Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter – Mass in the Morning

Reading 1 Acts 28:16-20, 30-31

When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,
with the soldier who was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.
When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers,
although I had done nothing against our people
or our ancestral customs,
I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem.
After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me,
because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.
But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar,
even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.
This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you
and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel
that I wear these chains.”

He remained for two full years in his lodgings.
He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance
and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 11:4, 5 and 7

R. (see 7b) The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his searching glance is on mankind.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD searches the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
For the LORD is just, he loves just deeds;
the upright shall see his face.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 16:7, 13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord;
he will guide you to all truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,
the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper
and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?”
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?
You follow me.”
So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.
But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,
just “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?”

It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. John I, Pope


St. John I, Pope

Feast date: May 18

On May 18, the Catholic Church honors the first “Pope John” in its history. Saint John I was a martyr for the faith, imprisoned and starved to death by a heretical Germanic king during the sixth century.

He was a friend of the renowned Christian philosopher Boethius, who died in a similar manner.

Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also honor Pope St. John I, on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.

The future Pope John I was born in Tuscany, and served as an archdeacon in the Church for several years. He was chosen to become the Bishop of Rome in 523, succeeding Pope St. Hormisdas.

During his papal reign Italy was ruled by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric. Like many of his fellow tribesmen, the king adhered to the Arian heresy, holding that Christ was a created being rather than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Arianism had originated in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, and subsequently spread among the Western Goths. By the sixth century the heresy was weak in the East, but not dead.

In 523, the Byzantine Emperor Justin I ordered Arian clergy to surrender their churches into orthodox Catholic hands. In the West, meanwhile, Theodoric was angered by the emperor’s move, and responded by trying to use the Pope’s authority for his own ends.

Pope John was thus placed in an extremely awkward position. Despite the Pope’s own solid orthodoxy, the Arian king seems to have expected him to intercede with the Eastern emperor on behalf of the heretics. John’s refusal to satisfy King Theodoric would eventually lead to his martyrdom.

John did travel to Constantinople, where he was honored as St. Peter’s successor by the people, the Byzantine Emperor, and the Church’s legitimate Eastern patriarchs. (The Church of Alexandria had already separated by this point.) The Pope crowned the emperor, and celebrated the Easter liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Church in April of 526.

But while John could urge Justin to treat the Arians somewhat more mercifully, he could not make the kind of demands on their behalf that Theodoric expected.

The gothic king, who had recently killed John’s intellectually accomplished friend Boethius (honored by the Church as St. Severinus Boethius, on Oct. 23), was furious with the Pope when he learned of his refusal to support the Arians in Constantinople.

Already exhausted by his travels, the Pope was imprisoned in Ravenna and deprived of food. The death of St. John I came on or around May 18, which became his feast day in the Byzantine Catholic tradition and in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, he is celebrated on May 27, the date on which his exhumed body was returned to Rome for veneration in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Forgiveness and Restoration / Perdón y Restauración

Breakfast on the beach with Jesus would not have been enough to convince the deeply sorrowful Peter that he was still loved by Jesus, still trusted enough by Jesus to lead the Church. Peter, who had protested boldly that he would die for Jesus, had almost immediately denied his dear Friend and Savior, the One he had declared to be the Christ, the Son of God; three times during His most difficult hours, Peter said he did not even know Him.

Peter had wept bitterly over this betrayal, and his tears still probably flowed intermittently at the thought of it. And now, the once proud and outspoken Peter – Kepha, the Rock – was standing again face to face with the One he loved but had not supported in His time of need. How could he forgive himself and stand tall before him?

He could not. But Jesus, the ever-merciful, ever-loving, ever-generous One, could. We see the Savior not content to leave Peter in his sorrowful state of regret, but reaching down to allow him to attest to his love three times, to make up for his three denials. Even more, Jesus draws Peter into his own role as the Good Shepherd, commanding him three times to feed His sheep. Peter’s fear caused him to deny his Lord, which ruptured his closeness to Jesus; Jesus brings him even closer than his original friendship, elevating him to head of the new family of God, the one who shepherds his sheep.

Peter is called to let go of his previous fear and return to the Arms of Love – the disciple must love the Son as the Son loves the Father and the Father loves the Son, so that he can be drawn into that very love. “Follow me,” Jesus commands. Peter will ultimately give everything for this love, laying down his life as Jesus did. Like the Master before him, he will love unto death, in unconditional acceptance of the will of the Father, truly proving his love beyond words.

