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Sunday, May 7, 2017
Feast of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr
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Double (1954 Calendar): May7

Today is the Feast of St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr - not to be confused with St. Stanislaus Kostka. 

The following is taken from Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877:
Cracow, in Poland, was the native place of St. Stanislaus. His parents, who were as virtuous as they were rich, had been married thirty years without having offspring, until at last God heard their prayers and bestowed a son upon them, who in the first years of childhood gave promises of his future holiness. Innocence spoke in every feature, he loved prayer above all earthly pleasure, and seemed to have inherited from his mother the deepest compassion for the poor. He began his studies at home, but finished them at Paris with great renown. When he returned home, his parents were dead and as he had determined to go into a monastery to serve God, he divided his fortune among the poor. Lambert however, bishop of Cracow, on becoming acquainted with his talents and knowledge, saw how great would be his influence among the clergy, and persuaded him to receive, a canonicate. After being invested with this dignity, Stanislaus led so blameless and holy a life that, on the death of Lambert, he was unanimously chosen his successor. The humble man was very unwilling to accept the honor, but he was equally zealous in fulfilling his duties when, being obliged to comply, he had been duly consecrated. He personally visited every parish in his bishopric and was unwearied in assisting his flock in all their temporal as well as spiritual wants. It was said by every one that the bishop's revenues belonged to the poor. To visit the sick and give aid and comfort to them was his daily occupation, and the leisure moments, which were left him by the duties" of his sacred office, he gave not to idle amusement but to devout exercises. He was extremely rigorous towards his own person and seldom divested himself of his penitential robe. He kept an almost continued fast and in short lived in such a manner that he was called throughout the land the holy Bishop.

At that period, the king of Poland was Boleslaus II, who was hated and despised by every one on account of his cruelty and great immorality. As no one else dared to censure his vicious conduct, Stanislaus fearlessly exposed to him the scandal which he gave to others, and exhorted him, with tears in his eyes and upon bended knees, to reform. The King promised to follow the bishop's admonition, but instead of so doing, his conduct became worse than ever. Among other vicious deeds, he abducted the wife of a nobleman and kept her to the great indignation of the whole nobility. Stanislaus went to the King a second time, and like John the Baptist, conjured him most solemnly to change his scandalous life, remonstrating with him on the enormity of his crime in living with another man's wife. Boleslaus, enraged at this, turned away from him, resolved to put the severe lecturer out of the way. This he determined to do by means of a false accusation. The Saint had bought, of a nobleman by the name of Peter, an estate for his church, for which he had paid in money. The purchase had taken place with the consent of the King, and the estate had been in the possession of the Church three years, when Boleslaus caused the heirs of Peter (who had meanwhile died), to be informed, that if they wished to obtain the estate for themselves, they should bring an action against the bishop, and that he would assist them. The heirs followed the advice, alleging that Stanislaus had purchased the estate from their father, but had not yet paid for it. The bishop declared the accusation false, and summoned witnesses. The latter appeared but gave no evidence, as they had been forbidden so to do. Trusting in God, the Saint said to the king and the assembled counsellors; "Well, as these witnesses do not dare to speak, I shall, in three days, place, before you one whom you will be forced to believe, namely the former proprietor of the estate, himself." The King laughed derisively, as the latter had been dead more than two years: he, however, received the bishop's word.

The Saint fasted and prayed during three days and nights. On the fourth day, clad in his priestly robes, after Mass he went to the grave of Peter, and having caused the earth to be removed, he prayed, and then called on the dead and commanded him, in the name of the Holy Trinity to arise and go with him to testify to the truth. And behold a miracle! The dead arose in the presence of all the assembled people and followed the bishop to the King and the councillors. Mute with amazement, they gazed at the unexpected witness; but Stanislaus said: " Here is he whom I promised to summon; he will reveal the truth." Upon this Peter distinctly said; "Yes I have of my own free will sold my estate to the bishop and received the price of it in money. My heirs wrong him." Having given this evidence, Peter was led back to his grave. Stanislaus, against the wish of the King, was discharged and lived for some time unmolested.

When, however, the conduct of the King became more and more scandalous, the nobles of the country requested the bishop once more to remonstrate with him. The fearless Saint gave several days to fasting and prayer, and also offered to God other penances that his exhortation might be more successful than the former. After this, he went to the King and represented to him the danger of eternal damnation, which became more imminent, with the increased years that God gave him to repent and do penance. When he, however, saw that neither remonstrances nor entreaties were of any avail, he threatened him with excommunication. This threat the Saint at last put into execution as the King instead of reforming, became daily worse. At length the King, unwilling to be longer censured by the Saint, sent some men of his guard to the Chapel of St. Michael, to which he had been informed that the Saint had gone to say holy Mass, with orders to put him immediately to death. The soldiers went to the Chapel to obey the royal command, but seized with sudden fear, they fled and frankly confessed to the King, that it was impossible for them to lay hands on so venerable a man. He then twice more sent other soldiers with the same order, but all returned saying that a heavenly light, which surrounded the Saint, prevented them from touching him.

Wild with rage, the King rushed into the chapel and running towards the bishop who stood officiating before the holy Altar, he clove his head with one stroke of his sword, and the Saint sank dead upon the ground. Having had the body dragged out of the Chapel, the King caused it to be cut in pieces, and gave orders that it should be left a prey to the birds. But Divine Providence decreed otherwise. Four large eagles guarded the mangled members of the holy body until some persons, taking courage, laid them together with the intention of burying them. A new miracle, however, took place. By the power of the Most High, the members were joined in such a manner that the entire body of the Saint was lying before the eyes of those who had come to take it away. All present thanked God and praised the Saint's fearlessness and constancy. They laid the body in a grave before the door of the Chapel where he had received the Crown of Martyrdom. Ten years later, the sacred remains were transferred to the Cathedral of Cracow. During the ten years that the body lay before the Chapel-door, bright, heavenly, lights were seen upon it, with which God glorified his faithful servant upon earth.

Practical Considerations

St. Stanislaus endeavored to move the king to repentance and reformation. He knew of no better means to effect this than to represent to him the danger of eternal damnation. And, in fact, whoever is not moved by the fear of eternal damnation, will be moved by nothing else. The truth of this is shown by the wicked king Boleslaus. He heeded not the fatherly exhortations of the holy bishop, disregarded the danger to which he exposed himself, not only continued his crimes, but committed new ones, and went to eternal destruction because he repented not. So far do they go who neglect to root out of their hearts the passion of lust, but indulge it without shame, until it becomes, as it were, a second nature. "The wicked man when he is come into the depth of sins, contemneth;" says Holy Writ (Prov. xviii.). He overlooks sin and does not care for it, however enormous and despicable it may be. He slights the admonitions of the clergy, the inspired words of God, the danger of eternal damnation, yes, even damnation itself. "His heart," according to the words of Job, "shall be as hard as a stone, and as firm as a smith's anvil" (Job, xli.). And what can follow such hardening, but an unhappy end and eternal destruction. "A hard heart shall fare badly at the last," says the Holy Ghost (Eccl. iii.). If you do not wish to become so miserable, hasten to do penance, if you have committed sins. Make no habit of evil deeds. Commence to reform in time. Picture to yourself the danger of eternal damnation, in which you are so long as you remain in mortal sin. Pray God to give you a true knowledge of this danger, and sufficient grace to enable you to tear yourself away from it.

St. Stanislaus informed the king that, if he did not repent, the danger of his damnation would increase with the time God grants him to repent and do penance. An important truth: God punishes some, sinners, like the revolting angels, directly after they have committed sin. Others He punishes not immediately, but looks on a long time during which they commit sin after sin. This leads some to take greater liberties and to sin still more according to the words of Holy writ; "because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evil without fear" (Ecc. viii.). "They imagine that they are secure of punishment," says St. Leo, "because they are not immediately punished." Such people ought to know that because they are not immediately punished, they have to fear so much more. For, it is an ineffable grace of God, a grace which He confers upon them and thousands of others, that He does not punish them directly, but leaves them time to repent. If they do not make use of this grace, but even spend the time bestowed upon them, in offending the majesty of God still more, they will most certainly have to render a strict account of it, and must one day expect so much severer punishment. "The greater the benefits man receives from God, the greater the punishment that awaits him if he commits sin and continues in it," writes St. Chrysostom. And St. Augustine says: "The longer God looks on, so much the more painfully and terribly will He punish." If you wish not to experience this to your own eternal sorrow, follow the admonition of St. Augustine: "If God puts off the punishment, do not you put off repentance." And Origen says: "The mercy which God manifests towards you when He gives you time to repent, has a limit, and it is unknown to you how great it is, or how long it will last."
Prayer to St. Stanislaus:

Thou wast powerful in word and work, O Stanislaus! and our Lord rewarded thee with a Martyr's crown. From thy throne of glory, cast a look of pity upon us; obtain for us from God that gift of fortitude, which was so prominent in thee, and which we so much need in order to surmount the obstacles which impede our progress. Our Risen Lord must have no cowards among His soldiers. The Kingdom, into which He is about to enter, He took it by assault; and He tells us plainly, that if we would follow Him thither, we must prepare to use violence (St. Matth. xi. 12). Brave soldier of the living God! get us brave hearts.

We need them for our combat, whether that be one of open violence for the Faith or Unity of the Church, or one which is to be fought with the invisible enemies of our salvation. Thou wast indeed a good shepherd, for the presence of the world neither made thee flee nor fear; ask our Heavenly Father to send us Shepherds like thee. Succor Holy Church, for she has to contend with enemies in every part of the world. Convert her persecutors, as thou convertedst Boleslaus; he was thy murderer, but thy Martyrdom won mercy for him. Remember thy dear Poland, which honours thee with such fervent devotion. Break the iron yoke that has so long crushed her. Yes, it is time for her to regain her rank among nations. During the severe trials, which her sins have drawn down upon her, she has maintained the sacred link of Catholic Faith and Unity; she has been patient and faithful; ask our Risen Jesus to have pity on her, and reward her patience and fidelity. May He mercifully grant her a share in His Resurrection; that day will be one of joy for the whole Christian world, and a new Canticle will be sung throughout the earth, to the Lord our God. Amen

Collect:

O God, the glorious bishop Stanislaus fell beneath the swords of evil men in defending Your name. May all of us who seek his help be brought closer to our salvation through his intercession. Through Our Lord . . .

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