May 17, 2019: ST. PASCHAL BAYLON
May 17, 2019: ST. PASCHAL BAYLON, CONFESSOR
Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he shall come and knock at the gate, shall find watching.
The Lord loved him and hath adorned him. He hath clothed him with a robe of glory.
O God, who hast adorned blessed Paschal, thy Confessor, with a wonderful love, towards the sacred mysteries of thy body and blood; mercifully grant that the spiritual nourishment he received from this heavenly banquet, we also may be found worthy to participate. Who livest and reignest, God, World without end. Amen.
The Seraph of Assisi was sure to depute some of his children to pay their court to his Risen Master. The one he sends to-day, is the humblest and most unknown of men; another will follow, three days hence, powerful in word and work, and holding a palm in his hands, as a most devoted preacher of the Gospel. Paschal BayIon was a simple peasant. He was a shepherd-boy; and it was in tending his flock, that he found the Lord Jesus. He had a great love for contemplation. Forests and fields spoke to him of their great Creator; and, in order that he might be the more closely united with him, he resolved to seek him in the highest paths of perfection. He was ambitious to imitate the humble, poor and suffering Life of the Man-God; the Franciscan Cloister offered him all this, and he flew to it. On that blessed soil, he grew to be one of heaven's choicest plants, and the whole earth has now heard the name of the humble Lay-Brother of a little convent in Spain. Holy Church brings him before us to-day, and shows him enraptured in the contemplation of his Jesus' Resurrection. He had trod the path of humiliation and the cross; it was but just, that he should share in his Master's Triumph. It was of him, and of such as he, that this Divine Saviour spoke, when he said: Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations; and I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a Kingdom; that ye may eat and drink at my table, in my Kingdom, and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (St. Luke, xxii. 28, 29, 30).
The account given by the Liturgy of the angelic life of this illustrious son of St. Francis, is as follows.
Paschal Baylon was born of poor and pious parents, at Torre-Hermosa, a small town of the Diocese of Seguenza, in Aragon. Even from his infancy, he gave many signs of future sanctity. Being endowed with a good disposition, and having a great love for the contemplation of heavenly things, he passed the years of boyhood and youth in tending flocks. He loved this kind of life more than any other, because it seemed to him best for fostering humility and preserving innocence. He was temperate in his food, and assiduous in prayer. He had such influence over his acquaintance and companions, and was so dear to them, that he used to settle their disputes, correct their faults, instruct their ignorance, and keep them out of idleness. He was honoured and loved by them as their father and master; and even then, was often called the Blessed Paschal.
Thus did this flower of the valley bloom in the world,—that desert and parched land but once planted in the house of the Lord, he shed, everywhere around him, a wondrous odour of sanctity. Having embraced the severest sort of life, by entering the Order of the Discalced Friars Minor of strict observance, Paschal rejoiced as a giant to run his way. Devoting himself wholly to the service of his God, his one thought, both day and night, was how he could further imitate his Divine Master. His brethren, even they that were most advanced, soon began to look upon him as a model of seraphic perfection. As for him, he put himself in the grade of the Lay-Brothers. Looking on himself as the offscouring of all, he, with humility and patience, cheerfully took on himself the most tiring and menial work of the house, which work he used to say belonged to him by a special right. He mortified and brought into subjection his flesh, which, at times, would strive to rebel against the spirit. As to his spirit, he, by assiduous self-denial, maintained its fervour, and daily stretched himself forward to the things that were more perfect.
He had consecrated himself, from his earliest years, to the Blessed Virgin; he honoured her, as his Mother, by daily devotions, and prayed to her with filial confidence. It would be difficult to describe the ardour of his devotion to the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Even after his death, this devotion seemed to linger in his body; for when laid in his coffin, his eyes were seen to open and shut twice during the elevation of the sacred Host, to the astonishment of all that were present. He publicly and openly professed before heretics his faith in the dogma of the Real Presence, and had much to suffer on that account. His very life was frequently attempted; but, by a special providence of God, he was rescued from the hands of the wicked men who sought to kill him. Frequently, when at prayer, he was in ecstasy, and swooned away with the sweetness of love. It was on these occasions that he was supposed to receive that heavenly wisdom, whereby he, though uneducated and illiterate, was enabled to give answers upon the profoundest mysteries of Faith, and even write several books. Finally, being rich in merit, he happily took his flight to heaven, at the hour which he had foretold, in the year of our Lord 1592, on the sixteenth of the Calends of June (May 17), and on the Feast of Pentecost, (the same on which he was born,) being in his fifty-second year. These and other virtues having procured him great reputation, and being celebrated for miracles both before and after his death, he was beatified by Pope Paul the Fifth, and canonised by Alexander the Eighth.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871;
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Paschal Baylon, pray for us.