Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to go to sleep more cheerful and pleased

Do not let any occasion of gaining merit
pass without taking care to draw some spiritual profit from it; as,
for example, from a sharp word which someone may say to you;
from an act of obedience imposed against your will;
from an opportunity which may occur to humble yourself,
or to practice charity, sweetness, and patience.
All of these occasions are gain for you, and you should seek to procure them; and
at the close of that day, when the greatest number of them have come to you,
you should go to rest most cheerful and pleased …

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. Of the noble family of Loyola, as a boy he was sent as a page to serve the treasurer of the kingdom. There, he had access to court and developed a taste for all its ways, including the ladies.

Intelligent, of a fiery temperament and handsome, Inigo, or Ignatius, harbored dreams of romance and worldly conquests. He was addicted to gambling, and wasn’t above sword play, once getting into serious trouble.

At age thirty we find him a soldier defending the fortress of Pamplona against the French. Hugely outnumbered, the Spanish commander wished to surrender but Ignatius egged him to fight on. As the fight continued, Ignatius’ leg was fractured by a canon shot. Honoring his courage, the French allowed him to be treated at his castle of Loyola rather than in prison.

After enduring an operation without anesthetics, it was found that there was a bone protruding from under his knee. The thought of not being able to wear the slimming leggings of the time was unendurable, so he had doctors saw off the bone – without anesthetics. Still, he always limped as one leg remained shorter than the other.

Convalescing, he asked for romance novels, but was given to read the only books in the castle: a life of Christ and lives of the saints. As he begrudgingly picked up the volumes, he began to notice that while his thoughts of romance and fantasy left him restless and agitated, these books gave him peace and a sense of true accomplishment and well-being.  Slowly moved by what he read, he made a powerful conversion.

Shedding his fineries and donning a poor habit, he ultimately came to the cave of Manresa by a river where he stayed for ten months. Here, he had a powerful revelation, an experience of God as He really is so that he now looked at all of creation in a new light – an experience that allowed Ignatius to find God in all things – one of the central characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. It was in the seclusion of Manresa that ideas for his famous Spiritual Exercises began to take shape.

After a trip to the Holy Land, the holy wanderer decided to go back to school to learn Latin with the goal of entering the priesthood. He ultimately went to the University of Paris where he met several young men whom he led in the Spiritual Exercises. Two of these men were Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber. Once ordained, he and his group decided to place themselves at the disposition of the Pope in Rome. They taught catechism to children, worked in hospitals and instructed adults in the Spiritual Exercises.

In September of 1540, this first nucleus was approved by Pope Paul III, as the order of The Company of Jesus, an institution that was to be instrumental in countering the protestant reform of Martin Luther. They were also active in the missions, and later became unparalleled academic instructors of young men, as well as performing countless other services in the Church.

Since his early conversion days, because of indiscreet, severe penances, St. Ignatius had developed stomach troubles that plagued him for the rest of his life. In the summer of 1556 his complaint grew worse, and his health ailing, he felt the end approaching. Still, those around him were not unduly alarmed. But shortly after midnight on July 31, the former soldier presented arms at the heavenly court.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Knowledge is useless, if this is not done

It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law
if he undermines its teaching
by his actions.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Peter Chrysologus

Peter Chrysologus was born in Imola, Italy in 406 and died there in 450. He was baptized, educated and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, and was consecrated Bishop of Ravenna in 433. He shared the confidence of Pope Leo the Great and enjoyed the patronage of Empress Galla Placidia.

Of his homilies, 176 survive, as well as others known to have been written by him under different names. Many of these are brief and concise explanations of the Bible. Others are beautiful discourses on the Incarnation, the Apostles’ Creed, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, as well as talks countering the heresy of Arius and Eutyches.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The power of the one prayer

It was the thief’s last prayer,
perhaps even his first.
He knocked once, sought once, asked once,
dared everything, and found everything.
When even the disciples were doubting,
and only one was present at the Cross,

the thief owned and acknowledged Him as Savior.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Martha

Martha, named in the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, was the sister of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus whom the Lord resurrected. She was also the sister of Mary Magdalen, the repentant sinner whom the Lord converted from a life of sin. They lived in Bethany, thought to be the town al-Eizariya, two miles from Jerusalem.The Gospels speak of Martha as a dutiful housekeeper, serving the Lord hospitably when He visited:"but Martha was busy about much serving…" (Luke 10:40) Complaining that her sister Mary was listening to Him instead of helping, Our Lord sweetly rebuked : "Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away her" (Luke 10:41-42) - words the Master which established the priority of prayer for all time.When her brother, Lazarus, fell ill, she sent for the Lord, but He delayed and when He arrived, Lazarus had been four days in the tomb. She complained to Jesus about His delay, but He assured her: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live." (John 11:25) And he proceeded to call Lazarus forth the tomb before a crowd of astonished witnesses.After the martyrdom of St. James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus and his two sisters, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact recorded in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, to do penance for the rest of her life.Martha is said to have died about the year 84. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the Collegiate Church of Tarrascon, France.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our single endeavor should be this

My confidence is placed
in God who does not need our help
for accomplishing His designs.
Our single endeavor should be
to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to Him, and
not to spoil His work by our shortcomings.

