Monday, March 22, 2021

Saint March 23 : St. Turibius de Mogrobejo who Fasted every Saturday to Honor Mary and Patron of Native Rights; Latin American Bishops; Peru

16 November, 1538, Mayorga, Spain
23 March, 1606, Saña, Peru
Patron of:
Native rights; Latin American bishops; Peru

St Toribio, or Turibius Alphonsus Mogrobejo, was second son to the lord of Mogrobejo, and born in the kingdom of Leon, on the 16th of November, in 1538. From his infancy he discovered a strong inclination to piety; and in his childhood it was his delight, at times of recreation, to erect and adorn altars, and to serve the poor. He trembled at the very shadow of sin. One day, seeing a poor peddler woman angry because she had lost something out of her pack, he most movingly entreated and exhorted her that she would not offend God by passion; and, in order to appease her, gave her the value of her loss, which he had begged of his mother for that purpose. He was very devout to the Blessed Virgin, said every day her office and rosary, and fasted every Saturday in her honour. Whilst at school, he usually gave part of his slender dinner to the poor, and was so much addicted to fasting that his superiors were obliged, by strict commands, to compel him to moderate his austerities. He began his higher studies at Valladolid, but completed them at Salamanca. He was introduced early to the notice of King Philip II, honoured by him with several dignities, and made president or chief judge at Granada. This office he discharged during five years with so much integrity, prudence, and virtue that the eyes of the whole kingdom were fixed on him, and his life in the world was a holy noviceship to the pastoral charge. The pressing necessities of the infant church of Peru required a prelate who inherited, in a distinguished manner, the spirit of the apostles; and the archbishopric of Lima falling vacant, Turibius was unanimously judged the person of all others the best qualified to be an apostle of so large a country, and to remedy the scandals which obstructed the conversion of the infidels. The king readily nominated him to that dignity, and all parties concerned applauded the choice. Turibius was thunderstruck at this unexpected news, and had no sooner received the message but he cast himself on the ground at the foot of his crucifix, praying, with many tears, that God would deliver him from so heavy a burden, which he thought absolutely above his strength. He wrote the most urgent letters to the king's council, in which he pleaded his incapacity, and other impediments, and laid great stress on the canons, which forbid laymen to be promoted to such dignities in the church. This humility it was that obtained the succor of heaven by which he performed wonders in the service of souls. Being compelled by obedience to acquiesce, he at length testified his submission by falling on his knees and kissing the ground.
 After a suitable preparation, he received the four minor orders on four successive Sundays, the better to dispose himself for the  functions of each; and after passing through the other orders, he was consecrated bishop. Immediately after which he set out for Peru, and landed at Lima, in the year 1581, of his age the forty-third. That diocese is extended one hundred and thirty leagues along the coast, comprising three cities and many towns and villages, with innumerable cottages scattered over two ridges of the mountains of the Andes, esteemed the highest and the most rugged in the whole world. Some of the European generals, who first invaded that country were men who seemed to measure every thing by their insatiable avarice and ambition, and had so far lost all sentiments of humanity towards the poor savages, that they deserved the name rather of tyrants and plunderers than of conquerors. Civil wars and dissension completed the misfortune of that country; and covetousness, cruelty, treachery, fraud, and debauchery seemed triumphant. Nor were the repeated orders of the Spanish court able to redress these evils. The sight of these disorders moved the good pastor often to tears, but his prudence and zeal overcame all difficulties, extirpated public scandals, and made the kingdom a flourishing portion of the Christian church. Upon his arrival, he immediately began a visitation of his vast diocese- an undertaking of incredible fatigue, and attended with many dangers. He often crept over the steepest and most rugged mountains, covered with ice or snow, to visit some poor hut of Indians, and give them suitable comfort and instruction. He travelled often on foot, and sometimes barefoot, and by fasting and prayer never ceased to implore the divine mercy for the salvation of the souls committed to his charge. He placed everywhere able and zealous pastors, and took care that no one in the most remote corners of the rocks should be left destitute of the means of instruction and of the benefit of the sacraments. To settle and maintain discipline, he appointed diocesan synods to be held every two years, and provincial synods every seven; and was vigilant and severe in chastising the least scandal, especially of avarice, in the clergy. Without respect of persons, he reproved injustice and vice, and made use of all the means which his authority nut into his hands, to check the insolence of public sinners, and to protect the poor from oppression. Many of the first conquerors and governors of Peru, before the arrival of the most virtuous viceroy Francis of Toledo, were men who often sacrificed every thing to their passions, and for their private ends. From some of these the saint suffered many persecutions, and was often thwarted by them in the discharge of his duty. But by the arms of meekness and patience he overcame all affronts and injuries, and with an invincible constancy he maintained the rights of justice and truth. He showed that many sinners misconstrued the law of God to make it favour their passions; but that, as Tertullian observes, "Christ calls himself the truth, not custom," and will weigh our actions not in the false balance of the world, but in the true scales of the sanctuary. Thus he extirpated the most inveterate abuses, and established with so great fervour the pure maxims of the gospel, as to revive in many the primitive spirit of Christianity. To extend and perpetuate the advantages of religion, which by his zeal he had procured, he filled this country with seminaries, churches, and many hospitals; but would never suffer his own name to be recorded in any of his munificent charities or foundations. When he was at Lima, he every day visited several hospitals, comforted and exhorted the sick. and administered the sacraments. When a pestilence, though that calamity is seldom known in Peru, raged in some parts of his diocese, Turibius distributed his own necessaries in relieving the afflicted: he preached penance, because sins are the cause of chastisements, and infinitely the worst of evils. He walked in the processions, bathed in tears, with his eyes always fixed on a crucifix, and offering himself to God for his flock; fasted, watched, and prayed for them without intermission, till God was pleased to remove the scourge.
