] A.D. 604.
BUTLER'S LIVES OF THE SAINTS
THE Saxons, English, and Jutes, pagan Germans, who in this island began in 454 to expel the old Britons into the mountainous part of the country, had reigned here about one hundred and fifty years, when God was pleased to open their eyes to the light of the gospel. St. Gregory the Great, before his pontificate, had desired to become himself their apostle ; but was hindered by the people of Rome, who would by no means suffer him to leave that city. This undertaking, however, he had very much at heart, and never ceased to recommend to God the souls of this infidel nation. When he was placed in the apostolic chair, he immediately turned his thoughts towards this abandoned part of the vineyard, and resolved to send thither a select number of zealous labourers. For this great work none seemed better qualified than Augustine, then Prior of St. Gregory's monastery, dedicated to St. Andrew in Rome. Him, therefore, the pope appointed superior of this mission, allotting him several assistants who were Roman monks. The powers of hell trembled at the sight of this little troop, which marched against them, armed only with the cross, by which they had been stripped of their empire over men. Zeal and obedience gave these saints courage, and they set out with joy upon an expedition, of which the prize was to be either the conquest of a new nation to Christ, or the crown of martyrdom for themselves. But the devils found means to throw a stumbling-block in their way. St. Gregory had recommended them to several French bishops on their road, of whom they were to learn the circumstances of their undertaking, and prepare themselves accordingly. But when the missionaries were advanced several days' journey, probably as far as Aix, in Provence, certain persons, with many of those to whom they were addressed, exaggerated to them the ferocity of the English people, the difference of manners, the difficulty of the language, the dangers of the sea, and other such obstacles, in such a manner that they deliberated whether it was prudent to proceed; the result of which consultation was, that Augustine should be deputed back to St. Gregory to lay before him these difficulties, and to beg leave for them to return to Rome. The pope, well apprized of the artifices of the devil, saw in these retardments themselves greater motives of confidence in God ; for where the enemy is most active, and obstacles seem greatest in the divine service, there we have reason to conclude that the work is of the greater importance; and that the success will be the more glorious. Souls are never prepared for an eminent virtue and the brightest crowns but by passing; through great trials. This, though often immediately owing to the malice of the devil, is permitted by God, and is an effect of his all-wise providence to raise the fervour of his servants for the exceeding increase of their virtue. St. Gregory, therefore, sent Augustine back with a letter of encouragement to the rest of the missionaries, representing to them the cowardice of abandoning a good work when it is begun; exhorting them not to listen to evil suggestions of railing men, and expressing his desire of the happiness of bearing them company, and sharing in their labours, had it been possible. The temptation being removed, the apostolic labourers pursued their journey with great alacrity, and, taking some Frenchmen for interpreters along with them, landed in the Isle of Thanet, on the east side of Kent, in the year 596, being, with their interpreters, near forty persons. From this place St. Augustine sent to Ethelbert, the powerful King of Kent, signifying that he was come from Rome, and brought him a most happy message, with an assured divine promise of a kingdom which would never have an end. The king ordered them to remain in that island, where he took care they should be furnished with all necessaries, whilst he deliberated what to do. This great prince held in subjection all the other English kings who commanded on this side the Humber; nor was he a stranger to the Christian religion; for his queen, Bertha a daughter of Caribert, King of Paris, was a Christian, and had with her, Luidhard, Bishop of Senlis, for her director and almoner. After some days, the king went in person to the isle, but sat in the open air to admit Augustine to his presence; for he had a superstitious notion that if he came with any magical spell, this would have an effect upon him under the cover of a house, but could have none in the open fields. The religious men came to him in procession, "carrying for their banner a silver cross, and an image of our Saviour painted on a board; and singing the litany as they walked, made humble prayer for themselves, and for the souls of those to whom they came." Being admitted into the presence of the king, they announced to him the word of life. His majesty listened attentively; but answered, that their words and promises indeed were fair, but new, and to him uncertain. However, that since they were come a great way for his sake, they should not be molested, nor hindered from preaching to his subjects. He also appointed them necessary subsistence, and a dwelling-place in Canterbury, the capital city of his dominions. They came thither in procession, singing, and imitated the lives of the apostles, serving God in prayer, watching, and fasting; despising the things of this world, as persons who belonged to another, and ready to suffer or die for the faith which they preached. There stood near the city an old church of St. Martin, left by the Britons. In this was the queen accustomed to perform her devotions, and in it the apostolic preachers began to meet, sing, say mass, preach, and baptize, till the king being converted, they had license to repair and build churches every where. Several among the people were converted, and received the holy sacrament of regeneration; and in a short time the king himself, whose conversion was followed by innumerable others.
