St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor
Today is the optional memorial of St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor.
Peter Canisius was born in Holland on May 8, 1521. Peter was a brilliant, but humble, young man, who studied at Cologne and received his license as doctor of civil law; he then went to Louvain (Belgium) to learn canon law. After he attended a retreat given by Blessed Peter Faber, the first disciple of St. Ignatius, he decided to become a Jesuit. On the day of his final vows, as he knelt in St. Peter’s, Our Lord showed him a vision of His Sacred Heart. From that time forward, he never failed to make an offering of all his work to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sent to Germany, he worked strenuously for many years by his writings and teachings to confirm the Catholic faith. Of his numerous books, the Catechism is most renowned. It remains a monument of the triumph of the Church over error in the time of Luther.
A man of great energy, he taught in several universities, founded 18 colleges, and authored 37 books; his catechisms went through 200 printings in his lifetime and were translated into 12 languages. St. Peter was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation in Germany and is referred to as the second apostle to Germany next to St. Boniface.
Peter died in Switzerland in 1597. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925, and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of the Catholic press.
Quotes of St. Peter
“If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all.”
“Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.”
“It was as if you opened to me the heart in your most sacred body. I seemed to see it directly before my eyes. You told me to drink from this fountain, inviting me, that is, to draw the waters of my salvation from your wellsprings, my Savior. I was most eager that streams of faith, hope, and love should flow into me from that source. I was thirsting for poverty, chastity, obedience. I asked to be made wholly clean by you, to be clothed by you, to be made resplendent by you.
“So, after daring to approach your most loving heart, and to plunge my thirst into it, I received a promise from you of a garment made of three parts: these were to cover my soul in its nakedness, and to belong especially to my religious profession. They were peace, love, and perseverance. Protected by this garment of salvation, I was confident that I would lack nothing but all would succeed and give you glory.”
A prayer of St. Peter Canisius
I commend to you, Lord Jesus, the whole Society of Jesus: our superiors and our subjects, our old and our young, our sound and our sick, our ministries of body and soul may we be rightly governed to the glory of your name and to the upbuilding of your Church.
Through you may we grow in our numbers and in our service. May we know our vocation thoroughly, and knowing it love it; and thus may all in the Society serve your majesty worthily and faithfully; cling to the commands and the counsels of the Gospel; and, united in the love of brothers, feel your blessings on our provinces, our schools, our missions, and all our ministries.
May we be sober, simple, prudent, peaceable, and studious of solid virtue: may our lives conform to the Name we bear and our deeds reflect to the vows we profess.
We commend to you all the brothers who share our life in the Society and all our companions and partners who share our heritage and our vision. With the Father and the Holy Spirit, we praise you forever. Amen.