On the 23rd July, the Catholic Church gratefully celebrates the feast of St.Bridget of Sweden liturgically as a memoria. St. Bridget, born on the 14th June 1303, was a highly reputed woman mystic of the middle ages. Her mysticism centred greatly on her contemplation of the Passion of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ. And through her mystical writings she encouraged and fostered devotion to the Passion of Jesus our Lord in the Church as the effective means of making His holy sacrifice of the Cross in the daily Mass bear the salutary fruits of holiness and salvation in the faithful.
It has been said that for a long time St. Bridget had wanted to know the number of blows received by our Lord Jesus Christ during his passion. And reportedly, our Lord Jesus appeared to her one day and disclosed that he had received 5480 blows of his holy body. It is further reported that Jesus our Lord taught her 15 prayers to honor His sacred passion and said that one would honor him for receiving all these 5480 blows by reciting all the 15 prayers together with 15 our Fathers and 15 Hail Marys for a whole year. And our Lord Jesus Christ is said to have promised twenty one salutary favours of salvation for any person who would honour him for the 5480 blows he endured during his sacred passion by praying these 15 prayers for a whole year. These 15 prayers may be found in ordinary prayer books of Christian piety, particularly in the Pieta prayer book. These 15 prayers are very useful for making the ‘way of the cross’ in a contemplative and personal manner.
All things considered, there is nothing in our perishable world worth SHEPHERD’S CALL — JULY 2019 2 considering and contemplating more than Jesus’ way of the Cross through which He, the Son of God, manifested on the one hand, the length, the breadth and the height and the depth of His love for His Eternal Father, and on the other hand he demonstrated that ‘no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends’, and that too for their redemption, sanctification and salvation!
ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE
St. Thomas was born a Jew and was called to be one of the twelve Apostles. His birth and death dates are unknown, but his feast day is celebrated July 3. He lived before the formal establishment of the Catholic Church but is recognized as the Patron Saint of architects. He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities. At the Last Supper, when Christ told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday earned him the title of “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his skepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded - seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails. Thomas even put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand into Christ’s side. After verifying the wounds were true, St. Thomas became convinced of the reality of the Resurrection and exclaimed, “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus.
ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE
Nothing is known of St. James the Greater’s early life, though it has been established that he is the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the Apostle. The title “the Greater” was added to St. James’ name to help distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who is believed to have been shorter than James “the Greater.” Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ first disciples. James was fishing with his father and John the Apostle when Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called for the fisherman, who were unable to catch any fish that day, to dip their nets in the water once again. When the fishermen followed Jesus’ instructions, they found their nets full, and after emptying the fish on board, the boats nearly sank from their weight. Later, James was one of only three called by Jesus to witness his Transfiguration, and when he and his brother wanted to call fire upon a Samaritan town, both were rebuked by Jesus. Following Christ’s Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He traveled and spread the Word for nearly forty years in Spain. It is said that one day, as he prayed, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and asked him to build her a church, which he did. Later, James returned to Jerusalem but was martyred for his faith by King Herod, who decapitated him. Saint James the Greater is known as the first Apostle to die. As he was not allowed to be buried following his martyrdom, his remains were taken to Compostela, Spain, by some of his followers, who buried him. In the ninth century his remains were discovered and moved to a tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Today, his remains can still be found in the Cathedral of Santiago. Because Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate to following Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo declared it a Shrine. St. James the Greater Prayer O glorious Apostle, St. James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane; thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life, that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus, we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven.
St. Joachim and St. Anne
The Church remembers St. Joachim and St. Anne on July 26th, the parents of the Virgin Mary. Despite the importance of their role as the maternal grandparents of Jesus, we do not know too much about them.
Regarding Joachim, we know that he was a shepherd from Jerusalem, married to Anne. They did not have any children, and they were a rather elderly couple when, one day, while Joachim was at work in the fields as usual, an angel appeared to announce the birth of a child, and Anna also had the same vision.
So they called their little girl Mary, which means “loved by God,” and then they moved to Nazareth, where they educated Mary, teaching her the law of the Lord. We do not know when Joachim and Anne died, and for many centuries their memory remained in the shadows.
St. Anne is invoked as the protector of pregnant women, who turn to her to obtain from God three great favours: a happy birth, a healthy child, and sufficient milk to be able to raise the baby. And she is the patron of many jobs related to her duties as mother, including washerwomen and embroiderers.
St. Joachim only found space in the liturgical calendar in 1584: initially on March 20th, moving to Sunday in the octave of the Assumption in 1738, then to August 16th in 1913, before rejoining his holy wife on July 26th with the new liturgical calendar. Source: salt+light media
St. Ignatius of Loyola
The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything— prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.
It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises. He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.
In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others—one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier—vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the Pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general. When companions were sent on various missions by the Pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.
Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—”for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls. Source: Franciscan Media