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Ordinary Time: November 26th

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time


November 26, 2008 (Readings on USCCB website)


Lord, increase our eagerness to do your will and help us to know the saving power of your love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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Other Commemorations: St. Sylvester, abbot; St. Peter of Alexandria, bishop and martyr; St. John Berchmans, priest (Hist); St. Leonard of Port Maurice, priest (Hist)

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Sylvester. He was the son of a lawyer and had also studied law before becoming a canon in his native town of Osimo. He was a zealous and fervent priest. His determination to retire into solitude was caused by the sight of the decomposing corpse of a friend. He at first lived as a hermit at Grotta Fucile, and then on Monte Fano where followers came to join him. He gave them the habit and Rule of St. Benedict together with certain other customs which reflect his own aspirations and the devotional tendencies of his day. He died in 1267 at the age of ninety.

It is also the commemoration of St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, who was beheaded on November 25, 311, during Maximinus Daia's persecution. He was a great bishop, famous for wisdom and holiness; "a model of charity and zeal, severe towards himself, merciful to sinners, a divine model of the Christian teacher," says Eusebius.

St. Sylvester
Abbot Sylvester founded the Sylvestrine Order, a reform congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, in 1231. Upon seeing the corpse of an aristocrat relative, who had been very handsome, in the coffin, he cried out, "I am what this man was, I will be what this man is!" After the funeral services the words of our Lord kept ringing in his ears, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He betook himself to a hermitage, led a life of perfection, and died at the age of ninety in 1267.

The members of his Order wear a Benedictine habit, Turkish blue in color. Today there remain seven Sylvestrine monasteries in Italy and several mission houses in Ceylon and in the United States.

--Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Things to Do:

  • By meditating at an open coffin St. Sylvester saw the vanity of this world and began a life of solitude. The thought of death is very appropriate at the end of the liturgical year. Glance back over the year and see how vain the world appears with its TV standard of living.

  • Read Pope John Paul II's Address to the Sylvestrine Benedictines and learn more about their order.

St. Peter of Alexandria
St. Peter, bishop of Alexandria, was beheaded on November 25, 311, during Maximinus Daia's persecution. He was a great bishop, famous for wisdom and holiness; "a model of charity and zeal, severe towards himself, merciful to sinners, a divine model of the Christian teacher," says Eusebius.

While in prison some priests pleaded for him with Arius, whom he had condemned. The action was reported to Peter; he replied that Jesus had appeared to him that very night with a torn garment, and when he sought an explanation, the Lord answered, "Arius has torn asunder My garment which is My Church." Peter's foremost virtue was perseverance; once he had made a decision he never vacillated. He is known as "the last martyr" of the Diocletian persecution.

--Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Things to Do:

  • Read this account of the life of St. Peter taken from the St. Pachomius Orthodox Library.

St. John Berchmans
This young saint of the Society of Jesus was born in Flanders, the oldest of five children. He grew up in an atmosphere of political turmoil caused by a religious war between the Catholic and Protestant sections of the Netherlands. He studied at the Gymnasium at Diest and worked as a servant in the household of Canon John Froymont at Malines in order to continue his studies.

In 1615, the Jesuits opened a college at Malines, and St. John Berchmans was one of the first to enter. He was an energetic student and was a leader among the students. In 1616, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Malines and came under the influence of Father Antoine Sucquet. The young Berchmans developed a strong and deep spirituality based on the loving practice of fidelity. St. Aloysius of Gonzaga was his spiritual model, and he was influenced as well by the example of the Jesuit English martyrs.

It was his realistic appreciation for the value of ordinary things, a characteristic of the Flemish mystical tradition, which constituted his holiness. He was affable, kind, and endowed with an outgoing personality that endeared him to everyone. In 1618, he was sent to Rome to study philosophy and was an exceptional student. He requested after ordination to become a chaplain in the army, hoping to be martyred on the battlefield.

In the summer of 1619, the intense heat of Rome started to affect his health and he began progressively to get weaker. The doctors could not determine what was wrong, and for two years he was continually sick, requiring medical care, and as the summer of 1621 came, it was clear that he would not last long. He died peacefully on August 13, 1621, and numerous miracles were attributed to him at the time of his funeral.

He was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1865 and canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. His body lies in the church of St. Ignatius in Rome, where Aloysius of Gonzaga is also buried.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Patron: Altar boys; altar servers; Oblate novices; young people.

Symbols: Standing with hands clasped, holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.

Things to Do:

  • Like St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Berchmans was not noted for anything extraordinary. He made kindness and courtesy as well as constant fidelity an important part of his holiness. The path to holiness lies in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. That is a lesson that some learn only late in life. Read more about St. John Berchmans' life and spirituality.
  • Read more about St. John Berchmans here, read about his miracles.
  • Here are some prayers to St. John Berchmans

St. Leonard of Port Maurice
Leonard, called "the great missionary of the 18th century" by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, was another Franciscan who tried to go to the foreign missions (China), failed at that and succeeded tremendously in some other work.

Leonard’s father was a ship captain whose family lived in Port Maurice on the northwestern coast of Italy. At 13, Leonard went to Rome to live with his uncle Agostino and study at the Roman College. Leonard was a good student and was destined for a career in medicine. In 1697, however, he joined the Friars Minor, a decision that his uncle opposed bitterly.

After ordination Leonard contracted tuberculosis and was sent to his hometown to rest or perhaps to die. He made a vow that if he recovered he would dedicate his life to the missions and to the conversion of sinners. He soon was able to begin his 40-year career of preaching retreats, Lenten sermons and parish missions throughout Italy. His missions lasted 15 to 18 days, and he often stayed an additional week to hear confessions. He said: "I believe that in those days the real and greatest fruit of the mission is gathered. As much good is done in these days as during the mission."

As a means of keeping alive the religious fervor awakened in a mission, Leonard promoted the Stations of the Cross, a devotion which had made little progress in Italy up to this time. He also preached regularly on the Holy Name of Jesus.

Since he realized that he needed time simply to pray alone, Leonard regularly made use of the ritiros (houses of recollection) that he helped establish throughout Italy.

Leonard was canonized in 1867; in 1923 he was named patron of those who preach parish missions.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.

Things to Do: