I love this time of year! First off, the weather in New England is absolutely spectacular, and this year has been no exception. The cool, damp mornings precede warm, dry days, followed by comfortable, inviting evenings. It’s just plain yummy!
As September wanes and October ushers in days of less daylight, signaling the ever approaching winter, the Church gives the most wonderful week of feast days:
Let’s just look at each of these feasts and marvel at the mystery and wonder of God’s gifts.
The Holy Archangels are given to us by God as messengers of His divine plan: salvation, (St. Gabriel in the Annunciation), healing (St. Raphael to Tobit and by extension us), and protection (St. Michael fought the devil and cast him into hell.) My grandmother had a tremendous devotion to St. Michael. Through his intercession, my cousin was miraculously moved out of the way while riding on her bicycle as a truck almost hit her. These guys are powerful, and we should call on them often. What tremendous intercessors!
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church, translated the bible into Latin, the vernacular and scholarly language of the time. The Vulgate translation is still used today, 1,300 years later. He also translated many early writings of the Church Fathers, especially Origen. What a gift to Christianity!
St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, a twentieth century saint, teaches us her “Little Way” – do everything with great love. She aspired to sainthood, but knew of her own power, she could achieve nothing. Referring to herself as “a little bird” who could not soar to the heights of sanctity because of her littleness, she knew that by surrendering herself completely to Jesus in abandonment and trust, Jesus would be the elevator that would raise her to those heights. On our own, we can do nothing, but God can do all through us if we completely trust him and surrender ourselves to his merciful love. What an example to follow!
God gives each one of us a personal Guardian Angel. How cool is that? Everywhere we go, an angel of God accompanies us, guiding and protecting us in body and soul. These heavenly beings personify God’s particular and personal care for each one of his children. What great love the Father showers on us in giving us this gift!
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most known and loved saints in the Church. In a vision, God asked this twelfth century saint to, “Rebuild my Church.” At first St. Francis thought God meant the physical building, but that was not the call. Francis’ radical love for the poor and the poverty of spirit that he embraced rebuilt the inner Church. He begged for his daily bread and radically preached the gospel. His powerful example inspired many to join the Franciscan order and embrace its simple call: “Leave all and follow me.” What an inspiration for our time!
St. Faustina is one my personal faves! A young Polish nun of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, she lived a short life, but left a great mark on the Church and the world. She had a deep devotion to Mary Immaculate, the Blessed Sacrament, and to Reconciliation, and as such had a deep interior life. She had visions where Our Lord and Our Lady appeared to her; she received messages from both; and also experienced hidden stigmata. St. Faustina recorded these experiences in her diary. Having attended only three years of schooling, she wrote phonetically and without any punctuation. Imagine trying to read 700 pages of text without any punctuation! The Diary was deemed heretical by Rome when a bad translation was assessed. However when Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) became Archbishop of Krakow, he ordered a better translation made and sent it to Rome. The Vatican approved of the translation which gives us her powerful opus, Divine Mercy in My Soul. What an example of what God can do through even the simplest of his children!
Finally, this stretch of days culminates in the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, which celebrates the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the battle that saved Europe. The Ottoman Empire continued to invade Europe and Mediterranean countries, and Pope Pius V took this jihad threat seriously. He called upon the nations of Europe to fight the invasion. He asked all of Europe to pray for victory by through prayer of the rosary. Now remember, this was 50 years after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Europe lay divided. Not all responded to the Pope’s request to defend the continent from this threat. Armies of Spain and some of Italy united to fight. The most powerful navy in the world, the Muslim forces, was defeated by a smaller less cohesive band of sailors whose commander was the Queen of Heaven. Pope Pius V credited Our Lady’s intercession for the victory of October 7, 1571 and declared the day the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary. What a necessary reminder of the power of the Rosary!
What an awesome week!!!
These days encapsulate so much of our daily faith – from the holy archangel Gabriel, the announcer of our salvation, to our own personal protectors, through the lives of great saints of the Word of God, the compassion of God, the Love of God and the Mercy of God, to a recognition of the great intercessory power of the Mother of God.
Don’t you just love being Catholic?
All angels and saints of heaven, pray for us! Anne