Bede says that St. Augustine after this went back to Arles to Etherius, bishop of that city, from whose hands he received the episcopal consecration; but for Etherius we must read Virgilius, who was at that time Archbishop of Arles, Etherius being Bishop of Lyons. The reason why he went so far, seems to have been because the Archbishop of Arles was not only primate, but apostolic legate in Gaul; and Augustine probably wanted his advice in many things. The saint had baptized the king, and was himself ordained bishop before October, 597, within the space of one year ; for the letter of St. Gregory to encourage the missionaries in France to proceed, was dated on the 10th of August, 596. In 598 the same pope wrote to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, that Augustine had been ordained bishop, with his license, by the German prelates ; so he calls the French, because they came from Germany. He adds, "In the last solemnity of our Lord's nativity, more than ten thousand of the English nation were baptized by this our brother and fellow-bishop."
St. Augustine, immediately after his return into Britain, sent Laurence and Peter to Rome to solicit a supply of more labourers, and they brought over several excellent disciples of Pope Gregory ; among whom were Mellitus, the first bishop of London, Justus, the first bishop of Rochester, Paulinus, the first archbishop of York, and Rufinian us, the third abbot of Augustine's. "With this colony of new missionaries, the holy pope sent all things in general for the divine worship and the service of the church, viz. : sacred vessels, altar-cloths, ornaments for churches, and vestments for priests and clerks, relics of the holy apostles and martyrs, and many books," as Bede writes.1 St. Augustine wrote frequently to St. Gregory, whom he consulted in the least difficulties which occurred in his ministry ; which shows the tenderness of his conscience; for in many things which he might have decided by his own learning and prudence, he desired to render his conscience more secure by the advice and decision of his chief pastor. The same pope wrote to the Abbot Mellitus,2 directing the idols to be destroyed, and their temples to be changed into Christian churches, by purifying and sprinkling them with holy water, and erecting altars, and placing relics in them; thus employing the spoils of Egypt to the service of the living God. He permits the celebration of wakes on the anniversary feasts of the dedication of the churches, and on the solemnities of the martyrs, to be encouraged among the people, the more easily to withdraw them from their heathenish riotous festivals.
(1) Bede, Hist. b. 1, c. 29. (2) Ib. c. 30.
The good King Ethelbert laboured himself in promoting the conversion of his subjects during the twenty remaining years of his life ; he enacted wholesome laws, abolished the idols, and shut up their temples throughout his dominions. He thought he had gained a kingdom when he saw one of his subjects embrace the faith, and looked upon himself as king only that he might make the King of kings be served by others. He built Christ-church, the cathedral in Canterbury, upon the same spot where had formerly stood a heathenish temple. He also founded the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul without the walls of that city, since called St. Angustine's, the Church of St. Andrew in Rochester, &c. He brought over to the faith Sebert, the pious King of the East Saxons, and Redwald, King of the East Angles, though the latter, Samaritan-like, worshipped Christ with his idols. Ethelbert reigned fifty-six years, and departed to our Lord in 616. He was buried in the Abbey-church of SS. Peter and Paul, which himself had founded. He had been baptized in the Church of St. Pancras, which St. Augustine had dedicated, and which had been a pagan temple, on that very spot where he built soon after Christ-church, as is mentioned in an old mauscript preserved in the library of Trinity Hall, in Cambridge, quoted by Spelman1 and Tyrrel. St. Ethelbert is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 24th of February.
(1) Conc. Brit. t. i.
St. Gregory, in the year 600, sent, with many noble presents, a letter of congratulation and excellent advice to King Ethel- bert. He in the same year sent to St. Augustine the archiepiscopal pall, with authority to ordain twelve bishops, who should be subject to his metropolitan see; ordering that when the northern English should have embraced the faith, he should ordain a bishop of York who should like-wise be a metropolitan with twelve suffragan bishops.But particular circumstances afterwards required some alterations in the execution of this order. The fame of many miracles wrought by St. Augustine in the conversion of the English having reached Rome, St. Gregory wrote to him,1 exhorting him to beware of the temptation of pride or vain-glory, in the great miracles and heavenly gifts which God showed in the nation which he had chosen. "Wherefore," says he, " amidst those things which you exteriorly perform, always interiorly judge yourself, and thoroughly understand both what you are yourself, and how great a grace is given in that nation for the conversion of which you have even received the gift of working miracles. And if you remember that you have ever at any time offended your Creator either by word or deed, always have that before your eyes, to the end that the remembrance of your guilt may crush the vanity rising in your heart. And whatever you shall receive or have received in relation to the working of miracles, esteem the same not as conferred on you, but on those for whose salvation it hath been given you." He observes to him, that when the disciples returned with joy and said to our Lord, "In thy name be the devils subject unto us," they presently received a rebuke; rejoice not in this, but "rather that your names are written in heaven."
