Saints: September 2009 Archives

Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

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Tomorrow, the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, is Lisa Hoffer's 50th birthday. Born under the protection of the Holy Physicians, Lisa pursues their vocation. The daughter of a physician, Lisa is a marvelously competent and compassionate nurse, and soon will be a licensed Nurse Practitioner. Happy Birthday, Lisa! May Saints Cosmas and Damian intercede for you.

Saints of the Roman Canon

From the end of the fourth century right up until 1970 the Mass of the Roman Rite was never celebrated without commemorating today's martyrs, Saints Cosmas and Damian. The names of Cosmas and Damian are enshrined in the "Communicantes" prayer of the Roman Canon. For well over a thousand years, the Roman Canon was the only Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Church. The fact that the names of Cosmas and Damian were pronounced in every single Mass celebrated from the time of Saint Gregory the Great to that of Paul VI has conferred on them an aura of venerable familiarity. They are inscribed in the collective Catholic memory.

Loved in the East

Looking Eastward, we see a similar attachment to Saints Cosmas and Damian. They are named explicitly at every Byzantine Divine Liturgy at the moment of the preparation of the bread and wine. Placing a piece of bread on the holy diskos, the priest says, "In honour and memory of the holy, wonderworking, and Moneyless Ones . . . and all the holy physicians labouring without pay." Moneyless physicians labouring without pay! What a marvelous notion! One begins to understand why Saints Cosmas and Damian came to occupy a place of choice in the affection of the Christian people.

Healing by the Power of Christ

Who were Cosmas and Damian? Tradition has it that they were twin brothers, Arabs by race, and physicians, practicing their profession without claiming payment from their patients. Hence they were known as the "moneyless" or "unmercenary" physicians. The lesson formerly read at Matins has this lovely line: "Not more by their knowledge of medicine than by the power of Christ they healed diseases which had been hopeless for others." Ultimately, Cosmas and Damian gave their lives in witness to the Divine Physician Christ. They were honoured first in the East, and by the sixth century they had their own basilica in Rome where they were depicted in mosaics which can still be seen today.

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Pray for Lisa Hoffer Today

O God, the life of Thy faithful,
and their Father most provident
amidst the changes and adversities of this life,
Who hast been pleased to bring Thy handmaid Lisa
to this her fiftieth birthday;
increase within her a lively faith,
an irrepressible hope,
and a tender charity;
renew for her the seven gifts of Thy Holy Spirit
and multiply for her His twelve fruits.

Thus, may she continue her pilgrimage in joy,
going from strength to strength,
and, in all circumstances, giving thanks.

Let the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Immaculate Mother of Thine Only-Begotten Son,
enfold Lisa in her protecting mantle,
together with Christopher her spouse,
and Agathe and Theodor, their children
Let Thy holy Angels, we beseech Thee,
surround them in all their comings and goings.

Father of mercies,
graciously multiply Thy handmaid's days with many years
and by Thy kindly light, lead her, at length,
into Thy presence in heaven,
that she may sing Thy praises forever
in the company of Thy saints
and of those whom Thou hast given her
to cherish and to serve in this valley of tears.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Intercession for Physicians and Nurses

It is no surprise that Cosmas and Damian came to be invoked as the patron saints of physicians, surgeons, and other health care givers. For this reason, I remember today all the physicians and nurses who have cared for us in the past, and who care for us now.

The Word That Heals

In some way we are, all of us, moneyless health care givers. There is a long tradition of this -- an apostolic one, in fact. Remember Saint Peter saying at the "gate which is called Beautiful" (Ac 3:2) "I have no silver or gold, but I give you what I have" (Ac 3:6). Peter then offered healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The charism of healing may not given to all, but the word of comfort, the word of the Lord that dispels fear and brings assurance, is something that each of us can offer. Holy Father Benedict, speaking of the cellarer of the monastery, says that, "a good word is above the highest gift" (RB 31:14). If words can wound, bringing suffering, they can also heal, bringing light and peace.

Healing in the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ

The words that bring us together day after day for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass -- "This is my Body which will be given up for you," and "This is the cup of my Blood" -- are words of healing. They come forth from the mouth of the Divine Physician, moneyless and unmercenary who, "though he was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9).

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There is a verse in the book of Ezra that is, I think, a wonderful expression of the life and mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves” (Ez 6:20).

Padre Pio's life was a long and uninterrupted celebration of the Pasch of the Lord. Configured to Jesus Crucified, Priest and Victim, Padre Pio offered himself to the Father in the daily Sacrifice of the Mass. Saint Pio’s paschal immolation -- his participation in the Cross of Christ -- was for the sake of "the rest of the exiles," all of us who go mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. And it was for the sake of "his brethren": for all priests called to follow him in a life of paschal purity and victimhood,

Entrance Antiphon

MR
God forbid that I should glory
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world is crucified to me,
and I to the world (Gal 6:14).

Collect

Almighty and eternal God,
who, by a singular grace,
allowed the priest Saint Pio
to participate in the cross of your Son,
and by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy;
grant, through his intercession that,
constantly united to the passion of Christ,
we may happily arrive at the glory of the resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

A Patron of Parish Priests

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Saint Gaetano Catanoso

Antiphon: Lord, when was it that we saw Thee hungry and fed Thee,
or thirsty and gave Thee drink?
When was it that we saw Thee a stranger,
and brought Thee home,
sick or in prison and came to Thee?
And the King will answer them:
Believe me, when you did it to one of the least of my brethren here,
you did it to me.

V. Pray for us, Saint Gaetano.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, Your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Priest of the Holy Face of Jesus

Gaetano Catanoso was born on 14 February 1879 in Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy. His parents, prosperous landowners, were exemplary Christians. Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902, and from 1904 to 1921 he served in the rural parish of Pentidattilo.

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Adorer of the Eucharistic Face

The Holy Face of Jesus illumined Father Catanoso's life. He venerated the Holy Face as depicted in the image of Veronica's Veil diffused by the Carmel of Tours in France. He began "The Holy Face" Bulletin and established a local chapter of the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in 1920. "The Holy Face," he wrote, "is my life." Saint Gaetano directed anyone seeking the Face of Christ to the Most Holy Eucharist, saying, "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host."

A Eucharistic Parish Priest

On 2 February 1921, Father Catanoso was transferred to the large parish of Santa Maria de la Candelaria. He served there until 1940. The daily celebration of Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration were the soul of his priesthood and the sustenance of his apostolate.

As the parish priest of Candelaria, Saint Gaetano drew people to Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar and renewed devotion to the Madonna. The plight of orphans moved him to undertake a number of charitable initiatives. He played an active role in the catechetical instruction of children and young people. Deeply moved by the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette, Father Gaetano preached against blasphemy and taught the faithful to sanctify Sundays and the feasts of the Church.

Father Catanoso was compelled to reach out to orphans and to children suffering from neglect and abuse. He sought to provide youth with Christian role models. His charity extended to the forsaken elderly and to priests who found themselves isolated and without support. In all who suffered Father Gaetano saw the Face of Christ. His ardent love for the Most Holy Eucharist found expression in the restoration of churches and abandoned tabernacles.

Servant of Priests

"The Missionary of the Holy Face" spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle. In his parish and beyond it he promoted Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of reparation. He set up "flying-squads" of priests willing to assist other priests by preaching and hearing confessions on special occasions. In 1915 Saint Gaetano published for the first time a "Eucharistic Holy Hour" for priests. Saint Gaetano never let a single day pass without speaking of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Victim Priest

Father Gaetano patiently accepted sickness and, in the last stage of his life, blindness, desiring to unite himself to the saving Passion of Christ. In 1929 he offered himself as a victim priest to the Heart of Jesus.

La Madonna

Saint Gaetano's devotion to the Madonna was tender and childlike. He began praying the rosary daily as a little boy and remained faithful to the practice until his death. The rosary never left his hands, becoming for him a ceaseless prayer of the heart. To all who approached him for spiritual counsel he communicated his love of the Mother of God and his confidence in her intercession.

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Spiritual Father and Founder

From 1921 to 1950 Saint Gaetano served as confessor to various religious communities and in the Reggio Calabria prison. He served as spiritual director of the Archdiocesan Seminary. Everyone called him "Father," a title not normally given parish priests in Italy. He was, in fact, a beloved spiritual father generating holiness of life in countless priests and consecrated women. Father Gaetano's simple and ardent preaching attracted sinners to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus and inspired souls to imitate his life of adoration and reparation.

