“I do not think a man on earth can enjoy any pleasure equal to that which I feel in the holy communion. It is the greatest delight and comfort of a soul in her earthly pilgrimage, to receive most frequently this divine sacrament.” (Saint Elzear to Blessed Delphina)
Today, September 27 we celebrate the feast day of Saint Elzear and Blessed Delphina (1286-1323; 1283-1358, respectively), husband and wife, ministers to the poor, and the only Franciscan couple to be formally canonized and/or beatified.
Elzear, Count of Ariano, was born in southern France into nobility, and grew up ready to assume governance of the region. He was educated by his uncle, the abbot of the monastery of Saint Victor in Marseilles, France. From an early age, Elzear demonstrated the tendency to engage in severe acts of corporal mortification, in that he refused food, slept on the floor, and avoided pleasures of all kinds. His uncle, while admiring the boy’s conscientious pursuit of his relationship with the Lord, admonished him for the severity of his actions, and encouraged him to embrace the more loving and charitable aspects of the faith.
Elzear inherited his father’s rule when he was 23, and with Delphina moved to Benevento, Italy. He was not welcomed warmly by his subjects, and rather was taken advantage of by all due to his gentle disposition. Although he was urged by his advisors to discipline his subjects with threats and punishment, he replied: "Would you have me begin my government with massacres and blood? I will overcome these men by good. Now, by God's assistance, you will shortly see this miracle." And soon it came to be that his domain was converted to the Lord.
“1. Every one in my family shall daily hear mass, whatever business they may have. If God be well served in my house, nothing will be wanting.
2. Let no one swear, curse, or blaspheme, under pain of being severely chastised, and afterwards shamefully dismissed. Can I hope that God will pour forth his heavenly blessings on my house, if it is filled with such miscreants who devote themselves to the devil? Or, can I endure stinking mouths which infect houses, and poison the souls of others?
3. Let all persons honor chastity, and let no one imagine that the least impurity in word or action shall ever go unpunished in Elzear’s house. It is never to be hoped for of me.
4. Let all men and women confess their sins every week: and let no one be so unhappy as not to communicate at least on all the principal festivals, namely, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and the feasts of our Lady.
5. Let no persons be idle in my house. In the morning, the first thing shall be, that every one raise his heart to God with fervent prayer and oblation of himself, and of all his actions: then let all go to their business, the men abroad, the women at home. In the morning a little more time shall be allowed for meditation; but away with those who are perpetually in the church to avoid the business of their employments. This they do, not because they love contemplation, but because they desire to have their work done for them. The life of the pious woman, as described by the Holy Ghost, is not only to pray well, but also to be modest and obedient, to ply her work diligently, and to take good care of the household. The ladies shall pray and read in the mornings, but shall spend the afternoons at some work.
6. I will have no playing at dice, or any games of hazard. There are a thousand innocent diversions, though time passes soon enough without being idly thrown away. Yet I desire not my castle to be a cloister, nor my people hermits. Let them be merry, and sometimes divert themselves; but never at the expense of conscience or with danger of offending God.
7. Let peace be perpetually maintained in my family. Where peace reigns, there God dwells. Where envy, jealousy, suspicions, reports, and slanders are harbored in one family, two armies are formed, which are continually upon the watch and in ambush to surprise one another, and the master is besieged, wounded, and devoured by them both. Whoever will well serve God, he shall be dear to me; but I will never endure him who declares himself an enemy of God. Slanderers, detractors, and disorderly servants tear one another to pieces. All such as do not fear God, cannot be trusted by their master; but they will easily make a prey of his goods. Amidst such, he is in his house as in a trench, besieged on every side by enemies.
8. If any difference or quarrel happen, I will have the precept of the apostle inviolably observed, that the sun set not before it he appeased; but, in the instant that it falls out, let it be quashed, and all manner of bitterness laid in the tomb of forgetfulness. I know the impossibility of living among men, and not having something to suffer. Scarcely is a man in tune with himself one whole day; and if a melancholy humor comes on him, he knows not well what he himself would have. Not to be willing to bear or pardon others, is diabolical; but to love enemies, and to render good for evil, is the true touchstone of the sons of God. To such servants my house, my purse, and heart shall be always open: I am willing to regard them as my masters.
9. Every evening all my family shall assemble to a pious conference, in which they shall hear something spoken of God, the salvation of souls, and the gaining of paradise. What a shame is it, that though we are in this world only to gain heaven, we seldom seriously think of it; and scarcely ever speak of it but at random! O life, how is it employed! O labors, how ill are they bestowed! For what follies do we sweat and toil! Discourses on heaven invite us to virtue, and inspire us with a disrelish of the dangerous pleasures of the world. By what means shall we learn to love God if we never speak of him?—Let none be absent from this conference upon pretence of attending my affairs. I have no business which so nearly touched my heart as the salvation of those who serve me. They have given themselves to me, and I resign all to God, master, servants, and all that is in my power.
10. I most strictly command that no officer or servant under my jurisdiction or authority injure any man in goods, honor, or reputation, or oppress any poor person, or ruin any one under color of doing my business. I will not have my coffers filled by emptying those of others, or by squeezing the blood out of the veins, and the marrow out of the bones of the poor. Such blood-sucking wicked servants to enrich their masters, damn both masters and themselves. Do you imagine that a master who giveth five shillings in alms, wipeth away the theft of his servants who have torn out the entrails of the poor, whose cries for vengeance mount up to heaven? I had rather go naked to paradise, than, being clothed with gold and scarlet, be dragged with the impious rich man into hell. We shall be wealthy enough if we fear God. Any substance acquired by injustice or oppression will be like a fire hidden under the earth, which will rend, waste, and throw down or consume the whole. Let fourfold be restored if I be found to have anything which is another’s: and let my dealings be public, that all who have been aggrieved on my account, may find redress. Shall a man whose treasures are in heaven, be so fond of earthly dirt? I came naked out of the womb of my mother, and shall quickly return naked into the womb of our common mother, the earth. Shall I, for a moment of life between these two tombs, hazard the salvation of my soul for eternity? It so, faith, virtue, and reason would be wholly eclipsed, and all understanding blasted.”
In time, Elzear and Delphina joined the Secular Franciscans, and dedicated themselves to corporal works of mercy. It is said that every evening, twelve of the poorest citizens of the land dined with them. The holy couple further ministered to the sick and lame, especially those with leprosy who many others were afraid to have contact with. All that they had was shared with those in need.
Heavenly Father, You have given us Saint Elzéar and Blessed Delphina as shining examples of virtue in holy wedded life. As we venerate their pious achievements on earth, so may we arrive at blessed fellowship with them in heaven. Amen.
Year 2: Day 270 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Charity; Love for all;
Requested Intentions: Business success, peace, health (E); Conversion and deliverance of those who suffer, increase in vocations (M); Financial security and safe housing (M); For a daughter (K); Conversion of a family, deliverance of the souls in Purgatory (S); Successful marriage (A); Health, safety, grace, success of a building project (A); Successful treatment and recovery from cancer (D); Clear speech for a child (C); Conversion of a family (A); Successful employment (S); For the healing of impaired vision (F); For a couple experiencing difficulties (L); Successful employment after finishing college (M); Mother’s health (A); Financial security, freedom from anxiety (S); For a son and cousins (L); Peace and civility (B); Successful examination results (D); Safety of family, strength, courage, wisdom (C); For the souls of a departed father and brother, finding of a suitable marriage partner (R); Successful pilgrimage, deepening of prayer life (R); Restoration of health (J); Restoration of health (S); Freedom from pride (A); For children and marriage (M); For the birth of a healthy baby (Y); For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C).
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."