This Is a Power-Packed Week of Patron Saints and Feast Days
This week we will celebrate St. Dominic, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Lawrence, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Hippolytus and the Assumption of Our Lady.
This week, for eight days beginning today, the Church celebrates some truly significant memorials, feast days and solemnities. No matter a person’s vocation, this week of celebrations gives us a full array of shining lights in the life and mission of the Catholic faith. Each of us can glean much about how we live out the universal call to holiness by seeking out the lessons of these celebrations.
On Monday, Aug. 8, we can learn the spirituality of a joyful mendicant preacher. St. Dominic formed the Order of Preachers, and he was always ready to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever he went, or if anyone was sent to him. All of us can probably learn to be a bit more flexible and joyful in the curveballs that life throws at us, and to stand up for truth in a world that preaches so much falsehood.
On Tuesday, Aug. 9, we can learn that the Catholic faith is animated by both rigorous intellectual pursuits and the life of mystical contemplation. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was a Carmelite nun who, in her prior career, had been a philosophy professor until the end of World War One. Her conversion to Christianity came after reading the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Ávila and from there she took up the topic of Christian empathy as her primary focus before she was martyred by the Nazis in 1942.
On Wednesday, Aug. 10, we ought to recall that the Christian life involves both a great love for the poor and a great sense of humor. St. Lawrence, one of the early deacons of the Church in Rome, was martyred for telling the Emperor that poor Romans were the treasure of the Church. He showed his sense of humor by his response to his executioners while being grilled over a fire pit: “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.”
On Thursday, Aug. 11, we can call to mind the power of Eucharistic Adoration in our spiritual lives (especially as we continue through this period of Eucharistic revival in our country). On a Friday in September 1240, St. Clare of Assisi was able to turn away Islamic soldiers who set out to desecrate and demolish the San Damiano convent, simply by showing them a monstrance with the Eucharistic Host inside. This memorable episode also reveals to us that time spent in prayer communing with Our Blessed Lord helps us to develop great courage.
On Friday, Aug. 12, we ought to find special inspiration in the fact that God works in the laity. St. Jane Frances de Chantal was a mother of six children who was widowed at a young age. Still the grace of God moved through her friend, St. Francis de Sales, to help build her into a strong, saintly woman who would become a foundress of a religious order and an inspiration to so many suffering women.
On Saturday, Aug. 13, we should remember to give thanks for the priesthood, by which the grace of God is brought to us in the sacraments. St. Hippolytus was a Roman priest who struggled to combat heresy in the early Church, even while falling into heresy and schism himself. With his example in mind, we ought to learn to be firm about the truth revealed by God, but gracious to those who err in doctrine and ready for them to reconcile.
As within every octave, there is a Sunday solemnity. Since the earliest days of the Church, the celebration of the Resurrection on the first day of the week has been the most significant hallmark of Christian life and devotion. It is the celebration of the Mass that draws together and presents to God Most High all the qualities that we find in the saints of the Church in every age: the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant.
Finally, it is truly providential that this octave ends with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary on Aug. 15. Mary, we know, is the perfect model of discipleship and holiness. Hers is the pattern and example that we seek to emulate. If our lives give answer to the universal call to holiness, we will each become like Mary, in spirit if not in body. While none of the saints we celebrate, and none of us, will be assumed bodily into heaven, it is the goal of our lives that one day our bodies and souls will be reunited in glory.
Thus, all of us who seek to faithfully lead lives of discipleship can find some source of inspiration during this week. So, each of us ought to take some time to ponder our own desires and gifts, asking God for the courage to walk deeper into his life. We should pray also for the truth that allows us to live in freedom, and for the joy that is contagious to the world around us. Then, in prayer and in worship, we can offer to God our own works, joys and sufferings in hope that he will bring us to full communion with him in our glorified bodies.
Hoping that all of us find more truth, goodness and beauty in this blessed week!