Saint Feast Days
St. Catherine of Genoa (b. 1447) was an utterly unique and inspiring mystic. After close to a decade of an unhappy and essentially arranged marriage, she experienced a powerful conversion: while kneeling before her confessor, a vision came upon her. Pope Benedict described it: “‘I received,’ as she herself writes, ‘a wound in my heart of the immense love of God,’ and such a clear vision of her miseries and defects, and at the same time of the goodness of God, that she almost fainted.”
St. Catherine of Genoa inspires for many reasons: for the strength of heart it must have taken as a married woman in the 15th century to take up the cross of a total conversion of her life to God; because of her vivid visionary experiences; and because, despite the intensity of her interior life of prayer, she lived her entire life dedicated to her fellow people as the director of the local hospital.
Her quote above echoes Augustine, reminding us that the Good and Goodness exist as something more than concepts in our minds: they are a part of the fabric of the reality that God created for us–and when we participate in the Good, we are partaking of God’s love for us.
Today we commemorate Mother Theresa, who is considered beatified, meaning not quite a saint. She is perhaps the most recognizable Catholic figure in the world of social justice from the past century and has kindled an awareness of the plight of the global poor in the hearts of people far from Mother Theresa’s home in Calcutta.
“Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other–that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister. If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we would still need tanks and generals?” This is one of those quotes that it is easy to read, thinking, Hmmm, that’s true, and move on. But what Mother Theresa is getting at with this quote is really quite stirring, even a bit frightening (the Truth always is). To think that we might have “forgotten” something that is the key to peace as we rush ever forward, headlong into . . . well, what exactly is it that we are rushing into? The idea that “we belong to each other” is completely antithetical to the philosophy of the modern life: you-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine.
Our society constantly tells us, “You belong to your self! You are the most important thing in your life. Your very being is generated by your self. You define yourself,” and so on.
But Blessed Mother Theresa saw the dark side of that philosophy and its effects both on the souls of those who live that lifestyle as well as on the lives of those who spend their days in crushing poverty. Every day, relentlessly, she saw the immediate effects of forgetting that we belong to each other in the form of a poverty that is unfathomable to us as Americans or Westerners.
But there is hope; there is always hope–even Mother Theresa, surrounded by such extreme poverty, saw the hope that we will have peace if we remember that we are our brothers’ keepers, that we are responsible for each other and not just ourselves. We belong to each other as much as we belong to our selves. This is a message that is frightening, thought-provoking and finally, inspiring.
We will regain peace in direct proportion to the degree we regain the understanding that we belong to each other. Today we pray for Blessed Mother Theresa and with her, and hope that soon her own plaque will be among Creator Mundi’s collection of saints.
Today, we honor St. Maximilian Kolbe, who Pope John Paul II called “the Martyr of Charity” upon his canonization. By volunteering to die in place of a complete stranger within the evil confines of Auschwitz, Kolbe vividly manifested Christ’s love, even as he himself paid the ultimate price. His martyrdom means so much, and on so many levels, in our modern world. It goes beyond the profound truth of his sacrifice, and reminds us that if this holy man could bring about love in that most debased creation of human cruelty, we too can strive to bring about the seed of love all around us.
Because of his gift of hope and love in an environment of abject horror, he is also the patron saint of addicts, prisoners, political prisoners, journalists, and many other people fighting against the particularly modern forms of evil.
“No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?” – St. Maximilian Kolbe
Saint of the Day: St. Clare of Assisi | d. 1253 | Feast: August 11th
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.
Today, we celebrate the life and words of St. Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the Poor Clares. Taken by the words of St. Francis, she left her family (which was attempting to marry her off) to follow him at the age of 18. Originally a Benedictine, Clare moved into a building near the church at Saint Damiano, where the contemplative, Franciscan Poor Clares order took form. Today there are over twenty thousand nuns in the order all over the world.
