Sunday, October 23, 2016

Our Lady’s Power at the Time of Death

In her City of God, Venerable Maria of Agreda, a XVII Century Conceptionist nun and mystic, to whom the Blessed Mother dictated her life, writes of a marvelous event in the early Christian Church.
After the first Pentecost, one of the five thousand first converts was a girl called Lillian. One day she fell gravely ill, and the devil, capitalizing on her bodily weakness, and the fact that she had given in to a few sins, took the form of a woman, and paid her sick-calls.
Little by little, by slandering the disciples of Jesus and the Christian community, the fiend introduced doubts in Lillian’s mind about her new-found Faith. At first the sick girl resisted, speaking of the peace and kindness of the beautiful lady who was Jesus’ Mother. But the devil assured Lillian that she was the worst of all. In the end, Lillian gave up her Faith.
One of the disciples of Jesus on visiting and finding Lillian’s attitude changed, tried to win the girl back to Christ, but to no avail. Deeply concerned, he informed the Apostle John.
St. John immediately visited the young woman and was able to see legions of devils surrounding her sick bed. Though the devils recoiled at his sight, so deceived was the girl, that he could not make a difference.
He then had recourse to the Blessed Mother, who, at the time was living in Jerusalem. On hearing of the case, Mary Most Holy implored her divine Son for the welfare and salvation of this young strayed lamb. She then made ready to visit the girl with St. John.
Just then, several angels appeared, and gallantly ushering Holy Mary onto a throne of clouds, carried her to Lillian’s side.
As soon as the great lady set foot on the threshold of the sufferer’s door, the demons infesting the room took chaotic flight, tripping over each other in their haste, and seeking refuge in the depths of Hell.
With the air cleared, Holy Mary sat by the dying girl, and with gentle words sweetly brought her back into her Son’s fold. Lillian wept tears of repentance and asked for the last Sacraments, which St. John administered. Thus, with her Mother holding her hand, Lillian expired.
As if not enough, Our Lady, with her prayers, made up for the girl’s time in Purgatory, and summoning one of her angels, bid him deliver the purified soul to heaven.
So, when saying the Hail Mary, may we stress: “…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
By A.F. Phillips

What things God prepared for them that love Him

The eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man,
what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.

St. Paul, I Cor. 2:9

St. John of Capistrano

Born in the Kingdom of Naples in 1386, John of Capistrano was a most talented youth. He studied law in Perugia, was appointed governor of the city in 1412 and married the daughter of a wealthy citizen.

Imprisoned during hostilities between Perugia and the Malatesta, he had a vision of St. Francis of Assisi inviting him to join his order and resolved to dedicate his life entirely to God. His marriage not being consummated, John obtained a dispensation and joined the Franciscans in Perugia. He was ordained a priest in 1420, and made extraordinary progress in his theological studies, while leading a life of extreme austerity. His master was St. Bernardine of Siena for whom he bore a deep veneration and affection.

Gifted with oratory, he preached extensively throughout the length and breadth of Italy attracting huge crowds wherever he went. He also helped St. Bernardine of Siena with reforms needed within the Franciscan Order. He was especially interested in helping the Franciscan nuns of St. Colette and with the Third Order Franciscans.

Frequently employed as ambassador by the Holy See, his missions on behalf of the Pope took him all over Europe. As Apostolic Nuncio to Austria, he helped Emperor Frederick III in his fight against the Hussite heresy and was appointed Inquisitor. He wrote many books, mainly combating the heresies of his day.

When Constantinople fell to the Turks, John of Capistrano preached a crusade in Hungary. At the age of seventy he personally led a wing of the army in the battle of Belgrade. Both his prayer and example were vital factors in the lifting of the siege. The infection spread by the decomposing bodies left unburied around the city ultimately took his life within a couple of months. He died peacefully at Villach on October 23, 1456.

He was beatified in 1694 and canonized in 1724.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of a pious but self-willed lady who lived in Rome. She was so devout that she put many a religious to shame.
One day, hearing of the holiness of St. Dominic, great apostle of the Rosary, she decided to make her confession to him. For penance the saint told her to say a Rosary and advised her to make it’s recitation her daily practice.
“But, Father, “ she protested, “I already say so many prayers and practice so many exercises…I walk the Stations of Rome every day, I wear sack-cloth and a hair-shirt, I scourge myself several times a week, and often fast…”

