Today I talk about St. Helena and the True Cross. I have a rather mysterious connection to St. Helena and I share a little bit about my own journey and my temporary guardianship of three holy relics of the True Cross. I have learned that the Cross is non-negotiable if we want to become saints. During this time of affliction, we need to lift high the Cross and call all people to Christ’s love poured out for our salvation. We can also participate in the redeeming work of the Cross through offering our suffering united to Him on the Cross.
We live in a world that takes itself too seriously. I would hazard a guess that many people reading this piece struggle with this taking of one’s self to seriously, just as I do. It turns out, there is a saint to help us: St. Philip Neri. Today the Church celebrates this humorous, charitable, obedient, and joyful saint. He was born in 1515 in Florence, Italy. He spent many years studying and serving as a layman before being ordained a priest. He had a profound mystical experience that led him to serve in hospitals and he felt such great love of God that he preached to the poor and the rich alike in his desire to bring the world to Him.
St. Philip developed quite a following. He founded a confraternity alongside his confessor, Persiano Rossa, called the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims and Convalescents. The confraternity served the needs of poor pilgrims who came to Rome throughout the year and during jubilee years. St. Philip was ordained in 1551 and he also founded the Congregation of the Oratory, which was a group of secular priests.
St. Philip was known for unpredictable behavior that surprised a great many people:
He seemed to sense the different ways to bring people to God. One man came to the Oratory just to make fun of it. Philip wouldn’t let the others throw him out or speak against him. He told them to be patient and eventually the man became a Dominican. On the other hand, when he met a condemned man who refused to listen to any pleas for repentance, Philip didn’t try gentle words, but grabbed the man by the collar and threw him to the ground. The move shocked the criminal into repentance and he made a full confession.
St. Philip Neri, Catholic.org
It is clear that St. Philip could see the need for different approaches depending on the situation. It demonstrated his ability of discernment and his willingness to do what was necessary to bring others to God.
I have not blogged a whole lot this summer. I have August off from graduate school, so I am only writing pieces for Catholic Exchange, Epic Pew, and Catholic Link until September. I will return to blogging then. For now I am having fun with my daughter and catching up on deep cleaning projects around the house. Here is my article for Catholic Exchange today.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894 in Zdunska Wola, Poland. His entire life was centered on his great love and devotion to Our Lady through her Immaculate Conception. At the age of six he had a vision of her:
That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.
—Regis Armstrong and Ingrid Peterson, The Franciscan Tradition, 50
Kolbe and his older brother entered the Conventual Franciscans in 1910 and he made his final vows to the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity in 1914. He was then sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he pursued a doctorate in Philosophy. He then continued on to receive a doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure in 1922.