1 BLESSED LAURA VICUÑA DATES: 4/5/1891 1/22/1904 FEAST DAY: JANUARY 22 A EUCHARISTIC FIRE; A MERCIFUL DAUGHTER In his 1988 homily at the beatification Mass for little Laura Vicuna, Pope (St.) John Paul began his reflections on her heroic life by referencing the words found enscribed on her tombstone. Laura Vicuña: Eucharitic Fire of the Andes. Her life was a poem of purity, of sacrifice and of daughterly love. Born in Santiago, Chile to loving parents Laura s young life was to take a dramatic turn when her father was killed in military service. Her young, widowed mother, desperate to provide for her children, surrendered to the wonton advances of a wealthy rancher. His reputation earned him the monicker: el gaucho malo the bad cowboy. He enslaved mistresses like cattle and once branded a woman with the branding iron of his ranch, so that she would never be able to leave him. He similarly took Laura s mother into his stable of mistresses in exchange for paying for her daughters private schooling. Far away from the ranch and its scandals, Laura knew little about the life to which her mother had succumbed. Under the tutelage of the Salesian Sisters, little Laura grew to extraordinary even mystical depths of spiritual life. On a first return visit to the ranch, a now older Laura began to see and understand her mother s life. She witnessed how violent el gaucho malo was. Her mother s faith had been beaten out of her and she was left with only shame. Returning to boarding school and preparing for her First Holy Communion, Laura recalled the words of Scripture: There is no greater love than to lay down one s life for one s friend. From that moment on, and graced with the fire of Eucharistic Communion as a part of her life now, Laura resolved to offer her life to God in ransom for her mother s. The self-offering for her mother s conversion became her prayer at every Mass and with every reception of Holy Communion. Time had begun to shape little Laura into a young lady, and with what would be her last visit to the ranch, el gaucho malo took notice and made advances on Laura to destroy her purity and her faith. Laura rejected him and in turn was severely beaten for it, along with her mother. With complications from the beating, Laura began to die. Her mother remained by her side. On January 22 she received the final Sacraments of the Church. She turned to her mother and said: Mother, I am dying. I asked Jesus for this I offered my life for you and for your conversion so that you might return to God. Will you give me the joy of seeing you repent before I die? With profound tears and feeling the floodgate of mercy poured upon her, her mother replied: I swear to you I will. With a pure smile upon her face Laura said: Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Mary! Now I can die happy. And with that, the 12 year old died. In the days that followed many called her: Laura a virgin and a martyr. And her mother would reply, Yes, a martyr for me. Jubilee Year of Mercy: JANUARY
2 ST. JEROME EMILIANI DATES: /6/1537 FEAST DAY: FEBRUARY 8 TH PATRON OF THE ORPHANED AND THE ABANDONED Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty dungeon. Only a short time before he had been a military commander for Venice in charge of a fortress. He didn't care much about God because he didn't need him -- he had his own strength and the strength of his soldiers and weapons. When Venice's enemies, the League of Cambrai, captured the fortress, he was dragged off and imprisoned. There in the dungeon, Jerome decided to get rid of the chains that bound him. He let go of his worldly attachments and embraced God. When he finally was able to escape, he hung his metal chains in the nearby church of Treviso -- in gratitude not only for being freed from physical prison but from his spiritual dungeon as well. After a short time as mayor of Treviso he returned to his home in Venice where he studied for the priesthood. The war may have been over but it was followed by the famine and plague war's devastation often brought. Thousands suffered in his beloved city. Jerome devoted himself to service again -- this time, not to the military but the poor and suffering around him. He felt a special call to help the orphans who had no one to care for them. All the loved ones who would have protected them and comforted them had been taken by sickness or starvation. He would become their parent, their family. Using his own money, he rented a house for the orphans, fed them, clothed them, and educated them. Part of his education was to give them the first known catechetical teaching by question and answer. But his constant devotion to the suffering put him in danger too and he fell ill from the plague himself. When he recovered, he had the ideal excuse to back away, but instead his illness seemed to take the last links of the chain from his soul. Once again he interpreted his suffering to be a sign of how little the ambitions of the world mattered. He committed his whole life and all he owned to helping others. He founded orphanages in other cities, a hospital, and a shelter for prostitutes. This grew into a congregation of priests and brothers that was named after the place where they had a house: the Clerks Regular of Somascha. Although they spent time educating other young people, their primary work was always Jerome's first love -- helping orphans. Jubilee Year of Mercy: FEBRUARY His final chains fell away when he again fell ill while taking care of the sick. He died in 1537 at the age of 56. Excerpted from Catholicn Online at:
3 ST. KATHERINE DREXEL DATES: 11/26/1858 3/3/1955 FEAST DAY: MARCH 3 MERCY AT THE MARGINS Jubilee Year of Mercy: MARCH Katherine Mary Drexel was born into great wealth and privilege. Her s was one of the wealthiest families in Philadelphia and beyond. Even so, at an early age, Katherine read a book about the plight of the American Indians and the horrifying injustices they suffered at the hands of her fellow countrymen. It was at that early age that young Katherine resolved to place her life at the service of addressing these injustices. She began with personal visits to Reservations across the American West, so as to meet as many of her Indian brothers and sisters as she could and hear from them their needs and hopes. Soon after she began a tour of the Southern United States and there discovered the miserable living conditions of the vast majority of African- Americans there. Katherine began to set her vast wealth to work with the building of schools on reservations and in city ghettos. But she knew it was not enough. With her connections, Katherine traveled to Rome for a meeting with Pope Leo XIII, who himself had keen interests in the plight of the American Indian. Katherine took the occasion to plead with the Pope that he send missionaries to the reservations of Wyoming. Intently listening to Katherine he replied to her when she finished: Very good. But what are you going to do? Why don t you become the missionary? And so she did. With 13 others, they formed a new religious community: The Blessed Sacrament Sisters for Indians and Colored People. As part of their vows they promised never to undertake any work which would lead to the neglect or abandonment of the Indian or Colored races. In their work on the margins of society, defending the dignity of those whom society deemed of lesser value, the sisters suffered unending indignities and hostilities. In spite of it, Mother Katherine and her sisters were tireless witnesses that God makes no distinction between his children and that mercy is to be extended to all in need regardless of race, color or culture. In 60 years of service, Mother Katherine dispensed roughly $20 million dollars toward the foundation of 145 Catholic missions, 12 schools for Native Americans, 50 schools for African-Americans and 49 convents for 500 hunderd sisters who were completely devoted to their education. Mother Katherine established the first institution of higher learning in the United States for African-Americans when she opened Xavier University.
4 ST. JOSEPH BENEDICT COTTOLENGO DATES: 5/3/1786 4/30/1742 FEAST DAY: APRIL 29 BUILDER OF MERCY S HOUSE Jubilee Year of Mercy: APRIL Joseph Benedict was born to a middle class family in northern Italy. Later, he studied at the seminary in Turin, Italy and was ordained for that diocese in For a while he served as a parish priest in Bra and Corneliano d Alba. Later, he decided to joined the Order of the Corpus Christi in Turin. For several years, Joseph treated his priesthood more as a career than a vocation. Then one night he was called to the bed of a poor, sick woman in labour. The woman badly needed medical help, but had been turned away everywhere for lack of money. Joseph stayed with her throughout the travail, and was there to hear her confession, give her absolution, Communion, and last rites. He baptized her newborn daughter, and then watched as both of them died in bed. The trauma of the evening changed his mind, but more importantly his heart - about his vocation. In 1827 he opened a small shelter for the area sick and homeless, renting a room, filling it with beds, and seeking male and female volunteers. The place expanded, and he received help from the Brothers of Saint Vincent and the Vincentian Sisters. During a cholera outbreak in 1831, the local police closed the hospice, fearing it was a source of the illness. In 1832, Giuseppe transferred his operation to the Valdocco area of Turin, Italy, and called the shelter the Little House of Divine Providence (Piccola Casa). The Casa began receiving support, and grew, adding asylums, orphanages, hospitals, schools, workshops, chapels, alm-shouse, and programs to help the poor, sick, and needy of all types. This small village of the poor depended almost entirely on alms, Joseph kept no records, and turned down offers of state assistance; never once did they do without. Joseph directed the operation until a few days before his death, and the Casa continues to today, serving 8,000 or more each day. He founded fourteen communities to serve the residents, including the Daughters of Compassion, Daughters of the Good Shepherd, Hermits of the Holy Rosary, and Priests of the Holy Trinity. To all those who assisted him in caring for the poor he would tirelessly teach the same lesson: The poor are Jesus they are not an iamge of him. They are Jesus in person. As such you much serve them. All the poor are our masters, but those whoa re so repulsive which the naked eye are actually our hightest masters our true jewels. If we do not treat them well, they will kick us out of the Little House. They are Jesus.
5 BLESSED VLADIMIR GHIKA DATES: 12/25/1873 5/16/1954 FEAST DAY: MAY 16 MARTYRED FOR MERCY Jubilee Year of Mercy: MAY Though not very well known, this Blessed was declared a martyr of the Church by Pope Francis in His is a story particularly expressive of mercy. Vladimir was born into Romanian royalty as a Prince. But his self-understanding of his position and calling took a great turn when he converted to Catholicism and began his studies for the priesthood and was ordained. At the beginning of the 20 th century there was much strife and unrest throughout the country and poverty grew to staggering proportions. Inspired by the work of St. Vincent de Paul, Fr. Vladimir founded the first Catholic organization in his country dedicated to works of charity. He threw himself into this work and spent all his energy and considerable wealth caring for the poor and the sick. This apostolic mission caused Fr. Vladimr to reflect deeply upon his experiences. And he wrote a book upon his experiences in which he suggested that there is a kind of liturgy of our neighbor. He wrote: It is a double mysterious liturgy when the poor person sees Christ come to him in the guise of the one who befriends him. And the benefactor sees before him the suffering Christ who appears in the poor and leans on him. But, for that very reason, it is one liturgy. In fact, if the gesture is effected as it should be, there is only Christ on both sides: Christ the Saviour comes to the Suffering Christ, and both are integrated in the glorious and blessed Risen Christ. Thus, concluded Fr. Vladimir, the Eucharistic liturgy already celebrated on the altar is extended in the visit and care of the poor and the sick. It is nothing other than enlarging the Mass in the day and in the entire world, like concentric waves that propagate beginning from the Eucharistic communion of the morning. This Eucharistic centered mercy served Fr. Vladimir well when the Communist government furuious with his charitable works in the name of Jesus and within the work of the Church arrested and imprisioned him on suspicion of being a Christian. After much torture, beating, starvation and humiliations at the hands of his captors, Blessed Vladimir Ghika died in prison a martyr for mercy. Blessed Vladimir once penned this prayer: Lord, I am going to another one of those whom you have called another yourself. May the offering I am about to bring and my heart with which I give it be well received by my suffering brother or sister. May the time I spend with them bear fruit of eternal life for them and for me. Lord, bless me with the hand of your poor. Lord, sustain me with the gaze of your poor. Lord, receive me, too, one day in the holy company of your poor.
6 ST. ALBERT CHMIELOWSKI DATES: 8/20/ /25/1916 FEAST DAY: JUNE 17 BEAUTIFUL BREAD OF MERCY Jubilee Year of Mercy: JUNE St. Albert s baptismal name was Adam. Adam was born into a wealthy Polish family in Warsaw and early on demonstrated a great affinity for both politics and art. Soon, though, Adam s artistic abilities were recognized throughout Poland and he became one of Poland s most promising painters. The subject Adam fixated on to be his great work was entitled: Ecce Homo (Behold the man), the image of the beaten and humiliated Christ presented to the people by Pilate. But Adam s Catholic faith drove him to deeper questions about the meaning of art and its purpose. He soon realized he could never finish his painting unless he first became one with those who were Christ s image in the suffering and the poor. Adam became a Third-Order Franciscan and took the name of Brother Albert. He took in the homeless and the hungry and cared for them, gathering them in from the ubran streets of Krakow. And in the spirit of St. Francis, he begged for alms to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. The citizens of Krakow would point and say: Behold Adam Chmielowski the man who was once a famous painter has become the father of the poor. For his part, Brother Albert would say: I look at Jesus in his Eucharist. Could his love perhaps provide anything more beautiful? If He is bread, we ourselves become bread and give ourselves. We must become as good as bread. In 1949, a newly ordained priest in Krakow immortalized the life and mission of St. Albert by writing a play about him entitled: Our God s Brother. It s author, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, was deeply affected by the mercy incarnated in the life of Brother Albert. Thus, no one doubts the influence of St. Albert on the work of that priest who was to become Pope John Paul II and write an Encyclical on Divine Mercy. Ecce Homo By Brother Albert
7 ST. LEOPOLD MANDIC DATES: 5/12/1866 7/30/1942 FEAST DAY: JULY 30 BEARER OF MERCY S BURDEN Jubilee Year of Mercy: JULY For nearly 30 years, this frail and sickly Capuchin priest from Padua, would spend between hours a day in his confessional listening to and forgiving sinners in the name of God. Due to his small stature and humble attitude, some people undervalued him, including his own Capuchin brothers. They said of him, he was an ignorant confessor, too lenient, and he absolved everyone without discernment. Some even contemptuously called him: Brother-absolve-everybody. But he was sought after more than anyone else. He always apologized humbly: They say I m too good. But if people come and kneed in front of me, is this not sufficient proof that they desire God s forgiveness? He would say, You see, He himself gave us an example! We did not die for souls; instead, it was He who shed His divine blood. We must treat souls as he taught us by His example. He said on another occasion, If the Crucifix were to scold me for being too lenient, I would say in return, It was You who gave me this bad example, Lord! I have yet to arrive at the madness of dying for souls. And yet, this friar who was so good and paternal had his own secret: the priest who welcomed everyone, reassured everyone, and offered everyone the certainty of the boundless Mercy of God, suffered personally from a constant and overwhelming fear of God s judgment. And he felt this even though he once humbly admitted that he had never committed a grave sin, saying, I still feel I have the soul of a child. Fr. Leopold was asked to live out and undergo the intense and painful beauty of this sacrament even for his penitents. In his later years, he was so distressed that he sometimes wept throughout the night while being assailed by an unknown terror. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he too sought out companions to stay with him. Even on his deathbed, witnesses said, He looked like Jesus on the cross with the entire sin of the world weighing on him, and he felt abandoned by his Heavenly Father. He had peace only while speaking to his confessor, when he received the same grace he so readily distributed to others. It is not easy to explain the glorious and challenging mission that God entrusted to St. Leopold that of living out and experiencing (even for his penitents) the powerful and dolorous beauty of confession too often unheeded by so many Christians. Too many forget, in fact, that the Sacrament of Penance, together with the Eucharist, makes up the burning heart of Christianity. Excerpted from: Saints in Mercy Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization, OSV Press 2015.
8 MARCELLO CANDIA VENERATED FOR HEROIC VIRTUE DATES: 7/27/1916 8/31/1983 VENERATED: JULY 8, 2014 MERCY AS THE WORLD S CENTER Jubilee Year of Mercy: AUGUST Marcello Candia was once a wealthy businessman who became a pauper by giving away everything he had including himself. During his youth and young adulthood, Marcello learned how to combine work with the wise administration of his assests and an even more attentive and active social charity. Later, a series of events led him to befriend several Brazilian missionaries. He then concluded: It is not enough to occasionally give economic assistance. We must share with the poor their lives, as much as possible. It would be too easy for me to remain over here in my easy and privileged life and say, I ll send my leftovers over there. Instead, I am called to go and live with them. He moved to Macapà Brazil, where he founded and ran a hospital for the poorest of the poor. He also established a comfortable leper hospital in Marituba, in northern Brazil. He spent the last 18 years of his life in the country where he promulgated deeds and works consisting of nursing homes, schools, villages, leprosarias, convents, seminaries, churches, and volunteer centers. He went as far as Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and even to the border with Bolivia. A friend who sometimes visited him in his missions said of him: Candia was dynamic, self-confident, and accustomed to being in charge and always speaking. He was also very generous and beneficent, and he had large resources available. But he was also conscientious of having a lot and knowing how to use it But every time he went back into the Amazon, he came out transformed. He realized that he needed other people in order to realize all his aspirations. It was a remarkable change: he went from being a man at the center of the world to being a servant to all people.he truly felt he was at the service of everyone God brought him into contact with. Candia wrote the following on the walls of his home in Brazil: One cannot share in heavenly Bread if one cannot share his earthly bread.. Excerpted from: Saints in Mercy Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization, OSV Press 2015.
9 SAINT PETER CLAVER DATES: /8/1654 FEAST DAY: SEPTEMBER 9 A SLAVE FOR MERCY As a young boy, Peter learned from his Jesuit instructors of the new world and all its wonders. But he also learned of the native people of that land whose souls have infinite value, because Christ had shed his blood for them. But so many had not yet heard of Jesus. The stories of the Jesuit missionaries from all parts of the world struck Peter s imagination and it stayed with him and he knew, deep within, that God would one day call him to missionary work. After his Jesuit training completed and he was ordained, young Fr. Claver petitioned his superiors for permission to go out in mission. Permission was granted, as his superiors saw in him already a profound love of those whom he had not yet encounted and to whom he would bring Christ. He was sent to Cartagena, Columbia. Caratgena, then, was a port city which saw the passage of nearly 1000 slaves a month pass through. Though he didn t have much, if any, resources of his own, Fr. Claver nonetheless began to meet the ships coming into port and offered anything he had and anything he could carry. What he encountered in the hulls of these ships caused him great pain of soul and heart. These brothers and sisters of his, God s children all or nearly all from Africa were treated in the most inhuman of ways. Sick, starving, and diseased, they knew not one ounce of compassion from the moment they were taken captive; at least, not until Fr. Claver came to them in the darkness bearing the slightest cup of clean water or the thinnest of bread crumbs for them. But to the slaves, it was a ray of light in the darkness. It was an encounter with mercy. Before long, Fr. Claver would introduce himself to those to whom he ministered: I shall be a slave to the slaves, forever. Soon, Fr. Claver began to bring companions with him to offer more water and more food for more of the slaves. He followed many slaves beyond the docks and into their lives once they were sold. In all, the journals which he kept along with the testimonies of his companions indicate that St. Peter Claver catechized and baptized into the life of Christ nearly 300,000 slaves. And all who were baptized by him knew him to be a slave for mercy. Jubilee Year of Mercy: SEPTEMBER
10 BLESSED TERESA OF CALCUTTA DATES: 8/26/1910 9/5/97 FEAST DAY: SEPTEMBER 5 OCTOBER 19 (CALCUTTA) MERCY TO THE LEAST In her own words Jubilee Year of Mercy: OCTOBER I once picked up a woman from the garbage dump and she was burning with a fevor. She was in her last days, and her only lament was: My son did this to me. I begged her, You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness when he was not himself he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him. It took me a long time to bring her to say, I fogive my son. Just before she died in my arms she was able to say that with real forgiveness. She was no longer concerned that she was dying. The breaking of her heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand My God the poor are my community. Their security is mine. Their health is my health. My roof is that of the poor. Not simply those who are poor, but the poorest of the poor; those whom others will not approach for fear of being infected, of getting dirty; those who do not go to church because they have no clothes to wear; those who do not eat because they have no more strength; those who collapse in the streets knowing they are about to die while the living pass by ignoring them; those who are no longer able to cry because they have no more tears. Above all, we are religious sisters. We are not social workers, teachers, nurses or doctors The difference between us and social workers is this: they do it for something, but we do it for Someone. We serve Jesus in the poor, and we do all this for Him. Everything we do prayer, work, sacrifices we do for Jesus. Our life does not have any other meaning, any motivation other than Him who loves us deeply. Jesus is the only meaning of our life. When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what she or he needed. There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives the pain, the lonliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them. Be as merciful to others as our heavenly Father is merciful to us in Jesus.
11 SERVANT OF GOD DOROTHY DAY DATES: 11/8/ /29/1980 A WORKER FOR MERCY Jubilee Year of Mercy: OCTOBER At their 2012 annual meeting, the Catholic bishops of the United States unanimously recommended the canonization of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. By then the Vatican had already given her the title Servant of God, the first step in formally recognizing Dorothy Day as a saint. On Ash Wednesday, 2013, preaching in Saint Peter s Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Dorothy Day as a model of conversion. Dorothy Day arrived at doing holy works of mercy in a round about way after having lived for many years in a wild search for truth and holiness, which she had never hitherto found. She had been an atheist, socialist, objector and a rebel. Yet in her, it was said, there was also the way of life of St. Francis of Assisi, the prophetic courage of Catherine of Siena, the dynamism of Teresa of Avila, the trust in Providence of [Joseph Benedict] Cottolengo and the spirit of hospitality of John of God. But despite all her percular experiences, a desire to pray welled up overwhelmingly within her. She covereted at the age of 23 when she literally threw herself into the arms of God and the Catholic Church. She renounced all other security and spent the rest of her life supporting her Movment in defense of social struggles she considered just. She always reaffirmed that to see Christ in the other, to love him and take care of him is synonymous with Heaven, because to live in union with God is a foretaste of heavenly joy. Those who live with this awareness within themselves are saints. But she argued with equal vigor that those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed. The workers in her movement were often of different ideological opinions, and so she spoke frequently and only of works of mercy. She didn t know any better term to describe the ideals of the Catholic Worker Movement which she founded in She made only one demand: that every house had a least one room for prayer where anyone could go freely whenever they wanted. That important thing was that vistors could clearly see that there was a praying heart in each house: We feed the hungry, yes. We try to shelter the homeless and give them clothes, but there is strong faith at work, we pray. If an outsider who comes to visit us doesn t pay attention to our prayings and what that means, then he ll miss the whole point. Excerpts taken from: Saints in Mercy, Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization OSV Press 2015.
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Jeff Doucette is now a youth advocate working in a homeless shelter for youth aged 16-24 in Ajax, Ontario. A leper on the edge of the Catholic Church Author: Jeff Doucette Posted by: Editor on September
Over 100 Benefits of Eucharistic Adoration 1. Every Holy Hour we make so pleases the Heart of Jesus that it is recorded in Heaven and retold for all eternity! (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta) 2. The spiritual
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Catholic Charities USA New Diocesan Directors Institute Foundations Historical Experience Campaign to Reduce Poverty Biblical Foundations Genesis Every person is made in the image and likeness of God and
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Copyright Department of Christian Education - Orthodox Church in America St. Barbara Nun-Martyr Cell Attendant to St. Elizabeth Barbara Yakovlena was a maidservant to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia