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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for March

“Let us go full of confidence to Our Lady, because She has brought us to God, and is in a certain way an aqueduct from which we will easily draw the heavenly water of Christ to our gardens; She is a very rich and generous queen. What safer place than in the wounds of Jesus, and the arms of the Queen of Angels?” (Saint John Berchmans).

Saint John Berchmans was born in Belgium on March 13, 1599, to a good catholic family. He was one of five children, 3 of whom consecrated themselves to the Lord. He always behaved well at home, helping his mother as much as he could. He studied at the seminary in Mechelen and then entered the Jesuit novitiate of the same city. John was distinguished by his charity, study and piety. He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin whom he wanted to love with a very affectionate love, not wanting to stop until he achieved such love. He always lived under the gaze of this sweet Mother. During his life he was a defender of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and in the last year of his life, John had committed himself, signing with his own blood, to "affirm and defend the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception wherever it is found". He wanted to practice all the virtues and made an effort to observe perfectly his obligations, without excuses. He took advantage of his daily crosses, worked passionately for the glory of God, did everything by supernaturalizing the intention. He said "when you have to pray, pray with all love; when you have to study, study with all interest; when you have to practice a sport, practice it with all enthusiasm." He wanted to do things always with more love. He studied thinking about the future apostolate he would have and the souls he would meet. He died young saying that his greatest consolation was never having broken, in his religious life, any rule or order of his superiors and never having committed a venial sin. Before dying he pressed close to his chest a crucifix, a rosary and the book of the Rules, saying "these are my three most beloved garments, with them I die happy." He died on August 13, 1621. His last words were: Jesus, Mary.

St. Anthony

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“To thee, oh blessed Virgin, be praise and glory, because today we are filled with the goodness of thy house; that is, of thy womb.”

St. Anthony was born in Portugal. He is known as “of Padua” because of the Italian city of Padua where he died and where his relics can still be venerated today. Statues and devotion to him are found everywhere, which is why Leo XIII referred to him as “everyone’s Saint.” One biographer said of him, “He was powerful in deeds and in words. His body dwelled on this earth but his soul lived in Heaven.”

He was born in the year 1195. The name given to him at baptism was Fernando, but when he joined the Order of Friars Minor, he changed his name to that of Anthony because of his devotion to the great patriarch of monks and the official patron of the chapel in which he received the Franciscan habit.
From the time of his youth, he had many difficulties. He was harshly assaulted by temptations against purity, but he did not allow himself to be defeated and with the help of God, dominated his passions. He was strengthened by visiting the Most Blessed Sacrament. He renewed the consecration he had made as a child to the Most Blessed Virgin, to whom he had entrusted his purity.
In 1220, while he studied in Coimbra with the regular canons of St. Augustine, the King, Don Pedro of Portugal, brought relics of the Franciscan Friar Saints who shortly beforehand had obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom in Morocco. Upon seeing the relics, a deep desire was born in his heart to give his life for Christ. Shortly afterwards, some Franciscan Friars arrived to where he was and helped him to open his heart. He was admitted to the Order at the beginning of 1221 and almost immediately afterwards was given permission to journey to Morocco. His goal? To preach the Gospel to the Muslims. On his way, he fell gravely ill and was forced to return to Europe. Due to strong winds, the ship on which he sailed had to take a different route and stopped in Messina, the capital of Sicily. From there, he travelled to Assisi. St. Anthony, full of extraordinary intellectual and spiritual gifts, gave himself over to prayer and the service of the other Friars. Having discovered a great gift for preaching, he fully dedicated himself to it and eventually became very famous.
People came from all over to listen to him and touch him. He arrived at Padua. News spread of the miracles he performed and it was said of him that he radiated holiness. He said, “The great danger of the Christian is to preach and not practice, believe but not live according to what he believes.” His lived out what he preached. Despite his poor health, he completely dedicated himself to his Brothers and tirelessly worked for souls. In the spring of 1231, after having preached a series of sermons, St Anthony’s health declined and he took to rest. Aware of his imminent end, he asked to be taken to Padua. He never reached the city. On June 13, 1231, in the private room of the Poor Clares’ chaplain at Arcella, he received the last sacraments. He sang a hymn to the Blessed Virgin and smiling, said, “I see Our Lord coming,” and died.

He was canonized before a year had passed since his death and seven centuries later, Pope Pius XII declared St. Anthony a “Doctor of the Church.”

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