This is what Jesus offers each of us: in the sacrament of Confession, He offers His merciful forgiveness and restoration of all that our sins disfigure in us, and grace in abundance. Peter had wavered in the difficult hours of the Passion, but we witness Christ renewing him wholly and restoring him to the place he was called to fill: the Rock on which Jesus would build His Church, the primacy of authority over His Family on earth.

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Desayunar en la playa con Jesús no habría sido suficiente para convencer a Pedro, que estaba profundamente afligido, de que Jesús todavía lo amaba y aún confiaba lo suficiente en él para dirigir la Iglesia. Pedro, que había protestado audazmente que moriría por Jesús, casi de inmediato había negado a su querido Amigo y Salvador, Aquel que había declarado ser el Cristo, el Hijo de Dios; Tres veces durante sus horas más difíciles, Pedro dijo que ni siquiera lo conocía.

Peter había llorado amargamente por esta traición, y sus lágrimas probablemente todavía fluían de vez en cuando al pensar en ello. Y ahora, el Pedro que era orgulloso y franco  – Kepha, la Roca – estaba nuevamente frente a frente con Aquel a quien amaba pero a quien no había apoyado en Su momento de necesidad. ¿Cómo podría perdonarse a sí mismo y mantenerse erguido ante él?

La verdad es que no podría por sí mismo. Pero Jesús, el siempre misericordioso, siempre amoroso y siempre generoso, sí pudo. Vemos al Salvador no contento con dejar a Pedro en su doloroso estado de arrepentimiento, sino que se inclina para permitirle dar testimonio de su amor tres veces, para compensar sus tres negaciones. Aún más, Jesús atrae a Pedro a su propio papel de Buen Pastor, ordenándole tres veces que apaciente a sus ovejas. El miedo de Pedro le hizo negar a su Señor y rompió su cercanía a Jesús; Jesús lo acerca aún más que su amistad original, elevándolo a cabeza de la nueva familia de Dios, el que pastorea sus ovejas.

Pedro está llamado a dejar atrás su miedo anterior y regresar a los Brazos del Amor: el discípulo debe amar al Hijo como el Hijo ama al Padre y el Padre ama al Hijo, para que pueda ser atraído a ese mismo amor. “Sígueme”, ordena Jesús. Pedro, en última instancia, lo dará todo por este amor, entregando su vida como lo hizo Jesús. Como el Maestro antes que él, amará hasta la muerte, en aceptación incondicional de la voluntad del Padre, demostrando verdaderamente su amor más allá de las palabras.

Esto es lo que Jesús nos ofrece a cada uno de nosotros: en el sacramento de la Confesión, ofrece su perdón misericordioso y la restauración de todo lo que nuestros pecados desfiguran en nosotros, y gracia en abundancia. Pedro había vacilado en las horas difíciles de la Pasión, pero somos testigos de cómo Cristo lo renueva totalmente y lo devuelve al lugar que estaba llamado a ocupar: la Roca sobre la cual Jesús construiría Su Iglesia, la primacía de autoridad sobre Su Familia en la tierra.

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and seven grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Fernando Nunes, cathopic.com/photo/8745-saint-peter 

St. Pascal Baylon


St. Pascal Baylon

Feast date: May 17

Pascal was born at Torre-Hermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon, on May 24, 1540. He was born on the Feast of Pentecost, which in Spain is called “the Pasch of the Holy Ghost”, which is why he received the name Pascal. He died at Villa Reale, May 15, 1592, on Whitsunday.

His parents, Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera, were virtuous peasants. The child began very early to display signs of that surpassing devotion towards the Holy Eucharist, which forms the salient feature of his character.

From his seventh to his twenty-fourth year, he led the life of a shepherd, and during the whole of that period exercised a salutary influence upon his companions. He was then received as a lay brother amongst the Franciscan friars of the Alcantarine Reform. In the cloister, Paschal’s life of contemplation and self-sacrifice fulfilled the promise of his early years.

His charity to the poor and afflicted, and his unfailing courtesy were remarkable. On one occasion, in the course of a journey through France, he triumphantly defended the dogma of the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and in consequence, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. Although poorly educated, his counsel was sought for by people of every station in life, and he was on terms of closest friendship with personages of eminent sanctity. Pascal was beatified in 1618, and canonized in 1690.

His cultus has flourished particularly in his native land and in Southern Italy, and it was widely diffused in Southern and Central America, through the Spanish Conquests.

In his Apostolic letter, Providentissimus Deus, Leo XIII declared St. Pascal the especial heavenly protector of all Eucharistic Congresses and Associations. His feast is kept on 17 May. The saint is usually depicted in adoration before a vision of the Host.

