Today, January 26, we celebrate the life and works of St Elizabeth Ann Seton. St Elizabeth was the first American to be canonized by the church. St Elizabeth didn’t lead a normal life. It was simple, true, but it was filled with much heartbreak and suffering. She was an avid reader as a child and read anything that she could get her hands on, including the Bible. In a sense, there was one area of her life that she was lucky in and that was love. She married the man that she was deeply in love with, Will Seton. For a year or so, life seemed perfect. She had nothing to worry about and was blissful in her new marriage. It seemed to only bring her closer to God.
However, that came to an end with the death of Will’s father. With his father’s death, they became the caregivers of his seven half brothers and sisters as well as the owners of his father’s import business. It was a tough few years and he eventually had to file for bankruptcy. With all of this, his health was failing him as well. So he and St Elizabeth went to Italy where he eventually passed away. Her one conciliation in this was that he had found the Lord before this happened. Knowing that he was in a better place, she turned herself over to her religion completely.
St Elizabeth was known for being kind, courteous, witty, patient, and having a good sense about her. These were things that she took with her when she focused all of her attention on her religion. She had friends in Italy help her to learn more about Catholicism and showed her the truth. She took these lessons with her to Baltimore, Maryland where she opened a school. She used all that she had learned to help others starting the first free Catholic school for others to attend.
God Bless her and the work that she did to bring Him to the lives of others. May she inspire us to do like works.
Today, January 25, we celebrate the life and works of St Peter Thomas. Born in Gascony, France, he knew at a young age that he was going to be doing more with his life than others. While still young, he joined the Carmelites. It took time, but he began to work his way up in the organization and eventually even became the procurator of the Carmelites. It was then that he moved the headquarters of this organization to Avignon where he gained papal attention because of his great skills in preaching and his way with words.
This gained him position further than the Carmelites. He became papal diplomat in Genoa, Milan, and Venice. He was appointed bishop in Patti, Lipari, and Coron. He was also archbishop of Candia and appointed titular patriarch of Constantinople. He was a man that took his relationship with God seriously and saw that it was his duty to spread God’s word to others.
God Bless him and may we all spread God’s love and word to the world in every manner that we can.
Today, January 24, we celebrate the life and works of St Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalist and writers. St Francis was a man that exemplified patience. In fact, he knew for thirteen years that he was being called to priesthood and vocation, but waited until that point to finally tell his family. He wanted to make sure that he was doing God’s will and not whatever it was that he wanted or what his family wanted him to do. He went to Paris to study to be a solider because his father wanted him to be one. He further went to Padua to study law, all the time waiting to see what God wanted for his life. And God did show His will to St Francis while he was riding one day. Three times he fell from his horse and each time his sword fell from its scabbard to land, with the scabbard in the shape of a cross.
It was around this time he was appointed as provost of his diocese and took it to heart. Even though people didn’t tend to take him seriously because he was a noble turned priest and many thought that he was merely making fun of them in his sermons, he still spread the word of God. One of his more interesting times of spreading the Word was when he went to Switzerland to convert the Calvinist back to Catholicism. Many thought this was a crazy idea, but he believed that it was what he was being called to do. He went door to door, having many doors slammed in his face, but it didn’t stop him. For three years he traveled about Switzerland without any success. Finally, seeing that he couldn’t get many to open their doors to him, he began to write his sermons and copy them by hand before sliding them under the doors to the houses. By the time he left Switzerland, he had converted 40,000 Calvinist back to Catholicism.
He did much in his life to spread God’s Word to the people. He saw prayer as being the ultimate way to show that love to God and advised others to use it as often as possible.
God Bless him and may we too use prayer to show our love to God as well as practice the patience as he did to follow God’s will.
Today, January 23, we celebrate the life and works of St Ildephonsus. He was a well recognized and known in Spain because of his work involving the Blessed Virgin. He knew at the young age that his life was going to be dedicated to the church, even though he was born of a noble family. He joined a Benedictine monastery and quickly became the abbot of that monastery. In this position, he was able to go on and see the Council of Toledo in both 653 and 655
Continuing in his role as a holy man, he was elected to fill the role of archbishop of Toledo after his grandfather and did so with diligence and sanctity. He believed in leading the people and bringing them closer to God. To do this, he led by example and encouraged others to do so as well. He didn’t want to lose anyone to worldly desires. He would continue to preach to his people up until the time that he left this world to join our Heavenly Father.
God Bless him and may we also look to lead by example as St Ildephonsus did, bringing others closer to God.
Today, January 22, we celebrate the life and works of St Vincent Pallotti. Born in Rome, he knew from a very young age that he wanted to dedicate his life to Christ and did so by becoming a priest. He wanted to make it his mission to reach all the non-Catholics in the world and spread God’s love and word to them. He knew that there would be ways to do this that could involved the regular man and allow them to reach them on some level, but he also knew that there was a lot in this world that could keep it from happening.
For this cause, he spent large amounts of money to reach those regular men by creating guilds for workers, loan associations, orphanages, schools that taught trade skills. He wanted to give people something to hope for so they stopped looking at the bad and were willing to embrace the good in their lives. He was a man that wanted to focus on God’s love by helping those that were poor and unable to help themselves.
God Bless him and may we also learn to help others in such manners as he did.
Today, January 21, we celebrate the life and works of St Agnes, patron of the children of Mary. St Agnes was a young girl that knew exactly what it was that she wanted even at a young age and made a promise to God to never stain her purity. She wanted to live her life only for him. She loved him very much and didn’t want sin to touch her life, viewing her body as a temple to God. Many didn’t understand this. They saw the beautiful young woman that she was and wanted nothing more than to have her as their wife. She knew her path and knew that it didn’t involve marrying anyone, but focusing her life on God. In fact, when asked if she would wed them, she would simply respond to her suitors that “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.”
This didn’t sit well with Procop, the Governor’s son. He wanted her for himself and thought that there was a way to convince her to his side through rich gifts and promises, but she kept refusing him for God. This angered him greatly so he had her brought before his father, claiming her to be a Catholic. His father offered her more wonderful gifts to simply deny God and agree to wed his son. She refused once again. He tried to change her mind by having her thrown in chains. Still, she remained steadfast in her love for God. Next she was sent to a place of sin where he had hoped she would break, but an Angel protected her and she wasn’t touched.
This caused her to be sentenced to martyrdom. Everyone was so sad to see someone so young and beautiful being given this sentence, but St Agnes looked as happy as a bride for she was going to join God in Heaven.
God Bless her and may we also have such joy and desire in our lives to treat our relationship with God in such a high manner.
Today, January 20, we celebrate the life and works of St Fabian. St Fabian was merely a layperson that happened to come to Rome as many people do when one Pope leaves this world. They want that reassurance that the next Pope will be someone they can trust, someone that will improve upon the religious order in the world and is someone they know that they can be proud of to lead them. The crowd must have been overwhelming, but he, along with thousands of others, came there.
It was during the discussion that something amazing happened. A dove came down from the ceiling towards those gathered. It didn’t go to one of those that had been picked to be chosen from, but rather landed on St Fabian’s head. It was a unanimous selection in that moment as everyone agreed that St Fabian was fit to be Pope.
This dove was a foreshadowing of the future with St Fabian as Pope. The dove symbolizes peace and starting soon after he became Pope, there was a time of peace in which he was able to build up the structure of the church, including appointing seven deacons and collecting the acts of the martyrs.
As with all changes, there are those that don’t like to see others growing strong. There were pagans that began to attack Catholics every chance they could. When the emperor died and was replaced with Decius, so ended the peace that they had grown to cherish. In that time of peace, the church had grown soft and many were afraid of becoming martyrs for their faith, but St Fabian was that symbol and example that many looked to to show them God’s will. He was martyred for his faith and love in God.
God Bless him and may we also be ready to accept the path that God has for us even if it is something that is thrust upon us such as it was for St Fabian.
Today, January 19, we celebrate the life and works of St Henry of Sweden. An Englishman residing in Rome, he was consecrated as Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden by the man that would become Pope Adrian IV. He worked well within his country and alongside St Eric, King of Sweden. Together they went to Finland in an expedition of retaliation against those that were marauding the Swedish land. While St Eric offered them peace and the Catholic faith, they refused and instead went to war. Sweden won and St Henry brought the word of God and Catholicism to the people, baptizing them in the Spring of Kuppis.
While St Eric returned back to Sweden, St Henry saw his place in Finland and worked there to convert more Finns to Catholicism. In this he saw was his mission from God and his life work. He built a church at Nousis which he made into his headquarters while he worked to reach the people. He converted many and was looked to when it came time to judge those that had done wrong to others. He took this job just as seriously as he did bringing God’s love and word to the people. In all decisions he made, he prayed to God for guidance in what it was that he was to do.
God Bless him and may we also have such strength and remember to let God lead us in all that we do.
Today, January 18, we celebrate the life and works of St Margaret of Hungary. Born into a royal family, the daughter of King Bela IV, she joined the royal convent at the young age of twelve and became a Dominican novice. She was one of the highest born of royal blood within the royal convent and most wanted to treat her special in order to earn favor with the king. However, she objected to such special treatment and wanted to be treated as anyone else there would be. To drill this point home, she would volunteer and complete the most menial of tasks and hard labors that she could.
Her heart was always in it though and there was a special place there for the poor and sickly. She would volunteer and help out at the hospitals on cases that many would have probably stayed away from in fear of what would happen to them or what they might catch from those that were deathly ill. She would work harder and longer than most, which, added to the fasting she conducted and the long hours she kept for prayer, ultimately led to her falling ill and joining the Lord in Heaven.
God Bless her and may we also give so selflessly to those that are in need.
Today, January 17, we celebrate the life and works of St Sulpicius. Son of wealthy parents, he was raised in a home and family that would have left him not wanting for much, but St Sulpicius knew at a young age that he never wanted to marry. He started there and then devoting himself to good works and taking care of the poor. He became bishop of Bourges in 624 and fought valiantly against Lullo, who was King Dagobert’s minister. He worked hard while he was in the position of Bishop to reach the people that were under his charge or came into his life. He attended the Council of Clichy in 627 as well.
He was known for his charity and good works. He tended to work hard to spread God’s love through his own actions. Because of this and the way he acted towards others, St Sulpicius helped to convert all of those in Bourges over to Catholicism. He spent most of his life in this role until he finally decided to take a step back and focus on what gave him such joy at a young age. He spent the rest of his days taking care of the poor.
God Bless him and may we also take such joy in charity and spreading God’s love to others.