Thursday, November 18, 2021

Odo of Cluny


Saint Odo of Cluny

memorial
18 November

Profile

Our Saint today was born back in the 9th century in what we call France today. The year was 879. He studied theology in Paris and joined the clergy at the tender age of 19. After his studies he spent years as a near-hermit in a cell, studying and praying, the Theology classes must have been brutal. He joined the Benedictines and became a full time monk, bringing with him all his worldly possessions; a library of about 100 books.

In 931, the Pope asked Odo to clean up all the monasteries in Northern France and Italy, which he did most effectively. He was fairly bright, well noted for his administrative abilities, his skills as a reformer, and as a writer. He is also well known for personal acts of charity, it is said at least once he literally gave the poor the clothes off his back. The “reforming“Huguenots burned most of his relics in the “glorious” Protestant reformation.

He once left a book on the life of Saint Martin of Tours in the cellar of the monastery of Cluny. During a torrential downpour he sent a novice down to retrieve it. The cellar was flooded, but the book was undamaged. The big debate over the dinner table at the monastery became, was it because it was a book about Saint Martin, or was it because it was Odo’s book? Odo insisted it was the former, but whatever, he then became patron for rain…beneficial rain.  Like I said, Theology can be brutal sometimes.....

 He Died on 18 November 942 in Tours, France.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Hugh of Lincoln

 Today is the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, one of the patrons of my daughter; we did Lizzie last year.


Saint Hugh of Lincoln

Also known as
Hugh of Avalon
Hugh of Burgundy

Memorial
17 November

Profile
Our saint today was orphaned at a young age ans so he was raised and educated at a convent in France. As you might guess with that background he become a Monk at age15 and a Deacon at 19. He later joined the Carthusians and was ordained a priest.

King Henry II, as a part of his penance for murdering Saint Thomas Beckett, built monasteries throughout England. One of these was the first Carthusian Monastery in England, and Hugh was named the first Abbott.

When it came to the Political-Religious relationships of the time, one would think that after that whole row in the cathedral with Tom Becket religious folk would keep their traps shut….not Hugh oh no! He admonished Henry for keeping dioceses vacant in order to keep their income for the throne. Apparently King Henry had still not learned his lesson for real.

After much resistance on our Saint’s part, Hugh was made bishop of Lincoln on 21 September 1181. He cleaned up the place real nice; he restored clerical discipline and rebuilt the Lincoln cathedral. This Cathedral was, ironically, destroyed by earthquake 4 years later. The pessimist in me would have taken that as some sort of a sign.

It is said that a swan would stand near our saint while he slept to guard him from being disturbed or worse yet, attacked. An attack swan, can you beat that? “Get away! or my swan will peck your heart out.”

Hugh denounced the mass persecution of Jews in England in 1190-91, repeatedly facing down armed mobs, making them release their victims. Because of this he was named a diplomat to France for King John in 1199, France is possibly the most anti Semitic country in Europe; look at how their military dealt with Dreyfus, because he was Jewish. King John wanted to stick it to France and send him this bishop known for defending our fathers in faith.

While in France he was shown an arm of St. Mary Magdalene; he pulled out his dagger (yes, bishops carried daggers in the 12th century) and cut away at a finger on the relic while the French monks looked on in stupefied horror. To finish the job Hugh pulled the relic to his mouth, bit the finger off (12th century bishops were far less squeamish than most of us are today), and tossed the finger to his assistant (who tells us this story). When asked why he would bite a saint’s relic, Hugh replied: I put my mouth on the body of Christ every day; why would I treat his saints differently? (Catholic Digest, 7/11)

This trip ruined his health. In the year 1200, while attending a national council in London a few months after the cadaver incident, he was stricken with an unnamed ailment, and died two months later; probably from biting cadaverous fingers. He was canonized in 1220, the first Carthusian to be formally recognized as a saint.

Patronage
sick children
sick people
swans

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Edmund Rich


Saint Edmund

Also known as
Edmund of Abingdon
Edmund of Canterbury
Edme of Abingdon
Edmund Rich
The saint the school the boys work at, is named after

Memorial
16 November
30 May in Abingdon, England like that means anything…..

Profile
Our Saint today was born in the year 1180, to a wealthy yet pious family, “Rich” was a medieval appellation attributed to his father due to his wealth, like ‘cooper” or “smith” Edmund never really used the surname while alive. His family was quite religious. His father became a monk later in life and his two sisters became nuns. From a very young age Edmund practiced religious simplicity and severity; throughout his life he wore sackcloth next to his skin, and to insure proper irritation he pressed it against his body by metal plates. After snatching a few hours' sleep without removing his clothing, he usually spent the rest of the night in prayer and meditation. Not like sitting on a pillar for 30 years but pretty out there nonetheless. If the Mets were around then he probably try to add to his suffering by buying a season ticket.

While studying at Oxford he received a vision of the Child Christ, instructing him to pursue the religious life. After his ordination he became a professor of art, mathematics et al at Oxford which is ranked by some as the fifth most prestigious University in the world today. University College London (UCL) is ranked as fourth…..

He was a friend and advisor to King Henry III who nominated him to be Archbishop of Canterbury.

His piety saw a problem with England paying money to the Vatican to use in fighting foreign wars. The political whim of the day put Ed in opposition to his own religious order and King Henry III. The thinking of that time was that financial and martial support to the Vatican was one’s Christian Duty. Besides, Henry III probably remembered that whole business, Henry II had with Tom Becket.

Late in, 1237, he set out for Rome, hoping to enlist the pope on the side of ecclesiastical reform. As you would expect this appeal was futile as Rome needed funds to fight its war with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Don’t get me started on Emperor Fred Deuce. He was another character who really thought he was a Caesar, his contemporaries called him “the wonder of the world”.

When the Pope told him he needed the cash and the martial support from England Our Saint returned to home to find himself reduced to an inconsequential Archbishop. No one in or out of the monasteries paid attention to him, needless to say the King at that time, continued to pay Rome what it asked.

In the summer of 1240, broken in spirit, he retired, probably to eat worms, to the same abbey in France his predecessor, Thomas Becket held up in, when he was in exile from Canterbury. Only a few months later Our Saint died, on 16 November 1240.

In less than a year after his death miracles were reported at his grave. Initially, King Henry III objected to his cause for sainthood for political reasons, so it was not until this objection as lifted in 1247 that our Saint was seriously considered.

Saint Edmund’s incorruptible right arm is currently located at the St. Edmund retreat center Chapel on Ender's Island, CT, near Mystic, (see the picture above).  Ender's Island is a beautiful place and I highly recommend it if you ever need a spiritual re-charge. Come for the arm…stay for the spirituality. They make great jams and jellies too….the staff is wonderful. https://www.endersisland.com/

Monday, November 15, 2021

Albertus Magnus


Saint Albertus Magnus

Also known as
• Albert the Great
Albert of Cologne
• Doctor Expertus
• Doctor Universalis

Memorial
• 15 November

Profile
Our saint today was the brilliant son of a nobleman; Albert however, became a Dominican Priest. He was the teacher and spiritual guide to St. Thomas Aquinas, who is also brilliant but corpulent. Through his life, Al was an influential teacher, preacher, and administrator. He was among the first to comment on all of the writings of Aristotle, thereby making them accessible to the more common folk.

In the year 1260 Pope Alexander VI made him bishop. As bishop he introduced Greek and Arabic science and philosophy to medieval Europe. His study of these natural sciences removed the taint of suspicion about them that was widespread among laypeople at the time. Only Nixon could go to China. He served as bishop for only 3 years, resigning in order to continue his study, and because he felt himself unworthy.

His passion, other than theology, was for the natural sciences… botany, biology, etc. He wrote and illustrated guides to his observations, and was considered on a par with Aristotle as an authority on these matters. He is credited with the discovery of the element Arsenic. Some later writings say he dabbled in alchemy. According to legend, Albertus Magnus is said to have discovered the philosopher's stone and passed it to his pupil Thomas Aquinas, shortly before his death. Since Thomas died before Albert, I don’t think this is possible. In any case we Harry Potter fans know for a fact the Philosophers Stone was discovered by Nicholas Flamel, Dumbledore’s friend.

Dante had a real thing for Albertus, he placed him in the Heaven of the Sun in his Divine Comedy, along with his pupil Thomas Aquinas, both as great lovers of wisdom. According to Mary Shelly, Albertus Magnus was also a big influence on Victor Frankenstein M.D. He was named a Doctor of the Church in 1931, Albert, not Frankenstein. College buildings, Schools and Universities are named for him all over the place.

In a tragedy of gargantuan proportions, some writings describe his later years in a way that suggest he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. It must have been a real cross to bear for this brilliant man to realize his mind was going.

Born
• 1206 Swabia

Died
• 15 November 1280 Prussia

Patronage
Alzheimer’s disease
• medical technicians
• natural sciences
• philosophers
• schoolchildren
• scientists
• students
• theology students

Representation
• man dressed as a Dominican bishop lecturing from a pulpit
• man arguing with Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, November 12, 2021

Josaphat

 


Saint Josaphat

 

Also known as

Josaphat Kuncevyc

Jehoshaphat Kuncewycz

John Kunsevich

Josaphat Kuntsevych

Josaphat of Polotsk

Jozofat Kuncewicz



Memorial

 12 November


Profile

 Our Saint today was raised as a Ruthenian Orthodox nut.   In 1595 the Ruthenian church looked in the mirror and said “look at these dopey hats we’re wearing,” and rejoined the Church in Rome.     Josaphat felt a call to the religious life and so he turned down a business partnership and a marriage to his partner’s daughter to pursue it.  

 

He became a monk a priest in the Byzantine Rite Catholic Church taking the name  Josaphat.    As the East West union was still a hot button issue back then, and still today, Our Saint’s monastic superior, Samuel, never accepted the reunification, and actively fought against it.    You can still see these knuckleheads today…they’re the ones who turned their backs on Pope Saint John Paul II when he came to visit them in a spirit of Love and Fraternity back in the 1990’s.   And the Devil laughs.   

      

Josaphat learned of Samuel’s work, he understood the damage it was causing in the entire Eastern Catholic Church so he squealed on Samuel.    The archbishop of Kiev became furious, removed Samuel from his post, replacing him with Josaphat.

 

Josaphat was a famous preacher and great leader who believed unity was the best course of action and one The Master would want.  Through his work and belief he brought many Orthodox to the sensible hat side of Christendom.    This was all at a time when most religious, fearing interference with the locally developed liturgy and customs, did not want union with Rome.    

 

 With his teaching, clerical reform, and personal example Josaphat won the greater part of the Orthodox in Lithuania to the union. In needing to compromise where compromise was possible, and by being diplomatic and pastoral to all his actions were viewed by both East and West as subversive; neither side was really happy with him.  You can’t be everything for all.    

 

His piety and sincerity were very clear to everyone though; he was made Archbishop and as such attended the Diet of Warsaw in 1620.   A Diet is sort of a meeting it isn’t necessarily a way to restrict carbohydrates or fats.   Anyhoo, a bunch of Cossacks, set up an anti-Unity  bishop for each Unity one,  they spread the accusation that Josaphat had “gone Latin,” and that his followers would be forced to do the same, and placed a usurper on the archbishop‘s chair.

 

Like his secretary, Lincoln, told President Kennedy, not to go to Dallas, and Lincoln's secretary Kennedy told him not to go to the theater, many of his advisers told our Saint it was not a good idea to go speak to this controversy directly...Eschewing this advice, Josaphat went to the midst of this discontent in an effort to clarify things and to correct this misunderstanding.  

 

Late in 1623 a subversive, recalcitrant priest named Elias shouted insults at Josaphat from his own courtyard, and tried to force his way into the residence.    The Army, who was loyal to the King, who in turn was loyal to Josaphat, removed the heckler.     This caused a mob to form demanding the release of the trespassing priest.   As is still clearly demonstrated today, when mobs gather reason goes away, mob mentality takes over.   The senseless violent thugs invaded the residence, looking for store windows to smash in order to loot TV sets. 

 

 Josaphat insured the safety of his servants before trying, unsuccessfully, to get away himself, and was martyred, quite convincingly, by the mob.   He was struck in the head with a halberd, shot and beaten with staves then his lifeless bodine was thrown into the Dvina River; this all done by people in the name of Christianity, a Faith based on love.    Later on his remains were fished out and recovered.    His death was a shock to both sides of the dispute.   Anger cooled and some sanity was restored.   Five years after his death his body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt.   He was canonized by Pope Blessed Pius IX, the first Eastern saint canonized by Rome.  

 

Representation

chalice

crown

winged deacon

 

Readings

You people of Vitebsk want to put me to death. You make ambushes for me everywhere, in the streets, on the bridges, on the highways, and in the marketplace. I am here among you as a shepherd, and you ought to know that I would be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for the holy union, for the supremacy of Saint Peter, and of his successor the Supreme Pontiff. - Saint Josaphat

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Martin of Tours


Saint Martin of Tours

Also known as
• Martin the Merciful
• The Glory of Gaul

Memorial
 11 November

   

Profile

Today’s Saint has more churches named in his honor, worldwide, than any other saint excluding the Blessed Mother.  With all that said, Martin of Tours was the first non-martyr to be revered as a saint.   He is a veteran so it is also appropriate that his feast is on Veteran’s Day.  

 

Martin, like his father, was a Roman soldier, an officer assigned to garrison duty in Gaul; modern day France.

 

The big story goes that while on horseback he encountered a naked beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, Martin cut his heavy officer’s cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar.    Later he had a vision of Christ wearing the half of the cloak he gave the beggar.

 

Due to his faith Martin became a pacifist.   In the Roman Army this was a big problem.  He was jailed and was about to be sent to the front line as punishment for cowardice.    Whether it was the arrayed Roman Army or the Holy Spirit the enemy sued for peace and no battle ensued.     With his commitment up Martin left the military.  

 

Martin became a student of St. Hilary in 361, and then became a hermit.   He had a big reputation for holiness which attracted other monks to his circle.

 

Preached and evangelized through the Gallic countryside this was a tough task at the time because many locals held strongly to the old beliefs, and tried to intimidate Martin by dressing as the old Roman gods and appearing to him at night.   The guy who dressed as Morpheus was particularly disturbing as his snoring paradoxically kept Martin awake all night.   No matter, Martin destroyed old temples, built churches on the same land, and continued to win converts.

 

When the bishop of Tours, France died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him. Martin declined, citing unworthiness.    The Christian community got together and had a wealthy citizen of Tours, claim that his wife was ill asking for Martin.   Tricked by this ruse, Martin went to the city where he was declared bishop by popular acclamation, and then consecrated on 4 July 372.

 

He served as a real hands off bishop, he lived in a hermit’s cell near Tours and rarely left his monastery.   Sometimes he went to plead with the emperor for his city, his church, or his parishioners.    Once when he went to ask for lenience for a condemned prisoner, an angel woke the emperor to tell him that Martin was waiting to see him; the prisoner was reprieved.

 

Martin himself was given to visions, but even his contemporaries sometimes ascribed them to his habit of lengthy fasts, he starved himself until he saw things.   

 

His relics were in the basilica of Tours, a scene of pilgrimages and miracles, until 1562 when the cathedral and relics were destroyed by militant Protestants during the “Glorious Reformation.”   For some reason the Hugenots had a real jones against Martin.   And the Devil laughs.  

 

Born

•          c.316 in modern Hungary

Died

•          8 November 397 Tours, France of natural causes. 

 

 

Patronage

•          against alcoholism

•          against impoverishment

•          against poverty

•          beggars

•          cavalry

•          equestrians

•          geese

•          horse men

•          horses

•          hotel-keepers

•          innkeepers

•          Pontifical Swiss Guards

•          quartermasters

•          reformed alcoholics

•          riders

•          soldiers

•          tailors

•          vintners

•          wine growers

•          wine makers

Representation

•          globe of fire

•          goose

•          man on horseback sharing his cloak with beggar

•          man cutting cloak in half

•          man holding aloft a sword and cloak

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Pope Leo I


Pope Saint Leo I
Also known as:
Pope Leo the Great

Memorial
10 November,  it used to be 11 April until 1969

Our Saint was elected the 45th Pope in the year 440. Although there were 44 guys before him Leo was the first Pope, from whom, we have some substantial writings.  Leo was chosen from the order of deacons, he was not a Pope before his Papal election.   In fact from the year 437-684 AD, 37 men were chosen as Pope.  All but three were "only" deacons before their elevation to Pope. 

Around this time the Bishops of the other big dioceses, Constantinople in particular, were flexing their muscles and were saying that the Bishop of Rome was not so special anymore, and all bishops were all equal in the hierarchy. Seeing as how the Emperor of Rome was now, no longer, living in Rome but in Constantinople, the Patriarch of that city claimed Papal primacy. This eventually led to that whole Greek Orthodox thing....but it doesn’t explain the Greek Church’s use of those dopey hats.

Another particular troublemaker was the Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril, who called himself “Pope Cyril”. Leo pointed out that Rome’s Church was founded by Peter, and Alexandria’s Church was founded by Peter’s disciple Mark. Even the Founder of Cyril’s Church would agree he was subservient to Peter. He was the head man not because of the Emperor or where the Empire’s capital was, but because he was the successor to St. Peter. This idea of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome can be traced all the way back to the time of St. Linus, the second Pope and reinforced by the writings of Clement the 4th Pope. It was never a question before so no one needed to publish an edict declaring this fact; everyone accepted it.

Leo persuaded Emperor Valentinian to recognize the primacy of the bishop of Rome in an edict in 445. This basically told Constantinople and Alexandria: “Futue te ipsum et caballum tuum.” (Don’t ask)

The doctrine of the Incarnation was formed by him in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople. This became an article of Catholic faith in the East and West.

The secular world knows Leo for his leadership during the upheaval of the fifth century barbarian invasion. As he was seen as the only person of authority in the city he went out to parlay with Attila the Hun. His encounter with Attila at the very gates of Rome persuading him to turn back remains a historical memorial to Leo’s great eloquence. Later when the Vandals occupied the city of Rome, he persuaded the invaders to desist from pillaging the city and harming its inhabitants. He died in 461, leaving many letters and writings of great historical value.

He is one of the 36, soon to be 37, Doctors of the Church. He was the first and still one of only two Popes with the popular appellation “The Great” after his name.

Born
c. 400 in Tuscany
 
Died

November 10, 461