Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Lessons on Powerful Prayer from St. Scholastica

St. Scholastica, detail of the St. Lucas altar...

There is a story of two twins, St. Scholastica (whose feast day is today) and St. Benedict of Nursia. St. Scholastica being a nun and St. Benedict a monk, they would customarily see each other once a year, during which time the two of them would pray and sing praises together and discuss heavenly matters.

One year, St. Scholastica asked her brother to stay the night with her so that they could continue their discussions and prayer, but the brother was very devout and would not stay a single night outside of the monastery. This distressed her, so she immediately folded her hands and laid her head on them, praying hard to the Lord. As she looked up to heaven, lightning flashed across the once clear sky and as the tears fell from her face, great rain droplets pounded on the roof of the house. The storm that the Lord granted on behalf of Scholastica was so great, that neither Benedict nor the monks with him dared to set foot outside. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

The Angelic Doctor: St. Thomas Aquinas

A Student’s Prayer

By St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things, True source of light and wisdom, Origin of all being, Graciously let a ray of your light penetrate The darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness In which I have been born, An obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, A retentive memory, and The ability to grasp things Correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent Of being exact in my explanations And the ability to express myself With thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, Direct the progress, And help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Taken from the Apple Seeds website, produced by Fr. Brian Cavanaugh of the Third Order Franciscan and is found here: http://www.appleseeds.org/aquinas_stdpryr.htm

What is a Doctor?

From Microsoft Office

The Doctors writings are used to educate

The title ‘Doctor of the Church’ does not refer to a medical practice, but is the title of an authorized teacher and theologian of the Catholic Church. [1] This is a special title given by the pope to people who fulfill three requirements: remarkable holiness even for a saint; depth of doctrinal insight; extensive body of writings that are an expression of authentic and life giving Catholic Tradition. [1]

Often times, these people are also considered fathers of Christianity and whose works are well respected by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. There are thirty-three official Doctors of the Church; each one is considered to not be infallible—meaning there may be errors in their writings and teachings, however their writing impacted and guided the Church none-the-less. [2] St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Catherine of Siena are a few of the Doctors.

Five Lessons from the Angelic Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas recently had a feast day on January 28th. Here are five key points about his life, a model for all to look up to.

  1. With his parent’s end goal of gaining prestige and power by their son becoming the Abbey of Monte, St. Thomas was submitted to the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino at the age of five around the year 1231. [3, 4] There St. Thomas excelled in his education, even going beyond his peers in education and virtue. [4]
  2. At the age of 17, his father, the Count of Aquinas, sent St. Thomas to the University of Naples so to further his education. [3] To the distress of his parents, St. Thomas became inspired by the Dominicans and decided to join the order despite his family’s plans. [3, 4]
  3. His parents tried everything to dissuade him of this decision. During his two years of discernment, they went as far as sending St. Thomas an impure woman to tempt him. But St. Thomas remained chaste and for this, God rewarded him the gift of perfect, ‘Angelic’ chastity. [4]
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas’s writings and sermons flowed from his personal prayer life. [3] His greatest writing, Summa Theologiae summarizes and explains the entire body of Catholic teaching and is used even today to educate people. [5]
  5. He died in 1274, canonized as a saint and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1323. [4] St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Academics, apologists, theologians, chastity, lightning and storms. [5]

References and Additional Reading

On Doctors of the Catholic Church:

[1] Introduction to the Doctors of the Catholic Church; Definition and Complete List, The Crossroads Initiative, Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., available online (1/31/12). 

[2] Doctors of the Church, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

On St. Thomas Aquinas:

[3] St. Thomas Aquinas: His Life and Writings, The Crossroads Initiative, available online (1/31/12).

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Online, available online (1/31/12).

[5] January 28th, Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor, CatholicCulture.org, available online (1/31/12).

Leave a comment »

The Feast Day of My Patron Saint

Today is a special day.  It is the feast day of my patron saint, Mother Seton.  An explanation of Patron Saints and five facts of Saint Elizabeth Seton’s life follow.

Patron Saints

Patron saint is defined by SQPN as:

  • Who by designation of the sovereign pontiff or by popular tradition are venerated as favoring by their intercession certain interests, countries or localities…
  • After whom churches, parishes or other institutions are named
  • After whom persons are named in Baptism or Confirmation [1]
Joan of Arc, slandered by Shakespeare, who pre...

For example, Saint Joan of Arc is the patron saint of the soldiers—she was a soldier herself.   St. Joan is also the patron saint of France, martyrs, captives, people ridiculed for their piety, prisoners, and the Woman’s Army Corps, just to name a few. 

It is thought that the saints are especially near and dear to the subject of their patronage and that they can understand their patrons the most because they have experienced that subject.  Since they can understand the most, they will know best how to pray for us in our need to Jesus, the one and true intercessor.  Choosing a saint as a patron of a church, cause, organization, institution, personal life, etc., gives the people the opportunity to learn more about the saint, model their lives after the saint’s,  and to ask the saint for understanding and prayer. [2]

Five (plus one) Quick Facts of Mother Seton

“What was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life?  You know it was to do his Father’s will.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) aka Moth...

