Feast of St Patrick

imageAs I arise today,

may the strength of God pilot me,

the power of God uphold me,

the wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me,

the ear of God hear me,

the word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,

the way of God lie before me,

the shield of God defend me,

the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,

Christ when I stand,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.



The Road Less Travelled — Saint Matilda

imageThere are many ways to become a saint, there’s no set of rules to follow that, if ignored, will prevent a person from finding his or her way to heaven. A saint whose day is celebrated today, Saint Matilda, is an example of the truth of that statement.

Matilda was born in Germany in the early part of the 10th century. She became the wife of a medieval king of Germany who died at a young age and whose son, Otto the Great succeeded to the throne. Matilda had favored Henry, her first born son to take the throne, but it was not to be. Henry briefly led a rebellion against his brother but was defeated and afterwards, Matilda persuaded Otto to name Henry Duke of Bavaria.

Matilda, in any case, had inherited considerable property from her husband and was extremely generous making charitable donations from that property, to the point of angering both of her sons who thought she went much too far in these efforts. In response, she relinquished title to the properties to them and retired to her country home. Henry, it appears started another rebellion, with the same results, and Matilda prophesied his imminent death. When that occurred, she established three convents and a monastery and went to live in one of them. She was still influential in the affairs of state though, to the point that her son left her in charge of the kingdom while he traipsed off to Rome and got himself crowned as Emperor, an event many historians see as the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire. She was proclaimed a saint, by popular acclamation, almost immediately after her death.

To me, the encouraging thing about Matilda is that her life doesn’t seem to follow a path that you would expect would lead to sainthood. But the Church recognizes that there is no pattern to be followed to holiness; each one of us has to take his or her own path and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I find that very encouraging indeed.

St Constantine

St Constantine 03 11Today is the feast day of St Constantine, a little known saint in the Church.  This is from Catholic Online:

“Constantine was king of Cornwall. Unreliable tradition has him married to the daughter of the king of Brittany who on her death ceded his throne to his son and became a monk at St. Mochuda monastery at Rahan, Ireland. He performed menial tasks at the monastery, then studied for the priesthood and was ordained. He went as a missionary to Scotland under St. Columba and then St. Kentigern, preached in Galloway, and became Abbot of a monastery at Govan. In old age, on his way to Kintyre, he was attacked by pirates who cut off his right arm, and he bled to death. He is regarded as Scotland’s first martyr. His feast day is March 11th.”

St Peter Damian

St Peter Damian

St Peter was born around the year 1007 and orphaned when very young. He lived in poverty when a child but his extraordinary intellect was obvious and his brother, Damianus, who was an archpriest arranged that he should be educated. At this time, perhaps in recognition of a sense of adoption by his brother, he added his brother's name as a surname. He progressed quickly in his study of theology and canon law and by the age of 25 became a professor at Parma and Ravenna.

However, after he met two monks from the reform monastery founded by St Romuald, an order that became known as the Camaldolese, he abandoned the academic world and entered the hermitage of Fonte Avellana and became a monk. He got so into the practice of penance at the monastery that he had health problems but later was tasked to lecture his fellow monks, as well as those at other monasteries in the area.

He finally settled in Fonte Avellana and become what we would call today the Cellarer and later Prior of the house until his death in 1072. During his tenure in office he introduced the practice of self flagellation, which understandably was resisted by some of the monks in the hermitage. Still, the practice was finally accepted. Just before his return to Fonte Avellana, he wrote a biography of St Romuald.

St Peter was a strong advocate of many abuses in the Church and among the clergy during his lifetime and was a correspondent with several of the popes at the time. He was appointed a Cardinal-Archbishop of Ostia by Pope Stephan IX and it wasn't until the papacy Alexander II that he was dispensed from his duties and allowed to return to the life of a simple monk. As a monastic reformer he introduced the practice of a daily nap for his monks, to provide some relief from a loss of sleep from praying the night office, a man after my own heart. He also added many books to the monastic library.

In the Paradiso, Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of heaven and considered him a great forerunner of St Francis of Assisi. In 1823 he was declared a Doctor of the Church and is the patron of people who suffer from headaches.

“Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient, Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips.” St Peter Damian