Tag Archives: saints

Saints and angels

October 29, 2015


Mary and Joseph in Nazareth - Stained glass window at St. John the Baptist, Vermillion, MN

Mary and Joseph in Nazareth – Stained glass window at St. John the Baptist, Vermillion, MN

A Special Feast Day.  November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints, not “All Angels” nor “All Saints and Angels.”  In fact, the Archangels have a separate feast day on September 29 and the Guardian Angels on October 2.  If the saints and angels are both together in heaven gathered around God’s throne forever singing God’s praises, are they the same or different?

Angels.  An angel is a spiritual being without a body that has existed across the ages, dwells in heaven, has been and continues to be totally loyal to God, serves God in a variety of capacities, and may be dispatched as a messenger or representative of God to earth or to a specific person to carry out a special function.  There are many references to angels in Sacred Scripture.

Saints.  A saint was a human being that had a physical body, lived in a specific time and place, has died and gone to heaven, and lived an exceptionally good and virtuous life.  The saints were guided by Sacred Scripture on the path of holiness.

Special Classes of Angels.  The classes of angels are the Angels and Archangels, the Thrones and Dominations (Dominions), the Principalities and the Powers, and the Virtues, as well as the Cherubim and Seraphim, and the Guardian Angels.

Special Classes of Saints.  The classes of saints are the apostles, the foundation of the Church, its first shepherds and teachers, who watch over it and protect it still; the martyrs, those who have died for the faith and given heroic witness; pastors, great preachers and teachers; virgins and religious, those who have consecrated their life to Christ for the sake of the Kingdom; and holy men and women.

The Purpose of Angels.  The angels serve as God’s messengers and they bring God’s call to individuals; God’s instructions, commands or announcements; and they speak God’s Word.  The angels also convey God’s divine presence and companionship; lead the People of God on the journey; bring comfort and consolation in times of sadness; act as guardians and protectors; provide divine assistance throughout life, particularly in times of trial or hardship; give strength in the battle against sin and temptation; sing God’s praises in choir around God’s throne in heaven; and will assist the Son of God on Judgment Day.

The Purpose of Saints.  The saints are examples of holiness, and their virtuous lives teach us how to live in a virtuous manner.  The saints, particularly the martyrs, were heroic, and they show us how to live with courage and conviction.  The saints are proof that it is possible to live a good and holy life; if they can do it, we can do it.  The saints offer hope; if they have gone to heaven, they show us that heaven is reachable and that we can follow them there.  The saints are intercessors; they are in heaven, near God, and enjoy God’s favor, and they are in an excellent position to present our prayers to God on our behalf.

Famous Angels.  The best known angels are the Archangels:  Michael, the mighty warrior that led the heavenly host against Lucifer and the bad angels and expelled them from heaven; Gabriel, God’s messenger to Mary and Zechariah; and Raphael, the companion and protector of Tobiah on his journey.

Famous Saints.  The best known saints are Mary, the Mother of God, and her husband Joseph; John the Baptist, the prophet who announced the arrival of the Messiah; Peter, the first of the Apostles, and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles; Benedict, the father of western monasticism, and Francis of Assisi, the saint regarded by many as the one who best patterned himself on the life of Jesus.

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St. John of Capistrano (1386-1456), Priest

October 23, 2015


capostranoSt. John of Capistrano is well known in the United States as San Juan Capistrano, his Spanish name, which is also the name for one of the most popular California missions, the seventh mission founded by St. Junipero Serra in 1776.  Father Serra, a Franciscan himself, named a number of the California missions after Franciscan saints for whom he had a special devotion.

St. John was born in Capistrano in the Abruzzi region of Italy in 1386.  He was brilliant, studied law in Perugia, and became the governor of the city in 1412 at the young age of 26.  He was also married.  A war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta, he was captured and imprisoned.  His confinement was a time of intense prayer.  St. John reported that he had a vision in which St. Francis of Assisi appeared to him and invited him to join his religious order.  Upon his release, he petitioned for a dispensation from his marriage so he could enter religious life.

St. John entered the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM), the Franciscans, in 1416, and he was blessed to study under St. Bernardine of Siena.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1420.

St. John was one of the greatest preachers Europe has ever known.  He traveled extensively and drew crowds that numbered in thousands to listen to his sermons.  His double purpose was to exhort Christians to live holier lives and to fight against heretical teaching.

There was inner strife among the Franciscans between the Observant, the Spiritual, or the stricter friars and the Conventual, the Relaxed, or the more lenient friars when it came to poverty.  St. John made attempts at reform and reconciliation that were resisted and had disappointing results.  He was a contrite penitent and strict with himself, an ascetic:  he went about barefoot, wore a hairshirt, and deprived himself of food and sleep.

St. John had a reputation for a fiery style and tremendous toughness, and was commissioned to undertake a variety of papal diplomatic missions.  In 1426 he was appointed by Pope Martin V as the Inquisitor in the proceedings against the heretical Fraticelli; in 1439 he was sent to Milan and Burgundy to refute antipope Felix V; in 1446 he was sent as a special envoy to the King of France; and in 1451 he was appointed by Pope Nicholas V to go to Vienna, Austria, to fight against John Hus and the Hussite heresy, and as Inquisitor, he took stern, harsh measures against them.  In 1452 he was appointed Commissioner General for Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia, and he preached widely throughout the region with much success.

In 1453 the Turks conquered Constantinople, and subsequently he was asked by Pope Pius II to preach a crusade against the Turks.  While his preaching roused little support in Austria and Bavaria, he had outstanding results in Hungary which was under the threat of imminent attack.  St. John personally led the left wing of the Christian army in the Battle of Belgrade of 1456, while Janos Hunyady led the right wing.  The Hungarian army inflicted severe losses upon the Turks, fended off the Muslim advance, and saved not only Belgrade but Christian Europe.  After the battle thousands of bodies were left unburied and disease was rampant.  St. John walked among the corpses, contracted the plague, and died at Villach, Austria, on October 23, 1456.  He was canonized in 1690 and is the patron saint of military chaplains and lawyers.

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Saints and souls

October 31, 2014


This weekend, the Church gives honor to the saints in heaven and the souls of those who have died. Both are worthy of our prayers and attention.The saints in heaven are the “cloud of witnesses” whose model for living in the earthly world shows us how possible it is for us to live holy lives — even though it is challenging. Their prayers for us can provide real strength in our daily lives. I highly recommend that every home have a book about the saints for the family to share. Personally, I like to read about a different saint each day in Alban Butler’s “Lives of the Saints.”

All Saints Day is immediately followed by All Souls Day – the Day of the Dead – a day when we especially remember those who have died. On this day we pray for their souls and ask them to pray for us as we continue our work here on earth. Again,  I especially pray for and ask for prayers from many loved ones who are gone but who modeled Christ-like living for me.I recently went on a pilgrimage with my parents to Osakis, Minn., and Cando, N.D., to visit the graves of my grandparents. I went with them at a time when I was struggling with the weight of expectations that often feel so overwhelming that I am bowed by them. I went seeking the peace and reassurance that their faith in God and strength of character instilled in me by the model of their lives. As I traced their names on their gravestones and prayed for a reminder of their belief in me and their personal resolve in challenging times, I felt God’s holy presence — past, present, future — in all the memories of my time with them: in the current moment as I stood at their graves, in the day when I hope to stand with them again in eternity. And as I walked away with tears in my eyes, my dad reminded me of the strength that they instilled in me by their faith and that I indeed have all the strength I need to meet the tasks before me. Just because my family created a strong faith foundation didn’t mean that everything would be easy, but it would  always be founded on love for the Lord and love for others.

You may wonder why I share this with you today. I write because I feel called to as I anticipate both All Saints and All Souls Day. I write because I love Pope John Paul II Catholic School and my Catholic faith, and I write because I love the children of this school — past, present and future. Educating the whole person means that our first and primary obligation is to introduce the children to Jesus Christ at the same time as we provide them with an academic education that prepares them for high school. I write because this school makes a difference in northeast Minneapolis and it is only in strong, united Catholic parishes and schools that we can introduce the Lord to the children in our community who do not attend our school.

May all the Saints and Souls who have gone before us — pray for us!


Debbie King is principal at St. John Paul II School in northeast Minneapolis.


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Mary Magdalene and Me

July 22, 2014

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I suppose it is fitting that I write a post on this day – July 22.  Mary of Magdala is my patron saint and today is her feast day.  She is the saint name I took for my confirmation.  When I was in fourth grade as to what name I was to take for my confirmation name – I said Mary.  My confirmation instructor praised me for choosing Mary – the mother of Christ but I quickly retorted and said, “Oh no, I want to be the bad Mary.” I am not sure if this speaks to the bad preparation I received in my catechesis and confirmation prep or if it speaks of the bad idea of having 4th graders confirmed.

