28 Apr – Memorial for St. Peter Chanel, priest & martyr; Memorial for St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, priest
Peter Chanel (1803-1841) was born to a peasant family and was a shepherd as a boy. He was an excellent student and was ordained at 24. He was assigned to Crozet, a parish in decline; he turned it around, in part because of his ministry to the sick, and brought a spiritual revival. He joined the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers) in 1831, and taught in the Belley seminary for five years.
In 1836, he led a band of missionaries to the New Hebrides, an area where cannibalism had only recently been outlawed. He converted many, often as a result of his work with the sick. He learned the local language and taught in the local school. He was killed by order of Niuliki, a native king who was jealous of Peter’s influence. He was the first martyr in Oceania.
“He loves us. He does what he teaches. He forgives his enemies. His teaching is good.”
- one of St. Peter’s catechumens, explaining why he believed Peter’s teachings.
Louis-Marie (1673-1716) was born poor. He studied in Paris, France, and was ordained in 1700. While a seminarian, he delighted in researching the writings of Church Fathers, Doctors and Saints as they related to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he was singularly devoted.
Under Mary’s inspiration, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom, a religious institute of women devoted to the care of the destitute. During this work, he began his apostolate of preaching the Rosary and authentic Marian devotion. He preached so forcefully and effectively against the errors of Jansenism that he was expelled from several dioceses in France.
In Rome, Pope Clement XI conferred on him the title and authority of ‘Missionary Apostolic’, which enabled him to continue his apostolate after returning to France. He preached Mary everywhere and to everyone.
He was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, and was one of the greatest apostles of the Rosary in his day and, by means of his miraculously inspiring book, The Secret of the Rosary, he is still so today. The most common manner of reciting the Rosary is the method that originated with St. Louis’ preaching. In 1715, he founded a missionary band known as the Company of Mary.
His greatest contribution to the Church and world is Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin. He propagated this in his day by preaching and, after his own death, by his other famous book ‘True Devotion to Mary’. Consecration to Mary is, for St. Louis, the perfect manner of renewing one’s baptismal promises. His spirituality has been espoused by millions, especially Pope John Paul II, who has consecrated not only himself but every place he has visited as pope.
In True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis prophesied that the army of souls consecrated to Mary will be her instrument in defeating the Devil and his Antichrist. As Satan gains power in the world, so much more shall the new Eve triumph over him and crush his head.
The cause for his declaration as a Doctor of the Church is now being pursued.
- Patron Saint Index
One member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee called Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the Law and respected by the whole people, stood up and asked to have the apostles taken outside for a time. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin, ‘Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these people. There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all his followers dispersed.
What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go. If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God.’
His advice was accepted; and they had the apostles called in, gave orders for them to be flogged, warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.
They preached every day both in the Temple and in private houses, and their proclamation of the Good News of Christ Jesus was never interrupted.
Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.
When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
If it does in fact come from God
There are scores of famous people whose names have lived on through the ages. Not all are famous for the right reasons unfortunately, but those who made a hugely positive impact would tend to have buildings and roads named after them, and even holidays instituted to commemorate their work. What was it about them that enabled them to leave behind such a legacy? I would say that their actions and words appealed to what is true and good in our human nature, making us want to emulate and learn from them.
In the first reading, Gamaliel gives the Sanhedrin very wise counsel about the attitude that one should have towards the new “Jesus movement”. If the movement did not originate from God, it would die a natural death. If it did, however, there would be no stopping it. The followers of Christ have brought the faith to all corners of the world, witnessing to the faith and suffering great persecution in the process. Even if some parts of the world have experienced a steep decline in the practice of Catholicism, other parts are adding numbers to the faith everyday. Gamaliel’s wisdom still rings true for the world today. For those of us who might be overwhelmed or deeply perturbed by the state of the world in the present age, I think Gamaliel’s words bring a message of hope. The truly bad stuff will not last, as God will ultimately prevail.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the wisdom to discern and support movements that originate from God.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the moral and spiritual leaders in our Church who continue to inspire and teach Christ’s followers.