Easter: May 25th
Ascension of Our Lord or the Optional Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor; St. Gregory VII, pope; St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, virgin
Old Calendar: St. Gregory VII, pope and confessor; St. Urban I, pope and martyr; St. Madeline Sophie Barat, religious
The ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia have retained the celebration of the Ascension on the proper Thursday, while all other provinces have transferred this solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 20. If transferred today is observed as an Easter Weekday. The following readings are used: Acts 18:1-8/Jn 16:16-20 (294).After the Ascension of Jesus, St. Peter proposed to the assembled faithful that they choose a disciple of Christ to fill the place of the traitor Judas in the first missionary band. Lots were drawn, with the result in favor of Matthias. According to one ancient tradition, this missioner labored in Ethiopia and was martyred there. Thus did St. Matthias receive "the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him." The Church venerates St. Matthias on an equal footing with the other Apostles, whose voices resound throughout the world, from generation to generation, giving testimony of what they saw and heard in their life with our Lord. His name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.St. Bede was born in England. A Benedictine, he was "the most observant and the happiest of all monks." His writings were so full of sound doctrine that he was called "Venerable" while still alive. He wrote commentaries on Holy Scripture and treatises on theology and history. He died at Jarrow, England.St. Gregory VII was a monk of Cluny. Before ascending to the papacy, he fought against the abuse of lay investiture, the source of the evils from which the Church was suffering. His energetic stance as Pope Gregory VII earned for him the enmity of the Emperor Henry IV. He was exiled to Salerno where he died.St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was born in Florence and joined the Carmelites when she was nineteen. She practiced great mortification for the salvation of sinners; her constant exclamation was, 'To suffer, not to die!' With apostolic zeal, she urged the renewal of the entire ecclesiastical community.Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar, today was the feast of St. Urban I, a Roman, successor of Callistus in the papal chair (222-230) and St. Madeline Sophie Barat, foundress in France of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Their feasts are no longer celebrated in the United States.
Bede occupies an important niche in Church history by bridging the gap between patristic and early medieval times, the era when the Germanic nations had just been Christianized. Through him Christian tradition and Roman culture came to the Middle Ages. He is also honored as the "father of English history." His writings were read publicly in churches while he was still alive; but since he could not be called "Saint," the title of Venerable was attached to his name, a usage which continued down through the centuries.
Often portrayed as: Monk writing at a desk; old monk dying amidst his community; old monk with a book and pen; old monk with a jug.Things to Do:
St. Gregory VII
Gregory VII — his name had been Hildebrand before becoming Pope — was born about the year 1020. For two years he was a Benedictine monk of Cluny (1047-1049), then he became a cardinal, and finally, in 1073, Pope. A strong character with a remarkable personality, he easily takes a place with the greatest popes in the Church's history.
- As we recall this great pope, we should spend some time reading the writings of our current pope and thanking God for the gift of the papacy to the Church.
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, a highly gifted mystic, had made a vow of chastity at the age of ten. She entered the convent of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Florence, because the practice of receiving holy Communion almost daily was observed there. For five years her only food was bread and water. She practiced the most austere penances and for long periods endured complete spiritual aridity. Her favorite phrase was: "Suffer, not die!" Her body has remained incorrupt to the present day; it is preserved in a glass coffin in the church of the Carmelite nuns at Florence.
- Contemplative nuns and monks spend their whole lives praying for the needs of the world and doing penance for the sins of others, but they also need our prayers. Say a prayer today for someone you know who is a contemplative religious or for a contemplative community which is in your area.
St. Urban, who succeeded Pope St. Callistus (cf. October 14), reigned from 222 to 230. During his pontificate the Church enjoyed peace, because Emperor Alexander Severus forbade the persecution laws to be enforced. Of special interest is a decree ascribed to Pope Urban regarding use made of the gifts offered at Mass. "The gifts of the faithful that are offered to the Lord can only be used for ecclesiastical purposes, for the common good of the Christian community, and for the poor; for they are the consecrated gifts of the faithful, the atonement offering of sinners, and the patrimony of the needy" (Breviary).
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
Under the guidance of her brother Madeleine Sophie Barat became at an early age proficient in Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian. The brother, nine years her senior, was a stern disciplinarian. If her work was bad, she was punished — sometimes by a box on the ears - but if she did well, no word of praise was uttered. She was never allowed to relax from this discipline — even walks were forbidden unless they were strictly necessary for exercise; and when, in a moment of mistaken tenderness, she gave her brother a present, he threw it on the fire. She was ten when the French Revolution occurred in 1789. Afterwards, and still under the influence of her brother, she met Father Varin who desired to found a female counterpart of the Jesuits which should do for girls' education what they did for boys' education. On November 21st, 1800, Madeleine with three companions dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart and so the New Congregation was begun. From the first house at Amiens it was to spread in the lifetime of its foundress all over Europe and to Africa and America, and its boarding schools have become famous.