Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ash Wednesday Eve

As many of you know, the Saints of Christian history are a great source of inspiration to me. Among those who have a special place in my heart is Saint Casimir, whose memory is celebrated today.
Saint Casimir was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1458. The third of the thirteen children of Casimir IV, King of Poland and Lithuania, he was educated at court but secretly fostered habits of penance and prayer. Prince Casimir was especially devoted to the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose honor he is said to have composed the hymn Omne die dic Mariae (“Daily, daily sing to Mary”).


Casimir is especially remembered for his purity and single-minded devotion to the poor of his kingdom. This model Christian ruler died of tuberculosis at Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1484, at the age of twenty-five. Saint Casimir was canonized in 1602 and his feast was extended to the Universal Church in 1621.
Today, Saint Casimir is honored as the patron saint of Lithuania and I had the privilege of spending a summer teaching English to elementary school age children in 1997. Today, I'm mindful of the many graces and blessings I've received in my life and, on this Ash Wednesday-eve, I'm especially grateful for all those women and men of faith who continue to support and inspire me by their prayers and example.

(A word about the pic: the statue of the "Weeping Christ" was something I brought back from Lithuania, the statue of Saint Casimir was given to me by the Sisters of St. Casimir when I made my first vows as a Benedictine in 2004, and the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa Henderson who received it as a wedding gift from my great-uncle, Fr. Paul Tong, C.Ss.R., in 1946.)

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