Feast Day: March 6
"If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured."
Colette Boilet, a carpenter's daughter, was born at Corbie, in Picardy, in 1380. Her parents, out of devotion to St. Nicholas, gave her the name of Colette, the diminutive of Nicholas. She was brought up in the love of humiliations and austerities. Her desire to preserve her purity without the least blemish made her avoid as much as possible all company, even of persons of her own sex, unless it was sometimes to draw them from the love of the world by her moving discourses, which were; attended with a singular blessing from almighty God. Humility was her darling virtue; and her greatest delight seemed to be in seeing herself contemned. She was so full of confusion at her own miseries and baseness, and was so contemptible in her own eyes, that she was ashamed to appear before any one, placed herself far below the greatest sinners, and studied by all sorts of humiliations to prevent the least motion of secret pride or self-conceit in her heart. She served the poor and the sick with an affection that charmed and comforted them. She lived in strict solitude in a small, poor, abandoned apartment in her father's house, and spent her time there in manual labor and prayer. Being very beautiful, she begged of God to change her complexion. and her face became so pale and thin, that she could scarce be known for the same person. Yet a certain majesty of virtue, shining in her countenance, gave her charms conducive to the edification of others by the sweetness, modesty, and air of piety and divine love discernible in her looks. Her parents, who, though poor, were virtuous, and exceeding charitable, according to their abilities, and great peacemakers among their neighbors, seeing her directed by the Spirit of God, allowed her full liberty in her devotions. After their death she distributed the little they left her among the poor, and retired among the Beguines, devout societies of women, established in several parts of Flanders, Picardy, and Lorrain, who maintain themselves by the work of their hands, leading a middle kind of life between the secular and religious, but make no solemn vows. Not finding this way of life austere enough, she, by her confessor's advice, took the habit of the third order of St. Francis, called the Penitents, and, three years after, that of the mitigated Clares, or Urbanists, with the view of reforming that order, and reducing it to its primitive austerity. Having obtained of the abbot of Corbie a small hermit age, she spent in it three years in extraordinary austerity, near that abbey. After this, in order to execute the project she had long formed of re-establishing the primitive spirit and practice of her order, she went to the convent at Amiens, and from thence to several others. To succeed in her undertaking, it was necessary that she should be vested with proper authority: to procure which she made a journey to Nice in Provence, to wait on Peter de Luna, who, in the great schism, was acknowledged pope by the French, under the name of Benedict. XIII., and happened then to be in that city. He constituted her superioress-general of the whole order of St. Clare, with full power to establish in it whatever regulations she thought conducive to God's honor and the salvation of others. She attempted to revive the primitive rule and spirit of St. Francis in the convents of the diocese of Paris, Beauvais, Noyon, and Amiens, but met with the most violent opposition, and was treated as a fanatic. She received all injuries with joy, and was not discouraged by human difficulties. Some time alter she met with a more favorable reception in Savoy, and her reformation began to take root there. and passed thence into Burgundy, France, Flanders, and Spain. Many ancient houses received it, that of Besanzon being the first, and she lived to erect seventeen new ones. Several houses of Franciscan friars received the same. But Leo X., in 1517, by a special bull, united all the different reformations of the Franciscans under the name of Observantines: and thus the distinction of Colettines is extinct. So great was her love for poverty, in imitation of that of Christ, that she never put on so much as sandals, going always barefoot, and would have no churches or convents but what were small and mean. Her habit was not only of most coarse stuff, but made of above a hundred patches sewed together. She continually inculcated to her nuns the denial of their own wills in all things, as Christ, from his first to his last breath, did the will of his heavenly Father: saying, that all self will was the broad way to hell. 'The sacred passion of Christ was the subject of her constant meditation. On Fridays, from six in the morning till six at night, she continued in this meditation, without eating or doing any other thing, but referring all her thoughts and affections to it with a flood of tears, also during the Holy-Week, and whenever she assisted at mass: she' often fell into ecstasies when she considered it. She showed a particular re; specs to the holy cross, but, above all, to Christ present in the blessed eucharist, when she: appeared in raptures at adoration and love. She often purified her conscience by sacramental confession before she heard mass, to assist thereat with the greater purity of soul. Her zeal made her daily to pour forth many fervent prayers for the conversion of sinners, and also for the souls in purgatory, often with many tears. Being seized with her last sickness in her convent at Ghent, she received the sacraments of the church, foretold her death, and happily expired in her sixty-seventh year, on the 6th of March, in 1447. Her body is exposed to veneration in the church of that convent called Bethleem, in Ghent. She was never canonized, nor is she named in the Roman Martyrology: but Clement VIII., Paul V., Gregory XIII., and Urban VIII., have approved of an office in her honor for the whole Franciscan order, and certain cities. Her body was taken up at Ghent, in 1747, and several miracles wrought on the occasion were examined by the ordinary of the place, who sent the process and relation of them to Rome.
(Taken from Vol. III of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
Prayers by Saint Colette
If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen.
-Saint Colette, in her spiritual testament to her sisters
The Dedication Prayer of Saint Colette
O Blessed Jesus, I dedicate myself to You in health, in illness, in my life, in my death,
in all my desires, in all my deeds. So that, I may never work henceforth except for Your glory,
for the salvation of souls, and for that which You have chosen me.
From this moment on, dearest Lord, there is nothing which I am not prepared
to undertake for love of You.
Lift up your heart…
Let us always regret that we have but one heart with which to love God, and that this heart is so poor and weak. But such as it is, God asks it of us! Let us give it to Him Constantly and completely. Let Him have this poor heart for time and eternity. Amen
Feast Day: September 16th
Saint Cyprian was an African of noble birth, the son of a Roman senator; he was a teacher of rhetoric in his youth, but still pagan and frivolous. In his vigorous mid-life he was converted to Christianity through the influence of a priest who was himself a convert to Christianity and was edifying all Carthage by his conversation and his virtues. A long combat followed for Cyprian, who although convinced of the truth of these excellent reasonings and the beauty of this doctrine, still had to overcome the pride of a philosopher and the worldly bent of his life of pleasure. Nonetheless, grace won out and he listened to the interior voice of conscience which constantly pressed him onward: “Courage, Cyprian! Whatever the cost, let us go to God.” He sold his estates and gave the price to the poor; and it was not long after his baptism that he was ordained a priest, and then consecrated Bishop of Carthage notwithstanding his resistance. The Christian population rejoiced, sure that in him they would have a strong bulwark during persecution.
When the persecution of Decius broke out, he was the object of a search by the pagans wanting to disorganize the flock. He left his episcopal city and found a secure retreat, in order to continue to minister to their spiritual needs by letters and the administration of the sacraments. He went on seeing to the burial of the martyrs and the needs of those deprived of their possessions. When a pestilence broke out, he aided in the ministry to the dying. He consulted other ecclesiastical authorities as to whether he should return from his retreat; he was told to remain where he was. He maintained existing religious discipline which required penance of those who, under stress, apostatized by paying money to certain magistrates; these would write certificates saying that they had obeyed the Roman edicts. The prevaricators afterwards strove to escape the penalties and return into communion with the faithful. Saint Cyprian met much opposition by his firmness, but was sustained by Rome.
After a few years of peace under the emperor Valerian, he was finally banished and retired to a place about fifty miles from Carthage. There he learned by supernatural revelation that his future martyrdom was to occur the following year. He was discovered in a place near Carthage one day, and the sentence of death by decapitation was pronounced against him. He received it with the words, “Thanks be to God.” His great desire was to die while preaching the faith of Christ, and he had the consolation of being surrounded at his martyrdom by crowds of his faithful children; there he paid the trembling executioner to encourage him in his task, and, preaching very effectively both by his words and his actions, was beheaded on the 14th of September, 258. In the brief ten years of his ministry, the Church was enriched through the fidelity of the martyrs he sustained, and by the many baptisms of pagans won over to his Christian flock. A considerable number of the spectators who were still pagan wept at his martyrdom. The holy bishop was buried publicly, with great solemnity.
Prayers in honor of St. Cyprian
O heavenly Cyprian, in whose name I glory, pray ever to God for me:
strengthen me in my faith; establish me in virtue; guard me in the conflict; that I may vanquish the foe malign
and attain to glory everlasting. Amen.
An Indulgence of 300 days
Prayers of St. Cyprian
Prayer for Prisoners and Correction Officers
Most gracious Father, bless with your special care all penitentiaries and homes of refuge. Look with pity on those who are housed there. Guide and protect those who have returned to the world. Grant all of them true contrition for past sins, and strengthen them in their good resolutions. Lead them along from grace to grace so that by the help of the Holy Spirit they may persevere in the ways of obedience and humility, and in the struggle against evil thoughts and desires. Grant the Holy Spirit to those engaged in teaching and training them, that they might have a right judgment with respect to those entrusted to them. May they labor for love of your with deep humility and singleness of purpose, purity of heart and life, and true zeal for your glory and the salvation of souls. Give them faith and love to sustain them in disappointment, love and patience toward those under them, and in your own good time crown their work with an eternal recompense. Amen.
St Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop, Martyr and Doctor
- You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.... God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body.... If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace.
Saint Cyprian, from The Unity of the Catholic Church
Whatever a man prefers to God, that he makes a god to himself.
Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides of death always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy.
Saint Cyprian from Letters, 253
On the morning of the 14th of September, a great crowd gathered at the Villa Sexti, in accordance with the order of the governor Galerius Maximus. That same day the governor commanded Bishop Cyprian to be brought before him for trial. After Cyprian was brought in, the governor asked him, "Are you Thascius Cyprian?"
The bishop replied, "Yes, I am."
The governor Galerius Maximus said, "You have set yourself up as an enemy of the gods of Rome and our religious practices. You have been discovered as the author and leader of these heinous crimes, and will consequently be held forth as an example for all those who have followed you in your crime. By your blood the law shall be confirmed." Next he read the sentence from a tablet. "It is decided that Cyprian should die by the sword."
Cyprian responded, "Thanks be to God!"
After the sentence was passed, a crowd of his fellow Christians said, "We should also be killed with him!" There arose an uproar among the Christians, and a great mob followed after him. Cyrprian was then brought out to the grounds of the Villa Sexti, where, taking off his outer cloak and kneeling on the ground, he fell before the Lord in prayer. He removed his dalmatic and gave it to the deacons, and then stood erect while waiting for the executioner. When the executioner arrived, Cyprian told his friends to give the man 25 gold pieces.
The most blessed martyr Cyprian suffered on the 14th of September under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the reign of our true Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong honor and glory for ever. Amen.
from the Acts of the Martyrdom of Saint Cyprian by Saint Pontius
You who are envious, let me tell you that however often you may seek for the opportunity of injuring him whom you hate, you will never be able to do him so much harm as you do harm to yourselves.
He whom you would punish through the malice of your envy, may probably escape, but you will never be able to fly from yourselves. Wherever you may be your adversary is with you, your sin rankles within. It must be a self-willed evil to persecute a person whom God has taken under the protection of His grace; it becomes an irremedial sin to hate a man whom God wishes to make happy.
Envy is as prolific as it is hurtful; it is the root of all evil, the source of endless disorder and misery, the cause of most sins that are committed. Envy gives birth to hatred and animosity. From it avarice is begotten, for it sees with an evil eye honors and emoluments heaped upon a stranger, and thinks that such honors should have been, by right, bestowed upon himself. From envy comes contempt of God, and of the salutary precepts of our Savior.
The envious man is cruel, proud, unfaithful, impatient, and quarrelsome; and, what is strange, when this vice gains the mastery, he is no longer master of himself, and he is unable to correct his many faults. If the bond of peace is broken, if the rights of fraternal charity are violated, if truth is altered or disguised, it is often envy that hurries him on to crime.
What happiness can such a man enjoy in this world? To be envious or jealous of another, because such a one is virtuous and happy, is to hate in him the graces and blessings God has showered down upon him.
Does he not punish himself when he sees the success and welfare of others? Does he not draw down upon himself tortures from which there is no respite? Are not his thoughts, his mind, constantly on the rack?
He pitilessly punishes himself, and, in his heart, performs the same cruel office which Divine Justice reserves for the chastisement of the greatest criminal.