January 24. Saint Francis de Sales was born into a senatorial family where he was destined to work in government positions of authority. Instead, he felt a call to the priesthood and was ordained for the Diocese of Geneva. Later he became bishop of that diocese and was known for his gentleness and his strong defense against Calvinism. He authored a couple of books and helped found the Sisters of the Visitation.
January 25. Saint Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was to be the turning point in his spiritual life. There he met Jesus and nothing was the same after that. Thereafter, all his zeal and energy were focused on the spread of the gospel message. We know him from his wonderful letters to the early Christian communities.
January 26. Saint Timothy and Titus were trusted friends and co-workers with Saint Paul through many of his trials. He eventually set both up as heads of local Churches and encouraged them as would a father. Saint Paul seems to have truly relished their support and friendship.
January 27. Saint Angela Merici was a courageous woman who saw a need and answered it even though society may not have been ready for her solution. Women teaching and, what we call today, a secular institute were new forms of living and ministering which proved very beneficial to the Church.
January 28. Saint Thomas Aquinas is well known for his writings, especially the "Summa Theologica." But he was far more than a philosopher/theologian. He was a devout man who wrote beautiful prayers and hymns. Perhaps the best known is the "Pange Lingua." He truly was able to combine human reason and revelation and show the fruits of the union.
January 29. Servant of God Brother Juniper was a simple man who joined Saint Francis in the earliest days of the Order. While Saint Francis praised him and wished he had a “whole forest of such Junipers,” nevertheless, he could be exasperating for his generosity. Even saints can be frustrating.
January 30. Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska founded the Felician Sisters as a result of a conversion experience she had while convalescing from an illness. At the age of 44 she was forced to resign due to ill health. She lived, however, into her 70s.
January 31. Inspired by Saint Francis de Sales, Saint John Bosco founded the Salesians to continue his work among boys. Then, joining forces with Mary Mazzarello, he helped found the Salesian Sisters. All this during a time when established religious communities in Italy were closing their doors. But Saint John Bosco was different; he was a poor man who truly cared for the poor, and people saw that.
February 1. Saint Ansgar was a Benedictine missionary who spent his life trying to convert northern Europe. It seems for every step he took forward, he ended up taking two backward. Yet, he didn’t seem to become discouraged. He kept his focus on serving the poor wherever he was.
February 2. Being an observant Jewish couple, it stands to reason that Mary and Joseph went to the Temple for Mary's purification--as prescribed by Mosaic Law--40 days after Jesus' birth. The blessing of candles and the procession of light were added to this feast, giving it the popular name “Candlemas.”