Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rosary & True Beauty

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life.
Catherine was a young woman possessing great beauty. So much so, that she was known to those in Rome where she made her home as “Catherine the Beautiful.” Sadly, Catherine’s beauty went only skin deep, and she led a very sinful life.
One afternoon, strolling the streets of Rome, Catherine heard the voice of St. Dominic. This was the early 13th century and it was not unusual to cross paths with this great man of God.
On this particular day, he was preaching on the devotion to the Mother of God and the importance of praying her most holy Rosary. Caught up in the moment, Catherine had her name inscribed in the book of the confraternity and began to recite the Rosary. Though praying the Rosary gave her a sense of calmness she had not known before, Catherine did not abandon her sinful ways.
One evening, a youth, apparently a nobleman, came to her house. Catherine invited the handsome young man to stay to dine with her. When they were at supper, she saw drops of blood falling from his hands while he was breaking a piece of bread. Moments later, she observed, much to her discomfort, that all the food he took was tinged with blood.
Gathering up some courage to appease her curiosity, she asked him what that blood meant. With a firm but gentle look in his eyes, the youth replied that a Christian should take no food that was not tinged with the blood of Jesus Christ and sweetly seasoned with the memory of His passion.
Amazed at this reply, Catherine asked him who he was. "Soon," he answered, "I will show you." The rest of their meal passed uneventfully, yet always the drops of red catching Catherine’s eye, causing her to wonder about this man she supped with.
After dinner, when they had withdrawn into another room, the appearance of the youth changed. To Catherine’s stunned gaze, he showed himself crowned with thorns, his flesh torn and bleeding.
With the same firm but gentle gaze he said to her: “Do you wish to know who I am? Do you not know me? I am your Redeemer. Catherine, when will you cease to offend me? See how much I have suffered for you. You have grieved me enough, change your life."
Catherine began to weep bitterly, and Jesus, encouraging her, said: "Now begin to love me as much as you have offended me; and know that you have received this grace from me, on account of the Rosary you have been accustomed to recite in honor of my mother." And then he disappeared.
Catherine went in the morning to make her confession to St. Dominic, whose preaching on the Rosary had brought so marvelous a grace into her life. Giving to the poor all she possessed, from that day forward Catherine led so holy and joyful a life that she attained to great perfection.
It could now be said of her among the inhabitants of Rome that Catherine was indeed beautiful, but her beauty was no longer skin deep; her loveliness radiated from the depths of her soul.
The Most Holy Virgin often appeared to her; and Jesus himself revealed to St. Dominic, that this penitent had become very dear to him.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

As my sufferings increase...

O loving Jesus,
increase my patience
according as my sufferings increase.

St. Rita of Cascia

St. Rita of Cascia

Rita was born in Roccaborena, Italy in 1381 to aged parents who were known for their charity, and who fervently thanked God for the gift of a daughter so late in life.

Extraordinarily pious from an early age, Rita set her heart on entering the Augustinian convent in Cascia, but her parents had plans for her to marry the town’s watchman, Paolo Mancini, and she submitted to their desires in the matter.

Her husband proved to have an explosive temper, and became abusive, but Rita bore with his ill-treatment patiently for eighteen years bearing him two sons, who fell under their father’s pernicious influence.

She wept and prayed for her husband and children unceasingly. Finally won over by her virtue, Paolo had a change of heart and asked her forgiveness. Soon after, involved in a local feud, he was ambushed and brought home dead. His two young sons vowed to avenge their father’s slaying, which was a new source of affliction for Rita, who begged God to take them before they committed murder. The Lord heard the saint’s heroic plea and her sons contracted a disease from which both died, not before being reconciled to their mother and to their God.

Free from all earthly cares, Rita turned to the Augustinians seeking admittance only to be told that she could not be accepted on reason of having been married. Rita prayed and persisted and it is said that one morning she was found inside the walls of the convent though none knew how, the doors having been locked all night. She was received then at age thirty-six.

In religious life she was a model of virtue, prayer and mortification. One day, after hearing a sermon on Our Lord's crown of thorns, she felt as if one of the thorns was being pressed to her forehead. On the spot, an open wound developed, and the stench it emitted became so offensive that she had to be secluded. She bore this wound until her death.

Rita died on May 22, 1457 and her body has remained incorrupt to this day.

So many miracles were reported after her death, that, in Spain, she became known as “la santa del impossible”, the saint of impossible cases, a title that spread throughout the Catholic world.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pray without ceasing

We must pray without ceasing,
in every occurrence and employment of our lives – that prayer
which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God
as in a constant communication with Him.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

Christopher Magallanes was born in 1869 in the province of Guadalajara, Mexico, of devout parents who were poor farmers. As a youth, he worked as a shepherd, but felt called to be a shepherd of souls. He entered the seminary at nineteen and was ordained at the age of thirty.
He worked as a parish priest in his hometown of Totatiche for two decades, and there also opened a carpentry business to help provide jobs for the local men.
When, in the first decades of the twentieth century, the atheistic Mexican government launched a merciless persecution of the Catholic Church, a new constitution banned the training of priests.
In 1915, Fr. Christopher opened his own small seminary in Totatiche where he soon had a dozen students.
Consequently accused of trying to incite rebellion, Fr. Christopher was arrested on his way to say Mass, imprisoned and condemned to be shot without trial.
His few possessions he gave away to his jailer and he was executed on May 21, 1927 with another twenty-one priests and three lay Catholics.
His last words were, “I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.”
He was canonized on May 21, 2000.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Every grace has 3 steps

Every grace granted to man
has three degrees in order:
by God it is communicated to Christ,
from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and
from the Virgin it descends to us.

St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Bernardine of Siena

Bernardine, “The Apostle of Italy,” was born on September 8, 1380 in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima. His father, a member of the noble Sienese family of Albizeschi, was governor of the region.

Because Bernardine was orphaned at an early age, two aunts raised him like their own son. His youth was blameless, pious and studious.

In the year 1400, the plague descended with a vengeance upon Siena. Twelve to twenty people were dying daily at the city’s largest hospital, which was soon bereft of caring personnel. The twenty-year-old Bernardine volunteered to take charge of the hospital with another ten companions whom he had convinced to lay down their lives for the sake of the countless stricken and dying.

Four grueling months later, several of his companions died, but Bernardine escaped contagion. Nevertheless, weakened by his tireless labor, he contracted a fever from which his health never fully recovered.

He went on to join the Franciscans and was ordained on September 8, 1404. About two years later, St. Vincent Ferrer, one of the greatest preachers of all time, while in Italy, foretold that his mantle would descend upon one listening to him, saying he would return to France and Spain leaving to another the task of evangelizing the people of Italy. Twelve years were to pass before this prediction was fulfilled, as Bernardine lived a life of retirement in the monastery.

In 1417 his fiery eloquence burst forth, inflaming the souls of the multitudes. He preached fearlessly in cities large and small rebuking evil in places high and low. After hearing him, penitents of all classes flocked in droves to the confessionals. His great devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus and as he preached, he would hold up a plaque with the initials "I.H.S." an acronym for the name of JESUS, and had people place the Holy Name over the gates of towns, and over the entrances of their houses and businesses. Pope Pius II who listened to Bernardine in his youth said that people listened to him as to another Apostle St. Paul. Tirelessly and on foot, he traversed the length and breath of Italy, launching a true moral reform.

In 1444, although ill, Bernardine traveled to the Kingdom of Naples to preach. Being too weak to walk, he was obliged to ride an ass. Nevertheless, worn out by his forty years of apostolate, he died lying on the bare ground on the eve of the Ascension, as his companion Friars chanted: Pater manifestavi nomen Tuum hominibus … Father I have manifested Thy Name to men.

After a funeral of unprecedented splendor, miracles multiplied and he was canonized in 1450.