Saint Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp of Smyrna. At a time when Gnostic sects threatened to undermine Christianity by a perversion of Christian thought, he vigorously denounced all heresies and safeguarded unity of belief.
He succeeded the martyred St. Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons.
During this “Fortnight of Freedom”, we have yet another holy example of love and zeal for our faith
Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, on Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Catechesis on the prominent figures of the early Church, today we come to the eminent personality of St Irenaeus of Lyons. The biographical information on him comes from his own testimony, handed down to us by Eusebius in his fifth book on Church History.
Irenaeus was in all probability born in Smyrna (today, Izmir in Turkey) in about 135-140, where in his youth, he attended the school of Bishop Polycarp, a disciple in his turn of the Apostle John. We do not know when he moved from Asia Minor to Gaul, but his move must have coincided with the first development of the Christian community in Lyons: here, in 177, we find Irenaeus listed in the college of presbyters. In that very year, he was sent to Rome bearing a letter from the community in Lyons to Pope Eleutherius. His mission to Rome saved Irenaeus from the persecution of Marcus Aurelius which took a toll of at least 48 martyrs, including the 90-year old Bishop Pontinus of Lyons, who died from ill-treatment in prison. Thus, on his return Irenaeus was appointed Bishop of the city. The new Pastor devoted himself without reserve to his episcopal ministry which ended in about 202-203, perhaps with martyrdom.
Irenaeus was first and foremost a man of faith and a Pastor. Like a good Pastor, he had a good sense of proportion, a wealth of doctrine, and missionary enthusiasm. As a writer, he pursued a twofold aim: to defend true doctrine from the attacks of heretics, and to explain the truth of the faith clearly. His two extant works – the five books of The Detection and Overthrow of the False Gnosis and Demonstration of the Apostolic Teaching (which can also be called the oldest “catechism of Christian doctrine”) – exactly corresponded with these aims. In short, Irenaeus can be defined as the champion in the fight against heresies. The second-century Church was threatened by the so-calledGnosis, a doctrine which affirmed that the faith taught in the Church was merely a symbolism for the simple who were unable to grasp difficult concepts; instead, the initiates, the intellectuals – Gnostics,they were called – claimed to understand what was behind these symbols and thus formed an elitist and intellectualist Christianity. Obviously, this intellectual Christianity became increasingly fragmented, splitting into different currents with ideas that were often bizarre and extravagant, yet attractive to many. One element these different currents had in common was “dualism”: they denied faith in the one God and Father of all, Creator and Saviour of man and of the world. To explain evil in the world, they affirmed the existence, besides the Good God, of a negative principle. This negative principle was supposed to have produced material things, matter.
Firmly rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation, Irenaeus refuted the Gnostic dualism and pessimism which debased corporeal realities. He decisively claimed the original holiness of matter, of the body, of the flesh no less than of the spirit. But his work went far beyond the confutation of heresy: in fact, one can say that he emerges as the first great Church theologian who created systematic theology; he himself speaks of the system of theology, that is, of the internal coherence of all faith. At the heart of his doctrine is the question of the “rule of faith” and its transmission. For Irenaeus, the “rule of faith” coincided in practice with the Apostles’ Creed, which gives us the key for interpreting the Gospel, for interpreting the Creed in light of the Gospel. The Creed, which is a sort of Gospel synthesis, helps us understand what it means and how we should read the Gospel itself.
In fact, the Gospel preached by Irenaeus is the one he was taught by Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and Polycarp’s Gospel dates back to the Apostle John, whose disciple Polycarp was.
The true teaching, therefore, is not that invented by intellectuals which goes beyond the Church’s simple faith. The true Gospel is the one imparted by the Bishops who received it in an uninterrupted line from the Apostles. They taught nothing except this simple faith, which is also the true depth of God’s revelation. Thus, Irenaeus tells us, there is no secret doctrine concealed in the Church’s common Creed. There is no superior Christianity for intellectuals. The faith publicly confessed by the Church is the common faith of all. This faith alone is apostolic, it is handed down from the Apostles, that is, from Jesus and from God. In adhering to this faith, publicly transmitted by the Apostles to their successors, Christians must observe what their Bishops say and must give special consideration to the teaching of the Church of Rome, pre-eminent and very ancient. It is because of her antiquity that this Church has the greatest apostolicity; in fact, she originated in Peter and Paul, pillars of the Apostolic College. All Churches must agree with the Church of Rome, recognizing in her the measure of the true Apostolic Tradition, the Church’s one common faith. With these arguments, summed up very briefly here, Irenaeus refuted the claims of these Gnostics, these intellectuals, from the start. First of all, they possessed no truth superior to that of the ordinary faith, because what they said was not of apostolic origin, it was invented by them. Secondly, truth and salvation are not the privilege or monopoly of the few, but are available to all through the preaching of the Successors of the Apostles, especially of the Bishop of Rome. In particular – once again disputing the “secret” character of the Gnostic tradition and noting its multiple and contradictory results – Irenaeus was concerned to describe the genuine concept of the Apostolic Tradition which we can sum up here in three points.
a) Apostolic Tradition is “public”, not private or secret. Irenaeus did not doubt that the content of the faith transmitted by the Church is that received from the Apostles and from Jesus, the Son of God. There is no other teaching than this. Therefore, for anyone who wishes to know true doctrine, it suffices to know “the Tradition passed down by the Apostles and the faith proclaimed to men”: a tradition and faith that “have come down to us through the succession of Bishops” (Adversus Haereses, 3, 3, 3-4). Hence, the succession of Bishops, the personal principle, and Apostolic Tradition, the doctrinal principle, coincide.
b) Apostolic Tradition is “one”. Indeed, whereas Gnosticism was divided into multiple sects, Church Tradition is one in its fundamental content, which – as we have seen – Irenaeus calls preciselyregula fidei or veritatis: and thus, because it is one, it creates unity through the peoples, through the different cultures, through the different peoples; it is a common content like the truth, despite the diversity of languages and cultures. A very precious saying of St Irenaeus is found in his bookAdversus Haereses: “The Church, though dispersed throughout the world… having received [this faith from the Apostles]… as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them and hands them down with perfect harmony as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world” (1, 10, 1-2). Already at that time – we are in the year 200 – it was possible to perceive the Church’s universality, her catholicity and the unifying power of the truth that unites these very different realities, from Germany, to Spain, to Italy, to Egypt, to Libya, in the common truth revealed to us by Christ.
c) Lastly, the Apostolic Tradition, as he says in the Greek language in which he wrote his book, is “pneumatic”, in other words, spiritual, guided by the Holy Spirit: in Greek, the word for “spirit” is“pneuma”. Indeed, it is not a question of a transmission entrusted to the ability of more or less learned people, but to God’s Spirit who guarantees fidelity to the transmission of the faith.
This is the “life” of the Church, what makes the Church ever young and fresh, fruitful with multiple charisms.
For Irenaeus, Church and Spirit were inseparable: “This faith”, we read again in the third book ofAdversus Haereses, “which, having been received from the Church, we do preserve, and which always, by the Spirit of God, renewing its youth as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel, causes the vessel itself containing it to renew its youth also…. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and every kind of grace” (3, 24, 1). As can be seen, Irenaeus did not stop at defining the concept of Tradition. His tradition, uninterrupted Tradition, is not traditionalism, because this Tradition is always enlivened from within by the Holy Spirit, who makes it live anew, causes it to be interpreted and understood in the vitality of the Church. Adhering to her teaching, the Church should transmit the faith in such a way that it must be what it appears, that is, “public”, “one”, “pneumatic”, “spiritual”. Starting with each one of these characteristics, a fruitful discernment can be made of the authentic transmission of the faith in the today of the Church. More generally, in Irenaeus’ teaching, the dignity of man, body and soul, is firmly anchored in divine creation, in the image of Christ and in the Spirit’s permanent work of sanctification. This doctrine is like a “high road” in order to discern together with all people of good will the object and boundaries of the dialogue of values, and to give an ever new impetus to the Church’s missionary action, to the force of the truth which is the source of all true values in the world.
