“God does not command us to live in hair shirts and chains, or to chastise our flesh with scourges, but to love Him above all things and our neighbor as ourselves.”
Today, January 18, we celebrate the feast of Saint Charles of Sezze (San Carlo de Sezze, 1613-1670), a man remembered for holiness, simplicity, service, and humility. His devotion to the Lord, and love of the Eucharist, was such that he was graced with a mystical wound on his heart. Throughout his life, Saint Charles demonstrated the virtues of charity and self-giving love to all he encountered.
Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a lay brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love." Following this determination, Charles became well known for his holiness and charity. He was frequently sought out for spiritual advice and counsel. Even the dying Pope Clement IX called Charles, the simple lay brother, to his bedside for a blessing. Charles also became known for his generosity and charitable nature. His superior, worried that his constant charity would deplete the monastery’s stores, forbade Charles to continue with his generosity to all travelers. Instead, he was ordered to only provide food to visiting friars. Ever obedient, Charles followed the rule strictly, but immediately noticed that alms to the friary decreased at the same time. After some time, he was able to convince his superior that the decrease in charity was related to the decrease in generosity of the community. As he was allowed to provide food generously to all, so, too, did the alms increase!
Charles’ devotion to the Passion and Eucharist—devotion that had begun in the fields of his youth—continued to grow each day. He was rewarded by the Lord, in recognition of his devotion and extraordinary faith—with the mystical experience of the stigmata. One morning, while Charles was participating in Mass, a bright ray of light emanated from the Sacred Host as it was elevated, and struck Charles in the heart. The experience left him deeply wounded, yet filled with incredible joy. One of his brothers described him in the following manner: "It was between two extremes, that is between pain and sweet bliss, and it seemed as if the spirit wanted to leave the body. I would have sustained whatever great torment or any hardship because of the sweetness.”
Saint Charles of Sezze followed where the Lord led him. When he was unable to become a priest, he entered the Franciscans as a lay brother. When he was unable to go on foreign missions, he embraced the most menial of tasks with charity, obedience, and humility. Saint Charles, in his quiet and simple way, is the perfect example of the love of Our Lord, shining forth to the world, through those who adore Him.
Lord our God, You are the shield and glorious reward of those who walk blamelessly in Your sight. keep us steadfast in Your holy service so that aided by the wise teaching and intercession of Brother Charles of Sezze, we may with hearts open to You run the way of perfect charity.
Year 2: Day 18 of 365
Prayer Intentions: True devotion to the Lord.
Requested Intentions: Freedom from persecution (A); For a friend struggling with medical problems and surgery (L); Financial blessings (D); For the success of a project (T); Improved financial stability (A); Improved relationship with business partner (A); For employment (N); Reconciliation of a workplace relationship (R); Healing of son, cousin, and friend (L); Healing of a husband from cancer, end to medical problems (T); Freedom from persecution (E); Successful employment (R); Reconciliation of a marriage (M); Successful marriage, employment, healing (J); For a family struggling with a difficult situation (M); For family intentions (I); Reconciliation of a marriage (S); For blessings upon a family (R); Permanent employment (N); Successful employment (M); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."