Tag Archives: saints

The death of Judas Maccabees and the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great

Saturday was the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great.  He truly earned his title of “great” as he walked among the rubble of the dying Roman Empire and held tight to the Culture Christ had given His Church, and held back the tide of destruction from the Huns.

If you can get your hands on a copy of Louis de Wohl’s great historical novel Attila or the earlier version “Throne of the World” I recommend it. de Wohl knew his history very well indeed.

Attila was coming after Rome. He  was an ambitious cruel and soon gathered a reputation for his willingness to wholesale slaughter. Attila was no different from any other despotic leader. They all lack imagination it seems to me.  No wonder evil looks to banal. It has no colour.

Leo is most famous for his meeting with Attila in which he persuaded the Hun leader to leave Rome alone. Many people try to make out that Leo didn’t really “win” this concession and I am sure Leo would agree.  He had some powerful help. While famine and disease had left Rome very weak, and should have meant easy picking for the Huns, they also faced the prospect of fighting on empty stomachs.

Leo was well used to spiritual and political battle by the time he met Attila. He had stood his ground against many members of the Church who cut themselves off from her, running after various heresies such as Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Manichaeism  and more. With those who dared to call themselves followers of Christ, being only too willing to rush off after any old golden calf. In the light of this maybe Leo didn’t see Attila as such a big problem.

juxtaposed against the feast of this saint was the story of the last stand of Judas Maccabees. In Divine Office the continuing story of how a remnant of Israel stood against the tyranny of Syria and Persia.

Just as Leo faced a threat of tyranny while many of his fellow Christians prefered an easy life than the cross of Christ, so Judas faced the battle as many of his men gave up and refused to trust in God. Judas went out with his remnant and died a hero.

Judas and Leo stood up against a pagan aggressor who believed in the right of power over the weak; survival of the fittest. The Old Covenant Peoples faced a head on assault at the point when they seemed the weakest, having mostly apostasised already, but in the end we remember the Jews and the valiant courage of Judas Maccabaeus over whoever that Syrian leader was.  It isn’t a fairy tale ending. Our greatest heroes have often had to carry the cross and die on it.

But Jesus warned us very clearly, with the politically incorrect words,  “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Fear rather the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

So many people say they are Christians but don’t believe a word Jesus said. They have their golden calf and that will do them fine.

God has always allowed people like Antiochus Epiphanes and Attila the Hun to rise up because we are so darned daft we keep inviting them. Be He is merciful and He always gives us Leo the Greats and Judas Maccabaeus’. Thank God for that.

And Jesus said “Do not be afriad.”

Why not use UNIVERSALIS for the Year of Faith

For the Children’s sake

My husband took St. John Bosco as his Confirmation saint when he was received into the Church. As it’s the good saint’s feast day today I thought I’d write about him.

He was called by God pretty early in life and knew long before adulthood that he was to become a priest and care for children. I love the fact that he learned circus acts like tightrope walking and had the people say the rosary when they gathered to watch him.

Once he was ordained he set about establishing the schools for boys, many of whom were not so much poor as destitute and who often had some serious behaviour problems as a result of their nasty background. Fr Bosco insisted that he and his fellow priests treat the boys as sons and called the priests foster-fathers especially once the boarding schools were established.

Meanwhile girl’s schools were being established by some of the women who had helped F. Bosco with his work for boys.

Fr. John insisted on firm but kind discipline for the children. He warned against temper induced punishments. Many of the boys were undoubtedly used to vicious punishment having lived on the streets quite often. Fr. John wanted them to learn another way of life and they could not be expected to do this if the priests caring for them behaved as badly as the other adults they had known.

Letters from Fr John explain his method and exhort his priests to remember they were as parents to these boys and must love them as sons.

Of course one of the things about this saint that makes him so well known are the visions and dreams that God granted him. He knew when a boy was going to die and could therefore ensure the child was properly prepared. He was granted an awful vision of the boys hurtling to hell, and this helped motivate him to ensure their formation and rescue them from lives of crime and ugly behaviour. His most famous vision of course is the one where he saw the Barque of Peter like a great ship with the Pope guiding it. The ship was buffeted and attacked in many ways on stormy seas and the Holy Father was killed but a new Pope was soon elected. Then at last the ship came to rest anchored between the two pillars of the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. (The pillar of the Eucharist was larger).