Blessed Antonia Mesina


Blessed Antonia Mesina

Feast date: May 17

Antonia Mesina was born into a poor family in a small town in Sardinia, Italy, in 1919. She was the second of 10 children and she had to leave school after only four years to help her bed-ridden mother who suffered from a heart condition tend to the house and the other children.

Despite her heavy responsibilities at home, Antonia became a very active member of Catholic Action, an Italian Catholic organization for the laity, at the age of 10. When she was 16, she was attacked while out gathering wood after mass. He friend ran away, trying to find help. Antonia was beaten and murdered by a would-be rapist, fighting him off to her last breath. She suffered 74 strikes with a stone before she died. On 5 October 1935 the Catholic Action member Venerable Armida Barelli – who had met Antonia once – met with Pope Pius XI and informed him of Antonia’s activism and her murder. Antonia was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 as a martyr of purity. She is a patron of rape victims.

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 25:13b-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea
on a visit to Festus.
Since they spent several days there,
Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying,
“There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews
brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
I answered them that it was not Roman practice
to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers
and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
So when they came together here, I made no delay;
the next day I took my seat on the tribunal
and ordered the man to be brought in.
His accusers stood around him,
but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.
Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion
and about a certain Jesus who had died
but who Paul claimed was alive.
Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy,
I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem
and there stand trial on these charges.
And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody
for the Emperor’s decision,
I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab

R. (19a) The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 14:26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

We are Gifts / Somos Regalos

There is great depth in today’s readings. I had to read and take to prayer both passages many times during my preparation for this reflection. It is a gift to spend time with the Bible. Every reading of these Sacred Scriptures finds me at a different time in my life experiences as well as the happenings in the world.

In the first reading, Paul was brought before the whole Sanhedrin, which consists of Sadducees and Pharisees. A Pharisee himself, as his father was before him, Paul addressed the group, “ I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” His statement caused an uproar amongst the membership due to the fact that Sadducees believed that there was no resurrection, angels or spirits and Pharisees acknowledged all three of these things.

The commander of the guard noticed how serious the situation was and had Paul rescued from the midst of the compound by his troops. Paul was saved from this situation so he could speak the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and love throughout Rome, as the Lord asked him to.

The Gospel contains a phrase that really caught my attention. Jesus prayed with his eyes lifted to heaven: “they are your gift to me.” (Jn 17:24)  Wait, what did I just read? It has never occurred to me that we are a gift from the heavenly Father to Jesus.

Wow. We are a gift to spread the love of the Lord throughout the world as His disciples. We are to do this through the words, witness and message of Jesus Christ. Every person is a gift created in the image of God. We know this because Jesus refers to his disciples as brothers and sisters.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are intensified in each person who receives the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Every time I receive the sacrament of Reconciliation or Eucharist it is a gift from the Lord to nourish and sustain me to stay on the path of truth and light.

I look forward to the celebration of Pentecost this coming Sunday! Come Holy Spirit!

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Hay gran profundidad en las lecturas de hoy. Tuve que leer y orar ambos pasajes muchas veces durante mi preparación para esta reflexión. Es un regalo pasar tiempo con la Biblia. Cada vez que leo las Sagradas Escrituras me encuentro en un momento diferente de mi vida con todas sus experiencias, y los acontecimientos del mundo son diferentes también.

En la primera lectura, Pablo fue llevado ante todo el Sanedrín, compuesto por saduceos y fariseos. Pablo, que era fariseo, como lo fue su padre también, se dirigió al grupo: “me quieren juzgar porque espero la resurrección de los muertos”. Su declaración causó un gran revuelo entre los miembros debido al hecho de que los saduceos creían que no había ni resurrección, ni ángeles ni espíritus, y los fariseos reconocían estas tres cosas.

El comandante de la guardia se dio cuenta de la gravedad de la situación e hizo que sus tropas rescataran a Pablo del medio del recinto. Pablo fue salvado de esta situación para poder hablar la verdad de la resurrección y el amor de Jesús por toda Roma, como el Señor se lo pidió.

El Evangelio contiene una frase que realmente me llamó la atención. Jesús oró con los ojos elevados al cielo: “los que me has dado”, (Jn 17,24) en otras palabras, los que me has regalado. Un momento. ¿Qué acabo de leer? Nunca se me había ocurrido que somos un regalo del Padre celestial hacia Jesús.

¡Increíble! Somos un regalo para difundir el amor del Señor por todo el mundo como Sus discípulos. Debemos hacer esto a través de las palabras, el testimonio y el mensaje de Jesucristo. Cada persona es un don creado a imagen de Dios. Sabemos esto porque Jesús se refiere a sus discípulos como hermanos y hermanas.

Los dones del Espíritu Santo se intensifican en cada persona que recibe los sacramentos de la Iglesia Católica. Cada vez que recibo el sacramento de la Reconciliación o la Eucaristía es un regalo del Señor para nutrirme y sostenerme para permanecer en el camino de la verdad y la luz.

¡Espero con ansias la celebración de Pentecostés el próximo domingo! ¡Ven, Espíritu Santo!

Comunicar con la autora

Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Feature Image Credit: Carlos Daniel, cathopic.com/photo/10898-bread-fraction

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1 Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Wishing to determine the truth
about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,
the commander freed him
and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene.
Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees,
so he called out before the Sanhedrin,
“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees;
I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
When he said this,
a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees,
and the group became divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection
or angels or spirits,
while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.
A great uproar occurred,
and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party
stood up and sharply argued,
“We find nothing wrong with this man.
Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”
The dispute was so serious that the commander,
afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them,
ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst
and take him into the compound.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.
For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,
so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 17:21

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Andrew Bobola


St. Andrew Bobola

Feast date: May 16

Andrew Bobola is a Polish-born martyr. He was born in Sandormir, Poland, in 1591 to a noble family. He was ordained a Jesuit in 1622 and three years later became a parish priest in Vilna, Lithuania, the town in which he had studied. He also served as superior of the Jesuit community for a time. He worked extensively with the sick and made and even stronger efforts to help them during a plague outbreak, but he is best known as a successful missionary to the Orthodox. He did this for almost 20 years, preaching along the roads and converting whole villages to Catholicism.

However, he was captured after Mass on May 10, 1657 by the Cossacks and brutally tortured. Six days later, he died a martyr, refusing to denounce his Catholic faith.

His tomb was opened in 1719 and his body was found incorrupt. He is now entombed in a Jesuit church in Krakow, Poland.

He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1938.

St. Simon Stock


St. Simon Stock

Feast date: May 16

On May 16, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Simon Stock, a twelfth- and thirteenth-century Carmelite monk whose vision of the Virgin Mary is the source of the Brown Scapular devotion.

Simon was born during 1165 in the English county of Kent. He is said to have been strongly devoted to God from his youth, to the point that he left home at age 12 to live in the forest as a hermit. Following the customs of the earliest monks, he lived on fruit and water and spent his time in prayer and meditation.

After two decades of solitary life in the wilderness, he returned to society to acquire an education in theology and become a priest. Afterwards, he returned to his hermitage until the year 1212, when his calling to join the Carmelite Order – which had only recently entered England – was revealed to him.

During the early 13th century, a group of monks in the Holy Land sought formal recognition as a religious order. Their origins were mysterious, and by some accounts extended back to the time before Christ, originating in the ministry of the Biblical Prophet Elijah.

The Carmelites’ ascetic, contemplative lifestyle was combined with ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is she who is said to have appeared to Simon Stock, telling him to leave his hermitage and join the order that would soon be arriving with the return of two English Crusaders.

Impressed by the Carmelites’ rigorous monasticism, Simon joined in 1212 and was sent to complete a course of studies at Oxford. Not long after his return to the order, he was appointed its vicar general in 1215. He defended the Carmelites in a dispute over their legitimacy, later resolved by the Popes.

In 1237, Simon took part in a general chapter of the Carmelites in the Holy Land. Facing persecution from Muslims, a majority of the monks there decided to make their home in Europe – including Simon’s native England, where the order would go on to prosper for several centuries

After becoming the general superior of the Carmelites in 1247, Simon worked to establish the order in many of Europe’s centers of learning, including Cambridge, Oxford, and Paris.

Late in his life, Simon Stock reportedly received a private revelation about the Brown Scapular, a monastic garment worn by Carmelites.

“To him,” an early chronicle states, “appeared the Blessed Virgin with a multitude of angels, holding the Scapular of the Order in her blessed hands, and saying: ‘This will be a privilege for you and for all Carmelites, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.’”

This vision was the source of the Brown Scapular devotion – a tradition which involves the wearing of an adapted version of the garment, along with certain spiritual commitments, by lay Catholics as well as priests and religious.

St. Simon Stock died in France in 1265, 100 years after his birth. He has been publicly venerated since the 15th century.