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Ordinary Time: November 28th
Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time
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Old Calendar: St. Catherine Laboure, virgin & religious; St. James of the Marches, priest (Hist)
Traditionally today is the feast of St. Catherine Laboure. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her, a member of the Daughters of Charity, three times in 1830 and commissioned her to have made the Miraculous Medal and to spread a devotion to it. St. Catherine Laboure was canonized in 1947. It is also the feast of St. James of the Marches who grew up in the turbulence of early 15th Century Europe. Wars were being waged across Western Europe, and the Papal seat of authority was divided between Italy and France.
During the final week of the ecclesiastical year, the language of the liturgy becomes very earnest and impressive. The Last Judgment with all its terrors is approaching. By this reminder the Church desires to make us realize our responsibilities, but she also desires to show us in Christ's judgment His crowning victory and the completion of His work of redemption. We should be inspired with confidence and very great hope at the thought that He who will come to judge us is the very same who came into this world to save us. Throughout the liturgical year the Church never ceases to remind us of this.
St. Catherine Laboure
St Catherine Labouré was born on the 2nd of May 1806 at Fainles-Moutiers, a picturesque village of Burgundy, France. She was the ninth child in a happy family of eleven. God made known the choice of this soul by marking her at an early age with the seal of suffering, for when she was only nine years old she lost her mother.
Saint Catherine Labouré responded to the divine call by entering the Community of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. Here, during the first months of her novitiate, she was favored with a number of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, who confided to her the mission of having the Miraculous Medal made.
Until shortly before her death Saint Catherine kept a strict silence concerning these apparitions, speaking of them only to her confessor, according to the instructions of Our Lady.
During 46 years Saint Catherine witnessed the wonders and miracles wrought through the Medal. During all this time, carefully guarding her secret of the apparitions, she humbly performed her commonplace duties, devoting herself especially to the care of the infirmed men of Enghien, a suburb of Paris. For this she is called the patroness of seniors.
On the 31st of December 1876, Saint Catherine left this earth for heaven, to contemplate there her Immaculate Queen whose love and beauty had captured her heart on earth.
Her body was exhumed 57 years later and found in perfect condition. Even death respected her who had enjoyed the extraordinary privilege of resting her hands on the knees of the Blessed Virgin for more than two hours during one of the apparitions. Saint Catherine was canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 27, 1947.
The simplicity of Saint Catherine's life endears her to everyone. She became a saint by doing her commonplace duties well, for God. This "Saint of Ordinary People" has the secret of sanctity for us all.
Excerpted from Central Association of the Miraculous MedalThings to Do:
St. James of the Marches
The small town of Montebrandone, on the eastern coast of Italy, called the March of Ancona, gave birth to this Saint in the year 1391. While still young he was sent to the University of Perugia, where his progress in learning soon qualified him to be chosen preceptor to the children of a young gentleman of Perugia. He went with him to Florence, to aid in the administration of a juridical office the nobleman had obtained there; but realizing that he was about to be engulfed in the whirlpool of worldly excesses in which he found himself, Saint James applied himself to prayer and recollection, and thought of entering the Carthusian Order.
When traveling one day near Assisi, however, he went into the Church of the Portiuncula to pray, and moved by the fervor of the holy men who there served God and by the example of their blessed founder Saint Francis, he determined to petition in that very place for the habit of the Order. He was then twenty-one years of age; he received the habit near Assisi, at the convent of Our Lady of the Angels. He began his spiritual war against the world, the flesh and the devil in prayer and silence in his cell, joining extraordinary fasts and vigils to his assiduous prayer. He fell ill with a number of different illnesses which for thirty years he endured with heroic patience, without ever exempting himself from saying Holy Mass or assisting at the offices in common. For forty years he never passed a day without taking the discipline.
When, through the response of the Mother of Heaven to his prayers, he became able to preach, he carried out that ministry with such great fervor and power that he never failed to touch the most hardened hearts and produce truly miraculous conversions. He joined Saint John of Capistrano to preach a crusade against the Turks, who had become masters of Constantinople and were terrorizing Western Europe. At Buda he effected the miraculous cessation of a furious sedition by simply showing the crucifix to the people; the rebels themselves took him upon their shoulders and carried him through the streets of the city. At Prague he brought back to God many who had fallen into error, and when a magician wanted to dispute with him, he rendered him mute and thus obliged him to retire in confusion. He traveled through the northern Provinces, into Germany, Dalmatia, Hungary, Poland, Norway and Denmark and many other places; he went without any provisions other than his confidence in God. If he found no aid or was without lodging he rejoiced in his union with Lady Poverty, to whom he was joined by his religious profession.
When he was called back to Italy to labor against a heresy, he acquired new persecutors who attempted in several ways, including ambushes, poison, calumny and the arousing of seditions against him, to do away with him. But God delivered him each time from the most adroitly conceived artifices. When chosen as Archbishop of Milan, he fled, and could not be prevailed on to accept the office. He brought about several miracles at Venice and at other places, often by the simple Holy Name of Jesus written on a paper. He raised from dangerous illness the Duke of Calabria and the King of Naples. The Saint died in the Franciscan convent of the Holy Trinity near Naples, to which city the Holy Father had sent him at the prayer of its King, Ferdinand. The date was the 28th of November of the year 1476; he was ninety years old, and had spent seventy of those years in religion.
Excerpted from Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints
, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints
, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints
and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).