Author Archives | Father Michael Van Sloun

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The Unity Candle

July 10, 2018

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The Unity Candle The Unity Candle is a three-candle display, all white in color, one larger pillar candle in the center, flanked by two smaller taper candles, one on each side. Ordinarily they are placed on a Unity Candle stand or a table draped with a cloth. The display is never placed on the altar. The placement may be somewhere in the sanctuary that does not obstruct the view of the altar, pulpit, presider’s chair, or the couple, or may be placed outside but near the sanctuary.

The ceremonial lighting of the Unity Candle is not a part of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony in the Catholic Church. It is not allowed in some dioceses and parishes because it is not included in the ritual, or because those present for the exchange of vows witness the complete Sacrament of Marriage, the sacrament is powerful and stands fully on its own, a symbol is anticlimactic following the real thing, and a symbol does not supplement or augment it.

In many dioceses and parishes, the Unity Candle ceremony is permitted. It is a relatively new tradition that has much sentimental value. It provides the couple an opportunity to act together immediately. The ceremony is elegant, beautiful, and a memorable moment.

When the Unity Candle ceremony is celebrated, it comes after the blessing and giving of rings and before the Universal Prayer or the Prayers of the Faithful. The taper candles usually are lit before the liturgy, often by the mothers, but also possibly by relatives or friends, or if no one is designated, by the sacristan, or the taper candles are lit as the first part of the ceremony itself. Then the bride and groom each take a lit taper candle, and together simultaneously light the pillar candle. The taper candles are returned to their holders and usually left burning. The larger center candle is a symbol that is interpreted in a number of different ways.

The Married Couple. The usual understanding is that one taper candle represents the bride, the other represents the groom, and that the pillar candle represents the bride and groom joined together as a married couple. While each retains their individuality, represented by the taper candles that continue to burn, “they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:8).

Jesus. The lighted pillar candle represents Jesus who is the light of the world (Jn 8:12). When the bride and groom light the pillar candle, they declare that Jesus is the center of their marriage, that they are joined together by him, that the sacramental grace that he supplies will sustain them and hold them together, and that they will individually and jointly follow his light.

The Sacrament of Marriage. The taper candles represent the baptismal candles of the bride and groom, as well as their faith in Jesus and their commitments to live their lives as his disciples. Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation. Then after the reception of Eucharist and Confirmation and the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation, the bride and groom indicate as they light the pillar candle that they intend to live out their baptismal faith as adults in the Sacrament of Marriage, their Sacrament of Commitment.

A New Family. The taper candles represent the immediate families of the bride and groom, their parents and siblings, and from their two families of origin, the pillar candle represents the new family that has begun with their marriage.

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John and Jesus: Remarkable Similarities

June 22, 2018

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St. John the BaptistThe birth of St. John the Baptist features the one who is the precursor, the forerunner, the one who foretold the coming of Jesus, went ahead of him, prepared his way, pointed him out when he came, and proclaimed him to be the Son of God. The birth of John set the stage for the birth of Jesus, and the two of them have much in common.

John and Jesus were relatives. They both had annunciations: the angel Gabriel announced the birth of John to Zechariah; the angel Gabriel announced the birth to Jesus to Mary. They both had holy mothers: Elizabeth was righteous and filled with the Holy Spirit; Mary was full of grace and overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Both of their births were miraculous: Elizabeth was old, barren, and beyond her childbearing years; Mary was young, a virgin, and before her childbearing years. Elizabeth’s conception was the Lord’s doing; Mary’s conception was by the power of the Holy Spirit. John was not named after his father Zechariah, but given the name provided by the angel; Jesus was not named after his father Joseph, but given the name provided by the angel. Both escaped the massacre of the Holy Innocents: John was hidden in the Rock of Concealment; Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt.

John and Jesus had strong religious upbringings. John had good and holy parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah; Jesus had good and holy parents, Mary and Joseph. Both observed the Sabbath, John in the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth. Very little is known about their childhoods. John presumably was an understudy of his father Zechariah as a priest in the Temple; Jesus was an understudy of his father Joseph in the carpenter’s shop.

When John and Jesus appeared as adults, neither followed the professions of their fathers. John, instead of being a priest, left Jerusalem to become a desert prophet; Jesus, instead of remaining a carpenter, left Nazareth to become a preacher, teacher, and healer. John foretold the long-awaited Messiah; Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. John was the baptizer; Jesus was the one baptized. John was a servant of God and a light to the nations; Jesus was a servant of God and a light to the nations.

Both John and Jesus were bold preachers whose tongues were as sharp as a two-edged sword. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance; Jesus told the people to repent and turn away from sin. John chastised King Herod Antipas and Herodias for their adulterous relationship; Jesus chastised the scribes and Pharisees for being hypocrites. The king and queen were furious with John; the religious leaders were furious with Jesus. John was arrested and put in prison; Jesus was apprehended at Gethsemane and held overnight.

John, innocent though he was, was beheaded with a sword; Jesus, innocent though he was, was crucified and his side pierced by a sword. John died a young man at the age of 31 or 32; Jesus died a young man at the age of 33. John died a prophet’s or martyr’s death; Jesus died a savior’s or redeemer’s death. John’s disciples took his body and laid it in a tomb; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body and laid it in a tomb. John was given a place in heaven with the angels and saints; Jesus ascended to heaven where he is surrounded by the angels and saints. The similarities between John and Jesus are remarkable, and if John could live a life that was similar to Jesus in many ways, we are called to pattern our lives on Jesus.

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The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

June 22, 2018

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St. John the BaptistThe birth of St. John the Baptist is one of only three births celebrated on the liturgical calendar. The birth of Jesus is celebrated on December 25; the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is September 8; and the birth of St. John the Baptist, the prophet who announced the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, is June 24. It ranks as a solemnity.

The birth of St. John the Baptist was a momentous occasion. He was no ordinary child. Jesus said of John, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11).

John the Baptist ranks first among the prophets. All of the prophets that went before him announced that the Messiah was coming. The Baptist was blessed with the singular privilege to announce that the Messiah had come. He was the only prophet who pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). He “ranks ahead of me because he existed before me” (Jn 1:30). “He is the Son of God” (Jn 1:34b).

The date for the feast is based on Luke’s Infancy Narrative. At the Annunciation the angel Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth had conceived and that she was in her sixth month (Lk 1:36), after which Mary visited Elizabeth and “remained with her about three months” (Lk 1:56a), presumably until John was born. June 24 is six months before the birth of Jesus.

St. Augustine saw a connection between June 24 and December 24, John and Jesus, the light, the summer and winter solstices, and their relative importance. Jesus said that John “was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light” (Jn 5:35). Later Jesus said of himself, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). John is the lesser light. Jesus is the greater light. St. Augustine observed that John was born after the summer solstice when light begins to decrease, Jesus was born after the winter solstice when light begins to increase, which correlates to John’s statement, “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

His birth is commemorated at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Ein Karem, a village in the hill country of Judea about four miles southwest of Jerusalem. The first church was built during the Byzantine Period, rebuilt during the Crusader Period, and then restored in 1885. There is a staircase along the north wall that descends to a lower-level crypt which is the cave traditionally regarded as the place where Elizabeth gave birth to John (Lk 1:57).

The Preface for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the Precursor’s life. “For you consecrated him for a singular honor among those born among women. His birth brought great rejoicing; even in the womb he leapt for joy at the coming of human salvation. He alone of all the prophets pointed out the Lamb of redemption. And to make holy the flowing waters, he baptized the very author of Baptism and was privileged to bear him supreme witness by the shedding of his blood” (Roman Missal, 732).

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St. Romuald, Abbot

June 15, 2018

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St. RomualdSt. Romuald was born in Ravenna, Italy, in 950, into the aristocratic Onesti family. When he was twenty, he witnessed his father Sergius kill another man in a duel, and deeply disturbed by what he had seen, fled to the nearby Benedictine monastery of San Apollinare at Classe where he became a monk to make expiation for his father’s sin.

St. Romuald quickly embraced the Benedictine Rule of Life, and he meticulously observed it in every detail with prayer, simplicity, and strict self-discipline. Some of the monks had grown lax in their spiritual lives and were offended when St. Romuald admonished them with his fraternal correction, and their antagonism toward him forced him to leave the monastery.

St. Romuald found a hermit named Marinus near Venice to serve as his spiritual director, and he spent the next ten years in a secluded location in an austere life of solitude, self-denial, prayer, and meditation, and made great headway in virtue and holiness.

St. Romuald’s father was so moved by his son’s example that he decided to enter the monastery of San Severo near Ravenna to atone for his sins. St. Romuald learned that his father was being tempted to leave the monastery and go back to his worldly ways, so he went in haste to attempt to persuade him to remain, and his father persevered as a monk until his death.

Ironically, after having left San Apollinare years earlier, in 998 Emperor Otto III appointed St. Romuald the abbot of the same monastery. He served only two years and then resigned in order to return to his life as a hermit at Pereum. Sometimes his prayer seemed dry, his spiritual energy low, and his outlook dark, and one day when reciting a Psalm he had a mystical experience of a bright light and the presence of God which propelled him for the rest of his life.

Even though St. Romuald was a monk and a hermit, it was also his desire to be a missionary and suffer a martyr’s death. The Pope approved his request to be a missionary to the Magyars in Hungary. As he made the journey northward he became seriously ill, was forced to abandon his plans, and returned to Italy to resume the monastic life.

St. Romuald subsequently moved to the monastery at Monte di Sitrio. During those days he chastised a young local nobleman for his immoral behavior, and in retaliation, the aristocrat falsely accused Romuald of a scandalous crime. Incredibly, the monks believed the false allegation, imposed a severe penance, and excommunicated him. He suffered this terrible hardship in silence for six months, and then, prompted by God in prayer, he broke silence, repudiated the unjust sentence, and resumed his ministry.

St. Romuald spent the rest of his life establishing monasteries and hermitages in northern and central Italy, particularly at Fonte Avellana and Camaldoli near Arezzo in Tuscany. He also founded a religious order, the Camaldolese monks and hermits [O.S.B. Cam.], and wrote a new rule of life based upon the Benedictine Rule. He combined the cenobitic life, a common life in religious community, with the eremitical life, the solitary life of a hermit. The monks assembled each day for Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, and some meals, and spent the remainder of the day in solitude. St. Romuald died alone in his cell at Val di Castro, Italy, on June 19, 1027.

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Special Prayers and Blessing for Fathers

June 14, 2018

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Jesus and Joseph

Special Intercessions. After the Creed, the Universal Prayer, that is, the Prayer of the Faithful or Bidding Prayers, are offered. Typically, this series of intentions begins with a petition for the needs of the Church, for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world, for those burdened by any kind of difficulty, and for the local community. In any particular celebration, these intentions may be concerned more closely with the particular occasion (see No. 70, General Instruction of the Roman Missal). Father’s Day is such an occasion.

Father’s Day Intercessions. The Book of Blessings offers three intercessions for Father’s Day (No. 1732, page 648). They can be adapted or modified as desired. These prayers can be used at Mass, at home when the family is gathered together, such as at the dinner table, or by an individual praying alone. These intercessions are suggestions. Parishes, families, and individuals are encouraged to write or offer other petitions that prayerfully express their hopes, concerns, and appreciation for their fathers.

First Intercession. For our fathers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them respect and love, we pray to the Lord.

Second Intercession. For fathers who have lost a child through death, that their faith may give them hope, and their family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord.

Third Intercession. For fathers who have died, that God may bring them into the joy of his kingdom, we pray to the Lord.

Special Blessing. The Book of Blessings also offers a blessing prayer that can be offered at the end of Mass or at other liturgical services (No. 1733, page 648). It can also be used by a family at home, and it can be modified from plural to singular for one father.

Father’s Day Blessing Prayer. God our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless these men, that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Immaculate Heart of Mary

June 7, 2018

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Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a popular topic among spiritual artists, and this devotion has inspired countless paintings, stained glass windows, and sculptures. While art pieces vary, there are common elements found in most renditions.

The Heart. The heart symbolizes love, and the red color is a second symbol for love. The heart-love connection has a rich biblical heritage: Moses told the people, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Dt 6:5); Jeremiah explained that God writes his covenant on our hearts (Jer 31:33); and Ezekiel relayed God’s promise to take away our stony hearts and replace them with natural hearts (Ez 36:26). The heart is the center of human emotions and feelings, wisdom and insight, desire and motivation, joy and sorrow, courage and fear. Mary’s heart was pulsing with love for her son Jesus.

The Sword. Mary’s sword originates with Simeon’s ominous prediction: “And you yourself shall be pierced by a sword” (Lk 2:35). The sword is a symbol of Mary’s passion and suffering, pain and sorrow, while for Jesus and art pieces of his Sacred Heart, the crown of thorns is his symbol of suffering. Another distinguishing characteristic is the sword’s point of entry. For Mary, the sword enters the top, usually from the right, and exists the bottom, usually at the left, although this is not a hard and fast rule. For Jesus, whose heart was pierced by the soldier’s lance (Jn 19:34), the sword entered from the bottom, presumably from the left side, and exited from the top right. The sword often represents Mary’s first sorrow or dolor, Simeon’s prophecy, but more often than not, it represents all Seven Dolors, including the Flight to Egypt, the loss of the Christ-child in the Temple, Mary’s piteous encounter with Jesus on the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the removal of Jesus’ body from the cross, and Jesus’ entombment.

The Rose(s). A rose is a sign of love. If there is only one rose, it represents the singular love that one is to reserve for God alone. If the heart is circled with white roses, they symbolize Mary’s purity, sinlessness, and holiness; but if the roses are red they signify Mary’s deep love for Jesus her Son. The Christmas rose reminds us of the Nativity, the birth of Jesus, while a single rose can stand for Mary herself since she is known as the Mystical Rose. A blooming rose is occasionally used as a sign of Messianic expectation, the people’s deep desire for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah (Is 35:1). It may also represent beauty and paradise.

The Flame. There usually is a flame at the top of the heart with one or more tongues of fire. It symbolizes zeal and devotion, and it further underscores Mary’s fervor, loyalty, and affection for her Son. The radiating heat is a reminder of the intensity of Mary’s warm love.

The Flower. There may be a flower sprouting from the burning flames. If so, the white petals are another sign of Mary’s purity, sinlessness, and holiness; while the green stem and leaves are signs of the new life and growth that bud forth due to Jesus’ resurrection. If the flower stem is bent down, it is a sign of Mary’s deferential reverence for her Son, but if it is standing tall, it is a sign of her glorification that came when she was assumed to heaven, took her place at the right of God’s throne, and crowned Queen of Heaven above and the Church below.

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Pentecost

May 17, 2018

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PentecostThe Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is a solemnity, the highest ranking liturgical feast, and it celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. It serves as the grand and glorious conclusion to the fifty-day Easter Season, seven continuous weeks that celebrate the greatest mystery of the Christian faith, the Resurrection. It brings the Paschal Mystery to completion.

Special Liturgical Features. The vestments are red which symbolize the Holy Spirit. There are two special Masses for Pentecost, a vigil Mass for Saturday evening and the Mass during the day for Sunday. A sprinkling rite is optional. There is a Sequence between the second reading and the gospel which may be sung or proclaimed. Infant baptisms are highly appropriate within the celebration of the Mass. There is a special solemn blessing for the dismissal that ends with a double Alleluia. The Easter Season is finished at the conclusion of Evening Prayer or Vespers at which time the Easter Candle is removed from the sanctuary and taken to its regular place, usually near the Baptismal font. If Evening Prayer is not celebrated, the Easter Candle usually is moved after the last Mass.

A Magnificent Moment. Pentecost recalls how the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the form of a strong driving wind and tongues as of fire which parted and came to rest on each of them. Immediately they were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4). It was an outpouring of the Spirit on each apostle individually and the Church collectively. The Spirit imbued the apostles with great love, led them to the truth, set their faith ablaze, and filled them with great zeal. This immeasurable grace was the birth of the Church. Through the Spirit the Church is sanctified or made holy, and by the power of the Spirit each person is united to Christ and the peoples of every nation, race, and language are unified in the profession of one faith. The annual celebration of this feast makes the graces first bestowed upon the apostles available to every believer in every subsequent generation.

C+ Apostles in Need of Improvement. The apostles were average performers at best and they needed to make major upgrades. Jesus spent countless hours with them. He gave them his warm friendship and personalized instruction, invited them to be his companions and performed amazing miracles before them. In spite of this, the apostles were terrified during the storm at sea, failed to understand the parables, were unable to expel some demons, fought among themselves over who was most important, and abandoned and betrayed their Master. They were unable to comprehend who Jesus was or what he expected of them. Even after the Resurrection they remained bewildered, isolated, afraid, and silent.

