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Easter: April 24th

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter; Opt. Mem. of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr

Other Commemorations: St. Mary of Cleophas (RM); St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, Virgin (RM); St. Benedict Menni, Priest (RM); St. Wilfrid, Bishop (RM)


April 24, 2024 (Readings on USCCB website)



Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter: O God, life of the faithful, glory of the humble, blessedness of the just, listen kindly to the prayers of those who call on you, that they who thirst for what you generously promise may always have their fill of your plenty. 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.

Optional Memorial of St. Fidelis: O God, who were pleased to award the palm of martyrdom to Saint Fidelis as, burning with love for you, he propagated the faith, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, grounded in charity, we may merit to know with him the power of the Resurrection of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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Today is the Optional Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (1577-1622). Fidelis was born at Sigmaringen in Swabia in 1577. He practiced at first as a lawyer and so took to heart the cause of the needy that he was known as the poor man's lawyer. Then he joined the Capuchin Friars Minor and was sent by the Holy See to the Grisons in order to bring back the inhabitants of this canton from Protestantism to the Catholic faith. His great influence earned him enemies; he was murdered at Seewis on April 24, 1622.

The Church also declares today as the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.

The Roman Martyrology, commemorates:

  • St. Mary of Cleophas, Mother of St. James the Less and Joseph, wife of Cleophas (or Clopas or Alpheus). She was one of the "Three Marys" who served Jesus and was present at the Crucifixion , and accompanied Mary Magdalen to the tomb of Christ. Tradition reports that she went to Spain as a missionary. Mary reportedly died at Ciudad Rodrigo. Another tradition states that she went to France with St. Lazarus and his sisters.
  • St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier (1796-1868), foundress of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, more commonly known as Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
  • St. Benedict Menni (1841-1914), an Italian Roman Catholic priest. He was a professed member of the Hospitallers of Saint John of God and he went on to establish his own religious congregation known as the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  • St. Wilifrid (634-709), born in Northumbria and studied at Lindisfarne and Canterbury. Accompanying St. Benedict Biscop to Rome, he tarried for a whole year at Lyons with St. Delphinus, who tried to make him marry his niece. Named Bishop of York, he went to France to receive episcopal consecration and remained for two years. Wilfrid was to suffer from the lack of obedience shown by his fellow citizens toward the Apostolic See. The end of his life was almost exclusively devoted to the care of the monasteries he had founded.

Meditation for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter:
The Good Shepherd

1. "I am the good shepherd." In the homily for the third nocturnal of the divine office for this Sunday, St. Gregory tells us that "The good shepherd laid down His life for His sheep that He might change His body and blood into our Sacrament, and that He might satisfy with the nourishment of His own flesh, the sheep which He had redeemed" (Homily of the third nocturn).

2. Just why did Christ wish to remain on earth under the appearance of bread and wine? Certainly He did wish to nourish our souls with the grace received in this sacrament. But He also had other reasons. By means of the Eucharist Christ found a means of transcribing all time and all space. Through the mystery of the Eucharist He provided a means whereby He could go on living and working among men just as He had done during His earthly career. Through this sacrament Christ continues and repeats all the acts of His private and public life. Just as He was once born in a little stable outside the sleeping hamlet of Bethlehem, so He is reborn each day on His altars throughout the world. Christmas is repeated each day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Perhaps one might say that the second important event in the life of Christ was His manifestation of Himself to the world in the visit of the Magi. We are told that these Holy Wise Men from the East came seeking the new born King whose star they had seen, and that they found Him in the manger where He had been laid by the virginal hands of His Blessed Mother. Filled with joy they entered the stable and offered Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This event is repeated now too, a thousand times a day, for the wise men of the world still come in search of Him, and they find Him where He has been laid by the hands of a virginal Priesthood, in the tabernacles of our altars. The gifts that they bring Him are the same: the gold of their love, the incense of their prayer, and the myrrh of their repentant hearts.

Perhaps nowhere does Christ so clearly demonstrate that He wishes to continue His role as the Good Shepherd as in His life in the Blessed Sacrament. One of the Evangelists says of Him, "He went about doing good." This would still be an excellent summary of what Christ does in the Eucharist. Just as He once mingled with the crowds in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and the cities and towns of Palestine, so today he goes about searching out the halt, the lame, the sick, the sorrowing and the dying in the great cities and the small hamlets of the world. There is not a day of the year, nor an hour of the day when He is not being carried in the arms of His priests to visit the sick, the sorrowing and the dying. Sometimes at the favorite shrines of His Blessed Mother, such as Lourdes, Fatima, Sainte Anne de Beaupré, He still works the same physical miracles which He once worked in Palestine. But more often, daily even, He works spiritual miracles through His sacraments, restoring spiritual sight to those who have been blinded by the sophistries of the world, the power of spiritual hearing to those who have long been deaf to the voice of their uneasy consciences, and the power of contrite speech to sinners so that they can fall on their knees before His representatives and say, "Father, I have sinned before heaven and thee." Many a Magdalen still comes stumbling to His feet, disheveled and disillusioned, and is sent away with the same kind admonition, "Go now, and sin no more."

3. Principally, of course, the Eucharist is a representation and a repetition of His sacrificial death on the cross. The victim of this sacrifice is the same, and the principal Priest is the same. It is Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, offering Himself again to His Heavenly Father. But we are assured in the Canon of the Mass that this sacrifice is offered "calling to mind the blessed Passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and also His Resurrection from hell, and also His glorious Ascension into heaven."

For almost two thousand years now, men have been trying to bury Christ in a tomb of stone. But Christ will not stay buried, for through the mystery of the Eucharist He has found a means of rising from the dead. We may well imagine the chagrin, the surprise, perhaps even the despair of the Scribes and Pharisees when they learned that Christ had actually risen from the dead. When they were seeking a charge on which He could be put to death, the High Priest had told them, "If we let Him alone so, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation" (John 11:48). They feared Christ would cause them to lose the petty marble palaces in which they were living; they feared He would cut off the tribute of gold and silver they were collecting from the poor; they feared that He would arouse the Romans and endanger their limited national sovereignty. And now they knew the truth. The only palace in which Christ had ever wanted to dwell was the palace of the human soul; and the only kingdom He had ever wanted to rule was the kingdom of the human heart; and the only tribute He had ever sought was the tribute of human love. Pontius Pilate and the Scribes and the Pharisees are gone now, and sometime soon, all those who are still trying to drive Christ from the world He created, and to bury Him in a tomb, will all be gone. But Christ will be here fulfilling through the Eucharist that promise He made so long ago, "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matt. 28:20).
—Benedict Baur, OSB, The Light of the World, Vol. 2.

St. Fidelis
Fidelis has been called the "protomartyr of the Capuchin Order and of the Propaganda in Rome." He was born in 1577, became a renowned lawyer. But feeling that this profession endangered the salvation of his soul, he decided to join the Capuchin Order and employ his extraordinary gift of eloquence in urging the faithful to lead holy lives and in bringing heretics back to the true faith. An ardent admirer of the founder of his Order, he was a great friend of poverty. Severe with himself, he was most considerate towards others, "embracing them like a mother does her children." When the Austrian army was stricken by plague, he cared for the spiritual and bodily needs of the soldiers in such a manner that he was honored with the title, "Father of the Fatherland."

His devotion toward the Mother of God was truly remarkable. Trusting in her intercession and that of other saints, he often begged God for the grace of sacrificing his life in vindication of the Catholic faith. The occasion came when he was appointed to lead the mission for the conversion of Grisons (in Switzerland); heroically he suffered a martyr's death and sanctified with his blood the first-fruits of martyrdom in the Capuchin Order (1622).
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace by Pius Parsch

Symbols and Representation: With a club set with spikes; with a whirlbat or hurl bat; heretics; with Saint Joseph of Leonissa; trampling on the word heresy; with an angel carrying a palm of martyrdom; the Morning Star

Highlights and Things to Do:

  • Read more about St. Fidelis:
  • Since St. Fidelis was an excellent preacher and was chosen by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to combat the heresy of Calvinism maybe you might study a little apologetics to prepare yourself to defend the Faith. You can start with this article: A Tiptoe through TULIP.
  • From Wikipedia regarding St. Fidelis' relics:

    It is said that a Catholic woman lay concealed near the place of Fidelis' martyrdom as the saint was slain. After the soldiers had left, she came out to assess the incident and found the martyr's eyes open, fixed on the heavens. He was buried by Catholics the next day.

    The rebels were soon after defeated by the imperial troops, an event which the martyr had foretold. The Protestant minister who had participated in Fidelis' martyrdom was converted by this circumstance, made a public abjuration of Calvinism and was received into the Catholic Church.

    After six months, the martyr's body was found to be incorrupt, but his head and left arm were separated from his body. The body parts were then placed into two reliquaries, one sent to the Cathedral of Coire, at the behest of the bishop, and laid under the High Altar; the other was placed in the Capuchin church at Weltkirchen, Feldkirch, Austria.

St. Mary of Cleophas (also Mary of Clopas)
"And there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen." How should we understand "His mother's sister," literally, as in having the same parents, or in the same sense that Jesus's "brothers" are to be understood as close relatives?

The short answer is that Mary of Cleophas is probably the Blessed Virgin's sister-in-law. Mary of Cleophas may have had a previous husband named Alpheus, or this Alpheus may have been Cleophas. The Blessed Virgin Mary, of course, only had one husband (Joseph) and remained a virgin. The long answer may be found here.

There is also a theory that Mary might have been the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus.

Highlights and Things to Do:

St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier
On May 2, 1940, Pope Pius XII raised to the ultimate honors of the altar a most remarkable woman, Mother Mary Euphrasia Pelletier. As the solemn Te Deum swelled in gladness through the Vatican Basilica, its joyous strains were echoed and reechoed in quiet chapels found in virtually all the large cities of the world. Almost a hundred thousand women and girls and over ten thousand white-robed Sisters, in three hundred and fifty homes of charity, rejoiced with their Mother, the new Saint. For Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier is the Foundress and first General Superior of the large Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers, and one of the great sociologists of the ages.

Rose Virginia Pelletier was born of pious parents on July 31, 1796 on the island of Noirmoutiers, during the terrible period of the French Revolution. So it was that her life began as a daughter of the suffering faith of her beloved France. Because of the suppression and expulsion of religious Orders, the education of the little girl had to be undertaken by her busy mother. At her knees Rose Virginia learned of God and His service.

In 1814 she entered the Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge at Tours. After ten months as a postulant in this historic community at Tours, Rose Virginia received the habit and entered upon her life as a novice in September, 1815. For two years she remained in the novitiate, being formed to the religious life, studying and absorbing the history and work of her Order. Listening to the life of a Saint one day, she heard that he quickly attained sanctity by his perfect obedience. “Obedience, then,” reflected the young novice, “must be the best means to become holy. If only I might take the vow of obedience at once!” Sister Mary Euphrasia consulted her superiors, and was permitted to take a private vow of obedience. In 1817 she was professed, making then her first public vows.

In a few years her exceptional qualifications became so apparent to all that after having been Mistress of penitents, she was elected Superior of the house. A project which had been in her mind for a long time was then made a reality. She had found in many of the penitents a real attraction for the religious life, with no desire to return to the world after their conversion. Where could they go? It was very difficult, virtually impossible, to find a congregation suitable for them or willing to accept them. So Mother Euphrasia inaugurated a community called the Magdalene Sisters. She adapted the rule of Saint Teresa, drew up a set of Constitutions, and erected the first community of Magdalenes in the house at Tours. One of the greatest consolations Mother Euphrasia enjoyed in life was the sanctity attained by so many of these religious, bound by vows to a life of prayer and penance.

During the thirty years she was Superior General, Mother Euphrasia sent out her Sisters from their mother house at Angers to found one hundred and ten houses in every land beneath the sun — Sisters inflamed with her own zeal, trained at her hands. She died at Angers in her seventy-second year, having welcomed death with the faith and serenity which marked her entire life.

Patronage: travelers.

Highlights and Things to Do:

St. Benedetto (or Benedict) Menni
Brothers of St. John of God care for the sick and those in need. For this reason, from the very beginning, the Hospitaller Order was recognized by the Church as a Congregation of religious brothers with exception of not more than one priest in each community acting as chaplain.

Saint Benedetto Menni was one exception, being an ordained priest in Rome on October 14, 1860. In those years, the Spanish branch of the Hospitallers Order died away as a consequence of some Masonic laws issued in Portugal in 1834 and in Spain in 1835. Saint Benedict was sent to Barcelona on April 6, 1867, to restore the Hospitaller Order in these countries.

After a long struggle, oftentimes risky, he was not only able to gather many vocations—almost a thousand from 1867 to 1903—but also founded in Spain, Portugal and Mexico, 22 hospitals for every kind of sickness, especially for mental patients and handicapped children. Those conditions were the most neglected by the public health care at that time.

He also founded a female branch of the Order, the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today, the Sisters are present in 20 countries with almost 80 communities.

What is amazing in the life work of Saint Menni is the number and complexity of the undertakings he faced; but, even more so for their validity, tested for more than a century. The secret lies in his true, heroic detachment by which he always considered himself a docile instrument in the hands of God, without giving room for his personal ambitions or human plans.

His feast day is April 24, the day he died in Dinan, France, in 1914.
—©The Hospitaller Foundation of California, Inc.

Highlights and Things to Do:

St. Wilfrid
St. Wilfrid was a Northumbrian of noble birth. He was educated at Lindisfarne, and became infected with a love both for learning and the monastic life. When quite a young man he traveled to Canterbury and then to Rome. On his return, he founded monasteries at Ripon and Stamford, and became prominent as the successful protagonist of the Roman customs at the Synod of Whitby, 664 A.D.

He was then made Bishop of York, and went to France to be consecrated. In his absence Chad was consecrated and made Bishop of York in his place, and held the see for four years. During this time Wilfrid founded a monastery at Oundle and acted as bishop in Mercia. He was then installed at York by Archbishop Theodore, and ruled the see for nine years. He also founded the Abbey of Hexham. He managed to gain the ill-will of Egfrith, King of Northumbria, and Archbishop Theodore, who divided his diocese in four parts without his knowledge or consent.

He journeyed to Rome, and his appeal was successful, but on his return to Northumbria he was accused of having forged the pope's bull, and was thrown into prison. After his release he went to Sussex, and for five years preached the Gospel to its pagan inhabitants. When he went there the country was suffering from famine, the result of three years' drought, and its inhabitants were drowning themselves in despair. Wilfrid gained their goodwill by teaching them to fish.

"By this benefit the bishop gained the affections of them all, and they began more readily to hope for heavenly blessings, since by his help they had already received those which are temporal." His labors seem to have been abundantly successful, and he added to his success by establishing a monastery at Selsey.

Archbishop Theodore, now on his deathbed, became reconciled to Wilfrid, and even wished to nominate him as his successor in the See of Canterbury. This, however, Wilfrid refused, but used Theodore's good offices to secure his return to Northumbria.

After a few years his enemies seem to have made his position so difficult that he retired to Mercia, and when St. Chad died he succeeded to his position as Bishop of Lichfield, and labored in that diocese for ten years. He was recalled to be tried by a Northumbrian council of nobles and bishops, was once more condemned, and once more appealed to Rome. Once again his appeal was successful, and this time the Roman judgment was accepted in Northumbria.

The few remaining years of his life were spent in comparative retirement, principally at Hexham and Ripon. His last public act was the consecration of Evesham Abbey; he died on his way home at his monastery at Oundle in the year 709, and was buried at Ripon.

Wilfrid was one of the most versatile and accomplished men of his own or any other age. He was a great builder, a lover of learning, and a musician; he knew how to create splendid effects through art and through religious ceremonial. He was also a founder and a builder in men as well as stones. He was, in fact, a great creative artist.

Patronage: Middlesbrough, England; diocese of Ripon, England

Symbols and Representation: Fallen idols; fish; font; pallium and crosier; model of a cathedral; ship and staff; depicted baptizing; depicted preaching; landing from a ship and received by the king; or engaged in theological disputation with his crozier near him and a lectern before him

Highlights and Things to Do: