Category Archives: Saints

St. Brigid of Ireland, I know your feast was last week, but this is too amazing for me to ignore…

Patroness of poultry raisers, pray for us!

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.
– Saint Brigid

Feast day: February 1


Upon The Feast Of St. John Damascene

“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God….’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory.”

Patron against iconoclasm, ora pro nobis!

M. Swaim

Our Amazing Selves

The other day, during yet another hymn to what Fr. Richard Neuhaus calls “Our Amazing Selves,” I had to take a break. I’m not proud of it, but I got up and fled to the little alcove in the vestibule that a statue of our patron saint, Clare of Asissi, shares with some folding chairs (and, formerly, the recycling).

It’s a small but very beautiful alcove, and our statue is large and a very beautiful statue. Narrow stained glass windows gave only a mute blue glow. I looked up at St. Clare and prepared for a little pouting session for My Cranky Self.

“You were a contemplative,” I thought to her. (I believe that the saints possess telepathic powers.) “You repelled a Muslim army with a Host. You spent your whole life praying for everyone. Is this what you had in mind?”

I’m not sure exactly what I meant by “this” — everything, I guess. Everything that frustrates me and gives me high blood pressure about the liturgy, my fellow American Catholics, myself, and the whole sorry world, for that matter. Substitute your own concerns.

Because the answer — and I did get an answer — was “yes.” Clare and the Poor Clares down through the ages have prayed for us, whatever we choose to do out here outside the convent walls. They pray for us because we need it. Like soldiers who fight so that the next generation of kids can be spoiled and can squander their freedom if they want to, they are also in battle.

So, chastised, I went back to my pew. The Poor Clares are praying for us, in Cincinnati and around the world. We all have a battle to fight, and that’s the best place to start.stclare

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

So, did you hear the one about how holiness is only for priests and religious?

Yeah, I haven’t either, and today’s saint proves the point that holiness is open for all.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess, queen, wife, mother, widower, and saint.  She died in the year 1231 at the tender age of 23, and was declared a saint a scant 4 years later!

How to achieve such a remarkable run?  Easy!  She was married while still a teenager, which was rather common in those days, to a prince of Thuringia, within modern day Germany.  Her husband was assassinated, leaving her the widowed queen with three small children.  However, she did not let that stop her.  She became a Franciscan Tertiary (a lay person associated with the charisms of a particular order, her poverty.)  In iconography, she is always depicted holding loaves of bread as she gave away large stores of food the poor of her day and age, while she kept to a strict schedule of fasting and prayer.

For her life, she was declared patronness of widows and Catholic Charities.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Pray for us!

– Father Schnippel

St. Peter Claver

Today is the feast of St. Peter Claver, who shared the faith with some 300,000 recipients who were willing to alter their lives because of it.  As a missionary, yea, the “slave of the slaves,” he traveled from Spain to Colombia to advocate better working conditions and more dignity for the African slaves that were being mistreated by cruel European colonists.  Because of his tireless advocacy of justice, he has been recognized as the patron saint of African-Americans.

Many of our readers probably know that there is actually a St. Peter Claver school in Over the Rhine, founded in part by the late Fr. Al Lauer, the former pastor of Old St. Mary’s who is frequently heard on Sacred Heart Radio.

This being a special day for those students, teachers, and administrators at St. Peter Claver, we offer this prayer, taken from the St. Peter Claver website.:

Heavenly Father, you conferred on St. Peter
Claver a supernatural gift of love. Through
his intercession we pray for the young men
entrusted to St. Peter Claver Latin School to
be transformed by Jesus into strong Christian
leaders, husbands and fathers. May the Holy
Spirit working in and through parents, students
and faculty revitalize the City of Cincinnati and
the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and beyond.
We give you praise and thanksgiving for
inspiring our many generous benefactors
and volunteers and we ask you to grant
their special intentions.

Grant eternal rest to Fr. Al and Fr. Charles.
Let perpetual light shine upon them.

Glory be to the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
St. Peter Claver, pray for us.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us.
St. Juan Diego, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Fr. Charles, pray for us.
Fr. Al Lauer, pray for us.

Matt Swaim

If you squint really hard…

Chocolaty Cistercian Cuisine

Chocolaty Cistercian Cuisine

…you can see that the inscription on the pastry in the picture to our left reads “St. Bernard, Ora Pro Nobis!” Apologies for the lateness of this post, since St. Bernard’s feast was last Wednesday. For the rest of the menu delightfully ingested at the Swaim household on the memorial of the honey-tongued doctor (not coincidentally also the patron saint of beekeepers), head over to our other intrepid literary venture at CultCultureCultivation. For a prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux to the shoulder wound of Christ, visit the slightly less intrepid Apoloblogology.

And while you’re surfing the auxiliary musings of our team of crack(ed) investigative journalists, you might find it edifying to snag a print copy of the latest National Catholic Register, where our very own Archdiocesan Vocations Director (and M E R E L Y * C A T H O L I C charter member) Fr. Kyle Schnippel shares a thought or two on vocations. Bravo Father, and as I’ve said before, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

That’s all the self-promoting varia we’ll fling at you for the time being. Now it’s off to a luau in honor of St. Rose of Lima…

-Matt Swaim

Good Reading for the Feast of St. Helena

Evelyn Waugh, the celebrated author of such Catholic literary classics as “Brideshead Revisited,” claimed that his favorite work of his own was “Helena,” a historical novel based on the life of Constantine’s mother. Waugh’s own daughter maintained that “Helena” was the only one of her prolific father’s works that he cared to read aloud to his family.

Said Waugh of his reasons for picking Helena as the subject of his study:

I liked Helena’s sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as sanctity. She wasn’t thrown to the lions, she wasn’t a contemplative, she didn’t look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God has chosen for her to do and did it.

Having read it myself, I believe it to be an excellent work of modern hagiography, of the sort that neither attempts to remove the flaws of the saint in question, nor overaccentuates her shortcomings. Waugh’s account is a beautiful portrayal of a simple and faithful saint, one that warrants repeated reads for its graceful narrative and spirit of Christian charity.

-Matt Swaim