"With all my heart I pray for the hope of heaven, because hope and faith are of much more value than all the riches of this world."
"To my mind the only art is the faith, and Christ is my poetry."
"It is not surprising if, despite being far apart, we are present to each other and, without being acquainted, know each other, because we are members of one body, we have one head, we are steeped in one grace, we live on one loaf, we walk on one road and we dwell in the same house."
Today, June 22, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Paulinus of Nola (354-431), bishop, Confessor, writer, and inspiration to many—including six great saint of the Church who referenced him in letters of encouragement to others: Augustine, Jerome, Melania, Martin of Tours, Gregory and Ambrose. As Saint Augustine wrote, “Go to Campania-- there study Paulinus, that choice servant of God. With what generosity, with what still greater humility, he has flung from him the burden of this world's grandeurs to take on him the yoke of Christ, and in His service how serene and unobtrusive his life!" It is believed that Saint Ambrose would have chosen him to replace him as bishop of Milan, but Saint Paulinus was far from Milan when Saint Ambrose died. He said of him that “Christians should follow and imitate Paulinus,” and that the greatest good fortune of the century in which they were living was to be “witness to the life of so rare and admirable a man.” Throughout his life, Saint Paulinus devoted himself to the care and service of the poor, giving away all that he had to improve the lives of others.
“In our catechesis on the great teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola in southern Italy. A native of Bordeaux in Gaul, Paulinus became the Roman governor of Campania, where, after encountering the depth of popular devotion to Saint Felix Martyr, he was led to embrace the Christian faith. After the tragic loss of their first child, he and his wife sold their goods and undertook a life of chastity and prayer. Ordained a priest and then Bishop of Nola, Paulinus distinguished himself by his charity to the poor during the troubled times of the barbarian invasions. A man of letters and a gifted poet, Paulinus placed his art at the service of Christ and the Church. In his poetry and his vast correspondence, Paulinus expressed his deep faith and his love of the poor. His letters to such contemporary churchmen as Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Martin of Tours, reflect his asceticism, his deep sense of the Church's communion and his cultivation of the practice of spiritual friendship as a means of experiencing that communion within the mystery of Christ's mystical Body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit.”
Despite the admiration and respect he earned from many of his contemporaries (now saints), Paulinus was a catechumen, and had yet to devote himself to the faith. Rather, he attempted to maintain his status and riches in the world. Only through suffering and sorrow was Paulinus more fully drawn into the holy life the Lord had planned for him. Sadly, the first and only child of Paulinus and Theresia died shortly after his birth. Not long afterward, Paulinus was baptized into the faith, at the age of 38.
Saint Jerome wrote “both East and West were filled with his alms.”
In Nola, Saint Paulinus had the beautiful Church of Saint Felix constructed, where he devoted himself at all hours of the day in service to others. Paulinus undertook a life of extreme abstinence and toil, living a celibate life as brother to his wife, exchanging their fine robes for rough clothing, and the fine silver furnishings of their home for wood. Together, they embraced a life of true poverty, embracing the Gospel, and giving all they had—sometimes to excess—to those in need. Together, they founded a small community of monks in Nola, and opened a hospice for the poor and for travelers to the region.
At the age of 55, Paulinus was elected Bishop of Nola, a post he served faithfully for over 30 years. He comforted his peoples during the invasion of the Vandals, and subsequent enslavement of the community. It is said that following the ransom of the captives, a poor widow, whose only son had been taken away by the Vandal king came to see Saint Paulinus, recounting her tale. “What I have I give you,” said the Saint to her. ”We will go to Africa and you will offer me to the prince, saying I am one of your slaves, in exchange for the prisoner.” This they did, and Paulinus was accepted in place of the widow's son and employed as gardener. After a time the king discovered, by divine interposition, that this valuable slave was the renowned Bishop of Nola. He at once set him free, granting him also the freedom of the remainder of the townsmen of Nola who were enslaved.
The life of Saint Paulinus is one of great accomplishments and positions—none more important than those which began with his baptism into the faith. As with all baptism, Paulinus was made anew, filled with the Holy Spirit, and through this rebirth, was able to devote himself to the holy work of God, serving others, and bringing many to the faith. Today, we pray for a renewal of our own baptismal promise, awake and alive in our faith!
Look on thy God, Christ hidden in our flesh.
A bitter word, the cross, and bitter sight:
Hard rind without, to hold the heart of heaven.
Yet sweet it is; for God upon that tree
Did offer up His life: upon that rood
My Life hung, that my life might stand in God.
Christ, what am I to give Thee for my life?
Unless take from Thy hands the cup they hold,
To cleanse me with the precious draught of death.
What shall I do? My body to be burned?
Make myself vile? The debt’s not paid out yet.
Whate’er I do, it is but I and Thou,
And still do I come short, still must Thou pay
My debts, O Christ; for debts Thyself hadst none.
What love may balance Thine? My Lord was found
In fashion like a slave, that so His slave
Might find himself in fashion like his Lord.
Think you the bargain’s hard, to have exchanged
The transient for the eternal, to have sold
Earth to buy Heaven? More dearly God bought me.
You made Saint Paulinus
renowned for his love of poverty
and concern for his people.
May we who celebrate his witness to the Gospel
imitate his example of love for others.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Year 2: Day 173 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Service to all those in need; Singular focus on the Lord
Requested Intentions: For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L); Personal intentions (S); Successful passing of dental board examination (P); Blessings on a family (Z); Successful permanent employment (C); Healing of a son with autism (J)
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."