Category Archives: November

Nov 2 – All Souls, Dies Irae

THAT day of wrath, that dreadful day,
shall heaven and earth in ashes lay,
as David and the Sybil say.

What horror must invade the mind
when the approaching Judge shall find
and sift the deeds of all mankind!

The mighty trumpet’s wondrous tone
shall rend each tomb’s sepulchral stone
and summon all before the Throne.

Now death and nature with surprise
behold the trembling sinners rise
to meet the Judge’s searching eyes.

Then shall with universal dread
the Book of Consciences be read
to judge the lives of all the dead.

For now before the Judge severe
all hidden things must plain appear;
no crime can pass unpunished here.

O what shall I, so guilty plead?
and who for me will intercede?
when even Saints shall comfort need?

O King of dreadful majesty!
grace and mercy You grant free;
as Fount of Kindness, save me!

Recall, dear Jesus, for my sake
you did our suffering nature take
then do not now my soul forsake!

In weariness You sought for me,
and suffering upon the tree!
let not in vain such labor be.

O Judge of justice, hear, I pray,
for pity take my sins away
before the dreadful reckoning day.

Your gracious face, O Lord, I seek;
deep shame and grief are on my cheek;
in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.

You Who did Mary’s guilt unbind,
and mercy for the robber find,
have filled with hope my anxious mind.

How worthless are my prayers I know,
yet, Lord forbid that I should go
into the fires of endless woe.

Divorced from the accursed band,
o make me with Your sheep to stand,
as child of grace, at Your right Hand.

When the doomed can no more flee
from the fires of misery
with the chosen call me.

Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie,
my heart like ashes, crushed and dry,
assist me when I die.

Full of tears and full of dread
is that day that wakes the dead,
calling all, with solemn blast
to be judged for all their past.

Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest,
grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 24 – “Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and all the saints…”

Michele_Giambono_San_Crisógono_a_caballo_San_Trovaso_Venecia

– by Michele Giambono, ca. 1450, San Crisógono a caballo, San Trovaso, Venecia, 199 cm (78.3 in). Width: 134 cm (52.8 in).

-by Br Isaac Augustine Morales, OP (Br Isaac earned a PhD in New Testament from Duke University and taught for four years in the Theology Department of Marquette University prior to joining the Order.)

“Today is the feast day of St. Chrysogonus. You may think you know nothing about him, but if you go to Mass regularly, chances are you’ve at least heard his name: “With Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and all the saints.” Thus runs one part of the Roman Canon, one of the Eucharistic prayers of the Roman liturgy. Today is also the feast day of St. Colman of Cloyne, St. Andrew Dung Lac, St. Columbanus, St. Alexander, and St. Anthony Nam-Quynh. In fact, according to one calendar, it is the feast day of over thirty saints and blesseds, and one would find similar numbers for practically every day of the year.

Most of these saints are unfamiliar to us. So why does the Church recognize and celebrate so many saints? Isn’t it a bit much? I suggest three reasons that the Church puts these men and women forward for our veneration (dulia vs latria): their numbers inspire hope, they manifest the infinite variety of God’s goodness, and they remind us that holiness is ultimately ordered to the glory of God.

Considering the vast number of saints recognized by the Church gives us hope, because the saints remind us of how effective God’s grace is. Not a single one of the saints became holy purely by his own efforts. (Ed. even their own nature’s, whatever they might have been, cooperating with grace, were God’s gift.) The grace of God transformed them, fixing their broken nature so that they might become the images of God he created them to be (Gen 1:26-28), conformed to Christ, the perfect “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). If God has worked such a transformation in so many men and women throughout history – men and women who were just as broken as we are – then we can be confident that he can do the same for you and me. (Ed.: I believe in grace.)

The saints also manifest the inexhaustible richness of God’s goodness. God calls people from all cultures, times, and places, and from all walks of life. The same God who knocked a first-century Jewish tentmaker to the ground, irrevocably changing the course of his life, also invited a small Albanian Sister of Loreto to found a new order and set the world on fire. Doctors, priests, monks, scholars, virgins, mothers, Europeans, Americans, Africans, Asians – no state in life, no culture is beyond the transformative power of God’s holiness. The Church gives us saints from every age and from every region of the world to teach us that no situation is outside the immeasurable grace and mercy of God.

Finally, the saints remind us that all our striving after holiness is ultimately for the glory of God. With so many saints on the Church’s calendar, some of them are bound to be forgotten or at least neglected – and they’re okay with that! Holiness is not about attracting the praise of others to yourself, but about drawing others to praise God, who is wonderful in his saints. With the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints sing, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!” In imitation of their Lord, who humbled himself to the point of death, death on a cross, they, too, humble themselves for the glory of God. Through the intercession of St. Chrysogonus – and of St. Colman of Cloyne, St. Andrew Dung Lac, St. Columbanus, St. Alexander, and St. Anthony Nam-Quynh, indeed of all the saints – may we be strengthened to do the same.”

(Ed.: today is also the feast of Sts Flora & Mary, Martyrs of Cordoba, Spain.)

All you holy men and women, pray for us!

Love,
Matthew

Nov 22 – Bl George Haydock, Priest & Martyr, (1556-1584) & the 85 Martyrs of England, Scotland, & Wales

st-_andrews_and_blessed_george_haydocks_catholic_church_cottam_lancashire_uk
-St. Andrew’s & Blessed_George_Haydock’s Catholic Church, Cottam, Lancashire, UK

A group of Catholic male martyrs, aged between 24 and 80 years old, including George Haydock and sixty-two laypeople and religious.   Sixty-three of these martyrs were ordained Catholic priests.  Twenty-two were laypeople from various social ranks and walks of life.

These martyrs were arrested, tried, and executed particularly during the reign of Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603) and Oliver Cromwell (r. 1653-1658), the Lord Protector, because they refused to accept statutes from these monarch/dictator that denied the Catholic Church’s role in their homeland.

George Haydock, singularly praised in this beatification, was born in 1556 at Cotton Hall, England, the son of Evan and Helen Haydock. He was sent to Douai, France, and then Rome, Italy, to be educated.