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Read more about and by Saint Irenaeus
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Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei and patron saint of diabetes, highlighted a humble path to holiness in the Catholic Church, teaching that people can become holy by performing their work and daily duties with a Christian spirit.
He is the patron saint of diabetes because he himself suffered from type 1 Diabetes.
From the Opus Dei Biography comes the following information about his life and works:
Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He had one older sister, Carmen (1899-1957); three younger sisters who died very young; and a younger brother, Santiago (1919-1994). His parents, José and Dolores, brought up their children with a devout Catholic faith.
Josemaría’s father’s textile business failed in 1915, so the family relocated to Logroño, where José found other work. It was in Logroño that Josemaría sensed his vocation for the first time. After seeing some bare footprints left in the snow by a friar who had walked that way a short time earlier, he felt that God wanted something from him, though he did not know exactly what. He thought that he could more easily discover what it was if he became a priest, so he began to prepare for the priesthood, first in Logroño and later in Saragossa. Following his father’s advice, he also studied for a law degree at the University of Saragossa. His father died in 1924 and Josemaría was left as head of the family. Ordained on March 28, 1925, he began his ministry in a rural parish, and afterwards in Saragossa.
In 1927, with the permission of his bishop, Fr. Josemaría moved to Madrid to work on his doctorate in law. There, on October 2, 1928, God showed him clearly the mission he had been hinting to him for several years; and he founded Opus Dei. From that day on he worked with all his energies to develop the foundation that God asked of him, while he continued to fulfill the various priestly responsibilities he had at that time. These brought him into daily contact with sickness and poverty in the hospitals and the poor districts of Madrid.
When the civil war broke out in 1936, Josemaría was in Madrid. The religious persecution forced him to take refuge in a variety of places. He exercised his priestly ministry in a clandestine fashion until he was finally able to leave Madrid. After escaping across the Pyrenees to southern France, he took up residence in Burgos.
At the end of the war in 1939 he returned to Madrid. In the years that followed he gave many retreats to lay people, priests, and members of religious orders. In the same year, 1939, he completed his doctorate in law.
In 1946 he took up residence in Rome. There he obtained a doctorate in theology from the Lateran University and was named consultor to two Vatican Congregations, as well as honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and prelate of honor to His Holiness. He followed closely the preparations for the Second Vatican Council and its various sessions (1962-1965), keeping in touch with many of the council fathers. From Rome he frequently went to different countries in Europe, including Britain and Ireland, to spur on the apostolic work of Opus Dei. It was with the same objective that, between 1970 and 1975, he made long trips to Mexico, Spain, Portugal, South America, and Guatemala, holding catechetical gatherings which large numbers of men and women attended.
He died in Rome on June 26, 1975. Thousands of people, including many bishops (a third of all the bishops in the world), requested that the Holy See open his cause of beatification and canonization.
On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified Josemaría Escrivá. He proclaimed him a saint ten years later, on October 6, 2002, in St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, before a great multitude. In his homily on that occasion, the Pope said: “Following in his footsteps, spread in society the awareness that we are called to holiness, without distinction of race, class, culture or age.”
Have you read “The Way”? Find it here, and more!
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As May was the month of Mary, our Blessed Mother, and June is the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, does it not follow that as May leads into June, Mary leads us to her the love of her Son, symbolized by His Heart?
History of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a form of devotion to the person Jesus, and especially to His Love.
The Catholic Encyclopedia details a history of this devotion. It observed that from the time of Saint John and Saint Paul there has always been in the Church something like devotion to the love of God, Who so loved the world as to give it His only-begotten Son, and to the love of Jesus, Who has so loved us as to deliver Himself up for us. But, accurately speaking, this is not the devotion to the Sacred Heart, as it pays no homage to the Heart of Jesus as the symbol of His love for us. From the earliest centuries, Christ’s open side and the mystery of blood and water were meditated upon, and the Church was beheld issuing from the side of Jesus, as Eve came forth from the side of Adam. But there is nothing to indicate that, during the first ten centuries, any worship was rendered the wounded Heart.
It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that we find the first unmistakable indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Through the wound in the side the wounded Heart was gradually reached , and the wound in the Heart symbolized the wound of Divine Love. In the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries devotion arose, although it is impossible to say what where the first texts. Saint Gertrude (d. 1302) had a vision on the feast of John the Evangelist. She was resting her head near the wound in the Savior’s side and hearing the beating of the Divine Heart. She asked Saint John if on the night of the Last Supper, he had felt these delightful pulsations, why he had never spoken of the fact. Saint John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need of it to rekindle its love.
From the thirteenth to the sixteeenth century, the devotion was practiced as a private, individual devotion of the mystical order. In the sixteenth century, the devotion took an onward step and passed from the domain of mysticism into that of Christian asceticism. It was constituted an objective devotion with prayers already formulated and special exercises of which the value was extolled and practice commended.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart developed further during the seventeenth century. Ascetic writers spoke of it, especially those of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Alvarez de Paz, Luis de la Puente, Saint-Jure and Nouet and Father Druzbicki, small work “Meta Cordium, Cor Jesu“.
The devotion was greatly increased by the visions Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a French Visitandine nun at the convent of Paray-le-Monial. She had a vision of Christ’s Heart on the feast of Saint John that was similiar to that of Saint Gertrude. Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon His Heart, and then disclosed to her the wonders of His love, telling her that He desired to make this known to mankind and to diffuse the treasures of His goodness, and that He had chosen her for this work, (probably 1673, Dec. 27). In June or July o f 1674, Sister Margaret Mary said, Jesus asked to be honored under the figure of His Heart of Flesh and asked for a devotion of expiatory love — frequent Communion, Communion on the first Friday of each month and the observance of Holy Hours.
In another visioin, on the feast of Corpus Christi 1675, Sister Margaret Mary reported that Jesus told her, “Behold the Heart that has so loved men…instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude…” Jesus then asked for a feast of reparation on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. bidding her to consult Father de la Colombiére, then superior of the small Jesuit house at Paray. He recognized the action of the Spirit of God and consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart and directed Sister Margaret Mary to write down her account and to circulate it throughout France and England. Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque was canonized in the 20th century.
(Principal source – Catholic Encyclopedia – 1913 edition, reproduced wf-f.org)
Prayer to the Wounded Heart of Jesus
Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart
Enthronement of the Sacred Heart
Family Activities for the Feast of the Sacred Heart
….Only the Heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way —-From the Catechism. P:1439
From the depth of my nothingness, I prostrate myself before Thee, O Most Sacred, Divine and Adorable Heart of Jesus, to pay Thee all the homage of love, praise and adoration in my power
Amen. – -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior’s steps.
— From the Catechism. P: 2669
Love for the Eucharist
Christ’s Sacred Heart of love is expressed most profoundly in the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist, God’s giving of Himself, is celebrated joyously the Feast of Corpus Christi, which typically falls within the month of June. How appropriate this is! Devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart are as inseparable as devotion is to the mystery of Christ’s human and divine love. In the Sacred Host dwells the God-man, Jesus; in His Person pulses His Heart through which we are loved with the perfection of His humanity, the fullness of His Godhead, one Person who not only loves but is Love.
St. Peter Julian Eymard instructs us, “Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate them.”
Use the month of June to get acquainted or re-acquainted with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You’ll be glad you did!
Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a wonderful historical expression of the Church’s piety for Christ, her Spouse and Lord: it calls for a fundamental attitude of conversion and reparation, of love and gratitude, apostolic commitment and dedication to Christ and His saving work.
There are two things that must always be found together in the devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ’s Heart of flesh and Christ’s love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart represents and recalls His love for us.
There are several different novenas to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can begin the 9-day devotion today and end it on the Solemnity.
Here, we offer links to the various ones:
Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart
Meditation, Novena, and Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Nine Day Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Are you interested in increasing your devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? You can discover Sacred Heart prayercards, medals and medallions, statues, rosaries, scapulars, and chaplets, and even artwork.
Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is wonderful. Did you know that there are 12 promises of the Sacred Heart for those who are faithfully devoted?