  Well, then, the first purpose of our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will.  We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life.  We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.”  ~from the writings of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton [3]

 
  1. Saint Elizabeth was born to the Bayley family in August 28, 1774 in New York to a professor of anatomy and the daughter of an Anglican minister.  She married William Seton in 1794.  Together, they had five children. [3,4]
  2. William’s sister, Rebecca Seton, became Elizabeth’s closest friend and together they were dubbed the “Protestant Sisters of Charity” for their missions of mercy.  William became sick and died in 1803—a little over a year later, Rebecca died as well. [4]
  3. In attempt to save William, Saint Elizabeth and William made a trip to Italy.  When he died, Elizabeth stayed in Italy with some friends, and it was there that she fell in love with the Catholic faith. [4]
  4. Her loved ones passing away left her to care for her children on very little money.  Her conversion to Catholicism raised barriers between her and her Protestant family—they refused to help her as long as she was Catholic.  Saint Elizabeth prayed, “If I right, Thy grace impart still in the right to stay.  If I am wrong, oh teach my heart to find the better way.” [4]
  5. Saint Elizabeth accomplished many things in her lifetime.  She was an avid writer, known for her charity, established many catholic schools, and elected mother of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (three times before she finally accepted).  [3,4]
  6. She is the patron saint of against in-law problems, against the death of children, against the death of parents, Apostleship of the Sea, opposition of Church authorities, people ridiculed for their piety, diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana, Catholic schools, and widows. [3]
Signature of United States philanthropist Eliz...

I chose Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton as my patron saint for many reasons.  The foremost is that I felt especially connected to her life, what she experienced before she converted to Catholicism, the challenges she faced when she converted, and the way she applied her faith to her life.  Secondly, she was an average person with a strong love for the Father’s will and for his presence in the Eucharist.  She makes sainthood seem attainable to me.

Do you have a patron saint?  Share in the comments.

References

[1] “Patron Saints”.  Saints.SQPN.com. Web.  {1/4/2011}.  <http://saints.sqpn.com/patron-saints/>

[2] Parkinson, Henry. “Patron Saints.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 Jan. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11562a.htm>

[3] “Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton”.  Saints.SQPN.com. Web.  {1/4/2011}. <http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-elizabeth-ann-seton/ >

[4] Randolph, Bartholomew. “St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 4 Jan. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13739a.htm>

7 Comments »

Five Quick Lessons From a Saint

 “Fight all error, but do it with good humor, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.”  ~St. John of Kanty

St. John of Kanty

Here are five quick facts about St. John of Kanty and the example he sets for all believers.

English: Church of All Saints in Vilnius. &quo...

Who is This Man?

  • St. John of Kanty was born on June 23, 1390 in Kanty, Silesia, Poland. His parents recognized the quick, kind intelligence of their son and sent him to the University of Cracow where he earned a doctorate in philosophy. He was ordained priest and given a position to teach at the university.

  • He was well liked by the students which bothered his superiors at the college. Falsely accused of doing wrong, he was sent to be a parish priest at Olkusz, a diocese of Krakow. Being frightened of the responsibilities of a parish priest, it took some time for him to win the hearts of the town people, but he eventually did through love.

  • A legend says that as some people robbed St. John of Kanty, they asked him if that was everything, and he replied yes. After the robbers left, he remembered some gold that he had sewn into his clothes. He tracked the robbers down and insisted that they took the gold as well. Shocked, the robbers refused and then gave him back all that they took.

  • St. John of Kanty lived on the bare minimum he needed in order to survive, giving everything else to the poor. He would go as far as to give the very dinner he was eating to a passing beggar (only to return to find his plate miraculously re-filled).

  • He died on December 24, 1473 and was canonized in 1676 with his feast day set to December 23. St. John of Kanty is the patron saint of Poland.

Prayer

“Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by the example of the Priest Saint John of Kanty, we may advance in knowledge of holy things, and by showing compassion to all, may gain forgiveness in your sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.” [1]

References

[1] Optional Memorial of St. John of Kanty, priest, Catholic Culture 

[2] St. John of Kanty, Catholic Online

1 Comment »

Litany of Saints

Even though the Catholic culture is immersed in the intercession and icons of the faithful saints, the first encounter with the saints that truly touched my heart was at the dedication of our remodeled church to God.  It was something like a three hour mass and at one point, we all were kneeling while the choir sang the litany of saints and the people responded with “Lord have mercy” and “Pray for us”.  It brought me to tears, realizing the incredible number of people we could call on to pray to God for us.  Our prayers rose to the heavens like the incense blessing the church building.  The intercession of the saints is a beautiful piece of the Catholic religion, one that is very often misunderstood.  I didn’t understand it intellectually while I prayed with the congregation that day, but I felt my heart and soul stir and knew that it was something holy.

Leave a comment »

To Become A Saint

I knew that the Church has quite a process in place to declare a person a Saint, but I did not realize how involved it actually is.  There are three titles that a person is given during the process before the person is actually declared to be a Saint of the Church [1].  However, before this process can even begin, five years must pass after the person’s death in order to allow the people’s emotions to settle and to keep the process objective [2].  In rare instances, the five year waiting period can be waived by the Pope [1,2].

Antichristus, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach of th...

Servant of God

The first title given to the person in question is the Servant of God, but this title is given only after close examination of the person’s life.  People who knew the person are called to the ecclesiastical court to testify of the person’s Christian virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, and others [2].  Additionally, all public and private documents of the person is gathered and reviewed.  After all of this is reviewed, it is decided whether to pass the Decree of Heroic Virtue.  If passed, then the person is given the title Servant of God [1].

Venerable

The Decree of Heroic Virtue is passed to the Pope.  Once the Pope agrees with the Decree of Heroic Virtue, the person is then given the title Venerable Servant of God [1].

Blessed

Pope Benedictus XVI

Once made a Vernerable Servant of God, a miracle has to take place.  This miracle has to be something that could not have happened naturally and must be proven to be attributed solely to the intercession of the Vernerable Servant of God [1].  The miracle is the first proof that the person in question is in heaven.  In cases of Martyrdom, the requirement of the first miracle is waived, on the basis that the Martyrdom is an Act of Grace and is a miracle in itself [1].  Upon agreement between the scientific commission and the theological commission that the act was in fact a miracle completed at the intercession of the Servant of God, the person is declared Blessed by the Pope and the rite of beatification begins, which is the acknowledgment in certain regions of the Church of the person’s intercessory abilities [1,2].  The person is not yet recognized in the entire church.

Saint

A second miracle, just like the first, must take place after the title of Blessed is given to the Servant of God.  Once the second miracle goes through the scientific and theological commissions, the person is canonized as a Saint by the Pope [1,2].  It should be noted that the person is not made a saint by the Pope, as this Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont of 10...is only done by God.  Rather the person is merely recognized by the Church as a person called to God’s side [1].  It is at this point that the person is recognized by the entire Church as a Saint with the ability to intercede for us.

As you can see, this is quite a process that can take many years to be completed.  There are a lot more details and intricate steps that take place, and I invite all to investigate this process in more details.  Below are my references for this article along with links for more information.

Questions?

Please ask if you have any questions, and I will get back to you with an answer and/or resources.

References

[1] The Process of Beautification and Canonization,  EWTN, Link

[2] Canonization Process, Catholic Pages, Link

More information

Vatican Saint-Maker Tells What it Takes to Make the Cut, Catholic Education Resource Center

Beautification and Canonization, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint What’s Your Name, Saint Theodora/Mother Theodora Blog

St. Maria and Our Call to Sainthood, A Knight’s Walk in the Kingdom Blog

6 Comments »

Veteran’s Day: St. Martin of Tours

In honor of the retired and active military persons– Thank you for your service!

Martin of Tours

By Charles L. O’Donnell [1]

“As I today was wayfaring”——
Holy, Holy, Holy!—low—
Said Christ in Heaven’s evening—
“I met a knight upon the road;
A plumed charger he bestrode.

 “He saw the beggar that was I—
Holy, Holy, Holy!—long—
Head and foot one beggary—
Holy, Holy, Holy!—song—
One that shivered in the cold
While his horse trailed cloth of gold.

 “Down he leaped, his sword outdrawn—
Holy, Holy Holy!—swells—
Cleaved his cloak, laid half upon—
Holy! now a peal of bells—
Shoulders that the cross had spanned;
And I think he kissed my hand.

 “Then he passed the road along,
Holy, Holy, Holy!—laud—
Caroling a knightly song—
Holy! in the face of God.
Yea, Father, by Thy sovereign name,
Begging is a goodly game.”

Saint Martin and the Beggar

Five Quick Facts about St. Martin of Tours [2]

  1. Born in 316, he was a catechumen by the age of ten and a roman soldier by age of 15.
  2. He left the Roman service by age 20, accused of cowardice, by proclaiming “With the sign of the Cross, I shall more certainly break through the ranks of the enemy than if armed with shield and sword.
  3. During his service as a Roman soldier, he came upon a beggar, but only having his sword and cloak, he cleaved the cloak in two for the beggar.  Later, Christ appeared to him in a vision, bearing the severed cloak, proclaiming, “Martin, the catechumen, has clothed Me with this mantle!”
  4. St. Martin had the gift to heal the sick, discerning of spirits, and raised three people from the dead.
  5. He died on November 11, 397 and was later canonized as the patron saint of many including: reformed alcoholics, beggars, soldiers, equestrians, and wine makers.

References

[1] Martin of Tours, Charles L. O’Donnell, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Edited by Harriet Monroe, Volume IX, October-March 191607, page 116, Link

[2] Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop, Catholic Culture, Link

4 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: