Today, February 25, we celebrate the life and works of St Tarasius. He was raised in the Byzantine Empire, where he received many great honors and rose to power there. He rose to such position as Consul and even first secretary to the Emperor Constantine and his mother. When he was asked to become the Patriarch of Constantinople, he had one request, something that he viewed as a rather big deal. He wanted the sacred images of the city to be reviewed by the Great Council to solve the disputes that revolved around them when it came to their veneration. Otherwise, as he told them, he wouldn’t accept this offer. That was how important such matters were to him.
This was done and the decisions made by this council were even approved by the Pope. While he was a man that was strong in his beliefs and prayed constantly as well as cared for the poor, there were those that bestowed their anger on him when he didn’t do what they wanted. Such as the Emperor when he refused to sanctify the divorce he wanted from his lawful wife. Even so, while the political powers fell, St Tarasius continued on, working towards reforming his people and building up the clergy of the area. He worked as See of Constantinople for 21 years before he joined our Heavenly Father.
God Bless him and may we also strive to live our lives through prayer while doing what we know to be right.
Today, February 24, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Tommaso Maria Fusco. Born to a large family, Bl Tommaso was brought up on the Catholic faith, taught piety and to help the poor. He was baptized the day of his birth and worked hard to follow his parents guiding hand towards his education. He knew by the 1839 that he wanted to go into the church and dreamed of nothing else. He meant to take that path. When he was six years old however, tragedy struck in the form of the loss of his mother and then his father a few months later. His uncle then took him in and ensured that he got the proper education, such as what his parents had wanted for him from the beginning.
It was years later, not until 1847 that he was given a chance to follow that dream and join the diocesan seminary of Nocera, the same place his brother went to be ordained as a priest. It would take him years to complete this training and step of his education, finally being ordained in 1855. It was well worth the wait and the effort he put into though, because he was doing God’s work. He held close to his heart the crucified Christ, reminding him to cherish all life around him. One of these ways that he did so was by helping others. For children, he held a morning school in his home where he taught them about religion and God. He held prayers and group meetings for young adults in order to further educate them as well.
At a point he realized that he was being called to travel as a missionary and joined the Congregation of the Missionaries of Nocera, where he traveled to many placed, mostly to Southern Italy. He built new places of worship there, striving to show others that there was more to life than what met the eye and wanting them to find the same joy that he did in God.
God Bless him and may we also strive to bring that same joy to others lives by sharing God’s love and works with them.
Today, February 23, we celebrate the life and works of St Polycarp. St Polycrap was a holy man of Smyrna that was given the opportunity that many would have loved to have. He was able to sit at the feet of those that had worked directly with Jesus and heard what they had to say, especially St John. There were problems that arose though once St John and the other first generation apostles were no longer here that they had to deal with. Among these problems were people creating teachings that they claimed were from God and trying to spread them to the masses. On top of that persecutions began to rise and strike at those of the faith. The only answer that St Polycarp could come up with was to simply be true to the life of God and do their best to imitate it.
That was what he set out to do. He did much to spread those teachings that he knew to be truth and even went as far as Rome to discuss religious interests such as the proper day to celebrate Passover and Easter. The persecutions became a problem though. One day when he was quite old, Catholics were being brought into an arena and fed to animals. One such day that this was happening, the crowd rose in an uproar, calling out that they wanted Polycarp brought before them and ‘down with the atheists’. While he didn’t want to run, people around him convinced him to go to the countryside and hide in a farm until things died down. He spent his time there praying for those that he knew and those that were still facing the persecution.
Those after him were closing in one night when he had a dream that his pillow was on fire. He realized that it was God telling him just what was going to happen to prepare him for the future. They had him move to another farm to get further away, but he was found. He went down to the men sent to get him and asked for an hour to pray and fed them before he allowed them to take him to the city. While people tried to convince him to renounce his faith because of his age, he still stood strong. Even told them that if they thought that he would do so, they really didn’t know him, that he was a Catholic. Instead of being martyred in the arena by animals, he was martyred instead by fire. In his last moments, he prayed to God and felt the peace that knowing he was going to join our Heavenly Father wash over him.
God Bless him and may we also stand strong in our faith even when others would try to push us towards that which might tempt us.
Today, February 22, we celebrate the life and works of St Margaret of Cortona. Born in Tuscany, she was the daughter of a farmer and lost her mother at the young age of 7. Her father did remarry, but the step-mother had no idea how to handle such a high spirited daughter as St Margaret was proving to be. Because she felt as if she didn’t really fit in at home, she ran away with a young man which resulted in a son out of wedlock. It was nine years later that tragedy struck and the man left this world. Returning home, hoping for help from her father because of her situation, her father turned her and her son away. This resulted in her going to Friars Minor in Cortona where they gave her and her son a place.
At first it was really hard for her to avoid the temptations of the flesh and she even gave in to those temptations a few times. However, after a bit of time, one Sunday before Mass, she came in to the church and repented for her past sins and even tried to scar her face to take away from her being able to give in to those temptations, but one of the Friars stopped her. Instead, she began to take care of those that were sick, bringing them comfort and nursing them back to health. Eventually this turned to her taking care of the poor that were ill without recompense for her actions. She ended up joining the Third Order of St. Francis and her son also became a Franciscan. She worked hard and dedicated her life towards taking care of the poor as well as spending her time in prayer.
God Bless her and may we also work hard to help others while progressing our own relationship with God.
Today, February 21, we celebrate the life and works of St Peter Damian. St Peter was a man that had been raised on the word and knew that it was his duty to the world to go out there and bring people back to the path of virtue instead of letting them wander the path they were currently on. He lost his parents at a young age and ended up in a home where he was treated poorly instead of treated like a person. This only seemed to cement him in his mind as far as where he wanted to be with it. He pursued religion because it was the only thing that had been there for him when he was stuck in such a hard situation as he was growing up.
He learned about fasting and worship and prayer. He cared greatly for the people though and would always go out of his way to help the poor. It was said that he always had a poor person at his table, that he was always trying to ensure they had enough to eat. While he was in this role, he began to think of dedicating his life completely to God, to stepping away from the world and becoming a hermit. It was by chance that he had a meeting with two religious men of St Benedict that completely decided for him. He went into a hermitage right after that and dedicated his life completely to God and prayer without the distraction of the world pressing in on him.
God Bless him and may we also dedicate so much of our lives to God and spreading His love.
Today, February 20, we celebrate St Mark, Patron of Notaries. St Mark is most known for writing the second gospel of the New Testament as well as being the founder of the Church of Alexandria. Both he and his mother, Mary are held in high esteem in the early church and even held many meeting for early Catholics in their home. He traveled with the other disciples, following Jesus throughout his life and teachings. It is these things that he saw that he based the second gospel on.
According to many written records, St Mark left Jesus’ side when he explained about his flesh being real food and his blood being real drink. It was a couple years later when he rejoined with St Peter that his faith was restored and he was able to understand exactly what the Lord meant when he was saying such things. St Mark wrote the second gospel after this, writing it for the Gentiles that had converted to Catholicism.
God Bless him and the knowledge and views of Jesus’ life that has given to us. May we follow the Lord faithfully.
Today, February 19, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Alvarez of Corova. The birth place of Blessed Alvarez is of minor speculation, believing to be either Cordova, Lisbon, or Portugal. Regardless of that, he joined the Dominican convent of Cordova. He became a man that many knew of and could look to for guidance. He became a powerful preacher in both Spain and Italy, going on to become confessor to many powerful people including Queen Catherine. Because of his obvious knowledge and talents, he was even appointed to the position of tutor to King John II when he was young.
He went on to do much more, reforms and further preaching. It was after he had completed the reform that he turned his work towards building. He founded and built a monastery in Cordova and, there, built the Escalaceli that had many people coming to this monastery as a place of worship. He led the talks against the antipope Benedict XII which only seemed to further establish him in such high regard. By the time he joined God in heaven, he had become known as one of the most powerful preachers in Spain. Many were deeply saddened when he left this world.
God Bless him and may we also use our talents to bring glory to God.
Today, February 18, we celebrate the life and works of Fra Angelico, patron of artists. Originally named Guido di Pietro, he took on the name Angelico because of the portraits that he painted of religious subjects. Born in Tuscany, he made a point of using his gifts to spread his religious beliefs as well as lived a life dedicated to piety that made the name stick. His career started out small as most would expect. He joined a Dominican convent and became a friar there. He started out his work as an artist by being an illustrator for religious books and other religious items.
His work and gifts were recognized as he began to paint more and began to branch out to paint pictures of portraits, to bring those that were religious into the light by capturing them in calm and religious art. It was so recognized that the pope even called for him to come to Rome to paint art for what was the Chapel of the Sacrament in the Vatican. He took these positions with honor, seeing it as his way of using God’s gift to share his belief and religion with the world. After he finished his work there, he returned to the convent he had joined in the beginning where he became prior. It was there that he lived out the rest of his days.
God Bless him and may we also use the gifts that God gives us to spread His love and work.
Today, February 17, we celebrate the life and works of St Finan of Lindisfarne. St Finan was an Iona monk that refused to give up the ways of the Celtic simply because Romans were trying to encroach on Ireland. He worked hard to ensure that Celtic traditions were upheld. He was a man that many held in high regards and he made a point of ensuring that he continued to inspire people. He was elected bishop of Lindisfarne in 621, years after he had baptized the rulers of Essex and of the Middle Angles.
Once he was bishop of Lindisfarne, he sent out missionaries to Mercia and Essex, wanting to give the people the truth that he knew and bring that light and love into their lives. He worked hard to share his knowledge with others, joining in on debates about religious topics. One of these many debates included the correct calculation for the day of Easter.
God Bless him and may we also share the knowledge that we have with others, bringing that same light and love to their lives as St Finan did to others.
Today, February 16, we celebrate the life and works of St Daniel. St Daniel was an Egyptian that took pity on those Catholics that were being imprisoned in the mines of Cilicia to work as punishment for their belief. He, along with four others with him, went to Caesarea, Palestine to offer comfort to those being enslaved because of their religion. They wanted nothing more than to share a little of God’s love with their brothers being brutalized. They made it no further than the gates of Caesarea before they were apprehended and brought before the governor.
Firmilian, the governor, was a hard man and listened to the city guardsmen accuse these men of being Catholics. He refused to stand for such happening in his city. He sentenced the group to be martyred for their faith as an example of what would happen to any Catholics that came to his city. He would do all within his power to help along the Maximus persecution. All men went bravely to their fates, never once denying their relationship with God.
God Bless him and may we also bravely help those in need, bringing a little light into their lives by sharing God’s love with them.