At the time the Church was facing the growth of modernism the synthesis of all error.  In 1886 Pope Leo XIII had seen a vision in which Satan was granted a century to attack and test the Church. The poor Holy Father was so horrified at this warning that he wrote the Prayer to St. Michael which is still said by many today and increasingly parishes have re-established the saying of this prayer after Mass.

It would seem that St John’s vision was part of the same prophecy and a reminder that God is still in charge of His Bride and He will bring Her safely to harbour in the end.

Books on St John Bosco

It is also the feast day of two English Martyrs St. Alban Roe and St Thomas Green (Reynolds). Both were priests working for the persecuted Church in England and although they were executed for being priests on Jan 21st 1642, their feast day is today.

A day for Mothers and Alcoholics.

One day people will look back on these days of the 20 and 21st century and call them the dark ages. They will see so much intellectual pride and not much intellectual substance. They will shake their heads at the shallowness of thought and refusal to listen, especially to stories. Our understanding of who we are is deeply rooted in stories, mainly true ones but fairy tales have a place too.

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St Bridget of Sweden- I just love her!

It’s the feast day of my beloved Saint Bridget of Sweden.

You can download some worksheets about her over at That Resource Site Blog.

She has been part of my life since I did my Masters at Maryvale where the Bridgittine Sisters were so wonderful.  I remember Mother coming to tell us a little about St Bridget and one of the stories she told (that I haven’t found online but Mother had a humongous book on St Bridget) is that while in Rome Bridget came to a place where people were about to hang a woman for witchcraft. Bridget intervened and saved the woman’s life.

Jesus said that He would not leave His Church orphans and He has always kept that promise.

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Mary Magdalene and the alabaster jar

It’s the feast of St Mary Magdalene today. She is quite an interesting character but the traditions that surround her are both confusing and contradictory.  

It is no longer considered polite to refer to her as the repentant prostitute and to be fair to her,  there really is no historical record that she was. In fact some of the earlier traditions have her as a virgin.  Then there are the traditions that link her to Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Who knows?

As for me, I tend to think of her as Mary of the Alabaster Jar. There’s something profound in the story of that jar.

Alabaster is a soft stone that can be carved and polished so that it is translucent. Making the jar would have been fairly labour intensive, taking time to hollow out and make the properly fitting lid. Then the beautifully crafted object would have been filled with the expensive ointment with it’s rich perfume.

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Happy All Saints

ghent altarpieceH/T to Fr Dwight for posting this painting of the Ghent Altarpiece. If you click onto his blog and click the picture you’ll get a lovely full screen image. I have no idea how to do that. {Fr Dwight, while in England, talked with my dh some time before he converted and gave him a couple of books that helped him a great deal}.

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Saints days; Teresa of Avila and others.

 It was the feast of St Teresa of Avila yesterday and obviously with a daughter named Avila Terese, this is a special day in our family.
Avila drew her saint a little picture and of her own accord decided to draw a picture for St John of Avila as well. As it was her saints feast day, she got a bit of extra pudding after dinner.

Today is the feast of St Hedwig and St Margaret Mary Alacoque. It is also the feast of St Gerard Majella for those who still follow the old calender.

I talked with Iona about St Margaret Mary today as her RE lesson.

There is a beautiful stained glass window in the little chapel at Maryvale, of the Sacred Heart. I am sure I heard the story that this one is somehow directly linked with St Margaret Mary-but I can’t remember how. John Henry Cardinal Newman (hopefully soon to be canonised himself) brought it back from France.

Thanks to St Margaret Mary and her complete committment to Christ, even in the face of some pretty nasty opposition, we have the wonderful feast of the Sacred Heart and the promise of mercy that goes with that. God always seems to reveal Himself in stages. In Scripture we see this as He gradually gives the Truth of who He is and what His Covenants entail to Israel. They don’t get the picture all at once.

As the Church took off there was what John Henry Cardinal Newman so accurately described as the development of doctrine-such as that of the Holy Trinity. We see bits of the Trinity even in the Old Testament and then it becomes clearer in the New and the Church gave a final discernment with the Creed of Nicea.

I am not saying private revelation is on a par with this of course. It’s just that I see Christ reveal more of His mercy and love, especially in the face of huge troubles for the Church, first to St Margaret Mary and then to St Faustina.  Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart are much the same.

We talked a bit about the Jansenist heresy- it emphasis on Original Sin; making it bigger than it is, and insisting on the total depravity of man and predestination is much like Calvin preached. Christ’s message to St Margaret was one of mercy, love and redemption.