George was ordained a priest on December 21, 1581, probably at Reims, France. He returned to England to begin a missionary apostolate but was arrested soon after and placed in the Tower of London.He spent a year and three months in confinement in the Tower of London, suffering from a malarial fever he first contracted in the early summer of 1581 when visiting the seven churches of Rome.

About May, 1583, though he remained in the Tower, his imprisonment was relaxed to “free custody”, and he was able to administer the Sacraments to his fellow-prisoners. During the first period of his captivity he was accustomed to decorate his cell with the name and arms of the pope scratched or drawn in charcoal on the door or walls, and through his career his devotion to the papacy amounted to a passion.  On 16 January 1584, he and other priests imprisoned in the Tower were examined at the Guildhall by the recorder touching their beliefs.

He frankly confessed, with reluctance, that he was eventually obliged to declare that the queen was a heretic, and so seal his fate. On 5 February 1584, he was indicted with James Fenn, a Somersetshire man, formerly fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, William Deane who had been ordained priest the same day as himself, and six other priests, for having conspired against the queen at Reims, 23 September 1581, agreeing to come to England, 1 October, and setting out for England, 1 November. In point of fact he arrived at Reims on 1 November 1581.

On the same 5 February two further indictments were brought, the one against Thomas Hemerford, a Dorsetshire man, sometime scholar of St John’s College, Oxford, the other against John Munden, a Dorsetshire man, sometime fellow of New College, Oxford, John Nutter, a Lancashire man, sometime scholar of St John’s College, Cambridge, and two other priests. The next day, St Dorothy’s Day, Haydock, Fenn, Hemerford, Munden, and Nutter were brought to the bar and pleaded not guilty.

Haydock had for a long time shown a great devotion to St Dorothy, and was accustomed to commit himself and his actions to her daily protection. It may be that he first entered the college at Douai on that day in 1574-5, but this is uncertain. The Concertatio Ecclesiae says he was arrested on this day in 1581-2, but the Tower bills state that he was committed to the Tower on the 5th, in which case he was arrested on the 4th.

On Friday the 7th all five were found guilty, and sentenced to death. The other four were committed in shackles to “the pit” in the Tower. Haydock, perhaps in case he should die by a natural death, was sent back to his old quarters. Early on Wednesday the 12th he said Mass, and later the five priests were drawn to Tyburn on hurdles; Haydock, being probably the youngest and certainly the weakest in health, was the first to suffer. An eyewitness gave an account of their execution, which John Hungerford Pollen printed in the fifth volume of the Catholic Record Society.

Haydock was twenty-eight, Munden about forty, Fenn, a widower, with two children, was probably also about forty, Hemerford was probably about Haydock’s age; Nutter’s age is unknown.

Some of the better known martyred companions of George Haydock and the year they died are as follows:

William Carter (1584)
Hugh Grant (1585)
Marmaduke Bowes (1585)
Alexander Crow (1586 or 1587)
Nicholas Woodfen (1586)
William Pichard (1587)
Edmund Duke and Companions (1590)
Roger Thorpe (1591),
Thomas Watkinson (1591)
George Errington (1596)
William Gibson (1596)
Peter Snow (1598)
Ralph Grimstow (1598)
Christopher Wharton (1600)
Francis Ingleby (1586)
John Fingley (1586)
Robert Bickerdike (1586)
William Thomson (1586)
John Sandys (1586)
Richard Sargeant (1586)
John Lowe (1586)
Robert Dibdale (1586)
John Adams (1586)
Edmund Sykes (1587)
Stephen Rowsham (1587)
John Hambley (1587)
George Douglas (1587)
Richard Simpson (1588)
Edward Burden (1588)
Henry Webley (1588)
William Lampley (1588)
Nicholas Garlick (1588)
Robert Ludlam (1588)
Robert Sutton (1588)
Richard (Lloyd) Flower (1588)
William Spenser (1589)
Robert Hardesty (1589)
Thomas Belson (1589)
Richard Yaxley (1589)
George Nichols (1589)
Humphrey Pritchard (1589)
Nicholas Horner (1590)
Alexander Blake (1590)
George Beesley (1591)
William Pike (1591)
Mountford Scott (1591)
Joseph Lambton (1592)
Thomas Pormort (1592)
William Davies (1593)
Anthony Page (1593)
Christopher Robinson (1597)
John Bretton (1598)
Edward Thwing (1600)
Thomas Palaser (1600)
John Talbot (1600)
Robert Nutter (1600)
John Norton (1600)
Roger Filcock (1600)
Thomas Hunt (1600)
Thomas Sprott (1600)
Robert Middleton (1601)
Thurston Hunt (1601)
Robert Grissold (1604)
John Sugar (1604)
Robert Drury (1607)
Matthew Flathers (1608)
Roger Cadwallador (1610)
Thomas Atkinson (1616)
Roger Wrenno (1616)
John Thules (1616)
William Southerne (1618)
Thomas Bullaker (1642)
Henry Heath (1643)
Arthur Bell (1643)
Edward Bamber (1646)
John Woodcock (1646)
Thomas Whittaker (1646)
Nicholas Postage (1679)
and Charles Meeham (1679)

Pope St John Paul II beatified George Haydock and the other martyrs on November 22, 1987, The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe.

“This feast of Christ the King proclaims that all earthly power is ultimately from God, that His Kingdom is our first and lasting concern and that obedience to His laws is more important than any other obligation or loyalty.

Thomas More, that most English of saints, declared on the scaffold: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s servant first”. In this way he witnessed to the primacy of the Kingdom.

Today we have declared Blessed another eighty-five martyrs: from England, Scotland and Wales, and one from Ireland. Each of them chose to be “God’s servant First”. They consciously and willingly embraced death for love of Christ and the Church. They too chose the Kingdom above all else. If the price had to be death they would pay it with courage and joy.

Blessed Nicholas Postgate welcomed his execution “as a short cut to heaven”. Blessed Joseph Lambton encouraged those who were to die with him with the words “Let us be merry, for tomorrow I hope we shall have a heavenly breakfast”. Blessed Hugh Taylor, not knowing the day of his death, said: “How happy I should be if on this Friday, on which Christ died for me, I might encounter death for Him”. He was executed on that very day, Friday 6 November 1585. Blessed Henry Heath, who died in 1643, thanked the court for condemning him and giving him the “singular honour to die with Christ”.

Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.

The priests among them wished only to feed their people with the Bread of Life and with the Word of the Gospel. To do so meant risking their lives. But for them this price was small compared to the riches they could bring to their people in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The twenty-two laymen in this group of martyrs shared to the full the same love of the Eucharist. They, too, repeatedly risked their lives, working together with their priests, assisting, protecting and sheltering them. Laymen and priests worked together; together they stood on the scaffold and together welcomed death. Many women, too, not included today in this group of martyrs, suffered for their faith and died in prison. They have earned our undying admiration and remembrance.

These martyrs gave their lives for their loyalty to the authority of the Successor of Peter, who alone is Pastor of the whole flock. They also gave their lives for the unity of the Church, since they shared the Church’s faith, unaltered down the ages, that the Successor of Peter has been given the task of serving and ensuring “the unity of the flock of Christ”. He has been given by Christ the particular role of confirming the faith of his brethren.

The martyrs grasped the importance of that Petrine ministry. They gave their lives rather than deny this truth of their faith. Over the centuries the Church in England, Wales and Scotland has drawn inspiration from these martyrs and continues in love of the Mass and in faithful adherence to the Bishop of Rome. The same loyalty and faithfulness to the Pope is demonstrated today whenever the work of renewal in the Church is carried out in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in communion with the universal Church.

Central to this renewal, to which the Holy Spirit calls the Church, is work for that unity among Christians for which Christ Himself prayed. We must all rejoice that the hostilities between Christians, which so shaped the age of these martyrs, are over, replaced by fraternal love and mutual esteem.

Seventeen years ago [1970] forty of the glorious company of martyrs were canonized. It was the prayer of the Church on that day that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians. Today we may fittingly give thanks for the progress made in the intervening years towards fuller communion between Anglicans and Catholics. We rejoice in the deeper understanding, broader collaboration and common witness that have taken place through the power of God.

In the days of the martyrs whom we honor today, there were other Christians who died for their beliefs. We can all now appreciate and respect their sacrifice. Let us respond together to the great challenge which confronts those who would preach the Gospel in our age. Let us be bold and united in our profession of our common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.”

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-plaque honoring Blessed George Haydock in St. Andrew’s & Blessed George Haydock’s Catholic Church, Cottam, Lancashire, UK.

“I pray God that my blood may increase the Catholic faith in England.” – Blessed George Haydock, speaking from the gallows

Blessed Martyrs of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, pray for us!

Love,
Matthew

Nov 14 – St Nicholas Tavelic & Companions, OFM, (d. 1391), Priests & Martyrs

Blazeni_Nikola_Tavelic_Rijeka_0308

The personal stories of these Franciscan missionaries, are intertwined in 1383, when, coming from different places in Europe, they flowed into the Franciscan convent of Mount Zion in Palestine, where the Order of St. Francis has been for centuries the Custodian of the Holy Places of Christianity.

The Friars Minor, Nicholas Tavelic, Deodato of Aribert Ruticinio, Stephen of Cuneo and Peter of Narbonne found themselves in that Franciscan monastery, where they lived for eight years, according to the Rule of St. Francis, performing their duties, for the care of Places sanctity of life and death of Jesus, and trying to do apostolate in the Muslim world, where Mount Zion was almost like an island amid a sea of Muslims.

With Muslims, the apostolate was almost fruitless, since the deepening of their faith, they were not open to inter-religious dialogue.

Nevertheless, the four Friars Minor, decided to bring the Gospel to the Mohammedans (a name Muslims dislike, since it smacks of over-reverence for a human, Mohammed, much like Christianity intentionally imputes reverence for Christ), publicly exposing the arguments of Christianity and Islam and comparing them with those after consultation with two theologians, prepared a memorandum in which, in a detailed way, and rich with historical references and theological logic, they meticulously exposed the Christian doctrine by refuting Islam.

On November 11, 1391, they went before the Cadi (judge) of Jerusalem in the presence of many Muslims, they were exposed reading this, they presented their arguments with great courage.

While those present listened carefully, it was not accepted, and in the end they went into a rage and then the monks were asked to recall what they said; the four monks refused and so were sentenced to death in three days were put behind bars where they suffered abuse.

On November 14, they were brought back to the streets, again asked to recant what was said against Islam, after rejecting this final opportunity to save their lives by denying Christ,  they were beheaded and cremated so that their remains could not be venerated as martyrs by Christians.

Their martyrdom was described in detail in a report by the Guardian of the Holy Land, Father Gerald Calvet, OFM, two months after their death.

Their cult was recognized by the Franciscan Order, dating from the fifteenth century; Pope Leo XIII, in 1889, confirmed only the cult of Nicholas Tavelic, the leader, who had great reverence in his native Yugoslavia.

In 1966, Pope Paul VI confirmed the cult for the other three Franciscan Martyrs, starting their feast at November 17, but in the Franciscan Martyrology they were remembered on the date of their death (dies natalis, which, literally, translates from the Latin as “birthday”.  Saints are honored on the day of their death, their “birthday” into eternal life.), November 14.

Pope Paul VI, on June 21, 1970, in Rome, elevated them to the honors of the altar, proclaimed them saints, and their liturgical celebration was extended to November 14 for all, and inserted into the Roman Martyrology on the same date; they are the first martyrs and saints charged with the Custody of the Holy Land.

Nicola Tavelic:

First saint of the Croatian nation, Nicola Tavelic, was born about 1340 in Šibenik, Dalmatia; as a teenager he walked among the Friars Minor of St. Francis, became a priest, was a missionary in Bosnia, along with his fellow priest, Deodato Ruticinio, where for nearly 12 years he preached against the Bogomil, a heretical sect that had its stronghold in Bosnia (they contrasted the spirit world than that of matter, considered an expression of force of evil, they denied the Trinity, the human nature of Christ, the Old Testament, did not recognize the rites and sacraments of baptism and marriage, nor the church hierarchy).