In 1934, Father Catanoso founded in Riparo, Reggio Calabria, the Congregation of the Sisters Veronicas of the Holy Face of Jesus. The Sisters devote themselves to Eucharistic adoration and reparation to the Holy Face, catechesis, assistance to children, youth, priests and the elderly.

Canonized Three Years Ago

Father Gaetano Catanoso died on the Thursday of Passion Week, April 4, 1963. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 4, 1997. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso was fixed on September 20, the date of his ordination to the holy priesthood.

An American Cousin

Saint Gaetano's American cousin, Justin Catanoso, wrote a book recounting his experience of having a saint in the family. Visit Justin's website here.

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The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso occurs on September 20th. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. In the homily of the Mass of Canonization, the Holy Father said:

Saint Gaetano Catanoso was a lover and apostle of the Holy Face of Jesus. "The Holy Face", he affirmed, "is my life. He is my strength". With joyful intuition he joined this devotion to Eucharistic piety.

He would say: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus..., we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host".

Daily Mass and frequent adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar were the soul of his priesthood: with ardent and untiring pastoral charity he dedicated himself to preaching, catechesis, the ministry of confession, and to the poor, the sick and the care of priestly vocations. To the Congregation of the Daughters of St Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, which he founded, he transmitted the spirit of charity, humility and sacrifice which enlivened his entire life.


Marcel Van: A Soul for Priests

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Called Not to Be a Priest, But to Be for Priests

For a long time, the Servant of God, Vietnamese Redemptorist Brother Marcel Van (1928-1959) believed that he was called to become a priest. The Lord made him understand that, even though he had the soul of a priest, such was not his vocation. Marcel Van understood that he was to pray in a special manner for priests and for future priests. As he himself says:

I recognize that the function the Lord has entrusted to me is very important, that it consists in giving life to priests. . . . God, then, has need of the collaboration of certain souls so as to bring to birth among priests the abundance of divine grace which will help them to live and to act in conformity to the will of God. (Letter to Hghi, 23 July 1952)
Yes, this is the unique thirst of my life, and because of this thirst, I have taken upon myself the obligation of being "the heart" of priests, using the warmth of love and the wellspring of redeeming love to beat and to give life to priests.

I pray Marcel Van to send to the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle a few good men like himself: men ready to become, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, "the heart" of priests, offering themselves so that priests may be sanctified in truth and have within themselves life, life in abundance.

A Little Brother of Saint Thérèse

Brother Marcel Van was privileged to experience an extraordinary intimacy with Our Lord, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and with Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. Few souls, even among the disciples of Saint Thérèse, have understood the Merciful Love of Jesus, as profoundly as did Marcel Van. Our Lord said to Marcel:

Confidence in Love

O sinful souls . . . the only thing I ask of you, and which suffices for me to press you to my overflowing Heart, is that you truly believe that Love loves you infinitely. Unfortunate little ones, do you believe that I do not know how wretched you are? Even if your wretchedness is infinite, you must believe that my merits are also infinite. Even if your sins have earned hell for you an infinite number of times, you must not, for all that, lose confidence in my Love. The unfortunate thing is that men have no confidence in my Love. Oh! Sin! Sin! Sin never offends my Love; there is absolutely nothing that offends my Love, except the lack of confidence in my Love. . . .
Marcel! Marcel! Little brother, pray that sinful souls, so numerous, never lose confidence in my Love. As long as they keep this confidence, the kingdom of heaven truly does not cease to belong to them.

A Simple Glance of Confidence

A simple glance of confidence towards me suffices to grab sinful souls from the claws of the devil. Even if a soul found itself already at the gates of hell, waiting for its last sigh before falling into it, if in this last sigh there is the slightest element of confidence in my infinite Love, that will still be sufficient for my Love to draw that soul to the arms of the Trinity. That is why I say that it can be very easy for men to go to heaven and even infinitely difficult to fall into hell, because Love can never permit a soul to lose itself so easily.


About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

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