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."

July 31: Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Posted by Jacob

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,

my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.

Today, July 31, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit Order), and author of the “Spiritual Exercises.” Saint Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Jesus Christ, and the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.” He was a man who recognized that ordinary gifts can be used in spectacular ways by God, when an individual allows the Master Artist to use His powers and creativity in them. Saint Ignatius of Loyola is remembered for saying the words to those in his spiritual direction: "Go forth and set the world on fire."

Born Iñigo de Recalde de Loyola, Ignatius grew up in Loyola Castle, Azpeitia, Guipuzcoa, Spain. The youngest of twelve children, at age sixteen he was sent to Castile where he served as a page at the court of the provincial governor. There, he developed a taste for the fine things that royal court life had to offer, including gambling, which he pursued with abandon. Taken with wearing the uniform of the royal soldier, Ignatius enlisted in the army of the Duke of Nagara. Having served well in the army, he was promoted to officer, and led his troops well. At the siege of Pamplona in 1521, he was seriously injured by a cannon ball hitting his legs, breaking one and wounding the other. His convalescence lasted nearly a year, after which time he miraculously recovered, although would walk with a painful limp for the remainder of his life. During that time, out of desperation and boredom, Ignatius read about the life of Jesus and other lives of the saints. "Since these men were as human as I am," he noted, "I could be as saintly as they were."

There, in his convalescent bed, Ignatius began the process of conversion, examining both his intellect, but also his emotional reactions to the call of the Holy Spirit. One night as he lay awake, as his autobiography recounts, he "saw clearly the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child Jesus, at whose sight for a notable time he felt a surpassing sweetness, which eventually left him with such a loathing for his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul, and never again was there the least consent to any carnal thought." Leaving his worldly desires for fame and love behind, Ignatius strove to live a life worth of sainthood.

After his recovery, instead of re-enlisting as a soldier, Saint Ignatius traded his uniform for the clothing of a beggar. He traveled to Montserrat in Barcelona, visiting the famous portrait of Our Blessed Mother in the Benedictine monastery, and there he hung his sword before her according to the rules of chivalry. He would serve to defend her honor, and by extension, the honor of the Church, with his life.

Ignatius spent the next year living wherever he could—at the monastery, dependent on the kindness of monks; in shelters for the indigent; mostly in a cave near a place called Manresa. During the year, he spent his time in contemplation of Christ, deep prayer, fasting and mortification, and discipline. It was here beside the cave that Saint Ignatius received what he referred to as both a “vision” and an “awakening.” While he never revealed the content of the vision, it seems to have been an encounter with God as He really is so that all creation was seen in a new light and acquired a new meaning and relevance, and experience that enabled Ignatius to find God in all things one of the characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. His year at the cave near Manresa was also a time of great trial for him, and he began writing his most famous work, the Spiritual Exercises-- a manual for training the soul to grow nearer to God.

Drawn to the Holy Land, Ignatius began a pilgrimage to Rome and to Jerusalem, riding from Jaffa to Jerusalem on a donkey. While he wished to remain in the Holy City, anti-Christian sentiment drove him out, and he returned to Europe. There, he undertook a rigorous study of theology and classics in Spanish and French universities, so that he might enter the priesthood. Ending his studies in Paris, upon ordination as priest, Ignatius, along with six students, founded the great Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits.

During this time, he was imprisoned in Salamanca on suspicion of heresy. To a friend who expressed sympathy for his imprisonment, Ignatius wrote: “It is a sign that you have little love of Christ in your heart, or you would not deem it so hard a fate to be in chains for His sake. All Salamanca does not contain as many fetters, manacles, and chains as I would gladly wear for love of Jesus Christ.”

