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Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”. Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.

Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.

As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon. A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome. It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!” Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.

Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication.

He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 5, 2020

Anyone conscious of mortal sin cannot laugh or be merry...

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April 5

 

I cannot understand 
how anyone 
conscious of mortal sin 
can laugh or be merry. 

St. Thomas Aquinas


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

 

 

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Vincent Ferrer

In one location he worked so many miracles that an hour was...

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St. Vincent Ferrer

Vincent Ferrer, although born in Valencia in Spain, was from Scotch-English descent on his father’s side. His parents instilled in him a deep devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady and a tremendous love for the poor.

In 1367 he entered the Dominican Order, and before he reached the age of twenty-one was already teaching philosophy at Lérida, the most famous university in Catalonia.

Transferred to Barcelona to preach to the public, he arrived in the coastal city to find the citizens ravaged by hunger. A famine was raging through that region and the people were desperate for the arrival of a ship of corn. Vincent foretold that the ship would be in harbor before nightfall, and so it happened, at which the people acclaimed the young Dominican preacher a prophet and his superiors cautiously moved him to Toulouse.

Vincent inflamed souls with the ardor of his preaching, rousing sinners to penance, lax Catholics to fervor, and converting a number of Jews to the Faith, one of them the Rabbi of Burgos who went on to become a bishop.

It was the time of the great schism with a pope in Rome and another in Avignon, a time when even saints were confused. For a time Vincent favored Benedict XIII, or Peter de Luna, as he was popularly known, who ruled from the French city of Avignon. Vincent was also de Luna's confessor. But as the Church began moving to rule against the claim of Peter de Luna, and the latter remained obstinate, Vincent distanced himself from the claimant, and, eventually, played a major role in Benedict XIII’s abdication in favor of Church unity.

Vincent Ferrer preached throughout Europe as far north as the Netherlands, and his learning, ardent preaching and miracles worked numerous conversions.  In one location Vincent worked so many miracles that an hour was reserved every day for healing the sick. At Liguria in Italy he convinced the ladies to modify their fantastic headdress, which one of his biographers calls “the greatest of all his marvelous deeds”.

In Granada in Spain, then under Moorish rule, 8000 Muslims asked for Baptism after hearing him preach.

Vincent spent the last three years of his life in France, where he became ill after preaching a sermon in 1419, and died on Wednesday of Passion Week. He was canonized in 1455 by Pope Calixtus III.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort...

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And He Stole Heaven

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.
 
On his left hung another man, covered in the matted blood of his wounds. Yet, with the exception of a few intermittent words, there was no sound from him.

As time passed, the thief became more and more engrossed in the silent crucified beside him, and less and less in his own plight.St Dismas Picture

Indeed life is ironic, mused Dismas, this man who had lived in the open, and was acclaimed as a healer and even as a king, now hung beside him who had spent his life lurking and hiding.

And now they were lifted up, both on a high parallel. He could see the roof tops of the city, he could see the highways he had stalked, and he could see the way they had walked. Now he looked down on those gathered around this place of execution, the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the curious, the friends of the man beside him…and a young man supporting a lady directly beneath them...

And then he knew her; that upturned face, that maidenly majesty now wracked by sorrow, her tear-filled eyes fastened on the man on his left–Yes, he knew that face.

As the wheels of time rolled back in his mind,  his heart gave a jolt as he remembered that blessed day in the desert, decades ago, when a young family making its way to Egypt, sought refuge for the night in his family’s hovel. The man was strong and kind, the woman was the fairest his child’s eyes had seen, and she carried a golden haired babe, as if nothing in the universe was more precious.

He remembered the lady’s gaze on him, her beautiful eyes full of concern for the leprous sores on his young body. Then she and his mother talked. And next, he was being bathed in the same water the lady had just washed her infant son.

And then the sores were gone.  His mother wept for joy, and kissed the lady’s hands, and the baby’s feet. And even his robber-father was moved, and offered the strong man and his family the best in the house.

Now, in one revealing flash, he knew the identity of the wounded man on his left.  He looked again at the lady, and her eyes, those same sweet eyes of old, were on him once more.  
He felt his heart quiver, as the power of gratitude filled his being and softened his criminal soul.  And then came tears, rivers of tears.  When he could speak, he turned to the left,

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And the Lord turned his face to him, His divine eyes on him, and he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard, a voice at once full of pain and full of strength, full of sweetness and full of majesty, a judge’s voice, and a father’s voice,

“Amen, amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”

 

By Andrea F. Phillips
Based on: A Legend of St. Dismas and Other Poems,
Copyright by P. J. Kenedy and Sons. 1927, p. 18.

 

Free Meditation Booklet - Be Still and Know That I AM GOD

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.

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