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
Of course, you can pray the Novena any nine days of the year, but if you start today, you will end on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom art all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.
Let us pray.
Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.
9 things you probably didn’t know about devotion to the Sacred Heart.
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Saint Thomas More was born in London and was Chancellor of King Henry VIII. As a family man, a public servant, and writer, he displayed a rare combination of human warmth, Christian wisdom, and sense of humor.
His most famous quote, fitting for today, was when he declared himself to be “the King’s good servant — but God’s first”
St. Thomas More was born at London in 1478. After a thorough grounding in religion and the classics, he entered Oxford to study law. Upon leaving the university he embarked on a legal career which took him to Parliament.In 1505, he married his beloved Jane Colt who bore him four children, and when she died at a young age, he married a widow, Alice Middleton, to be a mother for his young children.
A wit and a reformer, this learned man numbered Bishops and scholars among his friends, and by 1516 wrote his world-famous book “Utopia”. He attracted the attention of Henry VIII who appointed him to a succession of high posts and missions, and finally made him Lord Chancellor in 1529.
However, he resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation, when Henry persisted in holding his own opinions regarding marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. The rest of his life was spent in writing mostly in defense of the Church. In 1534, with his close friend, St. John Fisher, he refused to render allegiance to the King as the Head of the Church of England and was confined to the Tower.
Fifteen months later, and nine days after St. John Fisher’s execution, he was tried and convicted of treason. He told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that “we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.” And on the scaffold, he told the crowd of spectators that he was dying as “the King’s good servant–but God’s first.” He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. St. Thomas More is the Patron Saint of Lawyers, Statesmen, and Politicians
Litany of St. Thomas More
Pope John Paul II said,
“There are many reasons for proclaiming Thomas More Patron of statesmen and people in public life. Among these is the need felt by the world of politics and public administration for credible role models able to indicate the path of truth at a time in history when difficult challenges and crucial responsibilities are increasing. Today in fact strongly innovative economic forces are reshaping social structures; on the other hand, scientific achievements in the area of biotechnology underline the need to defend human life at all its different stages, while the promises of a new society — successfully presented to a bewildered public opinion — urgently demand clear political decisions in favor of the family, young people, the elderly and the marginalized. In this context, it is helpful to turn to the example of St. Thomas More, who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions precisely in his intention to serve not power, but the supreme ideal of justice. His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue.”
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ, have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ hear us
R. Christ, graciously hear us
V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Spare us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Graciously hear us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Have mercy on us
Let us pray:
O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of
prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led
you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and
Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of
human life – the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN
Books, Movies, and Medals for St. Thomas More
St Thomas More Fortnight for Freedom Prayer Card
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester
Born at Beverly, 1469 – martyred June 22, 1535, Tower of London
Canonized (with Saint Thomas More) 1935
Saint John Fisher studied theology in Cambridge, England and became Bishop of Rochester. His friend Saint Thomas More wrote of him, “I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him.”
Saint John Fisher and his friend Saint Thomas More gave up their lives in testimony to the unity of the Church and to the indissolubility of marriage.
Of all the English bishops, only Bishop John Fisher of Rochester publicly opposed Henry VIII’s mandatory Oath of Allegiance, which unlawfully declared King Henry the head of the Church of England. The bishop’s stand ultimately cost him his life. May his example inspire all Catholics today, especially the bishops on whose courageous leadership the Church depends.
(Women for Faith & Family, wf-f.org)
Reply to Bishops Stokesley, Gardiner and Tunstal, sent to the Tower by Thomas Cromwell to persuade Fisher to submit to the King:
Methinks it had been rather our parts to stick together in repressing these violent and unlawful intrusions and injuries daily offered to our common mother, the holy Church of Christ, than by any manner of persuasions to help or set forward the same.
And we ought rather to seek by all means the temporal destruction of the so ravenous wolves, that daily go about worrying and devouring everlastingly, the flock that Christ committed to our charge, and the flock that Himself died for, than to suffer them thus to range abroad.