The early members of the Jesuit order took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, joining themselves to the Lord through the Spiritual Exercises. In the rules established for his order, 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 members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls. While Ignatius most wished to return to Palestine to preach Christianity to the peoples there, war prevented this. Out of obedience to Pope Paul III, members of the order were sent throughout Europe, and Ignatius, elected Superior General, remained behind, building the order, establishing universities, hospitals, and centers of service to the poor, sick, and needy. During this time, the Jesuits grew from a handful of men to over 1,000 throughout Europe, working as missionaries and in universities and other schools.

Luis Gonçalves de Camara, one of his closest associates wrote of him, “Ignatius was always rather inclined toward love; moreover, he seemed all love, and because of that he was universally loved by all. There was no one in the Society who did not have much great love for him and did not consider himself much loved by him.”

Toward the end of his life, Ignatius was plagued by stomach ailments, intense pain in his legs, and near blindness—all of which he bore without complaint. Saint Ignatius died of a fever on July 31, 1556, with the name of Jesus on his lips. His relics are buried in the Church of the Gésu in Rome, at the center of Jesuit institutions of education and formation to this day. His accomplishments, left both in his writings, and in the continuing work of the Jesuits, survive him. Saint Ignatius took a group of ordinary men, put them under the power of God, taught them how to listen to His voice, and formed a new sword for the Church of unequalled sharpness and strength. The daring projects of the Jesuits were carefully considered, using the virtue of prudence or wisdom, before drawing upon an almost superhuman courage and endurance to implement the designs they believed were planned by God. Saint Ignatius was willing to risk all, suffer, and deny himself to obediently follow the will of God. We, like the Jesuits, pray today to have the strength to listen for the Will of God, and to find Him in all aspects of His glorious creation!

Selected Quotations of Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

"God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.

All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.

As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go."

"Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God."
“Let us work as if success depended upon ourselves alone, but with heartfelt conviction that we are doing nothing, and God everything.”
“There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

“If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity."

From the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises:

The First Principle and Foundation

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into
us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God
and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better
leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Teach us, Good Lord,
To Serve Thee as Thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

July 31: Saint Helen of Skövde

Posted by Jacob

Today, July 31, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Helen of Skövde (also known as Saint Helena, or Saint Elin av Skövde, 1101-1160), widow, pilgrim, and martyr of the Church. Helen is the patron saint of Skövde, Sweden, and her image decorates the coat of arms for the town. Her Acts were recorded by the Bishop of Skara, Brynolf Algotsson, on hundred years after her death.

Born into nobility, Helen lived a quiet and entitled upbringing. Married as a young woman, she married and bore several children, but was sadly widowed a very young age. Following the death of her husband, Helen devoted herself to caring for her family and maintaining the family farm. Diligent and hard-working, the family thrived. However, she soon began to feel called to help those who were less well-of, and gradually began distributing her wealth and possessions to the poor.

Dedicated to the Lord, she financed the construction of the church in Skövde, and subsequently departed Sweden for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, she grew closer to God, and returned to Skövde to her farm where she dwelt in charitable acts, quiet contemplation, and prayer.

Prior to her departure on pilgrimage, Helen’s now-adult daughter married an unkind and abusive man, who frequently beat her and was mercilessly unkind. While Helen was away, visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the servants of the household conspired to murder the abusive man. Upon her return, her daughter’s in-laws blamed her, and hoping to avenge the death of their son, killed Helen on the way to church at Götene.

Church of Saint Helen
Saint Helen was buried in the Skövde church she helped finance, and a spring with reported miraculous healing properties sprang forth at the site. Following her death, the miracles began. The most profound miracle resulted when a blind man found the severed finger of Saint Helen (wearing a ring she had returned from the Holy Land with), and was instantly restored to sight. Other strange curiosities include the stone on which her body was washed that was said to have split in two as her blood ran over it. Pregnant women traditionally walked around the stones to ensure a hassle-free delivery.

Over time, Saint Helen’s grave became a pilgrimage site. Traditionally, pilgrims would take home small bags of dirt from St. Helen’s grave (they wore the bags around their necks) for their healing properties.

