The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Just as devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is only a form of devotion to the adorable Person of Jesus, so also is devotion to the Holy Heart of Mary, but a special form of devotion to Mary. In order that, properly speaking, there may be devotion to the Heart of Mary, the attention and the homage of the faithful must be directed to the physical heart itself.  However, this in itself is not sufficient; the faithful must read therein all that the human heart of Mary suggests, all of which it is the expressive symbol and the living reminder: Mary’s interior life, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for her God, her maternal love for her Divine Son, and her motherly and compassionate love for her sinful and miserable children here below. The consideration of Mary’s interior life and the beauties of her soul, without any thought of her physical heart, does not constitute our devotion; still less does it consist in the consideration of the Heart of Mary merely as a part of her virginal body. The two elements are essential to the devotion, just as soul and body are necessary to the constitution of man.  All this is made sufficiently clear in the explanations given elsewhere, and, if our devotion to Mary must not be confounded with our devotion to Jesus, on the other hand, it is equally true that our veneration of the Heart of Mary is, as such, analogous to our worship of the Heart of Jesus. It is, however, necessary to indicate a few differences in this analogy, the better to explain the character of Catholic devotion to the Heart of Mary. Some of these differences are very marked, whereas others are barely perceptible. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is especially directed to the Divine Heart as overflowing with love for men, and it presents this love to us as despised and outraged.  In the devotion to the Heart of Mary, on the other hand, what seems to attract us above all else is the love of this Heart for Jesus and for God. Its love for men is not overlooked, but it is not so much in evidence nor so dominant. With this difference is linked another. The first, act of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus is the love eager to respond to love, in devotion to the Heart of Mary there is no first act so clearly indicated: in this devotion, perhaps, study and imitation hold as important a place as love. For, although this study and imitation are impregnated with filial affection, the devotion presents itself with no object sufficiently conspicuous to call forth our love, which is, on the contrary, naturally awakened and increased by the study and imitation. Hence, accurately speaking, love is more the result than the object of the devotion, the object being rather to love God, and Jesus better by uniting ourselves to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues.  It would also seem that, although in the devotion to the Heart of Mary the heart has an essential part as symbol and sensible object, it does not stand out as prominently as in the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; we think rather of the thing symbolized, of love, virtues, and sentiments, of Mary’s interior life.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to “Body of Christ.” This feast originated in France in the midthirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or, as in the USA, on the Sunday following that feast.This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer at Mass calls our attention to Jesus’ suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist. At every Mass our attention is called to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus of this feast is upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body in which He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, which serves as a sign of common faith and adoration. Our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.

St. Paulinus of Nola

On June 22, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Paulinus of Nola, who gave up his life in politics to become a monk, a bishop, and a revered Christian poet of the 5th century. In a December 2007 general audience on St. Paulinus, Pope Benedict XVI remarked on the saint’s artistic gifts, which inspired “songs of faith and love in which the daily history of small and great events is seen as a history of salvation, a history of God with us.â€�The poet-bishop’s ministry, Pope Benedict said, was also “distinguished by special attention to the poorâ€� – confirming his legacy as “a bishop with a great heart who knew how to make himself close to his people in the sorrowful trials of the barbarian invasionsâ€� during the 5th century. Born at Bordeaux in present-day France during 354, Paulinus came from an illustrious family in the Roman imperial province of Aquitania. He received his literary education from the renowned poet and professor Ausonius, and eventually rose to the rank of governor in the Italian province of Campania. Not yet baptized or a believer in Christ, Paulinus was nonetheless struck by the Campanians’ devotion to the martyr Saint Felix at his local shrine. He took the initiative to build a road for pilgrims, as well as a hospice for the poor near the site of Felix’s veneration. But Paulinus grew dissatisfied with his civil position, leaving Campania and returning to his native region from 380 to 390. He also married a Spanish Catholic woman named Therasia. She, along with Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux, and St. Martin the Bishop of Tours, guided him toward conversion. Paulinus and his brother were baptized on the same day by Delphinus. But it was not long into his life as a Christian, that two shattering upheavals took place. Paulinus’ infant son died shortly after birth; and when Paulinus’ brother also died, he was accused in his murder. After these catastrophes, Paulinus and Therasia mutually agreed to embrace monasticism, living in poverty and chastity. Around 390, they both moved to Spain. Approximately five years after his change of residence and lifestyle, the residents of Barcelona arranged for Paulinus’ ordination as a priest. During 395 he returned to the Italian city of Nola, where he and his wife both continued to live in chastity as monks. Paulinus made important contributions to the local church, particularly in the construction of basilicas. In 409, the monk was consecrated as the city’s bishop. Paulinus served as the Bishop of Nola for two decades. His gifts as a poet and composer of hymns were matched by his knowledge of Scripture, generosity toward the poor, and devotion to the saints who had preceded him – especially St. Felix, whose intercession he regarded as central to his conversion. Praised by the likes of St. Augustine and St. Jerome for the depth of his conversion to Christ, the Bishop of Nola was regarded as a saint even before his death on the evening of June 22, 431.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