To celebrate St. Clare with a loved one and educate about her life through a symbolically rich work of sacred art, take a look at our St. Clare plaques once you’ve read a bit about why we are honoring her today.
We honor Clare today both as a powerful mystical thinker in the great tradition of St. Francis and also as a powerful example of the importance of poverty and service in this world as the centerpiece of one’s religious life. Contemplation surely enlarges the soul, but it must be leavened with the care and love for the poor and helpless that Clare (and her still-vibrant Order) embodies.
The quote above from St. Clare reminds us of the importance of contemplative prayer in attaining our end, or goal: to purify and clarify the divine image within us. As we are reminded throughout the Bible, the imprint of God is everywhere, within us and without us: “Let us make mankind in our image, according to our likeness.” Clare in this quote is imploring us to see the evidence of the eternal and of eternity that inheres in all things; to allow this seeing to illuminate the eternal within our hearts, and therefore to put on a new self, purified from the contingent things of this world and subsisting entirely in the purity of the image of God (whose reflection we see everywhere).
What are some of your favorite ways to cultivate contemplation? How do you seek the mirror of God’s eternity? In nature? In your fellow humans?
St. Clare Saving a Child from a Wolf
Saint of the Week: St. Edith Stein | d. 1942 | Feast: August 9th
This weekend we honor a modern martyr: Edith Stein, or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Creator Mundi carries a beautiful and symbolically rich plaque honoring her life and witness – after you’ve read of her life and contemplated her wise words below, click here to see our St. Edith Stein plaque – where we describe her life’s intellectual work. Our plaque shows St. Teresa deep at work writing her masterpiece, an illumination of St. Thomas Aquinas’ theology through the light and focus of the modern “phenomenological” philosophy.
Her radiant intellect is a testament to the sheer and unfathomable power of the gift of mind that God gives us; her conversion to Catholicism and entry into the monastic life is a testament to the strength of the soul ever-yearning for peace within God; and her martyrdom during the Holocaust stands as a stark reminder that the world is a fraught place for believers. In the end, however, her martyrdom has illuminated and inspired thousands of souls to turn to God – and for that, for the marriage of her towering intellect with her deeply human and passionate yearning and witness for God, we celebrate St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).
These wise words of St. Teresa’s apply now more than ever. Amid all the noise, how hard it can be to drink of the Wisdom that is freely available to us! Are there certain things that you do to center your morning in that grace and wisdom? If so, what are they? Some find a routine is central to grounding the morning in purpose; others find that it is spontaneity that waters the seed of divine energy within us. We would love to hear your comments below.
Saint of the Week: St. John Vianney, Curé d’Ars | d. 1859 | Feast: August 4th
“The word of God must of necessity bear within us either good or bad fruit. The fruit will be good if we are well prepared to receive it, namely, by a real desire to profit by it and to do everything that it prescribes. It will be bad if we hear it with indifference, or perhaps with distaste and disesteem. This sacred world will enlighten us and show us how to fulfill our duties, or it will blind us and make us stiff-necked.”
This pith of wisdom from Curé d’Ars is a reminder that despite our often strong illusions otherwise, we cannot bring forth the fruit of the Word entirely of our own accord.
But through prayer, and by openness to God’s word, we gain access, insight, and wisdom from that world which exceeds ours. It is this wisdom, this love, this compassion, that flows from God to us and waters our souls.
What do you do to cultivate fruitful prayer? How have you grown over the course of life in prayer? Have you changed the way you pray since you were younger? And also, what fruits do you see in your everyday life as a result of your dedication to prayer?
Creator Mundi offers several gifts to celebrate the life of St. John Vianney. Priests especially find solace in this great saint, so if you are looking to show your gratitude to your pastor, who selflessly gives so much of himself, look into our St. John Vianney pieces: a handcrafted dolomite statue from France and a solid bronze plaque made in Germany.
