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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

December 10
Servant of God Bernard of Quintavalle
(d. 1246?)


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Bernard was a wealthy man of Assisi, known and esteemed for his virtue and his wisdom. He was also the first follower of St. Francis, and would ultimately prove to be first in the order of sanctity.

Moved by the poverty and humility of Francis, Bernard invited him to stay at his house one night. There Bernard observed that Francis forsook a full night's sleep and instead spent the hours in prayer. By the following morning Bernard was convinced that Francis was indeed motivated by sincere love of God and, so, Bernard asked to become a disciple. Francis joyfully took him to the church where they attended Mass and then asked the priest to open the Bible three times.

Three passages appeared: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor" (Matthew 19:21). "Take nothing for the way" (Mark 6:8). "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

Francis said: "This will be the rule of life which we and all those who will join us shall follow." At that, Bernard sold all his possessions and divided the money among the poor.

Francis admired much in Bernard because he was older and because he was so holy. He sent his new follower and a companion to Florence and then to Bologna. In both places they were made sport of because of their poor clothing and the manner of their life. But Bernard was only upset when the townspeople of Bologna began to recognize his holiness. He asked Francis to bring him back.

Later Francis took Bernard with him as he headed out for Africa to preach to the Muslims. But along the way they met a poor sick man and Francis left the ever-joyful Bernard to care for the man until he himself would return.

Before his death Francis gave Bernard a special blessing and asked all of the brothers to have respect for this holy man.

Bernard is buried in Assisi near his holy founder in the Basilica of St. Francis.



Comment:

Opening the Bible at random doesn’t often give us practical advice on how to live. The pages might fall open to God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his only son or to St. Paul urging the Galatians not to submit to circumcision. Maybe it would help to have someone like Francis standing beside us. Better yet, we might focus on the Bible’s general thrust, which Jesus summed up as love for God and neighbor. That alone would send us on the path to sanctity Bernard traveled and fill us with the joy that always filled this follower of Francis.


Thursday, December 10, 2015
Saint of the Day for 12/9/2015 Saint of the Day for 12/11/2015

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

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