Blessed Catholic Saints and Angels

~~Witnesses of Faith pray for us ! ~~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today : Feast of Saint Archangel Gabriel , the Blessed Angel of Annunciation

The feast of Saint Gabriel was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, for celebration on March 24. In 1969 it was transferred to 29 September for celebration together with St. Michael and St. Raphael .

Saint Archangel Gabriel's name comes from the Hebrew meaning "Man of God."

Today, the Eve of the Annunciation, it is just that we should honor Archangel Gabriel. Tomorrow we shall see this heavenly ambassador of the blessed Trinity coming down to the Virgin of Nazareth; let us, therefore, recommend ourselves to him, and beseech him to teach us how to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the grand mystery of which he was the messenger.

Archangel Gabriel is one of the first of the angelic kingdom. He tells Zachary that he stands before the face of God. [St. Luke 1: 19] He is the Angel of the Incarnation, because it is in this mystery, which apparently is so humble, that the power of God is principally manifested: and Gabriel signifies the strength of God. We find the Archangel preparing for this sublime office, even in the old Testament. First of all, he appeared to Daniel, after this prophet had had the vision of the Persian and Grecian empires; and such was the majesty of his person that Daniel fell on his face trembling. [Dan. 8:17] Shortly afterwards, he appeared again to the same prophet, telling him the exact time of the coming of the Messias: 'Know thou and take notice: that from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, that is, sixty-nine weeks of years.

When the fullness of time had come, and Heaven was about to send the last of the prophets, who, after preaching to men the approach of the Messias, is to show Him to the people, saying: 'Behold the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world,' Gabriel descends from Heaven to the temple of Jerusalem, and prophesies to Zachary the birth of John the Baptist, [St. Luke 1:13] which was to be followed by that of Jesus Himself.

Six months later on, the holy Archangel again appears on the earth; and this time it is Nazareth that he visits. He brings the great message from Heaven. Angel as he is, he reveres the humble Maid, whose name is Mary; he has been sent to her by the most high God, to offer her the immense honour of becoming the Mother of the eternal Word. It is Gabriel that receives the great Fiat, the consent of Mary; and when he quits this earth, he leaves it in possession of Him, for Whom it had so long prayed in those words of Isaias: Drop down Dew, O ye heavens! [Is. xlv. 8]

The hour at length came, when the Mother of the Emmanuel was to bring forth the blessed Fruit of her virginal womb. Jesus was born amidst poverty; but Heaven willed that His crib should be surrounded by fervent adorers. An Angel appeared to some shepherds, inviting them to go to the stable near Bethlehem. He is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly army, sweetly singing their hymn: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will!' Who is this Angel that speaks to the shepherds, and seems as the chief of the other blessed spirits that are with him? In the opinion of several learned writers, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who is continuing his ministry as messenger of the good tidings.

Lastly, when Jesus is suffering His agony in the garden of Gethsemani, an Angel appears to Him, not merely as a witness of His sufferings, but that he might strengthen Him under the fear His human nature felt at the thought of the chalice of the Passion He was about to drink. [Ibid. xxii. 42, 43] Who is this Angel? It is Gabriel, as we learn not only from the writings of several holy and learned authors, but also from a hymn which the holy See has permitted to be used in the liturgy, and which we give below.

These are the claims of the great Archangel to our veneration and love; these are the proofs he gives of his deserving his beautiful name, the strength of God. God has employed him in each stage of the great work, in which He has chiefly manifested His
power; for Jesus, even on His Cross, is the Power of God, [1 Cor. 1: 24] as the apostle tells us. Gabriel prepares the way for Jesus. He foretells the precise time of His coming; he announces the birth of His Precursor; he is present at the solemn moment when the Word is made Flesh; he invites the shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the crib, and adore the Divine Babe; and when Jesus, in His agony, is to receive strength from one of His own creatures, Gabriel is found ready in the garden of Gethsemani, as he had been at Nazareth and Bethlehem.

