Thursday, July 25, 2019
St. Christopher
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Today besides the feast of St. James the Greater is the Commemoration of St. Christopher. The following is taken from Catholic Tradition:


AN ANCIENT tradition concerning St. Christophorus relates: He was born in the land of Canaan, and was named Reprobus, that is Reprobate, for he was a barbarous heathen. In stature and strength he was a giant. Thinking no one his like in bodily vigor, he resolved to go forth in search of the mightiest master and serve him. In his wanderings, he met with a king who was praised as the most valorous man on earth. To him he offered his services and was accepted. The king was proud of his giant and kept him near his person. One day a minstrel visited the king's castle, and among the ballads he sung before the court was one on the power of Satan. At the mention of this name the king blessed himself, making me Sign of the Cross. Reprobus, wondering, asked him why he did that. The king replied: "When I make this Sign, Satan has no power over me." Reprobus rejoined: "So thou fearest the power of Satan? Then he is mightier than thou, and I shall seek and serve him."

Setting forth to seek Satan, he came into a wilderness. One dark night he met a band of wild fellows riding through the forest. It was Satan and his escort. Reprobus bravely accosted him, saying he wished to serve him. He was accepted. But soon he was convinced that his new master was not the mightiest on earth. For one day, whilst approaching a Crucifix by the wayside, Satan quickly took to flight, and Reprobus asked him for the reason. Satan replied: "That is the image of my greatest enemy, Who conquered me on the Cross. From Him I always flee." When Reprobus heard this, he left the devil, and went in search of Christ.

In his wanderings, he one day came to a hut hidden in the forest. At its door sat a venerable old man. Reprobus addressed him, and in the course of the conversation that ensued the old man told him that he was a hermit, and had left the world to serve Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth. "Thou art my man," cried Reprobus; "Christ is He Whom I seek, for He is the strongest and the mightiest. Tell me where I can find Him."

The hermit then began instructing the giant about God and the Redeemer, and concluded by saying: "He who would serve Christ must offer himself entirely to Him, and do and suffer everything for His sake. His reward for this will be immense and will last forever." Reprobus now asked the hermit to allow him to remain, and to continue to instruct him. The hermit consented. When Reprobus was fully instructed, he Baptized him. After his Baptism, a great change came over the giant. No longer proud of his great size and strength, he became meek and humble, and asked the hermit to assign to him some task by which he might serve God, his master. "For," said he, "I can not pray and fast; therefore I must serve God in some other way." The hermit led him to a broad and swift river nearby, and said: "Here build thyself a hut, and when wanderers wish to cross the river, carry them over for the love of Christ." For there was no bridge across the river.

Henceforth, day and night, whenever he was called, Reprobus faithfully performed the task assigned to him. One night he heard a Child calling to be carried across the river. Quickly he rose, placed the Child on his stout shoulder, took his staff and walked into the mighty current.

Arrived in midstream, the water rose higher and higher, and the child became heavier and heavier. "O child," he cried, "how heavy thou art! It seems I bear the weight of the world on my shoulder." And the Child replied, "Right thou art. Thou bearet not only the world, but the Creator of Heaven and earth. I am Jesus Christ, thy King and Lord, and henceforth thou shalt be called Christophorus, that is, Christ-bearer. Arrived on yonder shore, plant thy staff in the ground, and in token of My power and might tomorrow it shall bear leaves and blossoms."

And the Child disappeared. On reaching the other shore, Christophorus stuck his staff into the ground, and behold, it budded forth leaves and blossoms. Then, kneeling, he promised the Lord to serve Him ever faithfully. He kept his promise, and thenceforth became a zealous preacher of the Gospel, converting many to the Faith. On his missionary peregrinations he came also to Lycia, where, after his first sermon, eighteen thousand heathens requested Baptism. When Emperor Decius heard of this, he sent a company of four hundred soldiers to capture Christophorus. To these he preached so convincingly, that they all asked for Baptism. Decius became enraged thereat and had him cast into prison. There he first treated him with great kindness, and surrounded him with every luxury to tempt him to sin, but in vain. Then he ordered him to be tortured in the most cruel manner, until he should deny the Faith. He was scourged, placed on plates of hot iron, boiling oil was poured over and fire was lighted under him. When all these torments did not accomplish their purpose, the soldiers were ordered to shoot him with arrows. This, too, having no effect, he was beheaded, on July 25, 254.

Two great Saints refer to the wonderful achievements of St. Christophorus. St. Ambrose mentions that this Saint converted forty-eight thousand souls to Christ. St. Vincent Ferrer declares that when the plague devastated Valencia, its destructive course was stayed through the intercession of St. Christophorus.

Note: St. Christophorus is usually called St. Christopher. He is the patron of travelers, especially motorists, and is invoked in storms and tempests.

THE life of St. Christophorus conveys a wholesome truth. We ought all to be Christ-bearers, by preserving in our hearts faith, hope, and charity, and by receiving Our Lord worthily in Holy Communion. He alone is worthy of our service. In the service that we owe to men, we ought to serve God by doing His will. We can not divide our heart, for Our Lord Himself says, "No man can serve two masters" [Matt. 6: 24]. If you serve the world, it deceives you, for it can not give you what it promises. If you serve sin, Satan is your master. He, too, deceives his servants, and leads them to perdition. Christ on the Cross conquered these two tyrants, and with His help you can also vanquish them. Therefore, give yourself to Him with all your heart, and you shall find peace in this world, and eternal bliss in the next. St. Augustine learned this truth by sad experience, and therefore exclaims:

"Thou hast created us for Thee, O Lord, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee."

Collect:

O Almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the birthday of Your blessed martyr Christopher, may be made stronger in our love of You through his intercession. Through our Lord . . .
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Commoration of St. Christina
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In the pre-1955 Calendar, today is the Vigil of St. James.  It is also the Commemoration of St. Christina.  After the changes in 1955, today is reflected in the 1962 Missal as only the Commemoration of St. Christina.

The following reflection is taken from Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger:

Those who consider the life and the different kinds of martyrdom of this holy Virgin, and do not remember what we said in the preface to these volumes, may easily be tempted to suppose that much of what we relate is impossible, and the work of imagination. But as the whole history is founded on indubitable and unobjectionable testimony, we shall relate her life plainly and faithfully, remembering that God chose this holy Virgin, in preference to innumerable others, to honor and glorify His holy faith among the blind heathen, to confound the tyrants and persecutors of Christendom, and to reveal to the world the wonders of His Omnipotence.

The Saint was a native of Tyro, in Tuscany, where her father Urban, was prefect. He was a sworn enemy to the Christians, and hardly passed a day in which he did not call some one of the faithful into his presence, and doom him to suffering and to death.

Christina, who on seeing this, observed at the same time how fearless and happy the Christians were during their torments, was curious to know what kind of men they were, why they were thus persecuted, and what gave them strength to bear so uncomplainingly, nay, so cheerfully, the sufferings they endured. When instructed about all this, the grace of God worked so strongly in her, that she felt an intense desire to be, by means of holy Baptism, numbered among the Christians. She rested not until her desire was fulfilled, and at the age of nine years, she received holy Baptism and with it the name of Christina.

Her zeal was greater than could have been expected at her tender age. She secretly took her father's idols, composed of gold and silver, and breaking them into pieces with the assistance of others, divided them among the poor.

Her father, almost beside himself with rage when he was informed of this, resolved to avenge, with his daughter's blood, the dishonor done to the gods, but not until he had endeavored to win her by kindness from the faith of Christ. Hence he called her to him and all alone with her, urged her, with many manifestations of kindness and at last with menaces, to forsake Christ. Christina, however, said fearlessly:

"Do with me whatever you like, my dear father; you can take my life, but the faith of Christ you have no power to tear out of my heart. My Saviour will strengthen me to suffer patiently all that you have threatened."

Scarcely had she spoken these words, when the inhuman father commanded the executioners whom he had called to scourge her most cruelly over her whole body.

Christina gave no signs of pain during this suffering. After this, the tyrant ordered that the wounds she had received should be enlarged with iron combs and whips with sharp points, which was done with such ferocity, that whole pieces of flesh were torn from the tender body of the Virgin.

Christina stood at first immovable with her eyes turned to heaven, and then praised and thanked the Almighty for so visibly aiding her to bear her pains. The father,--who was no father, but a savage beast,--still more embittered by her conduct, ordered an iron wheel to be brought. Christina was then bound upon it, oil was poured over her, and then the wheel was raised in such a manner that it could be turned. When this was done, a fire was prepared under it, in order slowly to roast the maiden.

Almighty God, however, so effectually strengthened His heroic confessor, that she sang loudly during this terrible torment. She remained unhurt by the flames, while many of the spectators were seized by them and severely injured. The tyrant, astonished at this miracle, would still not relent, but ordered her to be dragged to a dungeon, with the intention to renew her torture on the following day.

Hardly had Christina entered the dungeon, when an angel of the Most High appeared to her and healed her wounds, encouraged her to persevere, and gave her assurance of divine assistance.

When her father was informed that she was so miraculously healed, he immediately sent some executioners into the prison, with orders to tie a large stone around her neck, and cast her into a lake, so that nothing further might be seen or heard of her. But the same angel who had visited her the day before, carried her safely to the shore.

Christina was sent again to the dungeon, and Urban thought of new ways and means to torment her. But when morning dawned, he was found dead in his bed. He had probably died from a stroke of apoplexy, brought on by his uncontrolled anger.

Thus God punished, by a sudden and unhappy death, his inhuman wickedness. Christina was much more pained by the eternal destruction of her father, than by all the tortures she had suffered. The latter, however did not end with her father's death: for Dio, who was Urban's successor, not only in his functions, but also in his cruelty, had Christina brought before him, and as she remained firm in her refusal to abandon the Christian faith, he commanded an iron cradle to be constructed and filled with boiling oil and tar, into which Christina should be cast.

The heroine evinced not the slightest fear of this instrument of torture, but signing herself with the sign of the Cross, she said to the soldiers who cast her into the cradle: "Well have you reason to lay me like a child in a cradle; for it is hardly a year since I was born in holy baptism."

She remained in it a considerable time ; but when they at length perceived that she neither felt pain nor was in the least harmed, they took her out and brought her into the temple of Apollo, commanding her to sacrifice to him. No sooner, however, had Christina set foot in the temple, than she made the sign of the Cross, and the idol, falling from the altar upon the ground, was broken into a thousand pieces.

At the same moment, the prefect Dio, struck with apoplexy, sank dead upon the earth. The soldiers, who had brought Christina into the temple, were terrified by this twofold wonder, and freeing the Virgin from her fetters, they cried aloud: "Truly, the God of the Christians is the only true God." Many of those present abandoned idolatry and became converts to the Christian faith.

When Julian, Dio's successor, heard of Christina and the sudden end of his predecessor, he feared that the people might accuse him of cowardice, if he did not continue the process against a weak woman. Hence he said to her: "Thou must either immediately sacrifice to the gods, or I will cast thee alive into a burning furnace." Christina refused more earnestly than ever to obey, and Julian ordered her to be cast into the furnace, which meanwhile had been prepared.

The order was executed, and Christina remained in it until the fifth day, unharmed, as, in ages past, the three companions of Daniel had been in the furnace of Babylon. She also imitated these in constantly praising God and giving thanks for so many mercies received. Julian ascribed this miracle to magic, and following the advice of a magician, he had Christina thrown into a dark cavern, into which this magician had charmed a great many of the most venomous animals. The holy Virgin once more signed herself with the cross, and none of the animals touched her.

She stood in the midst of them, giving praise to the Almighty, her Protector. To prevent this they tore out her tongue, at the command of Julian; but even then she ceased not praising God. This new miracle converted many to the Christian faith, and the tyrant commanded them at length to fasten her to a stake and pierce her with arrows.

While they bound her fast, her heart was filled with the desire to behold in heaven Him for whom she had suffered so much on earth. She therefore called on God to impart to her the long-desired crown of martyrdom. Her prayer was answered, for one of the arrows found the way to her heart, and her heroic soul went to Him by whose mighty assistance she had conquered three tyrants. Her glorious death took place in the year of our Lord, three hundred. We conclude the life of this Saint with the words of St. Augustine:

"When we consider the perseverance of a human being, tortured in so many ways, it seems incredible. But when we think of the omnipotence of the Most High, the relation will not be deemed impossible."

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

I. Saint Christina made use of the opportunity offered her to instruct herself in the new faith, and thus was sooner convinced of its truth. Those tyrants by whom she was tormented had the same opportunity to instruct themselves, but used it not. They therefore did not become convinced of its truth, but remaining in their error, became more hardened in their wickedness, and were thus lost to all eternity; while Christina was saved by the true faith.

So much depends on rightly using opportunities which lead to the path of heaven. How despairing must now be the grief of those tyrants to think that they had the opportunity, but used it not to their salvation. It is now lost to them, and will never again return. Oh! how sad!

Compare with this the happiness which St. Christina now enjoys, because she made use of the opportunities God gave her.

You have also, in your station, opportunities enough to do good and to work out your salvation. Why do you not make better use of them? Believe me, the greatest pain that one endures in hell is to think: "I could have saved my soul, escaped hell, and gained heaven. I had time and opportunity to use the means necessary for it; but I have forfeited them. I have no more time and opportunity now, and shall have them nevermore."

"Oh! how dreadful will be the torment of the damned when they remember that they did not use the opportunity they had to correct their lives, and thus have precipitated themselves into everlasting punishment," says St. Chrysostom. If you wish not to experience these torments yourself, improve better in future the opportunities which are offered to you.

II. Saint Christina, a tender virgin, scarcely ten or eleven years old, suffered for the true faith such terrible tortures, not only with invincible fortitude, but with happiness, praising God, during her martyrdom. What do you suffer for the love of God, and what is your conduct during your suffering?

Your suffering does not deserve the name, when compared with that of St. Christina, and still your conduct is far from that of this holy martyr. Can so different a suffering expect an equal glory in heaven, or do you perhaps think that you can enter heaven without having suffered, although the Saints took possession of it only by suffering?

You yourself will hardly have the heart to affirm this. Oh! then resolve to bear your small trials with greater patience. Murmur not against the Almighty, but praise His wisdom and give thanks to Him that He leads you by the same path by which He led His Saints to heaven, and on which walked even Christ our Lord.

"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24) "All that have pleased God passed through many tribulations, remaining faithful." (Judith 8) Why then would you seek another way than that of the cross?

"The entire life of Christ consisted of crosses and martyrdom, and you desire nothing but peace and pleasure in this world?" Thus speaks the pious Thomas a Kempis; while St. Bernard says : "The only true path that leads us to heaven is the cross and suffering."

Collect:

O Lord, pardon our sins through the intercession of the blessed virgin martyr Christina, who pleased You by her purity and faith. Through our Lord . . .
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Saturday, July 6, 2019
7 Times Christ Shed His Blood for Us
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1. Circumcision during His Presentation in the Temple
2. The Agony in the Garden
3. The Scourging at the Pillar
4. The Crowning of Thorns
5. The Carrying of the Cross
6. The Crucifixion
7. The Piercing of His Sacred Heart


The Seven offerings of the Gloria Patri Prayer taken from the Raccolta. An indulgence of 300 days to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, shall make to the Eternal Father the following offerings of the Precious Blood of His well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, together with seven Gloria Patri's, and an ejaculation with the intention of making thereby a compensation for all the outrages which are done to the Precious Blood, which is the price and ransom of our souls.

THE OFFERINGS.

I. Eternal Father!  I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the propagation and exaltation of my dear Mother Thy holy Church, for the safety and prosperity of her visible head, our chief pastor the Bishop of Rome; for the cardinals, bishops, and pastors of souls, and for all the ministers of the sanctuary.

Then say one Gloria Patri, and the ejaculation,

Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, who hath saved us with His Blood.

II. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the peace and concord of Catholic kings and princes, for the humiliation of the enemies of our Holy Faith, and for the welfare of all Christian people.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

III. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the repentance of unbelievers, the uprooting of heresy, and the conversion of sinners.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

IV. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all my relations, friends, and enemies; for the poor, the sick, and the afflicted, and for all those for whom Thou my God knowest that I ought to pray, or wouldst have me pray.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

V. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all who this day are passing to the other life; that Thou wouldst save them from the pains of Hell, and admit them quickly to the possession of Thy glory.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

VI. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all those who love this great treasure, for those who join with me in adoring it and honouring it, and for those who strive to spread devotion to it.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

VII. Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all my wants, spiritual and temporal, in suffrage for the holy souls in purgatory, and chiefly for these who were most devout to this Blood, the price of our redemption, and to the sorrows and pains of our dear Mother, most holy Mary.

One Gloria Patri, and Blessed and praised, &c.

Glory be to the Blood of Jesus, new and for ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
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Friday, July 5, 2019
What Happens to Our Guardian Angel at Our Death?
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Saint Aloysius Gonzaga taught that as our soul is brought before the Judgment Seat of Almighty God at the moment of our death, it will be conducted to this place by our guardian angel. In fact, our guardian angel will, according to St. Aloysius, present to our Lord our merits earned in life. And should we be sentenced to a time in Purgatory to expiate the sins on our soul, our guardian angel will visit us bringing us both comfort and consolation. Our angel will present to us the prayers that have been offered for us and console our soul in its future in Heaven.

 Yet alas, to those miserable souls who are sentenced to eternity in Hell, they will lose all – hope, salvation, and even the presence and support of their guardian angel. Souls in Hell have no guardians.

Lord, have mercy on us! Angel of God, my guardian, from such a miserable fate, save me and pray for me!
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Tuesday, July 2, 2019
St. John the Baptist was Born Without (But Not Conceived Without) Original Sin
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On this feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, we recall a particular aspect of our Faith that is often not taught at all anymore.

Did you know that St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ, was cleansed from original sin in his mother's womb?

It is not a dogma, but most theologians agree with this. And it makes sense. To be a forerunner of Christ, St. John the Baptist should have been freed of original sin. So while not an Immaculate Conception, like the Blessed Mother, St. John the Baptist was purified in the womb and born without original sin. Though he was still conceived with original sin.

“Then was accomplished the prophetic utterance of the angel that the child should "be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb". Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.” - Catholic Encyclopedia
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