October 5: Memorial of Blessed Francis X. Seelos, C.Ss.R.
From the Priest of Salem: Since today, October 5th, is a feria (4th class liturgical day) in the Province of St. Paul-Minneapolis, I kept my usual custom of celebrating the Memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R. Many of my parishioners are aware of Blessed Seelos, especially those I encourage to ask Fr. Seelos heavenly intercession for illness. Likewise, many of them are of German lineage, so Fr. Seelos and his life as a missionary are very attractive to them. While the Memorial of Blessed Seelos is an Obligatory Memorial in the Archdiocese of New Orleans (and houses of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or the Redemptorists), and an Optional Memorial in the Ecclesiastical Provice of New Orleans, it certainly can be celebrated anywhere October 5th is a Feria or a Feria with an Optional Memorial.
Having been born and raised in New Orleans (and in later youth, Baton Rouge), as long as I can remember anything about life and the Faith, my family has fostered a loving, heavenly friendship with Father Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R. (1819-1867), who was beatified by the late Pope John Paul II in the Jubilee Year 2000. Also, my great-grandmother was baptized in St. Alphonsus Church in New Orleans, and my mother and aunt went to school at St. Mary’s in New Orleans. I attribute my ordination to the priesthood to Fr. Seelos’ intercession, and the example of a number of Redemptorist Fathers from my youth (in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge), who have now gone on to their eternal reward.
The Seelos Center’s wonderful website is: www.seelos.org. There you can find the liturgical texts and so much more information.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Father Seelos:
Written to a friend, 1867:
“Continue to work at your sanctification, because only this is God’s will for us; only this is important and momentous and absolutely the one thing necessary.”
To a friend, 1866:
“This is the greatest grace – to persevere to the end in a humble and contrite frame of mind.”
“Therefore, just do not lose courage; and very often ask for the grace of perseverence from the Mother of Jesus, the Refuge of Sinners, because this grace is dispensed in a special way by her.”
“Make it your basic principle of life to accept daily whatever hardships your state in life, your duty, or circumstances bring with them.”
To a friend, 1866: “I have made the rounds of all the houses in the province. Only New Orleans yet remains. I have come here to pass the rest of my days and find a lasting resting place at Saint Mary’s. I feel I have traveled enough. I shall never leave New Orleans.”
FROM HIS SERMONS:
Trust in God’s Mercy!:
It is not your justice but God’s mercy which is the motive of your trust. He is the God of all consolations and the Father of mercies. He does not wish the death of sinners but that they be converted and live. He came to heal the sick and to seek those who were lost. He spared the woman taken in adultery. He showed mercy to the thief crucified with him. He took upon himself our punishment. He prayed for his murderers. He now intercedes for us at the right hand of God. None of the damned was ever lost because his sin was too great, but because his trust was too small!
Oh, if only all the sinners of the whole wide world were present here! Yes, even the greatest, the most hardened, even those close to despair, I would call out to them: The Lord is kind and merciful, patient and full of love. I would show them why the Apostles call God the Father of Mercy, the God of all consolation. I would tell them that the prophet in the Old Testament even said that the earth is full of the mercy of God and that mercy is above all His works.
Oh, Mother of Mercy! You understood the Mercy of God when you cried out in the Magnificat–’His mercy is from generation to generation.’ Obtain for all sinners a childlike confidence in the Mercy of God!
Fools for Christ!:
This life is full of obstacles, difficulties for one whose purpose is the close following of Christ. O how few start on this road of the following of Christ! And for this reason it may sometimes appear that the true Christian life is something excessive. Our poor human nature may even call it at times a stupidity to despise a pleasure for God. It is as if somebody said to us: ‘How stupid you are to deny yourselves all innocent pleasures which others enjoy without scruple of conscience. Do you only want to go to Heaven? O what a dry, uninteresting form of existence!’ To such whisperings of the devil, you must never pay attention.
The Kindness of the Priest:
Want of urbanity effects no good and affability does no evil. The priest who is rough with people does injury to himself and to others; he sins, at least in ignorance, against charity, patience, poverty, humility and self-denial. He scandalizes all who see him and hear him. Hundreds of souls turn away him, from God and from religion. Thousands reject the Church and the sacraments and perish in eternity solely because they have been badly treated by a priest.
A long experience has taught me the great lesson that God leads men in a human manner by other men whom he appointed to be in His place and who should be of the same kindness as he himself was while on earth. Many a soul might be gained for the true faith and eternal life if sometimes a little more charity, a little more self-denial would be evinced, and if persons would be treated as their personal dispositions and human nature would require. It is true that it requires great virtue and experience to find always the right measure in these things, but we cannot fail much if our intention remains pure.