Through the years and through my reconversion to the faith, I have come to love Mary Magdalene and embrace her as my patron saint.  She is often associated with the woman caught in adultery, (John 8:1-11) but there is no biblical reference that the woman was Mary Magdalene.  She is mentioned as the women whom Jesus has cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9) and of course she was one of the women who stayed at the cross of Jesus even when others fled. Maybe the most important role she played as the apostle to the apostles is to be the first to witness Jesus after the resurrection!

Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’

Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ — which means Master. (John 20:15-16)

I love this narrative – I often joked that Mary Magdalene must have been a blonde! I mean really, how can someone be looking right at Jesus and think he is the gardener? But, if I am honest, how many times have I been looking at Jesus and not seen Him? And how many times have I been looking at a gardener and think he was Jesus.

Following Jesus in the steps of Mary Magdalene is very fitting for me.  I am a sinner.  I have my seven demons and I believe Jesus is casting them out one by one.  And even if the biblical figure of the woman caught in adultery isn’t Mary Magdalene, I know Jesus forgives me  like the woman caught in adultery.  I also know that Jesus defends me even when I have no other advocate (John 8:7).

So today I celebrate my Saint Day and be reminded that my sins are forgiven, that Jesus defends me and that he loves me through the most difficult times.


'Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb', artist unknown

‘Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb’, artist unknown

A Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.

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Pray With Us

October 23, 2013

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Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Praying Together for Our Church

Below is a letter from Jeff Cavins to the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute inviting us to pray.  Let us all join in this beautiful novena.

In times of difficulty I have learned to turn to Mary.

For those of you who do not know of the Catechetical Institute – I urge everyone to look into it.  I am an alumni. Go C.I.

Thank you Jeff.



Dear Friends,


We would like to invite you to something very special that those associated with the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute are doing in response to recent news in our archdiocese.


As many of you know, the Catholic Church is going through some extremely difficult times. As graduates and current students, you know that we, at the Catechetical Institute, are not only learning “what” to believe, but we are learning how to “live out” what we believe. It is difficult times such as these that call us to live what we have learned—to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to the Gospel, as Christians. This is not an easy task.


As Catholics, we are blessed to follow in the great biblical tradition of the heroes of faith, men and women who responded to trials with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. As a united Catechetical Institute, we are doing just that and extending an invitation to our CI community to pray together for every member who makes up our archdiocese; for, the archdiocese is not the structure, it is the people, all of us together. We are inviting you to join us in praying for the entire body of Christ and all who are suffering right now during this arduous time.


We are beginning an extraordinary novena, one that happens to be a favorite of Pope Francis. The novena is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots” and has a beautiful and rich tradition.


This novena will begin on Wednesday, October 23rd and conclude on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. If you do not own the small booklet that explains and walks you through the novena, you can find the daily prayers at http://www.cistudent.com.


As mature Catholic believers, we must always ask ourselves, “What is the responsible, charitable and right way to proceed?” No doubt, many people have asked you questions about what they are hearing in the media. Our response does not merely represent our own opinion, but it represents the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, and as such we need to always ask, “What would Jesus do?”


Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to season all our words with love, mercy and compassion. This is not only our response to our fellow Catholics, but also the response to those who appear to be attacking the Church. The guilty, the innocent, the accused and the accusers should all be treated with dignity and love. This is what it means to truly live the faith. This is what it means to be a Christian.


Thank you for uniting your prayers with ours at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. Let us together turn to Mary, Undoer of Knots, invoking her to ask her Son to grant us pure, humble and trusting hearts.


In Christ,


Jeff Cavins



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Canonize Lino Rulli? His new book shows how we’re all saints in the making

September 28, 2013


photoThe Catholic Church calls each and every one of us to answer the call to holiness and strive toward sainthood — even in light of our obvious weaknesses and everyday struggles with sin.

It’s a daunting task for most, but Lino Rulli is up to the challenge. In fact, the St. Paul native and host of Sirius/XM Radio’s “The Catholic Guy” show would like to get there a little faster than the rest of us. In his new book “Saint,” he makes the tongue-in-cheek case for why the Church should canonize him today. (After all, why trust your friends to push your sainthood cause after you die when you can do it yourself?)

In all seriousness, however, the book has a deeper purpose: to encourage you to focus on your spiritual growth and help you “to realize that you might not be as big a sinner as you think, and that, with God’s help, you might just become a saint.”

