Category: Saints Feast Day


Assumption

  • In logic, an assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts. An assumption that is considered to be self-evident or otherwise fundamental is called an axiom.
  • In religion, assumption is the bodily translation of an individual person, either living or dead, from earth to heaven.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, informally known as The Assumption, according to the Christian beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of Anglicanism, was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”[1] This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.[2] While Catholic dogma leaves open the question of Mary’s death before rising to Heaven, the Eastern Orthodox tradition of the Dormition of the Theotokos teaches that Mary died and then rose to Heaven. In the churches which observe it, the Assumption is a major feast day, commonly celebrated on August 15. In many Catholic countries, the feast is also marked as a Holy Day of Obligation. In his August 15, 2004, homily given at Lourdes, Pope John Paul II quoted John 14:3 as one of the scriptural bases for understanding the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. In this verse, Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.” According to Catholic theology, Mary is the pledge of the fulfillment of Christ’s promise.[3] The feast of the Assumption on August 15 is a public holiday in many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany (Saarland and Bavaria only), Greece, Lebanon, Lithuania, Italy, Malta, Mauritius,[4] Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Slovenia, and Spain .[5] In Eastern Orthodox churches following the Julian Calendar, the feast day of Assumption of Mary falls on August 28.

History of the belief

Although the Assumption (Latin: assūmptiō, “taken up”) was only relatively recently defined as infallible dogma by the Catholic Church, and in spite of a statement by Saint Epiphanius of Salamis in AD 377 that no one knew whether Mary had died or not,[6] apocryphal accounts of the assumption of Mary into heaven have circulated since at least the 4th century. The Catholic Church itself interprets chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation as referring to it.[7] The earliest known narrative is the so-called Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary’s Repose), which survives intact only in an Ethiopic translation.[8] Probably composed by the 4th century, this Christian apocryphal narrative may be as early as the 3rd century. Also quite early are the very different traditions of the “Six Books” Dormition narratives. The earliest versions of this apocryphon are preserved by several Syriac manuscripts of the 5th and 6th centuries, although the text itself probably belongs to the 4th century.[9]

 

Assumption statue, 1808 by Mariano Gerada, Ghaxaq, Malta

Later apocrypha based on these earlier texts include the De Obitu S. Dominae, attributed to St. John, a work probably from around the turn of the 6th century that is a summary of the “Six Books” narrative. The story also appears in De Transitu Virginis, a late 5th century work ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis that presents a theologically redacted summary of the traditions in the Liber Requiei Mariae. The Transitus Mariae tells the story of the apostles being transported by white clouds to the deathbed of Mary, each from the town where he was preaching at the hour. The Decretum Gelasianum in the 490s declared some transitus Mariae literature apocryphal.

An Armenian letter attributed to Dionysus the Areopagite also mentions the event, although this is a much later work, written sometime after the 6th century. John of Damascus, from this period, is the first church authority to advocate the doctrine under his own name. His contemporaries, Gregory of Tours and Modestus of Jerusalem, helped promote the concept to the wider church.

In some versions of the story the event is said to have taken place in Ephesus, in the House of the Virgin Mary, although this is a much more recent and localized tradition. The earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary’s life in Jerusalem (see “Mary’s Tomb“). By the 7th century a variation emerged, according to which one of the apostles, often identified as St Thomas, was not present at the death of Mary, but his late arrival precipitates a reopening of Mary’s tomb, which is found to be empty except for her grave clothes. In a later tradition, Mary drops her girdle down to the apostle from heaven as testament to the event.[10] This incident is depicted in many later paintings of the Assumption.

Teaching of the Assumption of Mary became widespread across the Christian world, having been celebrated as early as the 5th century and having been established in the East by Emperor Maurice around AD 600.[11] It was celebrated in the West under Pope Sergius I in the 8th century and Pope Leo IV then confirmed the feast as official.[11] Theological debate about the Assumption continued, following the Reformation, climaxing in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined it as dogma for the Catholic Church.[12] Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott stated, “The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus-narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries…. The first Church author to speak of the bodily assumption of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours.”[13] The Catholic writer Eamon Duffy states that “there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it.”[14] However, the Catholic Church has never asserted nor denied that its teaching is based on the apocryphal accounts. The Church documents are silent on this matter and instead rely upon other sources and arguments as the basis for the doctrine.

 

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In this dogmatic statement, the phrase “having completed the course of her earthly life,” leaves open the question of whether the Virgin Mary died before her assumption or whether she was assumed before death; both possibilities are allowed. Mary’s assumption is said to have been a divine gift to her as the ‘Mother of God’. Ludwig Ott’s view is that, as Mary completed her life as a shining example to the human race, the perspective of the gift of assumption is offered to the whole human race.[15]

 

In Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma he states that “the fact of her death is almost generally accepted by the Fathers and Theologians, and is expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church”, to which he adduces a number of helpful citations, and concludes that “for Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death”.[16] The point of her bodily death has not been infallibly defined, and many believe that she did not die at all, but was assumed directly into Heaven. The dogmatic definition within the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus which, according to Roman Catholic dogma, infallibly proclaims the doctrine of the Assumption leaves open the question whether, in connection with her departure, Mary underwent bodily death; that is, it does not dogmatically define the point one way or the other, as shown by the words “having completed the course of her earthly life”.[12]

 

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII solemnly declared:

 

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory[17]

 

Roman Catholic theologians consider this declaration by Pius XII to be an ex cathedra use of Papal Infallibility.[18][19] Although Pope Pius XII deliberately left open the question of whether Mary died before her Assumption, the more common teaching of the early Fathers is that she did die.[20][21]

 

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Gospel 

Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

 
Today is the memorial of St. Cecilia.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.

When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.

Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.

The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia’s body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.

She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.

At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.

Patronage: Albi, France; composers; martyrs; music; musicians; musical instrument makers; archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska; poets; singers.

“Sing a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy.” ~ Psalm 33:3

 
 

Prayers to St. Cecilia
Patroness of Musicians 

O glorious saint, who chose to die instead of denying your King, we pray you please to help us as His fair praise we sing. We lift our hearts in joyous song to honor Him this way. And while we sing, remembering, to sing is to doubly pray.

At once in our hearts and in our tongues we offer double prayer sent heavenward on winged notes to praise God dwelling there. While in our hearts and tongues we try with song to praise God twice, we ask dear saint, to help us be united close to Christ! Amen.

Dear St. Cecilia, one thing we know for certain about you is that you became a heroic martyr in fidelity to your divine Bridegroom. We do not know that you were a musician, but we are told that you heard Angels sing.
Inspire musicians to gladden the hearts of people by filling the air with God’s gift of music and reminding them of the divine Musician who created all beauty. Amen.

Lord, hear our requests. Through the intercession of St. Cecilia, please grant what we ask. Amen.

Saint Cecilia, heroic martyr who stayed faithful to Jesus your divine bridegroom, give us faith to rise above our persecutors and to see in them the image of our Lord. We know that you were a musician and we are told that you heard angels sing. Inspire musicians to gladden the hearts of people by filling the air with God’s gift of music and reminding them of the Divine Musician Who created all beauty. Amen.

Litany of St. Cecilia

Lord, have mercy on us.    Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.  Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, wise virgin, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of Divine love, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, apostle by thy zeal and charity, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who converted thy spouse and procured for him the crown of Martyrdom, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true Church,
Pray for us.

Saint Cecilia, who didst unceasingly see thy guardian Angel by thy side, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who didst mingle thy voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, illustrious Martyr of Jesus Christ, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who during three days dist suffer most excruciating torments, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke thee, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students, Pray for us.

We salute thee, O Virgin, who didst give thy blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

God glorified Saint Cecilia,
   And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray: O Eternal God, Who didst give us, in the person of Saint Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days, like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise Thee and bless Thee forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which falls on 2 February, celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante (lit., ‘Meeting’ in Greek). Other traditional names include Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, La Fête de la Chandeleur, and the Meeting of the Lord. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2 February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.

 The event is described in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22–40). According to the gospel, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn, in obedience to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12-15, etc.). Luke explicitly says that Joseph and Mary take the option provided for poor people (those who could not afford a lamb) in Leviticus 12:8, sacrificing “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Upon bringing Jesus into the temple, they encountered Simeon the Righteous. The Gospel records that Simeon had been promised that “he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Simeon prayed the prayer that would become known as the Nunc Dimittis, or Canticle of Simeon, which prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus:

Now you are releasing your servant, Master, according to your word, in peace; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon then prophesied to Mary: “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

The elderly prophetess Anna was also in the Temple, and offered prayers and praise to God for Jesus, and spoke to everyone there about Jesus and his role in the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:36-38).

 

Memorial of Saint John Bosco, priest

John Bosco (Italian: Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco; 16 August 1815[1] – 31 January 1888), was an Italian Catholic priest, educator and writer of the 19th century, who put into practice the convictions of his religion, dedicating his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth and employing teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that is known as the preventive system.[2] A follower of the spirituality and philosophy of Francis de Sales, Bosco dedicated his works to him when he founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (more commonly known as the Salesian Society or the Salesians of Don Bosco). Together with Maria Domenica Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls, and popularly known as Salesian Sisters. In 1876 Bosco founded a movement of laity, the Salesian Cooperators, with the same educational mission to the poor.[3] In 1875 he published Bibliofilo Cattolico – Bollettino Salesiano Mensuale (The Catholic Book Lover – Salesian Monthly Bulletin.)[4][5] The Bulletin has remained in continuous publication, and is currently published in 50 different editions and 30 languages.[4]

Bosco succeeded in establishing a network of organizations and centres to carry on his work. In recognition of his work with disadvantaged youth, he was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

 Life

Bosco was born in the evening of 16 August 1815 in Becchi.[6] He was the youngest son of Francesco Bosco (1780–1817) and Margeret Occhiena. He had two elder brothers, Antonio and Giuseppe (1813–1862).[6] The Bosco of Becchi were farmhands of the Moglia Family. John Bosco was born into a time of great shortage and famine in the Piedmontese countryside, following the devastation wrought by the Napoleonic wars and a drought in 1817.[7]

Margaret played a strong role in Bosco’s formation and personality,[8] and was an early supporter of her son’s ideals.[9][10] When he was young, he would put on shows of his skills as a juggler, magician and acrobat[11] with prayers before and after the performance.[12]

In 1825, when he was nine, Bosco had the first of a series of dreams which would play an influential role in his work and outlook.[13] This dream “left a profound impression on him for the rest of his life”, according to his own memoirs.[13] Bosco saw a man, who “appeared, nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing”.[13] The man said to him:

You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. So begin right now to show them that sin is ugly and virtue beautiful.[13][14]

Poverty prevented any serious attempt at schooling. Nevertheless it’s suggested that the idea to become a priest came from his early childhood, especially following the dream he had when he was nine.[15] At the time, being a priest was generally seen as a profession for the privileged classes, rather than farmers, although it was not unknown.[15] Some biographers portray his brother Antonio as the main obstacle for Bosco’s ambition to study, arguing that “He’s a farmer like us!”[16] Nevertheless, Margaret gave her support to John and he finally left home in February 1828 at the age of twelve.[15] Having to face life by himself at such a young age may have developed his later sympathies to help abandoned boys. After begging unsuccessfully for work, Bosco ended up at the wine farm of Louis Moglia.[15] However, although Bosco could pursue some studies by himself, he was unavailable to attend school for two more years. In 1830 he met Fr. Joseph Calosso, an elderly priest who identified some natural talent and supported his first schooling.[17]

Priesthood and first apostolates

Bosco began as the chaplain of the Rifugio (“Refuge”), a girls’ boarding school founded in Turin by the Marchioness Giulia di Barolo, but he had many ministries on the side such as visiting prisoners, teaching catechism and helping out at country parishes.

A growing group of boys would come to the Rifugio on Sundays and feast days to play and learn their catechism. They were too old to join the younger children in regular catechism classes in the parishes, who mostly chased them away. This was the beginning of the “Oratory of St. Francis de Sales”. Bosco and his oratory wandered around town for a few years and were turned out of several places in succession. After only two months based in the church of St Martin, the entire neighborhood expressed its annoyance with the noise coming from the boys at play. A formal complaint was lodged against them with the municipality. Rumors circulated that the meetings conducted by the priest with his boys were dangerous; their recreation could be turned into a revolution against the government. The group was evicted.[18]

In 1846 Bosco rented a shed in the new Valdocco neighborhood on the north end of town from a Mr. Pinardi. This served as the oratory’s home. His mother moved in with him and in 1847, he and “Mamma Margherita” began taking in orphans.

Even before this, Bosco had the help of several friends at the oratory. There included priests like Joseph Cafasso and Borel, some older boys like Giuseppe Buzzetti, Michael Rua, Giovanni Cagliero and Carlo Gastini as well as Bosco’s own mother.[citation needed]

One friend was Justice Minister Urbano Rattazzi, who despite being anticlerical, nevertheless saw value in Bosco’s work.[19][20] While Rattazzi was pushing a bill through the Sardinian legislature to suppress religious orders, he advised Bosco on how to get around the law and found a religious order to keep the oratory going after its founder’s death.[19] Bosco had been thinking about that problem, too, and had been slowly organizing his helpers into a loose “Congregation of St. Francis de Sales”. He was also training select older boys for the priesthood. Another supporter of the religious order’s idea was the reigning Pope, Blessed Pius IX.[21]

Bosco hated the ideals that had been exported by revolutionary France, calling Rousseau and Voltaire “two vicious leaders of incredulity”,[22] favouring an ultramontane view of politics that acknowledged the supreme authority of the pope. In 1854, when the Kingdom of Sardinia was about to pass a law suppressing monastic orders and confiscating ecclesiastical properties, Bosco reported a series of dreams about “great funerals at court”, referring to politicians or members of the Savoy court.[23] In November 1854, he sent a letter to King Victor Emmanuel II, admonishing him to oppose the confiscation of church property and suppression of the orders, but the King did nothing.[24] His actions, which had been described by Italian historian Erberto Petoia as having “manifest blackmailing intentions”,[25] ended only after the intervention of Prime Minister Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. Despite such criticisms, the King’s family did in fact suffer a number of deaths in a short period. From January to May 1855, the King’s mother (age 54), wife (32), newborn son (Vittorio Emanuele, Count of Genoa; nearly 4 months old), and his only brother (32) all died.[23][24]

Several attempts were made on his life, including a near-stabbing, bludgeoning, and a shooting. Early biographers put this down to the growing influence of the Waldensians in opposition to Catholic clergy.[18]

Opposition to Bosco and his work came from various quarters. Traditionalist clergy accused him of stealing a lot of young and old people away from their own parishes. Nationalist politicians (including some clergy) saw his several hundred young men as recruiting ground for revolution. The Marquis de Cavour, chief of police in Turin, regarded the open-air catechisms as overtly political and a threat to the State, and was highly suspicious of Bosco’s support for the powers of the papacy. Bosco was interrogated on several occasions, but no charges made. Closure may have been prevented by orders from the king that Bosco was not to be disturbed.[26]

Foundation of the Salesian Family

Basilica Don Bosco in Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Asti.

In 1859, Bosco selected the experienced priest Alasonatti, 15 seminarians and one high school boy and formed them into the “Society of St. Francis de Sales.” This was the nucleus of the Salesians, the religious order that would carry on his work. When the group had their next meeting, they voted on the admission of Joseph Rossi as a lay member, the first Salesian brother. The Salesian Congregation was divided into priests, seminarians and “coadjutors” (the lay brothers).

Next, he worked with estarino, Mary Mazzarello and a group of girls in the hill town of Mornese. In 1871, he founded a group of religious sisters to do for girls what the Salesians were doing for boys. They were called the “Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.” In 1874, he founded yet another group, the “Salesian Cooperators.” These were mostly lay people who would work for young people like the Daughters and the Salesians, but would not join a religious order.[27]

The story of the departure of the first Salesians for America in 1875 is based on the missionary ideal of Bosco. After his ordination, he would have become a missionary had not his director, Joseph Cafasso, opposed the idea. He eagerly read the Italian edition of the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith and used this magazine to illustrate his Cattolico provveduto (1853) and his Month of May booklets (1858).

When Bosco founded the Salesian Society, the thought of the missions still obsessed him, though he completely lacked the financial means at that time. One night, he dreamt again. Being on a vast plain, inhabited by primitive peoples, who spent their time hunting or fighting among themselves or against soldiers in European uniforms. Along came a band of missionaries, but they were all massacred. A second group appeared, which Bosco at once recognized as Salesians. Astonished, he witnessed an unexpected change when the fierce savages laid down their arms and listened to the missionaries. The dream made a great impression on Bosco, because he tried hard to identify the men and the country of the dream.

For three years, Bosco searched among documents, trying to get information about different countries, thus identifying the country from his dream. One day, a request came from Argentina, which turned him towards the Indians of Patagonia. To his surprise, a study of the people there convinced him that the country and its inhabitants were the ones he had seen in his dream.

He regarded it as a sign of providence and started preparing a missionary there. Adopting a way of evangelization that would not expose his missionaries suddenly to wild, uncivilized tribes, he proposed to set up bases in safe locations where their missionary efforts were to be launched.

Statue of San Juan Bosco, Ronda, Spain

The above request from Argentina came about as follows: Towards the end of 1874, John Bosco received letters from that country requesting that he accept an Italian parish in Buenos Aires and a school for boys at San Nicolas de los Arroyos. Gazzolo, the Argentine Consul at Savona, had sent the request, for he had taken a great interest in the Salesian work in Liguria and hoped to obtain the Salesians’ help for the benefit of his country. Negotiations started after Archbishop Aneiros of Buenos Aires had indicated that he would be glad to receive the Salesians. They were successful mainly because of the good offices of the priest of San Nicolas, Pedro Ceccarelli, a friend of Gazzolo, who was in touch with and had the confidence of Bosco. In a ceremony held on January 29, 1875, Bosco was able to convey the great news to the oratory in the presence of Gazzolo. On February 5, he announced the fact in a circular letter to all Salesians asking volunteers to apply in writing. He proposed that the first missionary departure start in October. Practically all the Salesians volunteered for the missions.

By this time Italy was united under Piedmontese leadership. The poorly-governed Papal States were merged into the new kingdom. It was generally thought that Bosco supported the Pope.

Don Bosco.

The Preventive System

Bosco’s capability to attract numerous boys and adult helpers was connected to his “Preventive System of Education”. He believed education to be a “matter of the heart” and said that the boys must not only be loved, but know that they are loved. He also pointed to three components of the Preventive System: reason, religion and kindness. Music and games also went into the mix.

Bosco gained a reputation early on of being a saint and miracle worker. For this reason, Rua, Buzzetti, Cagliero and several others chronicled his sayings and doings. Preserved in the Salesian archives, these remain resources for studying his life. Later on, the Salesian Lemoyne collected and combined them into 77 scrapbooks with oral testimonies and Bosco’s own Memoirs of the Oratory. His aim was to write a detailed biography. This project eventually became a nineteen-volume affair, carried out by him and two other authors. These are the Biographical Memoirs. It is not the work of professional historians, but chronicles that preserve the memories of teenage boys.

