18 July 2014
Family Life Woven into the Calendar of the Church
Today is the Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, a saint of very dear connection to my family, as his feast day also marks the birthday of our oldest child. My daughter turns 20 today. Twenty! Yesterday's feast of the Holy Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne is the feast day of the patron saint of our youngest daughter, who is named after Blessed Juliette Verolot-- who was killed, like her sisters in faith, by a Revolution claiming Reason as its guide and still wreaking destruction today. Our little Juliette turns 6 months tomorrow. Six months!
The Liturgical Calendar handed down over centuries of faith and faithful is so rich in its celebration of our forefathers and brothers in the true Church that God Himself established in the Person of His Son through Blessed Peter. The communion of saints, the connection among the Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Militant is one of the many reasons that the Faith rings true. We are a family created by God and destined for eternal happiness and communion with Him and through Him. These celebrations of our saints, and of course of Our Lady and Our Lord in the events of their lives, mark the integrally Catholic way of life. Feasts and Fasts. Life and Death. Sanctification and the Narrow Way.
Every year, as a family, we celebrate the joys and struggles-- with each other, and with "our" Saints. We salute and ask intercession from these heroes of God.
St. Gregory the Great. SS. Nereus, Achillius and Domitilla. St. Paulinus. SS. Peter and Paul. Our Lady of the Snows. St. Nicholas. All of our named patrons. All of the patron saints of our states of life, our hometown, our Church. Even "St. Feria" for little Anna's birthday. I don't think I would even know anything about some of these saints if it weren't for this intentional effort to live out the faith in the cycle of the year.
Finally, the great feasts mark the year for us all. As a man who can't believe and can hardly mark the passage of 20 years of my daughter's life, and who is soon enough sentenced to see her leave the family home for her own life, it is of unspeakable comfort to return, to reacquaint, to embrace our Catholic year feast by feast, fast by fast, saint by saint.
But this is, or ought to be, the common experience of every Catholic family. Do we ever thank God enough for His boundless kindness to us? No offense, but you can keep your Year B, Cycle II, 237th Wednesday in Ordinary Time. Thanks, but no thanks. I need that recurrent and cyclical Liturgical Year to bring me along. It rings true. It is true. It is part of the beauty of the faith.
So, please join our family today in honoring St. Camillus of Lellis, and in praying to him for my daughter, all the children of the faith whose patron he is, for nurses, and for our Church Militant, under fierce attack.
A faith that does not acknowledge God's friends is a poor faith indeed.
From The Catholic Encyclopedia:
St. Camillus de Lellis
Born at Bucchianico, Abruzzo, 1550; died at Rome, 14 July, 1614.
He was the son of an officer who had served both in the Neapolitan and French armies. His mother died when he was a child, and he grew up absolutely neglected. When still a youth he became a soldier in the service of Venice and afterwards of Naples, until 1574, when his regiment was disbanded. While in the service he became a confirmed gambler, and in consequence of his losses at play was at times reduced to a condition of destitution. The kindness of a Franciscan friar induced him to apply for admission to that order, but he was refused. He then betook himself to Rome, where he obtained employment in the Hospital for Incurables. He was prompted to go there chiefly by the hope of a cure of abscesses in both his feet from which he had been long suffering. He was dismissed from the hospital on account of his quarrelsome disposition and his passion for gambling.
He again became a Venetian soldier, and took part in the campaign against the Turks in 1569. After the war he was employed by the Capuchins at Manfredonia on a new building which they were erecting. His old gambling habit still pursued him, until a discourse of the guardian of the convent so startled him that he determined to reform. He was admitted to the order as a lay brother, but was soon dismissed on account of his infirmity. He betook himself again to Rome, where he entered the hospital in which he had previously been, and after a temporary cure of his ailment became a nurse, and winning the admiration of the institution by his piety and prudence, he was appointed director of the hospital.
While in this office, he attempted to found an order of lay infirmarians, but the scheme was opposed, and on the advice of his friends, among whom was his spiritual guide, St. Philip Neri, he determined to become a priest. He was then thirty-two years of age and began the study of Latin at the Jesuit College in Rome. He afterwards established his order, the Fathers of a Good Death (1584), and bound the members by vow to devote themselves to the plague-stricken; their work was not restricted to the hospitals, but included the care of the sick in their homes. Pope Sixtus V confirmed the congregation in 1586...He resigned the generalship of the order, in 1607, in order to have more leisure for the sick and poor. Meantime he had established many houses in various cities of Italy. He is said to have had the gift of miracles and prophecy.
He died at the age of sixty-four while pronouncing a moving appeal to his religious brethren. He was buried near the high altar of the church of St. Mary Magdalen, at Rome, and, when the miracles which were attributed to him were officially approved, his body was placed under the altar itself. He was beatified in 1742, and in 1746 was canonized by Benedict XIV.
[Note: In 1930, Pope Pius XI named St. Camillus de Lellis, together with St. John of God, principal Co-Patron of nurses and of nurses' associations.]
St. Camillus de Lellis, pray for us! Procure for us the grace of a happy death!