The Transformative Moment. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit galvanized the apostles’ faith. It was a metamorphosis of epic proportions. The apostles emerged from the cocoon of the Upper Room completely remade. They were on fire with love for Jesus! Once fearful, they became bold and courageous. Once silent, they became assertive and outspoken. Once cautious, they took tremendous risks. Once followers, they became leaders. Once weak, they performed great and mighty deeds in Jesus’ name. Once concerned with safeguarding their own lives, they became willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.

Catch the Spirit! The Holy Spirit that transformed the apostles on the first Pentecost has the power to transform each of us. The Spirit outpoured on the first apostles is also outpoured on us in the celebration of Pentecost, the sacraments, prayer, and multiple other ways. Pentecost is an invitation to be bold! Catch fire! Shed inhibitions! Love! Forgive! Share! Serve! Speak the truth! Do great and mighty deeds! Make the name of Jesus known and loved!

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Mothers of the Gospels

May 11, 2018

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Mother’s Day is an ideal time to reflect upon mothers in the gospels who are spiritual role models for the mothers of today. The two mothers who receive the most attention are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, but there are a number of other mothers who are mentioned briefly that deserve consideration.

Peter’s mother-in-law. She was the mother of Peter’s wife, and when Jesus began his Galilean ministry, she lived with Peter and Andrew in their home in Capernaum. She became sick with a terrible fever. Jesus cured her, and she immediately waited on them (Mt 8:14-16; Mk 1:29-31; Lk 4:38-39). Her healing was for a purpose, so she could be of service to others. She imitated Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). Christian mothers give generous and selfless service.

The mother of Zebedee’s sons. She was the mother of James and John. Her husband and sons were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Her efforts to help her sons gain a firm foundation in their Jewish faith may have contributed to the fact that they were the third and fourth disciples called by Jesus. She paid Jesus homage (Mt 20:20) which indicated her faith in him. Then she asked if her sons could sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom (Mt 20:21) which indicated her love and concern for her sons. She followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to minister to him (Mt 27:55), and she served in partnership with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56). She was at Golgotha and watched the death of Jesus on the Cross from a distance. Christian mothers have faith in Jesus, give him their utmost respect, want the best for their children, follow Jesus with love and devotion, associate with other Christian women, and go to great lengths to serve Jesus.

Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. She was the mother of the younger James, the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13), one of the twelve apostles, and Joseph who is also called Joses (Mk 15:40,47). She was one of the women who accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem to serve him, and she watched the crucifixion from afar (Mt 27:55-56). She and Mary Magdalene watched where Jesus was laid (Mk 15:47). She is also “the other Mary” who kept vigil outside Jesus’ tomb (Mt 27:61). After the Sabbath she and Mary Magdalene (Mt 28:1), Salome (Mk 16:1), and Joanna (Lk 24:10), brought spices to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She listened to the angel and ran back to the disciples to announce the Resurrection (Mt 28:5-8). The apostles fled out of fear, while Mary faithfully remained with Jesus out of her deep love for him. Christian mothers stay close to Jesus at all times and are steadfast in their love for him, and form partnerships with other good women and do good works together.

The widow of Nain. Her husband had died, and then her only son died (Lk 17:12). His body was being carried to its final resting place and she was weeping. Jesus had taught, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4), and Jesus comforted the grief-stricken mother by raising her son from the dead and by returning him to her (Lk 7:14-15). Christian mothers love their children every moment of their child’s life, and if a child should die, the mother grieves over the loss, persists in her love, and provides a respectful burial. Christian mothers also have great compassion on other mothers who have suffered a death in their family and make a conscious effort to offer consolation and assistance.

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Mothers who are Saints

May 11, 2018

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Mothers’ Day is a beautiful occasion to give tribute to mothers, each person’s own mother, for all of the love she has shared, and all mothers, for all they contribute to the wellbeing of the family and society. It is a day set aside to give special praise and thanks to those mothers who are alive and to honor the memory of those who have passed away. Spiritually, it is an opportunity to highlight mothers who are saints, because their good and holy lives can serve as an inspiration to the mothers of today.

Saints Perpetua and Felicity (180-203) are two great mothers of the Early Church. They lived in Carthage, a city in North Africa. Both were catechumens, baptized, and then arrested for their Christian faith. Perpetua gave birth to a son while under house arrest, and Felicity, her servant, gave birth to a daughter in prison. Aware of their impending deaths, they entrusted their children to other Christians so they would be raised in the faith. They were martyred on March 7, 203, both heroic witnesses to their children.