Then in 1383, along with the French father, Aribert Ruticinio, Deodato, was sent to the Mission of Palestine Mont Sion in Jerusalem, where he met the other two future fellow martyrs, Father Stephen of Cuneo and Father Peter of Narbonne, France.

Deodato Ruticinio (aka Diode Aribert):

Was from the Franciscan Province of Aquitaine. We do not know his date of birth, which was probably around 1340. His country of birth, which in Latin is called Ruticinio was identified by some with the modern French city of Rodez, while some other shows the Roussillon, the historical region of southern France, but at that time depended on Catalonia. In 1372 he was sent as a missionary in Bosnia, where he met Father Nicola Tavelic, to whom he was bound by sincere friendship, all preaching against the Bogomil; in 1383 with his brother he was assigned to the Franciscan convent of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where he also met the Fathers Stefano Cuneo and Peter of Narbonne.

Peter of Narbonne:

All that is known of this Franciscan Martyr from the Franciscan Province of Provence in southern France, where at one point, he went down into Italy, attracted by the Franciscan Observance Reform, launched in Umbria in 1368, by Blessed Paul or Paoluccio Trinci of Foligno (1309-1391). He was at the hermitage Umbrian Brogliano, located between Foligno and Camerino, fifteen years, living in prayer and meditation on the spirituality of St. Francis. In 1381 he left as a missionary to the Holy Land, received into the convent of Mount Zion in Jerusalem where he met Nicola Tavelic in 1383, Deodato from Ruticinio, his compatriot and Stephen of Cuneo, with whom he will later be martyred so horribly, on November 14, 1391.

Stephen of Cuneo:

Very little is known about the Franciscan Saint Martyred in Jerusalem, Stephen of Cuneo, made from precious ‘report’ made by the Father Superior of the convent of Mount Sion, on the martyrdom of the four priests belonging to the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land. Father Stephen of Cuneo, was of the Franciscan Province of Genoa and spent eight years in the vicarious in Corsica, before being transferred to Jerusalem in 1383, where he could fulfill his apostolic activity among the Muslims for another eight years before his martyrdom, suffered along with fellow French by Deodato Ruticinio and Peter of Narbonne and the Croatian Nicola Tavelic. The city of origin of the Franciscan saint, Cuneo, seems doubtful, since an historic renaissance, claimed to have collected a local tradition, which made him a native of Fiumorbo in Corsica, with a separate family Prunelli.

Prayer

O God, who didst glorify Thy confessor Blessed Nicholas by spreading the Gospel and by the palm of martyrdom, grant in answer to our prayer, that we may merit to walk in his footsteps and through his intercession deserve to receive the victor’s reward of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 10 – Pope St Leo the Great, (400-461 AD), Doctor of the Church, “Christian, remember your dignity!”

Priest_celebrating_Mass_at_Altar_of_Leo_I_in_St._Peter's_Basilica

-priest celebrating Mass at the altar of St Leo the Great, St Peter’s basilica

“Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember Who is your head and of Whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” -CCC 1691, St. Leo the Great, Sermo 22 in nat. Dom., 3:PL 54,192C.

Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great,” was involved in the fourth ecumenical council, which helped prevent the spread of error and heresy on Christ’s divine and human natures.

St. Leo intervened for the safety of the Church in the West as well, persuading Attila the Hun to turn back from Rome.

Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also maintain a devotion to the memory of Pope St. Leo the Great. Churches of the Byzantine tradition celebrate his feast day on Feb. 18.

“As the nickname soon attributed to him by tradition suggests,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2008 general audience on the saint, “he was truly one of the greatest pontiffs to have honored the Roman See and made a very important contribution to strengthening its authority and prestige.”

Leo’s origins are obscure and his date of birth unknown. His ancestors are said to have come from Tuscany, though the future pope may have been born in that region or in Rome itself. He became a deacon in Rome in approximately 430, during the pontificate of Pope Celestine I.

During this time, central authority was beginning to decline in the Western portion of the Roman Empire. At some point between 432 and 440, during the reign of Pope St. Celestine’s successor Pope Sixtus III, the Roman Emperor Valentinian III commissioned Leo to travel to the region of Gaul and settle a dispute between military and civil officials.

Pope Sixtus III died in 440 and, like his predecessor Celestine, was canonized as a saint. Leo, away on his diplomatic mission at the time of the Pope’s death, was chosen to be the next Bishop of Rome. Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church in its profession of faith, and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions.

Leo used his authority, in both doctrinal and disciplinary matters, against a number of heresies troubling the Western church – including Pelagianism (involving the denial of Original Sin) and Manichaeanism (a gnostic system that saw matter as evil). In this same period, many Eastern Christians had begun arguing about the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and divinity.

As early as 445 AD, Leo had intervened in this dispute in the East, which threatened to split the churches of Alexandria and Constantinople. Its eventual resolution was, in fact, rejected in some quarters – leading to the present-day split between Eastern Orthodoxy and the so-called “non-Chalcedonian churches” which accept only three ecumenical councils.

As the fifth-century Christological controversy continued, the Pope urged the gathering of an ecumenical council to resolve the matter. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Pope’s teaching was received as authoritative by the Eastern bishops, who proclaimed: “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.”

Leo’s teaching confirmed that Christ’s eternal divine personhood and nature did not absorb or negate the human nature that he assumed in time through the Incarnation. Instead, “the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person.”

“So without leaving his Father’s glory behind, the Son of God comes down from His heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world,” the Pope taught. “While remaining pre-existent, He begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled His measureless majesty and took on a servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as He is, to be subject to the laws of death.” (Ed: …by His own choice, out of love for us.)

In 452 AD, one year after the Council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo led a delegation which successfully negotiated with the barbarian king Attila to prevent an invasion of Rome. When the Vandal leader Genseric occupied Rome in 455, the Pope confronted him, unarmed, and obtained a guarantee of safety for many of the city’s inhabitants and the churches to which they had fled.