(1) Bede, b. 1, c. 31.
St. Augustine ordained St. Mellitus Bishop of the East Saxons in London, and St. Justus Bishop of Rochester ; and seeing the faith now spread wide on every side, he took upon him, by virtue of his metropolitan and legatine authority, which the pope had conferred upon him over all the bishops of Britain, to make a general visitation of his province. He desired very much to see the ancient Britons, whom the English had driven into the mountains of Wales, reclaimed from certain abuses which had crept in among them, to assist him in his labours in converting the English.
But malice and, an implacable hatred against that nation blinded their understandings and hardened their hearts. However, being on the confines of the Wiccians and West-Saxons, that is, on the edge of Worcestershire, not far from Wales, he invited the British bishops and doctors to a conference. They met him at a place which was called at the time when Bede wrote, Augustine's Oak. The zealous apostle employed both entreaties and exhortations, and required of them three things : First, that they should assist him in preaching the gospel to the pagan English ; secondly, that they should observe Easter at the due time ; and, thirdly, that they should agree with the universal church in the manner of administering baptism. But they obstinately refused to comply with his desires. Whereupon St. Augustine proposed, by a divine impulse, that a sick or impotent person should be brought in, and that their tradition should be followed, as agreeable to God, by whose prayer he should be cured. The condition was accepted, though very unwillingly; and a blind man was brought, and presented first to the British priests, but found no benefit by their prayers or other endeavours. Then Augustine bowed his knees to God, praying that by restoring the sight to this blind man, he would make his spiritual light shine on the souls of many. Upon which the blind man immediately recovered his sight, and the Britons confessed that they believed that the doctrine which Augustine preached was the truth ; but said, that without the general consent of their nation they could not quit their ancient rites and customs. Wherefore they desired that a general synod of their country should be held. Accordingly a second more numerous; council was assembled, in which appeared several British bishops (their annals say seven) and many learned men, especially from the monastery of Bangor, which stood in Flintshire, not far from the river Dee ; not in the city of Bangor in Carnarvonshire. A little before they came, they sent. to consult a famous hermit among them, whether they should receive Augustine or reject his admonitions, and retain their ancient usages. He bade them so to contrive it, that Augustine and his company should come first to the place of the synod, and said, that if he should arise when they approached they should look upon him as humble, and should hear and obey him; but if he should not rise to them that were more in number, then they should despise him. They took this ignorant and blind direction, and instead of weighing the justice and equity of the archbishop's demands, his right, and the truth of his doctrine, committed this important decision to a trifling casual circumstance or punctilio. They had before confessed that he taught the truth, and he had convinced them, both by reasons and a miracle, that he only required of them what charity and obedience to the church in points of discipline obliged them to; nevertheless, revenge and malice against the English made them still stand out and have recourse to the most idle pretence. Strong endeavours to do wrong, God usually punishes with success. It so happened that when they entered the place of the synod, Augustine did not rise from his seat ; whether this was done by in-advertence, or because it might be the custom of the countries where he had been not to use those compliments in public places, at least in synods, any more than churches. But whatever was the occasion, nothing could be more unreasonable than the conclusion which the Britons drew from this circumstance. Had the inference been just, the archbishop did not lose his right, nor was his doctrine the less true. His humility and charity were otherwise conspicuous. He was come so far for their sake, and out of humility was accustomed to travel on foot. Nor did he in this conference mention his own dignity or authority ; he seems even to have waved the point of his primacy ; which from his charity we cannot doubt but he would have been glad to have procured leave to resign to their own Archbishop of St. David's, had the Britons been willing on such terms to have conformed to the discipline of the universal church, and lay aside their rancour against the English. However, upon this ridiculous pretence did that nation remain obstinate in their malice, which St. Augustine seeing, he foretold them, that "if they would not preach to the English the way of life, they would fall by their hands under the judgment of death." This prediction was not fulfilled till after the death of St. Augustine, as Bede expressly testifies,1 when Ethilfrid, King of the northern English, who were yet pagans, gave the Britons a terrible overthrow near Caer-legion, or Chester, and seeing the monks of Bangor praying at a distance, he cried out after the victory : " If they pray against us, they fight against us by their hostile imprecations." And rushing upon them with his army, he slew twelve hundred of them, or, according to Florence of Worcester, two thousand two hundred. For so numerous was this monastery, that being divided into seven companies, under so many superiors, each division consisted of at least three hundred monks, and whilst some were at work, others were at prayer. Their obstinate refusal of the essential obligation of charity towards the English was a grievous crime, and drew upon them this chastisement ; but we hope the sin extended no further than to some of the superiors. This massacre was predicted by St. Augustine as a divine punishment ; but those who accuse him as an instigator of it are strangers to the spirit and bowels of most tender charity, which the saint bore towards all the world, who knew no other arms against impenitent sinners and persecutors than those of compassion, and tears and prayers for their conversion.
