Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Garcia Diego

[by scovich]

As noted in our About page, Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, a Franciscan priest, was the Bishop of the Diocese of the Two Californias (1840-1846) during a time when many of the missions and church lands had been transferred to secular authorities. He died shortly before the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), which transferred all of California from Mexico to the United States. From 1842, Garcia Diego lived in Santa Barbara and regularly offered Mass at Mission Santa Barbara, where he is now buried.

We interviewed Michael Aberle about his depiction of this bishop painted specifically for our Sodality of Garcia Diego and so prominently featured on this website. Michael’s painting is based on a surviving photograph and painting. Michael’s portrait is painted with acrylics in a style inspired by el Greco. Garcia Diego stands in the sunshine looking out with the Mission plaza behind him. His hand is raised in benediction. He wears his pectoral cross and episcopal ring.

Michael painted the face last. The Bishop appears to have a stern expression. We have often wondered what the Bishop was really like, and whether he would approve of our current efforts. Perhaps beneath this holy sternness lay a pastor of gentleness.

The Bishop wears a blue cape and cassock, rather than the grey or brown typically associated with Franciscans. Michael states that blue was a significant color for devotees to the Immaculate Conception, even before the official definition of that dogma in 1854. Perhaps Garcia Diego was one of these; certainly he was devoted to Mary, and he chose Our Lady Refuge of Sinners as patroness of California (see our previous post on that subject).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Devotions and Feast Days

[by TMR and scovich]

As we enter the autumnal season and the last months of Ordinary Time, we observe a particularly fruitful period in the sanctoral cycle (the calendar of saints' days). You can find the October Saints Calendar here; please note especially the first week.

Month of the Holy Rosary

We encourage Sodality members to pray the rosary faithfully especially during October, the month of the Holy Rosary, especially on the feast day, October 7th. The Roman Catholic calendar observed this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (or Our Lady of Victory) after a decisive victory at Lepanto in 1571,  although such a feast had been observed by the Dominican order earlier.

Here is a prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, which reminds us how prayer ought to transform our daily lives. You might also be interested in joining the Rosary Confraternity. After the Rosary, there is also an October devotion to St. Joseph dating only from the 1880s, and associated with this prayer.

We began our series of notable and proximate feast days this week with  Michelmas, the Feast of St Michael the Archangel, on September 29. This holy day was once much more prominent than it is now, especially in England. You can read about its history and customs here.

St Michael is featured in scripture and literature as a warrior for God, protector of humanity, and instrumental in Satan's defeats both at the Creation and the Apocalypse. In the late 1800s, after a disturbing vision, Pope Leo XIII wrote a Prayer to St Michael, which is often recited by devout Catholics. You can read about it and find several versions here

Here is one translation:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
St Jerome

The following day was the feast day of St Jerome, September 30. Jerome, roughly a contemporary of St Augustine, was the translator of the Latin Vulgate bible, scriptural commentator and passionate advocate of religious discipline. He was venerated as one of the four original Doctors of the Church.

Read about St Jerome and Lectio Divina from a Benedictine blog here

St Therese of Lisieux
St Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower or Therese of the Child Jesus (January 2, 1873-September 30, 1897), is also a Doctor of the Church. Her feast day is on October 1 (previously October 3). Therese, a Carmelite nun, had a deep faith from childhood. In her struggles with illness, she grew even closer devotion to God. She is best known for her autobiography and her "Little Way" of spiritual progress. The Society of the Little Flower is devoted to St Therese and offers this prayer:

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors I now place
with confidence in your hands .
(Mention specific requests)
St. Therese, help me to always believe
as you did in God's great love for me,
so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.
Guardian Angels
Today, October 2, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. The concept of guardian angels is often not well understood, but the Church does teach that God has sent angels to watch over humans. You can find prayers to Guardian Angels here

Here is the Latin version of a familiar childhood prayer to the guardian angel.
Ángele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietáte supérna, hodie illúmina, custódi, rege et gubérna. Amen.
St. Francis of Assisi
Finally, we come to the Feast of Saint Francis on October 4. St Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is the subject of much writing and public attention, and needs no simple introduction here. Francis was a man who loved nature and had many qualities of gentleness, but demanded much sacrifice from those who wished to follow his rule. Francis heard a call from Christ to rebuild the Church, a call which he first interpreted literally by restoring a church building (San Damiano). By his example, prayers, and preaching, St. Francis helped the faithful to follow Christ more closely, especially in Holy Poverty, simplicity, and charity for the poor. His zeal for the salvation of souls led him to embrace outcasts, even lepers, and to speak of the peace of Christ even to non-Christians, through his meeting with the Muslim Sultan. Like Therese, Saint Francis suffered a severe illness for years before his death. His most well-known prayer universally acknowledged to be created by him, is the Canticle of the Sun which ends with a mention of "Sister Death." Franciscans traditionally observe Francis's date of death, October 3, the vigil of his feast day, which is known as the Transitus.

We who live here ought to be particularly grateful to St. Francis and his spiritual sons (and daughters) who have been so important historically, at Santa Barbara Mission as in so many other locations, and who continue their good work here today. A few Sodality members are devoted to St Dominic, a contemporary of St. Francis; both men, of course, founded mendicant orders of religious about the same time. Both orders flourished, by the grace of God, and at times there is some feeling of rivalry; in a longstanding tradition of good will, however, Franciscans and Dominicans have a tradition of celebrating each others' greatest feast days with joy, prayer, and sometimes visiting.

We plan to celebrate the birthday of our Sodality member Michael Aberle on October 3. His name day, of course, was also this week.

This period of the liturgical year appears to be a time of renewed prayer; to saints whose struggles provide a model for our own living, to the angels who are forever fighting demons to protect us, and to our Blessed Mother through the Holy Rosary.