Today, March 22, we celebrate the life and works of St Lawrence O’Toole. St Lawrence did not lead an easy life. At a young age he was given up by his father to a tyrant, king of Leinster, to be held hostage. The king treated so inhumanely until he was finally delivered over to Bishop of Glenadough. He was the picture of virtue and worked hard to help others. He was eventually even appointed abbot of the monastery in Glenadough and all looked to him for guidance in the way they should live their lives.
Before long he was appointed as metropolitan See of Dublin. This gave him even more responsibilities, including traveling to England on multiple occasions to see the king. The first time while he was at the Christ Church, he was struck in the head by a man and believed to be mortally wounded. He asked for a glass of water, blessed it and then washed the wound with the water. The bleeding stopped and he continued on with mass as if nothing had happened. Another time saw him negotiating peace between the king of England and the monarch of Ireland. The king was so moved by him that he agreed to all his terms and let him handle the negotiations.
God Bless him and may we also face life with such vigor and passion as he did regardless of our circumstances.
Today, March 21, we celebrate the life and works of St Enda. This was a man that was skilled in his military abilities and took great pride in what it was that he would do. He was a warrior first and foremost. At least as far as he was concerned. It was his sister, St Fanchea that convinced him otherwise. It took some time, but she finally convinced him that he should give up his warring ways and instead turn his attention towards marrying. He found himself a wonderful woman and began to settle down in life, ready to be happy and devote himself to his wife. However, before they were married, he came upon her where someone had struck her down.
It was with the loss of his fiancé that he decided to become a monk. He set out on a pilgrimage from Ireland towards Rome where he would later be ordained. It was after he was ordained that he began a great many works. He came back to Ireland where he was born and raised. There he built churches at Drogheda. He eventually secured the Island of Aran from his brother-in-law King Oengus of Munster. There he built the monastery of Killeaney, which later would branch out into ten other foundations across the island.
God Bless him and may we also not see tragedy as an end, but a possible beginning to the next step in our journey, always believing that God has a plan for us.
Today, March 20, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed John of Parma. Bl John was born in Parma around 1209 and by the age of 25, was already preaching to the people about logic. It was at this time that he joined the Franciscans and went to Paris to begin his studies. He worked hard at these studies, wanting to continue his teachings with people. When he was ordained, he was sent to teach to Bologna, Naples and Rome. His preaching was so good that people flocked to him, attentive to hear his words. It was in 1247 that he was appointed to the position of Minister General of the Franciscans. This wasn’t an easy job because the man before him had been rather lack in his duties to ensure that others did their duties. It was during this time that one of those closest to him, Brother Salimbene, kept a record.
We learn that Bl John was robust and always kind. He was one of the first and only people to travel the whole order and he did so always on foot. It didn’t matter how tired he was, he never took that out on another and was never grumpy. He was a man that helped others, even going so far as to wash the vegetables with the other Brothers when he would visit. Silence was something that he held close to his heart because it allowed him some time to just talk to God and focus on Him and nothing else. To every kingdom that he visited, the kings would come to him and ask for his prayers and blessings in their journeys. He was a man that many respected and held in a high light. He worked hard to try to restore discipline to the order and ensure that the rules were followed. When he felt, years later, that he wasn’t suited to carry out the reforms he felt were necessary, he stepped down and appointed St. Bonaventure to take his position while he retired to a hermitage.
God Bless him and may we also be so driven to ensure that God’s work and words are spread that we reached out to others along our own journey.
Today, March 19, we celebrate the life and works of St Matilda, Patron of parents of large families. Matilda was the daughter of Count Dietrich of Westphalia and Reinhild of Denmark. She was also known as Mechtildis and Maud. Even though she had both of her parents, she was actually raised by her grandmother. It was as if life were pushing her in the direction to marry up in the world and she ended up marrying Henry the Fowler, son of Duke Otto of Saxony in 909. In 912, he became Duke of Saxony and then in 919, he became King of Germany. Even though she was in the public eye and many people looked towards her for leadership, she was a woman that kept her religion close, being noted for her piety as well as for her work with many charities. In 936, tragedy struck and Henry left this world to join God.
She supported her son, Otto the Great, to his claim on his father’s throne and even encouraged and persuaded Otto to appoint Henry Duke of Bavaria after he led an unsuccessful revolt. Both of these men found her charities to be ridiculous and made fun of her relentlessly for such things. Eventually she retired from the court and gave up her inheritance to her sons, wanting the peace of the countryside where she could focus on her charities. It was only when Otto’s wife called her back to court because of another revolt that she returned, wanting to help as much as she could. Things only seemed to get worse with revolts building and flowing back and forth between Otto and Henry until the day that her prophecy of his leaving this world came true. It was at that time that she turned her life completely towards religion and built three convents and a monastery. She won back the trust of her son, Otto, who even left her in charge of the kingdom when he went to Rome to be crowned emperor.
God Bless her and may we also have such passion to carry on God’s good work to those in need in this world.
Today, March 18, we celebrate the life and works of St Cybil of Jerusalem. There isn’t much known about St Cybil as far as his early life. Historians believe he was born about 315 and that he was raised by Catholic parents that he deeply cared for. It shows in his later years when he talks about parents and the way he speaks about them and their care for their children. He also had a sister and a nephew who later became a Saint as well. He knew that his life was going to be dedicated to God and made a point of becoming a deacon and being placed in charge of catechumens. He was extremely good at this and there is even written documentation of his catechetical lectures.
When bishop Maximus left this world to join God, St Cybil was then appointed as bishop of Jerusalem and took the role to heart. When the famine hit Jerusalem, he sold items from the church to raise money and be able to gather food for those that were starving and without. He saved many lives in this manner. He made some enemies though, people that thought they were better suited to his position and they used him selling items of the church to get him exiled. It wasn’t until Julian became emperor that he was allowed to return from his exile. At the return from his exile, he found Jerusalem had been thrown into strife and bombarded by heresy. He wasn’t about to restore it to its former glory before he left this world to join God as well.
God Bless him and may we also follow our beliefs and do what we believe to be right for ourselves and others with God as our guide.
Today, March 17, we celebrate the life and works of St Patrick, Patron of Ireland. Born in Scotland to Roman parents that were in charge of the colonies, he was captured during a raid and taken to Ireland to be sold into slavery. At the time Ireland was full of Druids and pagans. In order to fit in and to understand their ways, he learned their languages and practices, but never turned away form his true religion and belief in God. From the age of fourteen until he was twenty, he was held captive and forced to work the fields and tend the sheep. It was when he was twenty that he had a dream that God told him that he could escape Ireland by going to the coast.
He quickly escaped and ran for the coast where he found some sailors that took him back to Britain where he was reunited with his family. Even so, years later, he had another dream that the people of Ireland were calling out to him, praying for his return to help them. He began to study for priesthood about that time, completely set on returning to Ireland to help the people. It was only after he was ordained a bishop that he returned to Ireland to spread the word of God to the people. He converted many on his missions. He preached throughout the land for 40 years before he finally went on to join God.
One of the many interesting things about him is he used the shamrock to explain to people the Holy Trinity.
God Bless him and may we also spread God’s word and love to others, even those that have done us wrong.
Today, March 16, we celebrate the life and works of St Willibrord, Patron of convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands; archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands. Born in England, he studied at Ripon monastery and then continued his studies for 12 years in Ireland. It was only when he felt he was done his studies and extensive training as well as his ordination that he finally focused on the task of completing missions. He wanted to bring the Word of God to the people and this was the only way that he knew how. With a group of others, he traveled to Frisia. That was where he focused his efforts.
Three years later, he went to Rome to seek papal approval and, a few years later, was consecrated as the archbishop of Frisians. In his efforts, he was able to bring God to many people and even opened up a monastery in Luxembourg to train others to follow his path and continue focus on missions that would bring the Lord to all parts of the world. His passion was Christ and he wanted the world to share in that love and faith.
God Bless him and may we also have such passion for the Lord and all he brings to us.
Today, March 15, we celebrate the life and works of St Louise de Marillac. Born in France in 1591, she was educated by Dominican nuns and wanted nothing more than to join them and devote herself to God. However, at the advise of her confessor, she instead married Antony, a man in the Queen’s service. She was a devoted wife and cared greatly for him. When he left this world, she turned back to her original love in God. She met St Vincent de Paul and he became her spiritual adviser, allowing her to work with him for the rest of her life.
She focused on helping the poor and doing many works for charity. The poor, those neglected, and the sick were all well in her care. A few years later, she established a place in her home for those that wanted to work with her. It was the beginning of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. They were approved formally in 1655. She took her vows and as they grew, others amongst them took their vows as well. She traveled all over the place, establishing more houses and building communities that would continue to do their great work.
God Bless her and may we also have such strength as to do God’s good work and help others in need.
Today, March 14, we celebrate the live and works of St Ailbhe, Patron of wolves. St Ailbhe is one that is seen throughout myths and legends of Ireland as a Bishop and preacher. He was a disciple of St Patrick and was also known by many as Albeus. He was a missionary that traveled about the lovely Ireland, even going so far as to become the bishop of Emily in Munster Ireland, the first bishop of that area.
The legends that surround him are rather unique. In one it claims that he was abandoned in the woods as an infant and a wolf took him in as her own. This was brought on because a she-wolf came to him to escape a hunting party, laying her head against him. He, of course, protected her from those seeking to end her life. From such things you can see that he was a man given to such kindness and charity for others, including the animals of God.
God Bless him and may we show such kindness to those that we meet in our lives.
Today, March 13, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Agnello of Pisa. Blessed Agnello was only a deacon when he was sent on a mission to find an English province. He and eight others made their way to England where Blessed Agnello stayed in Canterbury to build up their relations with those there. It was hard on them in the dead of winter to be there. It was bitterly cold and they had little to eat. Even so, their spirits were always high and their enthusiasm just as great. Half of those that came over with him, went on to London to find themselves a place to settle. The men in London were so well received that they were able to hire a dwelling in Cornhill which would allow them to push on to Oxford.
It was at this time that Blessed Agnello joined them to continue with their journey. He was a man that many loved and saw his enthusiasm and genuine care as infectious. Many have said that he was on familiar terms with King Henry III. He was a man that was strict in his beliefs and believed greatly in poverty so much so that he wouldn’t live in a house or have one built that wasn’t absolutely necessary. He left this world to join God eleven years after beginning his journey.
God Bless him and may we also have such strength of character as to stand strong in our beliefs while others might falter.