Monthly Archives: February 2013

20130225 Faithful Friends of Christ 基督忠誠的朋友

During the sixteenth century, holy men and women helped to bring about genuine reform within the Church.
Ignatius of Loyola
St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491. He was a knight who led a worldly life. On May 20, 1521 one of his legs was shattered by a cannon ball. In the long convalescence, he could find nothing to read except the life of Christ and a collection of the lives of the saints. Ignatius was deeply impressed by what he read and determined to devote himself entirely to the service of God.
Ignatius had a vision of Our Lady with the Child Jesus. This vision helped him to detest his past sins, especially sins of the flesh. Ignatius vowed chastity and made general confession for his sins. He led a life of prayer and penance, and started to jotted down spiritual insights which would became The Spiritual Exercises, a handbook for making a permanent choice for Christ during the course of a month’s retreat.
At the age of thirty-two, Ignatius began to study for the priesthood. He started with the rudiments of Latin, and lived a life of great poverty.
After eleven years of studies, on the Feast of Assumption in 1534, Ignatius and six companions made vows of poverty and chastity and promised to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or, failing this, to put themselves at the service of the Holy Father. Pope Paul III permitted some of them to become priests. After ordination, Ignatius postponed his first Mass for over a year.
Eventually the group formed into a religious order—- the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. They labored unceasingly for the preservation of the Faith, and went to wherever the pope would send them. When Ignatius died on July 31, 1556, the Society had nearly one thousand members.
One of the six companions of Ignatius was St. Francis Xavier. Francis was influenced by Ignatius while sharing a room with him at the University of Paris.
Francis left Europe in 1541 and reached India in 1542. With no ability for languages and knew nothing of native peoples, Francis relied solely on God, and successfully evangelized many people in India, Indonesia, and Japan.
Francis died on December 3, 1552 at the island of Sancian near Hong Kong while waiting to enter mainland China.
Teresa of Avila
In 1562, St. Teresa of Avila founded the Discalced Carmelites. Teresa was born in 1515 and entered a Carmelite convent in 1535.
For years, frivolous conversations prevented the spiritual progress of Teresa. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her own faults would have led her. Teresa’s biggest fault was her attachment to her friends. One day, God told her “No longer do I want you to converse with human beings but with angels.”
Teresa detached herself from the world, but not all her friends accepted her new way of life. She was surrounded by hostility and gossip. Sometimes Teresa complained to Christ about her sufferings. When Jesus told her, “Teresa, that’s how I treat my friends”, she responded, “No wonder you have so few friends!”
At the age of forty-three, this faithful friend of Christ decided to found a new convent that went back to the basics of a contemplative order—-a simple life of poverty devoted to prayer. Despite great oppositions, Teresa founded the first Discalced Carmelite convent. During her life time, Teresa personally founded fifteen convents, and reformed the friars with St. John of the Cross.
Teresa shared her teachings on prayer with others through her writings. The Way of Perfection, the Interior Castle, and her Life are part of the patrimony of the Church’s spirituality.



1491年,聖依納爵出生於羅耀拉,原是一位武士; 1521年五月二十日的戰役中,他右腿被砲彈打斷,經歷痛苦的治療。養傷期間,以閱讀消磨時間。他讀了「耶穌傳」和「聖人言行」兩本書,受到感動,決意投身侍奉天主的生活。













20130218 Council translated into actions 推行大公會議法令

During the fifteen and sixteen centuries, many of the clergy were corrupted by money and other luxuries, and reform was needed in the Church. Unfortunately, some attempts to reform the Church led to the Protestant revolt. Beginning with Martin Luther, several groups rebelled and broke away from the Church.
The Council of Trent met the challenge of the Protestant revolt and brought about a renewal spirit of Catholicism.
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was held from December 13, 1545 to December 4, 1563.
Regarding doctrinal issues, the Council declared that the Tradition of the Church together with the Bible is the source of Catholic belief. The books contained in the Latin Vulgate were the complete canonical list.
The Council taught that original sin did not destroy human freedom and man’s ability to cooperate with grace. Good works guided by faith are necessary for salvation.
The seven Sacraments were discussed at the Council. A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. The Mass is true sacrifice, and Holy Communion is truly the living substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Council defended the special spiritual powers of ordained priests and bishops.
To correct abuses, the Council required that bishops must live in their dioceses for the greater portion of each year. Bishops were no longer allowed to head more than one diocese at a time. Seminaries were to be set up for the training of future priests.
Pius V
Decisions on paper remain just that, until they are implemented into the life of the Church. Pope St. Pius V and other saints translated into action the spirit and letter of the Council of Trent.
Michael Ghislieri became a Dominican at fourteen, and held important positions in his order. He was elected pope on January 7, 1566, about two years after the Council. During his six years pontificate, Pius V published the Roman Catechism, revised the missal and breviary, and reformed the Roman court and capital.
Pius V was a man of deep piety and austerity. He spent long hours at night in prayer, fasted, and did penance. He had special devotion to the Passion of Christ.
To defend Christian Europe, Pius V rallied the Christian forces to break the Turkish advance at Lepanto, and organized the people to pray the Rosary. Due to the sudden shift in the wind the Christian fleet defeated the larger Turkish force on October 7, 1571. Pius V knew in some miraculous fashion of the victory on the very same day it occurred. In thanksgiving, he added “Help of Christians” to the Litany of Loreto. October 7 is now celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Pius V died on May 1, 1572. He prayed on his deathbed, “Lord, increase my sufferings, but increase my patience too.”
Charles Borromeo
St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was made cardinal at twenty-one. He handled the correspondence of his uncle, Pope Pius IV, and was instrumental in the reopening and the completion of the Council of Trent.
At twenty-six, St. Charles became the Archbishop of Milan. He held a series of provincial councils and diocesan synods to promulgate and to apply the decrees of the Council of Trent.
St. Charles established three seminaries for the training of clergy and required annual retreats for all clerics. He founded the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine with 2000 teachers to instruct children from Milan in over 740 schools. He also made regular visits to the parishes in his diocese.
In his personal life, St. Charles spent long hours in prayer, ate and slept little, and wore himself out in pastoral work. Though he accomplished so much, he never did anything in a hurry. He would never rush a liturgical prayer or ceremony.



















20130211 Saints built up the Church 聖賢建設教會

The Great Western Schism (1378-1417) and the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) caused hardships and disorder for both the fourteen and the fifteen centuries. Despite the decline of the Middle Ages, the Church still saw holiness in many of her member in the fifteen century.
Powerful preachers
The fifteen century was blessed with the presence of miracles-working preachers. St. Vincent Ferrer (1357-1419) was a Dominican of Valencia. He is the patron saint for builders, for he “built up” and strengthened the Church through his preaching.
St. Vincent is called the “Angel of the Judgment”, who preached the four last things to the people. He preached in the town and villages of Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Ireland and Scotland. He had the gift of miracles and brought large number of Jews and Moors to the Catholic Faith.
St. Vincent always prepared his preaching by prayer. Once, however, when a nobleman came to hear his sermon, St. Vincent carefully prepared the sermon by study but neglected prayer. The sermon didn’t touch the heart of the nobleman. The nobleman came a second time to hear St. Vincent, without informing him. The second sermon made a deep impression on his soul. When St. Vincent heard of the difference, he remarked that in the first sermon it was Vincent who had preached, but in the second, Jesus Christ.
The Church at the time was divided by the Great Western Schism, but St. Vincent was honorably welcomed in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy. The saint lived to see the end of the schism in 1417 at the election of Pope Martin V. St. Vincent died on April 5, 1419.
In 1408, St. Vincent suddenly interrupted his sermon to declare that there was among his hearers a young Franciscan who would one day be a greater preacher than himself. This unknown friar was St Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444).
During a plague, the twenty years old St. Bernardine tended the sick and the dying. Two years later, he became a Franciscan. As a preacher, his style was extremely simple, direct and colloquial. He preached on the Passion, repentance, virtues and vices.
St. Bernardine fostered devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He popularized the familiar “IHS”—Greek abbreviation for the name of Jesus.
St. Bernardine obtained miraculous conversions and reformed the greater part of Italy. He died on Ascension Eve, 1444.
St. John Capistran (1385-1456) and St. James of the Marches (1391-1476) studied theology under St. Bernardine. They both became popular preachers and miracles workers.
Great mystics
A number of great mystics and the spiritual classic, Imitation of Christ, were from the fifteen century.
In response to the command of St. Francis in a vision, St. Colette (1381-1447) reformed the Poor Clares and observed the Primitive Rule with absolute poverty.
St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), obeying the voices and visions from heaven, led a French army and turned the tide of the Hundred Years War. She was unjustly condemned as a heretic, and died at the stake pronouncing the name of Jesus. The Church vindicated her memory and canonized her in 1920.
St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507) founded the Minims order. The Minim’s life is a perpetual lent with no meat, fish, eggs or milk. Francis was known for his ascetic life and miracles.
St. Nicholas of Flue (1417-1497) was a father of a big family. He became a hermit at fifty and lived the last nineteen years of his life without food except Holy Communion. St. Nicholas helped bring about the inclusion of Fribourg and Soleure in the Swiss Confederation in 1481, thus preventing a potentially bloody civil war.

西方教會的大分裂(1378-1417) 和歐洲的百年戰爭(1337-1453),帶給十四及十五世紀的教會,十分困難和紛亂的時刻;儘管中世紀時也經歷過內部腐敗,教會在十五世紀,仍出現很多賢人,聖德昭彰。













聖女貞德(1412-1431) 聽從神視和天上的聲音,帶領法國軍隊加入戰團,將百年戰爭引到一個轉捩點。可惜後來被誣蔑為異端邪說,被火燒死,死時仍在呼喚著耶穌聖名。教會後來給她平反,1920年立為聖品。

聖方濟各.保拉(1416-1507) 是「最小兄弟會」會祖,修會會士長期守嚴齋,不但戒吃肉,連魚、雞蛋和牛奶也不吃。聖人因祂的清苦生活和行聖蹟,而廣為人知。

聖尼閣. 伏物洛(1417-1497) 是一個大家庭的父親,五十歲時在家人同意下隱修,在他死前的十九年隱修生活中,只恭領聖體而點食不進。


20130204 Mystics defended the Church 聖賢捍衛教會

The fourteenth century was a century of suffering. Large-scale famines (1315-1317), the Black Death (1347-1351), and the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) claimed many lives in Europe.
Under the powerful influence of the French king, Philip IV, Pope Clement V took up residence at Avignon in southern France. Pope Clement and the other popes lived in France for about seventy years (1305-1377). The Avignon Papacy was under too much control of the French king, and this period is known as “The Babylonian Captivity”.
Saints and scholars begged the popes to return to Rome. Two saints at the time were Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena.
Bridget of Sweden
Bridget was born of the Swedish royal family in 1304.She was married to Ulf Gudmarsson, and had eight children. Her daughter, Catherine of Sweden, became a saint.
After the birth of their last child, Ulf and Bridget made a mutual vow of continence, and made a pilgrimage to Compostella. Ulf died at a Cistercian monastery in 1344. The widow Bridget devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism.
Bridget founded the monastery of Wastein, which eventually developed into the Order of our Savior (the Bridgettines). The monastery was mainly for women, with a small number of monks who cared for the spiritual needs of the nuns.
Private revelations were given to Bridget. These revelations mainly concern the sufferings and death of Christ. Bridget also foretold the future and fearlessly denounced vice.
Except for pilgrimages, Bridget spent the last twenty-five years of her life in Rome. In August, 1370, Pope Blessed Urban V approved the rule of her new order. Urban V was the only Avignon pope raised to the altar. The great act of his pontificate was his return to Rome on October 16, 1367.
Urban V spent three years in Rome, rebuilding the great basilicas and restoring discipline among the clergy. But eventually, due to local disorders and his desire to be useful to the Universal Church and to France, Urban V returned to Avignon on September 24, 1370.
Bridget foretold that Urban V would soon die if he left Rome. Her prediction came true in less than three months. When Urban V was dying, he stretched himself on the bare floor, covered with ashes, and held a crucifix in his hands.
Bridget herself died on July 23, 1373, and was canonized eighteen years after her death.
Catherine of Siena
Born in Siena in 1347, Catherine had a vision of Christ at six and made a private vow of chastity at seven.
She endured persecution from her family for refusing to marry. But eventually, through patience and virtue, she won the approval of her father, who allowed her to live a consecrated life.
Catherine lived an austere and prayerful life at home. She became a Dominican tertiary and received the black and white habit. At nineteen, she experienced Christ placing a ring on her finger. Catherine then started to reach out assisting the poor, serving the sick, and comforting the afflicted and prisoners.
Miracles of conversions and healings occurred through the prayers of Catherine. The Dialogue of Divine Providence was dictated in ecstasy. Clerics, nuns and lay faithful were among her followers.
Catherine had a great love for the Church. She urged Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon for Rome, which he did in 1377.
After the death of Gregory XI in 1378, Urban VI was elected pope in Rome. But some dissatisfied cardinals elected an anti-pope, Clement VII, who went to live at Avignon. This is the beginning of the Great Western Schism.
Catherine defended the lawful pope, Urban VI. She died in Rome on April 29, 1380 at the age of thirty-three.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (St. Catherine)


在教會方面,教宗格肋孟五世,因政治關係,受法國皇帝菲理伯四世影響,遷居法國南部的亞威農城,之後繼位的七位教宗也如是;這些教宗被稱為「亞威農教宗」。教宗住在亞威農城約七十年(1305-1377) 。這時期被稱為「巴比倫的被擄期」。


















20130128 Mendicant Orders Founded 創立「行乞修會」

The thirteenth century was a great century for the Church. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) and his successors in the thirteenth century saw the papacy as the guardian of Christendom.
Innocent III
King Philip II of France divorced his wife, Queen Ingeborg, and attempted to marry another. Innocent III put the whole kingdom of France under interdict (denial of liturgy, the sacraments, and even Christian burial) until Philip returned to his lawful wife.
King John of England tried to control the election of the Archbishop of Canterbury and refused to accept the pope’s choice of Stephen Langdon. Innocent III excommunicated John and England was placed under interdict. The pope deposed John and offered his kingdom to France. John submitted and made England as a vassal of Innocent III.
In 1215, Innocent called the Fourth Council of Lateran. The council ruled that all Christians who had reached the age of reason must go to confession and receive Holy Communion at Easter time. The word “Transubstantiation” was used to describe the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ at the Consecration.
Order of Friars Minor
St. Francis of Assisi was born in 1182. At the age of twenty-two, while praying at St. Damian’s church, Francis heard a voice saying, “Francis, go and rebuild My House”. He started to repair neglected churches.
Francis lived as a hermit. Later a merchant and a canon of the cathedral joined him, and thus began the Franciscan order. They lived by manual labor and by begging alms. They called themselves “Friars Minor” or little brothers.
Francis was ordained a deacon so that he could preach the Gospel, but out of awe for the Holy Eucharist, he did not receive priestly order.
Francis travelled to Rome to get the approval of Innocent III for his Rule. There was difficulty, for his group bore some resemblance to some heretical groups. But Innocent had a dream that Francis carried on his shoulders the great Basilica of St. John Lateran. Innocent III, therefore, approved the work of Francis.
On September, 1224 Francis received the stigmata. Francis had a great love for nature, and his enthusiasm for praising God through creation is expressed in the Canticle of Brother Sun.
Francis died in 1226 and was canonized two years later.
A faithful disciple of St. Francis was St. Clare. At the age of eighteen, she escaped by night and consecrated herself to God in the presence of St. Francis and his companions. She was soon joined by her younger sister, Agnes. Eventually her own mother and other noble ladies also put themselves under her rule. The Poor Clare nuns observed perpetual abstinence, constant silence, and perfect poverty. St. Clare died in 1253.
St. Anthony of Padua (+1231) became a Franciscan in 1220. He spent his last ten years preaching in Italy and France. He was a wonderful preacher with the gift of miracles.
Preaching Friars
The Dominicans or “The Order of Preachers” was founded by St. Dominic (+1221). In 1205, Innocent III sent him to help convert the Albigenses in southern France.
Dominic saw that those already in mission were not effective, because their life-style was too rich and soft. Dominic devoted himself to popular preaching and lived an austere life.
A few zealous priests joined Dominic, and they formed a community. The new order was approved by Pope Honorius in 1216.
Prayer, study, and preaching were the important tasks of the mendicant orders. St. Bonaventure (a Franciscan) and St. Thomas Aquinas (a Dominican) were both doctors of the Church and died in 1274. They lived in an atmosphere of prayer and study, and fostered higher studies for the friars.
“Constant fidelity in small things is great and heroic virtue” (St. Bonaventure)


















20130121 Monastic ideals lived out 隱修理想的活現

A number of great religious orders were founded during the eleventh and the twelfth centuries. These orders are still influencing the spirituality of Catholics today.
The Cistercians
Sts. Robert, Alberic, and Stephen Harding founded the monastery at Citeaux in 1098. The monks of Citeaux followed a more literal observance of the rule of St. Benedict with special emphasis on simplicity, manual labor, and silence atmosphere for personal prayer.
The monks of Citeaux were known as the Cistercians. They wore white habit as sign of poverty and simplicity. The Cistercians had special devotion to Our Lady.
At the beginning, this austere community attracted very few members and was on the point of dying out. But in 1112 a twenty-two years old nobleman, St. Bernard, decided to join Citeaux. He persuaded thirty of his relatives and friends to come with him. They all came to the door of the monastery and asked for admission.
The good example of Bernard soon attracted many others to the monastery, and there was a need to erect a new monastery. In three years, Bernard became the head of a new community at Clairvaux (The Valley of Light).
At first, Bernard was very severe and expected too much of his monks, who became disheartened. Later he perceived his error, and led others with sweetness and mildness. Bernard personally founded sixty-eight monasteries and still had seven hundred monks in his own monastery.
Bernard was both contemplative and active. He was a mystic who had great devotion to Our Lady and promoted the “Memorare” prayer. He wrote warmly about the divine love of God, and his writings were recommended by Pope Pius XI as particularly suitable novitiate reading.
Bernard also made journeys defending the Catholic faith, and assisted popes, bishops and kings in public affairs.
Died in 1153, Bernard was canonized twenty-one after his death. He was declared Doctor of the Church in 1830.
The Norbertines
The community of the Premonstratensians or Nobertines was founded by St. Norbert. As a subdeacon in his early thirties, Norbert was leading a worldly life. One day, he was thrown from a horse in a lightning storm. He was unconscious for more than an hour. When he awoke, his first words were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” In response, Norbert heard in his heart, “Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” He became a priest and obtained permission from the pope to become a wandering preacher.
He tried to reform the secular clergy, but his efforts failed. In 1120, Norbert retired to the valley of Premontre in northern France to prepare himself, by prayer and fasting, for the foundation of a new religious order. In a matter of months, Norbert had forty companions, and formed a new community. Members of this community combined a monastic form of life with the active ministry. They made religious profession on Christmas, 1121.
As a preacher, Norbert successfully combated a heretic, Tanchelm, who denied the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In 1126, Norbert became Archbishop of Magdeburg. He started to reform his diocese, and several assassination attempts were made against him.
Norbert died on June 6, 1134 and was canonized in 1582.
The Carthusians
St. Bruno was head of the Cathedral school at Rheims and chancellor of the diocese. In 1080, Bruno and six companions retired to the Chartreuse forest for a life of contemplative prayer and penance.
In 1084 the Carthusian order was founded. The monks lived as individual hermits in a monastic community.
In 1090, Bruno was brought to Rome by his former student, Pope Urban II, as Papal Adviser in the reform of the clergy.
Before his death in 1101, Bruno founded several Carthusian monasteries in southern Italy.
The motto of the Carthusians is, “While the world changes, the cross stands firm”.