Thursday, July 17th, 2008
Today the Dominican Order celebrates the feast of Blessed Ceslaus of Poland, who knew St. Dominic and entered the Order of Preachers under his direction. Together with his brother, St. Hyacinth, Ceslaus helped to found the Order in Eastern Europe.
From the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia:
Born at Kamien in Silesia, Poland (now Prussia), about 1184; died at Breslau about 1242. He was of the noble family of Odrowatz and a relative, probably a brother, of St. Hyacinth. Having studied philosophy at Prague, he pursued his theological and juridical studies at the University of Bologna, after which he returned to Cracow, where he held the office of canon and custodian of the church of Sandomir. About 1218 he accompanied his uncle Ivo, Bishop of Cracow, to Rome. Hearing of the great sanctity of St. Dominic, who had recently raised to life the nephew of Cardinal Orsini, Ceslaus, together with St Hyacinth, sought admission into the Order of Friars Preachers. They received the religious habit from the hands of St. Dominic in the convent of Sabina. Their novitiate completed, St. Dominic sent the two young religious back as missionaries to their own country. Establishing a monastery at Friesach in Austria, they proceeded to Cracow whence Ceslaus was sent by St. Hyacinth to Prague, the metropolis of Bohemia.
Labouring with much fruit throughout the Diocese of Prague, Ceslaus went to Breslau, where he founded a large monastery, and then extended his apostolic labours over a vast territory, embracing Bohemia, Poland, Pomerania, and Saxony. Sometime after the death of St. Hyacinth he was chosen provincial of Poland. Whilst he was superior of the convent of Breslau all Poland was threatened by the Tatars. The city of Breslau being besieged, the people sought the aid of St. Ceslaus, who by his prayers miraculously averted the impending calamity. Four persons are said to have been raised to life by him. Having always been venerated as a saint, his cult was finally confirmed by Clement XI in 1713. His feast is celebrated throughout the Dominican order on 16 July.
Loving God, you gave Blessed Ceslaus a burning zeal for the salvation of souls, and filled him with wondrous grace to preach the gospel. May we be true to his example, and so be able to spread the faith by our preaching and by the way we live.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Earlier this week, ESPN and USA Today carried the story of a Major League Soccer player who is retiring from the game to enter the seminary. His name is Chase Hilgenbrinck, and he played for the New England Revolution. In the articles, Chase describes his Catholic upbringing and the movement he made from childhood belief to adult faith. For Chase, playing soccer in Chile caused him to make the faith his own.
“I fell back on what I knew, and that was the Catholic Church,” he said. “I grew up as a Catholic. I was always involved in the church, went to Catholic schools. It was when I got out on my own that my faith really became mine. I really embraced it. I didn’t have to go to church any more, I was free to really believe what I wanted to believe.
“I looked to strengthen my personal relationship with Christ. And when my personal life started to flourish, I couldn’t turn my back on that relationship.”