Nothing gave the saint so much pleasure as the greatest labours and dangers, to procure the least spiritual advantage to one soul.  Burning with the most vehement desire of laying down his life for his flock, and of suffering all things for him who died for us, he feared no dangers. When he heard that poor Indians wandered in the mountains and deserts, he sought them out; and to comfort, instruct, or gain one of them he often suffered incredible fatigues and dangers in the wildernesses, and boldly travelled through the haunts of lions and tigers.1 He spent seven years in performing his first visitation; his second employed him four years, but the third was shorter. He converted innumerable infidels, and left everywhere monuments of his charity. In travelling, he either prayed or discoursed on heavenly things.. On his arrival at a place, it was his custom to repair first to the church to pray before the altar. To catechise the poor, he would sometimes stay two or three days in places where he had neither bed nor any kind of food. He visited every part of his vast diocese, and when others suggested to him the dangers that threatened him from rocks, precipices, marshes, rivers, robbers, and savages, his answer was that Christ came from heaven to save man, we ought not therefore to fear dangers for the sake of immortal glory. He preached and catechised without intermission, having for this purpose learned, in his old age, all the various languages of the barbarous nations of that country. Even on his journeys he said mass every day with wonderful fervour and devotion. He always made a long meditation before and after it, and usually went to confession every morning; though they who best knew his interior testified that they were persuaded he had never in his whole life forfeited his baptismal innocence by any mortal sin. He seemed to have God and the divine honor alone before his eyes in all his words and actions so as to give little or no attention to any thing else; by which means his prayer was perpetual. He retired in private to that exercise often in the day, and for a long time together. In it his countenance seemed often to shine with a divine light. The care with which he studied to disguise and conceal his great mortifications and works of piety, was the proof of his sincere humility. His munificence in relieving the poor of every class, especially those who were too bashful to make their necessities publicly known, always exhausted his revenues. The decrees of his provincial councils are monuments of his zeal, piety, learning, and discretion: they have been ever since esteemed, not only in the new world, but also in Europe, and at Rome itself, as oracles. The flourishing state of the church of Peru, the great numbers of saints and eminent pastors with which it abounded, and the establishment of innumerable seminaries of piety and learning, and hospitals for the poor, were the fruit of his zeal. If he did not originally plant the faith, he was at least the great propagator of it, and the chief instrument of God in removing scandals and advancing true piety in that vast country, which till then had been a land of abominations: whilst Francis of Toledo, the great viceroy, first settled the civil government in peace and tranquillity by salutary laws, which have procured him the title of the Legislator of Peru. St. Turibius, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, in 1606 during the visitation of his diocese, fell sick at Santa, a town one hundred and ten leagues distant from Lima. He foretold his death, and ordered him to be rewarded who should bring him the first account from his physician that his recovery was despaired of. The ardour of his faith, his hope, his love of his Creator and Redeemer, his resignation, and perfect sacrifice of himself, gathered strength in the fervent exercises and aspirations which he repeated almost without ceasing in his illness. By his last will he ordered what he had about him to be distributed among his servants, and whatever else he otherwise possessed to be given to the poor. He would be carried to the church, there to receive the holy Viaticum, but received extreme  unction in his sick bed. He often repeated those words of St. Paul, <I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ>; and in his last moments he ordered to be sung by his bedside those of the Psalmist, <I rejoiced in the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.> He died on the 23rd of March, repeating those other words of the same prophet, <Into thy hands I commend my spirit.> His body being translated the year after to Lima, was found incorrupt, the joints flexible, and the skin soft. His historian, and the acts of the canonization, mention many sick restored to their health, and a girl raised to life by him whilst he was living; also many miracles wrought through his intercession after his death. He was beatified by Innocent XI in 1679,1 and solemnly canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. On the miracles wrought by his inter. cession, see Benedict XIV,2 and especially the acts of his canonization.
A pastor of souls must be careful to animate all his exterior actions and labours in the service of his neighbour with the interior spirit of compunction, humility, zeal, charity, and tender devotion. Without this he loses the fruit of all the pains he takes, and by them will often deserve only chastisements in the world to come; so much will his intention and the affections of his heart be infected with self-love, and depraved by various imperfections, and secret sinister desires, even in the most holy functions. Therefore, a fervent noviciate, employed in the exercises of an interior life, ought to be a part of the preparation for this state; and in the discharge of his duties, a person ought always to unite contemplation with action, and reserve to himself sufficient-time for conversing with God and his own soul, and taking a frequent review of his own interior. From his labors he must return frequently to prayer, and constantly nourish in his soul a spirit of fervent devotion, which will thus accompany all his exterior actions and keep his thoughts and affections always united to God. Those who are not faithful in thus maintaining and improving in themselves an interior spirit of piety, and in watching with fear and compunction over the motions of their own hearts, will generally advance very little the kingdom of Christ in the souls of others, and are in great danger of losing their own. This is what St. Bernard feared in his disciple Pope Eugenius III, whom he conjured with tears never to give himself up entirely to the care of others, so as not to live also for himself; so to communicate a spirit of piety to others, as not to suffer it to be drained in his own heart; to be a basin to hold it, not a pipe for it to run through. This lesson is applicable, with due proportion, to other states, especially that of teaching the sciences, in which the exercises of an interior life are so much the more necessary, as the employment is more distracting, more tumultuous, and more exposed to the waves of vanity, jealousy, and other secret petty passions.
by Alban Butler - Lives of the Saints 

