Monday, July 5, 2010

Memorial of St Anthony Mary Zaccaria

"Anthony Mary Zacharias was born of a noble family, at Cremona, on the Pau.  Even in his childhood marks of his future holiness became manifest.  There shone brightly in him, signs of excellent graces of childlike love toward God and the blessed Virgin, and more especially of tenderness toward the poor, for the relief of whose needs he was ready more than once to strip off his own costly dress.  He studied arts at his own home, philosophy at Ticino, and medicine at Padua, and as he excelled all others in goodness, so did he surpass all his companions in intelléctual power.  After taking his degree he returned home, and there understood from God that his call was to the healing of souls rather than to that of bodies.  He therefore began earnestly to study theology while he continued in the meantime to visit the sick, to teach Christian doctrine to children, to excite godliness among the young, and oftentimes even to exhort the aged, to amend their ways.  It is said that when he first said Mass after his ordination a light broke from heaven, and he seemed to the astonished bystanders to be surrounded by a circle of angels: from that time forth he laboured more earnestly for the salvation of souls, and the struggle against evil living.  His fatherly love for strangers, for the needy, and for the afflicted, and the godly exhortations and alms wherewith he entertained them, made his house to become a refuge for the wretched, and earned for himself from his fellow-citizens the title of father of the fatherland and of angels.

While he was at Milan he bethought him that greater Christian good might be done if he gathered round him some fellow-labourers in the Lord's vineyard, and when he had conferred thereon with those noble and holy men Bartholomew Ferrári and James Morigia, he founded the brotherhood of Clerks Regulars, to whom on account of his own great love for the Apostle of the Gentiles he gave the name of Clerks of St. Paul.  Under the approbation of the Supreme Pontiff Clement VII and the confirmation of Paul III this brotherhood was in a short time widely spread abroad.  The Congregation of nuns who are called Angelicals also regard Anthony Mary as their Father and Founder.  His own thought of himself was so lowly that he never would be at the head of his own Order.  In great long-suffering he bore with patience the violent storms which were raised against his Institute.  In the greatness of his charity he never ceased to enkindle the members of religious orders to love toward God, to exhort priests to live Apostolic lives, and to found guilds of married men, to the bringing forth of much fruit.  Somewhiles he and his disciples would walk through the streets and squares with a Cross carried before them, and there by burning and vehement harangues call to salvation the wandering and the wicked.

It is to be remembered that in his burning love for Jesus Crucified he reminded all men of the Mystery of the Cross by the sound of a bell every Friday evening, and himself as a true disciple of Paul always bore about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus.  The holy Name of Christ is found everywhere in his writings and was ever in his mouth.  He was moved by a singular love toward the Holy Eucharist.  He established a custom of receiving it often, and is said to have brought in the practice of exposing the same upon a lofty throne for three days' adoration.  Of his earnest modesty the appearance of life which was seen even in his dead body seemed a witness.  Together with all these things he possessed the gifts of trance, of tears, of knowledge of things to come, of reading the thoughts of the heart, and of power against the enemy of mankind.  He was worn out with toil when he was seized with his last illness at Guastalla, whither he had been called as a peacemaker.  He was carried to Cremona amid the tears of his brethren and the embrace of his devoted mother, whose imminent death he foretold.  He was comforted by a vision of the Apostles above, and predicted the increase of his Brotherhood.  On the 5th day of July, in the year 1539, he died a holy death at the age of thirty-six.  Christians forthwith began to honour him for his eminent sanctity and the number of his signs and wonders, which honour the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII approved and confirmed, and on the Feast of the Lord's Ascension in the year 1897 solemnly enrolled his name among those of the Saints."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X


"We are fools for Christ’s sake: our holy guide and most revered patron was speaking about himself and the rest of the apostles, and about the other people who profess the Christian and apostolic way of life. But there is no reason, dear brothers, that we should be surprised or afraid; for the disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. We should love and feel compassion for those who oppose us, rather than abhor and despise them, since they harm themselves and do us good, and adorn us with crowns of everlasting glory while they incite God’s anger against themselves. And even more than this, we should pray for them and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by goodness. We should heap good works like red-hot coals of burning love upon their heads, as our Apostle urges us to do, so that when they become aware of our tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart and be prompted to turn in love to God.

In his mercy God has chosen us, unworthy as we are, out of the world, to serve him and thus to advance in goodness and to bear the greatest possible fruit of love in patience. We should take encouragement not only from the hope of sharing in the glory of God’s children, but also from the hardships we undergo.

Consider your calling, dearest brothers; if we wish to think carefully about it we shall see readily enough that its basis demands that we who have set out to follow, admittedly from afar, the footsteps of the holy apostles and the other soldiers of Christ, should not be unwilling to share in their sufferings as well. We should keep running steadily in the race we have started, not losing sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. And so since we have chosen such a great Apostle as our guide and father and claim to follow him, we should try to put his teaching and example into practice in our lives. Such a leader should not be served by faint-hearted troops, nor should such a parent find his sons unworthy of him."

-- From the writings of St Anthony Maria Zaccaria

** St Anthony Maria is founder of the congregations better known as the Barnabite Fathers and the Angelic Sisters of St Paul.

No comments: