April 29: Peter the Martyr

In addition to St Catherine of Siena, today (April 29) is the memorial of St Peter the Martyr, O.P. (+1252), who received his habit from St Dominic Guzman himself. St Peter was a Dominican inquisitor and wonderworker who preached against the Albigensians and Cathars and is traditionally held to be the first Dominican martyr, hence THE martyr.

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Consecration to Mary with CCM: Day 1

To mark the month of May, traditionally dedicated to Our Lady, and as a transition from the school year to the summer months, united as a community of faith on campus, we make and renew our Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary (a.ka. Consecration to Mary). We invite you to learn more about the spiritual practice and join us (everything you need is below)!

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April 27: St Zita

Today (April 27) is the memorial of St Zita (sometimes Sitha; +AD 1272) a domestic worker in Lucca, Italy whose heroic piety and miraculous intercession after death made her a popular saint in the area until her cult spread. She is one of the “incorruptibles” a saint whose body has known little or no decay. You can learn more about this saint and her incorruptible body here:

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Was Shakespeare Catholic?

Happy Birthday to William Shakespeare, as today, April 23, is the day when the birthday of the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon is recognized and celebrated (we don’t know for sure, but Shakespeare’s baptism is recorded in the Parish Register at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564). Shakespeare, the oft lauded greatest writer of the English language, in some ways like Jesus, often becomes a blank canvas upon which many theorists end up painting a self-portrait. But is there any credence to the idea that Shakespeare might have been secretly Catholic in an age of Catholic persecution in England?

The Vatican Post Office celebrated the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare with a stamp featuring art work by Czech artist Marina Richterova. (Source: Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office)
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Prayers of the Apocalypse

In our Wednesday Night Scripture Study of the Apocalypse/Book of Revelation (7:30 pm, check our homepage for the link), we open each session with a canticle, or song, from the Book of Revelation that is used in the Liturgy of the Hours. These are powerful hymns of praise to Jesus Christ worthy of meditation, and incorporating into your own prayer life, whether on the nights indicated, or as you read the Book of Revelation, or as you feel called to offer worship to the Lamb of God.

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Making an Examination of Conscience

During this time when many of us do not have regular, if any, access to the sacrament of Confession, this would be a good time to start developing the habit of making a regular thorough Examination of Conscience, in addition to a brief Daily Examen. I might suggest doing so each Saturday night in order to make a strong Act of Contrition (found at the bottom of the Examination below) asking God’s forgiveness and receiving his grace to live the Lord’s Day as a holy day.

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St John Henry Newman’s Road to Holiness

St John Henry Newman is the universal patron saint of Catholic Campus Ministry. He believed fervently in the University as the setting in which students seeking truth, when done honestly, would lead to those same students discovering the one who named himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He also believed fervently in the Church’s universal call to holiness, and frequently addressed such a call to all person’s in his homilies, sermons, and meditations.

One such meditation, from a collection entitled Meditations and Devotions offers what he calls “A Short Road to Perfection” which gives the reader a practical consideration of such a holy life and some practical means to accomplish it. He opens the meditation saying, “It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well.”

He calls this way short, not because it is easy, but because it doesn’t take long to see that this is true. The ordinary duties are those which we are called to perform universally as Christians and depending on our station in life. That it is a way of perfection does not mean, he says, going beyond your current station in life. Perfection, he notes, has a very ordinary meaning: that a thing is as it is meant to be without flaw or unnecessary addition. God calls us to holiness where we are, doing the duties we have been given as they are meant to be done.

The universal Christian duties are well known—strive for virtue, pray, meditate, participate in the sacraments, love God and love your neighbor—and Newman gives us a concrete list of ways to do this:

I love this list, practical and achievable. Specific enough to do immediately, but flexible to find what works for you. For example, to “make your evening meditation” I prefer lectio divina, and the link above reflects that, but one could use any form of Catholic Meditation that works for you. As a student, the duties specific to your station are known to you. As part of your nightly examination, start asking yourself Did I study well? Did I give full attention to my readings and lectures? Am I working toward my deadlines and examination times? How can I stay for focused on my studies? And coming up with the resolution and practical methods to being a student, as it is meant to be done.

It seems for many students, the first and the last of Newman’s list are the hardest to commit to. Which is a shame; not only in matters spiritual, but practically in terms of doing what’s best to get the best education, rising early and going to bed at a reasonable time are time-tested practices of the wise. Making a good visit to the Sacrament in the time of Novel Corona virus might seem unattainable, but through Acts of Spiritual Communion and the Morning Offering, we can still unite ourselves with the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Newman does make one warning about any road to Holiness: it is not enough to talk about it or desire it, or reflect on how to achieve it, one must commit oneself to it, make clear one’s aim, and then DO it. Why not start today with St John Henry Newman’s suggestions and taking the duties of your life seriously, and God will accompany you on your way.