St. Robert Bellarmine – 17 Sept

St. Robert Bellarmine was born in Italy in 1542. As a boy, he was not interested in playing games. He liked to spend his time repeating to his younger brothers and sisters the sermons he had heard. He also liked to explain the lessons of the catechism to the little farm children of the neighborhood. Once he had made his first Holy Communion, he used to receive Jesus every Sunday.

It was his great desire to become a Jesuit priest, but his father had different plans for him. Robert’s father hoped to make a famous gentleman out of his son. For this reason, he wanted him to study many subjects and music and art, too. For a whole year, Robert worked to persuade his father. At last, when he was eighteen, he was permitted to join the Jesuits. As a young Jesuit, he did very well in his studies. He was sent to preach even before he became a priest. When one good woman first saw such a young man, not even a priest yet, going up into the pulpit to preach, she knelt down to pray. She asked the Lord to help him not to become frightened and stop in the middle. When he finished his sermon, she stayed kneeling. This time, however, she was thanking God for the magnificent sermon.

St. Robert Bellarmine became a famous writer, preacher, and teacher. He wrote thirty-one important books. He spent three hours every day in prayer. He had a deep knowledge of sacred matters. Yet even when he had become a cardinal, he considered the catechism so important that he himself taught it to his household and to the people.

Cardinal Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. He was proclaimed a saint in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. In 1931, Pius XI declared St. Robert Bellarmine a Doctor of the Church.

We can ask St. Robert to help us realize how important our religious instruction classes are. We should make an effort to be on time for classes, to pay attention and complete our assignments, and to take the study of our faith seriously.

Return to St. Mary’s College Oscott. Yr 5.

Today starts my return to Oscott college, as I continue towards the priesthood for the Lancaster diocese. I am now starting year 5 so not long to go. Please keep me and my fellow seminarians in your prayers.

Keys dates to remember me:

Sunday 13th September 2020: Receiving Candidacy

Sunday 27th June 2021: Ordination to Diaconate

July 2022: Ordination to the Priesthood.

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne – 31 August

St. Aidan was a seventh-century Irish monk. He lived at the great monastery of Iona, which St. Columban had founded. St. Oswald became king of North England in 634. He asked for missionaries to preach to his pagan people. The first missionary to go soon came back complaining that the English were rude, stubborn, and wild. The monks got together to talk about the situation. “It seems to me,” St. Aidan said to the returned monk, “that you have been too harsh with those people.” He then explained that, as St. Paul says, easy teachings are to be given first. Then when the people have grown stronger on the Word of God, they can start to do the more perfect things of God’s holy law.

When the monks heard such wise words, they turned to Aidan. “You should be the one to go to North England to preach the Gospel,” they said. Aidan went willingly. He took on his new assignment with humility and a spirit of prayer. He began by preaching. King Oswald himself translated Aidan’s sermons into English until the saint learned the language better. St. Aidan traveled all over, always on foot. He preached and helped the people. He was kind to the poor and preferred a simple lifestyle. He did much good and was greatly loved by the people. After thirty years of St. Aidan’s ministry, any monk or priest who came into the village was greeted with great joy by all the villagers.

On the island of Lindisfarne, St. Aidan built a large monastery. So many saints were to come from there that Lindisfarne became known as the Holy Island. Little by little, the influence of these zealous missionaries changed North England into a civilized, Christian land. St. Aidan died in 651.

We can learn from St. Aidan’s life that the witness of a joyful, kind person truly touches others. When we need help seeing the good in people, we can pray to St. Aidan.

Beheading of John the Baptist – 29 August

Beheading of John the Baptist – St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus. His mother was St. Elizabeth and his father was Zechariah. The first chapter of Luke’s Gospel tells of the wonderful event of John’s birth. Mark’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 14–29, records the cruel details of John the Baptist’s death.

King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias. John told Herod that this was wrong. But Herod and Herodias did not want to hear how they stood with God. They wanted to make their own rules. St. John the Baptist had to pay the price for his honesty. Yet he would have had it no other way. He would never have kept silent in the face of sin and injustice. His mission was to call people to repentance and he wanted everyone to be reconciled to God.

Herodias held a grudge against John, and when she had the chance, she arranged to have him beheaded. What harsh consequences John accepted for teaching the truth.

John had preached a baptism of repentance, preparing people for the Messiah. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and watched with quiet joy as the Lord’s public ministry began. John encouraged his own disciples to follow Jesus. He knew that Jesus’ fame would grow, while his would fade away. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, St. John the Baptist calls himself a voice crying in the desert to make straight the path of the Lord. He invited people to get ready, to prepare themselves to recognize the Messiah. His message is the same to each of us.

St. Augustine – 28 August

St. Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria on November 13, 354. He was brought up in a Christian atmosphere by his mother, St. Monica, whose feast we celebrated yesterday. Augustine went to Carthage to study. After a while, he left the practice of the Christian faith and spent many years in sinful living and in false beliefs. His mother Monica prayed daily for her son’s conversion. In Milan, the marvelous sermons of St. Ambrose made their impact too.

Finally, Augustine became convinced that Christianity was the true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted after reading the life of St. Anthony of Egypt, whose feast we celebrate on January 17. Augustine felt ashamed. “What are we doing?” he cried to one of his friends. “Unlearned people are taking heaven by force. Yet we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!”

Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine went into the garden and prayed, “How much longer, Lord? Why don’t I put an end to my sinning now?” Just then he heard a child singing the words, “Take up and read!” Thinking that God intended this as a message for him, he picked up the Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13, where Paul says to stop living immoral lives and to live in imitation of Jesus. It was just what Augustine needed. From then on, he began a new life.

He was baptised on Holy Saturday, 387. Four years later, he was ordained a priest. In 396, he was made bishop of Hippo when Bishop Valerius died. Augustine wrote many works to explain and defend the Catholic faith. Even today, his letters, sermons, and treatises are important to the study of theology and philosophy. On the wall of his room, he had the following sentence written in large letters: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.” St. Augustine defended the Church’s teachings against errors, lived simply, and supported the poor. He preached very often and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. “Too late have I loved you,” he once cried to God. But Augustine spent the rest of his life in loving God and leading others to love him, too.