1) Hist. lib. ii. c. 2.
And long before the accomplishment of this threat and prophecy, in 607, St. Augustine was translated to glory, as appears from several circumstances related by Bede himself, though the year of his death is not expressed by that historian, nor in his epitaph, which seems composed before the custom of counting dates by the era of Christ was introduced in this island, though it began to be used at Rome by Dionysius Exiguus, an abbot, in 550.
St. Augustine, whilst yet living, ordained Laurence his successor in the see of Canterbury, not to leave at his death an infant church destitute of a pastor. He died on the 26th of May,—and, as William Thorn says, from a very ancient book of his life, in the same year with St. Gregory, viz.,—604, which Mr. Wharton proves from several other authorities.1 Goscelin, a monk of Canterbury, in 1096, besides two lives of St. Augustine, compiled a book of his miracles wrought since his death, and a history of the translation of his relics in 1091, which was accompanied with several miracles, to which this author was an eye-witness. This work is given at length by Papebroke on this day. The second Council of Clove-shoe (that is, Cliffe), in Kent, in 747, under Archbishop Cuthbert, Ethelbald, King of Mercia, being present, commanded2 his festival to be kept a holiday by all the clergy and religious, and the name of St. Augustine to be recited in the Litany immediately after that of St. Gregory. The body of St. Augustine was deposited abroad till the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, near the walls of Canterbury, which King Ethelbert built for the burying-place of the kings and archbishops, was finished, when it was laid in the porch, with this epitaph, which is preserved
(1) Anglia Sacra, t. i. p. 89. (2) Wilkins, Concil. Britan. t. i. p. 97.
by Camden in his Remains,1 and by Weever in his Funeral Monuments :2 " Here rests Lord Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, who being sent hither by the blessed Gregory, Bishop of Rome, and by God upheld by the working of miracles,3 brought King Ethelbert and his nation from idolatry to the faith of Christ ; and having completed the days of his office in peace, died on the seventh day before the calends of June, in the reign of the same king." In the same porch were interred also the six succeeding archbishops—Laurence, Mellitus, Justus, Honorius, Deusdedit, and Theodorus. These in their epitaph are called the seven patriarchs of England. The porch being by that time full, and the custom beginning to allow persons of eminent dignity and sanctity to be buried within churches, St. Brithwald, the eighth archbishop, was interred in the church of this abbey in 731 ; and near him his successor, St. Tatwin. Weever says, besides the first archbishops and the kings of Kent, thousands of others were here interred ; but by the demolition of this monastery "not one bone at this time remains near another, nor one stone almost on another, the tract of this most goodly foundation no where appearing." One side of the walls of King Ethelbert's Tower, the gates, houses, and some ruins of the out-buildings, are still standing ; but the site of the abbey cannot be traced, and the ground is a cherry orchard. This was the great abbey which some time after changed the name of SS. Peter and Paul for that of St. Augustine's. But the remains of our saint were afterwards removed hence into the north porch of the Cathedral of Christchurch, within the city ; and en the 6th of September, 1091, leaving in that place some part of the ashes and lesser bones, Abbot Wido translated the remainder into the church, where they lay for some time in a strong urn in the wall under the east window. In 1221 the head was put into a rich shrine, ornamented with gold and precious stones ; the rest of the bones lay in a marble tomb, enriched with fine carvings and engravings, till the dissolution.
(1) Camden's Remains, p. 350. 2) Weever's Funeral Monuments, p. 244. (3) A Deo operatione miraculorum auffultus.
Cuthbert, the eleventh archbishop, was the first person buried in Christchurch, in 759, since which time it had been the usual burying-place of the archbishops, till the change of religion ; for none of the Protestant archbishops have hitherto been there interred. In the Cathedral of Christchurch were the shrines of St. Thomas, St. Wilfride (whose relics were translated from Rippon by Odo), St. Dunstan, St. Elphege, St. Anselm, St. Odo, St. Blaise, bishop, St. Owen, Archbishop of Rouen, St. Salvius, bishop, St. Woolgam, St. Swithun, &c. Battely1 and Dr. Brown Willis2 justify the monks of Christchurch from the crimes laid to their charge at the dissolution, but say the riches of their church were their crime. Also the ingenious Mr. Wharton, under the name of Antony Harmer, in his Specimen of Errors in Bishop Burnet's History of the Reformation, p. 48, takes notice, that whereas the monks of Christchurch in Canterbury and those of Battel Abbey were principally charged with enormous irregularities at the dissolution of abbeys, their innocence in both places, especially the former, is notorious from several evident circumstances. Christchurch at Canterbury was rated at the dissolution at two thousand three hundred and eighty-seven pounds per annum ; St. Augustine's, in the same place, at one thousand four hundred and thirteen pounds according to Dugdale.
