News from San Antonio Church – May 19, 2024

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Weekly Bulletin May 19, 2024

by Terrie Evans

On this Sunday, 50 days after Easter, we honor the day as promised by Christ, the Holy Spirit descended onto Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Apostles, and Disciples in the form of tongues of fire while in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks. The presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Pentecost highlights her role in the divine concession of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles.  The image of Pentecost is of the Virgin Mary seated in the center among the Apostles with flames resting over the tops of their heads.  Pentecost is the culmination of the Paschal Season that began in Holy Week the time to strengthen the Lord’s followers to believe in and to proclaim the Gospel.  On the vigil of Pentecost, it is custom to bless flowers, fields, and fruit trees.  Also called Whitsunday in Ireland and the United Kingdom.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is referred to as Trinity Sunday.  In Italy, the feast Pentecost is called “Pasqua Rosatum,” referring to the rose petals that are scattered from the ceilings of churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues.  The red vestments used on this Sunday are known as Pasqua Rossa.  In many churches trumpets will be blown during Mass to recall the sound of the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit as it descends.   In the early days of the Church, Pentecost was a day set aside to celebrate Baptisms and later was a day to celebrate Confirmations.  In the tradition of Christian Churches, Pentecost represents the fulfillment of the promise that Christ will Baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit.  There is the legend that King Arthur would call on his Knights for a feat at the Round Table on Pentecost and in Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare mentioned Pentecost in Act I Scene V.    

On Monday, May 20th we honor the special relationship Mary has with the Holy Spirit.  Each year since 2018, Pope Francis has designated the Monday after Pentecost the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.  With this feast Pope Francis said he wished to “Encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful as well as a growth of genuine piety.”   Mary pondered the many mysteries of Jesus’ life that were brought into her heart at Pentecost.   She was bestowed the title because she gave birth to Christ, the Head of the Church and became Mother of the Redeemer before her Son gave up his spirit on the Cross.   In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Mother of God has a special from of veneration called HYPERDULIA, extended praise, and respect for the Blessed Mother.  A Prayer to Mary:  “O God, Father of Mercies, whose Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also, grant we pray, that with her living help your Church may be more fruitful day by day and, exulting in the holiness of her children, may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.  O Mary, Mother of Christ, and Mother of the Church, pray for us that we might be made worthy of the promises of your Son!” 

On Tuesday, May 21st we have the feast of Cristobal Magallanes Jara (1869-1927) ordained at the age of 30 who served as the Chaplain of the School of Arts and Works of the Holy Spirit in Guadalajara.  He was then chosen to be the Parish Priest for his hometown of Totatiche where he founded schools, carpentry schools and participated in planning the dam of La Candelaria.  He worked evangelizing the indigenous people of Azqueltan where he founded a mission.  In 1914, the government closed the seminary in Guadalajara. He then opened an auxiliary seminary and within a year welcomed 17 students.  Over the next years, he wrote and preached against armed rebellions and was arrested on May 21, 1927, while traveling to say Mass at a nearby farm.  He was killed 4 days later saying to his executioners, “I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.”  He was Beatified on November 22, 1992, and Canonized on May 21, 2000, both by Pope John Paul II.  In the 2012 movie, Far Greater Glory, the fictional character “Father Christopher” shown in the last sequence portrayed by Peter O’Toole was based on Cristobal Magallanes Jara.

On Wednesday, May 22nd we celebrate the feast day of Margherita/Rita Ferri Lotti (1381-1457), Rita of Cascia, an Italian widow who became a member of the Augustinian Community after the death of husband, Paolo Mancini, a rich short-tempered man who had many enemies.  Margherita/Rita and Paolo were married for 18 years until he was stabbed to death over a feud with the Chiqui Family.  They had 2 sons, Giovani Antonio and Paolo Maria who died of dysentery a year after they retaliated the murder of their father.  With the death of her husband and sons, Margherita/Rita, desired to join the nuns at the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia but was not permitted to enter their convent.  They knew of her good character and pious nature but as result of the scandal of her husband’s death the nuns were afraid of being associated with her.  Because she was married and not a virgin, she had many obstacles in her way.  She persisted for her cause and was accepted on one condition, she had to reconcile with her husband’s murderers and restore peace with the hostile families of Cascia.  Margherita/Rita then called on three saints, John the Baptist, Augustine of Hippo, and Nicholas of Tolentino for assistance her in ending the feud between the Mancini and Chiqui Families.  She was able to end the conflicts between the families and at the age of 36, she was able to enter the Monastery where she would remain until her death from tuberculosis on May 22, 1457, at the age of 75.  At the time of her death, the small wound that appeared on her forehead when she was 60 years old meditating before an image of the crucified Christ, considered to be a partial Stigmata was still present on her.  Margherita/Rita was bedridden at the convent and asked a cousin to bring her something from her old home, a rose.  Even though it was January, a single rose was in bloom in her garden and Rita received her rose.  She is often depicted with roses and on her feast day, churches and shrines provide roses that are blessed by the priest during Mass.  She was Beatified by Pope Urban III in 1626 and Canonization of St. Rita took place on May 24, 1900, with the title, Patroness of Impossible causes, abused wives and women whose hearts were broken due to conflicts within their family.  St. Rita’s Major Shrine is the Basilica of Santa Rita de Cascio in Italy.  A large Sanctuary was built in honor of St. Rita has become a regularly active place for pilgrims along with the home where she was born.  In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there is the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia built in 1907, that has now become a popular pilgrimage and devotional site.  In Kerala, India, the Church of St. Rita is the only Catholic Church in Kerala named after her and the only church in Asia to have relics of her.  In 2000, on the 100th Anniversary of her Canonization, Pope John Paul spoke of her remarkable qualities as a Christian woman: “Rita interpreted well the “feminine genius” by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.” 

