St. JustinSaint Justin, philosopher and martyr, was born of pagan parents at Flavia Neapolis in Samaria at the beginning of the second century. Following his conversion to the faith he wrote many works in defense of religion, of which we have only two: the Apology and the Dialogue with Trypho. He also opened a school at Rome in which public debates were held. Justin was martyred along with several companions during the reign of Marcus Aurelius around the year 165.
Ascension of the LordToday the Church commemorates the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. He had been with his disciples for forty days, teaching them and strengthening them for the task that lay ahead. He departed from them only to send the Holy Spirit a short time later, the Spirit who would guide them into all truth. By taking our human nature with him to be glorified in heaven, Jesus prefigures the transformation offered to all his faithful followers.
St. Charles Lwanga and CompanionsOwing to religious hatred, many faithful Christians were killed in Uganda by King Mwanga during the years 1885-87. Some of them had enjoyed the good graces of the king at his court, and some were even related to him. Among them, Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions, adhering steadfastly to the Catholic faith, were put to death, some by sword, others by burning, because they would not accede to the king’s unreasonable demands.
St. BonifaceSaint Boniface was born in England about the year 673. He was first professed in the monastic life at Exeter but in 719 went to Germany to preach the Gospel. He made many converts there and was consecrated bishop, ruling over the church at Mainz. He attracted many companions by whose help he founded or restored dioceses in Bavaria, Thuringia and Franconia. He also convened councils and promulgated laws. While preaching the Gospel to the Frisians, Saint Boniface was killed by pagans in 754. His body is buried in the monastery of Fulda.
St. NorbertSaint Norbert was born in the duchy of Cleves around the year 1080. A canon of the church of Xanten, he was converted from a worldly life and, embracing the religious state, was ordained to the priesthood in 1115. Undertaking the apostolic life, he accepted the duty of preaching, particularly throughout France and Germany. Gathering together some companions, he laid the foundations of the Premonstratensian Order, for which he also founded monasteries. Elected Archbishop of Magdeburg in 1126, he reformed the Christian life and spread the faith to nearby pagan nations. Saint Norbert died in 1134.
PentecostOn this day, fifty days after Easter, the Church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus—and, according to the promise of Christ, on all his followers through the ages. Mary and the others are gathered in Jerusalem awaiting this gift of the Spirit who will transform them and give them courage to preach the gospel throughout the world.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
St. BarnabasBorn in Cyprus, Barnabas is numbered among the first of the faithful at Jerusalem. He preached the Gospel at Antioch and, as a companion of Saint Paul, accompanied him on his first journey. He was also present at the Council of Jerusalem. Upon returning to his own country, he continued to spread the Gospel and eventually died there.
St. Anthony of PaduaSaint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal near the end of the twelfth century. He joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, but, shortly after ordination to the priesthood, transferred to the Friars Minor to devote himself to spreading the Faith among African peoples. He had his greatest success, however, preaching in France and Italy and converting heretics. He was the first member of this Order to teach theology to his brethren. His sermons are notable for their learning and gentleness. Saint Anthony died at Padua in 1231.
Most Holy TrinityDuring the liturgical year the Church has celebrated the gift of his Son to the world by God the Father, has commemorated the Son’s birth, suffering, death, and resurrection in the Easter mystery, and has offered thanksgiving for the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Now on this day we rejoice in the mystery of the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—creator, redeemer, and sanctifier. Thie feast was added to the universal calendar in the fourteenth century.
St. RomualdSaint Romuald was born in Ravenna in the middle of the tenth century. He embraced the hermit’s life and for many years traveled through various lands seeking solitude and establishing small monasteries while directing himself to a life of perfection by the practice of virtues. He fought strenuously against the depraved habits of the monks of his day. He died around the year 1027.
St. Aloysius GonzagaSaint Aloysius was born of the princely family of Castiglione in 1568 near Mantua in Lombardy. Instructed in piety by his mother, he manifested an inclination to religious life. He legally delivered his share of the ancestral dominion to his brother and entered the Society of Jesus. While serving the sick during a plague, he himself contracted the disease and died in 1591.
St. Paulinus of NolaSaint Paulinus was born at Bordeaux in France in 355. He advanced in the service of the state, married and had a son. Desirous of an austere life, he received baptism and, having disposed of all worldly goods, began to live the monastic life in 393, at Nola in Campagna. He later was made bishop of that city and promoted the cult of Saint Felix, assisted pilgrims and diligently alleviated the misfortunes of the day. He also composed poems remarkable for their fine language. Saint Paulinus died in 431.
Sts. John Fisher and Thomas MoreSaint John Fisher was born in 1469. After completing his theological studies at Cambridge in England, he was ordained to the priesthood. Appointed bishop of Rochester, he led a most austere life and fulfilled his pastoral role by frequently visiting the faithful. He also composed works against the errors of the time. Saint Thomas More was born in 1477 and was educated at Oxford. He married and had one son and three daughters. While Chancellor in the King’s Court, he wrote works on the governance of the realm and in defense of the Faith. Both were beheaded in 1535 by order of King Henry VIII, whom they had resisted in the matter of his divorce: John Fisher on June 22 and Thomas More on July 6. While detained in prison, Bishop Fisher was named to the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Paul III.
Body and Blood of the LordThis solemnity, previously known by its Latin name “Corpus Christi,” celebrates the presence of the Lord, body and soul, in the Blessed Sacrament. It is a kind of extension of the Holy Thursday liturgy but occurring outside the solemn Holy Week commemorations. The Church teaches that since Jesus is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine, the elements are no longer merely a remembrance of his passion and death but essentially and truly become his Body and Blood and are therefore worthy of veneration. The liturgical texts for this feast were composed by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Nativity of St. John the BaptistThis feast celebrates the birth of the Lord’s forerunner, John the Baptist. Born of Elizabeth and Zechariah, a pious couple who looked forward in hope for the coming of the Messiah, he became a prophet living in the desert, preaching repentance to the people of Israel and becoming the first to recognize Jesus as the longed-for Messiah. On August 29, the Church also commemorates John’s martyrdom for standing up for the truth
St. Cyril of AlexandriaSaint Cyril was born in 370 and lived a monastic life. He was ordained a priest and succeeded his uncle as bishop of Alexandria in 412. He had a preeminent role at the Council of Ephesus; he fought bravely against the doctrines of Nestorius, and wrote many learned works explaining and defending the Catholic faith. Cyril died in 444.
Sacred Heart of JesusSome Protestant groups of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries preached a distorted Christianity based on the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity was inexorably damned. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus contributed a powerful argument against this view, based as it is on the infinite love of a Savior who died on the cross for all. The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the whole Church by Pius IX in 1856.”
Sts. Peter and PaulThis feast honors the two great pillars of the Church, Peter (the apostle to the Jewish people) and Paul (the apostle to the Gentiles). Both eventually made their way to Rome, where they were martyred, Peter by crucifixion and Paul by the sword.
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time