Saturday, December 31, 2011

St. Sylvester

Feastday: December 31

St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it's decision and imparted them to the Church.

The Council of Nice was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st.

Friday, December 30, 2011

St. Anysia

Feastday: December 30
284-304

Martyr of Greece. She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor. A soldier accosted her in the street and tried to drag her to a pagan sacrifice. Anysia resisted and was killed when the soldier attacked her with his sword.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

St. Aileran

Feastday: December 29
664

Monk, biographer, and scholar-also called Sapiens the Wise. Aileran was one of the most distinguished professors at the school of Clonard in Ireland. St. Finian welcomed Aileran to Clonard. In 650, Aileran became rector of Clonard, and was recognized as a classical scholar and a master of Latin and Greek. He wrote The Fourth Life of St. Patrick, a Latin-Irish Litany and The Lives of St. Brigid and St. Fechin of Fore. His last work was a treatise on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Matthew. A fragment of another of Aileran's works has survived: A Short Moral Explanation of the Sacred Names. Scholarly institutions across Europe read this work aloud annually. Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St. Anthony the Hermit

Feastday: December 28

Anthony was born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was first entrusted to the care of St. Severinus. After the death of Severinus, an uncle, Bishop Constantius of Lorsch in Bavaria took charge of his upbringing. While in Bavaria, Anthony became a monk. He returned to Italy in 488 and joined the cleric Marius and his companions as a hermit at Lake Como. However, he gained so many disciples that he was forced to flee. Anthony then went to Lerins in Gaul and became a monk there. However, he lived only two years at Lerins before his death, renowned for his miracles and spirituality.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

St. John the Apostle

Feastday: December 27
Patron of Asia Minor

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast day - December 27th)

St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He became the "beloved disciple" and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother. His later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. Brought to Rome, tradition relates that he was by order of Emperor Dometian cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Pathmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.

St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The "beloved disciple" died at Ephesus, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

John is credited with the authorship of three epistles and one Gospel, although many scholars believe that the final editing of the Gospel was done by others shortly after his death. He is also supposed by many to be the author of the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, although this identification is less certain.

Monday, December 26, 2011

St. Stephen

Feastday: December 26
Patron of Stonemasons

Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus Christ

I. ABSOLUTE CHRONOLOGY
The incidents whose absolute chronology may be determined with more or less probability are the year of Christ's nativity, of the beginning of His public life, and of His death. As we cannot fully examine the data entering into these several problems, the reader ought to compare what has been said on these points in the article BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY.

A. The Nativity
St. Matthew (2:1) tells us that Jesus was born "in the days of King Herod". Josephus (Ant., XVII, viii, 1) informs us that Herod died after ruling thirty four years de facto, thirty seven years de jure. Now Herod was made rightful king of Judea A.U.C. 714, while he began his actual rule after taking Jerusalem A.U.C. 717. As the Jews reckoned their years from Nisan to Nisan, and counted fractional parts as an entire year, the above data will place the death of Herod in A.U.C. 749, 750, 751. Again, Josephus tells us from that an eclipse of the moon occurred not long before Herod's death; such an eclipse occurred from 12 to 13 March, A.U.C. 750, so that Herod must have died before the Passover of that year which fell on 12 April (Josephus, "Ant"., iv, 4; viii, 4). As Herod killed the children up to two years old, in order to destroy the new born King of the Jews, we are led to believe that Jesus may have been born A.U.C. 747, 748, 749. The enrollment under Cyrinus mentioned by St. Luke in connection with the nativity of Jesus Christ, and the remarkable astronomical conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in Pisces, in the spring of A.U.C. 748, will not lead us to any more definite result.

B. Beginning of the Public Ministry
The date of the beginning of Christ's ministry may be calculated from three different data found respectively in Luke 3:23; Josephus, "Bel. Jud." I, xxi, 1; or "Ant.", XV, ii, 1; and Luke 3:1. The first of these passages reads: "And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years". The phrase "was beginning" does not qualify the following expression "about the age of thirty years", but rather indicates the commencement of the public life. As we have found that the birth of Jesus falls within the period 747-749 A.U.C., His public life must begin about 777-779 A.U.C. Second, when, shortly before the first Pasch of His public life, Jesus had cast the buyers and sellers out of the Temple, the Jews said: "Six and forty years was this temple in building" (John 2:20). Now, according to the testimony of Josephus (loc. cit.), the building of the Temple began in the fifteenth year of Herod's actual reign or in the eighteenth of his reign de jure, i.e. 732 A.U.C.; hence, adding the forty six years of actual building, the Pasch of Christ's first year of public life must have fallen in 778 A.U.C. Third, the Gospel of St. Luke (3:1) assigns the beginning of St. John the Baptist's mission to the "fifteenth year of the Tiberius Caesar". Augustus, the predecessor of Tiberius, died 19 August, 767 A.U.C., so that the fifteenth year of Tiberius's independent reign is 782 A.U.C.; but then Tiberius began to be associate of Augustus in A .U.C. 764, so that the fifteenth year reckoned from this date falls in A.U.C. 778. Jesus Christ's public life began a few months later, i.e. about A.U.C. 779.

C. The Year of the Death of Christ
According to the Evangelists, Jesus suffered under the high priest Caiphas (A.U.C. 772-90, or A.D. 18-36), during the governorship of Pontius Pilate A.U.C. 780-90). But this leaves the time rather indefinite. Tradition, the patristic testimonies for which have been collected by Patrizi (De Evangeliis), places the death of Jesus in the fifteenth (or sixteenth) year of Tiberius, in the consulship of the Gemini, forty-two years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and twelve years before the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. We have already seen that the fifteenth year of Tiberius is either 778 or 782, according to its computation from the beginning of Tiberius's associate or sole reign; the consulship of the Gemini (Fufius and Rubellius) fell in A.U.C. 782; the forty second year before the destruction of Jerusalem is A.D. 29, or A.U.C. 782, twelve years before the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles brings us to the same year, A.D. 29 or A.U.C. 782, since the conversion of Cornelius, which marks the opening of the Gentile missions, fell probably in A.D. 40 or 41.

