Dec 21 – Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, priest, doctor of the Church
St. Peter Canisius (1521–1597) was the son of Jacob Canisius, a wealthy burgomeister, and Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter’s birth. He was educated in Cologne, Germany, where he studied art, civil law, and theology. He received a master’s degree by age 19. His closest friends at university were monks and clerics.
He joined the Jesuits on May 8, 1543 after attending a retreat conducted by Bl. Peter Faber. He taught at the University of Cologne, and helped found the first Jesuit house in the city. He was ordained in 1546. He was theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg in 1547.
He travelled and worked with St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was his spiritual director in Rome, Italy. He taught rhetoric in Messina, Sicily in 1548, preaching in Italian and Latin. He was doctor of theology in 1549. He began teaching theology and preaching at Ingolstadt, Germany in 1549, and was rector of the university the following year.
In 1552 he began teaching theology and preaching in the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna, Austria. He was the royal court confessor even as he continued to work in hospitals and prisons. During Lent in 1553, he travelled to preach in abandoned parishes in Lower Austria.
During Mass one day, he received a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his lifetime, and was translated into 12 languages. In some places catechisms were referred to as ‘Canisi’.
He attended the Diets of Augsburg (1555), Ratisbon (1556, 1557), and founded Jesuit colleges in Ingolstadt, Prague, Dilingen, and Fribourg. Everywhere he worked, he became a noted preacher and often worked with children, teaching them and hearing their confessions.
He represented Pope Paul IV at the imperial Diet of Pieternow. He addressed the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He recommended St. Stanislaus Kostka for reception as a Jesuit. He was court preacher to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria.
While in Fribourg, Switzerland, he received a message from the city’s patron saint, Nicholas of Myra, that he should stop travelling. Canisius spent the rest of his life there. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers in many cities. His advice was sought by St. Francis de Sales, and by his friend St. Charles Borromeo. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.
– Patron Saint Index
Sg of Sgs 2:8-14
Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.
This afternoon, I was listening to the song ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ and I found that it was such a love-filled song. This song played in my mind as I was reflecting on today’s readings.
Let us imagine God looking at us, giving us that tender gaze, looking at us with eyes filled with so much love. And when we show our faces to him, the moment feels like it could last forever.
Brothers and sisters, for today, I would just like to invite all of you to spend about 10 to 15 minutes letting God take a long, loving look at us – at our faces, our smiles, our sorrows, our struggles, our laughter, our tears. Let’s just spend time in the loving gaze of our Lord and know that he finds us beautiful and irresistible.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord, help me delight in your gaze always.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for always finding me beautiful. And for always loving me.