(1) Antiquities of Canterbury. (2) T. t. p. 39.
INTERCESSORY PRAYER: SAINT AUGUSTINE, PLEASE PRAY FOR ME [STATE YOUR PRAYER REQUEST.]
ST. PHILIP NERI.
PHILIP was one of the noble line of
Saints raised up by God in the sixteenth century to console and bless His
Church. After a childhood of angelic beauty, the Holy Spirit drew him away from
Florence, the place of his birth, showed him the world, that he might freely
renounce it, led him to Rome, modelled him in mind and heart and will, and then,
as by a second Pentecost, came down in visible form and filled his soul with
light and peace and joy. He would have gone to India, but God reserved him for
Rome. There he went on simply from day to day, drawing souls to Jesus,
exorcising them in mortification and charity, and binding them together by
cheerful devotions; thus, unconsciously to himself, under the hands of Mary, as
he said, the Oratory grew up, and all Rome was pervaded and transformed by its
spirit. His life was a continuous miracle, his habitual state an ecstasy. He
read the hearts of men, foretold their future, knew
their eternal destiny. His touch gave health of body; his very look calmed souls
in trouble and drove away temptations. He was gay, genial, and irresistibly
winning; neither insult nor wrong could dim the
brightness of his joy.
Philip lived in an
atmosphere of sunshine and gladness which brightened all who came near him. "
When I met him in the street," says one, "he would pat my cheek and say, ' Well,
how is Don Pellegrino ?' and leave me so full of joy that I could not tell which
way I was going." Others said that when he playfully pulled their hair or their
ears, their hearts would bound with joy. Marcio Altieri felt such
overflowing gladness in his presence that he said Philip's room was a paradise
on earth. Fabrizio de Massimi would go in sadness or perplexity and stand at
Philip's door; he said it was enough to see him, to be near him. And long after
his death, it was enough for many, when troubled, to go into his room, to find
their hearts lightened and gladdened. He inspired a boundless confidence and
love, and was the common refuge and consoler of all. A gentle jest would convey
his rebukes and veil his miracles. The highest honors sought him out, but he put
them from him. He died in his eightieth year, A.D. 1595, and bears the grand
title of Apostle of Rome.
REFLECTION.--Philip wished his children to serve God, like the first Christians, in gladness of heart. He said this was the true filial spirit ; this expands the soul, giving it liberty and perfection in action, power over temptations, and fuller aid to perseverance.
INTERCESSORY PRAYER -- If you have a specific spiritual need or know someone who is ill and in need of healing, ask Saint Philip to obtain help for you from God.
Book of Sirach
Thus they will know, as we know, that there is no God but you.
Give new signs and work new wonders; show forth the splendor of your right hand and arm;
Gather all the tribes of Jacob, that they may inherit the land as of old,
Show mercy to the people called by your name; Israel, whom you named your first-born.
Take pity on your holy city, Jerusalem, your dwelling place.
Fill Zion with your majesty, your temple with your glory.
Give evidence of your deeds of old; fulfill the prophecies spoken in your name,
Reward those who have hoped in you, and let your prophets be proved true.
Hear the prayer of your servants, for you are ever gracious to your people;
Thus it will be known to the very ends of the earth that you are the eternal God.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
May your compassion quickly come to us,
For we are brought very low.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
With your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
Will give thanks to you forever;
Through all generations we will declare your praise.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10:32-45.
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him.
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles
who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise."
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
He replied, "What do you wish (me) to do for you?"
They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left."
Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
They said to him, "We can." Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Commentary of the day : The Roman Missal
“We are on our way up to Jerusalem”
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.
Today we keep the festival of your holy city,
the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother.
Around your throne
the saints, our brothers and sisters,
sing your praise for ever.
Their glory fills us with joy,
And their communion with us in your Church
gives us inspiration and strength
as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith,
eager to meet them.
With their great company and all the angels
we praise your glory
as we cry out with one voice:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts!
Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
1673 - 1716
Feast Day: April 28th
Grignion was born in the village of Montfort in Brittany on 31st January 1673, but spent most of his childhood at Iffendic, a small town a few miles away. At the age of twelve he was sent to the Jesuit College of St. Thomas Becket at Rennes, where he remained for eight years.