Sts. Constantine and Helena

St. Helena (255-330). She was the mother of Constantine, a Roman general who eventually became the Roman emperor. She converted to Christianity in 318 at the age of 63, and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land c. 320. She discovered the True Cross, and with the authorization of her son, who by then was a catechumen, had the Temple to Venus over Calvary demolished, and shrines were built to honor Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Churches were also built on the Mount of Olives to honor the Ascension and in Bethlehem to honor the Nativity. As a mother, she had a strong spiritual influence on her son, both in the construction of churches and in his baptism which he accepted shortly before his death.

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). She was the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls. She dutifully raised her children as Christians, but she suffered bitter disappointments because her oldest daughter married a bad husband and her youngest son died in 1340. She served in the court of King Magnus II and Queen Blanche, and she tried to exert a positive spiritual influence upon them. She founded religious institutes for women and men, called for an end to the Avignon Papacy, and moved to Rome to minister to the sick and poor. She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1371 and took three of her children with her, her sons Charles and Birger, and her daughter Catherine who was later named a saint. She had many visions and is famous for the way that she challenged sinners to reform their lives.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton (1774-1821). She was born in New York City, married at the age of 19, and was the mother of five children. Her husband William became sick with tuberculosis, the she moved the family to Pisa, Italy, for a warmer climate and to get help from his family, but he died six weeks later. Elizabeth was Episcopalian, and she stayed with William’s Catholic family in Italy and prayed with them every day in their family chapel. She decided to convert, and did so upon their return to New York. She attended daily Mass and prayed the Memorare, and she taught her children the importance of prayer. She was also a strong believer in the value of education, and she provided for the education of her own children. She opened a boarding school in New York, and later moved to Maryland with her family in 1808, established a school, and founded a community of religious sisters to teach and serve the poor, and later founded other schools and orphanages in Philadelphia and New York.

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St. Philip, apostle

May 4, 2018

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St. PhilipSt. Philip is one of the original twelve apostles, and his name is included on four lists, three in the gospels (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; and Lk 6:14), and one in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:13). He is sometimes paired with other apostles: with St. Bartholomew (Mt 10:3) and St. Thomas (Acts 1:13) on the lists, with Andrew when he approached Jesus on behalf of some Greeks (Jn 12:22), and he shares a feast day with St. James the Less on May 3. The name Philip is derived from the Greek word philippos which means “lover of horses.”

Philip came from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44; 12:21), a fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, the same town as Andrew and Peter. He may have been a disciple of John the Baptist at first. Jesus personally invited Philip, “Follow me” (Jn 1:43), and he immediately became his follower. Then Philip went and found Nathanael, called him (Jn 1:48), and suggested that he go to see Jesus. Philip made a powerful profession of faith in Jesus when he declared: “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth” (Jn 1:45).

Jesus and Philip spoke briefly before the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish. To demonstrate the enormity of the miracle to come, Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (Jn 6:5), and Philip replied, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little” (Jn 6:7).

On another occasion a number of Hellenes, Greek speaking Jews, had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. They approached Philip, possibly because he was the apostle who was most fluent in Greek, and made the request, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). “Philp went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus” (Jn 12:22).

At the Last Supper Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (Jn 14:8). Jesus explained, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

Philip is listed among the apostles who were in the Upper Room on Pentecost and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13; 2:1-4). Church historians believe that Philip made a missionary journey to Phrygia, an area in west-central Asia Minor or Turkey, and possibly to Greece. There are differing accounts of his martyrdom. One tradition holds that he was stoned to death in Phrygia, while another holds that he was killed in Hierapolis, a prominent city in southwestern Asia Minor, under the persecution of Domitian, either crucified, possibly upside down, or thrust through with a lance. His remains were eventually transferred to Rome where he was entombed in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

Philip the apostle is not to be confused with Philip the deacon (Acts 6:5) who preached in Samaria (Acts 8:4-8) and had a dramatic encounter with an Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40).

St. Philip is the patron saint of Luxembourg and Uruguay. His symbols are a walking stick, a book or scroll, loaves of bread, a budded cross, a spear or lance, and a pile of stones.

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