As a young boy, St. Aloysius always had a great desire to know and serve God, but his family life was not always supportive of this desire. He was born into a noble Italian family, and his father was a compulsive gambler. He grew up in a castle and was trained from a very young age to be a soldier and courtier, and despite the opposition of his family, he taught catechism to poor boys.He encountered many holy people in his lifetime; he received his first Communion from St. Charles Borromeo and studied under St. Robert Bellarmine. As a teen, he suffered from a kidney disease which he considered a blessing, as it left him with plenty of time for prayer.At 18 he signed away his legal claim to his title and his family’s lands and entered the Jesuits. He died shortly thereafter of the plague at the age of 23, having devotedly cared for plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591.He was canonized in 1726 and is the patron saint of youth, AIDS patients and AIDS caregivers.

St. Alban

St. Alban was the first Christian martyr in Britain during the early 4th century. He is the patron saint of converts and torture victims. Although he was not a man of faith, St. Alban was very hospitable and compassionate. As a soldier, he sheltered a persecuted priest, Amphibalus, during a time when Christians were being put to death in Britain. The priest’s faith and piety struck St. Alban, as well as his dedication to prayer.Alban soon converted to Christianity.In an effort to help the priest escape, he switched clothes with him. But Alban was caught and ordered to renounce his faith. St. Alban refused to worship idols, and when asked to state his name, answered “My name is Alban, and I worship the only true and living God, who created all things.For his refusal to deny his beliefs, he was to be tortured and beheaded. The person first selected to execute Alban heard his testimony and converted on the spot. After refusing to kill Alban, he was executed as well.A number of other conversions are claimed to have happened thanks to the witness of St. Alban’s martyrdom, specifically on behalf of spectators of his execution. Finally, when the priest learned that Alban was arrested in his place, he turned himself in, hoping to save Alban’s life. But that wasn’t the case. The priest was killed as well. St. Alban’s Cathedral now stands near the execution site. The town where he was born was also renamed after him.

St. Romuald

Saint Romuald, who founded the Camaldolese monastic order during the early eleventh century, has his liturgical memorial on June 19.Working within the Western Church’s Benedictine tradition, he revived the primitive monastic practice of hermit life, allowing for greater solitude in a communal setting.Born into an aristocratic family during the middle of the tenth century, Romuald grew up in a luxurious and worldly environment, where he learned little in the way of self-restraint or religious devotion. Yet he also felt an unusual attraction toward the simplicity of monastic life, prompted by the beauty of nature and the experience of solitude .It was not beauty or tranquility, but a shocking tragedy that spurred him to act on this desire. When Romuald was 20 years old, he saw his father Sergius kill one of his relatives in a dispute over some property. Disgusted by the crime he had witnessed, the young man went to the Monastery of St. Apollinaris to do 40 days of penance for his father.These 40 days confirmed Romuald’s monastic calling, as they became the foundation for an entire life of penance. But this would not be lived out at St. Apollinaris, where Romuald’s strict asceticism brought him into conflict with some of the other monks. He left the area near Ravenna and went to Venice, where he became the disciple of the hermit Marinus.Both men went on to encourage the monastic vocation of Peter Urseolus, a Venetian political leader who would later be canonized as a saint. When Peter joined a French Benedictine monastery, Romuald followed him and lived for five years in a nearby hermitage.In the meantime, Romuald’s father Sergius had followed his son’s course, repenting of his sins and becoming a monk himself. Romuald returned to Italy to help his father, after learning that Sergius was struggling in his vocation. Through his son’s guidance, Sergius found the strength to persist in religious life.After guiding his penitent father in the way of salvation, Romuald traveled throughout Italy serving the Church. By 1012 he had helped to establish or reform almost 100 hermitages and monasteries, though these were not connected to one another in the manner of a distinct religious order.The foundations of the Camaldolese order were not laid until 1012 – when a piece of land called the �Camaldoli,� located in the Diocese of Arezzo, was granted to Romuald. It became the site of five hermits’ quarters, and a full monastery soon after. This combination of hermits’ cells and community life, together with other distinctive features, gave this monastery and its later affiliates a distinct identity and charism.Romuald’s approach to the contemplative life, reminiscent of the early Desert Fathers, can be seen in the short piece of writing known as his “Brief Rule.� It reads as follows:“Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms – never leave it.�“If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.�“Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor. Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.�St. Romuald of Ravenna died in his monastic cell on June 19, 1027. Pope Gregory XIII canonized him in 1582.

St. Osanna Andreasi

St. Osanna was a Dominican tertiary, who spent her adult life serving the poor and the sick and offering spiritual direction to many. However, she was also a mystic and a visionary, eventually bearing the pain and red marks of the stigmata, though not the bleeding.She was born in 1449 to a noble Italian family. Her visions, first of angels and of the Trinity, began at the young age of five. She felt a call to religious life and became a tertiary at 17, having already rejected a marriage arranged by her father.Her visions continued into her adult life, and she often fell into ecstasies. She was also a strong critic of the lack of morality of her day. She died in 1505.