The assurance that he was called to the priesthood came to him when he was praying before the statue of our Lady in the Carmelite church at Rennes, and unexpectedly an opportunity was offered to him to study in Paris. So at the age of twenty he set off for the capital, walking the whole 200 miles as an expression of the poverty he had joyfully embraced. He gave away all the money he had to beggars, as well as the new suit he had received. Then, kneeling down in the road, he resolved never to possess anything of his own but to rely entirely on the loving providence of his heavenly Father.
He began his studies at St. Sulpice and attended the University of Paris. Among many gifted and devout students, he was outstanding both for his intellectual abilities and for the holiness of his life.
After his ordination in 1700 his great desire was to go to the foreign missions, preferably to the new French colony of Canada, but his spiritual director advised against it, and he chose a life of missionary work in France.
All was not well with the French Church of his day. What especially troubled Fr. de Montfort was the lack of priests to minister to the people's needs, and the widespread ignorance of the faith. A short experience in the parishes caused him to write to his director, "Seeing the needs of the Church, I cannot help praying continually for a small society of poor priests who, under the protection of the Virgin Mary, will go from parish to parish, instructing the poor in the faith, relying solely on divine providence".
That aim and desire remained with him throughout the years of his unceasing missionary work, as he walked from diocese to diocese. Because of his unconventional way of life, his outspoken condemnation of what was wrong, and his firm opposition to the erroneous doctrines of his day, he made many enemies. In fact, due to the intrigues of influential people, he was requested to leave more than one diocese and to carry on his ministry elsewhere.
On account of the disapproval he met in various places, he began to wonder whether he was following the path God wanted. For him there was only one way to find out. He would go to Rome and put the matter to the Holy Father himself.
As always, he travelled the thousand miles or so on foot, and on reaching Rome was able to have a private audience with the Pope. Clement Xl, having heard his difficulties, assured him his vocation lay in evangelising France, and commissioned him to continue his missionary work - to catechise the children, to instruct the poor in the knowledge of their faith, and to encourage people to renew their baptismal promises, but always to work under the guidance of the diocesan authorities.
He left the Holy Father, his mind at rest, and endowed with the title of Missionary Apostolic to give authority to his teaching. There were only sixteen years between his ordination to the priesthood and his death, but they were full years. He went from parish to parish renewing the Catholic life of the West of France, preaching and instructing, providing for the poor, teaching catechism, organizing the building of shrines, renovating broken-down churches, and establishing schools.
All this strenuous apostolic work, added to his long journeys always on foot, his unceasing penances, and an attempt on his life by poisoning - all took their toll of his sturdy constitution. In 1716, while preaching a mission in the village of St-Laurent-sur-Sevre, he became gravely ill. He struggled into the pulpit to give his last sermon, which was significantly on the kindness of Jesus.
In the afternoon of April 28th it became evident that death was near. He kissed the crucifix and the little statue of our Lady which he held in his hands. Then he exclaimed, "In vain do you attack me, I am between Jesus and Mary. I have finished my course: all is over. I shall sin no more". Then he died peacefully.
Thousands came to pay him their respects before he was buried in St-Laurent, and ever since his tomb in the parish church has been a place of pilgrimage. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 20th 1947, and his feast is kept on the anniversary of his death, April 28th.________
TREATISE ON TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
(THE PREPARATION FOR THE REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST)
213. My dear friend, be sure that if you remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out, the following effects will be produced in your soul:
By the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through Mary, his faithful spouse, you will perceive the evil inclinations of your fallen nature and how incapable you are of any good apart from that which God produces in you as Author of nature and of grace. As a consequence of this knowledge you will despise yourself and think of yourself only as an object of repugnance. You will consider yourself as a snail that soils everything with its slime, as a toad that poisons everything with its venom, as a malevolent serpent seeking only to deceive. Finally, the humble Virgin Mary will share her humility with you so that, although you regard yourself with distaste and desire to be disregarded by others, you will not look down slightingly upon anyone.
214. Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints. Now that she is reigning in heaven she no longer has this faith, since she sees everything clearly in God by the light of glory. However, with the consent of almighty God she did not lose it when entering heaven. She has preserved it for her faithful servants in the Church militant. Therefore the more you gain the friendship of this noble Queen and faithful Virgin the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life. It will cause you to depend less upon sensible and extraordinary feelings. For it is a lively faith animated by love enabling you to do everything from no other motive than that of pure love. It is a firm faith, unshakable as a rock, prompting you to remain firm and steadfast in the midst of storms and tempests. It is an active and probing faith which like some mysterious pass-key admits you into the mysteries of Jesus Christ and of man's final destiny and into the very heart of God himself. It is a courageous faith which inspires you to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for God and the salvation of souls. Lastly, this faith will be your flaming torch, your very life with God, your secret fund of divine Wisdom, and an all-powerful weapon for you to enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. It inflames those who are lukewarm and need the gold of fervent love. It restores life to those who are dead through sin. It moves and transforms hearts of marble and cedars of Lebanon by gentle and convincing argument. Finally, this faith will strengthen you to resist the devil and the other enemies of salvation.