St. John Vianney: A Pillar of Faith
St. John Vianney’s inspiration reaches us strongly in today’s day and age because of the similarities between his world and ours. He was raised during the French Revolution, when Catholicism was forced into the shadows.
St. John Vianney had to attend Mass in secret, and he saw the priests carrying out their duties at great personal risk. He was a great confessor, often spending 12 hours a day hearing confessions. It is this level of care to his flock that makes him, to this day, a source of much inspiration and joy to those who are in formation. It can be hard to conceptualize the life of someone involved in the pastoral mission, but your pastor or priest will always be grateful for whatever thanks you can give, as a sign that you are aware of the hard work and profound responsibility of the calling.
St. John Vianney is held up to all as a great example of the pastoral aspect of the priesthood because of his unflagging dedication to his parish and the wellbeing of his flock.
St. Bonaventure, Franciscan and Doctor of the Church
St. Bonaventure, Franciscan and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: July 15th. Lived: 1221-1274.
If you’re interested in celebrating the feast day of St. Bonaventure, see Creator Mundi’s beautiful, symbolically-rich St. Bonaventure Plaque.
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Bonaventure. This great Doctor of the Church played an instrumental role in the prominence of the Franciscan Order. He was a a colleague of St. Thomas Aquinas, and in fact took his degree with Aquinas. However, he was very much his own thinker, taking influence from St. Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius especially. His thought is a beautiful and edifying complement to the work of his peers such as St. Thomas Aquinas, who were more influenced by Aristotle. Bonaventure, on the other hand, represents a more mystical and Platonic worldview. The vast range of thought coming from this generation shows us what a rich and vibrant time this was in the history of the Church.
The Nourishing Writings of St. Bonaventure
St. Bonaventure’s writings still ring with truth and edifying joy today.
“A spiritual joy is the greatest sign of the divine grace dwelling in the soul.”
“Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good and since the highest good is above, no one can be happy unless he rises above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart.”
“When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than the proceedings from the mouth.”
One of our favorite quotes here at Creator Mundi:
” In beautiful things St. Francis saw Beauty itself, and through His vestiges imprinted on creation he followed his Beloved everywhere, making from all things a ladder by which he could climb up and embrace Him who is utterly desirable. If you desire to know … ask grace, not instruction; desire, not understanding; the groaning of prayer, not diligent reading; the Spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light, but fire that totally inflames and carries us into God by ecstatic unctions and burning affections.”
Greetings! We are launching our new series of blog posts, thought-provoking quotes, and celebrations of saints on their respective feast days. Today we feature some of the wide-reaching wisdom of St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monastic order.
If you find these quotes inspiring and would like to share the gift of St. Benedict’s wisdom, consider giving one of our St. Benedict-related works of sacred art as a gift! We have plaques, statuettes, and more.
Feast Day of St. Benedict (480-550 A.D.), Founder of the Benedictine Monastic Order | July 11th
Here we celebrate some of the core values that St. Benedict espoused in animating the monastic life. We hope that you find these to be as inspiring and applicable to your life as we find them today as we think on them.
Awareness of God
“We believe that the divine presence is everywhere.” RB 19.1
“ . . . and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.” RB 72.12
“As often as anything important is to be done . . . the abbot shall call the whole community together and explain what the business is . . . “ RB 3.1
Respect for persons
“No one is to pursue what is judged best for oneself, but instead, what is better for someone else. “ RB 72.7
“Listen . . . with the ear of your heart.” RB Prologue 1
Dignity of work
“. . . they live by the labor of their hands.” RB 48.8
“Let all . . . be received as Christ”. RB 53.1
“Regard all utensils as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.” RB 31.10
“Through this love, all . . . will now begin to be observed without effort, as though naturally, for habit, . . . out of love for Christ, good habit, and delight in virtue.” RB 7.68-69
“All things are done in moderation.” RB 48.9
“We intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service . . . We hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.” RB Prologue 45-47
“. . . that in all things may God be glorified.” RB 57.9