Today the Church celebrates the feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. Blessed Francis was a Redemptorist priest sent from Germany to care for the German speaking Catholic immigrants in the United States. Interestingly he was assigned to Saint Philomena Parish, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, where he worked for almost three years as the assistant to the pastor, Saint John Neumann! Blessed Francis lived and worked at St. Philomena Parish for nearly 9 years – truly a patron saint for Pittsburgh! He was then sent around the country as a missionary and preacher, confessor and spiritual director. A piece of trivia about Blessed Francis is his meeting with President Abraham Lincoln in which he persuaded the president to exempt priests and clergy from serving as soldiers in the Civil Way due to their holy vows; they would not be there to fight but to provide for the spiritual welfare of the soldiers as military chaplains. He contracted yellow fever in New Orleans and died at the age of 48. St. Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos on April 9, 2000. The holiness of this saint is seen in his joyful and cheerful performance of his daily duties, bearing all crosses and sufferings with patience, and yearning to bring Christ and the Gospel to everyone around him. He teaches us that true holiness is possible to all people in every walk of life if we seek to serve God and neighbor from a full and devoted heart. I share with you the 10 practical guides to holiness taught by Blessed Francis: (1) Go to Mass with deepest devotion; (2) Spend a half hour to reflect upon your main failing and make a resolution to avoid it; (3) Do spiritual reading for at least 15 minutes each day; (4) pray the rosary daily; (5) Visit the Blessed Sacrament daily if possible and if not meditate on the Passion of Christ each evening; (6) conclude each day with an examination of conscience; (7) go to confession once a month; (8) choose a special patron every month and select one virtue of that saint to imitate during that month; (9) begin and end every activity with a Hail Mary; (10) be joyful in your duties each day. Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos pray for us!