215. The Mother of fair love will rid your heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to obey the commandments of her Son with alacrity and with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will fill your heart with pure love of which she is the treasury. You will then cease to act as you did before, out of fear of the God who is love, but rather out of pure love. You will look upon him as a loving Father and endeavour to please him at all times. You will speak trustfully to him as a child does to its father. If you should have the misfortune to offend him you will abase yourself before him and humbly beg his pardon. You will offer your hand to him with simplicity and lovingly rise from your sin. Then, peaceful and relaxed and buoyed up with hope you will continue on your way to him.
216. Our Blessed Lady will fill you with unbounded confidence in God and in herself: 1) Because you will no longer approach Jesus by yourself but always through Mary, your loving Mother. 2) Since you have given her all your merits, graces and satisfactions to dispose of as she pleases, she imparts to you her own virtues and clothes you in her own merits. So you will be able to say confidently to God: "Behold Mary, your handmaid, be it done unto me according to your word." 3) Since you have now given yourself completely to Mary, body and soul, she, who is generous to the generous, and more generous than even the kindest benefactor, will in return give herself to you in a marvellous but real manner. Indeed you may without hesitation say to her, "I am yours, O Blessed Virgin, obtain salvation for me," or with the beloved disciple, St. John, "I have taken you, Blessed Mother, for my all." Or again you may say with St. Bonaventure, "Dear Mother of saving grace, I will do everything with confidence and without fear because you are my strength and my boast in the Lord," or in another place, "I am all yours and all that I have is yours, O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things. Let me place you as a seal upon my heart, for your love is as strong as death." Or adopting the sentiments of the prophet, "Lord, my heart has no reason to be exalted nor should my looks be proud; I have not sought things of great moment nor wonders beyond my reach; nevertheless, I am still not humble. But I have roused my soul and taken courage. I am as a child, weaned from earthly pleasures and resting on its mother's breast. It is upon this breast that all good things come to me." 4) What will still further increase your confidence in her is that, after having given her in trust all that you possess to use or keep as she pleases, you will place less trust in yourself and much more in her whom you have made your treasury. How comforting and how consoling when a person can say, "The treasury of God, where he has placed all that he holds most precious, is also my treasury." "She is," says a saintly man, "the treasury of the Lord."
217. The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. As St. Ambrose says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!" "When will that happy day come," asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, "when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?" When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: "Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!"
THE POWER AND THE BLESSINGS THAT COME FROM PRAYING THE ROSARY
THE FIFTEEN PROMISES OF MARY TO CHRISTIANS WHO RECITE THE ROSARY
These promises were given by the Blessed Mother to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan.
Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall
receive signal graces.
The Chaplet of St. Michael
One day, Saint Michael the Archangel appeared to Antonia d'Astonac, a most devout Servant of God and told her that he wished to be honoured by nine salutations corresponding to the nine Choirs of Angels, which should consist of one Our Father and three Hail Marys in honour of each of the Angelic Choirs.
Promises of St. Michael
"Whoever would practice this devotion in his honour would have, when approaching the Holy Table, an escort of nine angels chosen from each of the nine Choirs. In addition, for the daily recital of these nine salutations, he promised his continual assistance and that all the holy angels during life, and after death deliverance from Purgatory for themselves and all their relations."
The Chaplet of St. Michael
O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, etc.
[Say one Our Father and three Hail Marys after each of the following nine salutations in honor of the nine Choirs of Angels]
[STATE YOUR PRAYER REQUEST]
1. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Seraphim may the Lord make us worthy
to burn with the fire of perfect charity.
2. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Cherubim may the Lord grant us the
grace to leave the ways of sin and run in the paths of Christian
3. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Thrones may the Lord infuse into our
hearts a true and sincere spirit of humility.
4. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Dominations may the Lord give us
grace to govern our senses and overcome any unruly passions.
5. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Virtues may the Lord preserve us from evil and falling into temptation. Amen.
6. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Powers may the Lord protect our souls
against the snares and temptations of the devil.
7. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Principalities may God fill our souls with a true spirit of obedience. Amen.
8. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Archangels may the Lord give us
perseverance in faith and in all good works in order that we may attain
the glory of Heaven.
9. By the intercession of St.
Michael and the celestial Choir of Angels may the Lord grant us to be
protected by them in this mortal life and conducted in the life to come
Say one Our Father in honor of each of the following leading Angels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and our Guardian Angel.
O glorious prince St. Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor, you who shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil, who turn to you with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day.