Pope Francis says "It is good to retrace the steps of God in our life, every time the Lord has crossed our path, to correct, encourage, resume, revive, forgive." FULL TEXT




Sala Clementina
Monday, March 22, 2021

Dear priests, religious and lay faithful,

who form the community of the Pontifical Filipino College " de Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje ", I am happy to meet you on the 500th anniversary of the first proclamation of the Christian faith in the Philippines and the celebration of the first Holy Mass, which was 31 March 1561, Easter day. And another anniversary that concerns you, closer in time, also deserves to be remembered: that of the foundation of your College on 29 June 61.  St. John XXIII personally inaugurated it on 7 October of that year. Let us thank the Lord together for these sixty years of priestly formation, which have given many seminarians and priests the opportunity to grow as priests according to the heart of Christ for the service of the People of God in the Philippines.

Starting from these anniversaries and anniversaries, I would like to share with you some reflections on time , of which our life is made and which is a gift that God has given us and has entrusted to our responsibility, so that we know how to take the opportunity to say our “graces”, for doing good works and looking forward with hope. And I would like to thank the Rector for the words he said to us. But, excuse me, I thought he was a Catholic Action guy! You never get old! And I'm glad Cardinal [Tagle] is with you. And this is a beautiful thing. Let's go back to time .

First, let's think about the past, to the story that every person and every reality bring with them. Going back in time, even centuries, as we do for the birth of the Church in the Philippines, is walking in memory, walking back in the footsteps of those who preceded us, to return to the origins of your faith with feelings of gratitude and of amazement at what has been given to you. Each anniversary gives the opportunity to leaf through the "family album" and to remember where we come from, what faith we lived and what evangelical testimonies have allowed us to be what we are now. The memory. That deuteronomic memory; that memory that is always the basis of daily life. The memory of the journey gone ... “Remember, remember”, said Moses in Deuteronomy. "Remember the times, the graces of God, do not forget". Remember the root. Paul said to Timothy: “Remember your mother, your grandmother”. The roots, the memory. And also the author of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Rememberpristinos dies , those first days, and remember those who announced the Gospel to you ”. A Christianity without memory is an encyclopedia, but it is not life.

