‘There is none like to me!’ says the Cub in the pride of his earliest kill;
But the Jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.
— Maxims of Baloo

Saint of the Month – Francis de Sales  

francis-de-salesdOur saint of the month for January is Saint Francis de Sales, who’s feast day is the 29th of this month.

Francis de Sales was the oldest of twelve children.  His parents were well to do and pious, but they intended for Francis to become a lawyer and advance his family’s influence and power.  He was a very good student and, with high honors, earned doctorates in both civil and cannon law.  When he returned home from university, he was offered an honorable position in the senate of Savoy.

But he soon received a message in his heart.  “Leave all and follow Me.”  He declined the senate position and entered the seminary to become a priest.  His family was much opposed to this, especially since they had arranged a marriage for him that would further advance their family’s standing.

Francis prayed constantly for his family, and was always kind and gentle.  Soon they accepted his decision.  After his ordination he was assigned to the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland where the Calvinists were strong.  His gentle ways, and simple clear explanations of Catholic doctrine won many calvinists back to the Catholic Church.

Indeed he was so successful at wining converts, that many times the Calvinists spread lies about him, laid all kinds of plots against him, and even made attempts on his life.  Eventually he was appointed bishop of Geneva.  He continued to work tirelessly to evangelize, and even used sign language to reach the deaf.  It is said that during his time there he converted over 70,000 people back to the Catholic faith.  Many of his letters and spiritual guides are still widely used today.  They are of such quality that he was even named a doctor of the Church.

St. Francis de Sales was kind and gentle, even to those who persecuted him,  but he was no push over.  When it came to following our Lord, he never wavered in the slightest.  Wether it was enemies of the Church or even his own family trying to dissuade him, he always held firm.

Learn more at the Patron Saint Index.

Awesome Francis de Sales coloring page.

Gregory the Great, SOTM for April  

Gregory receiving inspiration from God to reform the LiturgySt. Gregory the Great was born in Rome around 540, and died March 12th 604. He is one of the most influential saints in the history of the Church.

As a boy, Gregory received an excellent education, excelling in grammar, logic, and rhetoric. By the time he was thirty years old, he was prefect of Rome, the highest civil dignity in the city. It was around this time that he decided to abandon all worldly concerns and enter the monastery of St. Andrew, which probably followed the Benedictine rule. He lived there for three years before Pope Pelagius II sent him to Constantinople as his ambassador to Emperor Tiberius.

The Byzantine court was very worldly, but Gregory followed his monastic rule as much as could. While there, he defeated the heresy of Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, which denied the resurrection of the body. Even Eutychius himself recanted of his error before he died.

After six years in Constantinople Gregory was recalled to Rome, and became the Abbot of St. Andrew’s. He spent much of time studying and lecturing upon the Sacred Scriptures. It was during this time that he met some youths from England, and was so impressed that he wanted lead a mission to Britain to convert the whole island to the faith. He obtained Pope Pelagius’ permission, but before he got far he saw a sign from God that the mission should be abandoned. Shortly thereafter, messengers reached him from the Pope recalling him to Rome.

Before long, flooding and a plague struck Rome. Pope Pelagius died and Gregory was chosen as the new Pope. As pope, he continued to live with monastic simplicity. He took care of the poor in Rome and abroad. Every day he received pilgrims at his table and served them, one of whom was an apparition of the Lord himself.

He took the greatest care that the liturgy of the Church was celebrated properly. It was Gregory who organized and classified the rites and prayers of the church into the (more or less) present system (1962). He also gathered the chants of the Church and assigned them to their current place in the Liturgy (which is why the chants are now known as Gregorian Chant) and even founded a school for chanters.

Gregory never forgot the British youths he saw in the Roman market. He sent St. Augustine of Canterbury, with forty other monks to carry out the conversion of Britain that he himself wished to do. He also sent missionaries to Gaul, Africa, and to schismatics in Northern Italy. He lost no opportunity to defend the faith from error with the utmost vigilance.

He left us with many letters, sermons, and other writings, including a biography of St. Benedict and instructions for bishops on how to care for souls. Throughout all his writing his insight into the Scriptures and knowledge of Early Church Fathers shine forth clearly. He did all in his power to promote monasticism, encouraging wealthy people to support and establish monasteries as he had done with the property he inherited from his parents.

In St. Gregory the Great we have one of the finest examples of what it means to love God and love our neighbor.

Click here for a Saint Gregory coloring page.

Saint of the Month – St. Martin  

Our Saint of the month for November is St. Martin of Tours.  He was born around 316 AD in modern day Hungary and died in Tours France around 397.  Martin’s father was Roman military officer and Martin likewise joined the Roman army.

The most common St. Martin story is that he once cut his cloak in half to give to a poor man so he wouldn’t freeze. Later St. Martin had a dream where he saw Jesus wearing the half cloak he gave to the beggar.  After that he left the army and entered monastic life, where he lived quietly until he was coaxed into being bishop of Tours. Lured away from his abbey, Martin was accosted when he entered the town. He made a break for it and tried to hide in a barn, but the noise of the geese gave him away. He finally assented. Martin was a model bishop. He planted Churches all over France, and visited all his parishes once a year. He was beloved by his people and worked many miracles to spread the true faith in the face of paganism.

Another story of St. Martin is that he was once traveling on perilous roads through the mountains.  He was attacked by robbers and bound as a prisoner.  One robber was left to guard him while the others looked for more victims.  The robber asked Martin if he was afraid.  Martin replied that he felt absolutely calm, and trusted his fate to Jesus.  He continued to tell the robber about our Lord, and before long the robber converted and released Martin.

The feast of St. Martin used to be known as Martinmas.  Celebrations were quite festive, featuring many of the fruits of the harvest (including newly made wine) due to its  proximity to harvest and wine making time.  Goose is the traditional meal for the day. In medieval times a period of fasting would begin after Martinmas in preparation for Christmas in some places (mainly France), so Martinmas had a sort of Carnival feel to it. Other traditions including processions, singing Martinmas songs, children going around with paper lanterns in the evening asking for candy (kind of like trick or treating), making bonfires and wine tasting (it’s probably best to keep the last two separate).

Patron Saint Index.

Catholic Encyclopedia.

Saint of the Month – St. Eustace  

Saint Eustace is the patron saint of hunters and firefighters.  His birth name was Placid , and he was a commander in the Roman army under Emperor Trajan.  Though he and his wife and two sons were all pagans, they gave much alms to poor.  One day when Placid was out hunting with his servants they came upon a herd of harts.  Placid pursued the grandest of the harts while his servants chased the others.  Finally the hart leaped upon a high rock and Placid saw a vision of a crucifix between the its horns.  Through the stag our Lord told Placid that as a reward for his charity he would be enlightened as to the true faith.

Placid explained all this to his wife and sons, and they all went to the bishop of Rome who baptized them.  There Placid took the name Eustace, which means good fortune.  After being baptised he returned the spot where he has seen the vision and our Lord appeared to him again.  The Lord told Eustace that now that he had forsaken the devil, Satan was armed against him, and that it behooved him to suffer many trials to be humbled from the vanity of the world and gain many spiritual riches.

Soon after, Eustace’s servants and livestock were all slain by a plague.  His property was despoiled, and so he and his family fled to Egypt.  On the way his wife was kidnapped and his sons taken from him.  As our Lord foretold, he had become another Job.  He lived in poverty for some years, but when the enemies of Rome pressed her, the Emperor sought out his old commander, and when Eustace was found, he was returned to Rome, and once again restored to his old rank.  He defeated the barbarians, and while he was on campaign he found his wife and both his sons.

In meantime Emperor Trajan died, and Adrian succeeded him.  Adrian demanded that Eustace make a sacrifice to the pagan gods in thanksgiving for his victory over the barbarians the finding of his wife and children.  Eustace answered, “I adore and do sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, and only serve him.”   This enraged the new emperor who commanded that they all be put to death.  St. Eustace is counted among the fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint of the Month – St. Joachim  

Joachim (whose name means Yahweh prepares), was the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grandfather of Our Lord, and husband of St. Anne. His feast day is August 16th, the day after the Assumption.

Joachim was from his youth brought up in piety and the fear of God. The parents of the Blessed Virgin, who, first lived in Galilee, came later on to settle in Jerusalem, where Mary would be born. A church, known at various epochs as St. Mary, St. Mary ubi nata est, St. Mary in Probatica, Holy Probatica, St. Anne, was built during the fourth century, possibly by St. Helena, on the site of the house of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and their tombs were there honoured until the close of the ninth century, when the church was converted into a Moslem school. The crypt which formerly contained the holy tombs was rediscovered on 18 March, 1889.

This holy couple divided all their goods into three parts. One for the temple, one for the poor, and one for themselves.  But Joachim’s married life with the pious aud chaste Ann was childless until they had reached a great age.  Desipite their generous alms, Joachim was afraid their childlessness was a sign of God’s displeasure with him, so he departed from Anne for a time to pray and fast. While away, they both received a message from an angel that Anne had already conceived a child. Joachim’s continual prayer and other good works were the rewarded by God with that blessed child whose birth was the beginning of our salvation. He reared her in the fear of the Lord, offered her in her tenderest years to God in the temple at Jerusalem, and soon after gave up his spirit into the hands of his Creator. Oh, that all Christian parents might learn from the parents of Mary to train up their children, not for the world, but for God, from Whom they have received them, and Who will one day require them again from their hands!

Catholic Encyclopedia

Patron Saint Index

Golden Legend

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