Pray for us, O glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Church of Jesus Christ, that we may be made worthy of His promises.
Almighty and Everlasting God, Who, by a prodigy of goodness and a merciful desire for the salvation of all men, has appointed the most glorious Archangel St. Michael Prince of Your Church, make us worthy, we ask You, to be delivered from all our enemies, that none of them may harass us at the hour of death, but that we may be conducted by him into Your Presence.This we ask through the merits of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Graces Derived from
Going to Mass
(Note: Assisting at Mass simply means attending Mass. By attending a Mass Catholics are actually assisting in Mass.)
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE PIETA PRAYER BOOKLET, Published in U.S.A. by MLOR Corporation, 1186 Burlington Drive, Hickory Corners, MI 49060-9330:
1. The Mass is Calvary continued.
2. Every Mass is worth as much as the sacrifice of our Lord's life, sufferings and death.
3. Holy Mass is the most powerful atonement for your sins.
4. At the hour of death the Masses you have heard will be your greatest consolation.
5. Every Mass will go with you to judgment and plead for pardon.
6. At Mass you can diminish more or less temporal punishment due to your sins, according to your fervor.
7. Assisting devoutly at Holy Mass you render to the sacred humanity of Our Lord the greatest homage.
8. He supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
9. He forgives the venial sins which you have not confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
10. You afford the souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
11. One Mass heard during life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.
12. You are preserved from dangers and misfortunes which otherwise might have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory.
13. Every Mass wins for you a higher degree of glory in Heaven.
14. You receive the priest's blessing which Our Lord ratifies in Heaven.
15. You kneel amidst a multitude of holy angels, who are present at the adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.
16. You are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.
In eternity, we shall fully realize that it was certainly worthwhile to have assisted at Holy Mass daily. PRAY FOR PRIESTS THAT THEY MAY OFFER THE MASS WITH HOLY LOVE AND REVERENCE.
"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!"
For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death. (revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the great).
Padre Pio, the stigmatic priest, said, the world could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass.
The Cure'd' Ars, St. Jean Vianney said, if we knew the value of the Mass we would die of joy.
A great doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death. St. Leonard of Port Maurice supports this statement by saying that one Mass before death may be more profitable than many after it.
"The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death." (Pope Benedict XV).
Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God's Goodness and asked Our Lord, "How can I thank you?" Our Lord replied, "ATTEND ONE MASS".
Saint Louis De Montfort stresses that people should give there hearts and wills to Jesus through Mary and that by doing this a soul will be able to soar toward God. See Saint Louis's book True Devotion To Mary. Saint Louis warns of the devil's great ability to deceive souls, including souls of saints:
THE VIRGIN MARY
Holy Mary, my Queen and sovereign Lady, I give you myself, trusting in your fidelity and your protection. I surrender myself entirely to your motherly tenderness, my body, my soul, all that I am, all that I possess, for the whole of this day, my life, and especially at the hour of my death. I entrust to you once more all my hopes, all my consolations, all my anxieties, all my troubles, my life, my dying breath, so that by your prayers and merits, I may have, in all I do, one only goal, your good pleasure and the holy will of your Son. Amen!
DIFFICULTIES AT WORK OR AT HOME:
When difficulties come to us at work or at home it important to pray your way through these difficulties. At work, it could be trouble with a supervisor or a co-worker, with the result that misery is brought into our lives. Or at home a wife or a husband, or a child or a relative may be causing you trouble. It is important to pray your way through these difficulties. The different forms of prayers listed above, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Saint Michael, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Holy Mass, can move God to assist us with the things the bother us the most during our lives. Try these prayers, they work.
And sometimes, it takes the prayers of others to help change the current situations that are going on in our lives. On the following web page, there are several prayer groups that will pray for yours needs; this a great tool against our daily problems and against the assaults of demons. Sometimes it takes the prayers of many people to change things.
PURPOSE OF THIS WEB SITE
Welcome to this
Catholic Spiritual Direction Web Site. It is the intention of this
site to lead people to a closer relationship with
SAINT JOHN XXIII
OF INTERCESSION TO
Saint John XXIII, you spent
We now ask for your
Saint John XXIII, please pray for the
SAINT JOHN PAUL II
PRAYER FOR THE
Trinity, we thank you
Trusting fully in
your infinite mercy
PRAYERS FOR THE DAY
Prayer of Saint Catherine of Siena
PRECIOUS BLOOD, ocean of divine mercy:
Are you sick or do you know someone who is ill. Say the prayer above for them everyday. Also, there is greater power of prayer when many people are praying for the sick. Ask many fellow Catholics to join in prayer with you for the sick. You can send prayer requests to Catholic Groups that will join you in prayer at: