The first days of September bring Labor Day, which signals for us the end of summer, the opening of a new school year. A time for beginnings — even for the spiritual life. In fact, the church calendar in September commemorates a plethora of feasts and saints who assist us with life in Christ. Allow me to mention a few.
Sept. 8: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Exactly nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th, the birthday of the Mother of God. Truly one of us and truly Christ’s Mother from whom He took His flesh. Into her womb descended God in person to receive human nature. Mary was all about Jesus. Devotion to her should lead us to the same.
Sept. 9: Saint Peter Claver. Spanish Jesuit who ministered in Cartagena. With the arrival of each slave ship into the port, Peter Claver would gain access and minister spiritually and physically to the slaves who had survived the wretched journey across the ocean. Peter Claver saw them as children of God who had been robbed of their God-given human freedom and dignity. The slave trade developed in the New World because it fed its economic growth. Peter Claver helped the desperate Africans by comforting them; attending to their needs with medicines, food, and water and introducing them to the Lord Jesus. His ministry caused reaction from the establishment who accused him of keeping the slaves from their work and of contaminating churches by bringing them in. He proudly called himself the Slave of Negroes. Slavery and Racism still exist. They are an affront to God and must be eradicated wherever and in whom they are found. Ever on the move, our Holy Father will visit the Shrine of this saint of God during his Apostolic Visitation to Colombia, South America this week.
Sept. 14: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Cross, an instrument of suffering and death, yet chosen by God to be the instrument of our salvation. On it Christ died and then rose from death. The victory of God was achieved by it. Proudly wear a Cross. Display a Cross in your home. It is our sign not of defeat but of God’s triumph over sin and death. Celebrate your sharing in the victory through Baptism.
Sept. 15: Our Lady of Sorrows. The tradition identifies seven sorrows of Mary. There probably were more. She suffered from Bethlehem to Calvary. The pierced heart of Mary connects with our pierced hearts. Pierced by physical and moral suffering. Such as is experienced during sickness, the death of a loved one, and personal troubles or disappointments. Console us, O Mother of God.
Sept. 21: Saint Matthew. Apostle and Evangelist. Jesus chose him to be in His closest group of associates. A tax collector scorned by society and religion. Yet, called by Christ who turned his life around. No one is excluded from the embrace of God’s love. Turning to God is possible for every woman and man.
Sept. 23: Saint Padre Pio. Capuchin priest whose example of prayer and whose ministry at the Sacrament of Reconciliation brought sinners to life in Christ. Heal us, O saint of God.
Sept. 27: Saint Vincent de Paul. Priest who took in foundlings and street children and gave them a decent home; who visited prisoners. Support your parish Saint Vincent de Paul Society. Direct aid to the disadvantaged is aid in God’s name.
Sept. 29: Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. Archangels. Messengers of God who protect, heal and minister in God’s name. This world in which we live is connected to the spiritual world, the world of angels, saints and God.
Sept. 30: Saint Jerome. Priest. Translated the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, the common language of the people. Use the Bible; read it. Listen to it at Mass. Hear God talking to you. God’s Word. To you.
Saints of God, pray for us and lead us to Christ.
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D.
Bishop of Camden