February is not the only month dedicated to love. Check out the saints of October!
During October, the month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary, we are reminded of how the Rosary is a treasure of love that pleases God greatly; brings great graces to the soul; and when prayed with love can increase love within us.
During this month, we consider the example of luminaries of holiness — the saints –who teach us how to grow in our vocation to love.
Six saints we celebrate in October reflect the importance of love in their lives and encourage us to do the same. May we turn to their words the next time we need a good reminder, as they all have something powerful to say about the love of God!
So spend time with the Little Flower, the Queen of Victory, a Spanish mystic, an apostle of the Sacred Heart; a merciful pope; and an apostle who delivered the Holy Face of Jesus, They all have something powerful to say about the love of God!
October 1 – St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897)
Therese Martin was the youngest daughter of a saintly French family and the third of several of her sisters who entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux. Known as “the Little Flower” for her sweet simplicity, this author of the great spiritual masterpiece Story of a Soul, which taught the “Little Way” of humble love, was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997. It is often said that the charism of the Carmelite Order is love. St. Therese embodied this perfectly. In the words of St. Therese, which each of us should echo:
“My vocation is love.”
October 7 – Our Lady of the Rosary
This feast day is also the feast of Our Lady of Victory and the Battle of Lepanto, a famous battle won by praying the Rosary. The Rosary is indeed a weapon against Satan and evil spirits who seek the ruin of souls. Let us not forget that in the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima (on October 13, 1917), the Blessed Mother appeared saying with great love:
“I am the Lady of the Rosary. I desire … that people continue to recite the Rosary every day.”
Let this be for us one of the greatest, if not the greatest, reason for praying the Rosary daily. Our Mother wishes it so. Thus our Rosary is not only an act of love for those for whom we pray, but also a gift of love to our Heavenly Mother.
October 15 – St. Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582)
This Spanish nun, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, reformed the Carmelite Order and founded 17 convents. She was a woman of great intellect and action. However, at the same, she was a paragon of the contemplative life, known for ecstatic and mystical prayer. She suffered from illness and many distractions in her early life, but through perseverance and love, she renewed the Carmelite Order and the Catholic Church.
In the words of St. Teresa:
“Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”
October 16 – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)
This French nun spread love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Early adversities included the death of her father when she was still a child and an illness that kept her confined to bed for several years. She had a profound faith life and made a promise to enter religious life during her illness. She changed her mind as she grew and began considering marriage.
One night after attending a dance, she had a vision of Christ being scourged and realized she had begun to choose worldly things over God. She became a Visitation nun, and was chosen by Christ to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
One of many ways to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to daily pray a morning offering prayer, thus setting up our entire day to honor the interests of the Sacred Heart. St. Margaret Mary died on October 17, 1690, which is her feast day in the traditional calendar. In the words of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
“Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love.”
October 22 – Pope Saint John Paul II (1920-2005)
Karol Wojtyla was born in Poland and endured the death of his mother as a child and the horrors of war and life under political oppression. A dynamic and beloved pope who traveled the world, he also survived an assassination attempt and forgave his attacker.
A lesser-known fact is that Pope St. John Paul II almost became a Carmelite friar and had a profound love for the Carmelite scapular, often speaking of graces associated with wearing it and describing the nature of this clothing that our Blessed Mother offers us. “Our Lady of Mount Carmel dresses us in a spiritual sense. She dresses us with the grace of God and helps us always.”
He died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, which is a feast that he inaugurated. What an example of love his life offers! In the words of Pope St. John Paul II:
“If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for him to grow and last, then you must be faithful to prayer. It is the key to the vitality of your life in Christ. Without prayer, your faith and love will die.”
October 28 – St. Jude, Apostle
Interestingly, October 28 is the feast day of both Sts. Simon and Jude, since they were martyred together. St. Jude is famous for being the patron saint of “hopeless cases,” and a statue of this beloved saint can be found in many churches as countless people turn to his intercession in prayer when hope is waning.
Have you ever noticed that on statues and images of St. Jude you will often see him holding a medallion or cloth with the Holy Face of Christ? There are several traditions that exist which teach that during the years of Jesus’ ministry, King Abgarus of Edessa sent a painter to make a portrait of Christ. It is said this king, suffering from illness and hearing of the wonders of Jesus’ miracles, sent a letter to Jesus with his messenger, who also happened to be a great painter. The light of Christ’s face was so bright that the painter couldn’t manage a portrait. So Jesus took a cloth and held it to His Holy Face, impressing His image on it to send to King Abgarus. St. Jude Thaddeus brought this image back to King Abgarus and the holy saint preached to the king about Jesus.
This errand of St. Jude should remind all of us who seek the intercession of this saint to adore the Holy Face of Jesus. King Abgarus was inspired to bring Christianity to his kingdom, having been filled with the love of God.
In honor of St. Jude, let us grow in loving devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. You can read more about prayers to the Holy Face and a way to join the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face of Jesus … of which St. Therese of Lisieux and her family were members. St. Therese famously added “of the Holy Face” to her name when she became a Carmelite.
In Scripture, we find these words of St. Jude:
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)
Holy saints of October, as we seek and savor your words of love, pray for us!