To All Hibernians:
In the month of March, after one more Sunday of Ordinary Time, we move into Lent, a season of penance leading up to Our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The liturgical color for Lent is violet, except that rose may be worn on Laetare Sunday (March 31). Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence; all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Check with your local parish or diocese for Lenten regulations on abstinence and fasting, for greater opportunities for confession, and for Lenten devotions such as Stations of the Cross.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF MARCH
|March 6||Ash Wednesday|
|March 7||Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs||Memorial|
|March 17||Patrick, Bishop||Memorial|
|March 18||Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor||Memorial|
|March 19||Joseph, Spouse of Mary||Solemnity|
|March 25||Annunciation of the Lord||Solemnity|
IRISH SAINTS OF MARCH
March 5 Kieran of Saighir, Bishop (d.c. 530)
This saint is also known as Kieran (or Ciaran) the Elder and is one of several sainted Kierans. Details of his life are sketchy and disputed, and many fanciful stories revolve around him. He lived for a time as a hermit, attracted a number of followers, and built a monastery which developed into the town of Saighir. He is considered the first bishop of Ossory; he may have been one of the twelve bishops consecrated by St. Patrick. St. Piran (or Perran), a Welsh hermit whose feast is celebrated the same day, is sometimes confused with him.
March 6 Fridolin, Abbot (6th century?)
Reportedly an Irish priest who preached throughout Ireland and then wandered through Gaul preaching, Fridolin settled near Poitiers. He is credited with the recovery, guided by a vision, of the remains of the founder of St. Hilary’s monastery there. He rebuilt the monastery, which had been destroyed during the barbarian invasions, and was elected abbot. He later settled on Sackingham, an island in the Rhine, and built a monastery, a convent, and boys’ school there, serving as abbot of the monastery. He was known as the Wanderer, or the Traveller.
March 8 Senan, Bishop (d. 560)
At least one authority on the subject lists twenty-two St. Senans and separating the details of their lives is not easy. This man is known as Senan of Scattery Island. He was of Munster origin and lived the life of a warrior before hearing a call to religious life. After tutelage under an abbot named Cassidus, Senan was sent to St. Natalis, abbot of Kilmanagh in Ossory. Like many Irish saints, Senan made a pilgrimage to Rome, and on his journey home, made the acquaintance of St. David of Wales, whose staff Senan bore back to Ireland. After spending some time in a community at Inishcarra, Senan was directed by divine signs to found a community on Scattery Island (Inish Cathaigh) in the estuary of the Shannon. He was supposedly consecrated a bishop at some point, but no one knows over what see or when.
March 10 Kessog, Bishop and Martyr (6th century)
Kessog, or Mackessog, came of Munster royalty. He went to Scotland to preach the Gospel and was consecrated a bishop there. He is said to have suffered martyrdom, but exactly how or where is uncertain. The Scots formerly invoked him in battle, before St. Andrew replaced him in this regard, and he is depicted in iconography as an archer. Several place names in Scotland testify to his veneration there in Catholic times.
March 10 Himelin (d.c. 750)
Little is known of this saint, except that he died in the Low Countries as he was returning from a pilgrimage to Rome. A local parish priest nursed him in his final illness, which was marked by miraculous events.
March 11 Oengus, Abbot and Bishop (d.c. 824)
Oengus, or Aengus, entered the monastery of Clonenagh at Leix, then well-known for its size, learning, and sanctity. A few years later, he took up the life of a hermit a few miles away. Still later, he moved along to the abbey of Tallaght, near Dublin, where for years he concealed his identity from the abbot. This was probably in order to be able to lead a more retiring life, since over the years his reputation for sanctity had spread and brought him unwelcome attention. Toward the end of his years, Oengus returned to Clonenagh, where he was reportedly made abbot and bishop. In his final years, Oengus completed his metrical hymn in honor of the saints, the Felire, over which he had labored for many years. Oengus died at his nearby hermitage. He is known as the Hagiographer, because of his hymn, and the Culdee (God’s Vassal), due to his strict asceticism.
March 13 Mochoemoc, Abbot (7th century)
Mochoemoc was the nephew of St. Ita, under whose tutelage he grew in the spiritual life until she sent the young man to St. Comgall at Bangor Abbey, County Down, where he was ordained. Comgall seems to have set Mochoemoc the mission of sowing a new establishment, and in fact Mochoemoc founded several. His best known foundation was at Liath-mor in County Tipperary. The saint lived there to an advanced age.
March 13 Gerald of Mayo, Abbot (d. 732)
Gerald was an Englishman, a Northumbrian monk of Lindisfarne. After the Synod of Whitby imposed the Roman Easter observance over the Celtic one, a decision which Colman could not abide, a group of English novices accompanied St. Colman and his Irish followers back to Ireland. A community was established on Inishboffin. Though the Irish and English monks of the foundation agreed on liturgical usage, they evidently disagreed on enough other matters to cause Colman to erect a separate house on the adjacent Mayo coast for the English monks. It is not known whether Gerald was an original English member of Colman’s group or came later; many English monks did come later, as the place had a reputation as a “school for the Saxons.” Colman was at first abbot of both house, but was succeeded by Gerald as abbot of the English one. Gerald is sometimes said to have been a bishop, but it is likely that this results from confusion over the likelihood that Gerald enjoyed some sort of privileges as a protector and patron of his countrymen in Ireland. Gerald probably lived to see the imposition of the Roman Easter usage upon his abbey.
March 16 Finnian Lobhar, Abbot (d.c. 560?)
Finnian was said to be of Munster royalty, though he was born in Leinster, from which his mother hailed. His dates are far from certain. Finnian gained a reputation as a miraculous healer. He obtained the title “Lobhar”–Leper–after he willingly took on the disease to cure a young man afflicted by it. He may have ended his days as abbot of Clonmore.
March 17 Patrick, Archbishop (c. 389-c. 461)
Few do not know at least the outline of the story of the Apostle of Ireland, and at least some of the legends about him. The son of Calpurnius, a Romano-British official, born somewhere in the Roman province of Britain, he was carried off into slavery by Irish raiders when he was about 16. After serving as a shepherd for 6 years, probably in Mayo or Antrim, he escaped, and made his way to Gaul. He seems to have studied at the monasterey of Lerins, 412-15, and was probably ordained c. 417. Patrick harbored the desire, encouraged by a vision which he experienced, to return and evangelize the pagan Irish. In about 432, consecrated bishop by St. Germanus, he was sent back to Ireland to carry on the work of St. Palladius, who had died the previous year. Most of the remainder of his life was spent in this task, as he travelled throughout the island, encountering the potentially deadly opposition of many pagan chieftains and the Druidic priests. In 442 and 444, he visited Rome. He made Armagh his episcopal see, cementing its role in the history of the Irish Church. Besides his many conversions, Patrick brought the Irish Church into closer union with Rome, encouraged the study of Latin, and raised the standards of scholarship in general. Among surviving writings, we have his Confession, an answer to some of his detractors, which contains many details of his life, his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, denouncing murders committed by Welsh Christian marauders against their fellow Christians in Ireland, and his prayer, The Lorica. Patrick’s tomb is believed to be at Downpatrick, with Saints Brigid and Columba.
March 18 Frigidian, Bishop (d.c. 588)
Frigidian was an Irish priest, who during a pilgrimage to Italy, resolved to become a hermit on Monte Pisano near Lucca. Eventually he unwillingly accepted the bishopric of Lucca under pressure from the pope. He fled the Lombard invasion of Lucca, returning later to rebuild the cathedral destroyed by the barbarians. He was noted for his solicitude for the suffering and sick, even those among the conquerors, many of whom he converted. Frigidian retired to his hermitage from time to time. He also founded and presided over a community of clergy, later organized as canons regular, who even five centuries later were seen as models for reform. He is better known in Italy as Frediano, and is still the patron of the cathedral of Lucca.
March 18 Christian, Abbot (d. 1186)
Christian was a disciple of St. Malachy and would appear to be one of the four men who remained behind at Clairvaux, taking the Cistercian habit, when Malachy passed through there returning from his pilgrimage to Rome. Malachy, desirous of bringing the Cistercians to Ireland, applied to his friend St. Bernard, who sent Christian and several French monks. Christian became the first abbot of the first Cistercian house in Ireland. It is possible that Blessed Christian was bishop of Lismore and papal legate in Ireland.
March 21 Enda, Abbot (c. 450-c. 530)
Enda was a warrior, possibly of Oriel in Ulster, whose sister, St. Fanchea, was a consecrated virgin. Fanchea persuaded him to give up raiding and violence and adopt Christianity, and later to embrace the monastic life and the priesthood. Enda may have studied abroad, in Scotland or Britain, and may have been to Rome. He established perhaps the first Irish monastery, at Killeany on Inismor, in the Aran Islands, and became its abbot. The monasterey became a pilgrimage site as well as a center from which evangelization spread back to the mainland of Ireland. Enda founded several other monasteries and shares with St. Finnian of Clonard the title Father of Irish Monasticism.
March 26 Macartan, Bishop (d.c. 505)
Little is known of this saint. He is considered the first bishop of Clogher, and may have been consecrated by St. Patrick.
FROM THE LORICA OF ST. PATRICK
I arise today through the strength of the love of the Cherubim,
in obedience of angels,
in the service of the archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs,
in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles,
in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of holy Virgins,
in deeds of righteous men.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS OF INTEREST
There is plenty of news, positive and negative.
–The Little Sisters of the Poor are back in court. In October, the Trump administration issued new guidelines to safeguard religious dissent from the requirements of the health care legislation enacted during the Obama years. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by the legal officers of 12 other states plus the District of Columbia, quickly filed suit. Federal judges in California (Jan. 13) and Pennsylvania (Jan. 14) just as quickly complied by issuing injunctions against the new rules, meaning in effect that the Sisters and other Catholic organizations are still threatened by rules requiring them to provide for abortion, sterilization, and contraception in their healthcare plans.
–Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has been very busy of late in the cause of religious liberty and upholding life issues. On January 16, he introduced a Senate resolution recognizing that membership in the Knights of Columbus should not be considered a bar to public office. This came after several of his colleagues had suggested exactly that. He introduced the measure under unanimous consent rules. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) also introduced (Jan. 31) the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, calling for its passage under the same rules. Senator Sasse introduced this measure as a response to the surge of legislative activity on the pro-abortion front, citing in particular the “morally repugnant” comments of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) countenancing infanticide. A similar measure has been introduced in the House by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Under unanimous consent rules, one senator is capable of blocking passage. Sasse’s first measure passed; the second was blocked by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Following the failure of unanimous consent, Sasse sought to pass the second measure, the “born alive” measure, by a roll call vote. However, the measure failed (Feb. 25) when its sponsors fell 7 votes short of the 60 votes need to invoke cloture to ward of a filibuster. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV), Bob Casey (PA), and Doug Jones (AL) joined their GOP colleagues in supporting cloture. Meanwhile, Blackburn’s bill has passed the House, garnering the votes of all Republicans and 6 Democrats.
–Feb. 5: A very strong pro-life message was articulated by President Trump during his State of the Union address. The President called upon the nation to cooperate “to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.” He urged the reaffirmation of “a fundamental truth: All children–born and unborn–are made in the holy image of God.” The President also decried recent legislative efforts, especially in New York, to extend abortion potentially to the moment of delivery. He called upon Congress to enact a ban on late-term abortion. Trump reiterated many of his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 7.
–Feb. 8: Since the seating of the new Congress, there have been several attempts to void the Mexico City Policy, which was recently reinstated by President Trump. The policy denies federal funding to any NGOs which perform or promote abortion. Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced a measure which would permanently repeal it.
–The Department of Health and Human Services has posted on its website proposed new rules for Title X family planning funds which would ban funding to pregnancy centers which perform, promote, or make referrals for abortions. If adopted, the new rules would likely take money away from organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
[Sources consulted for this report include: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, complete edition, ed. and rev. by Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater; 4 vols. (New York, 1956); The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (New York, 1975); The National Catholic Register; ewtn.com; catholic.org; priestsforlife.org; catholicnewsagency.com.]