This month is dedicated to the Blood of Christ, and these saints can help us appreciate the great gift of the Eucharist even more.
During July, the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, we are reminded of the importance of the Eucharist, in which the Real Presence: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord is fully present. Let us be inspired to share the depth and beauty of the Eucharist with others.
Let us also turn to the wisdom of four great feast days in July, which highlight saints who were so consumed with their love for Our Eucharistic Lord that they spoke simultaneously with great poetic beauty and truth about the depth of Christ’s sacrificial love.
So meet an adoring Italian, a fearless reformer, a Doctor of the Church, and an anxious hostess, who all have something powerful to say about the Eucharist. May we turn to their words the next time we need to be reminded that this is the source and summit of our lives!
July 5 — St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born into a noble family of Cremona, Italy. After his mother was widowed at just 18, she devoted herself to his education. When he became a priest, he experienced a miraculous occurrence at his first Mass, complete with supernatural light and a multitude of angels. This saint was an ardent promoter of frequent, pious receipt of Holy Communion.
In 1534, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria requested the authorization to solemnly expose the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of Milan for 40 hours and to do the same in all the churches of Milan. He was the originator of the public 40-hour Devotion to the Eucharist. (The devotion existed privately before his time.) You may perhaps feel called to ask your pastor about allowing this devotion at your parish. As St. Anthony Mary eloquently teaches us:
“The surest proof then, of your return to God is that you go back to receive this food. Go back, my friends, go back to receive this Sacrament. Nothing can make you holier than this Sacrament, for in it is the Holy of Holies.”
July 16 — Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
The Feast of Mount Carmel is celebrated on July 16 because that is the day (July 16, 1251) that Our Lady gave the brown scapular to St. Simon Stock.
Back home again in England from a visit to the Holy Land, St. Simon received an apparition of Our Lady in which she said, “Receive, my Beloved Son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”
It’s no wonder one of my friends smiles and calls the brown scapular “fire insurance.” What incredible words of advice from the queen of all saints! If you don’t yet have a scapular, why not purchase one from a convent of Carmelite nuns and therefore support their holy work at the same time? Here is one option. And another.
And don’t forget to be enrolled in the brown scapular by a priest and if possible join an investiture ceremony. You only need to be enrolled once in a lifetime. Here’s more details on the graces and answers to questions about enrolling and investiture in the brown scapular.
Let us look to one of her daughters of Carmel, the great, fearless Carmelite Reformer, St. Teresa of Avila. Through her prayers and brilliance, this Doctor of the Church brought a new infusion of holiness into the Carmelite order. She spoke these great words of wisdom on the power of the Eucharist:
“Be with Him willingly; don’t lose so good an occasion for conversing with Him as is the hour after having received Communion … If you immediately turn your thoughts to other things, if you pay no attention and take no account of the fact that He is within you, how will He be able to reveal Himself to you? This, then, is a good time for our Master to teach us, and for us to listen to Him.”
What a great reminder to spend time in prayer with our Eucharistic Lord even after Mass has ended.
July 21 — St. Lawrence of Brindisi
St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) was a Capuchin priest and Doctor of the Church who was an excellent linguist, fluent in Italian, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French. This brilliant orator and author had a deep and tender devotion to Our Lady, and wrote the great work about the Blessed Mother called The Mariale.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi advises,
“My dear souls, let us recognise, I pray you,
Christ’s infinite charity towards us
in the institution of this Sacrament of the Eucharist.
In order that our love be a spiritual love,
He wills a new heart, a new love, a new spirit for us.
It is not with a carnal heart but with a spiritual one,
that Christ has loved us with a gratuitous love,
a supreme and most ardent love,
by way of pure grace and charity.
Ah! One needs to love Him back
with one’s whole, whole, whole,
living, living, living and true, true, true heart!!”
This quote immediately brings to mind the Liturgy of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration, both of which give us a chance to strengthen our spiritual love every time we attend! In honor of St. Lawrence, attend a Eucharistic Adoration at a parish near you. If you can’t get to a church for Adoration, EWTN offers live Adoration from their chapel on their facebook page.
July 29 — Sts. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus of Bethany
While July 29 is the traditional feast of St. Martha, Pope Francis recently revised the calendar to include sibling saints Mary and Lazarus. So we can still honor Martha in a special way on this day, but we also are reminded of the house at Bethany and all the siblings that Jesus loved there.
St. Martha is the beloved saint from Scripture who was anxious and worried about many things. Jesus loved her dearly for her hospitality and concern for Him. She famously cooked a meal for Jesus on more than one occasion. She was the hostess who fed the God of Hosts. After the death of Lazarus, she summons her sister Mary to the side of Christ with these words,
“The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” (Jn 11:28)
This is a great reminder to all of us of the Real Presence calling to us from each Catholic church we pass. Click here to join a Sts. Martha and Mary Novena that will begin nine days before their feast.
These two saints teach us so much about the way we should lavish Jesus with love. The wisdom of St. Martha is a wonderful daily reminder:
“The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”
Saints of July, as we seek and savor your words of wisdom, pray for us!