Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hell or paradise, even in this world

In this life there is no purgatory;
it is either hell or paradise; for
to him who serves God truly,
every trouble and infirmity turns into consolations, and
through all kinds of trouble he has a paradise within himself
even in this world: and he who does not serve God truly, and
gives himself up to sensuality,
has one hell in this world, and another in the next.

St. Philip Neri

St. Monica

Monica was born in 332 in Tagaste, North Africa. Although her parents were Christians, they gave her in marriage to a local pagan official. A violent and immoral man, Monica's married life with Patricius was far from being a happy one, especially as her husband's mother, who lived with them, seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. His wife’s almsdeeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica’s persistent prayers and untiring sweetness finally won out and, in 370, both her husband and mother-in-law converted to Christianity.

Patricius died a year after being baptized, leaving Monica to raise their three children alone. Augustine, the eldest of the three, had fallen prey to the Manichean heresy (which professes that all flesh and matter is evil) while yet an adolescent and was living an immoral life. She banished Augustine from her home for some time, but welcomed him back after she had a vision in which she was assured that her firstborn son would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. She would beg the prayers of priests who often avoided her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. When Augustine secretly set sail for Rome, she followed him. When, upon her arrival in Rome she discovered that he had left for the northern city of Milan, she set out at once in pursuit of him.

For seventeen long years, the faithful mother continued undeterred in her prayers and fasting for the conversion of her son until finally, in 387, Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan. As if in confirmation that her earthly mission had been fulfilled, Monica died later that same year.
St. Monica with her son, St. Augustine 

Friday, August 26, 2016

In danger of losing your soul?

Fly from bad companions
as from the bite of a poisonous snake.
If you keep good companions, I can assure you that
you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven;
whereas if you keep with those who are bad,
you will become bad yourself, and
you will be in danger of losing your soul.

St. John Bosco

St. Elizabeth Bichier des Ages

Born at Le Blanc in France in 1773, Elizabeth was the daughter of Antoine Bichier, the Seigneur of Ages and a public official, and Marie Augier de Moussac, whose father was a politician. She spent much of her childhood at the convent at Poitiers.

In 1792, after the death of her father, Elizabeth took her mother to live in La Guimetière. Near their new home was a parish left in chaos because of the French Revolution, and Elizabeth dedicated herself to rebuilding the community. Every night she gathered the parishioners for prayers and hymns. Elizabeth soon became aware of a nearby parish in a similar situation: a priest, André-Hubert Fournet (who later became a saint), offered the Sacrifice of the Mass in a local barn. They quickly became friends, and together they reestablished religion in the area.

With Fr. André Fournet’s spiritual guidance and assistance, Elizabeth found her true vocation. In 1806, she established a religious congregation of women to care for the sick and aged, for the education of children and to offer reparation for the blasphemies and sacrileges committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament during the French Revolution. The congregation was officially recognized by the diocese in 1816 and named “Daughters of the Cross.”

In 1836, Elizabeth fell seriously ill. After ten days of intense suffering, she died on August 26. She was canonized in 1947. Before she died, she opened over sixty convents under the rule of the Daughters of the Cross.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Timely Response to Our Lady’s Request

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary, making a fifteen minute meditation and receiving Communion. Our Lady promised that she would “…assist them at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation.”   

The family, of good practicing Catholics, decided to take up the devotion. However, as it often happens when one sets out to do God’s will, all kinds of obstacles run into our path. On the Friday preceding the first Saturday they had a car accident. On the Saturday some were called to their jobs and some children fell ill. However, all still managed to fulfill Our Lady’s devotion requests, including the father.
Their resolution to do Our Lady’s request could not have been timelier. After completing the five month devotion, the father became extremely sick. Doctors found that he had cancer in an advanced stage and only had a few days to live.
The family asked their fellow parishioners for prayers and Masses in his intentions. Many family members began a round-the-clock vigil praying the rosary around his bed. For a whole week, those faithful prayer warriors continued to give him spiritual and psychological support with their generous vigil.
Through all the suffering, the completion of the 5 First Saturday devotion was a continuous source of consolation to the father and family. “I will see you in heaven,” he reassured his children. Shortly before his death a priest gave him last rites and he peaceably surrendered his soul to the Lord.


By Godofredo Santos

The great matter

It is easy to infuse
a most fervent devotion into others, even in a short time;
but the great matter is
– to persevere.

St. Philip Neri

St. Louis IX of France

In Louis IX of France were united the qualities of a just and upright sovereign, a fearless warrior, and a saint. This crusader king was a living embodiment of the medieval noble: he lived for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of God.

Born on April 25, 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, Louis never forgot the piety of his upbringing as it had been instilled in him by his mother, Queen Blanche of Castille. At his coronation in Rheims at the age of twelve, Louis asked of God courage, light, and strength to use his authority well, to uphold the divine honor, defend the Church, and serve the good of his people. In May, 1234 the young King married Marguerite, the eldest daughter of the Count of Provence, who bore him eleven children.

Louis did all he could to promote and inspire of a Christian culture. He gave encouragement and aid to the religious orders and often assisted in settling and housing them. Deeply religious, he loved to listen to sermons, heard two Masses daily, and often joined in singing the Divine Office. But, although he sought the company of the wise and experienced among the clergy and other ranks, he did not hesitate to oppose its members when they proved unworthy.

Ambitious to make France foremost among Christian nations, Louis was overjoyed at the opportunity to acquire the Crown of Thorns and other holy relics from the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. He sent two Dominican friars to bring these sacred objects to France, and, attended by an impressive entourage, he met them at Sens upon their return. To house the relics, he built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in existence.

After recovering from a violent fever in 1244, Louis announced his long-cherished intention of undertaking a crusade to the East and set out from Paris on his first crusade on June 12, 1248. However, plagued with trouble after a seemingly promising start, Louis himself, weakened by dysentery, was taken prisoner in April, 1250, and his army routed.
After six years in captivity, he was released and returned to France to resume his sovereign role. He was involved intimately in the lives of his people. He had a passion for justice, and changed the "King's court" of his ancestors into a popular court, where, seated in his palace or under a spreading oak in the forest of Vincennes, he listened to any of his subjects who came with grievances and gave to them wise and impartial judgments.

In 1267, Louis once more determined to go on another crusade. His people objected, fearing they would lose their excellent and revered ruler, who, though only fifty-two years old, was worn with toil, illness, and austerities. Louis was determined though, and set sail on July 1, 1270, heading for Tunis. The crusade was a dismal failure. Dysentery and other diseases broke out among the crusaders, and Louis soon contracted the disease to which he succumbed on August 15. His bones and heart were taken back to France and kept enshrined in the abbey-church of St. Denis, until they were scattered at the time of the French Revolution.

He was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.