But (alas) seeing we do it not, you see in what peril the Christian state now standeth: We are besieged on all sides, and can hardly escape the danger of our enemy. And seeing that judgment is begone at the house of God, what hope is there left (if we fall) that the rest shall stand!
The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therefore seeing the matter is thus begun, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I fear that we be not the men that shall see the end of the misery.
Wherefore, seeing I am an old man and look not long to live, I mind not by the help of God to trouble my conscience in pleasing the king this way whatsoever become of me, but rather here to spend out the remnant of my old days in praying to God for him.
On the scaffold he said to the people assembled:
Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, and I thank God hitherto my stomach hath served me very well thereunto, so that yet I have not feared death.
Wherefore I do desire you all to help and assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant of death’s stroke, I may in that very moment stand steadfast without fainting in any one point of the Catholic faith free from any fear; and I beseech Almighty God of His infinite goodness to save the king and this Realm, and that it may please Him to hold His holy hand over it, and send the king good Counsel.
He then knelt, said the Te Deum, In te domine speravi, and submitted to the ax.
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June 21 is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of teens and young people, an extremely devout young Jesuit novice who died at the age of 23. The first born child to the Marquis of Castiglione in 1568, Aloysius was born an Italian noble, and as such he grew up in a castle, trained from the age of four to be a courtier and soldier. His father expected him to become a soldier, as small wars were often breaking out in the region, but at an early age Aloysius interpreted the call to religious life. As son of a Marquis, Aloysius was obligated to appear often at court, and witnessing the frivolous lifestyle at court motivated him to take a private vow of chastity at age nine.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
About two years later, he suffered from kidney disease and he counted this as a blessing because it left him bedridden, which gave him time for prayer and reading about the saints. He recovered, but his health was weakened forever. It was around this time that he read a book about the Jesuit missionaries in India. Having already privately determined to resign his right to inherit the Marquisate of Castiglione in favor of religious life, Aloysius seemed to have been inspired by the book at this point to join the Jesuits and work for the conversion of heathens. Around the age of eleven, he began to spend the summers teaching the Catechism to the poor boys of Castiglione.
In 1581, Aloysius and his family traveled to attend Empress Mary of Austria in her journey to Spain, and once there, Aloysius and his brother were assigned to serve as pages to Don Diego, Prince of the Austrias. Though Aloysius did not falter in his assigned duties, he never curtailed his devotions and was very determined to become a Jesuit. His mother approved, but his father was initially outraged. After returning to Castiglione after the death of Don Diego, Aloysius’ father and other relatives tried to persuade him to give up his vocation. When Aloysius would not be moved, his father finally consented, and allowed him to sign away his inheritance and transfer the succession to his younger brother, Ridolfo.
In November of 1585, Aloysius joined the Jesuit novitiate house of Sant Andrea. He was an ideal novice, and begged often to be allowed to perform the most menial tasks, such as washing dishes, in order to understand humility more than his aristocratic early life allowed him. Sometime in his first years as a novice, Aloysius received a revelation that he would not live much longer, a revelation which filled him with joy. He was in Rome in 1591, when an epidemic of plague broke out in the city. The Jesuits had a hospital there, and Aloysius, despite being in fragile health himself, zealously performed the lowest duties of washing the plague patients and making their beds.
Though he fell ill with the plague, he initially, and unexpectedly, recovered. But it was short lived and he became sick once more with a fever lasting three months and greatly reducing his strength. Near his death, he experienced a vision lasting all night which revealed he would die on the octave of Corpus Christi. It was just about midnight between June 20th and 21st of 1591 when he died, his final gaze on a crucifix before him. He was beatified in 1621 and canonized in 1726 and his remains are kept in urn of Lapis Lazuli and silver in St. Ignatius church in Rome.
Book of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Catholic Youth
St. Aloysius Medals
This article adapted from Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, and the New Advent Encyclopedia entry on St. Aloysius.
O Holy Mary, my Lady, into your blessed trust and safe keeping and into the depths of your mercy, I commend my soul and body this day, every day of my life, and at the hour of my death. To you I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life. By your most holy intercession and by your merits, may all my actions be directed and disposed according to your will and the Will of your divine Son. Amen. ~ Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
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