Sunday, January 7, 2007
St. Raymond of Peñafort: Third Dominican Master

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 7
Semidouble (1954 Calendar): January 23

St. Raymond was born in 1175 at Peñafort, Catalonia, Spain to noble parents. He became a philosophy teacher around the age of 20 and later a priest. St. Raymond joined the Dominicans in 1218. In 1230, he was summoned to Rome by Pope Gregory IX and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. St. Raymond gathered the letters and published five volumes.

In 1238, St. Raymond became the Master general of the Dominicans. After reviewing the Order's Rule, to ensure everything was legally correct with Church law, he resigned his position in 1240 in order to dedicate himself to parish work. He declined the offer to become archbishop too in order to focus on the parish work he loved in Spain.

His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation - the Sacrament of Confession. St. Raymond started started a school to teach missionaries the language and culture of the non-Christians needing to be evangelized in Northern Africa and Spain. Along with St. Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way nonbelievers could easily understand.

He died on January 6, 1275, in Spain of natural causes.

Dom Gueranger writes of him in his work "The Liturgical Year." The following is an excerpt:
St Raymund has the honour of having been intrusted to draw up the Church's Code of Canon Law. It was he who, in the year 1234, compiled, by order of Pope Gregory the Ninth, the five Books of the Decretals; and his name will ever be associated with this great work which forms the basis of the actual discipline of the Church. 
Raymund was a faithful disciple of that God who came down from heaven to save sinners by calling them to receive pardon. He has merited the beautiful title, conferred on him by the Church, of excellent Minister of the Sacrament of Penance. He was the first who collected together into one body of doctrine the maxims of Christian morality, which regulate the duties of the confessor with regard to the faithful who confess their sins to him. The Sum of Penitential Cases opened the series of those important treatises in which learned and holy men have carefully considered the claims of law and the obligations of man, in order to instruct the Priest how to pass judgement, as the Scripture says, between leprosy and leprosy. 
In fine, when the glorious Mother of God, who is also the Mother of men, raised up for the redemption of captives the generous Peter Nolasco—whom we shall meet, a few days hence, at the Crib of our Redeemer—Raymund was an important instrument in this great work of mercy; and it is with good reason that the Order of Mercy looks upon him as one of its Founders, and that so many thousand captives, who were ransomed by the Religious of that Order from the captivity of the Moors, have honoured him as one of the principal authors of their liberty.

O God, Who didst choose blessed Raymond to be eminent as a minister of the Sacrament of Penance and dist lead him in wondrous wise upon the waves of the sea: grant that by his intercession we may be able to bring forth worthy fruits of penance, and to reach the port of everlasting salvation. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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