Acta Sanctorum: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (April 24)
April 24, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
April 24
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
As a lawyer, St. Fidelis gave special attention to the plight of the oppressed—in fact, he became known as The Poor Man’s Lawyer.  He was born as Mark Rey in Germany in 1577. The more he practiced law, however, the more disenchanted and disgusted he became with the lengths to which his colleagues would go in order to win a case. He decided to leave his life as a lawyer and dedicate his life to God in a religious community.  His brother was a Capuchin Franciscan, so he joined that order, took the name Fidelis, and was ordained a priest. He was zealous in his practice and proclamation of the faith, and once declared, “Woe to me if I should prove myself but a half-hearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned captain!”  He was sent to minister in several different regions of Germany, where he reformed whole cities with his preaching. He also cared for the sick, especially during a severe outbreak of disease. Because of his effectiveness, he was chosen to head a party of Capuchins to go to Switzerland to convert people back to the Catholic faith there.   His preaching was enhanced by his own witness and the hours he would spend in prayer, and many people were inspired by his example. Opponents threatened his life, and tried to rouse people against him by claiming that he was a spy.   One night, his adversaries even shot at him when he was in the pulpit, and tried to storm the church. Friends offered to shelter him, but he declared that his life was in God’s hands, and while he was walking on the road home, he was attacked by a mob of armed men. He asked God to forgive the attackers as they killed him.
Scripture. Colossians 1:24-29
Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God's stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is him whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me. 
(Year B) By imitating the same spiritual virtues that the Gospel preaches, which are the things that we know that the Lord observed and demonstrated by his deeds on earth and which he left as an example for us, this lays down that it is fitting for anyone who wants to enter into the observance of the Gospel virtues to become like Christ in obedience, poverty and chastity and that he become a lesser brother to Christ, as Christ was himself when he bore all our iniquities. Through his obedience let us observe the precepts and counsels and thus become his sons.
Francis bears witness to this by saying; “Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, sister and mother.” Thus the voice of Francis which invites us to eternal salvation by observing the Gospel implies nothing short of changing carnal men into spiritual men, earthly into heavenly, those who are proud to becoming humble, and turning men into gods and raising them from death to life, from darkness to light, as the Psalm says: This is the change of the right hand of the most High; and speaking to truly evangelical men says: You indeed are the body of Christ, member for member, be zealous for the better gifts; and at one in spirit with Francis Paul says; “You are the body of Christ and members of its head; search with the fervour of its love and devotion for a higher gift of God rather than living only by human reason and the plain wisdom of the letter: that is seek the Holy Spirit and his love.”
To advertise all the good that is in the practice of the main virtues of the Gospel, like the town crier, Francis proclaims: “let the brothers live in obedience, poverty and chastity”. No one can possess these things without being like Christ. Because of this he was the original one to profess and observe this trilogy and to demonstrate by word and example once and for all that these three were the substance and perfection of his Gospel; and thus so that after his passing no one need have doubts or enquire whether Gospel perfection consisted in something else he quoted the words of the Gospel: everything that I heard from my Father I have made known to you as if to say (quasi dicat): “As you can see, everything that I heard from my Father concerning obedience, poverty and chastity is contained in this brief treatment”. However in saying this he was speaking as a man, since, as God, he had no need to say this. Had he explained or demonstrated the whole of divine wisdom we would not have been able to comprehend it. (“Gospel Love Concerning the Rule of Saint Francis; Anonymous Capuchin source)
Musical Selection
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see his banners go! 
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. 
At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise. 
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in Hope and Baptism, Faith and Charity. 
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but the church of Jesus constant will remain. Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail; we have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail. 
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng, blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King, this through countless ages men and angels sing.
Lord our God,
you enkindled the fire of your love
in the heart of Saint Fidelis
and you crowned his preaching of the faith
with the palm of martyrdom;
grant through his prayers
that, being rooted and grounded in love,
we too may know the power of Christ’s resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)