Pope St. Leo the Great died on Nov. 10, 461. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754. A large collection of his writings and sermons survives, and can be read in translation today.

Leoattila-Raphael

-Raphael’s The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila depicts Leo, escorted by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, meeting with the Hun king outside Rome, 1514, fresco, 500 cm × 750 cm (200 in × 300 in), Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, Rome.  It is reported that when Attila met Leo, he saw Peter and Paul accompanying Leo, when no one else could, and it was for this reason he spared the city. (Please click on the image for greater detail.)

Herrera_mozo_San_León_magno_Lienzo._Óvalo._164_x_105_cm._Museo_del_Prado

Saint Leo Magnus by Francisco Herrera the Younger, in the Prado Museum, Madrid

“Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo.” – Council of Chalcedon

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” – Pope Saint Leo the Great

“Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: “We are all one in Christ,” nor is anyone separated from the office of another in such a way that a lower group has no connection with the head.

In the unity of faith and baptism, our community is then undivided. There is a common dignity as the apostle Peter says in these words: “And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” And again: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of election.” For all, regenerated in Christ, as made kings by the sign of the cross. They are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?” – from a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great

“God decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ. Dear friends, now that we have received instruction in this revelation of God‘s grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first harvesting, of the first calling of the Gentiles. Let us give thanks to the merciful God, “who has made us worthy,” in the words of the Apostle, “to share the position of the saints in light; who has rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of this beloved Son.” This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.” – from a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great

Hymn

Troparion (Tone 3)

You were the Church’s instrument
in strengthening the teaching of true doctrine;
you shone forth from the West like a sun dispelling the errors of the heretics.
Righteous Leo, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

Troparion (Tone 8)

O Champion of Orthodoxy, and teacher of holiness,
The enlightenment of the universe and the inspired glory of true believers.
O most wise Father Leo, your teachings are as music of the Holy Spirit for us!
Pray that Christ our God may save our souls!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Seated upon the throne of the priesthood, glorious Leo,
you shut the mouths of the spiritual lions.
With divinely inspired teachings of the honored Trinity,
you shed the light of the knowledge of God upon your flock.
Therefore, you are glorified as a divine initiate of the grace of God.

“The way to rest is through toil, the way to life is through death” -Pope St. Leo the Great

Love,
Matthew

Nov 6 – Bl Alphonsus Navarrete, OP, (1571-1617), Priest, Martyr & Companions

Dominicans were the first missionaries to Japan, and 1530 is given as the date of their martyrdom. However, no conclusive proof exists regarding their names or number, and Saint Francis Xavier rightly holds the title of apostle to this island kingdom.

Following in Xavier’s footsteps came other missionaries, and, for about 40 years, they worked with great results among the people. Then, in the closing years of the century, persecution flared, and the blood of martyrs cried out with a louder voice than that of the preachers.

The first Dominican to die in the great persecution was Alphonsus Navarrete. When Alphonsus was very young, he gave up his inheritance to enter the Dominican Order in Valladolid and, after he had completed his studies, was sent to the Philippine missions. The great persecution had just begun in Japan. The year before Alphonsus left Spain, a group of 26 Christians, including many Franciscans and three Japanese Jesuits, were crucified in Nagasaki.

Despite the dangers, the Dominicans, who had been excluded from Japan for several years, yearned to go into the perilous mission field. Alphonsus in particular, after a trip to Europe to recruit missionaries in 1610, begged to be allowed to go to Japan. In the following year his offer was accepted and he was sent as superior of the missionary band. During the short interval of peace, they began their work, and, during six years of growing danger, they instructed the people and prepared them for the dreadful days to come.

The missionary career of Alphonsus was brief, and it was always overshadowed by the threat of death that beset the Christians in that unhappy country. However, in the few years of his apostolate, his accomplishment was immeasurable. Like his Divine Master, he went about teaching and baptizing the people. He is called the “Vincent de Paul of Japan,” because it was he who first began the tremendous task of caring for the abandoned babies there. He anticipated the work of the Holy Childhood Society by gathering up the homeless waifs and providing for their support from money he begged of wealthy Spaniards.

The warning bell of the great persecution was sounded with the martyrdom in Omura of two priests, a Franciscan and a Jesuit. Alphonus Navarrete and his Augustinian companion Ferdinand went to Omura with the intention of rescuing the relics of the martyrs and consoling the Christians. They were captured on the way, and with a young native catechist, were beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the sea.

Five years later, on the hill of the holy martyrs of Nagasaki, more than 50 Christians sealed their faith with their blood. Some of the martyrs were beheaded, some were burned at the stake. In the group were nine Jesuits, including the famous Father Charles Spinola, SJ, nine Franciscans, and nine Dominicans, among whom were the Blesseds Alphonsus de Mena, Angelo Orsucci, and Hyacinth Orphanel. Louis Bertrand, a nephew of the saint of that same name, perished in the same persecution.

Thousands of Japanese Christians, from tiny children to old grandparents, died amid terrible torments in the profession of their faith. The anger of the persecutors was turned against all priests, brothers, and catechists, tertiaries, and Rosarians, and they made fearful attempts to stamp out all traces of the hated religion in the country. Pope Pius IX, in 1867, solemnly beatified 205 of the martyrs, among whom were 59 Dominicans of the first and third orders and 58 members of the Rosary Confraternity. Although all did not die at the same time nor place, they are listed under the name of Alphonsus Navarrete, who was the first to die.

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Prayer

O God, in the triumph of blessed Alphonsus and his companions You give us joy. We pray You, to grant us through their merits and intercession, a like steadfastness in faith and fruitfulness in work. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns forever!

Love,
Matthew

Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare

Nov 1 – Bl Rupert Mayer, SJ, (1876-1945), Priest, The Apostle of Munich

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Blessed Rupert Mayer was a German Jesuit priest. He is best known for the apostolic endeavours he undertook in Munich between the First and Second World Wars. He is known as the Apostle of Munich. He was a powerful preacher and spoke out against the evils of Hitler and Nazism and touched many people through his work with the Men’s Congregation of Mary. Five to six thousand people come to pray at his tomb in St Michael’s Church, Munich each day. He was beatified on 3 May 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Father Mayer was born on 23 January 1876. His family was involved in business. He had a brother and four sisters. He grew up in Stuttgart. He was a very talented violinist and horse rider in his youth. Rupert finished his secondary education in 1894. He wished to become a Jesuit but his father wanted him to be ordained first. His father suggested that if he still had the desire to become a Jesuit after he was ordained he could then enter the Society. Fr Mayer studied Philosophy at Fribourg, Switzerland and in Munich. He then undertook his theological studies at Tubingen. He was ordained a priest on 2 May 1899. Rupert Mayer entered the Jesuit novitiate at Feldkirch, Austria on 1 October 1900. From 1906 to1911 he preached missions throughout Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In 1912 Fr Mayer was transferred to Munich to work with the poor.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Fr Mayer volunteered to be a military chaplain. He was initially assigned to a military hospital; however, he wished to be closer to the soldiers and was sent to the fronts in France, Poland and Romania as chaplain to a division of soldiers. He was held in great esteem by both Catholic and non-Catholic soldiers because his courageous work manifested his love for them. When there was fighting at the front Fr Mayer would be found crawling along the ground from one soldier to the next talking to them, listening to them and administering the Sacraments to them. When he was warned that he was putting his own life in danger through such activities, he replied simply, “My life is in God’s hands”. In December 1915, Fr Mayer was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery in recognition of his work with the soldiers at the front.

As he was rushing to minister to some of the soldiers, Fr Mayer was seriously wounded by a grenade during heavy fighting in December 1916. As a result of the injuries, his leg had to be amputated. He returned to Munich to convalesce and was referred to as the “Limping Priest”.  Fr Mayer’s own physical suffering transformed him into to an even more understanding, kind and gentle priest.

After the First World War Fr Mayer continued to work with the poor of Munich through the charitable organization, Caritas. He was known for his generosity to anyone who approached him as he adopted the following philosophy : “If out of the ten who ask for alms there are nine who are not in need of them, and if through fear of that happening, I refuse my help to one really needy person, this would cause me immense suffering. I would rather give to all ten and thus avoid the danger of being lacking in charity.”

Fr Mayer’s generosity in material things led people to approach him for help in spiritual matters. Fr Mayer helped people through the many hours he spent in the confessional and his courageous preaching. He encouraged men to join the Men’s Congregation of Mary (a sodality for men). Fr Mayer became the president of the Congregation in 1921 and more than doubled its membership to over 7000 men during this term of leadership. He was a popular priest because he totally gave of himself to the people, was generous and available but more importantly was able to relate to them in their surroundings and mix with people from all walks of life. An example of his generosity and his common touch was that he would celebrate Mass in the waiting room of Munich Railway Station at 3.10am and 3.45am on Sunday mornings so that people who wished to spend the day in the mountains could still meet their Sunday obligation.

After the First World War Fr Mayer also took a stand against Communism, National Socialism, and any writings that sowed hatred. He was prepared to denounce Adolf Hitler and Nazi propaganda pointing out the falsehoods being spread and stressing Catholic values. Fr Mayer particularly spoke out against the move to close church-affiliated schools. This lead to him being persecuted by the Nazis.

In May 1937 Fr Mayer was banned by civil authorities from preaching but he refused to obey the order as he considered himself obliged to defend the Church and its values. Consequently he was arrested in June 1937. He was tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment and was forbidden to preach. The sentence was suspended.

At this time, the Church authorities also forbade him to preach which was a great sacrifice for him. Soon the Prefect of Munich made the following remark, “The priests are all the same. Threaten them enough with arrest, rattle the keys of the concentration camp; they subside without further ado and shut up”. Fr Mayer could not let such a defamatory remark go unchallenged. He sought and was granted permission from his superiors to preach once again.

Upon preaching, Fr Mayer was arrested and immediately put into Landsberg prison. He served five months imprisonment until he was released as a result of a general amnesty. Upon being released, he continued to work with small discussion groups in Munich which were conducted privately.

Despite this, he was arrested by the Gestapo in November 1939. Fr Mayer was deported to the Orianienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He lost much weight because of the deprivations and hardships. He wrote to his mother and said, “I am cut off from everything and everyone and I hear nothing any more about the world…I try to pray and offer everything in sacrifice. God does not ask anything else of me at the moment or he would have disposed things differently.”

In August 1940 Fr Mayer was moved to Ettal Abbey in Southern Bavaria and was placed under house arrest. His greatest suffering was his inability to minister to his people. He was also concerned that his silence may be construed by others as capitulation.

However, he sought consolation during this time from the fact that Christ, too, had been persecuted.  Even the Nazis would not dare kill a national war hero and high profile figure such as Fr Mayer.

Though he could not help his people in any material way, he continued to help them through his prayer. In May 1945 he was released and returned to Munich. Once again he returned to his former apostolic work. On 1 November 1945 , he died while preaching at Mass of a stroke.  His last words were, “The Lord, the Lord, the Lord…”

Fr Mayer was an extraordinarily generous priest who through his limitless work and love for people was able to find Christ in each person. Rupert Mayer’s warmth, understanding and unconditional self-giving led each person he met to experience the love of Christ directly.

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-tomb of Bl Ruper Mayer, SJ

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-Bl Rupert Mayer, SJ’s Iron Cross medal

Lord, what You will let it be so
Where You will there we will go
What is Your will help us to know

Lord, when You will the time is right
In You there’s joy in strife
For Your will I’ll give my life

To ease Your burden brings no pain
To forego all for You is gain
As long as I in You remain

REFRAIN:
Because You will it, it is best
Because You will it, we are blest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest

-Prayer of Bl Rupert Mayer, SJ

Love,
Matthew

Nov 15 – St Albert the Great, OP – Doctor of the Church, Doctor Universalis, “The Teacher of Everything”

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– by Br Humbert Kilanowski, OP, (Br. Humbert Kilanowski entered the Order of Preachers in 2010. He earned a doctorate in mathematics from The Ohio State University and did his undergraduate studies at Case Western Reserve University.)