Saint Helen demonstrated, throughout her life, and openness to the call of the Lord. Not content to relax in her nobility and privilege, she distributed all she had to those in need, espousing the charitable acts of Jesus. Drawn to the Holy Land, she opened herself to the call of God, leading her deeper into the sacred relationship with the Divine. We pray today for the same courage to open ourselves to the call of the Lord, certain in the wonders and gifts that await us.

Year 2: Day 212 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Charity and love; the courage to follow our hearts toward the Lord.
Requested Intentions: For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S); Restored family relationships (A); Healthy conception and delivery of children (J); For a girlfriend’s recovery from a debilitating mental illness (J); For a daughter’s successful examination results (A); Occupational success, health and safety of family (S).

July 30: Saint Peter Chrysologus, the "Golden-Worded," Doctor of the Church

Posted by Jacob

Today, July 30, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Peter Chrysologus (380-450), bishop and Doctor of the Church. Saint Peter’s great gift to the Church is the words he left behind and the impact those words have upon those who hear them—both while he was alive, and in the present day. His name, meaning “Golden Word” in Greek, comes not from long and intricate homilies given on complex theological issues, but rather his humility and the hope that he would not “bore” the faithful. His teachings on the Annunciation, Prayer, Fasting and Mercy, the Incarnation and Human Dignity, the Priesthood of All Catholic Believers, the Epiphany, and the Love of God—as well as nearly 200 other sermons—survive today, inspiring us, and reminding us of the core tenets of our faith. He is credited as the first to deliver the “short sermon”—morally rich, Gospel-driven, doctrinally sound brief reflections on the Catholic way of being in the world, in relation to God.

Born in Imola, Italy, Peter was baptized, educated, and ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Imola, Cornelius. From his ordination, he was recognized for his simple, plain, and humble oratorical style—delivering sermons that reached all who listened. His eloquence earned him the name “Chrysologus,” meaning “golden-worded” in Greek.

Consecrated as Bishop of Ravenna—the capital of the Roman Empire in the West , Saint Peter spent the majority of his life there, tending to his flock, delivering sermons, countering heresy, encouraging service and mercy to others, and establishing services to care for the city’s poor. He is credited with driving paganism from the city, having remarked, "Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ."

Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to the city of his birth, Imola, and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died there. His relics were buried in the church of Saint Cassian.

The legacy of Saint Peter Chrysologus is his writings. Below are excerpts from some of his sermons. His words, written in the fifth century, continue to have potent meaning today, calling us to lives of prayer, fasting, and mercy, and lives which value our personal human dignity as sons and daughters of Christ.

From a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus on Prayer, Fasting, and Mercy:

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus on the Incarnation and Human Dignity

A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin. This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature. It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human. Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men. He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonor to him who made him.

Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars. The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvelous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.

And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever, for all the ages of eternity. Amen.

You made Peter Chrysologus
an outstanding preacher of your incarnate Word.
May the prayers of St. Peter help us to cherish
the mystery of our salvation
and make its meaning clear in our love for others.
Grant 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.

Pope Paul VI: Canonization Homily of Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic

Posted by Jacob

Today, July 30, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic (1866-1942), Capuchin friar, referred to as both the Apostle of the Confessional and the Apostle of Unity. At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation. To all who came to his confessional, Saint Leopold was a guiding voice toward the redemption of Heaven.

From the canonization homily, delivered by Pope Paul VI:

Who is it, who is the one who brings us together today to celebrate in his blessed name a manifestation of Christ’s Gospel, an event inexpressible, yet clear and evident, that marvelous appearance which allows us to glimpse in the outline of a humble friar an uplifting and at the same time almost disconcerting figure?

Look! Look! Saint Francis! Do you see him? Look how poor he is, how human. It is indeed Saint Francis himself, so humble, so serene, so absorbed as to appear carried away in his own inner vision of the invisible presence of God. And yet to us and for us he remains so present, so accessible, so available that he appears to know us, to await us, to know all about us and to be able to read our hearts. Look well: he is a poor little Capuchin, he looks ill and frail and yet so strangely strong that we seem to be drawn to him spellbound. Look at him through Franciscan eyes. Do you see him? Are you astonished? Who is he? Yes, let us admit it, he is frail, popular yet true image of Jesus, of that very Jesus who speaks at once to the ineffable God, to the Father who is Lord of heaven and earth, and also to us, bound up as we are in the littleness of our suffering humanity. And what is Jesus saying through this poor little spokesman of his? Great mysteries of the infinite transcendence of God, enchanting us and being clothed in moving and enthralling language, echoing the Gospel words: “Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

But who is it, then? It is Father Leopold. Yes, the Servant of God, Father Leopold of Castelnovo, who was called Adeodato Mandic before he became a friar. Born in Dalmatia, like Saint Jerome, he surely had in his character and in his memory the sweetness of that charming land on the Adriatic coast, and in his heart, in his homelife, the goodness and piety of that sturdy nation. Born on 12 May 1866, he died in Padua, where, having become a Capuchin, he had lived most of his life, until he concluded it, on 30 July 1942, aged 76, just over thirty years ago. Here, in this case, Canon Law has been indulgent, departing from the rule which does not permit the discussion of the virtues of a Servant of God until fifty years after his death. Yet, how could his case be delayed when the voice of the people in favour of his holiness, instead of fading with the passing of time, grew ever more insistent, more well-documented and more certainly authenticated? The judgement of the Church (cfr. can. 2101), in anticipation a favourable conclusion, had to give way to the spontaneous chorus of all who had known this humble Capuchin or had experienced his marvelous intercession. So it is not only those who have benefited from his prayers who proclaim Father Leopold’s exceptional moral and spiritual worth. There are a few still living who can testify to this, saying: “I knew him. Yes, he was a holy religious, a man of God, one of those exceptional souls who at once impress their sanctity upon us.” And in the memory of those who know something of the history of the Capuchin Order there appears again the remembrance of those great friars of the past, faithful to the most strict Franciscan traditions personifying his holiness. Let us just recall one typical literary figure, well-known to all: Manzoni’s Father Cristoforo.

But no: Father Leopold was smaller in stature and perhaps also in natural talent. He was not a preacher (as a good many capable Capuchins are), he did not enjoy good health being, indeed, a very frail man. All the same we must not forget one particular point. Coming from the Levantine shore of the Adriatic, from Castelnovo on the Mouth of Cattaro, in the territory of Croatia-Montenegro-Herzegovina-Bosnia, he ever kept a faithful love for his native land event though, living in Padua, he became equally attached to the new country which welcomed him and above all to the people among whom he carried on his silent and unwearying ministry. Blessed Leopold, therefore, unites in himself this two-fold loyalty, fusing it into a symbol of friendship and brotherhood which every one of his followers must adopt. It was in this way that he fulfilled a dominant thought and theme of his life. As we all know, Blessed Leopold was “ecumenical” before his time, that is to say he dreamed and looked forward and worked without fuss for the restoration of the perfect unity of the Church which yet jealously respects the manifold ethnic differences within her fold. Such unity is dictated by her own and still more by the sacred and mysterious will of Christ who founded a Church totally imbued with the essential demand of that supreme prayer of Jesus: “Ut unum sint”, may all be one those whom the same faith, the same baptism, the same Lord, in one Spirit, a bond of peace (cf. Ephesians 4:3 fol. John 17:11-21). Oh, that Blessed Leopold may be the prophet and the intercessor of such a great grace for the Church of God!

But the very special mark of the heroism and charismatic virtue of Blessed Leopold was something else. Everyone knows it, it was his ministry in hearing confessions. The late Cardinal Larraona, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, in the 1962 decree regarding the Beatification of Father Leopold wrote as follows: “This was his daily routine; after saying Mass early in the morning, he used to sit in the confessional and stay there the whole day long hearing confessions. He kept this up for about forty years without any complaint.” This is, we believe, the primary reason that has won for this humble Capuchin the Beatification which we are now celebrating.

He became holy principally in the exercise of the Sacrament of Penance. Thank God, many splendid accounts of this aspect of the sanctity of the new Blessed have already appeared. We have only to admire and thank the Lord for offering to the Church in these days such a singular figure of a minister of the sacramental grace of Penance. Thus, on the one hand, priests are reminded of the capital importance of this ministry both as regards instruction and its incomparable spiritual good, whilst on the other hand there is a reminder for the faithful, whether fervent or lukewarm or indifferent, what a providential and marvelous help this individual and auricular Confession still is today. In fact, more than ever today here is a source of grace and of peace, a school of Christian living, and incomparable comfort in the earthly pilgrimage towards eternal happiness.

May Blessed Leopold strengthen souls eager for spiritual advancement to assiduous frequenting of Confession which some critics, certainly not inspired by mature Christian wisdom, would like to see relegated among the outmoded forms of living, and personal spirituality. May our new Blessed succeed in calling to this tribunal of Penance – severe, it is true, but not less a sweet haven of comfort, of interior truth, of resurrection to grace and of training in the therapy of Christian authenticity – many, many souls dulled by the deceits of present day manners and make them feel for themselves by the secret and inspiring vigour of the Gospel through speaking with the Father, through meeting with Christ and being caught up in the Holy Spirit. So may they be renewed in their concern for the good of others, for justice and for worthiness of living.

To you Franciscan Brothers of the Capuchin Order: our thanks for having given to the Church and to the world a typical example of your strict, friendly and wholesome school of Christianity as faithful to itself as it is able to rouse up again the joy of prayer and goodness in the hearts of the people.

To you sons of Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the whole of Yugoslavia: honour to you for having brought forth in our time such a lofty and yet human example of your Catholic tradition.

And to you Paduans: we wish you to honour, beside your own Saint Anthony, this not dissimilar Franciscan brother so that from them both you may hand on to the next generations the Christian and human virtues already so splendidly enshrined in your history.


July 30: Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic, "Apostle of the Confessional"

Posted by Jacob

“We have in heaven the heart of a mother, The Virgin, our Mother, who at the foot of the Cross suffered as much as possible for a human creature, understands our troubles and consoles us.”

"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon? God's mercy is beyond all expectation."

"Be at peace; place everything on my shoulders. I will take care of it. I give my penitents only small penances because I do the rest myself."

"A priest must die from apostolic hard work; there is no other death worthy of a priest."

Today, July 30, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic (1866-1942), Capuchin friar, referred to as both the Apostle of the Confessional and the Apostle of Unity. At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation. To all who came to his confessional, Saint Leopold was a guiding voice toward the redemption of Heaven.

Bogdan was born the twelfth child to Peter and Caroline Mandic in Castelnuovo, a small port at the southern tip of Dalmatia (modern-day Croatia). Born physically malformed and frail of health, he was baptized with the name Bogdan, which means 'the God-given-one'. Despite his physical weaknesses, he demonstrated great spiritual strength and integrity as a child. Leopold was physically short and weak, and developed chronic arthritis which would plague him throughout his life. He suffered from abdominal pain and discomfort, spoke with a stammer, and lacked the strength to speak loudly. Even as a child these afflictions plagued him, and would gradually worsen over time, until he would be forced to walk with a cane, stooped over, and his hands would be rendered practically useless due to arthritis. Nevertheless, his humility and faith shone through his crippled frame, and he placed his life in the hands of the Lord, through which all things are possible at the age of 16.

Able to accept all that the Lord had given him, Bogdan left his home and traveled to Italy at 16, where he undertook studies with the Capuchins at their Seraphic School in Udine. Excelling at his studies, he entered the order as a novice at age 22, taking the name Leopold. Making his profession of vows the following year, Leopold began the clerical studies in Padua and Venice, and was ordained at the age of 24. Despite the rigors and austerities of Capuchin life, Saint Leopold was to become a model of spirituality, obedience, and faith.

Wishing nothing more than to be sent as a missionary to Eastern Europe, his heart yearned to assist in the re-unification of the area which had been torn apart by religious strife. However, his superiors denied his every request, due to his frail nature and generally ill health. Rather, he was stationed at various Friaries in Venice, ministering in the confessional and as a spiritual advisor. This was a difficult time for Leopold, but he obediently did as instructed. He once expressed his feelings about this when he said: "I am like a bird in a cage, but my heart is beyond the seas."

In1906, Father Leopold was sent to Padua, where he would spend the majority of the rest of his life. It was there, in Padua, that he embraced his mission as Confessor and Spiritual Director—a role through which the Lord would work within him for nearly 40 years. During World War I, however, Leopold was sent to prison, as he would not renounce his Croat nationality. His year in prison was difficult for him, and his health worsened dramatically.

Returning to Padua, Leopold spent nearly twelve hours each day (sometimes more!) in the confessional, counseling thousands of penitents. His voice was weak, his body frail, but his love and faith in the Lord was always present, as was his hope and belief in reconciliation. Through his tireless work in the confessional, Saint Leopold freed many from the chains of sin. Saint Leopold possessed the knowledge and acceptance of his own lowliness in relation to God's mighty power - that without God he could do nothing. This strong faith was communicated to others when they came to the confessional for spiritual advice. He would say: "Have faith! Everything will be alright. Faith, Faith!"

Saint Leopold had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary whom he referred to as "my holy boss.” He was known to pray the rosary quite often, and celebrated the Eucharist daily at the side altar in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary. He would then visit the sick in nursing homes, hospitals and homes all over Padua. He visited the Capuchin infirmary to comfort the sick friars, giving them words of advice and reminding them to have faith. He was an outspoken on issues with children, and being pro-life was especially fond of expectant mothers and young children. He did considerable work in setting up orphanages for children without parents.

On 22nd September, 1940, Father Leopold celebrated his Golden Jubilee of the Priesthood. Soon thereafter, his health declined quickly, as he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In 1942, while preparing for the liturgy, he collapsed on the floor. He was then brought to his cell, where he was given the last rites. Friars that had gathered at his bed sang "Salve Regina," and when they got to the words, "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary," Leopold died.

During World War II, the church and friary where Leopold had lived in Padua were demolished by bombs, with the exception of Leopold’s cell and confession, which were miraculously left standing. Prior to his death, Saint Leopold had predicted this occurrence, when he stated, “The church and the friary will be hit by the bombs, but not this little cell. Here God exercised so much mercy for people, it must remain as a monument to God's goodness."

The life of Saint Leopold Mandic inspires us today, to embrace our struggles and complaints as opportunities to grow in love, service, obedience, and humility to the Lord. Through the acceptance of ourselves, and our reliance on Our Loving Father for strength and ability, we grow closer to the salvation of Heaven, and are better able to serve others in our communities. Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic, pray for us!

O God, source of life and love, you gave Saint Leopold a tremendous compassion for sinners and a desire for church unity. Through his prayers, grant that we may acknowledge our need of forgiveness, show love to others, and strive to bring about a living unity among Christians. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We have in heaven the heart of a mother, The Virgin, our Mother, who at the foot of the Cross suffered as much as possible for a human creature, understands our troubles and consoles us. Amen.

Year 2: Day 211 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Humility; Acceptance of our flaws; Reliance on the Lord; Service to others.
Requested Intentions: For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S); Restored family relationships (A); Healthy conception and delivery of children (J); For a girlfriend’s recovery from a debilitating mental illness (J); For a daughter’s successful examination results (A); Occupational success, health and safety of family (S).