August 22. The notion of a queen is somewhat foreign to American ears, but this feast of Mary recognizes her role in the Kingdom of her Son, Jesus. If Jesus is king, Mary is certainly queen. And the title—or its surrogate—goes back centuries in the Church, as Mary has been praised for her position in the Church and among the people of God.
August 23. A member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, Saint Rose of Lima lived a life of penance and holiness at home under the disapproving eyes of her parents. They wanted her to marry, but Saint Rose felt another calling. While her lifestyle raised some eyebrows, at her death the city of Lima recognized her sanctity.
August 24. We know nothing about today’s saint, Saint Bartholomew, except that he was one of the original twelve apostles. If he is the man called Nathanael, then we know he is from Cana in Galilee--but that still doesn’t tell us much. But knowing that he gave his life in the service of the faith is enough.
August 25. Saint Louis of France took his position seriously as both king and Christian. A true son of the Church, Saint Louis worked for peace and reconciliation within his kingdom and beyond. He was generous with his wealth and his time. He was named a patron of the Secular Franciscans.
August 26. Saint Joseph Calasanz dedicated his life to poor children. He gathered teachers to help him, and eventually organized the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools--also known as the Piarists or Scolopi. But his work was not without opposition, as some objected to the education of the poor.
August 27. Perhaps Saint Monica is best known as the mother of Saint Augustine—a pretty noble label. But Saint Monica was also the mother of two other children, and is known as a woman of great prayer. We know that she prayed for the conversion of her son, and her prayers were heard. She also prayed for and obtained the conversion of her husband and mother-in-law.
August 28. Saint Augustine is a giant in many ways. He had a powerful and forceful personality which he used both before and after his conversion. He had a passion for whatever he did, and this showed up in his theological teachings. Yet he also was a man of great love, as is evident in his sermons to his priests. And he had a deep love for the Lord.
August 29. The martyrdom of John the Baptist is one of the most gruesome stories in the New Testament. Yet it is the story of the victory of faith and loyalty over cowardice and hate. A king makes a careless promise and does not have the courage or integrity to do the right thing when his jealous wife takes advantage. This is one of those blunt stories of what living faithfully is all about.
August 30. Canonized in 2009, Saint Jeanne Jugan had a history of helping the elderly and the poor. She founded the Little Sisters of the Poor to help her with her work, and by the time of her death they numbered 2,400. Her life included a few obstacles, but Saint Jeanne was a woman of determination and vision and she got it done.
August 31. We know little about Saints Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus except what we find in scripture. We do know that they were Jewish men of some standing who were not afraid to express their respect for Jesus. Each in his own way played a role in the life of Jesus that required courage and showed some understanding of who Jesus was.