“Before I entered the Dominican Order, I taught an introductory statistics class at a small college founded by Dominican Sisters in my hometown. Since the school was too small to have distinct departments for each scientific field, all of them, including mathematics, were housed in St. Albert Hall, a building named for today’s patron saint. A fitting attribution—for the thirteenth-century German Dominican friar was an expert not only in philosophy and theology, but also in several natural sciences: constructing an early greenhouse, discovering the chemical element arsenic, and developing experimental methods that would later become standard in modern science. For his integration of scientific domains and the newly-rediscovered philosophy of Aristotle with the study of divine revelation in theology, Saint Albert the Great is fittingly honored as the Doctor Universalis, the “teacher of everything.”

In today’s academic climate, however, a “teacher of everything” is hard to find. Departments and disciplines have become so specialized that lectures given on one topic are often barely understood by others in the same department, and whole conferences and journals are devoted to the narrowest of subfields. In learning to be an expert in one area, other fields are ignored, to the point that scholars in the sciences can deem theological claims to be either over their heads or not worth their attention. Without a unifying vision of all knowledge, one may even reach the conclusion that science and theology contradict each other, as seen in the debates between random evolution and intelligent design, for example. How can a seeker of truth resolve this dilemma?

One scholar, the evolutionary biologist and agnostic Stephen Jay Gould (d. 2002), proposed a solution: that of “non-overlapping magisteria.” In this model, which he described in a 1997 article, both science and religion have separate domains over which each has competency, and neither one impinges on the other. As he writes:

The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch clichés, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.

The separation of domains of teaching authority, or “magisteria” as Gould appropriates the word, seems attractive; Christians believe that God created the human race directly in His image and likeness on theological grounds, for example, and biologists hold that humanity came to be through a long evolutionary process of many random mutations on scientific grounds. The dignity of the human race as being in the image of God is primarily a moral statement, while the origin of the species is a theory based on empirical data, and the two explanations seem to fall into disparate domains.

Yet, the various magisteria do, in fact, inevitably overlap. Another evolutionary biologist, the outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, replies:

It is completely unrealistic to claim, as Gould and many others do, that religion keeps itself away from science’s turf, restricting itself to morals and values. A universe with a supernatural presence would be a fundamentally and qualitatively different kind of universe from one without. The difference is, inescapably, a scientific difference. Religions make existence claims, and this means scientific claims.

In other words, if God is held to be the Creator of the universe, then He has a direct effect on all that exists (namely, He bestows existence on it), and everything studied in science, or art, or history, can be considered in relation to God. While Dawkins’ analysis limps in asserting that claims of existence are scientific, for many things exist that are not subject to natural science, he properly identifies that theology does exert an influence on science.

To investigate how these bodies of knowledge overlap and interact with each other, it helps to examine the work of St. Albert’s most prominent student, St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. He explains that theology “has no concern to prove the principles of other sciences, but only to judge of them” (ST, I, 1, 6, ad 1), and that it “can in a sense depend upon the philosophical sciences, not as though it stood in need of them, but only in order to make its teaching clearer” (ST, I, 1, 5, ad 2). To continue with the example, theology tells biology that it cannot exclude divine activity in forming the human race (especially with regard to the immaterial soul by which we reason and choose freely), while biology provides the details of how the human body was formed from the earth. Both fields, taken together, give a fuller and more robust understanding of what is to be known. By considering the relationship of theology to the other sciences, we can see how each field of study aims at the same truth according to its own method.

In this, we should follow the example of St. Albert the Great, who saw in everything that he studied the God who made it and to whom it is ultimately ordered. Surely, as Pope Leo XIII remarked, “Truth cannot contradict truth”; hence, let us join the “teacher of everything” by allowing everything we study to lead us to the contemplation of God, the Supreme Truth.”

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“I adore You, O Precious Blood of Jesus, flower of creation, fruit of virginity, ineffable instrument of the Holy Spirit, and I rejoice at the thought that You came from the drop of virginal blood on which eternal Love impressed its movement; You were assumed by the Word and deified in His person.

I am overcome with emotion when I think of Your passing from the Blessed Virgin’s heart into the heart of the Word, and, being vivified by the breath of the Divinity, becoming adorable because You became the Blood of God.

I adore You enclosed in the veins of Jesus, preserved in His humanity like the manna in the golden urn, the memorial of the eternal Redemption which He accomplished during the days of His earthly life.

I adore You, Blood of the new, eternal Testament, flowing from the veins of Jesus in Gethsemane, from the flesh torn by scourges in the Praetorium, from His pierced hands and feet and from His opened side on Golgotha. I adore You in the Sacraments, in the Eucharist, where I know You are substantially present….

I place my trust in You, O adorable Blood, our Redemption, our regeneration. Fall, drop by drop, into the hearts that have wandered from You and soften their hardness.

O adorable Blood of Jesus, wash our stains, save us from the anger of the avenging angel. Irrigate the Church; make her fruitful with Apostles and miracle-workers, enrich her with souls that are holy, pure and radiant with divine beauty.  Amen.”
-St Albert the Great, OP

Love,
Matthew

Nov 2 – All Souls, Prayer for the Attainment of Heaven

“Through sin, death entered the world.” (cf Rm 5:12)

“Sin directs the heart of the wicked man;
his eyes are closed to the fear of God.
For he lives with the delusion:
his guilt will not be known and hated.
Empty and false are the words of his mouth;
he has ceased to be wise and do good.
On his bed he hatches plots;
he sets out on a wicked way;
he does not reject evil.”

-Psalm 36: 1-5

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-by Br Raphael Forbing, OP

“Sin directs the heart of a wicked man,” reads Psalm 36. We spend our lives struggling to master our passions and avoid temptations, yet we fall time and time again. Though every sin is an offense against God’s perfect goodness, some of our failures are more serious than others. The Catholic tradition generally divides actual sins (those committed by our own free will) into two categories: mortal (grave sin) and venial (less serious sin).

Mortal sins are offenses that concern grave matter, and are made with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to original sin, as well as all personal sin in baptism received after infancy. The grave personal sins we commit after baptism, however, incur both guilt (responsibility for sin) and punishment (the exercise of Divine justice). These sins entirely remove God’s grace in the soul, and “mortally wound” the supernatural love that grace creates in our souls. Venial sins, though they do not kill the life of grace as mortal sin does, yet damage the life of grace and charity in our souls as though inflicting a flesh wound. God offers to forgive even the darkest of sins, and seeks not only to restore the life of grace in our souls, but also to make it richer than before. It is Christ alone who restores this life in us, though He does it through the ministry of the priesthood.”

Prayer for the Attainment of Heaven

O God of all consolation, You who see in us nothing but your own gifts, I entreat You to give me, at the close of this life, knowledge of the First Truth and enjoyment of Your divine majesty.

Most generous Rewarder, give to my body also the beauty of lightsomeness, responsiveness of flesh to spirit, a quick readiness and delicacy, and the gift of unconquerable strength.

And add to these an overflow of riches, a spate of delights, a confluence of all good things, so that I may rejoice in Your consolation above me, in a place of lowliness below me, in glorification of body and soul within me, in delight of friends and angels all around me.

Most merciful Father, being with You may my mind attain the enlightenment of wisdom, my desire, the fulfillment of its longing, my courage the praise of triumph.

For where you are is avoidance of all danger, plentitude of dwelling places, harmony of wills.

Where You are is the pleasantness of spring, the radiance of summer, the fecundity of autumn, and the repast of winter.

Give, Lord God, life without death, joy without sorrow, that place where reigns sovereign freedom, free security, secure tranquility, delightful happiness, happy eternity, eternal blessedness, the vision of truth and praise, O God.

Amen.

-St Thomas Aquinas, OP (1225-1274 AD)

Love,
Matthew

Blessed Feast of All Souls!!!  
Happy Celtic New Year!!!! 

Nov 15 – St Albert the Great, O.P., (1206-1280), Doctor of the Church, Patron of Scientists & Engineers

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Kelly, Mara, and I have found our new parish home in St Albert the Great, O.P. of Sun Prairie, WI, stalberts.org; sister parish of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish also in Sun Prairie.  We have hopes Mara may attend Sacred Hearts School.  The fact I am a professional applied scientist and a former Dominican novice is not lost on me in this serendipitous coincidence.  The Midwestern Province of the Order of Preachers is dedicated to St Albert the Great, O.P.  We are happy and St Albert’s is a happy place of fellow pilgrims.

He was known as the “teacher of everything there is to know,” was a scientist long before the age of science, became the teacher and mentor of that other remarkable mind of his time, St. Thomas Aquinas.  St. Albert the Great was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany; his father was a military lord in the army of Emperor Frederick II. As a young man Albert studied at the University of Padua and there fell under the spell of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.

After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne. In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil.

In 1260, he was appointed bishop of Regensberg; when he resigned after three years, he was called to be an adviser to the pope and was sent on several diplomatic missions. In his latter years, he resided in Cologne, took part in the Council of Lyons in 1274, and in his old age traveled to Paris to defend the teaching of his student Thomas Aquinas.

It was in Cologne that his reputation as a scientist grew. He carried on experiments in chemistry and physics in his makeshift laboratory and built up a collection of plants, insects, and chemical compounds that gave substance to his reputation. When Cologne decided to build a new cathedral, he was consulted about the design. He was friend and adviser to popes, bishops, kings, and statesmen and made his own unique contribution to the learning of his age.

He died a very old man in Cologne on November 15,1280, and is buried in St. Andrea’s Church in that city. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. His writings are remarkable for their exact scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the patron saint of scientists.

St. Albert the Great, O.P., was convinced that all creation spoke of God and that the tiniest piece of scientific knowledge told us something about Him. Besides the Bible, God has given us the book of creation revealing His wisdom and power. In creation, Albert saw directly and undeniably the hand of God and His love of mankind.

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-Roman sarcophagus containing the relics of Albertus Magnus in the crypt of St. Andreas church in Cologne, Germany

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)
-Saint Albert the Great

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Two things should be noted here. The first is the command that we should use this sacrament, which is indicated when Jesus says, “Do this.” The second is that this sacrament commemorates the Lord’s going to death for our sake.

This sacrament is profitable because it grants remission of sins; it is most useful because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life. “The Father of spirits instructs us in what is useful for our sanctification.” And his sanctification is in Christ’s sacrifice, that is, when He offers Himself in this sacrament to the Father for our redemption to us for our use.

Christ could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this sacrament is the Fruit of the Tree of Life. Anyone who receives this sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death. “It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, and blessed is he who holds it fast. The man who feeds on Me shall live on account of Me.”

Nor could He have commanded anything more lovable, for this sacrament produces love and union. It is characteristic of the greatest love to give itself as food. “Had not the men of my text exclaimed: Who will feed us with his flesh to satisfy our hunger? as if to say: I have loved them and they have loved Me so much that I desire to be within them, and they wish to receive Me so that they may become My members. There is no more intimate or more natural means for them to be united to Me, and I to them.Nor could He have commanded anything which is more like eternal life. Eternal life flows from this sacrament because God with all sweetness pours Himself out upon the blessed.” – from a commentary by Saint Albert the Great on the Gospel of Luke

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Prayer to St Albert the Great, O.P.

Dear scientist and Doctor of the Church, natural science and sacred science were for you the same Truth.  For you, and for all Catholic scientists, these are never in opposition, but always in harmony – one beckoning deeper understanding of the other, drawing humankind more deeply into the infinitely knowable mystery of the Creator and His Word.

Though you had an encyclopedic knowledge, it never made you proud, for you regarded it as a gift of God. Inspire scientists, theoretical and applied, to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation, thus bettering the lot of the human race and rendering greater glory to God. Amen.

Love,
Matthew