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Lent: March 9th
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent; Optional Memorial of St. Frances of Rome, religious
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Previous Calendar: St. Frances of Rome
"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.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 ParschPatron:
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.
According to the former calendar (1962), today is the feast of the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, a group of forty soldiers who suffered a martyr's death for their steadfast faith in Christ, by freezing in a lake near Sebaste, in the former Lesser Armenia (now Sivas in central-eastern Turkey).
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: