Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November 3rd Memorial of St. Martin de Porres

November 3rd Memorial of St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579. His father was a Spanish knight and his mother was a free black woman from Panama. Martin’s parents never married and Martin and his mother were left to take care of themselves. Martin was exceptionally generous to the poor. In fact, his mother thought he was “too generous”. She would send him to the market to buy things for them and Martin would give the money to the poor. His mother punished him for this, but he took it without complaint.

When he was eight years old his father returned to Lima and saw that he went to school. He had just two years in school. He also an apprentice to a barber in Lima. At that time barbers also served as surgeons. He gave medicine and other gifts to the poor and began to become known for miraculous healings. At the age of fifteen he answered the call to a higher state in life and became tertiary helper of the Dominican Convent of the Holy Rosary.

He became a model of humility, hard work, prayer and penance. St. Martin had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist and would often spend hours in prayer before Jesus present in the tabernacle. He began to become more widely known for his charity to the poor and the sick. St. Martin begged more than the equivalent of $2000 per week to feed more than 200 people every day to the least of God’s people. He helped people who were discriminated against including Indians, Blacks, the sick and the dying.

St. Martin was known to have performed great miracles including bi-location. He mysteriously aided Christian captives in Africa. He was also seen ministering to sick and the poor in Mexico, China and Japan, all the while remained in Peru. St. martin also had the ability to forsee the future.

He erected an orphanage to take care of poor and abandoned children. Like St. Francis, St. Martin also had a great love for animals. He set up a shelter for stray dogs and cats and nursed them back to health.

He died at the age of 60 on November 3, 1639. At his death there was a great outpouring of grief in Lima and the surrounding countryside. Miracles took place at his tomb.

St. Martin was beatified in the year 1837. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII who named him the patron of interracial justice.

St. Martin reminds us that there is no such thing as an unimportant person. He saw the image and likeness of God in each and every human being and treated them with dignity and respect. We ask him to pray for us to do the same; to help us to always be mindful of the poor and to work for the defense of each and every human life, no matter what stage or condition from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

The following is from a homily by Pope John XXIII on the canonization of St. Martin de Porres

The example of Martin's life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and second, by loving your neighbor as yourself."

When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus "suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in Communion as often as he could.

Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers and with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men and because he honestly looked on them as God's children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself, and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offenses. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing and medicine. He did all he could to care for poor farmhands, blacks, and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him, "Martin the charitable."

He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin of Charity.'

It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, not do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ's footsteps and to obey God's commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.

For more information see http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintm02.htm

See also "St. Martin de Porres Father of the Poor" by Theo Stearns T.O.P. available from New Hope Publications (270)325-3061.

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2 comments:

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