St. Casimir of Poland

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by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

The Church presents for our imitation an illustrious example of virtue and sanctity in St. Casimir. He was of royal blood, born in the year 1458 at Cracow, the capital of Poland. His father was Casimir III., King of Poland, and his mother Elizabeth, daughter of Albert II., Roman Emperor. His parents omitted nothing to educate their child most carefully, and the remarkable inclination to virtue in the young prince led him to correspond faithfully to the efforts of his parents, and lay the foundation in childhood of his future holiness. He was very successful in his studies, which he made under the direction of John Herbuttus, a priest noted for his piety. His greatest pleasure was to pray, visit churches, and study. Whenever his preceptor desired to give Casimir a recreation, and asked what he preferred, his answer always was: "To go to a church and pray. To spend my time there, is more pleasing than to take part in hunts, games, dancing, or any other amusement."

Early in the morning he was the first to hasten to the church, where he often spent whole hours, more like an angel than a man. His fervor during the Holy Sacrifice was so great that he often appeared as if in ecstasy. It was frequently necessary to call him away from the temple of God, lest his health should suffer from his protracted devotions. As he advanced in years, he rose at night and secretly repaired to the church; if the doors were locked, he contented himself with kneeling outside. His posture during this holy exercise was kneeling or prostrate on the ground. His devotion to the sacred Passion of our Redeemer was so tender that he always was moved to tears at the mere mention of it, or by casting his eyes on the crucifix. He called the Blessed Virgin his dear mother, and he loved her as a child. In her honor he composed a touching hymn, which is in use even at the present day; it begins thus: "Daily, daily sing to Mary," etc. He repeated this every day, and asked to have it placed in the grave with him. To this veneration of our Lord and our Immaculate Lady he joined a most tender pity for the poor. He considered them as his children, and his kindness towards them merited for him the title of Father of the Poor. He recommended their affairs and troubles to his father, and begged that they would be speedily disposed of. Whatever he possessed he gave them. Some courtiers looked upon his conduct as unbecoming a prince. But Casimir said: "A true nobleman cannot respect his nobility more than when he serves Christ in the person of the poor. As far as I am concerned, my greatest satisfaction is to wait upon the most abject."

He valued worldly honors very little, as is evident from the following fact, amongst others. Uladislaus, his elder brother, was chosen King of Bohemia; and, shortly after this, messengers came from Hungary to demand Casimir for their king, in place of Mathias Hunniades, their lawful sovereign, who had been dethroned. Neither the father nor the son was willing to yield to their petition, but, the messengers threatening to call on the Turks for assistance, the father consented, and dispatched Casimir with a large army into Hungary to take possession of the throne. Mathias, who in the meanwhile had regained the affections of his subjects, was advancing with a numerous force against St. Casimir. The latter, who cared very little for an earthly crown, and who was still less inclined to purchase it at the cost of bloodshed, was overjoyed at this turn of affairs. He led his troops back to Poland, thanking God for having delivered him from so heavy a burden. Moreover, he learned the unsteadiness of earthly glory and distinction, and was more zealous in seeking the honors and possessions which the Lord has promised to His faithful servants.

To aid him in following out this object, he made use of a severity towards himself quite foreign to the general softness and ease of a royal prince. Under the royal robe, which he was obliged to wear according to his rank, he wore a rough hair shirt. He fasted several times a week, and was most exact in the observance of the days of fast and abstinence ordered by the Church, and this even when confined to his bed by sickness. He used to say that his disease had never been aggravated by abstinence, and if the other remedies were insufficient to restore his health, certainly dispensation from the precepts of the Church could not cure him. He gave only a short time to sleep, and, though he had a royal couch, he always preferred to take his rest on the hard floor. These and other virtues caused Casimir to be venerated as a Saint by the whole court. His angelic purity and his most anxious solicitude to preserve it untarnished has won for him a great name in the annals of the Church. As soon as he understood the greatness of virginal purity, he bound himself by vow to perpetual virginity. To enable himself to keep this promise, he employed constant prayer, the reception of the Sacraments, devotion to the Immaculate Virgin, and continual mortification of his senses; he likewise shunned every dangerous occasion and all suspicious company. Never would he utter any improper words, or allow them to be spoken in his presence. Thus, even amidst the easy life of the court and the many occasions of sin, he preserved his virginal purity unsullied to the very end of his life.

When he had reached the age of twenty-six, God visited him with a serious illness. After all medicines had proved ineffectual, the physician declared that there was only one remedy left to save the life of the prince. This was no other than that the prince should alter his determination about the preservation of his virginity. The physician and his friends advised him to marry. The prince, without the least hesitation, replied: " I would rather die than not live a virgin. If I had a thousand lives, I would sacrifice them all to remain a virgin." All efforts to alter his resolutions were in vain. The pious prince preferred to die, as he had lived, an angel in the flesh., He knew by revelation the day of his death. He carefully prepared for it. In his last moments he took the crucifix into his hands, saying: "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit," and expired. After a lapse of one hundred and twenty years, his body was taken up, and found without the slightest sign of corruption. The above-mentioned hymn to the Virgin Mary was likewise perfectly preserved. Poland and Lithuania, in their wars against the Turks, experienced the effects of the powerful intercession of St. Casimir. We pass over the various miracles wrought in favor of individuals, who were delivered from many evils by calling on the Saint for assistance.



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For centuries Christians have turned to St. Joseph as a powerful patron and faithful guardian, father and friend. Invoked as the Glory of home life, Patron of the Dying and Terror of Demons, Christians call upon St. Joseph for healing and conversion, help with their children, a new job or home, and for all their needs of body and soul.

Honored as the Patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph’s paternal protection of the Lord Jesus continues even from heaven, as he watches over Christ’s Mystical Body on earth. The foster-father of the Son of God is also a father to those who have become God’s sons and daughters through the sacrament of baptism.

Saints and popes down the centuries have experienced and extolled St. Joseph’s great power to intercede. “Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious saint,” wrote St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, “for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.”

“Men of every rank and country should fly to the trust and guard of the blessed Joseph,” especially fathers of families, Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical on devotion to St. Joseph, Quamquam pluries.

Why 30 days, you might wonder? According to tradition, St. Joseph died just before Jesus entered into his public ministry. The prayer therefore honors St. Joseph for each of the 30 years he spent with Jesus and Mary on earth.

This prayer can be said during any 30-day period, but with St. Joseph’s feast upon us, now is a particularly opportune time to turn to him asking his help and guidance for all your needs, the needs of your family, loved ones, friends, and all those in need of prayer.

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THIRTY DAY PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH
IN HONOR OF THE 30 YEARS HE SPENT WITH JESUS AND MARY

Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow.

Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection. Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favors I ask.

I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.

I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the Holy Virgin, nor a house where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave.

I ask it by the loveliness and power of that sacred Name, Jesus, which you conferred on the adorable Infant.

I ask it by the painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.

I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan, you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother to Egypt.

I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.

I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country.

I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows. I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His mother for three days.

I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus.

I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary.

I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors.

I ask it through Mary’s glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you have with her in the presence of God. O good father! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask.

(Here name your petitions or think of them.)

Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of: JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH.

“A blameless life, St. Joseph, may we lead, by your kind patronage from danger freed.”
 
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