FEAST OF ST. JOHN OF CAPISTRANO
The world is mourning Babylon’s fall in these verses. After watching this year’s MTV awards show I am convinced that we morally are much closer to a Babylonian culture than we are to the original vision of the founders of this great nation of “A city on the hill” and a shining light to the world. Is America the new Babylon or that shining city on the hill? Yet for those who are united in Christ there is hope. Don’t worry the victory is for those who are in the risen one.
Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope. (Matthew 12:18-21)
You cannot receive if you do not ask. Let us ask for God’s mercy and count on it, to deliver our soul from death and keep us alive through this earthly famine for ourselves and others. In fact, one pious work we could do this week is a Novena to the Divine Mercy. In the novena Christ asks us to pray each day for a certain group of people.
1. All Sinners
2. Priests and Religious
3. Devout Souls
5. Departed brethren
8. Those in purgatory
9. And the Lukewarm
A good time to pray the novena is the hour of Christ’s death. “At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy…”
In the convent of Vercelli, where Blessed Emilia, a Dominican Religious, was Prioress, it was a point of the Rule never to drink between meals, unless with express permission of the Superior. This permission the Blessed Prioress was not accustomed to accord; she advised her sisters to make that little sacrifice cheerfully, in memory of the burning thirst which our Savior had endured for our salvation upon the Cross; and to encourage them to do this, she suggested to them to confide those few drops of water to their guardian angels, that he might preserve them until the other life, to temper the heat of Purgatory. The following incident shows how agreeable this pious practice was to God. A sister named Cecilia Avogadra came one day to ask permission to refresh herself with a little water, for she was parched with thirst. “My daughter,” said the Prioress, “make this little sacrifice for the love of God and in consideration of Purgatory.” “Mother, this sacrifice is not little; I am dying with thirst,” replied the good sister; nevertheless, although somewhat grieved, she obeyed the advice of her Superior. This double act of obedience and mortification was precious in the sight of God, and Sister Cecilia soon received its reward. A few weeks later she died, and after three days she appeared, resplendent in glory, to Mother Emilia. “O Mother!” she said, “how grateful I am to you! I was condemned to a long Purgatory for having had too great affection for my family, and behold, after two days, I saw my angel guardian enter my prison, holding in his hand the glass of water which you caused me to offer as a sacrifice to my Divine Spouse; he poured that water upon the flames which devoured me, they were extinguished immediately, and I am delivered. I take my flight to Heaven, where my gratitude will never forget you.”
· Perhaps a pious devotion for Fridays in honor of our Lords thirst could be to go to morning confession and mass followed by a 9 am to 3 pm fast of food and water. Then do an act of charity for someone-maybe a good idea would be to buy a bottle of water for the poor.
St. John of Capistrano
St. John was born in 1386 at Capistrano in the Italian Province of the Abruzzi. His father was a German knight and died when he was still young. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, St. John tried to broker a peace. Unfortunately, his opponents ignored the truce and St. John became a prisoner of war. On the death of his wife he entered the order of Friars Minor, was ordained and began to lead a very penitential life. John became a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena and a noted preacher.
· The world at the time was in need of strong men to work for salvation of souls.
· Thirty percent of the population was killed by the Black Plague, the Church was split in schism and there were several men claiming to be pope.
· As an Itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, St. John preached to tens of thousands and established communities of Franciscan renewal.
· He reportedly healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.
· He was successful in reconciling heretics.
After the fall of Constantinople, he preached a crusade against the Muslim Turks. At age 70 he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Moslems.
Things to Do
· St. John struggled with finding his vocation. Younger people can pray to St. John for help in discerning God's will for their lives.
· Learn more about the times that St. John Capistrano lived, such as the Crusades, the Black Plague, anti-popes.
· St. John is the patron of jurists. We can turn to him to help discern major decisions. We can also follow his example of strict self-discipline in order to think more clearly.
· In 1776 in Southern California, Father Junipera Serra founded the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, named for St. John, for mission work to the Indians. The mission is a historical site and has both a Catholic Basilica and the original smaller chapel that are still used for Catholic liturgy. See the Wikipedia page. There is also a tradition of the swallows returning to San Juan every March 19. Find out more about this annual event.
Amoris Lætitia Passionate love, marriage and virginity (158-162)
Many people who are unmarried are not only devoted to their own family but often render great service in their group of friends, in the Church community and in their professional lives. Sometimes their presence and contributions are overlooked, causing in them a sense of isolation. Many put their talents at the service of the Christian community through charity and volunteer work.
Others remain unmarried because they consecrate their lives to the love of Christ and neighbor. Their dedication greatly enriches the family, the Church and society.” Virginity is a form of love. As a sign, it speaks to us of the coming of the Kingdom and the need for complete devotion to the cause of the Gospel. It is also a reflection of the fullness of heaven, where “they neither marry not are given in marriage.” Saint Paul recommended virginity because he expected Jesus’ imminent return and he wanted everyone to concentrate only on spreading the Gospel: “the appointed time has grown very short.” Nonetheless, he made it clear that this was his personal opinion and preference, not something demanded by Christ: “I have no command in the Lord.” All the same, he recognized the value of the different callings: “Each has his or her own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Reflecting on this, Saint John Paul II noted that the biblical texts “give no reason to assert the ‘inferiority’ of marriage, nor the ‘superiority’ of virginity or celibacy” based on sexual abstinence. Rather than speak absolutely of the superiority of virginity, it should be enough to point out that the different states of life complement one another, and consequently that some can be more perfect in one way and others in another. Alexander of Hales, for example, stated that in one sense marriage may be considered superior to the other sacraments, inasmuch as it symbolizes the great reality of “Christ’s union with the Church, or the union of his divine and human natures”.
Consequently, “it is not a matter of diminishing the value of matrimony in favor of continence.” “There is no basis for playing one off against the other… If, following a certain theological tradition, one speaks of a ‘state of perfection’; this has to do not with continence in itself, but with the entirety of a life based on the evangelical counsels.” A married person can experience the highest degree of charity and thus “reach the perfection which flows from charity, through fidelity to the spirit of those counsels. Such perfection is possible and accessible to every man and woman.”
The value of virginity lies in its symbolizing a love that has no need to possess the other; in this way it reflects the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven. Virginity encourages married couples to live their own conjugal love against the backdrop of Christ’s definitive love, journeying together towards the fullness of the Kingdom. For its part, conjugal love symbolizes other values.
On the one hand, it is a particular reflection of that full unity in distinction found in the Trinity. The family is also a sign of Christ. It manifests the closeness of God who is a part of every human life, since he became one with us through his incarnation, death and resurrection. Each spouse becomes “one flesh” with the other as a sign of willingness to share everything with him or her until death. Whereas virginity is an “eschatological” sign of the risen Christ, marriage is a “historical” sign for us living in this world, a sign of the earthly Christ who chose to become one with us and gave himself up for us even to shedding his blood.
Virginity and marriage are, and must be, different ways of loving. For “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.” Celibacy can risk becoming a comfortable single life that provides the freedom to be independent, to move from one residence, work or option to another, to spend money as one sees fit and to spend time with others as one wants. In such cases, the witness of married people becomes especially eloquent. Those called to virginity can encounter in some marriages a clear sign of God’s generous and steadfast fidelity to his covenant, and this can move them to a more concrete and generous availability to others.
Many married couples remain faithful when
one of them has become physically unattractive, or fails to satisfy the other’s
needs, despite the voices in our society that might encourage them to be
unfaithful or to leave the other. A wife can care for her sick husband and
thus, in drawing near to the Cross, renew her commitment to love unto death. In
such love, the dignity of the true lover shines forth, inasmuch as it is more
proper to charity to love than to be loved. We could also point to the presence
in many families of a capacity for selfless and loving service when children
prove troublesome and even ungrateful. This makes those parents a sign of
the free and selfless love of Jesus. Cases like these encourage celibate
persons to live their commitment to the Kingdom with greater generosity and
openness. Today, secularization has obscured the value of a life-long union and
the beauty of the vocation to marriage. For this reason, it is “necessary to
deepen an understanding of the positive aspects of conjugal love.”