D. The Day of the Death of Christ
Jesus died on Friday, the fifteenth day of Nisan. That He died on Friday is clearly stated by Mark (xv, 42), Luke (xxiii, 54), and John (xix, 31). The few writers who assign another day for Christ's death are practically lost in the multitude of authorities who place it on Friday. What is more, they do not even agree among themselves: Epiphanius, e.g., places the Crucifixion on Tuesday; Lactantius, on Saturday; Westcott, on Thursday; Cassiodorus and Gregory of Tours, not on Friday. The first three Evangelists are equally clear about the date of the Crucifixion. They place the Last Supper on the fourteenth day of Nisan, as may be seen from Matt., xxvi, 17, 20; Mark, xiv, 12 17; Luke, xxii, 7 14. Nor can there be any doubt about St. John's agreement with the Synoptic Evangelists on the question of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The supper was held "before the festival day of the Pasch" (John, xiii, 1), i. e. on 14 Nisan, as may be seen from Matt., xxii, 7-14. Nor can there be any doubt about St. John's agreement with the Synoptic Evangelists on the question of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The Supper was held "before the festival day of the pasch" (John, xiii, 1), i.e. on 14 Nisan, since the sacrificial day was computed according to the Roman method (Jovino, 123 sqq., 139 sqq.). Again, some disciples thought that Judas left the supper table because Jesus had said to him: "Buy those things which we have need of for the festival day: or that he should give something to the poor" (John, xiii, 29). If the Supper had been held on 13 Nisan this belief of the disciples can hardly be understood, since Judas might have made his purchases and distributed his alms on 14 Nisan; there would have been no need for his rushing into the city in the middle of the night. On the day of Christ's Crucifixion the Jews "went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch" (John, xviii, 28). The pasch which the Jews wished to eat could not have been the paschal lamb, which was eaten on 14 Nisan, for the pollution contracted by entering the hall would have ceased at sundown, so that it would not have prevented them from sharing in the paschal supper. The pasch which the Jews had in view must have been the sacrificial offerings (Chagighah), which were called also pasch and were eaten on 15 Nisan. Hence this passage places the death of Jesus Christ on the fifteenth day of Nisan. Again, Jesus is said to have suffered and died on the "parasceve of the pasch", or simply on the "parasceve" (John, xix, 14, 31); as "parasceve" meant Friday, the expression "parasceve" denotes Friday on which the pasch happened to fall, not the before the pasch. Finally, the day following the parasceve on which Jesus died is called "a great sabbath day" (John, xix, 31), either to denote its occurrence in the paschal week or to distinguish it from the preceding pasch, or day of minor rest.

II. RELATIVE CHRONOLOGY
No student of the life of Jesus will question the chronological order of its principal divisions: infancy, hidden life, public life, passion, glory. But the order of events in the single divisions is not always clear beyond dispute.

A. The Infancy of Jesus
The history of the infancy, for instance, is recorded only in the First Gospel and in the Third. Each Evangelist contents himself with five pictures:

St. Matthew describes the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, and the return to Nazareth. St. Luke gives a sketch of the birth, of the adoration of the shepherds, of the circumcision, of the purification of the Virgin, and of the return to Nazareth. The two Evangelists agree in the first and the last of these two series of incidents (moreover, all scholars place the birth, adoration of the shepherds, and the circumcision before the Magi), but how are we to arrange the intervening three events related by St. Matthew with the order of St. Luke? We indicate a few of the many ways in which the chronogical sequence of these facts has been arranged.

1. The birth, the adoration of the shepherds, the circumcision, the adoration of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the Innocents, the purification, the return to Nazareth. This order implies that either the purification was delayed beyond the fortieth day, which seems to contradict Luke, ii, 22 sqq., or that Jesus was born shortly before Herod's death. so that the Holy Family could return from Egypt within forty days after the birth of Jesus. Tradition does not seem to favour this speedy return.

2. The birth, the adoration of the shepherds, the circumcision, the adoration of the Magi, the purification, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the Innocents, the return to Nazareth. According to this order the Magi either arrived a few days before the purification or they came on 6 January; but in neither case can we understand why the Holy Family should have offered the sacrifice of the poor, after receiving the offeings of the Magi. Moreover, the firsr Evangelist intimates that the angel appeared to St. Joseph soon after the departure of the Magi, and it is not at all probable that Herod should have waited long before inquiring concerning the whereabouts of the new born king. The difficulties are not overcome by placing the adoration of the Magi on the day before the purification; it would be more unlikely in that case that the Holy Family should offer the sacrifice of the poor.

3. As Luke 2:39 appears to exclude the possibility of placing the adoration of the Magi between the presentation and return to Nazareth, there are interpreters who have located the advent of the wise men, the flight to Egypt, the slaughter of the Innocents, and the return from Egypt after the events as told in St. Luke. They agree in the opinion that the Holy Family returned to Nazareth after the purification, and then left Nazareth in order to make their home in Bethlehem. Eusebius, Epiphanius, and some other ancient writers are willing to place the adoration of the Magi about two years after Christ's birth; Paperbroch and his followers allow about a year and thirteen days between the birth and the advent of the Magi; while Patrizi agrees with those who fix the advent of the Magi at about two weeks after the purification . The text of Matt., ii, 1, 2, hardly permits an interval of more than a year between the purification and the coming of the wise men; Patrizi's opinion appears to satisfy all the data furnished by the gospels, while it does not contradict the particulars added by tradition.

B. The Hidden Life of Jesus
It was in the seclusion of Nazareth that Jesus spent the greatest part of His earthly life. The inspired records are very reticent about this period: Luke, 2:40-52; Mark 6:3; John 6:42; 7:15, are about the only passages which refer to the hidden life. Some of them give us a general view of Christ's life: "The child grew, and grew in strength and wisdom; and the grace of God was in him" is the brief summary of the years following the return of the Holy Family after the ceremonial purification in the Temple. "Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men", and He "was subject to them" form the inspired outline of Christ's life in Nazareth after He had attained the age of twelve. "When he was twelve years old" Jesus accompanied His parents to Jerusalem, 'according to the custom of the feast'; When they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not." After three days, they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions." It was on this occasion that Jesus spoke the only words that have come down from the period of His hidden life: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my Father's business [or, "in my father's house"]?" The Jews tell us that Jesus had not passed through the training of he Rabbinic schools: "How doth this man know letters, having never learned?". The same question is asked by the people of Nazareth, who add, "Is not this the carpenter?" St. Justin is authority for the statement that Jesus specially made "ploughs and yokes' (Contra Tryph., 88). Though it is not certain that at the time of Jesus elementary schools existed in the Jewish villlages, it may be inferred from the Gospels that Jesus knew how to read (Luke 4:1 6) and write (John 8:6). At an early age He must have learned the so called Shema (Deut. 6:4), and the Hallel, or Psalms 113-118 (Hebr.); He must have been familiar with the other parts of the Scriptures too, especially the Psalms and the Prophetic Books, as He constantly refers to them in His public life. It is also asserted that Palestine at the time of Jesus Christ was practically bilingual, so that Christ must have spoken Aramaic and Greek; the indications that He was acquainted with Hebrew and Latin are rather slight. The public teaching of Jesus shows that He was a close observer of the sights and sounds of nature, and of the habits of all classes of men. For these are the usual sources of His illustrations. To conclude the hidden life of Jesus extending through thirty years is far different from what one should have expected in the case of a Person Who is adored by His followers as their God and revered as their Saviour; this is an indirect proof for the credibility of the Gospel story.

C. The Public Life of Jesus: Its Duration
The chronology of the public life offers a number of problems to the interpreter; we shall touch upon only two, the duration of the public life, and the successive journeys it contains.

There are two extreme views as to the length of the ministry of Jesus: St. Irenaeus (Contra Haer., II, xxii, 3-6) appears to suggest a period of fifteen years; the prophetic phrases, "the year of recompenses", "the year of my redemption" (Is., xxxiv, 8; lxiii, 4), appear to have induced Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Philastrius, Hilarion, and two or three other patristic writers to allow only one year for the public life. This latter opinion has found advocates among certain recent students: von Soden, for instance, defends it in Cheyne's "Encyclopaedia Biblica". But the text of the Gospels demands a more extensive duration. St. John's Gospel distinctly mentions three distinct paschs in the history of Christ's ministry (ii, 13; vi, 4; xi, 55). The first of the three occurs shortly after the baptism of Jesus, the last coincides with His Passion, so that at least two years must have intervened between the two events to give us the necessary room for the passover mentioned in vi, 4. Westcott and Hort omit the expression "the pasch" in vi, 4 to compress the ministry of Jesus within the space of one year; but all the manuscripts, the versions, and nearly all the Fathers testify for the reading "En de eggysto pascha heeorteton Ioudaion": "Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand". Thus far then everything tends to favour the view of those writers and more recent commentators who extend the period of Christ's ministry a little over two years.

But a comparison of St. John's Gospel with the Synoptic Evangelists seems to introduce another pasch, indicated in the Fourth Gospel, into Christ's public life. John, iv, 45, relates the return of Jesus into Galilee after the first pasch of His public life in Jerusalem, and the same event is told by Mark, i, 14, and Luke iv, 14. Again the pasch mentioned in John, vi, 4 has its parallel in the "green grass" of Mark, vi, 39, and in the multiplication of loaves as told in Luke, ix, 12 sqq. But the plucking of ears mentioned in Mark, ii, 23, and Luke, vi, 1, implies another paschal season intervening between those expressly mentioned in John, ii, 13, and vi, 4. This shows that the public life of Jesus must have extended over four paschs, so that it must have lasted three years and afew months. Though the Fourth Gospel does not indicate this fourth pasch as clearly as the other three, it is not wholly silent on the question. The "festival day of the Jews" mentioned in John, v, 1, has been identified with the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Expiation, the Feast of the New Moon, the Feast of Purim, the Feast of Dedication, by various commentators; others openly confess that they cannot determine to which of the Jewish feasts this festival day refers. Nearly all difficulties will disappear if the festival day be regarded as the pasch, as both the text (heorte) and John, iv, 35 seem to demand (cf. Dublin Review, XXIII, 351 sqq.).

D. The Public Life of Jesus: His Journeys
The journeys made during His public life may be grouped under nine heads: the first six were mainly performed in Galilee and had Capharnaum for their central point; the last three bring Jesus into Judea without any pronounced central point. We cannot enter into the disputed questions connected with the single incidents of the various groups.

1. First Journey
December, A.U.C. 778 - Spring, 779. (Cf. John, i, ii; Matthew, iii, iv; Mark, i; Luke, iii, iv.)
Jesus abandons His hidden life in Nazareth, and goes to Bethania across the Jordan, where He is baptized by John and receives the Baptist's first testimony to His Divine mission. He then withdraws into the desert of Judea, where He fasts for forty days and is tempted by the devil. After this He dwells in the neighbourhood of the Baptist's ministry, and receives the latter's second and third testimony; here too He wins His first disciples, with whom He journeys to the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where He performs His first miracle. Finally He transfers His residence, so far as there can be question of a residence in His public life, to Capharnaum, one of the principal thoroughfares of commerce and travel in Galilee.

2. Second Journey
Passover, A.U.C. 779 - about Pentecost, 780. (Cf. John, ii-v; Mark, i-iii; Luke, iv-vii; Matt., iv-ix.)
Jesus goes from Capharnaum to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover; here he expels the buyers and sellers from the Temple, and is questioned by the Jewish authorities. Many believed in Jesus, and Nicodemus came to converse with Him during the night. After the festival days He remained in Judea till about the following December, during which period He received the fourth testimony from John who was baptizing at Ennon (A.V. Aenon). When the Baptist had been imprisoned in Machaerus, Jesus returned to Galilee by way of Samaria where He met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well near Sichar; He delayed two days in this place, and many believed in Him. Soon after His return into Galilee we find Jesus again in Cana, where He heard the prayer who pleaded for the recovery of his dying son in Capharnaum. The rejection of Jesus by the people of Nazareth, whether at this time as, St. Luke intimates, or at a later period, as St. Mark seems to demand, or again both now and about eight months later, is an exegetical problem we cannot solve here. At any rate, shortly afterwards Jesus is mostly actively engaged in Capharnaum in teaching and healing the sick, restoring among others Peter's mother-in-law and a demoniac. On this occasion He called Peter and Andrew, James and John. Then followed a missionary tour through Galilee during which Jesus cured a leper; soon he again taught in Capharnaum, and was surrounded by such a multitude that a man sick of the palsy had to be let down through the roof in order to reach the Sacred Presence. After calling Matthew to the Apostleship, He went to Jerusalem for the second pasch occurring during His public life, it was on this occasion that He he aled the man who been sick for thirty-eight years near the pool at Jerusalem. The charge of violating the Sabbath and Christ's answer were the natural effects of the miracle. The same charge is repeated shortly after the pasch; Jesus had returned to Galilee, and the disciples plucked some ripe ears in the corn fields. The question became more acute in the immediate future; Jesus had returned to Capharnaum, and there healed on the Sabbath day a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees now make common cause with the Herodians in order to "destroy him". Jesus withdraws first to the Sea of Galilee, where He teaches and performs numerous miracles; then retires to the Mountain of Beatitudes, where He prays during the night, chooses His Twelve Apostles in the morning, and preaches the Sermon on the Mount. He is brought back to Capharnaum by the prayers of the centurion who asks and obtains the of his servant.

3. Third Journey
About Pentecost, A.U.C. 780- Autumn, 780. (Cf. Luke, vii, viii; Mark, iii, iv; Matt., iv, viii, ix, xii, xiii.)
Jesus makes another missionary tour through Galilee; He resuscitates the son of the widow at Naim, and shortly afterwards receives the messengers sent by John from his prison in Machaerus. Then follows the scene of the merciful reception of the sinful woman who anoints the feet of the Lord while He rests at table in Magdala or perhaps in Capharnaum; for the rest of His missionary tour Jesus is followed by a band of pious women who minister to the wants of the Apostles. After returning to Capharnaum, Jesus expels the mute devil, is charged by the Pharisees with casting out devils by the prince of devils, and encounters the remonstrances of His kinsmen. Withdrawing to the sea, He preaches what may be called the "Lake Sermon", consisting of seven parables.

4. Fourth Journey
Autumn, A.U.C. 780- about Passover, 781. (Cf. Luke, viii, ix; Mark, iv-vi; Matt., viii, ix, x, xiii, xiv.)
After a laborious day of ministry in the city of Capharnaum and on the lake, Jesus with His Apostles crosses the waters. As a great storm overtakes them, the frightened Apostles awaken their sleeping Master, Who commands the winds and the waves. Towards morning they meet in the country of the Gerasens, on the east of the lake, two demoniacs. Jesus expels the evil spirits, but allows them to enter into a herd of swine. The beasts destroy themselves in the waters of the lake, and frightened inhabitants beg Jesus not to remain among them. After returning to Capharnaum he heals the woman who had touched the hem of His garment, resuscitates the daughter of Jairus, and gives sight to two blind men. The second Gospel places here Christ's last visit to and rejection by the people of Nazareth. Then follows the ministry of the Apostles who are sent two by two, while Jesus Himself makes another missionary tour through Galilee. It seems to have been the martyrdom of John the Baptist that occasioned the return of the Apostles and their gathering around the Master in Capharnaum. But, however depressing this event may have been, it did not damp the enthusiasm of the Apostles over their success.

5. Fifth Journey
Spring, A.U.C. 781. (Cf. John, vi; Luke, ix; Mark, vi; and Matt., xiv.)
Jesus invites the Apostles, tired out from their missionary labours, to rest awhile. They cross the northern part of the Sea of Galilee, but, instead of finding the desired solitude, they are met by multitudes of people who had preceded them by land or by boat, and who were eager for instruction. Jesus taught them throughout the day, and towards evening did not wish to dismiss them hungry. On the other hand, there were only five loaves and two fishes at the disposal of Jesus; after His blessing, these scanty supplies satisfied the hunger of five thousand men, besides women and children, and remnants filled twelve baskets of fragments. Jesus sent the Apostles back to their boats, and escaped from the enthusiastic multitudes, who wished to make Him king, into the mountain where He prayed till far into the night. Meanwhile the Apostles were facing a contrary wind till the fourth watch in the morning, when they saw Jesus walking upon the waters. The Apostles first fear, and then recognize Jesus; Peter walks upon the water as long as his confidence lasts; the storm ceases when Jesus has entered the boat. The next day brings Jesus and His Apostles to Capharnaum, where He speaks to the assembly about the Bread of Life and promises the Holy Eucharist, with the result that some of His followers leave Him, while the faith of His true disciples is strenghened.

6. Sixth Journey
About May, A.U.C. 781- Sept., 781. (Cf. Lk., ix; Mk., vii-ix; Matt., xiv- xviii; John, vii.)
It may be owing to the enmity stirred up against Jesus by His Eucharistic discourse in Capharnaum that He began now a more extensive missionary tour than He had made in the preceding years of His life. Passing through the country of Genesar, He expressed His disapproval of the Pharisaic practices of legal purity. Within the boarders of Tyre and Sidon He exorcized the daughter of the Syrophenician woman. From here Jesus travelled first towards the north, then towards the east, then south-eastward through the northern part of Decapolis, probably along the foot of the Labanon, till He came to the eastern part of Galilee. While in Decapolis Jesus healed a deaf-mute, employing a ceremonial more elaborate than He had used at any of His previous miracles; in the eastern part of Galilee, probably not far from Dalmanutha and Magedan, He fed four thousand men, besides children and women, with seven loaves and a few little fishes, the remaining fragments filling seven baskets. The multitudes had listened for three days to the teaching of Jesus, previously to the miracle. In spite of the many cures performed by Jesus, during this journey, on the blind, the dumb, the lame, the maimed, and on many others, the Pharisees and Sadduces asked Him for a sign from heaven, tempting Him. He promised them the sign of Jonas the Prophet. After Jesus and the Apostles had crossed the lake, He warned them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees; then they passed through Bethsaida Julias where Jesus gave sight to a blind man. Next we find Jesus in the confines of Caesarea Philippi, where Peter professes his faith in Christ, the Son of the living God, and in his turn receives from Jesus the promise of the power of the keys. Jesus here predicts His passion, and about a week later is transfigured before Peter, James, and John, probably on the top of Mt. Thabor. On descending from the mountain, Jesus exorcizes the mute devil whom His disciples had not been able to expel. Bending his way towards Capharnaum, Jesus predicts His Passion for the second time, and in the city pays the tribute-money for Himself and Peter. This occasions the discussion as to the greater in the kingdom of heaven, and the allied discourses. Finally, Jesus refuses His brethren's in vitation to go publicly to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.

7. Seventh Journey
Sept., A.U.C. 781- December, 781. (Cf. Luke, ix-xiii; Mark, x; Matt., vi, vii, viii, x, xi, xii, xxiv; John, vii-x.)
Jesus now "steadfastly set His face to go Jerusalem", and as the Samaritans refused Him hospitality, He had to take the east of the Jordan. While still in Galilee, He refused the discipleship of several half-hearted candidates, and about the same time He sent other seventy-two, two by two, before His face into every city and place whit her He Himself was to come. Probably in the lower part of Peraea, the seventy-two returned with joy, rejoicing in the miraculous power that had been exercised by them. It must have been in the vicinity of Jericho that Jesus answered the lawer's question, "Who is my neighbour?" by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Next Jesus was received in the hospitable home of Mary and Martha, where He declares Mary to have chosen the better part. From Bethania went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, where he became involved in discussions with the Jews. The Scribes and Pharisees endeavoured to catch Him in the sentence which they asked Him to pronounce in the case of the woman taken in adultary. When Jesus had avoided this snare, He continued His discussions with the hostile Jews. Their enmity was intensified because Jesus restored sight to a blind man on the Sabbath day. Jesus appears to have His stay in Jerusalem with the beautiful discourse on the Good Shepherd. A little later He teaches His Apostles the Our Father, probably somewhere on Mt. Olivet. On a subsequent missionary tour through Judea and Peraea He defends Himself against the charges of Pharisees, and reproves their hypocrisy. On the same journey Jesus warned against hypocrisy, covetousness, worldly care; He exhorted to watchfulness, patience under contradictions, and to penance. About this time, too, He healed the woman who had the spirit of infirmity.

8. Eighth Journey
December, A.U.C. 781-February, 782. (Cf. Luke, xiii-xvii; John, x, xi.)
The Feast of Dedication brought Jesus again to Jerusalem, and occasioned another discussion with the Jews. This is followed by another missionary tour through Peraea, during which Jesus explained a number of important points of doctrine: the number of the elect, the choice of one's place at table, the guests to be invited, the parable of the great supper, resoluteness in the service of God, the parables of the hundred sheep, the lost groat, and the prodigal son, of the unjust steward, of Dives and Lazarus, of the unmerciful servant, besides the duty of fraternal correction, and the efficacy of faith. During this period, too, the Pharisees attempted to frighten Jesus with the menance of Herod's persecution; on his part, Jesus healed a man who had drospy, on a Sabbath day, while at table in the house of a certain prince of the Pharisees. Finally Mary and Martha send messengers to Jesus, asking Him to come and cure their brother Lazarus; Jesus went after two days, and resuscitated His friend who had been several days in the grave. The Jews are exasperated over this miracle, and they decree Jesus must die for the people. Hence He withdrew "into a country near the desert, unto a city that is called Ephrem".

9. Ninth Journey
February, A.U.C. 782- Passover, 782. (Cf. Luke, xvii-xxii; Mark., x, xiv; Matt., xix-xxvi; John, xi, xii.)
This last journey took Jesus from Ephrem northward through Samaria, then eastward along the border of Galilee into Peraea, then southward through Peraea, westward across the Jordan, through Jericho, Bethania on Mt. Olivet, Bethphage, and finally to Jerusalem. While in the most northern part of the journey, He cured ten lepers; a little later, He answered the questions raised by the Pharisees concerning the kingdom of God. Then He urged the need of incessant prayer by proposing the parable of the unjust judge; here too belong the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, the discourse on marriage, on the attitude of the Church towards the children, on the right use of riches as illustrated by the story of the rich young ruler, and the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. After beginning His route towards Jerusalem, He predicted His Passion for the third time; James and John betray their ambition, but they are taught the true standard of greatness in the Church. At Jericho Jesus heals two blind men, and receives the repentance of Zacheus the publican; here He proposed also the parable of the pounds entrusted to the servants by the master. Six days before the pasch we find Jesus at Bethania on Mt. Olivet, as the guest of Simon the leper; Mary anoints His feet, and the disciples at the instigation of Judas are indignant at this seeming waste of ointment. A great multitude assembles at Bethania, not to see Jesus only but also Lazarus; hence the chief priests think of killing Lazarus too. On the following day Jesus solemnly entered Jerusalem and was received by the Hosanna cries of all classes of people. In the afternoon He met a delegation of Gentiles in the court of the Temple. On Monday Jesus curses the barren fig tree, and during the morning He drives the buyers and sellers from the Temple. On Tuesday the wonder of the disciples at the sudden withering of the fig tree provokes their Master's instruction on the efficacy of faith. Jesus answers the enemies' questions as to His authority; then He proposes the parable of the two sons, of the wicked husbandmen, and of the marriage feast. Next follows a triple snare: the politicians ask whether it is lawful to pay tribute to Caesar; the scoffers inquire whose wife a woman, who has had several husbands, will be after ressurection; the Jewish theologians propose the question: Which is the first commandment, the great commandment of the law? Then Jesus proposes His last question to the Jews: "What think you of Christ? whose son is he?" This is followed by the eightfold woe against the Scribes and Pharisees, and by the denunciation of Jerusalem. The last words of Christ in the Temple were expressions of praise for the poor widow who had made an offering of two mites in spite of her poverty. Jesus ended this day by uttering the prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His second coming, and the future judgement; these predictions are interrupted by the parable of the ten virgins and the talents. On Wednesday Jesus again predicted His Passion; probably it was on the same day that Judas made his agreement with the Jews to betray Jesus.

E. The Passion of Jesus: Its Preparation
Jesus prepares His disciples for the Passion, He prepares Himself for the ordeal and His enemies prepare themselves for the destruction of Jesus.

1. Preparation of the Apostles. Jesus prepares His Apostles for the Passion by the eating of the paschal lamb, the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the concomitant ceremonies, and His lengthy discourses held during and after the Last Supper. Special mention should be made of the prediction of the Passion, and of the betrayal one of the Apostles and the denial by another. Peter, james, and John are prepared in a more particular manner by witnessing the sorrow of Jesus on Mt. Olivet.

2. Preparation of Jesus. Jesus must have found an indirect preparation in all He did and said to strengthen His Apostles. But the preparation that was pecularly His own consisted in His prayer in the grotto of His Agony where the angel came to strengthen Him. The sleep of His favoured Apostles during the hours of His bitter struggle must have prepared Him too for the complete abandonment He was soon to experience.

3. Preparation of the Enemies. Judas leaves the Master during the Last Supper. The chief priests and Pharisees hastily collect a detachment of the Roman cohort stationed in the castle of Antonia, of the Jewish temple-watch, and of the officials of the Temple. To these are added a number of the servants and dependents of the high-priest, and a miscellaneous multitude of fanatics with lanterns and torches, with swords and clubs, who were to follow the leadership of Judas. They took Christ, bound Him, and led Him to the high-priest's house.

F. The Passion of Jesus: The Trial
Jesus was tried first before an ecclesiastical and then before a civil tribunal.

1. Before Ecclesiastical Court. The ecclesiastical trial includes Christ's appearance before Annas, before Caiphas, and again before Caiphas, who appears to have acted in each case as head of the Sanhedrin. The Jewish court found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and condemned Him to death, though its proceedings were illegal from more than one point of view. During the trial took place Peter's triple denial of Jesus; Jesus is insulted and mocked, especially between the second and third session; and after His final condemnation Judas despaired and met his tragic death.

2. Before the Civil Court. The civil trial, too, comprised three sessions, the first before Pilate, the second before Herod, the third again before Pilate. Jesus is not charged with blasphemy before the court of Pilate, but with stirring up the people, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the king. Pilate ignores the first two charges; the third he finds harmless when he sees that Jesus does not claim royalty in the Roman sense of the word. But in order not to incur the odium of the Jewish leaders, the Roman governor sends his prisoner to Herod. As Jesus did not humour the curiosity of Herod, He was mocked and set at naught by the Tetrarch of Galilee and his court, and sent back to Pilate. The Roman procurator declares the prisoner innocent for the second time, but, instead of setting Him free, gives the people the alternative to choose either Jesus or Barabbas for their paschal freedman. Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent for the third time with the more solemn ceremony of washing his hands; he had recourse to a third scheme of ridding himself of the burden of pronouncing an unjust sentence against his prisoner. He had the prisoner scourged, thus annihilating, as far as human means could do so, any hope that Jesus could ever attain to the royal dignity. But even this device miscarried, and Pilate allowed his political ambition to prevail over his sense of evident justice; he condemned Jesus to be crucified.

G. The Passion of Jesus: His Death
Jesus carried His Cross to the place of execution. Simon of Cyrene is forced to assist Him in bearing the heavy burden. On the way Jesus addresses his last words to the weeping women who sympathized with His suffering. He is nailed to the Cross, his garments are divided, and an inscription is placed over His head. While His enemies mock Him, He pronounces the well-known "Seven Words". Of the two robbers crucified with Jesus, one was converted, and the other died impenitent. The sun was darkened, and Jesus surrendered His soul into the hands of His Father. The veil of the Temple was rent into two, the earth quaked, the rocks were riven, and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose and appeared to many. The Roman centurion testified that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. The Heart of Jesus was pierced so as to make sure of His death. The Sacred Body was taken from the Cross by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and was buried in the new sepulchre of Joseph, and the Sabbath drew near.

H. The Glory of Jesus
After the burial of Jesus, the Holy women returned and prepared spices and ointments. The next day, the chief priests and Pharisees made the sepulchre secure with guards, sealing the stone. When the Sabbath was passed, the Holy women brought sweet spices that they might anoint Jesus. But Jesus rose early the first day of the week, and there was a great earthquake, and an angel descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone. The guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. On arriving at the sepulchre the holy women found the grave empty; Mary Magdalen ran to tell the Apostles Peter and John, while the other women were told by an angel that the Lord had arisen from the dead. Peter and John hasten to the sepulchre, and find everything as Magdalen has reported. Magdalen too returns, and, while weeping at the sepulchre, is approached by the arisen Saviour Who appears to her and speaks with her. On the same day Jesus appeared to the other Holy Women, to Peter, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and to all the Apostles excepting Thomas. A week later He appeared to all the Apostles, Thomas included; later still He appeared in Galilee near the Lake of Genesareth to seven disciples, on a mountain in Galilee to a multitude of disciples, to James, and finally to His disciples on the Mount Olivet whence He ascended into heaven. But these apparitions do not exhaust the record of the Gospels, according to which Jesus showed Himself alive after His Passion by many proofs, for forty days appearing to the disciples and speaking of the kingdom of God.

St. Eugenia

Feastday: December 25

There definitely was a Roman martyr named Eugenia but the rest of her story is a romantic fictitious legend. According to it she was the daughter of Duke Philip of Alexandria, governor of Egypt during the reign of Emporer Valerian. She fled her father's house dressed in men's clothing and was baptized by Helenus, bishop of Heliopolis, who sent her to an abbey of which she later became abbot. Accused of adultery by a woman she had cured of a sickness and whose advances she had resisted, she was hailed before a judge to answer the charges; the judge was her father. Exonerated when she revealed she was a woman and his daughter, she converted him to Christianity (he later became a bishop and was beheaded for his faith). Eugenia converted many others, including her mother, Claudia, and suffered martyrdom by sword for her faith in Rome, where she had gone with her mother. Her feast day is December 25th.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

St. Adele

Feastday: December 24
730

St. Adele, Widow. A daughter of King Dagobert II of Germany, St. Adele became a nun upon the death of her husband, making provisions for her son, the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht. She founded a convent at Palatiolum near Trier and became its first Abbess, ruling with holiness, prudence, and compassion. St. Adele seems to have been among the disciples of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, and a letter in his correspondence is addressed to her. After a devout life filled with good works and communion with God, she passed on to her heavenly reward in 730.

Friday, December 23, 2011

St. John of Kanty

Feastday: December 23

The people of Olkusz in Bohemia in 1431 had every reason to be suspicious of their new pastor. They knew what a Cracow professor would think of their small rural town. But even more insulting, their town was once again being used as a dumping ground for a priest who was "in disgrace."

John had indeed been kicked out of his university position -- unjustly. Rivals who resented John's popularity with the students had cooked up a false charge against him. John was not even allowed to appear at his own hearing or testify in his own defense. So at age 41, he was shipped off to be an apprentice pastor.

Certainly no one would have blamed John if he was furious at such injustice. However, he was determined that his new parishioners would not suffer because of what he happened to him.

But there was no overnight miracle waiting of him in Olkusz. He was nervous and afraid of his new responsibilities. And, despite the energy he put into his new job, the parishioners remained hostile. But John's plan was very simple, and came not from the mind but from the heart. He let his genuine interest and concern for these people show in everything he did. Despite working for years without any sign of success, he was very careful not to demonstrate impatience or anger. He knew that people could never be bullied into love, so he gave them what he hoped they would find in themselves.

After eight years, he was exonerated and transferred back to Cracow. He had been so successful that these once-hostile people followed him several miles down the road, begging him to stay.

For the rest of his life, he was professor of sacred Scripture at the university. He was so well-liked that he was often invited to dinner with nobility. Once, he was turned away at the door by a servant who thought John's cassock was too frayed. John didn't argue but went home, changed into a new cassock, and returned. During the meal, a servant spilled a dish on John's new clothes. "No matter," he joked. "My clothes deserve some dinner, too. If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't be here at all."

Once John was sitting down to dinner when he saw a beggar walk by outside. He jumped up immediately, ran out, and gave the beggar the food in his bowl. He asked no questions, made no demands. He just saw someone in need and helped with what he had.

John taught his students this philosophy again and again, "Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause."
In His Footsteps:

John put all his effort into a new and frightening job, that others might have considered beneath him. Today do something you have never done before or do something in a new way, perhaps something that has frightened you or you felt was beneath you. This can be something as simple as trying a different type of prayer or as complex as serving others in a new way.
Prayer:

Saint John of Kanty, you were unjustly fired from your work. Please pray for those who are jobless or in danger of losing their jobs that they may find work that is fulfilling in every way. Guide us to ways to help those looking for work. Amen

Thursday, December 22, 2011

St. Chaeromon

Feastday: December 22
250

Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was instituted by Emperor Trajanus Decius, Chaeromon Was quite elderly. He and several companions fled into the Arabian desert and were never seen again. The bishop and his companions are listed as martyrs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

St. Peter Canisius

Feastday: December 21
b: 1521 d: 1597

In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in our day, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and vicious thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion. They chose Peter Canisius. At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official "visitor" of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn't hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes -- 250 pages each -- not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university!

Why did the Vatican choose Peter Canisius for this delicate task?

Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn't win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.

For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could. When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: "I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account." The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom -- including faith, hope, and charity -- and justice -- avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.

Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.

As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon. Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man. Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn't coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.

Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church.
In His Footsteps

Peter believed in the importance in learning and understanding the Catholic faith. If it is available to you, resolve to read a portion of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Don't try to read too much but consider reading a page a day. Before we can spread our faith we must have a solid foundation in ourselves.
Prayer:

Saint Peter Canisius, you saw the good in even the most troublesome of people. You found their talents and used them. Help me to see beyond the behavior of others that may bother me to the gifts God has given them. Amen

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

St. Dominic of Silos

Feastday: December 20
Patron against rabies; against rabid dogs; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds
1000-1073

Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, Navarre, Spain, circa 1000, he entered the Benedictines at San Millan de Ia Cogolla. King Garcia III of Navarre challenged him when he became abbot of the monastery, and Dominic refused to surrender part of the Benedictine lands to the crown. For this he was exiled, going to King Ferdinand I of Castile and Leon, who made him abbot of St. Sebastian Abbey at Silos, now called St. Dominic’s. Dominic reformed the abbey, built the cloisters in Romanesque style, and started a scriptorium that became famous throughout the region. One of the most beloved saints in Spain, Dominic also rescued Christian slaves from the Moors. Dominic’s shrine is noted for its place in the birth of Dominic de Guzman, the founder of the Order of Preachers. Dominic de Guzman’s mother begged for a child there. Dominic was also noted for miracles of healing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

St. Nemesius

Feastday: December 19

Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, during the persecutions under Emperor Trajanus Decius. Nemesius was arrested and scourged and then burned to death. Like Christ, he was executed between two criminals.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saint Rufus

Feastday: December 18

Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) who were brought to Rome with St. Ignatius of Antioch during the reign of Emperor Trajan. They were condemned to death for their Christianity and thrown to wild beasts in the arena two days before the martyrdom of Ignatius. Feast Day December 18.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

St. Jude Thaddaeus

Feastday: October 28
Patron of Desperate Cases

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Jude is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and his feast day is October 28. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God's mercy.

Why Catholics Are Right

Why Catholics Are Right by Michael Coren


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A practicing Catholic defends the faith and offers a passionate response to current anti-Catholic opinion.

In Why Catholics Are Right, author, columnist, and practicing Catholic Michael Coren examines four main aspects of Catholicism as they are encountered, understood, and more importantly, misunderstood today. Beginning with a frank examination of the tragedy of the Catholic clergy abuse scandal, Coren addresses some of them most common attacks on Catholics and Catholicism. Tracing Catholic history, he deconstructs popular and frequent anti-Catholic arguments regarding the Church and the Crusades, the Inquisition, Galileo, and the Holocaust. He examines Catholic theology and central pillars of Catholic belief, explaining why Catholics believe what they do: papal infallibility, immaculate conception, the Church rather than Bible alone. Finally, he explores the dignity of life argument and why it is so important to Catholicism.

In this challenging and thought-provoking book, Michael Coren demolishes often propagated myths about the Church's beliefs and teachings, and in doing so, opens a window onto Catholicism, which, he writes, "is as important now as it ever was and perhaps even more necessary."

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone; 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi.[4] While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he begged with the beggars at St. Peter's. The experience moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon amassed a following. His order was endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which was an enclosed order for women, as well as the Third Order of others and Sisters of Penance. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the order. Once his organization was endorsed by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene. In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion. He died in 1226 while preaching Psalm 141.

On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), and it is customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Virtues by Pope Benedict XVI

"...The truly great thing in Christianity, which does not dispense one from small, daily things but must not be concealed by them either, is this ability to come into contact with God."
---Pope Benedict XVI

The Virtues by Pope Benedict XVI


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One of the greatest teachers of our day, Pope Benedict XVI has frequently spoken about the pursuit of virtue. In these selections from homilies and addresses, the Holy Father draws on the lives of saints, the Catechism, and common experiences to bring us into a deeper understanding of the virtues and how to cultivate them in our own lives so that we can grow closer to the Lord.

Allow Pope Benedict XVI to instruct you on nurturing all the basic Christian virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity, called the Theological Virtues and Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance the Cardinal Virtues.

A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1803)

St. Michael, the Archangel

Feastday: September 29
Patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness


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St. Michael, the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels - as Prince of the Seraphim. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.

In late medieval Christianity, Michael, together with Saint George, became the patron saint of chivalry and is now also considered the patron saint of police officers and the military.

In the 15th century, Jean Molinet glorified the primordial feat of arms of the archangel as "the first deed of knighthood and chivalrous prowess that was ever achieved." Thus Michael was the natural patron of the first chivalric order of France, the Order of Saint Michael of 1469. In the British honours system, a chivalric order founded in 1818 is also named for these two saints, the Order of St Michael and St George. The Order of Michael the Brave is Romania's highest military decoration.

Apart from his being a patron of warriors, the sick and the suffering also consider Archangel Michael their patron saint. Based on the legend of his 8th century apparition at Mont-Saint-Michel, France, the Archangel is the patron of mariners in this famous sanctuary. After the evangelisation of Germany, where mountains were often dedicated to pagan gods, Christians placed many mountains under the patronage of the Archangel, and numerous mountain chapels of St. Michael appeared all over Germany. He has been the patron saint of Brussels since the Middle Ages. The city of Arkhangelsk in Russia is named for the Archangel. Ukraine and its capital Kiev also consider Michael their patron saint and protector.

The Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel (CSMA), also known as the Michaelite Fathers, is a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1897.

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Angel Holding Sword & Shield with Holy Cross Protective Charm. Archangel Michael is the chief enemy of Satan. Reverse side embossed with prayer: "ARCHANGEL ST.MICHAEL PROTECT US" with traditional cross below. Christian amulet is a talisman charm often inscribed with a magic incantation, prayer or symbol to protect the wearer against evil (as disease or witchcraft) and to aid. Well-made silver shield pendant. Fine .925 pure SOLID STERLING SILVER (925 hallmark). Highly detailed three-dimensional cast. Size is 1.65" x 0.78" inches (42mm x 20mm) with very robust silver precious metal thickness! Superb craftsmanship! Very elegant unique bail embossed with cross, artist V-Comb seal and 925 stamp hallmarks. Pure solid Sterling Silver. Rare Museum Quality! Pendant comes with a complimentary genuine leather suede cord necklace. Highest quality item will arrive inside beautiful Virginbee jewelry velvet pouch.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Apostles: The Origin of the Church and Their Co-Workers by Pope Benedict XVI


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The Apostles: The Origin of the Church and Their Co-Workers by Pope Benedict XVI
"Through the Apostles, we come to Jesus himself"---Pope Benedict XVI

In this fascinating and inspirational journey with the chosen disciples of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates a profound, unbreakable continuity -- built upon the foundation of the Apostles and alive in the succession of the Apostles -- by which Christ is present today in His people and His church.

Let Pope Benedict be your guide as the distance of centuries is overcome and he reveals the impact of Christ's vision through the calling and works of the Apostles. Ignite your faith with this timeless connection between Jesus, His Apostles, the Church, and you.

As Jesus said to his first two future Apostles, Come and see. Come so that you will be able to see.

St. Jude Thaddaeus

Feastday: October 28
Patron of Desperate Cases


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St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Saviour. St. Jude was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.

He is an author of an epistle (letter) to the Churches of the East, particularly the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. This Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia. The final conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity did not take place until the third century of our era.

Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa; possibly martyred with St. Simon in Persia.

Jude is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and his feast day is October 28. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God's mercy.

St. Mary Di Rosa

Feastday: December 15
1885

Saint Mary (Paula) Di Rosa December 15 The pounding on the barricaded door of the military hospital sent every heart thudding in terror. In the middle of the war in Brescia (Italy) in 1848, the wounded, sick, and those who cared for them knew what that pounding meant. The shouts from beyond the door came from soldiers, not obeying any command but their inner desire to destroy and plunder. Who could do anything to stop them? The only people here were some Sisters, the Handmaids of Charity, who devoted themselves to helping the sick. The doctors had not even wanted them there. The doctors wanted medical people who were secular and military, not nuns. And in the face of this new danger they were even more useless! Worse than useless -- because that Paula (as she was known) di Rosa was actually moving to open the door!

When the door swung wide, the soldiers saw their way blocked with a great crucifix held by Paula di Rosa and two candles held by two of the six sisters who stood by her. Suddenly their frenzy to destroy disappeared, and full of shame before this display of courage and faith, they slunk back into the shadows.

Throughout her life, Paula di Rosa was never afraid to open the door on a new opportunity to serve God, especially when she was unsure of what lay beyond. People who didn't know her well must have thought she was too frail and delicate for these ventures, but she came armed not only with her faith but boundless energy, intelligence, and hunger to serve.

Born in 1813, she had tackled enormous projects from the time she was seventeen, arranging retreats and special missions for her parish and setting up a women's guild. Because of all she accomplished, when she was only twenty-four she was asked to be supervisor of a workhouse for poor girls. After two years, she became concerned because there was no place for the girls to go at the end of the day. Night held special dangers for these girls and Paula wanted to give them a safe place to stay. The trustees refused to provide that place. For Paula the choice was easy -- she once said that she could never go to bed with a clear conscience if she had missed the chance to do some good. So she quit the workhouse to set up a boardinghouse for poor girls while helping her brother with a school for the deaf.

At 27 she stood before another door. She was appointed superior of the Handmaids of Charity, a religious society whose purpose was to dedicate all their time and attention to the suffering in hospitals. With her friends Gabriela Bornati and Monsignor Pinzoni, she won the respect of those who thought of these "handmaids" as intruders.

Then in 1848, her whole life seemed to fall apart. First she lost Gabriela and then Monsignor Pinzoni died, leaving her without the support and friendship she had come to depend on. War started in Europe and her homeland was invaded. Facing that kind of grief and turmoil, many others would have crawled into bed and pulled the covers over their head. But Paula had always seen opportunity in everything that came her way. War meant that many would be wounded and displaced by the war so she and her sisters went to work at a military hospital and even went out to the battlefield to give spiritual and physical comfort to the wounded and dying.

She died in 1855, going through the final door, unafraid and joyful to be joining her Lord forever.

In Her Footsteps :Mary di Rosa would go out at a moment's notice if she felt that someone needed her help. The next time someone you know needs your aid, don't put off helping and make excuses. Drop what you are doing and give them what they need.

Prayer : Saint Mary, you weren't afraid to take new opportunities. It's frightening when we are asked to do something that is different or new. We would rather stay in our safe and comfortable routines. Help us to embrace each obstacle in our path as a new opportunity to serve God. Amen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doctors of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI

Doctors of the Church [Hardcover]
Pope Benedict XVI


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They are saints and teachers, monks, priests, bishops, and nuns. They faced opposition and exile. They lived in periods of confusion and conflict.

Their teachings and insights not only brought peace and understanding to the Church of their time, but continue to anchor the Church of today. They brought clarity to the fragments and simplicity to the complex.

They used speeches, documents, poems, and songs to reach the people of their time. Now Pope Benedict XVI explores the lives and significance of thirty-two of the Doctors of the Church like no one else can. Taken directly from the pope's addresses in his weekly audiences, Doctors of the Church is an incredible journey through time to better understand these individuals who explored and explained the critical questions of the Church.

---Who is Christ?
---How do we know Christ?
---How do we act as Christ's disciples?
---How are we in Christ?

"The mission of the Church in every age is to introduce the world to Christ, its savior. The Church cannot accomplish her mission without learned men and women who are saints of God."---
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago

St. Venantius Fortunatus

Feastday: December 14 610 Gallic poet and (briefly) serving bishop of Poitiers, France. Known in full as Venantius Clementianus Fortunatus, he was born in Trevise, near Venice, Italy, and studied at Ravenna. He suffered from some ailment of the eye, but thanks to St. Martin of Tours, he was able to embark upon a pilgrimage in 565 which brought him to Mainz, Cologne, and Trier, Gennany, and to Metz and the Moselle, France. He reached the court of King Sigebert (r. sixth century) at Metz in 566 and there was much praise for his poetry, especially his eulogies. Venantius next journeyed to Verdun, Reims, Soissons, Paris, and finaIly Tours, where he prayed at the tomb of St. Martin. Moving on to Poitiers, he entered into the service of Queen Rodegunda who was now living as a nun, acting as her secretary until her death in August 587. Shortly before his death, he was named bishop of Potiers. A brilliant poet, considered a transitional figure in literature between the ancient and medieval periods, Venanhus was a prolific writer: six poems on the Cross, including the two famous works Vexilla Regia and Pange Lzngua Gloijosi; eleven books of poems; a metrical life of St. Martin of Tours; the prose lives of eleven Gallic saints, including the Vita Rodegundis; and the elegy DeExcidie Thui'ingiae.

St. Spyridon of Tremithius

Feastday: December 14 Patron of Potters, Corfu 270-348 A native of Cyprus, St. Spyridon was a sheep farmer who had been tortured during the persecutions of Diocletian. Famed for this knowledge of the Bible, Spyridon was married and had children at the time of his elevation to the see of Tremithius. Legends say that he attended the Council of Nicaea (321), but his name is not on the official list of attending bishops. He attended the Council of Sardica (c. 343), at which Constantius requested the condemnation of Athanasius of Alexandria. Spyridon died c. 348.

St. Michael, The Archangel

Feastday: September 29
Patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness

St. Michael, the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels - as Prince of the Seraphim. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.

St. Jucundus

Feastday: December 14 An army of barbarians ravaging part of Gaul plundered the city of Rheims. Nicasius, the Bishop, had foretold this calamity to his flock in consequence of a vision, and urged them to prepare for the visitation by works of penance. When he saw the enemy at the gates and in the streets, forgetting himself and solicitous only for his spiritual children, he went from door to door encouraging all to patience and constancy. When the people asked him whether they should yield or fight to the end he, knowing that the city must fall, replied, "Let us abide the mercy of God and pray for our enemies. I am ready to give myself for my people." Standing at the door of his church, in endeavoring to save the lives of some, he exposed himself to the swords of the infidels, who cut off his head. St. Florentius, his deacon, and St. Jucundus, his lector, were massacred by his side. His sister, St. Eutropia, seeing herself spared in order that hers might be another fate, threw herself upon her brother's murderer and kicked and scratched him till she too was cut down and killed. Feast day - December 14.

St. John of the Cross

Feastday: December 14

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of stirps of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include:

Ascent of Mount Carmel

Dark Night of the Soul

and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

Since joy comes only from God, John believed that someone who seeks happiness in the world is like "a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air." He taught that only by breaking the rope of our desires could we fly up to God. Above all, he was concerned for those who suffered dryness or depression in their spiritual life and offered encouragement that God loved them and was leading them deeper into faith.

"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you." -- Saint John of the Cross
In His Footsteps:

John of the Cross believed it was just as dangerous to get attached to spiritual delights as worldly pleasures. Do you expect to get something -- a good feeling, a sense of God -- from prayer or worship? Do you continue to pray and worship when you feel alone or dry?
Prayer:

Saint John of the Cross, in the darkness of your worst moments, when you were alone and persecuted, you found God. Help me to have faith that God is there especially in the times when God seems absent and far away. Amen

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Fathers by Pope Benedict XVI

The Fathers by Pope Benedict XVI


The Fathers by Pope Benedict XVI

Let us now devote our attention to the Apostolic Fathers, that is, to the first and second generations in the Church subsequent to the Apostles. And thus, we can see where the Church's journey begins in history. Pope Benedict XVI

The Fathers of the Church exhorted believers in the face of persecution while fighting heresies and misunderstandings. They were theologians and philosophers, orators and pastors, leaders and problem solvers, martyrs and heroes.
Pope Benedict carefully explains the stories of their rich history and the vital role each one played in not only preserving the Church at the time, but anchoring the Church of today as well as the future.

Bring your faith to life with the spark of history as told by the Pope himself. Gain a fuller understanding of what the Church teaches and why through the critical efforts and experiences of our early Church fathers.

Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome . . . Saint Ignatius of Antioch . . . Origen of Alexandria . . . Saint John Chrysostom . . .Saint Basil...Saint Gregory Nazianzus...St. Maximus of Turin...and more.

These illustrious Church Fathers are the first and second generations of the Church following the Apostles. It is upon their backs that the Church's journey through history is established and solidified.

By defending the newborn Christianity to the point of death and explaining the content of the Faith in a language understandable to the masses, the Apostolic Fathers created a timeless anchor of faith that extends through the challenges of today.

St. Joseph

Feastday: March 19
Patron of the Universal Church

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)

We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.

Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.

Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.

We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.

There is much we wish we could know about Joseph -- where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -- "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).
In His Footsteps:

Joseph was foster father to Jesus. There are many children separated from families and parents who need foster parents. Please consider contacting your local Catholic Charities or Division of Family Services about becoming a foster parent.
Prayer:

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. Amen

Sterling Silver "Saint Michael" Medal by Bob Siemon

Sterling Silver "Saint Michael" Medal by Bob Siemon, 20"


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This antiqued sterling silver medal features a hand-drawn, hand-carved image of St. Michael, the Archangel, along with the words, "St. Michael Protect Us." This unique piece has a rustic design and a true ancient medallion look. It presents on a 20-inch sterling silver curb chain.

Founded in 1969 in Calabasas, California, in a traveling circus wagon, Bob Siemon Designs currently employs more than 100 skilled professionals and artists. With a mission to spread a message of hope throughout the world by designing jewelry that inspires people to express and share their faith, Bob Siemon Designs specializes in pewter, sterling silver, and gold jewelry, and is now recognized as a leading designer of inspirational jewelry.