And this - memory - is valid for an entire people, but also for every single person. Each of us must go back and remember the many good and bad, good and bad steps, but always see that God's Providence is there. Looking back reminds us of those who first made us fall in love with Jesus - a pastor, a nun, our grandparents, or parents - to whom we owe the greatest of gifts. And for priests, the memory of the discovery of a vocation, of the moment in which the first one was said, convinced "yes" to God's call, as well as of the day of ordination, is particularly dear to them.

When you happen to feel tired and disheartened - this happens to everyone - of feeling dejected due to some trial or failure, look back at your story , not to escape into an "ideal" past, but to regain the momentum and emotion of " first love ”, that of Jeremiah (cf. Jer 2 : 2). Return to first love. It is good to retrace the steps of God in our life, every time the Lord has crossed our path, to correct, encourage, resume, revive, forgive. Thus we see clearly that the Lord has never abandoned us, he has always been beside us in a way that is now more discreet, now more evident, even in the moments that seemed to us the darkest and most arid.

If the past offers the opportunity to be aware of the solidity of our faith and our vocation, the future broadens horizons and is a school of hope. Christian life is by its nature projected towards the future, the near one but also the more distant one, at the end of time, when we will be able to meet the Risen One who has gone to prepare a place for us in the Father's House (cf. Jn 14: 2 ).

Just as the past must not be an intimate retreat, so we must fight the temptation to flee forward when we do not live our present in peace. We are in the seminary and everything weighs on us, because we imagine what life will be like after ordination. We are entrusted with a pastoral assignment and, at the first difficulties, we already think about the place where we could really give the best of ourselves. And so on, a sinful procession on the future, immature, to escape from the present. The true future is anchored in the present and the past. And so many people, for years or for a whole life, do not come to conversion. It is a bit like the spirit of complaints: “and this, this, this…”. But look forward, look back. You have the promise. You have the lesson. Make it now an alliance that takes you back, but don't go around in that labyrinth of your complaints, your dissatisfactions, your sorrows. This is the beginning of a bad disease,

Dear priests - but it can also apply to consecrated and lay people, dear all - do not be men of the eternal tomorrow , who always move forward, in a hypothetical ideal condition - the bad utopia - who move the opportune and decisive moment. to do something good; and do not live in a perennial condition of "apnea", limiting yourself to enduring the present and waiting for it to pass. "Yes, Lord, tomorrow, tomorrow ...". That sick tomorrow.

Future in a positive sense, on the other hand, means a prophetic gaze , the ability of the disciple who, faithful to the Master, starting from what he has in front of him, knows how to see what does not yet exist and works according to his own vocation to make it happen, as a docile instrument. in the hands of God.

And after having "traveled" in the past and in the future, we return to the present , the only time that is now in our hands, which we are called to profit from for a journey of conversion and sanctification. The present is the moment in which God calls, not yesterday, not tomorrow: today; we are called to live today, including its contradictions, sufferings and miseries - even our sins - which are not to be shunned or avoided, but taken on and loved as opportunities that the Lord offers us to be more intimately united with him and also on the cross.

And today, dear friends, is the time for concreteness . Today is concreteness. You priests are in Rome for study and ongoing formation in the community of this College. You are not asked to regret the parishes from which you come, nor to imagine the "prestigious" tasks that the Bishop will certainly want to entrust to you on your return ... No, not that! This is fantasy. Instead, it is a question of loving this concrete community, of serving the brothers whom God has placed beside you - and not gossiping about them! -, to take advantage of the opportunities for pastoral training that are given to you. Given the reason you're here, it's about being serious and diligent in the study. As Saint John Paul II said to your predecessors, "Through your commitment to study you will be ready to carry out the ministry of the Word, proclaiming the mystery of salvation clearly and unambiguously, distinguishing it from mere human opinions" ( June 2, 2001 ).

Knowing the past, projected into the future, to better live the present, an opportune time for formation and for sanctification, welcoming the opportunities that the Lord gives you to follow him and to configure your life to him, even while being far from your beloved Philippines .

I conclude with the words of St. John XXIII , those he addressed sixty years ago to the first community of the Philippine College, so that all priests may find here «faith and culture in abundant source and fraternal atmosphere, and thus equipped they will return to their homeland, as chosen heralds of the truth ”( Radio Message , 7 October 1961). Thank you!