St. Dominic insistently advised that she adopt the recitation of the Rosary, but she would not hear it. Moreover, she left the confessional horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who wanted to impose on her a devotion for which she had no taste.
One day, when she was saying her prayers, she was shown a vision. In this vision she saw her soul appear before the Supreme Judge. She also saw St. Michael holding the scale of her life. On one side he placed all her prayers and penances, and on the other all her sins and imperfections. Down went the scale on the side of sins and imperfections, outweighing all her good works.
Wide eyed, the good lady cried out for mercy, and turned to Our Lady imploring her help. Our Lady then gently set down on the tray of her good works the only Rosary she had ever said, which was the one St. Dominic had imposed on her as a penance.
This one Rosary was so heavy that it outweighed all her sins as well as good works.
Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her son Dominic and for refusing to adopt the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary.
When the lady came to, she rushed to St. Dominic and casting herself down at his feet, told him what had happened. She begged forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she grew in holiness, and finally attained the glory of eternal life.
Thus says St. Louis de Montfort, “You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.”

God could not give more

God in His omnipotence
could not give more,
in His wisdom
He knew not how to give more,
in His riches
He had not more to give,
than the Eucharist.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Philip of Heraclea and Companions

Philip, the bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, became a martyr of Christ during the persecution of Diocletian. He was a diligent, courageous shepherd who confirmed the faith of his people, and when induced to flee the persecution, chose to remain.

Severus and Hermes were a priest and deacon who endured tribulation, prison and martyrdom with him. At first, Bassus, the governor, ordered the door of the church sealed, to which Philip retorted: “Do you imagine that God dwells within walls, and not rather in the hearts of men?” and continued to hold assembly outside. Finally the sacred vessels and books were confiscated, the sacred books burned publicly, and the roof of the church incinerated.

Under torture, Philip was invincible. Pointing to a large statue of Hercules, Bassus bid him to only touch it, but the martyr refused saying that graven images had value only to stone-carvers but were helpless to worshipers. Then the deacon Hermes was asked if he would offer sacrifice, he refused.

Bassus’ term as governor being up, another, Justin, a ruthless man, stepped in.

Under Justin, Philip was beaten till his flesh was pulp.

Imprisoned with Hermes and another, the priest Severus, Philip faced martyrdom alongside Hermes by fire. Buried up to their knees, the martyrs were burned. But when the flames died and the smoke cleared, although the martyrs were dead, their bodies were found whole. Justin ordered the bodies to be thrown into the river, but pious citizens fished them out with nets and gave them proper burial.

In prison, the priest Severus rejoicing on hearing of their victory,  begged God to think him not unworthy of following in the footsteps of his bishop and Hermes, and suffered martyrdom the next day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Largest Bouquet Ever!

By Antonio Fragelli

Fatima, Portugal – On October 12, 2016, more than 25,000 red and white roses were offered to Our Lady of Fatima. Fatima being a center of pilgrimage, such an amount of roses attracted many a pilgrim to inquire the reason for such an enormous offering.
America Needs Fatima held its 10th year of Public Square Rosary Rallies in the United States and for every Rally Captain who committed to holding a Public Square Rosary Rally we delivered ONE RED ROSE in his or her name. We also offered a WHITE ROSE for every devotee of Our Blessed Mother who chose to sponsor a Rosary Rally by giving a donation to help make this enormous effort possible.
As the day approached for the offering, the weather forecast was the worst possible. In Portuguese the expression used by was, “aguaceiro e trovoadas” which can be translated into “pouring rain and thunder.” The odd thing was that all the other days of the week had been beautiful, sunny days.
We had lots of praying to do, beseeching our good Mother to push the clouds away. And she didn’t let us down! As the time came for the delivery, 2:00 p.m. on October 12th, the clouds moved away and even parts of the sky became blue. The sun became as warm as her smile and we were able to make the offering of a massive bouquet of roses to Our Lady and remain as dry as the pilgrims were after the Miracle of the Sun.

As we carried the massive vases in one by one, I had time to reflect on what this offering meant in today’s world. In the very spot where I stood Our Mother came to deliver a heavenly message of warning and salvation for our times. And here I was, 99 years later delivering more than 25,000 roses in thanksgiving to that same Mother. These roses I carried represented thousands of children of Mary who gathered throughout America to publicly and proudly pray the Rosary for America – just as Our Lady had asked of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco nearly a century ago.
The beautiful roses basking in the Portuguese sun stood in sharp contrast to a world deep in moral trouble, a world that seems to move more and more away from God and His Divine law. It can only be by the grace of God that in such a sinful world, here at Fatima a huge act of love and devotion to Jesus and Mary could take place today.
Together with the rose offering our hopes and prayers went up to the Queen of Heaven beseeching her to hasten the fulfillment of her promise that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”