3 November: Blessed Solanus Casey

3 November: Blessed Solanus Casey. Born Bernard Francis Casey to Irish immigrants in 1870, he first considered the priesthood after witnessing a brutal murder as a young man. In seminary, he struggled with studies and mastering languages. Because of his poor grades, Blessed Solanus was dismissed. He was sent to a Capuchin Franciscan community. Blessed Solanus was hesitant but heard the Blessed Mother tell him to “go to Detroit” and so he did. He donned the Franciscan habit and chose the name Solanus, after a 17th-century missionary. Franciscan life was a good fit, but academic difficulties caused his superiors to decide he would remain a “simplex priest” (meaning he could not preach or hear confessions). Fr. Solanus was assigned to be the monastery’s porter: the main link from the friars to the outside world. He soon became renowned as “the doorkeeper” who gave gentle counsel and miraculous intercession. He would listen to anyone at any time, day or night. People would line up for blocks just to have a moment with him. He told them to “thank God ahead of time.” One story of his miraculous intercession is told about a friar who came to see Solanus on his way to have emergency dental work done. Fr. Solanus blessed him and told him to trust God. While the friar was at the dentist, a lady who came to visit the monastery brought Fr. Solanus two ice cream cones. Too busy to eat them, Fr. Solanus shoved the cones into his desk drawer, much to the dismay of his secretary. After more than half an hour, the friar returned from the dentist, his tooth found miraculously healthy. He went to thank Father Solanus, who pulled out perfectly frozen ice cream cones from his drawer on the hot summer day, which he offered to the friar to celebrate. Fr. Solanus was also known for quirky habits such as playing his harmonica to the monastery bees; for singing in a loud squeaky voice as he played his violin; and for eating his breakfast all mixed together as a penance– cereal, prune juice, coffee, and milk in the same bowl. Blessed Solanus’ last years were spent suffering severe pain but he never complained. He died on July 31, 1957, and tens of thousands lined up to view his body before burial. Thousands more have sought his miraculous intercession. Blessed Solanus was beatified in 2017. November 3 and July 30 are both dates associated with his feast.   

Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:

  • Enjoy ice cream cones today! For a crazy menu twist, try mixing up all your breakfast foods and drinks in the same bowl, like Blessed Solanus did, as a penance.
  • Do something for the poor. Solanus is known for starting the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which to this day cares for Detroit’s poor. Our own parish ministry, St. Vincent de Paul, is teaming up with the Knights of Columbus to provide turkey dinners and warm coats to those in need this holiday season. See the bulletin for specifics on how you can help them take care of the poor in our community.
  • Watch a fascinating video on the extraordinary life of Blessed Solanus Casey. Click here to watch for free on FORMED.
  • Listen to a reflection from Deacon Gus here.

28 October: Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

28 October: Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saints Simon and Jude whose names occur together in the Canon of the Mass. These Apostles of Jesus were both early missionaries of the Church. Saint Jude, also named Judas Thaddaeus or just Thaddaeus, had the abbreviated forename of “Jude” to be clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot. Saint Jude was the Apostle who asked the Lord at the Last Supper why He had manifested Himself only to His disciples and not to the whole world (John 14:22). Tradition holds that Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. The Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia. St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard had visions from God in which they were shown St. Jude as “The Patron Saint of the Impossible.” Saint Simon, also known as Simon the Zealot or Simon the Canaanite, was one of the most obscure among the apostles of Jesus. Not much is known about him; but he is thought to have been a fisherman. Born at Cana in Galilee, St. Simon was surnamed the Zealot because of his affiliation with “the Zealots” (a Jewish political party in opposition to pagan Rome). After Pentecost, Simon preached the Gospel in Persia, Asian Minor, and Egypt. He joined St. Jude in Syria and they were martyred there together. Simon is represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. Ancient tradition says St. Simon was sawed in half and St. Jude was beheaded with an axe. Saint Simon is the patron saint of curriers, sawyers, sawmen and tanners. Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate situations, lost or impossible causes, hospitals and hospital workers.

 

Prayer

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (from The Roman Missal)

 

Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:

  • An idea for making “Apostle Cookies” can be found here.
  • Recipes for Egyptian foods (remembering the work these saints did in Egypt) can be found here. Another recipe for Koshari (an Egyptian comfort food) is here. As a nod to Simon the fisherman, fish would be another fitting menu idea for today.
  • Remembering the zeal and missionary work of Saints Jude and Simon, discuss these questions around your family table: What does service to Christ mean? How can each of us serve others in the name of Jesus?  What small sacrifices can we make for the happiness of others? Can we work together toward a common good as Simon and Jude did?
  • In honor of Saint Jude and his powerful intercession, make a family “Prayer Board” – a place where everyone in the family can put prayer requests in a visible spot. Prayer board ideas here.
  • Pray a novena to St. Jude: bring him your biggest, most stressful concerns.
  • The word apostle means ‘one sent on a mission’ or ‘a person who first advocates an important belief.’ How can you be a Christian apostle? Use this feast day as a reminder to boldly share your faith; possibly with someone you already know.

23 October: Memorial of Saint John of Capistrano

23 October: Memorial of Saint John of Capistrano, born in 1386 at Capistrano in the Italian Province of the Abruzzi. His father was a German knight and died when John was young. His mother gave him an excellent education. St. John became a lawyer and then the governor of Perugia at the age of 26. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta, John tried to achieve peace but became a prisoner of war. During imprisonment, he encountered St. Francis of Assisi in a dream. He then resolved to embrace poverty, chastity, and obedience by joining the Franciscans. His teacher and mentor was St. Bernardine of Siena, known for bold preaching. St. John began preaching as a deacon in 1420, and then as a priest in 1425. The world at the time was in great need: one third of the population had died from the Black Plague and the Church was split in schism. Saint John made great efforts for the Church. He resolved controversy within the Franciscan order. Pope Nicholas V and his successor Callixtus III entrusted important matters to John, including the effort to reunite Eastern and Western Christendom at the Council of Florence. St. John preached to tens of thousands during his missionary travels throughout Italy and Central Europe, and established communities of Franciscan renewal. He healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively against heresies. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callixtus III to lead a crusade against the Muslim Turks. He marched at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. They won the great battle of Belgrade in 1456 and delivered Europe from the Muslims. He died a few months later from illness. St. John was canonized in 1724 and was praised by St. John Paul II for his “glorious evangelical witness,” as a priest who “gave himself with great generosity for the salvation of souls.” St. John of Capistrano is known as “the soldier saint” and is the patron of military chaplains, jurists and judges.

 

Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:

  • Father Junipera Serra founded the Mission of San Juan Capistrano in 1776, named for St. John, for mission work to the Indians. The Mission is famous for the tradition of the swallows returning every year. Click here to read more about the Mission. Here is a step-by-step craft to make paper swallows! The history of the swallows at the mission can be found here.
  • Here is a fun craft idea for making little Franciscan friars in memory of St. John of Capistrano.
  • Today’s feast day dinner should include Italian foods and a dessert such as cupcakes topped with cocktails swords to remember ‘the soldier saint’. If your children own knight or friar costumes, today’s the day to dress up!
  • Watch a free video on Formed tracing the origin of the Franciscan order: “The Birth of the Franciscans.”

17 October: Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Saint Ignatius is an apostolic father and one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was born in Syria, converted to Christianity, and became a successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He is said to have been personally instructed by the Apostle John. During the persecution of the Emperor Trajan, Ignatius would not deny Christ. He was condemned to death by wild beasts and sent in chains to Rome. During his final journey from Antioch to Rome, St. Ignatius wrote seven epistles (letters) which we still have today. Ignatius wrote to the Christian communities of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna; along with a farewell letter to Bishop Polycarp (also a martyr). The Letters of Ignatius are greatly honored by the Church; they stress the importance of Church unity, dangers of heresy, and the importance of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” His writings contain the first surviving written description of the Church as “Catholic” (indicating the universality of the Church). St. Ignatius also wrote of his burning desire for martyrdom. Pope Benedict XVI said that “no Church Father has expressed the longing for union with Christ and for life in him with the intensity of Ignatius.” Ignatius’ last words before the lions tore him to pieces: “Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose means it will be granted me to reach God. I am the wheat of God, let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”

Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:

  • Use lions as a theme for food/snacks today. Here is a neat idea for a lion vegetable tray. Or, bake a lion cake – the internet has lots of ideas for this!
  • Do an autumn leaf lion craft with children.
  • Make homemade wheat bread, remembering the last words of St. Ignatius.
  • Find the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch here. Read and meditate upon his words.
  • St. Ignatius had a gift for written letters/epistles: in his honor, write a letter to someone who is sick, lonely, or in need of a handwritten note to brighten their day.

4 October: Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

Francis was born in 1182 into a wealthy Catholic family of seven children in Assisi, Italy. He was named John by his mother at birth, after St. John the Baptist. His father renamed him Francis because he made his livelihood in France. Francis lived a life of comfort, leisure, and partying until he left to fight as a solider in two wars. He was taken prisoner for a year. Afterwards, he felt called to spend more time in prayer and service to the poor. While praying, Francis heard God tell him to “repair my house, which is falling into ruins.” Francis went to work repairing ruined churches. His father was angry with him for spending family money. Francis then left home, renounced his wealth, and took a vow of poverty. Francis never become a priest but his love of poverty and his joyful preaching converted people everywhere he went. He had a group of followers; their one basic rule was “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.” They traveled to Rome to get papal approval for their religious order. At first reluctant about this group of poor men, Pope Innocent III experienced a supernatural dream and then approved the founding of the Franciscan order. The Order grew quickly. A woman named Clare of Assisi wanted to take similar vows, so Francis helped her start the Order of the Poor Ladies (Order of Saint Clare). He also started another order (later called the Third Order of Saint Francis) for lay men and women. St. Francis received the stigmata during a 40-day fast preceding Michaelmas. Francis was also known for his love of nature and animals. There are many stories about Saint Francis preaching to animals and taming wild ones. One story tells of a vicious wolf in the town of Gubbio that was killing people and sheep. Francis confronted the wolf, made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf not to hurt anyone else. The wolf became tame and the town was saved. In 1220, he set up the first known Nativity scene to celebrate Christmas. Francis became ill and spent the last few years of his life mostly blind. He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141. He was declared a saint only two years after his death.

Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:

  • Bring your animals to church on Sunday, 4 October at 2pm for the Blessing of the Animals! Fr. Tomlinson will bless all your creatures in the grassy area by the handicap parking.
  • Click here for Franciscan prayers you can say with your family on this feast day.
  • In honor of his love of poverty, make it a task this week to declutter closets and donate extra items to the poor! Include your children in this endeavor to give out of your excess to those in need. Or, send the St. Vincent de Paul Society a donation.
  • Francis fasted most of his religious life, so it’s not completely natural to prepare a great feast in his honor. However, on his deathbed, he asked for a sweet treat concocted of almonds and sugar. Here is a recipe that might be similar to what he requested. Because he was from Assisi, an Italian-themed dinner would also be fitting.
  • Get out into nature today and enjoy an animal-themed snack (animal crackers, ants on a log).
  • This website has other meal ideas in honor of St. Francis.