 Bosco’s concerns over his influence

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Shortly before his death, Bosco commented “I will reveal to you now a fear… I fear that one of ours may come to misinterpret the affection that Don Bosco had for the young, and from the way that I received their confession – really, really close – and may let himself get carried away with too much sensuality towards them, and then pretend to justify himself by saying that Don Bosco did the same, be it when he spoke to them in secret, be it when he received their confession. I know that one can be conquered by way of the heart, and I fear dangers, and spiritual harm.”[28][29][30]

Death and canonization

Bosco died on 31 January 1888. His funeral was attended by thousands. Soon after there was popular demand to have him canonized. The Archdiocese of Turin investigated and witnesses were called to determine if Bosco was worthy of a declared Saint. The Salesians, Daughters and Cooperators gave supportive testimonies. But many remembered Bosco’s controversies in the 1870s with Archbishop Gastaldi and some others high in the Church hierarchy thought him a loose cannon and a wheeler-dealer. In the canonization process, testimony was heard about how he went around Gastaldi to get some of his men ordained and about their lack of academic preparation and ecclesiastical decorum. Political cartoons from the 1860s and later showed him shaking money from the pockets of old ladies or going off to America for the same purpose. These cartoons were not forgotten. Opponents of Bosco, including some cardinals, were in a position to block his canonization and many Salesians feared around 1925 that they would succeed.

Pope Pius XI had known Bosco and pushed the cause forward. Bosco was declared Blessed in 1929 and canonized on Easter Sunday of 1934, when he was given the title of “Father and Teacher of Youth”.[31]

While Bosco had been popularly known as the patron saint of illusionists, on 30 January 2002, Silvio Mantelli petitioned Pope John Paul II to formally declare St. John Bosco the Patron of Stage Magicians.[32] Catholic stage magicians who practice Gospel Magic venerate Bosco by offering free magic shows to underprivileged children on his feast day.

Bosco’s work was carried on by his early pupil and constant companion, Michael Rua, who was appointed Rector Major of the Salesian Society by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. Salesians have started many schools and colleges around the world.

 

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P., also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino; (Aquino, 1225 – Fossanova, 7 March 1274) was an Italian priest of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Order, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus (the Angelic Doctor) and Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis (the Common or Universal Doctor).[1] “Aquinas” is not a surname (hereditary surnames were not then in common use in Europe), but is a Latin adjective meaning “of Aquino”, his place of birth. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology, which is named after him. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived as a reaction against, or as an agreement with his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law and political theory.

Thomas is held in the Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood.[2] The works for which he is best-known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles. One of the 33 Doctors of the Church, he is considered the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. Pope Benedict XV declared: “The Church has declared Thomas’ doctrines to be her own.”[3]

     Biography

     Early years and desire to become a Dominican (1225-1240)

    Thomas was born in Aquino c. 1225, according to some authors in the father Count Landulf of Aquino’s castle placed in Roccasecca, in the same Contea di Aquino (Kingdom of Sicily, in the present-day: Lazio). Through his mother, Theodora Countess of Theate, Thomas was related to the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Holy Roman emperors.[4] Landulf’s brother Sinibald was abbot of the original Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino. While the rest of the family’s sons pursued a military career,[5] the family intended for Thomas to follow his uncle into the abbacy;[6] this would have been a normal career path for a younger son of southern Italian nobility.[4]

    At the age of five, Thomas began his early education at Monte Cassino but after the military conflict that broke out between the Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX spilled into the abbey in early 1239, Landulf and Theodora had Thomas enrolled at the studium generale (university) recently established by Frederick in Naples.[7] It was here that Thomas was probably introduced to Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides, all of whom would influence his theological philosophy.[8] It was also during his study at Naples that Thomas came under the influence of John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher in Naples, who was part of the active effort by the Dominican order to recruit devout followers.[9] Here his teacher in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music was Petrus de Ibernia.[10]

    At age nineteen, Thomas resolved to join the Dominican Order. Thomas’s change of heart did not please his family, who had expected him to become a Benedictine monk.[11] In an attempt to prevent Theodora’s interference in Thomas’s choice, the Dominicans arranged for Thomas to be removed to Rome, and from Rome, sent to Paris.[12] On his way to Rome, his brothers, per Theodora’s instructions, seized him as he was drinking from a spring and took him back to his parents at the castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano.[12] He was held for two years in the family homes at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca in an attempt to prevent him from assuming the Dominican habit and to push him into renouncing his new aspiration.[8] Political concerns prevented the Pope from ordering Thomas’s release, extending the detention,[13] a detention which Thomas spent tutoring his sisters and communicating with members of the Dominican Order.[8] Family members became desperate to dissuade Thomas, who remained determined to join the Dominicans. At one point, two of his brothers hired a prostitute to seduce him, but he drove her away, wielding a burning stick. According to legend, that night two angels appeared to him as he slept and strengthened his determination to remain celibate.[14] By 1244, seeing that all of her attempts to dissuade Thomas had failed, Theodora sought to save the family’s dignity, arranging for Thomas to escape at night through his window. In her mind, a secret escape from detention was less damaging than an open surrender to the Dominicans. Thomas was sent first to Naples and then to Rome to meet Johannes von Wildeshausen, the Master General of the Dominican Order.[15]

    Paris, Cologne, Albert Magnus, and First Paris Regency (1245-1259)

    In 1245, Thomas was sent to study at the University of Paris‘ Faculty of Arts where he most likely met Dominican scholar Albertus Magnus,[16] then the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James in Paris.[17] When Albertus was sent by his superiors to teach at the new studium generale at Cologne in 1248,[16] Thomas followed him, declining Pope Innocent IV‘s offer to appoint him abbot of Monte Cassino as a Dominican.[6] Albertus then appointed the reluctant Thomas magister studentium.[4] After failing in his first theological disputation, Albertus prophetically exclaimed: “We call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.”[6]

    Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor (baccalaureus biblicus), instructing students on the books of the Old Testament and writing Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram (Literal Commentary on Isaiah), Postilla super Ieremiam (Commentary on Jeremiah) and Postilla super Threnos (Commentary on Lamentations).[18] Then in 1252 he returned to Paris to study for the master’s degree in theology. He lectured on the Bible as an apprentice professor, and upon becoming a baccalaureus Sententiarum (bachelor of the Sentences)[19] devoted his final three years of study to commenting on Peter Lombard‘s Sentences. In the first of his four theological syntheses, Thomas composed a massive commentary on the Sentences entitled Scriptum super libros Sententiarium (Commentary on the Sentences). Aside from his masters writings, he wrote De ente et essentia (On Being and Essence) for his fellow Dominicans in Paris.[6]

    In spring of 1256, Thomas was appointed regent master in theology at Paris and one of his first works upon assuming this office was Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem (Against Those Who Assail the Worship of God and Religion), defending the mendicant orders which had come under attack by William of Saint-Amour.[20] During his tenure from 1256 to 1259, Thomas wrote numerous works, including: Questiones disputatae de veritate (Disputed Questions on Truth), a collection of twenty-nine disputed questions on aspects of faith and the human condition [21] prepared for the public university debates he presided over on Lent and Advent;[22] Quaestiones quodlibetales (Quodlibetal Questions), a collection of his responses to questions posed to him by the academic audience;[21] and both Expositio super librum Boethii De trinitate (Commentary on Boethius’s De trinitate) and Expositio super librum Boethii De hebdomadibus (Commentary on Boethius’s De hebdomadibus), commentaries on the works of 6th century philosopher Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius.[23] By the end of his regency, Thomas was working on one of his most famous works, Summa contra Gentiles.[24]

    Saint Thomas Aquinas

    St. Thomas Aquinas, by Fra Angelico, O.P.
    Doctor of the Church
    Born c. 1229
    Aquino, Kingdom of Sicily
    Died 7 March 1274(1274-03-07) (aged 49)
    Fossanuova Abbey, Kingdom of Sicily
    Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
    Anglican Communion
    Canonized 1323, Avignon, France by Pope John XXII
    Major shrine Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse, France
    Feast 28 January (new), 7 March (old)
    Attributes The Summa Theologica, a model church, the Sun
    Patronage All Catholic educational institutions

     Naples, Orvieto, Rome, and Santa Sabina (1259-1269)

    Around 1259, Thomas returned to Naples where he lived until he arrived in Orvieto around September 1261. In Orvieto, he was appointed conventual lector, in charge of the education of friars unable to attend a studium generale. During his stay in Orvieto, Thomas completed his Summa contra Gentiles, and wrote the Catena Aurea (The Golden Chain).[25] He also wrote the liturgy for the newly created feast of Corpus Christi and produced works for Pope Urban IV concerning Greek Orthodox theology, e.g. Contra errores graecorum (Against the Errors of the Greeks).[24] In 1265 he was ordered by the Dominicans to establish a studium for the Order in Rome at the priory of Santa Sabina, which he did from 1265 until he was called back to Paris in 1268.[26] It was in Rome that Thomas began his most famous work, Summa Theologica,[25] and wrote a variety of other works like his unfinished Compendium Theologiae and Responsio ad fr. Ioannem Vercellensem de articulis 108 sumptis ex opere Petri de Tarentasia (Reply to Brother John of Vercelli Regarding 108 Articles Drawn from the Work of Peter of Tarentaise).[23] In his position as head of the studium, conducted a series of important disputations on the power of God, which he compiled into his De potentia.[26]

    The Quarrelsome Second Paris Regency (1269-1272)