“Saint” is a follow-up to “Sinner,” Lino’s first book of short, humorous and inspiring stories aimed at encouraging us to live out our faith despite our imperfections. In “Saint,” Lino turns once again to short stories about his life — some funny, some painfully honest, and many with a short nugget of reflection about lessons he learned along the way.

At the end of one story, for example, about an instance when he successfully resisted what can be described as a “temptation of the flesh,” Lino writes: “A saint isn’t someone who has never been tested; a saint is a person who has been tested and, with God’s help, has passed — or, with God’s help, has gotten up the next morning and tried again.”

Saints you can relate to

While Lino was in town yesterday to talk about his book, I asked why he would invest the time and energy to remind people about the call to sainthood. Here’s what he said:

“I guess the reason people like [‘Sinner’] is because a lot of them could relate to it. But, the other side of that coin is the fact that we do need to be reminded that we’re not just a bunch of miserable losers because we fail. For whatever reason, God loves us and we’re still called to holiness. It’s sort of a contradiction in our lives, but it’s the reality of our lives.”

And where can average Joes like myself draw that affirmation and inspiration, other than from Lino and the stories of people who already have a place in the Church’s catalog of saints?

“I get inspired by the average person in church. When I see the mom and dad in church Sunday morning with kids running around like maniacs and you’re going to lose your mind, it inspires me. They don’t have it all together, but they know it would be ten times worse if they didn’t try to go to church. . . . Those are the saints who inspire me: the guy who says I went out Saturday night but I’m still waking up and going to church Sunday morning. Or the single mom. Or even the older people who have their own problems and struggles. I really do look around and I go: We’re all called to be saints, but we’re all saints in the making.”

Chances are future generations won’t be reading about St. Lino in the Church’s official catalog of saints. But he — and the rest of us — should always be striving to be counted eventually among those in heaven.

“Saints” concludes with these wise words:

“Sometimes you chase me, Lord. Sometimes I chase you. But the only time I’ll quit running, the only time I will finally feel at peace, will be when I’m at home with you: there in heaven. That’s when I’ll truly be called a saint.”

Read more about Lino and his new book on his website. You can also order the book from Servant Books.

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The Beatitudes – The roadmap to sainthood

November 1, 2012


The month of November begins with one of the most important holy days of the entire year, All Saints Day, November 1, when we honor those who have gone before us, lived good and holy lives, and been taken to heaven where they are gathered around God’s throne and can see God as God really is.  While it is proper to remember the great faith and good works of these outstanding men and women, this feast is also a reminder to each of us to live good and holy lives ourselves so that one day we might join the saints in perpetual light.

The journey from this life to the next can be long, with many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it is imperative to stay on the right road.  Fortunately, Jesus has given us a roadmap to guide us on the way, the Beatitudes, the eight spiritual ideals that point in the right direction.

The first sign on the path to holiness reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who trust completely and totally in God and are detached from material possessions.  The second extols mourners, those who endure hardships and losses with courage, learn compassion, and console others who have suffered misfortune with kindness.  The third commends the humble, meek, or lowly, those who have set aside all inclinations to selfishness and pride, are alert and sensitive to others, would prefer to serve rather than be served, and are delighted to help shoulder the burdens and lighten the loads of their neighbors.  The fourth advises “hunger for righteousness,” those who have an intense desire to know what God wants, are glad to obey God’s will, keep themselves free of all wrongdoing, fearlessly speak the truth, and uphold justice.

Jesus goes on to highlight the merciful, those who are patient, slow to anger, do not rush to judgment, give the benefit of the doubt, are not eager to punish, able to grant pardon, and willing to associate with and serve those who have made bad choices.  Next, “the single-hearted” are those who are undivided, who devote themselves exclusively to God, or put another way, “the clean of heart,” those who strive to lead a virtuous life, wish to be in the state of grace and remain pure and innocent, blameless and undefiled.  Peacemakers are those who help to reconcile differences, foster harmony, and build the common good.  Finally, “those who are persecuted for holiness” are willing to suffer for doing what is good and right.  These spiritual ideals serve as the roadmap for traveling through our life on earth as we continue toward our final destination, sainthood in heaven with almighty God.

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New saint on October 21, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

October 20, 2012


Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be raised to sainthood by Pope Benedict VXI on October 21.  She is affectionately known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” the first Native American to be canonized a saint.  While this is a great moment for the Church across North America, it is particularly significant for Native American Catholics who number approximately 600,000 from 300 tribes in the United States and Canada.

Kateri’s path to sainthood has gone through a number of steps and a lengthy process.  She died in 1680.  Over the next two and a half centuries devotion to her has steadily increased and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  Her cause for canonization was opened in 1932; she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943; beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980; approved for canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in December, 2011; and 332 years after her death, she will be formally canonized a saint on October 21, 2012.

Kateri was born in 1656 in Auriesville (Osserneon), New York, on the south bank of the Mohawk River.  Her mother was a Christian Algonquin.  She was orphaned at the age of four when her mother, father, and baby brother all died in a smallpox epidemic.  Kateri also contracted smallpox, survived, but was severely weakened, partially blinded, and face disfigured.

Kateri was then raised by her uncle who hosted three Jesuit missionaries.  They instructed her in the faith and she was baptized on Easter, 1676, at the age of 20.  The Mohawks bitterly opposed her conversion.  They tried to force her to marry, but she refused.  She would not work on Sunday and was branded as lazy.  She prayed the rosary and was taunted as crazy.  She was mocked mercilessly and ostracized by family and neighbors.  When her life was threatened, she fled to Caughnawaga, a small town near Montreal, Canada.

Kateri lived in a cabin where she could practice her faith freely.  She prayed long hours, attended daily Mass, taught children their prayers, visited the sick and elderly, made crosses that she placed throughout the woods, and made a perpetual vow of virginity in1679 at the age of 23.  She suffered recurrent headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and weight loss, much due to her severe self-inflicted penitential practices.  She died on April 17, 1680.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of Native Americans, the environment, those who are persecuted for their faith, orphans, and World Youth Day.  Her feast day is July 14.

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St. Clare of Assisi, Virgin and Religious

September 8, 2012


St. Clare was born in Assisi, Italy, the same hometown as St. Francis, in 1193, twelve years after Francis was born.  Both came from upper class, wealthy families.

When Clare was 18 she listened to a Lenten sermon preached by St. Francis, and she was so moved that on Palm Sunday evening, 1212, she left family and friends to be a religious sister.  Her hair was cut.  She gave up her possessions for a sackcloth robe and a life of simplicity.  At first she went to a Benedictine convent where she received her formation in religious life.

Francis invited Clare to return to Assisi to live in a small house near the San Damiano church, and joined by a number of other women from local families, she took up residence in 1213.  Two years later Francis appointed Clare as the abbess or the religious superior of the new community, a role that she reluctantly accepted, and she lived inside the convent for forty years.  Her sister Agnes entered at the age of 15, and her mother Hortulana, widowed, and her sister Beatrice followed sometime later.

Clare embraced a rigorous, austere life.  The nuns were supported by the work they did inside the convent and donations brought from the outside.  They observed a strict fast every day except Sundays and Christmas.  They abstained from meat entirely.  At night they slept on the ground, while during the day they wore no shoes, socks, or sandals, and observed major silence, forgoing conversation for hours at a time.  As a penitential practice, Clare wore a hair shirt, a coarse, bristly, abrasive undergarment, an aggravating irritant to her skin, and during Lent she lived on bread and water alone.

Both Francis and the bishop viewed these practices as too harsh and asked Clare to soften them.  Not only did Clare comply, but she asked the other sisters to moderate also.

Clare was deeply saddened by the death of Francis in 1226.  She lived another 27 years, most of them in poor health, often confined to bed.  When she was able to work, she sewed altar linens and vestments in her room.  She spent much time in prayer, and she had a special devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist.

Two great miracles are credited to Clare.  The city of Assisi was attacked twice.  Because of her reputation for sanctity, the townsfolk carried her on a mat to the city walls along with a pyx that contained the Blessed Sacrament.  In each case the hostile forces retreated, both attributed to her intercession and the miraculous power of Christ.

Clare founded the Order of the Poor Ladies, now known as the Poor Clares.  She was the first woman to write a Rule of Life that was formally approved by the Church.  Their special charisms are intense prayer, both private and communal; radical poverty and simplicity; as well as cloistered living in a residence secluded from the public.

Clare died in 1253 and was canonized two years later by Pope Alexander IV.  She is the patron saint of embroiderers, and in 1958 Pope Pius XII named her the patron saint of television.

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Do you pin? We do too.

August 3, 2012


The Catholic Spirit is on Pinterest!

Here is a favorite board:


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