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Saints for the Lenten Season

 

As you observe Lent this year, take time to learn about and reflect on the lives of these saints whose feast days fall within the season.

March 7: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

One of the proofs of a really close friendship is when you can't say one person's name without thinking of the other. This shows up in history, with names like Lewis and Clark. It's in story books, with names like Hansel and Gretel, or Jack and Jill. When it comes to saints, there are many examples, but one of the most prominent duos is Perpetua and Felicity. Perpetua was a young Christian noblewoman and Felicity was a young Christian slave. The two were arrested for their belief in Christ, during the persecution of Emperor Septimius Severus: at this time, Perpetua was a new mother, and Felicity was eight months pregnant. Together, the two women helped each other through the heat, darkness and brutality of the guards in the prison. Two days before their scheduled death, Felicity gave birth to her daughter in the prison, and the child was adopted by a Christian woman. Perpetua and Felicity were sent out to face the arena together, and after being exposed to the beasts, were killed by having their throats cut. These last days of the women were recorded by Perpetua, whose diary became one of the most famous accounts in the early church of the suffering of the martyrs. 

March 8: St. John of God

How many of the firefighters out there know who their personal patron saint is? It is St. John of God, who was extremely dedicated to the sick and dying. Once, when he heard that a hospital was going up in flames, he ran in and rescued the patients and much of the bedding, just before the roof fell in – and took John with it. Moments later, he walked out of the building, miraculously spared. A few thoughts of St. John can be found on the Vatican Web site. 

March 15: St. Louise de Marillac

St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul were both dear friends and confidants of St. Louise de Marillac. She fully trusted these men, and after she was widowed, became the avid assistant of St. Vincent de Paul in his work among the poor. Under his guidance, she founded the Sisters of Charity, a group of women who ministered to the poor and children. Read a short talk about the Sisters of Charity.  

March 17: St. Patrick

St. Patrick, the apostle to Ireland, once wrote: "Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me." He was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland as a teenager. He escaped, but he dreamed Ireland's children were calling to him, and returned to Ireland as a missionary.  As Patrick once did, Pope John Paul II challenged the youth of Ireland.

March 19: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Silence is golden… St. Joseph, the model of humility, and one of the world's greatest saints, is often mentioned as being silent. This silence speaks volumes. In it, the Church realizes his faithfulness, his love and his acceptance of the Holy Will of God. St. Joseph was not a man of many words: he was a man of action. We have only one direct statement about his personality: in Matthew's Gospel, he is described as "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:19). His actions alone reveal everything else we know about him. He brings Mary and the Child she bears into his home when, in the sight of the world, he would be justified in divorcing her. He leads the expectant Mary into Bethlehem, and flees with her and her Child into Egypt. When it is safe, he returns with the two into Galilee. He does all of this, because God asks it of him. He never hesitates. Each time we read that the angel spoke to Joseph, the following sentence begins with the action St. Joseph took. "Joseph awoke," "Joseph rose," "He went." Each time he received a summons, his reaction was to follow the call immediately. Never once did he hesitate. Read more about the poignant silence of Joseph.  

March 22: St. Nicholas Owen (One of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales)

Now HERE is a movie-worthy story. We tend to think that saints are these perfect people, portrayed on holy cards with glowing lights all around them. Saints are definitely above-average people, but not because of that iridescent glow: it's because of the extraordinary things they have accomplished through the grace of God. St. Nicholas Owen was a carpenter and a lay Jesuit brother. His carpentry was so incredible, that for twenty years he was employed to build secret passages and rooms in various mansions to conceal persecuted Catholics from the authorities. Under the pseudonym of John Owen (affectionately nicknamed "Little John" due to his short stature) Nicholas worked on these mansions as an innocent-looking mason by day, so that the authorities would not question his presence there. Before each new project, he would receive the Eucharist, to steel him for the new challenge. He saved countless priests and laymen, and even masterminded the escape of two of his fellow Jesuits from the Tower of London. He was caught once and released, then caught again and tortured, and the torture led to his death on March 1, 1606.

March 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

"Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as 'full of grace' (cf. Luke 1:28).  To the heavenly messenger she replies: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word' (Luke 1:38).Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus.  Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God's saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church/ LG, 56).

April 1: St. Isidore of Seville

St. Isidore is the patron saint of a tool that was invented long after he was born. Any guesses? The internet!  St. Isidore was known for his wisdom and discerning nature and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1722 by Pope Benedict XIV.  Read what Pope Benedict XVI thinks of him here.

April 7: St. John the Baptist de la Salle

April 7 is the feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle. He was declared the patron saint of all teachers by Pius VII.  The Christian Brothers, the order he founded, have schools around the world dedicated to teaching all children.  He wrote numerous meditations on teaching. Take a minute to consider these: "Your students are living images of Jesus" and "The way you behave should be a model for those you teach." Take a minute and learn more about him

April 11: St. Stanislaus

St. Stanislaus rose against injustice, excommunicated a king, and was brutally murdered. He reprimanded Boleslaus II for living an immoral life. The King ordered his men to kill the bishop; when they refused, Boleslaus murdered Stanislaus with his own hands. Read Pope John Paul II's sermon about Stanislaus here.



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