    In 1268 the Dominican Order assigned Thomas to be regent master at the University of Paris for a second time, a position he held until the spring of 1272. Part of the reason for this sudden reassignment appears to have arisen from the rise of “Averroism” or “radical Aristotelianism” in the universities. In response to these perceived evils, Thomas wrote two works, one of them being De unitate intellectus, contra Averroistas (On the Unity of Intellect, against the Averroists) in which he blasts Averroism as incompatible with Christian doctrine.[27] During his second regency, he finished the second part of the Summa and wrote De virtutibus and De aeternitate mundi,[26] the latter of which dealt with controversial Averroist and Aristotelian beginninglessness of the world.[28] Disputes with some important Franciscans such as Bonaventure and John Peckham conspired to make his second regency much more difficult and troubled than the first. A year before Thomas re-assumed the regency at the 1266-67 Paris disputations, Franciscan master William of Baglione accused Thomas of encouraging Averroists, calling him the “blind leader of the blind”. Thomas called these individuals the murmurantes (Grumblers).[28] In reality, Thomas was deeply disturbed by the spread of Averroism and was angered when he discovered Siger of Brabant teaching Averroistic interpretations of Aristotle to Parisian students.[29] On 10 December 1270, the bishop of Paris, Etienne Tempier, issued an edict condemning thirteen Aristotlelian and Averroistic propositions as heretical and excommunicating anyone who continued to support them.[30] Many in the ecclesiastical community, the so-called Augustinians, were fearful that this introduction of Aristotelianism and the more extreme Averroism might somehow contaminate the purity of the Christian faith. In what appears to be an attempt to counteract the growing fear of Aristotelian thought, Thomas conducted a series of disputations between 1270 and 1272: De virtutibus in communi (On Virtues in General), De virtutibus cardinalibus (On Cardinal Virtues), De spe (On Hope).[31]

    Final days and “Straw” (1272-1274)

    In 1272 Thomas took leave from the University of Paris when the Dominicans from his home province called upon him to establish a studium generale wherever he liked and staff it as he pleased. He chose to establish the institution in Naples, and moved there to take his post as regent master.[26] He took his time at Naples to work on the third part of the Summa while giving lectures on various religious topics. On 6 December 1273 Thomas was celebrating the Mass of St. Nicholas when, according to some, he heard Christ speak to him. Christ asked him what he desired, being pleased with his meritorious life. Thomas replied “Only you Lord. Only you.”[32] After this exchange something happened, but Thomas never spoke of it or wrote it down. Because of what he saw, he abandoned his routine and refused to dictate to his socius Reginald of Piperno. When Reginald begged him to get back to work, Thomas replied: “Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.”[33] (mihi videtur ut palea).[34] What exactly triggered Thomas’s change in behavior is believed to be some kind of supernatural experience of God.[35] After taking to his bed, he did recover some strength.[36]

    Looking to find a way to reunite the Eastern Orthodox churches with the Catholic Church (the Eastern Orthodox had parted ways with the Catholic Church in A.D. 1054 over doctrinal disputes) Pope Gregory X convened the Second Council of Lyon to be held on 1 May 1274 and summoned Thomas to attend.[37] At the meeting, Thomas’s work for Pope Urban IV concerning the Greeks, Contra errores graecorum, was to be presented.[38] On his way to the Council, riding on a donkey along the Appian Way,[37] he struck his head on the branch of a fallen tree and became seriously ill again. He was then quickly escorted to Monte Cassino to convalesce.[39] After resting for a while, he set out again, but stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey after again falling ill.[40] The monks nursed him for several days, and as he received his last rites he prayed: “I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught…”[41] He died on 7 March 1274[40] while giving commentary on the Song of Songs.[42]

    Condemnation of 1277 and subsequent canonization

    In 1277, the same bishop of France, Etienne Tempier, who had issued the condemnation of 1270 issued another, more extensive condemnation. One aim of this condemnation was to clarify that God’s absolute power transcended any principles of logic that Aristotle or Averroes might place on it.[43] More specifically, it contained a list of 219 propositions that the bishop had determined to violate the omnipotence of God, and included in this list were twenty Thomistic propositions. Their inclusion badly damaged Thomas’s reputation for many years.[44]

    In The Divine Comedy, Dante sees the glorified spirit of Thomas in the Heaven of the Sun with the other great exemplars of religious wisdom.[45] Dante asserts that Thomas died by poisoning, on the order of Charles of Anjou;[46] Villani (ix. 218) cites this belief, and the Anonimo Fiorentino describes the crime and its motive. But the historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori reproduces the account made by one of Thomas’s friends, and this version of the story gives no hint of foul play.[47]

    Fifty years after the death of Thomas, Pope John XXII, seated in Avignon, pronounced Thomas a saint.[48] Thomas’s theology had begun its rise to prestige. Two centuries later, in 1567, Pope Pius V proclaimed St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church and ranked his feast with those of the four great Latin fathers: Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome, and Gregory. However, in the same period the Council of Trent would still turn to Duns Scotus before Thomas as a source of arguments in defence of the Church. Even though Duns Scotus was more consulted at the Council of Trent, Thomas had the honor of having his Summa Theologica placed on the altar alongside the Bible and the Decretals.[44]

    In his encyclical of 4 August 1879, Pope Leo XIII stated that Thomas’s theology was a definitive exposition of Catholic doctrine. Thus, he directed the clergy to take the teachings of Thomas as the basis of their theological positions. Leo XIII also decreed that all Catholic seminaries and universities must teach Thomas’s doctrines, and where Thomas did not speak on a topic, the teachers were “urged to teach conclusions that were reconcilable with his thinking.” In 1880, Saint Thomas Aquinas was declared patron of all Catholic educational establishments.

    In a monastery at Naples, near the cathedral of St. Januarius, a cell in which he supposedly lived is still shown to visitors. His remains were placed in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse in 1369. Between 1789 and 1974, they were held in Basilique de Saint-Sernin, Toulouse. In 1974, they were returned to the Church of the Jacobins, where they have remained ever since.

    In the General Roman Calendar of 1962,in the Roman Catholic Church, Thomas was commemorated on 7 March, the day of death. However, in the General Roman Calendar of 1969, even though the norm in the Roman Catholic Church is to remember saints on the day of their death, Thomas’s memorial was transferred to 28 January, the date of the translation of his relics to Toulouse.[49]

    Saint Thomas Aquinas is honored with a feast day on the liturgical of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on January 28.

    Philosophy

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    Main article: Thomism

    By profession, Thomas was a theologian rather than a philosopher. Indeed he nowhere characterizes himself as a philosopher, and the references to philosophers found in his own work refer to pagans rather than Christians.[50] He was, nonetheless, a masterfully skilled philosopher.[51] Much of his work bears upon philosophical topics, and in this sense may be characterized as philosophical. Thomas’s philosophical thought has exerted enormous influence on subsequent Christian theology, especially that of the Roman Catholic Church, extending to Western philosophy in general. Thomas stands as a vehicle and modifier of Aristotelianism, Augustinian Neoplatonism and Proclean Neoplatonism.

    Commentaries on Aristotle

    Thomas wrote several important commentaries on Aristotle, including On the Soul, Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics. His work is associated with William of Moerbeke’s translations of Aristotle from Greek into Latin.

     Epistemology

    Thomas believed “that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act.”[52] However, he believed that human beings have the natural capacity to know many things without special divine revelation, even though such revelation occurs from time to time, “especially in regard to [topics of] a faith.”[53]

     Revelation

    Thomas believed that truth is known through reason (natural revelation) and faith (supernatural revelation). Supernatural revelation has its origin in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is made available through the teaching of the prophets, summed up in Holy Scripture, and transmitted by the Magisterium, the sum of which is called “Tradition”. Natural revelation is the truth available to all people through their human nature; certain truths all men can attain from correct human reasoning. For example, he felt this applied to rational ways to know the existence of God.

    Though one may deduce the existence of God and his Attributes (One, Truth, Good, Power, Knowledge) through reason, certain specifics may be known only through special revelation (such as the Trinity). In Thomas’s view, special revelation is equivalent to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The major theological components of Christianity, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, are revealed in the teachings of the Church and the Scriptures and may not otherwise be deduced.

    Supernatural revelation (faith) and natural revelation (reason) are complementary rather than contradictory in nature, for they pertain to the same unity: truth.

     Creation

    Thomas believed life could form from non living material or plant life, a theory of ongoing abiogenesis known as spontaneous generation:

    Since the generation of one thing is the corruption of another, it was not incompatible with the first formation of things, that from the corruption of the less perfect the more perfect should be generated. Hence animals generated from the corruption of inanimate things, or of plants, may have been generated then.[54]

    Additionally, Thomas considered Empedocles‘ theory that various mutated species emerged at the dawn of Creation. Thomas reasoned that these species were generated through mutations in animal sperm, and argued that they were not unintended by nature; rather, such species were simply not intended for perpetual existence. This discussion is found in his commentary on Aristotle’s Physics:

    The same thing is true of those substances which Empedocles said were produced at the beginning of the world, such as the ‘ox-progeny’, i.e., half ox and half man. For if such things were not able to arrive at some end and final state of nature so that they would be preserved in existence, this was not because nature did not intend this [a final state], but because they were not capable of being preserved. For they were not generated according to nature, but by the corruption of some natural principle, as it now also happens that some monstrous offspring are generated because of the corruption of seed.[55]

     Ethics

    Thomas’s ethics are based on the concept of “first principles of action.”[56] In his Summa Theologica, he wrote:

    Virtue denotes a certain perfection of a power. Now a thing’s perfection is considered chiefly in regard to its end. But the end of power is act. Wherefore power is said to be perfect, according as it is determinate to its act.[57]

    Thomas defined the four cardinal virtues as prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The cardinal virtues are natural and revealed in nature, and they are binding on everyone. There are, however, three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. These are supernatural and are distinct from other virtues in their object, namely, God:

    Now the object of the theological virtues is God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.[58]

    Furthermore, Thomas distinguished four kinds of law: eternal, natural, human, and divine. Eternal law is the decree of God that governs all creation. Natural law is the human “participation” in the eternal law and is discovered by reason.[59] Natural law, of course, is based on “first principles”:

    . . . this is the first precept of the law, that good is to be done and promoted, and evil is to be avoided. All other precepts of the natural law are based on this . . .[60]

    The desires to live and to procreate are counted by Thomas among those basic (natural) human values on which all human values are based. However, Thomas was vehemently opposed to non-procreative sexual activity. This lead him to view masturbation, oral sex, and even coitus interruptus, as being worse than incest and rape when the act itself is considered (apart from the abuse suffered by the violated party). He also objected to sexual positions other than the missionary position, on the assumption that they made conception more difficult.[61][62][63]

    Human law is positive law: the natural law applied by governments to societies. Divine law is the specially revealed law in the scriptures.

    Thomas also greatly influenced Catholic understandings of mortal and venial sins.

    Thomas denied that human beings have any duty of charity to animals because they are not persons. Otherwise, it would be unlawful to use them for food. But this does not give us license to be cruel to them, for “cruel habits might carry over into our treatment of human beings.”[64]

    Thomas contributed to economic thought as an aspect of ethics and justice. He dealt with the concept of a just price, normally its market price or a regulated price sufficient to cover seller costs of production. He argued it was immoral for sellers to raise their prices simply because buyers were in pressing need for a product.[65][66]

     Theology

    17th century sculpture of Thomas Aquinas

    Thomas viewed theology, or the sacred doctrine, as a science,[35] the raw material data of which consists of written scripture and the tradition of the Catholic Church. These sources of data were produced by the self-revelation of God to individuals and groups of people throughout history. Faith and reason, while distinct but related, are the two primary tools for processing the data of theology. Thomas believed both were necessary — or, rather, that the confluence of both was necessary — for one to obtain true knowledge of God. Thomas blended Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine by suggesting that rational thinking and the study of nature, like revelation, were valid ways to understand truths pertaining to God. According to Thomas, God reveals himself through nature, so to study nature is to study God. The ultimate goals of theology, in Thomas’s mind, are to use reason to grasp the truth about God and to experience salvation through that truth.

    Nature of God

    Thomas believed that the existence of God is neither obvious nor unprovable. In the Summa Theologica, he considered in great detail five reasons for the existence of God. These are widely known as the quinque viae, or the “Five Ways.”

    Concerning the nature of God, Thomas felt the best approach, commonly called the via negativa, is to consider what God is not. This led him to propose five statements about the divine qualities:

    1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.[67]
    2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God’s complete actuality.[68]
    3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.[69]
    4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God’s essence and character.[70]
    5. God is one, without diversification within God’s self. The unity of God is such that God’s essence is the same as God’s existence. In Thomas’s words, “in itself the proposition ‘God exists’ is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same.”[71]

    In this approach, he is following, among others, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.[72]

    Following St. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas defines sin as “a word, deed, or desire, contrary to the eternal law.”[73] It is important to note the analogous nature of law in Thomas’s legal philosophy. Natural law is an instance or instantiation of eternal law. Because natural law is that which human beings determine according to their own nature (as rational beings), disobeying reason is disobeying natural law and eternal law. Thus eternal law is logically prior to reception of either “natural law” (that determined by reason) or “divine law” (that found in the Old and New Testaments). In other words, God’s will extends to both reason and revelation. Sin is abrogating either one’s own reason, on the one hand, or revelation on the other, and is synonymous with “evil” (privation of good, or privatio boni[74]). Thomas, like all Scholastics, generally argued that the findings of reason and data of revelation cannot conflict, so both are a guide to God’s will for human beings.

    Nature of the Trinity

    Thomas argued that God, while perfectly united, also is perfectly described by Three Interrelated Persons. These three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are constituted by their relations within the essence of God. The Father generates the Son (or the Word) by the relation of self-awareness. This eternal generation then produces an eternal Spirit “who enjoys the divine nature as the Love of God, the Love of the Father for the Word.”

    This Trinity exists independently from the world. It transcends the created world, but the Trinity also decided to communicate God’s self and God’s goodness to human beings. This takes place through the Incarnation of the Word in the person of Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (indeed, the very essence of the Trinity itself) within those who have experienced salvation by God.[75]

     Prima Causa – First Cause

    Thomas’s five proofs for the existence of God take some of Aristotle’s assertions concerning principles of being. For Thomas, God as Prima Causa (first cause) comes from Aristotle’s concept of the Unmoved Mover and asserts that God is the ultimate cause of all things.[76]

    Nature of Jesus Christ

    In the Summa Theologica, Thomas begins his discussion of Jesus Christ by recounting the biblical story of Adam and Eve and by describing the negative effects of original sin. The purpose of Christ’s Incarnation was to restore human nature by removing “the contamination of sin”, which humans cannot do by themselves. “Divine Wisdom judged it fitting that God should become man, so that thus one and the same person would be able both to restore man and to offer satisfaction.”[77] Thomas argued in favor of the satisfaction view of atonement; that is, that Jesus Christ died “to satisfy for the whole human race, which was sentenced to die on account of sin.”[78]

    Thomas argued against several specific contemporary and historical theologians who held differing views about Christ. In response to Photinus, Thomas stated that Jesus was truly divine and not simply a human being. Against Nestorius, who suggested that Son of God was merely conjoined to the man Christ, Thomas argued that the fullness of God was an integral part of Christ’s existence. However, countering Apollinaris‘ views, Thomas held that Christ had a truly human (rational) soul, as well. This produced a duality of natures in Christ. Thomas argued against Eutyches that this duality persisted after the Incarnation. Thomas stated that these two natures existed simultaneously yet distinguishably in one real human body, unlike the teachings of Manichaeus and Valentinus.[79]

    In short, “Christ had a real body of the same nature of ours, a true rational soul, and, together with these, perfect Deity.” Thus, there is both unity (in his one hypostasis) and diversity (in his two natures, human and Divine) in Christ.[80]

    Echoing Athanasius of Alexandria, he said that “The only begotten Son of God…assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”[81]

     Goal of human life

    In Thomas’s thought, the goal of human existence is union and eternal fellowship with God. Specifically, this goal is achieved through the beatific vision, an event in which a person experiences perfect, unending happiness by seeing the very essence of God. This vision, which occurs after death, is a gift from God given to those who have experienced salvation and redemption through Christ while living on earth.

    This ultimate goal carries implications for one’s present life on earth. Thomas stated that an individual’s will must be ordered toward right things, such as charity, peace, and holiness. He sees this as the way to happiness. Thomas orders his treatment of the moral life around the idea of happiness. The relationship between will and goal is antecedent in nature “because rectitude of the will consists in being duly ordered to the last end [that is, the beatific vision].” Those who truly seek to understand and see God will necessarily love what God loves. Such love requires morality and bears fruit in everyday human choices.[82]

    Treatment of heretics

    Thomas Aquinas belonged to the Ordo Praedicatorum (commonly known as the Dominicans), whose primary goal is the peaceful conversion of the Albigensian heretics. In the Summa Theologica, he wrote:

    With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death. On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal… (Summa, II-II, Q.11, art.3.)

    Heresy was against the secular law in most European countries of the 13th century. Thomas’s suggestion specifically demands that heretics be handed to a “secular tribunal” rather than magisterial authority. That Thomas specifically says that heretics “deserve… death” is concerning his theology, where all sinners do not deserve life (“For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”[83]). He elaborates on his opinion regarding heresy in the next article, when he says:

    In God’s tribunal, those who return are always received, because God is a searcher of hearts, and knows those who return in sincerity. But the Church cannot imitate God in this, for she presumes that those who relapse after being once received, are not sincere in their return; hence she does not debar them from the way of salvation, but neither does she protect them from the sentence of death. (Summa, op. cit., art.4.)

     Modern influence

    Many modern ethicists both within and outside the Catholic Church (notably Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre) have recently commented on the possible use of Thomas’s virtue ethics as a way of avoiding utilitarianism or Kantian “sense of duty” (called deontology). Through the work of twentieth century philosophers such as Elizabeth Anscombe (especially in her book Intention), Thomas’s principle of double effect specifically and his theory of intentional activity generally have been influential.

    In recent years, the cognitive neuroscientist Walter Freeman proposes that Thomism is the philosophical system explaining cognition that is most compatible with neurodynamics, in a 2008 article in the journal Mind and Matter entitled “Nonlinear Brain Dynamics and Intention According to Aquinas.”

    It is remarkable that Thomas’s aesthetic theories, especially the concept of claritas, deeply influenced the literary practice of modernist writer James Joyce, who used to extol Thomas as being second only to Aristotle among Western philosophers. The influence of Thomas’s aesthetics also can be found in the works of the Italian semiotician Umberto Eco, who wrote an essay on aesthetic ideas in Thomas (published in 1956 and republished in 1988 in a revised edition).

     

    Memorial of Saint Timothy and Saint Titus, bishops

    Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning “honouring God”[1]) was a first-century Jewish Christian bishop who died around the year 80. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. He is addressed as the recipient of the Epistles to Timothy. Contents [hide] 1 Life 2 Veneration 3 References 4 External links [edit] Life Timothy is mentioned in the Bible at the time of Paul’s second visit to Lystra in Anatolia, where Timothy is mentioned as a “disciple”.[2] Paul, impressed by his “own son in the faith,” arranged that he should become his companion. Unlike Paul, Timothy had not however been circumcised, and Paul now ensured that this was done, according to the text, to ensure Timothy’s acceptability to the Jews. According to McGarvey[3] Paul performed the operation “with his own hand”, but others claim this is unlikely and nowhere attested[citation needed]. He was ordained[4] and went with Paul on his journeys through Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Philippi, Veria, and Corinth. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are noted as eminent for their piety and faith,[5] which indicates that they were also likely Jewish Christians. Timothy is praised by Paul for his knowledge of the Scriptures (in the 1st century mostly the Septuagint, see Development of the New Testament canon#Clement of Rome), and is said to have been acquainted with the Scriptures since childhood.[6] Little is known about Timothy’s father; only that he was Greek.[7] Rembrandt’s Timothy and his grandmother, 1648.According to later tradition, Paul consecrated Timothy as bishop of Ephesus in the year 65, where he served for 15 years. In the year 80 (though some sources place the event during the year 97, with Timothy dying at age 80), Timothy tried to halt a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies, and songs. In response to his preaching of the gospel, the angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death. In the 4th century, his relics were transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. [edit] Veneration Timothy is venerated as an apostle, saint and martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his feast day on 22 January. The Roman Catholic calendar of saints venerates Timothy together with Titus with a memorial on 26 January. In the General Roman Calendar of 1962, his feast, a third class, is kept on 24 January. Along with Titus and Silas, he is commemorated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church on 26 January. Timothy’s feast is kept by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod on 24 January.

    Saint Titus was a companion of Saint Paul, mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles. Titus was with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch and accompanied them to the Council of Jerusalem,[1] although his name occurs nowhere in the Acts of the Apostles.

    He appears to have been a Gentile – for Paul sternly refused to have him circumcised, because Paul believed Christ’s gospel freed believers from the requirements of the Mosaic Law (see Abrogation of Old Covenant laws) — and to have been chiefly engaged in ministering to Gentiles. At a later period, Paul’s epistles place him with Paul and Timothy at Ephesus, whence he was sent by Paul to Corinth for the purpose of getting the contributions of the church there on behalf of the poor Christians at Jerusalem sent forward.[2] He rejoined Paul when he was in Macedonia, and cheered him with the tidings he brought from Corinth.[3] After this his name is not mentioned until after Paul’s first imprisonment, when he was engaged in the organization of the church in Crete, where Paul had left him for this purpose.[4] The last notice of him is in 2 Timothy 4:10, where he leaves Paul in Rome in order to travel to Dalmatia. The New Testament does not record his death.

    According to tradition, Paul ordained Titus bishop of Gortyn in Crete. He died in the year 107, aged about 95.

    It has been argued that the name “Titus” in 2 Corinthians and Galatians is nothing more than an informal name used by Timothy, implied already by the fact that even though both are said to be long-term close companions of Paul, they never appear in common scenes.[5] The theory proposes that a number of passages—1 Cor. 4:17, 16.10; 2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13-14, 12:18; and Acts 19.22—all refer to the same journey of a single individual, Titus-Timothy. Paul’s Epistle 2 Timothy seems to dispute this, by claiming that Titus has gone to Dalmatia.[6]

    The feast day of Titus was not included in the Tridentine Calendar. When added in 1854, it was assigned to 6 February.[7] In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church assigned the feast to 26 January so as to celebrate the two disciples of Paul, Titus and Saint Timothy, on the day after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.[8] The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America celebrates these two, together with Silas, on the same date. The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on 25 August and on 4 January.

    His relics, now consisting of only his skull, are venerated in the Church of St. Titus, Heraklion, Crete to which it was returned in 1966[9] after being removed to Venice during the Turkish occupation.

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    Saint John NeumannSt. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860)

    HIS FASCINATING LIFE STORY

    The Bishop of Philadelphia lay crumpled in the snow a few blocks from his new cathedral on Logan Square. By the time a priest reached him with the holy oils, Bishop Neumann was dead. That was January 5, 1860. At his own request Bishop Neumann was buried in a basement crypt in Saint Peter’s Church where he would be with his Redemptorist confreres.

     


    Pilgrimages to Bishop’s Tomb

    Almost immediately devout souls were drawn to his grave. They came from far and near. More than a few were claiming extraordinary miracles of grace. It was as though John Neumann, now dead, continued his works of mercy among his people. For decades this unsolicited devotion continued. Finally after many years and many incontrovertible miracles worked through the intercession of this holy man, his Cause was introduced in Rome. In 1921 Pope Benedict XV saw fit to have John Neumann declared “Venerable”. The procession of the faithful continued and in 1963 Pope Paul VI declared him “Blessed” John Neumann. The crowds of pilgrims prompted the building of the lower church. His remains, remarkably well preserved after a century of interment, were exhumed and placed in a glass encasement beneath the altar in the lower church. Bus loads of pilgrims came from different parishes throughout the year to pray to Saint John. Finally the long expected happened in Rome on 1977. Pope Paul VI declared John Neumann a Saint in heaven.

    Now pilgrims came from all over the world. From his native Bohemia, from Germany and Holland they came to claim allegiance to one of their own. Pope John Paul II made it a point to visit the Shrine when he came to Philadelphia to attend the Eucharistic Congress. Yes, the City of Brotherly Love was bursting with joy. The diocesan seminarians from St. Charles, Overbrook, have made annual pilgrimages to his tomb. The various Irish Societies of Philadelphia have made formal pilgrimages to the tomb of this humble man of God who, as bishop, did so much for their immigrant forebears in the 1850’s — this “foreigner” who went to the trouble of studying enough Irish to be able to hear the confessions of those who “had no English,” up in the coal regions of nineteenth century Pennsylvania.

    Those of Italian extraction remember Bishop Neumann as the founder of the first national parish for Italians in the United States. At a time when there was no priest to speak their language, no one to care for them, Bishop Neumann, who had studied Italian as a seminarian in Bohemia, gathered them together in his private chapel and preached to them in their mother tongue. In 1855 he Purchased a Methodist Church in South Philadelphia, dedicated it to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and gave them one of his seminary professors, Father John Tornatore, C.M., to be their pastor.



    CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM ESTABLISHED

    Bishop Neumann lays several claims to fame in Philadelphia and the United States. Ever a humble and self-effacing person, he would be the last one to mention it himself, but the records stand. It was he who organized the first diocesan schedule of the Forty Hours’ Devotion in America. The credit is likewise his of establishing the first system of parochial schools in various parts of the country when Neumann came to Philadelphia — but the first unified system of Catholic schools under a diocesan board. This he did in may of 1852, a fortnight before the Plenary Council at Baltimore which seconded his proposals.



    FOUNDER OF SISTERS OF ST. FRANCIS

    He may also lay claim to being founder of a religious order for women, the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle, whose Rule he drafted in 1855 after returning from Rome for the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

    The School Sisters of Notre Dame likewise regard Bishop Neumann as their secondary founder, their “father in America.” In 1847, Father John Neumann, superior of the Redemptorist Order at the time, welcomed the first band of these teaching sisters from Munich. He found them a home in Baltimore and then provided them with teaching assignments in his Order’s parish schools at Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New York, Buffalo and Philadelphia.



    A REDEMPTORIST

    Bishop Neumann, as a young priest, was the first to make his religious profession as a Redemptorist in the New World. This he did in 1842 in the Church of St. James in Baltimore. Before his elevation to the See of Philadelphia at the age of 41, he had served as rector of St. Philomena’s, Pittsburgh, and St. Alphonsus, Baltimore, as well as vice-provincial of this missionary order in America.

    Recent research in the files of the State Department show that Bishop Neumann became a naturalized citizen of the United States at Baltimore on February 10, 1848, renouncing allegiance to the Emperor of Austria in whose realm he was born on March 28, 1811. On his 41st birthday, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia by Archbishop Francis Kenrick at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, in 1852.



    A DIOCESAN PRIEST

    Before joining the Redemptorists John N. Neumann labored as a diocesan priest in Western New York. He was ordained in June of 1836 by Bishop John Dubois at old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mott Street, New York City. The following week he was pastor of the whole Niagara Frontier, some hundred square miles of swampy primeval forest. Many German immigrants had settled this sector of the diocese and were in danger of losing the Faith. It was for this reason that Father Neumann was sent there. He built churches, raised log schools where possible and even taught the three R’s himself to the German and Irish children.

    “Among the shepherds of the flock in Philadelphia,” wrote the late Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, “the figure of Venerable John Neumann is pre-eminent. It was mainly through his prodigious efforts that a Catholic school system came into being and that parochial schools began to rise across the land. His holy life, his childlike gentleness, his hard labor and his tremendous foresight is still fresh and green among you. The tree planted and watered by Bishop Neumann now gives you its fruit.” James J. Galvin C.Ss.R.



    THE IMMIGRANT SHEPHERD

    It was fitting indeed that Bishop Neumann was beatified during the Second Vatican Council. In a personal letter to each bishop of the world, before the opening of the Council, the Holy Father asked each bishop to aim at achieving the heights of personal sanctity in order to assure its success. He reminded them of their first and highest mission of carrying on a constant policy of instruction and of pastoral visitation so that they can say: “I know my sheep, each and every one,” and that one of the great blessings that can come to a diocese is a bishop who sanctifies, who keeps watch and who sacrifices himself. All these qualities are pre-eminent in the life and holiness of Bishop Neumann, the shepherd declared Blessed during this council.

     

    In theological terms, a miracle is an extradordinary event, produced by God in a religious context which is beyond the powers of corporeal nature, or at least extremely unlikely from the standpoint of those powers alone. Such events are a sign of supernatural activity.

    Pope Benedict XIV set the conditions for the official acceptance of a miracle in his classic work on the Beatification and Canonization Process in the mid 1700’s, and essentially these conditions still stand today. They are:

    1. The illness must be serious and difficult to cure.
    2. The illness must not be in its final phase.
    3. No remedy must have been taken during the illness, or if it has it must be shown to be ineffective.
    4. The cure must be instantaneous.
    5. The cure must be complete.
    6. There must have been no crisis which may have acted as a catalyst for the cure.
    7. The cure must be permanent. 1

    This demonstrates the traditional caution the Church employs in officially recognizing miracles. For example, these requirements have been in use at Lourdes, France for decades. The review process for a single alleged miracle is eight to twelve years. Despite this rigor, cures have been pronounced miraculous by the Church. They are a small percentage of the total number presented for examination.

    Of the hundreds of miracles claimed to have been obtained through the intercession of St. John Neumann, only three have been evaluated and accepted in accordance with the rigorous Canonization standards. The following are the miracles which satisfied those required for his Canonization. They were quite celebrated in the media at the time of their occurence. They are:

    1 Klappenburg, Bonaventure, O.F.M., Pastoral Practice and the Paranormal, trans. David Smith (Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, Ill., 1979), p. 134-135.

     

    I.  ITALIAN GIRL, ELEVEN, IS CURED OF ACUTE PERITONITIS

    In May, 1923, eleven-year-old Eva Benassi of Sassuolo, Italy was stricken with acute diffused peritonitis. By the time her family’s physician, Dr. Louis Barbanti, correctly diagnosed Eva’s condition, she was beyond medical help.

    On a Monday morning a priest gave Eva the last rites. That afternoon Dr. Barbanti told Mr. Benassi that Eva would not live through the night.

    Sister Elizabeth Romoli, a teacher at the school Eva attended, decided to pray to Bishop Neumann for Eva’s recovery. Sister Elizabeth credited Bishop Neumann with her father’s recovery from an illness and felt that Neumann might also help Eva.

    While praying to Neumann, Sister touched Eva’s swollen abdomen with a picture of the Philadelphia Bishop. Her community of nuns and the Benassi family also prayed to Bishop Neumann.

    That night the peritonitis disappeared.

    In December 1960, in the final examination of her case, before the beatification of Bishop Neumann, Eva, forty-eight and the mother of two children, was in perfect health.

    The Vatican Medical College stated that Eva’s cure was instantaneous, perfect, lasting, and “naturally unexplainable”.

    II. NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD VILLANOVAN SAVED AFTER CAR ACCIDENT

    On the evening of July 8, 1949, nineteen-year-old Kent Lenahan of Villanova, Pennsylvania was standing on the running board of a moving car. Suddenly the car swerved out of control, crushing Lenahan against a utility pole.

    When he arrived at Bryn Mawr Hospital his skull was crushed, his collarbone was broken, one of his lungs was punctured by a rib, he was bleeding from ears, nose and mouth, and he was comatose. His temperature was 107°, his pulse 160.

    A few hours after being admitted to the hospital, doctors treating Lenahan decided there was no hope for his recovery, and ceased medical treatment. His parents refused to believe that no one could help their son.

    They went to the Bishop Neumann Shrine and prayed for his recovery. A neighbor gave them a piece of Neumann’s cassock. Shortly after the Lenahans touched their son with the cloth, J. Kent Lenahan began to recover from his injuries. His temperature dropped to 100°, his pulse dropped to normal. Less than five weeks after the accident Lenahan walked unaided from the hospital.

    Now a music teacher in Pennsylvania, J. Kent Lenahan has only one explanation for being alive today: “They couldn’t explain what happened, so I guess it was the Man upstairs.”

    III. BOY’S CANCER DISAPPEARS AFTER PRAYERS TO BISHOP NEUMANN

    After months of treatment for osteomyelitis, a bone inflammation, doctors found in July, 1963 that six-year-old Michael Flanigan of West Philadelphia had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a usually lethal form of bone cancer.

    Doctors gave Michael six months to live.

    The cancer, virtually incurable when it spreads beyond the initial diseased area, had spread from the youth’s right tibia to his jaw and lungs.

    “If a similar case came to me today,” a doctor who recently studied Michael’s case commented, “I’d have to say that any chance of survival would be less than zero.”

    When doctors notified Michael’s parents that their son had virtually no chance of recovering from the disease, Mr. and Mrs. John Flanigan decided to take Michael to the Bishop Neumann Shrine at St. Peter’s Church, Fifth Street and Girard Avenue.

    After several visits to the Shrine, Michael began to make a dramatic recovery. No signs of cancer were found in his jaw and lungs by October, 1963. By Christmas, 1963, when Michael was supposed to be dead or close to death, all signs of Ewing’s Sarcoma had vanished.

    In December, 1975, after a final examination of Michael’s medical records, the Medical Board of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared that Michael Flanigan’s cure was “scientifically and medically unexplainable,” and attributed it to the intercession of Bishop Neumann.

    It was this miracle that paved the way towards sainthood for the Philadelphia Bishop.

     

    The Redemptorists

    The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer was St. Alphonsus Liguori’s response to the call he experienced coming from Jesus through the poor. On November 9, 1732, in his beloved Scala, St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ announcing the Good News to the poor. His life became one of mission and service to the most abandoned.

    In 1832, 100 years after their Congregation was founded, six Redemptorists sailed from Europe to the United States at the request of the American bishops.

    They ministered to the needs of the people and opened parishes and schools for them. In 1847, John Neumann, a Bohemian priest from New York was the first Redemptorist to profess vows in the United States.

    Following their founder’s tradition, the Redemptorists are leaders in preaching their message of Good News and hope for all: “In Him there is plentiful redemption.”

    There are over 5,500 Redemptorists; they work in 77 countries on 5 continents. “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” is the missionary icon of the Congregation.

     

    PRAYER FOR HIS INTERCESSION

    O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

    Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

    May death still find us on the sure road to our Father’s House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

    Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

    Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975).

    Biography

    Elizabeth Ann Seton was born on August 28, 1774 to Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton of New York City.[1] She was raised in the Episcopal Church. Her mother, daughter of an Episcopal priest, died when Elizabeth was three. At the age of nineteen, she married William Magee Seton, a wealthy businessman. Five children were born to the marriage, Anna Maria, William, Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca.

    Her home in Manhattan, New York City, was located at the site on which a church now stands in her honor, with the formerly matching building at the right (7 State Street) forming part of the shrine

    Her husband’s business lost several ships at sea and the family ended up bankrupt. Soon after, her husband became ill and his doctors sent him to Italy (Livorno) for the warmer climate, with Elizabeth and their eldest daughter accompanying him. In Italy, they were held in quarantine, during which time her husband died. She spent time with a wealthy family where she was exposed to Catholicism. Two years later, after her return to the United States, she converted to Roman Catholicism, on March 14, 1805 and was received into the Church by the pastor of St. Peter’s Church, the only Catholic church open in the city at that time due to the recent lifting of anti-Catholic laws under the new Republic. A year later, she was confirmed by the first bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll.

    To support her children, she started a hospital, but it failed due to the anti-Catholic sentiment of the day.[citation needed] By chance, around this time Mrs. Seton met a visiting priest, the Abbé Louis Dubourg, S.S., who was a member of the French emigré community of Sulpician Fathers. The priests had taken refuge in the United States from the religious persecution of the Reign of Terror in France, and were in the process of establishing the first Catholic seminary for the United States, in keeping with the goals of their Order. For several years, Dubourg had envisioned a religious school to meet the educational needs of the small Catholic community in the nation.

    In 1809, after some trying and difficult years, Elizabeth accepted the invitation of support the Sulpicians made to her and moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland. A year later she established the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, a school dedicated to the education of Catholic girls, due to the financial support of Samuel Sutherland Cooper. He was a wealthy convert and seminarian at the newly established Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary, begun by the Abbé (later Bishop) John Dubois, S.S., and the Sulpicians.

    Eventually, Elizabeth was able to establish a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. It was the first religious community of non-cloistered Religious Sisters to be founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic school in America. The order was called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.

    The remainder of Elizabeth’s life was spent in leading and developing the new congregation. Today, six separate religious communities trace their roots to the humble beginnings of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In addition to the original community of Sisters at Emmitsburg (though now part of an older institute), they are based in New York City, Cincinnati, Ohio, Halifax, N.S., Convent Station, New Jersey and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

    St. Joseph’s Academy eventually developed into Saint Joseph College, which closed in 1973. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) purchased the buildings and land of Saint Joseph College in 1979 and it is now the site of the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) housing the Emergency Management Institute, the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy.

    Elizabeth was described as a charming and cultured lady. Her connections to New York society and the accompanying social pressures to leave the new life she had created for herself did not deter her from embracing her religious vocation and charitable mission. She established St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School in order to educate young girls to live by religious values. The greatest difficulties she faced were actually internal, stemming from misunderstandings, interpersonal conflicts, and the deaths of two daughters, other loved ones, and young sisters in community. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 46 in 1821 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Today, her remains are entombed in the Basilica that bears her name: the Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

    Dedicated to following the will of God, Elizabeth Ann had a deep devotion to the Eucharist, Sacred Scripture and the Virgin Mary. The 23rd Psalm was her favorite prayer throughout her life. She was a woman of prayer and service who embraced the apostolic spirituality of Saint Louise de Marillac and Saint Vincent de Paul. It had been her original intention—as well as of the Sulpician Fathers who guided them—to join the Daughters of Charity founded by these saints, but the embargo of France due to the Napoleonic Wars prevented this connection. It was only decades later, in 1850, that the Emmitsburg community took the steps to merge with the Daughters, and become their American branch, as their foundress had envisioned.

    “We must pray literally without ceasing—without ceasing—in every occurrence and employment of our lives . . . that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation, or which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him.” Elizabeth Ann Seton.

    Canonization

    On December 18, 1959, Elizabeth was declared Venerable by the Sacred Congregation of Rites of the Catholic Church. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII on March 17, 1963, and canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975, making her the first native-born United States citizen to be canonized. Her feast day is January 4.

    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is popularly considered a patron saint of Catholic schools. Her name appears on the front two doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as a “Daughter of New York”. The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is open to the public. In addition, In New York City, the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was built on the site of her home in Manhattan, and is accessible to the public.[2] She had many schools named after her.

    The Mother Seton House at Baltimore, Maryland was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.[3] The house had been offered as an inducement to Elizabeth Seton to come to Baltimore in 1808 and there to found a school and occupy the then newly completed house.[4] It is now operated as a museum by St. Mary’s Seminary.