On Saturday, May 25th we celebrate the feast day of St. Bede the Venerable, (673-735), English Monk, Author, Scholar who is considered one of the greatest teachers and writers in the Early Middle Ages.  His famous work, the “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” written around 731, gave him the title, “The Father of English History”.  St Bede was thought to be the most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I and the coronation of Charlemagne, King of the Franks (Germans).   Bede is a name taken from the Old English name meaning   to bid or command.  When he reached the age of 7, Bede was sent to the monastery to be educated by Abbott Benedict Biscop, a common practice for young boys of noble birth.  He studied the Latin and Greek Fathers of the Church in the Monastic Library while researching books by theologians.  When he was 19, he was ordained a deacon and in 702 at the age of 30 he was ordained to the priesthood.  Becoming a skilled linguist and translator, Bede made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers easily accessed by his fellow Anglo Saxons which then contributed to English Christianity, a few were lost but most survived.   He also wrote homilies for significant events in the Church and for Advent, Lent, and Easter.  Bede on Thursday, May 26, 735 during the “Feast of The Ascension”, sang “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”.  By the 9th century he became known as Bede the Venerable because of his holiness and by the 10th Century the cult of St. Bede became popular and around the 14th Century the cult to honor him spread to many Cathedrals throughout England.  In 1062, Bishop Wulfstan of Worchester dedicated a Church in St. Bede’s honor and later it became the Bede College in Rome, Italy.  Pope Leo XIII declared him Doctor of the Church on his Canonization in 1899, the only Englishman named a Doctor of the Church, and seen as an example for all monks to follow.  St. Bede is the patron saint of writers and England where his Major Shrine, the Durham Cathedral is located. 

Also, on Saturday May 25th we recognize Pope Gregory VII (1015-1085) born Hildebrand or in Italian “Ildebrando di Sovana”, in central Italy, now Tuscany, the son of a blacksmith.  He was sent to Rome as a young boy to study at the Monastery of St. Mary of the Aventine, choosing to be a monk.   After being sent to Germany, Hildebrand returned to Rome with Abbot Bruno, later Pope Leo IX who would name him a Deacon and Papal Administrator and sent him to Tours France as his Legate.  After the death of Pope Leo IX, the new Pope Victor II named him Legate.  Hildebrand was named Archdeacon of the Roman Church between the years 1058-1059, becoming the most important figure in the Papal Administration who worked for the election for Pope Alexander II in the Papal Election of 1061.  He played a big part in the reconciliation with the Norman Kingdom of southern Italy, the anti-German alliance in Northern Italy giving Cardinals exclusive rights when electing a new pope. Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) was elected pope on the death of Alexander II it was said: “We chose then our Archdeacon Hildebrand to be Pope and successor to the Apostle, and to be henceforward and forever the name of Gregory.”  When he was consecrated a Bishop and enthroned as Pope on June 29th, 1073, on the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair he was seen as a devout man with divine knowledge and a distinguished love of equity and justice.  Pope Gregory VII was the 1st Pope that introduced the policy of obligatory celibacy for the clergy.  Up until that time, they were allowed to marry.  One of the decrees enacted by Pope Gregory VII that only the Pope could appoint or depose bishops or move them from See to See.  Pope Gregory VII the Confessor died on May 25, 1085, in Salerno, Italy and was beatified by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584 at St. Peter’s Basilica and Canonized in the Papal States by Pope Benedict XIII on May 24, 1728.  “He was seen as a man of good behavior, blameless, modest, sober, chaste, given to hospitality, and one that ruleth well in his own house.” In 1965, Pope Paul VI said Gregory VII was instrumental in affirming the tenet that Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament. 

On May 25th we also celebrate the Italian Carmelite nun and mystic, Mary Magdalene de Pazzi.  Born Caterine Lucrezia de Pazzi in Florence, Italy to devout parents who became a saintly child who would meditate on Christ’s Passion.  While still a young child she taught other girls to pray and shared what she learned in catechism with her friends.  In 1580, at the age of 14 she was sent by her father to be educated at the Monastery of nuns at the Order of Malta until she was chosen to wed a young man of noble breeding.  Caterina told her father she wanted to live a monastic life and he relented to her wishes, and she soon entered the Carmelite Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence.  In 1583 she became a novice taking the religious name of Sister Mary Magdalene.  She suffered many ailments, severe headaches, fever, bodily pains as she lived in what St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the spirit.”  She became terribly ill while having revelations about the sufferings of Christ as she offered up her own pain to God and accepting her suffering as sweet and pleasant.  Over the next 6 years, she recorded her experiences in volumes focused on consoling Jesus’ Heart and making reparations for all the sacrileges committed against Him.  She was the great mystic who was able to fulfill her duties with great care training novices, doing menial chores as she communicated with Jesus whom she considered her closest friend and companion.  She died in 1607, four years after being bedridden at the age of 41.  Two years after her death, Jesuit Vincenzo Puccini, her confessor published the life of the Carmelite nun.   Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was beatified in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII and Canonized by Pope Clement X in 1669 with her Major Shrine, the Monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena de Pazzi in Florence.  She is revered throughout Italy where many visit the statue of her in the shrine dedicated to her and where her relics are located.   There is also a statue of her in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and many works of art and paintings of her likeness.  A Prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene de Pizza: “You were wise beyond what any book could teach.  You came to know the deepest truths of God and life through your free embrace of every suffering for the love of God.  Please pray for me, that I may love God as you loved Him, and be devoted to Him as you were devoted.  May my life become a living sacrifice of love, poured out for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.  Saint Mary Magdalene Pray for us.”

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