Two days ago was the inaugural feast day of Blessed Stanley Rother, a priest from Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who gave his life for his people as a missionary in Guatemala. He is the first martyr born in the United States, and the first U.S. priest to be beatified. Learn more at stanleyrother.org.
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On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, 18-year-old Alessandro, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it,” she cried out. “It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.
Maria was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family), and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack.
Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.
Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her 82-year-old mother, two sisters, and her brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at Maria’s canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.
St. Josephine Bakhita, Patron of Sudan, pray for us!
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Happy feast day St. Elizabeth Ann Seton!
Elizabeth Seton had no extraordinary gifts. She was not a mystic or stigmatic. She did not prophesy or speak in tongues. She had two great devotions: abandonment to the will of God and an ardent love for the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote to a friend, Julia Scott, that she would prefer to exchange the world for a “cave or a desert.” “But God has given me a great deal to do, and I have always and hope always to prefer his will to every wish of my own.” Her brand of sanctity is open to everyone if we love God and do his will.
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St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!
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“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” St. Francis de Sales. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
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We hear the story of Veronica when we pray the Stations of the Cross. At the Sixth Station, Jesus stopped to allow Veronica to wipe the blood, sweat, and dirt from his face. This simple act of kindness is all we know about Veronica, a woman in Jerusalem. She is not mentioned in the Gospels, but Jesus’ followers must have shared the story of her loving care for the Lord so often that it has become part of our tradition.
Veronica used her veil to wipe Jesus’ face. Afterward, the image of Jesus’ face was imprinted on the cloth. Veronica’s veil is a treasured Church relic, an object or a personal item of religious importance. According to legend, Veronica later touched Emperor Tiberius with the veil and he was cured of an illness. The veil has been preserved, or safeguarded, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome since the eighth century.
We do not know if Veronica was a follower of Jesus before the day he was crucified or if she became a Christian because she was a witness to Jesus’ suffering. We do know that Veronica responded to Christ on that first Good Friday by reaching out to comfort him.
The Church honors Veronica as a saint. We can imitate her loving and caring actions by doing all we can to help people who are hurting.
Saint Veronica, pray for us!
“The poor and the sick are our owners and they represent the very person of Jesus Christ.” -St. Luigi Scrosoppi
Since the fourth century, Feast Days commemorating the saints have been celebrated throughout the liturgical year to provide the faithful with examples of “those who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ.” (CCC, 1173) The Church puts forward the saints “to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she [the Church] begs for God’s favors.” (CCC, 1173)
On June 26th, the Church celebrates the liturgical feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva.
St. Josemaria died in Rome on June 26, 1975 and was canonized by Blessed John Paul II on October 6, 2002. Since his death, and especially since his canonization, Masses, which are the “principal sacramental celebration of the Church”, have been celebrated around the world attended by the growing number of people who have discovered through his message the joy of finding God and living out their Christian vocation in middle of the world. Because of his life and message, the feast day of St. Josemaria in particular reminds us that God calls each of us to be saints, to be holy.
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