    In 2009, she was added to the Calendar of Saints for the Episcopal Church (United States) with a minor feast day on January 4.

    St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh, North Carolina has a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton inside the main altar.[5]

    Miracles

    As a pre-condition for canonization, the Catholic Church requires a saint who has not been martyred to have performed at least two miracles.[6] The Holy See recognised that this pre-condition was met by attributing three miracles to Elizabeth[7][8]:

    Namesakes

    The Seton Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland is named for Mother Seton. Mother Seton School, a Catholic elementary school in Emmitsburg, Maryland,[9] traces its roots directly to St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, founded by St. Elizabeth Ann in 1810.

    One of her half-nephews, James Roosevelt Bayley, would later also convert, and himself go on to became the first Catholic bishop of Newark and eventually Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 1856 he founded the first major institution named in her honor Seton Hall College (which is now Seton Hall University).

    Quite a number of churches, other schools and hospitals have been named for Elizabeth Seton:

    St. Elizabeth Seton, or St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, is a popular name for Catholic parishes in the United States as well as schools, colleges, libraries and hospitals.[citation needed]

    She was honored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President in March of 2008 and was included in a map of historical sites related or dedicated to important women. [10]

    The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great, that appears in the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18. The author, traditionally Matthew the Evangelist, reports that Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. The incident, like others in Matthew, is described as the fulfillment of a passage in the Old Testament read as prophecy,[1] in this case a reading of Jeremiah: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children.”[2]

    The infants, known in the Church as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. Traditional accounts number them at more than ten thousand, but more conservative historicizing estimates put their number in the low dozens,[3] but there is dispute over whether the story is historical.

    Biblical account

     

    10th century illuminated manuscript

    In Matthew‘s account, magi from the east go to Judea in search of the newborn king of the Jews, having “seen his star in the east”. They are directed to Bethlehem, and Herod asks them to let him know who this king is when they find him. They find Jesus and honor him, but an angel tells them not to alert Herod, and they return home by another way.

    The Massacre of the Innocents is at Matthew 2:16-18, although the preceding verses form the context:

    When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[4] When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”[2]

    Matthew’s purpose is theological: he presents Jesus as the Messiah, and the Massacre of the Innocents as the fulfillment of passages in Hosea, referring to the exodus, and Jeremiah, to the Babylonian exile.[5] Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, pp.104-121.</ref> Raymond Brown sees the story as patterned on the Exodus story of the killing of the Hebrew firstborn by Pharaoh and the birth of Moses.[6]

    Historicity

    Herod the Great (73 BC – 4 BC) was an Idumean (or Edomite) whom the Romans established as the king of Idumea, Judea, Samaria and Galilee. Matthew’s account is consistent with the character of Herod, who was ruthless in defense of his power and notorious for his brutality. However, the massacre is not mentioned in Luke’s gospel or by Josephus.

    Josephus records several other examples of Herod’s willingness to commit such acts to protect his power, noting that he “never stopped avenging and punishing every day those who had chosen to be of the party of his enemies.”[7] Some historians take the silence of Josephus as evidence that the massacre did not take place. Vermes and Sanders regard the story as creative hagiography,[8] and Maier wrote in 1998 that “most recent biographies of Herod the Great deny it entirely”.[9]

    Eisenman argues that the story may have its origins in Herod’s murder of his own sons, an act which made a deep impression at the time and was recorded by Josephus as well as in the 1st century Jewish apocryphal work, the Assumption of Moses, where it is cast as a prophecy: An insolent king will succeed [the Hasmonean priests]… he will slay all the young.[10]

    “Here Herod really did kill all the Jewish children who sought to replace him, as Matthew 2:17 would have it, but these were rather his own children with Maccabean blood!”[11]

    Arguing for historicity France argues that Josephus would be unlikely to record the massacre:

    “on the scale of atrocities known to have been perpetrated by Herod … this would register very low … The murder of a few infants in a small village [is] not on a scale to match the more spectacular assassinations recorded by Josephus”.

    France argues against the incident being derived from the Moses infancy narrative as that concerns newborn children and does not explain the reference to infants under two years of age, and says that the Jeremiah passage is “an editorial comment on a traditional story, not its source”. He concludes that the incident is likely to be, and that at the very least Matthew believed it to be, “an actual event”.[12]

    Later accounts

    The story’s first appearance in any source other than Matthew is in the 2nd-century apocryphal Protoevangelium of James of c.150 AD, which excludes the Flight into Egypt and switches the attention of the story to the infant John the Baptist:

    “And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.”[13]

     

    The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem, by Matteo di Giovanni

    The first non-Christian reference to the massacre is recorded four centuries later by Macrobius (c. 395-423), who writes in his Saturnalia:

    “When he [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered to kill, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod’s pig, than his son.”[14]

    Macrobius’ statement shows that the tradition of the massacre of the innocents had become firmly established in the culture at large, for the fact that Christianity is not mentioned in any of his writings, despite the predominance it was asserting in every aspect of contemporary Roman life, coupled with his vigorous interest in pagan rituals, leaves scholars in no doubt as to his pagan religion.

    The story assumed an important place in later Christian tradition; Byzantine liturgy estimated 14,000 Holy Innocents while an early Syrian list of saints stated the number at 64,000. Coptic sources raise the number to 144,000 and place the event on 29 December.[15] Taking the narrative literally and judging from the estimated population of Bethlehem, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) more soberly suggested that these numbers were inflated, and that probably only between six and twenty children were killed in the town, with a dozen or so more in the surrounding areas.[3]

    In the arts

     

    Cornelis van Haarlem, Massacre of the Innocents, 1590, Rijksmuseum

    Medieval liturgical drama recounted Biblical events, including Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, performed in Coventry, England, included a haunting song about the episode, now known as the Coventry Carol. The Ordo Rachelis tradition of four plays includes the Flight into Egypt, Herod’s succession by Archelaus, the return from Egypt, as well as the Massacre all centred on Rachel weeping in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. These events were likewise in one of the Medieval N-Town Plays.

    The theme of the “Massacre of the Innocents” has provided artists of many nationalities with opportunities to compose complicated depictions of massed bodies in violent action. It was an alternative to the Flight into Egypt in cycles of the Life of the Virgin. It decreased in popularity in Gothic art, but revived in the larger works of the Renaissance, when artists took inspiration for their “Massacres” from Roman reliefs of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs to the extent that they showed the figures heroically nude.[16] The horrific subject matter of the Massacre of the Innocents also provided a comparison of ancient brutalities with early modern ones during the period of religious wars that followed the Reformation – Breugel‘s versions show the soldiers carrying banners with the Habsburg double-headed eagle (often used at the time for Ancient Roman soldiers).

    The 1590 version by Cornelis van Haarlem also seems to reflect the violence of the Dutch Revolt. Guido Reni‘s early (1611) Massacre of the Innocents, in an unusual vertical format, is at Bologna.[17] The Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens painted the theme more than once. One version, now in Munich, was engraved and reproduced as a painting as far away as colonial Peru.[18] Another, his grand Massacre of the Innocents is now at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The French painter Nicolas Poussin painted The Massacre of the Innocents (1634) at the height of the Thirty Years’ War.

    The Childermass, after a traditional name for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, is the opening novel of Wyndham Lewis‘s trilogy The Human Age. In the novel The Fall (La Chute) by Albert Camus, the incident is argued by the main character to be the reason why Jesus chose to let himself be crucified—as he escaped the punishment intended for him while many others died, he felt responsible and died in guilt. A similar interpretation is given in José Saramago‘s controversial The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, but there attributed to Joseph, Jesus’ father, rather than to Jesus himself. As depicted by Saramago, Joseph knew of Herod’s intention to massacre the children of Bethlehem, but failed to warn the townspeople and chose only to save his own child. Guilt-ridden ever after, Joseph finally expiates his sin by letting himself be crucified (an event not narrated in the New Testament).

    The Massacre is the opening plot used in the 2006 movie The Nativity Story.

    Feast days

     

    Triumph of the Innocents by William Holman Hunt

    The commemoration of the massacre of these “Holy Innocents”—considered by some Christians as the first martyrs for Christ[19]—first appears as a feast of the western church in the Leonine Sacramentary, dating from about 485. The earliest commemorations were connected with the Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January: Prudentius mentions the Innocents in his hymn on the Epiphany. Leo in his homilies on the Epiphany speaks of the Innocents. Fulgentius of Ruspe (6th century) gives a homily De Epiphania, deque Innocentum nece et muneribus magorum.[20]

    Today, the date of Holy Innocents’ Day, also called Childermas or Children’s Mass, varies. 27 December is the date for West Syrians (Syriac Orthodox Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, and Maronite Church) and East Syrians (Chaldeans and Syro-Malabar Catholic Church). 28 December is the date in the Church of England, the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church (in which violet vestments were worn before 1961, instead of red, the normal liturgical colour for celebrating martyrs). The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the feast on 29 December.

    In Spain and Hispanic America, December 28 is a day for pranks, equivalent to April Fool’s Day in many countries. Pranks are known as inocentadas and their victims are called inocentes, or alternatively, the pranksters are the “inocentes” and the victims should not be angry at them, since they could not have committed any sin. Various Catholic countries had a tradition (no longer widely observed) of role reversal between children and their adult educators, including boy bishops, perhaps a Christianized version of the Roman annual feast of the Saturnalia (when even slaves played ‘masters’ for a day). In some cultures it is said to be an unlucky day, when no new project should be started.

    In addition, there was a medieval custom of refraining where possible from work on the day of the week on which the feast of “Innocents Day” had fallen for the whole of the following year until the next Innocents Day. This was presumably mainly observed by the better-off. Philippe de Commynes, the minister of King Louis XI of France tells in his memoirs how the king observed this custom, and describes the trepidation he felt when he had to inform the king of an emergency on the day.[21]