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20130211 Saints built up the Church 聖賢建設教會

The Great Western Schism (1378-1417) and the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) caused hardships and disorder for both the fourteen and the fifteen centuries. Despite the decline of the Middle Ages, the Church still saw holiness in many of her member in the fifteen century.

Powerful preachers

The fifteen century was blessed with the presence of miracles-working preachers. St. Vincent Ferrer (1357-1419) was a Dominican of Valencia. He is the patron saint for builders, for he “built up” and strengthened the Church through his preaching.

St. Vincent is called the “Angel of the Judgment”, who preached the four last things to the people. He preached in the town and villages of Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Ireland and Scotland. He had the gift of miracles and brought large number of Jews and Moors to the Catholic Faith.

St. Vincent always prepared his preaching by prayer. Once, however, when a nobleman came to hear his sermon, St. Vincent carefully prepared the sermon by study but neglected prayer. The sermon didn’t touch the heart of the nobleman. The nobleman came a second time to hear St. Vincent, without informing him. The second sermon made a deep impression on his soul. When St. Vincent heard of the difference, he remarked that in the first sermon it was Vincent who had preached, but in the second, Jesus Christ.

The Church at the time was divided by the Great Western Schism, but St. Vincent was honorably welcomed in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy. The saint lived to see the end of the schism in 1417 at the election of Pope Martin V. St. Vincent died on April 5, 1419.

In 1408, St. Vincent suddenly interrupted his sermon to declare that there was among his hearers a young Franciscan who would one day be a greater preacher than himself. This unknown friar was St Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444).

During a plague, the twenty years old St. Bernardine tended the sick and the dying. Two years later, he became a Franciscan. As a preacher, his style was extremely simple, direct and colloquial. He preached on the Passion, repentance, virtues and vices.

St. Bernardine fostered devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He popularized the familiar “IHS”—Greek abbreviation for the name of Jesus.

St. Bernardine obtained miraculous conversions and reformed the greater part of Italy. He died on Ascension Eve, 1444.

St. John Capistran (1385-1456) and St. James of the Marches (1391-1476) studied theology under St. Bernardine. They both became popular preachers and miracles workers.

Great mystics

A number of great mystics and the spiritual classic, Imitation of Christ, were from the fifteen century.
In response to the command of St. Francis in a vision, St. Colette (1381-1447) reformed the Poor Clares and observed the Primitive Rule with absolute poverty.

St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), obeying the voices and visions from heaven, led a French army and turned the tide of the Hundred Years War. She was unjustly condemned as a heretic, and died at the stake pronouncing the name of Jesus. The Church vindicated her memory and canonized her in 1920.

St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507) founded the Minims order. The Minim’s life is a perpetual lent with no meat, fish, eggs or milk. Francis was known for his ascetic life and miracles.

St. Nicholas of Flue (1417-1497) was a father of a big family. He became a hermit at fifty and lived the last nineteen years of his life without food except Holy Communion. St. Nicholas helped bring about the inclusion of Fribourg and Soleure in the Swiss Confederation in 1481, thus preventing a potentially bloody civil war.


西方教會的大分裂(1378-1417) 和歐洲的百年戰爭(1337-1453),帶給十四及十五世紀的教會,十分困難和紛亂的時刻;儘管中世紀時也經歷過內部腐敗,教會在十五世紀,仍出現很多賢人,聖德昭彰。

強力的宣道

十五世紀,教會擁有不少曾行聖蹟的宣道者。聖文生.斐瑞(1357-1419)是西班牙法連西亞的道明會會士,他那舌燦蓮花的講道,引導了很多人皈化,建樹了教會,故此,教會立他為建築行業的主保聖人。

聖文生平日最愛宣講「萬民四末」,有稱他是「報導審判的天使」。他週遊西班牙、瑞士、英國、愛爾蘭和蘇格蘭的城鄉,講道並行聖蹟,促使大批猶太人及摩爾人皈化聖教真理。

聖人習慣以祈禱來準備講道。不過有一次,有一位貴族聽者來聽道,聖文生雖精心準備了講道的內容,卻忽略了講道前祈禱,他的道理未有打動那貴族的心;第二次聖人講道前祈了禱,該貴族在沒有事先通知下來聽道,並被道理所深受感動,事後有人向聖人反映,聖人恍然頓悟,向他解釋說:「前次講道是文生本人的講道,後者是耶穌基督親自的宣講。」

當是正值西方教會大分裂,但聖文生無論足跡所到,均受歡迎。聖人有幸目睹分裂在1417年,教宗瑪定五世當選後結束,而他在公元1419年四月五日逝世。

聖文生於1408年一次講道時,突然稱在聽眾間會有一位比他更出色的方濟會年輕講道者,果然,這人就是後來的聖伯爾納定(1380-1444)。

聖伯爾納定出生於意大利栖亞那的貴族家庭。栖亞那疫病猖獗時,年僅二十的聖伯爾納定,四週照顧病者和臨終的人。兩年後,他成了方濟會會士,向人宣道。他以簡單直接的言詞,宣述基督的苦難、鼓勵眾人多做補贖、頌德嫉惡。

聖伯爾納定特別恭敬耶穌聖名,使耶穌聖名廣受尊崇;他的講道,使意大利廣原的人皈化。1444年耶穌升天節日前夕,聖人病逝。

聖若望.嘉庇當(1385-1456)和聖雅各伯.馬奇(1391-1476),同是聖伯爾納鐸的門生,兩人都是極受歡迎的講道者,亦曾行聖蹟。

偉大的潛修者

十五世紀期間,有多位的偉大修行者和神修典範。著名的『師主篇』也是當時的產品。

聖女高萊德(1381-1447)在神視中見到聖五傷方濟各,遵從會祖的吩咐,著手改革嘉辣女修會,雷勵奉行絕對神貧的原始會規。

聖女貞德(1412-1431) 聽從神視和天上的聲音,帶領法國軍隊加入戰團,將百年戰爭引到一個轉捩點。可惜後來被誣蔑為異端邪說,被火燒死,死時仍在呼喚著耶穌聖名。教會後來給她平反,1920年立為聖品。

聖方濟各.保拉(1416-1507) 是「最小兄弟會」會祖,修會會士長期守嚴齋,不但戒吃肉,連魚、雞蛋和牛奶也不吃。聖人因祂的清苦生活和行聖蹟,而廣為人知。

聖尼閣. 伏物洛(1417-1497) 是一個大家庭的父親,五十歲時在家人同意下隱修,在他死前的十九年隱修生活中,只恭領聖體而點食不進。

1481年,瑞士各邦行政管理問題,無法獲致協議,大家就派人向尼各請示。聖人提出書面意見,托使者帶回,結果拖延了數月的一場事端,一小時內順利解決,避免了血腥內戰。