Let us, then, honour the Angel of the Incarnation. For this purpose, let us recite in his praise some of the pieces which liturgical piety has composed for his Feast. The two following hymns are from the old Franciscan breviary:

Gabriel, Angel of light, and strength of God! whom our Emmanuel
selected from the rest of the heavenly princes,
that thou shouldst expound
unto Daniel the mystery of the savage goat.
Thou didst joyfully hasten to the prophet as he prayed,
and didst tell him of the sacred weeks,
which were to give us the birth of the King of Heaven,
and enrich us with plenteous joy.
'Tis thou didst bring to
the parents of the Baptist the wondrous and gladsome
tidings that Elizabeth, though barren, and Zachary,
though old, should have a son.
What the prophets had foretold from the beginning of the world,
this thou didst announce in all the fullness of the
mystery to the holy virgin,
telling her that she was to be the true Mother of God.
Thou, fair spirit, didst fill the Bethlehem shepherds with joy,
when thou didst tell them the heavenly tidings;
and with thee a host of Angels sang the praises of the newborn God.

As Jesus was in prayer on that last night, when a bloody sweat bathed His limbs,
thou didst leave Heaven to be near Him, and offer Him the chalice
that His Father willed Him to drink.

O blessed Trinity! strengthen Catholic hearts with the heavenly gift of faith. Give us grace, as we to thee give glory for ever. Amen.

The whole human race is indebted to thee, O Gabriel! and, on this day, we would fain pay thee the honour and gratitude we owe thee. Thou wast moved to holy compassion on seeing the miseries of the world; for all flesh had corrupted its way, and the forgetfulness of God increased with each new generation of men. Then did the Most High commission thee to bring to the world the good tidings of its salvation. How beautiful thy steps, O prince of the heavenly court, as thou camest down to this our humble sphere! How tender and fraternal is thy love of man, whose nature, though so inferior to thine own, was to be raised, by the mystery of the Incarnation, to union with God Himself! With what respectful awe didst thou approach the Virgin, who surpassed all the Angels in holiness!

Blessed messenger of our redemption, whom God selects as His minister when He would show His power, we beseech thee, offer the homage of our gratitude to Him that thus sent thee. Help us to pay the immense debt we owe to the Father, Who so loved the world, as to give it His Only-begotten Son; [St. John 3:16] to the Son, Who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant; [Phil. 2:7] and to the Holy Ghost, Who rested on the Flower that sprang up out of the root of Jesse. [Is. 11: 1]

'Tis thou, O Gabriel! that taughtest us the salutation wherewith we should greet Mary full of grace. Thou wast the first to pronounce these sublime words, which thou broughtest from Heaven. The children of the Church are now, day and night, repeating these words of thine; pray for us that we may say them in such a manner, that our blessed Mother may find them worthy of her acceptance.

Angel of strength, friend of mankind! continue thy ministry of aiding us. We are surrounded by terrible enemies: our weakness makes them bold; come to our assistance, procure us courage. Pray for us during these days of conversion and penance. Obtain for us the knowledge of all we owe to God in consequence of that ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, of which thou wast the first witness. We have forgotten our duties to the Man-God, and we have offended Him: enlighten us, that so, henceforth, we may be faithful to His teachings and examples. Raise up our thoughts to the happy abode where thou dwellest; assist us to merit the places left vacant by the fallen Angels, for God has reserved them for His elect among men.

Pray, O Gabriel, for the Church militant, and defend her against the attacks of Hell. The times are evil; the spirits of malice are let loose, nor can we make stand against them, unless with God's help. It is by His holy Angels that He gives victory to His bride. Be thou, O strength of God! foremost in the ranks. Drive heresy back, keep schism down, foil the false wisdom of men, frustrate the policy of the world, arouse the well-minded from apathy; that thus the Christ Whom thou didst announce may reign over the earth He has redeemed, and that we may sing together with thee and the whole angelic choir: "Glory be to God, peace to men!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feast of Saint Benedict, Abbot and Religious Founder of the Benedictines

Today is not only Monday of the Second Week of Lent , is also the Feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia , Founder of Benedictine Order.

St. Gregory the Great , Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church  , tell us about Saint Benedict :

There was a man of venerable life, blessed by grace, and blessed in name, for he was called "Benedictus" or Bennet: who, from his younger years, carried always the mind of an old man; for his age was inferior to his virtue: all vain pleasure he contemned, and though he were in the world, and might freely have enjoyed such commodities as it yieldeth, yet did he nothing esteem it, nor the vanities thereof.
He was born in the province of Nursia, of honourable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity. But for as much as he saw many by reason of such learning to fall to dissolute and lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance therewith, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf: wherefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose: and in this sort he departed, instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom.
All the notable things and acts of his life I could not learn; but those few, which I mind now to report, I had by the relation of four of his disciples: to wit, of Constantinus, a most rare and reverent man, who was next Abbot after him; of Valentinianus, who many years had the charge of the Lateran Abbey; of Simplicius, who was the third General of his order; and lastly of Honoratus, who is now Abbot of that monastery in which he first began his holy life.
Read more about the Life of Saint Benedict

Let us pray. May the intercession of the blessed abbot Benedict, commend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that what we cannot attain by our own deserts we may attain through his patronage. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.Amen

May the holy Abbot, Benedict, we beseech Thee, O Lord, pray that the sacrifices laid upon the sacred altars may avail for our salvation. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God , forever and ever.Amen

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Feast of Saint Joseph, caste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ

The Holy Family, Mary and Joseph, are the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth.

Saint Joseph is, as we all know, the Patron of the Universal Church. Along with Mary he is one of the most honored saints in the entire array of saints found in the life and history of our Church. It is fitting that this be so - he was next to Mary, the Guardian of Jesus, the link between Christ and the prophetic portrayal of the origins of the Messiah being found in the "House of David".

It follows that we must honor by a special homage this dignity of excellence of St. Joseph. "In the family of Nazareth", says Cornelius a Lapide, "were the three greatest and most excellent persons in the world. Wherefore to Christ is due the divine worship, to the Virgin a higher worship than to Saint's and to St Joseph the full worship due to Saints" God revealed to him the mystery of the Incarnation and "chose him among all to commit to his care the Incarnate Word and the eternal Virginity of Mary."

Saint Joseph is therefore justly considered the patron and model of interior and contemplative souls. And in the heavenly home St. Joseph has a powerful influence over the heart of the Son of his most blessed Spouse

In addition to being honored as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, he is hailed as the Patron of Workers, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick and Dying, and the Guardian Saint of Virgins. He is also the patron of those engaged in the interior life, as well as being the patron saint of those in authority, of fathers, priests, and those placed in charge over the poor and defenseless.

Saint Joseph, as the husband of Our Blessed Lady, is the one man in all the Church who was completely at the service of the Incarnation and Redemption. Both proceeded according to the divine plan through Joseph's cooperation. With no other saint, other than Mary, can one find such a remarkable vocation. During the childhood of the Incarnate Son, Joseph provided for His material needs, oversaw His upbringing, protected Him from danger, taught Him the fundamentals of the Jewish faith, and instructed Him in the trade of carpentry. Joseph was the one man in all of history chosen by the Almighty to lead the God-man Jesus Christ from a state of infancy to manhood, such that He would be prepared to undertake the redemption of the world. How astounding this is to contemplate! How immense a responsibility was placed on his shoulders; yet, as we can see from the hints left us in the scriptures, how generously and completely this man fulfilled his vocation. And the first of these hints to be considered is his divine calling to believe in the Son of God already present in the womb of Mary, his betrothed.

Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church and great apostle of devotion to Saint Joseph, is truly outstanding in explaining the manner in which we should pray to Joseph. She writes in the sixth chapter of her Autobiography:
I took the glorious Saint Joseph for my advocate and protector, and commended myself earnestly to him; and it was clearly he who both healed me of this sickness and delivered me from great dangers that threatened my good name and the salvation of my soul. His aid has brought me more good than I could ever hope for from him, I do not remember once having asked anything of him that was not granted...

God seems to have given other saints power to help us in particular circumstances, but I know from experience that this glorious Saint Joseph helps in each and every need. Our Lord would have us understand that, since on earth He was subject to this man who was called His father, whom as His guardian He had to obey, so now in heaven He still does all that Joseph asks. Others, who have turned to Joseph on my advice, have had the like experience; and today there are many people who honor him and keep on finding out the truth of what I say.

Let us imitate at this Holy Season of Lent  the purity, humility, the spirit of prayer and meditation of Joseph at Nazareth. Let us faithfully pray :

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God; and magnify Thee with due praise, bless and proclaim Thee blessed Joseph;
who, as a just man, was given by Thee to be the spouse of the Virgin Mother of God, and as a faithful and prudent servant, was set over Thy family, that with fatherly care he might guard Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. Through whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the dominions worship it, the powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts with the blessed seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray Thee join our voices also, while saying with lowly praise:
Holy , Holy , Holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.Amen