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Lent: March 9th

Optional Memorial of St. Frances of Rome, religious

Other Commemorations: St. Dominic Savio (RM)

MASS READINGS

March 09, 2016 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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» Enjoy our Liturgical Seasons series of e-books!

"I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you, says the Lord (Jn 13:34)." In the fifteenth century St. Frances, among the noble ladies of Rome, showed herself an example of what a Christian wife should be. After the death of her husband she retired from the world and lived in a monastery of Oblates that she had founded under the Rule of St. Benedict. God favored her with the visible presence of her guardian angel with whom she conversed familiarly.

Historically today is the feast of St. Dominic Savio was an Italian adolescent student of Saint John Bosco. He was studying to be a priest when he became ill and died at the age of 14, possibly from pleurisy.

Stational Church


St. Frances of Rome
St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440) founded the institute known as the "Oblati di Tor de Specchi" in the Holy City. She was a wealthy patrician and after her husband died, she gave up all her wealth to live a life of abject poverty. Her special privilege from heaven was familiar conversation with her guardian angel. Reading the life of St. Frances, one gains the impression that she moved and lived in the spiritual world more than on earth; in fact, that which gives her life its unique character is her intimate relationship with the blessed world of holy spirits.

During the three periods of her life, three angels of different rank accompanied her, ready to protect her soul against any onslaught of hell and to lead her step by step to spiritual perfection. Day and night the saint saw her angel busy at a mysterious task. With three little golden spindles he unceasingly spun golden threads, strung them around his neck, and diligently wound them into balls. A half year before her death he changed his work. Instead of spinning more golden thread, he began to weave three carpets of varying size with the golden thread he had spun. These carpets symbolized her lifework as virgin, mother, and religious.

Shortly before her death, she noticed how the angel was hurrying his work, and his face was unusually fresh and happy. At the very moment when the last carpet had reached its required length, her soul departed into eternal bliss.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: automobile drivers, automobilists, cab or taxi drivers, death of children, lay people, motorists, people ridiculed for their piety, Roman housewives, widows.

Symbols: often depicted as a woman habited in black with a white veil, accompanied by her guardian angel, and sometimes carrying a basket of food; Nun with her guardian angel dressed as a deacon. Monstrance and arrow; book; angel with a branch of oranges; receiving the veil from the Christ Child in the arms of the Blessed Virgin.

Things to Do:

  • Today's Gospel is often used by Protestants to challenge the Catholic practice of calling our priests "Father." Learn how to defend this practice — begin by reading Art Kelly's apologetics article, Call No Man Father?. Discuss this custom and the reasoning behind it with your children.

  • Invoke St. Frances' protection as you are getting in your car to drive somewhere today.

  • St. Frances was certain that she had a vocation to the religious life from the age of eleven. However, her father forced her to marry, and so she instead joyfully loved and served her husband until his death enabled her to enter the religious life when she was fifty-two years old. Even when you may have certainty that God is calling you to walk a certain path, His timing may be different from your own. Reflect on your own vocation: regardless of any doubts you may have, or seemingly unfulfilled desires to do more for God, abandon yourself to His will of the present moment, and joyfully focus on fulfilling the small duties which your vocation asks of you. Read about sanctification through the present moment in Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade's excellent little work, Abandonment to Divine Providence.

The Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste
The Forty Martyrs were soldiers quartered at Sebaste in Armenia, about the year 320. When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols, they refused to betray the faith of their baptism, and replied to all persuasive efforts, “We are Christians!” When neither cajolings or threats could change them, after several days of imprisonment they were chained together and taken to the site of execution. It was a cruel winter, and they were condemned to lie without clothing on the icy surface of a pond in the open air until they froze to death.

The forty, not merely undismayed but filled with joy at the prospect of suffering for Jesus Christ, said: “No doubt it is difficult to support so acute a cold, but it will be agreeable to go to paradise by this route; the torment is of short duration, and the glory will be eternal. This cruel night will win for us an eternity of delights. Lord, forty of us are entering combat; grant that we may be forty to receive the crown!”

There were warm baths close by, ready for any among them who would deny Christ. One of the confessors lost heart, renounced his faith, and went to cast himself into the basin of warm water prepared for that intention. But the sudden change in temperature suffocated him and he expired, losing at once both temporal and eternal life. The still living martyrs were fortified in their resolution, beholding this scene.

Then the ice was suddenly flooded with a bright light; one of the soldiers guarding the men, nearly blinded by the light, raised his eyes and saw Angels descend with forty crowns which they held in the air over the martyrs’ heads; but the fortieth one remained without a destination. The sentry was inspired to confess Christ, saying: “That crown will be for me!” Abandoning his coat and clothing, he went to replace the unfortunate apostate on the ice, crying out: “I am a Christian!” And the number of forty was again complete. They remained steadfast while their limbs grew stiff and frozen, and died one by one.

Among the forty there was a young soldier named Meliton who held out longest against the cold, and when the officers came to cart away the dead bodies they found him still breathing. They were moved with pity, and wanted to leave him alive, hoping he would still change his mind. But his mother stood by, and this valiant woman could not bear to see her son separated from the band of martyrs. She exhorted him to persevere, and lifted his frozen body into the cart. He was just able to make a sign of recognition, and was borne away, to be thrown into the flames with the dead bodies of his brethren. Their bones were cast into the river, but they floated and were gathered up by the faithful.
—Excerpted from 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); Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).

Things to Do:


St. Dominic Savio
Here was a boy-saint who died at the age of fifteen, was one of the great hopes of St. John Bosco for the future of his congregation, and was canonized in 1954.

He was one of ten children of Carlo and Birgitta Savio. Carlo was a blacksmith and Birgitta was a seamstress. When Don Bosco was looking for young men to train as priests for his Salesian Order, his parish priest suggested Dominic Savio. Dominic became more than a credit to Don Bosco's school—he single-handedly organized those who were to be the nucleus of Don Bosco's order.

St. Dominic Savio was twelve when he met Don Bosco and organized a group of boys into the Company of the Immaculate Conception. Besides its religious purpose, the boys swept and took care of the school and looked after the boys that no one seemed to pay any attention to. When, in 1859, Don Bosco chose the young men to be the first members of his congregation, all of them had been members of Dominic's Company.

For all that, Dominic was a normal, high-spirited boy who sometimes got into trouble with his teachers because he would often break out laughing. However, he was generally well disciplined and gradually gained the respect of the tougher boys in Don Bosco's school.

In other circumstances, Dominic might have become a little self-righteous snob, but Don Bosco showed him the heroism of the ordinary and the sanctity of common sense. "Religion must be about us as the air we breathe," Don Bosco would say, and Dominic Savio wore holiness like the clothes on his back.

He called his long hours of prayer "his distractions." In 1857, at the age of fifteen, he caught tuberculosis and was sent home to recover. On the evening of March 9, he asked his father to say the prayers for the dying. His face lit up with intense joy and he said to his father: "I am seeing most wonderful things!" These were his last words.

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

Patron: Boys; children's choirs; choir boys; choirs; falsely accused people; juvenile delinquents; Pueri Cantors.

Things to Do:


Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Station with Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major):

The spring Ember Week consecrated the new season to God and by prayer and fasting sought to obtain abundant graces for those who on Saturday were to receive Holy Orders. The Station was fittingly held in the church, which witnessed the first scrutinies for the coming ordinations, and which was dedicated to the mother of the great High Priest.

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.