Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ACBO meets in Toronto - St. Vincent Ferrer, Dominican Preacher of Conversion

This week the Ontario Assembly of Bishops [ACBO] meets in Toronto and it's meetings form morning until night (we have other meetings surrounding this plenary: the Priests Commission and OPECO, the French-language Catholic school boards).  Blogging therefore will necessarily be light.  I have lots of photos to post beginning Saturday.  Meantime, some prayers in the Lenten season:

Prayer for the Fourth Tuesday of Lent

May the venerable exercises of holy devotion shape the hearts of your faithful, O Lord, to welcome worthily the paschal mystery and proclaim the praises of your salvation. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *

Saint Vincent Ferrer, Priest

Today, the optional liturgical commemoration (limited to the opening prayer) of St. Vincent Ferrer is permitted.

Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia, Spain, on January 23, 1350 and baptized the same day. The family could not agree on a name, so the priest who baptized him named him for St. Vincent Martyr, the patron saint of Valencia.

Vincent entered the Order of St. Dominic in a monastery near his native Valencia in 1367. Soon afterward he was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. On being sent to Barcelona, he continued his scholastic duties and at the same time devoted himself to preaching. At Lerida, the famous university city of Catalonia, he received his doctorate. After this he labored six years in Valencia, during which time he worked to perfect himself in Catholic life.

Fr. Vincent was offered the post of bishop but declined, sensing that he was the messenger of penance sent to prepare men for the judgment. For twenty years he traversed Western Europe carrying a large cross, preaching penance and awakening the dormant consciences of sinners by his wondrous eloquence. His austere life was but the living expression of his doctrine. The floor was his usual bed; perpetually fasting, he arose at two in the morning to chant the Office, celebrating Mass daily, afterwards preaching, sometimes three hours, and frequently working miracles. After his midday meal he would tend the sick children; at eight o’clock he prepared his sermon for the following day. He usually travelled on foot, poorly clad.

Everywhere he went, tens of thousands of sinners were reformed; infidels and heretics were converted, and great miracles supported his words. Speaking only his native Spanish, he was understood in all tongues. St. Vincent chanced to meet the corpse of a man who had been murdered, which was being carried on a bier. In the presence of a multitude, St. Vincent Ferrer commanded the deceased man to rise, which he instantly did. It is said that a wooden cross was erected on the spot as a monument that can still be seen.

The turmoil of the age affected Fr. Vincent’s health and he fell seriously ill. St. Dominic, accompanied by St. Francis of Assisi, appeared to comfort him. Then came Our Lord himself, in the midst of a great host of angels. Touching Vincent on the cheek, Our Lord told him to rise and preach the Last Judgment. Miraculously, Vincent emerged completely cured. The mark of Our Lord’s sacred fingers on his cheek remained with him for the rest of his life.

Fr. Vincent began his apostolate with the title Legate of Jesus Christ on November 22, 1399. Large numbers of people became his disciples and followed him from place to place, up to 10,000 from every walk of life. Fr. Vincent preached in Limousin, the language of his native Valencia, yet all his hearers -- Germans, Greeks, Sardinians, Italians, and English -- understood him perfectly. For twenty years his efforts brought him to evangelize nearly every province of Spain. He also went to France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland and Ireland. He was even invited to Mohammedan Granada where he converted almost 8,000 Muslims. Even the caliph was interested, but when his nobles threatened him with civil war he reluctantly asked Fr. Vincent to leave.

Father Vincent spent the last two years of his life in Brittany, where he instructed many souls. Approaching age 70, still at the height of his mission, he fell ill with a fever. In Vannes, Brittany on April 5, 1419, he passed into heaven. On June 3, 1455, he was canonized by Pope Calixtus III at the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (in Rome).

O God who raised up the Priest Saint Vincent Ferrer to minister by the preaching of the Gospel, grant, we pray, that when the Judge comes whom Saint Vincent proclaimed on earth, we may be blessed to behold him ascend his heavenly throne. Who lives and reigns with you.

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