St. Isaac Jogues

St. Samson of Dol

St. Samson is counted among the seven founding saints of Brittany. He was born in Wales, his father being the son of Amon of Demetia and Anne of Gwent, daughter of Meurig, king of Glamorgan and Gwent.

Early in life his education was entrusted to St. Illtud, the abbot of Llandtwit Fawr.

Seeking an even more austere life than this school provided, Samson moved to the island monastery of Caldey where he became a model of virtue. There, he succeeded St. Pyr as abbot.

Later, his father Amon and an uncle joined him in the monastic life. At one point he made a visit to Ireland, and on his return, with his father and uncle retired to a hermittage.

But his peace did not last. He was again made abbot, and was subsequently consecrated bishop by St. Dubricius. After a vision instructing him to travel beyond the sea, he sailed for Cornwall, converting a number of idol worshipers by miraculously restoring a boy who had been thrown by a horse.

He founded a couple of churches, after which he sailed for Brittany possibly visiting the Scilly Islands, one of which is named after him.

In Brittany he traveled extensively preaching and teaching, and working many miracles. A town in Guernsey bears his name. He founded two monasteries, one in Dol and another in Normandy. While visiting Paris he attracted the notice of King Childebert who is said to have appointed him bishop of Dol. Samson died peacefully among his monks in the year 565.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A most powerful weapon to overcome the devil

If our age – in its pride – laughs at and rejects Our Lady’s Rosary,
a countless legion of the most saintly men of every age and of every condition
have not only held it most dear and have most piously recited it
but have also used it at all times as a most powerful weapon
to overcome the devil, to preserve the purity of their lives,
to acquire virtue more zealously,
in a word, to promote peace among men.

Pope Pius XI

St. Theobald of Marly

Theobald was the son of Bouchard of Montmorency, one of the most illustrious families of Europe. They were constables of France, marshals, admirals, cardinals, grand officers of the crown and grand masters of various knightly orders.

And yet Theobald is called the “great ornament” of the family of Montmorency.

He was born in the family castle of Marly, highly educated and trained as a knight. He served for a time in the court of King Phillip Augustus II, but showed a strong inclination to a state of retirement. Even at court he spent a long time in prayer and often visited the church at the convent of Port Royal founded by a relative, and which his father largely endowed.

Theobald took the Cistercian habit at Vaux-de-Cernay in 1220 and was chosen abbot in 1235. He lived in his monastery as the servant of all, surpassing others in his love of poverty, silence and prayer.

He was known to King St. Louis IX who held him in high esteem and veneration.

Theobald died on December 8, 1247.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

No explanation

To one who has faith,
no explanation is necessary.

To one without faith,
no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Sts. Joachim and Anne

According to tradition, Our Lady’s parents were Joachim and Anne to whom, after years of childlessness, and much prayer, an angel appeared and announced they would bear a child. Much like Hannah who dedicated her son Samuel to the service of God (1 Kings), Anne also dedicated Mary to God as a child.   Hence, we find the abundant iconography representing the child Mary being presented in the Temple.

Eastern tradition of devotion to the parents of Mary goes back to the sixth century. Relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710. In the twelfth century, this devotion reached the West, with Crusaders bringing back relics of St. Anne to Western Europe.

Two popular shrines to Saint Anne are that of Ste. Anne D’Auray in Britanny in western France, and that of St. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec, where countless mementos hang in thanksgiving for favors and healings granted.

Monday, July 25, 2016

When you can do nothing at prayer

When you can do nothing at prayer,
make acts of humility, comparing
your nothingness with God’s greatness,
your ingratitude with His benefits,
your lack of virtue with the purity and perfection of the saints.

St. Claude de la Colombière

St. James the Greater

James the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome, one of the women at the tomb on Easter morning, (Matt.27:56, Mark 15:40, 16:1) and the brother of John – probably the elder of the two. He is called “the greater” to distinguish him from James the Lesser, who was probably shorter in stature.

There is evidence in Scriptures that these two brothers were cousins of the Lord, which may explain Our Lord entrusting His mother to John as He was dying. Both James and John were probably of a fiery temperament for which they were called “sons of thunder.”  They once wished to call fire upon a city, for which Our Lord rebuked them. (Luke 9:51-6)

James was one of the first apostles called by Jesus, and was one of the three selected to witness His transfiguration.

James was apostle in Iberia, in the region of present-day Spain. Ancient tradition ascertains that when praying one night in the year 40, the Virgin Mother, then still living, appeared to him on the banks of the River Ebro to encourage him in his difficult mission. She was accompanied by a multitude of angels who bore with them a marble pillar on top of which was a small statue of her holding the Child Jesus. She bid James build a shrine where the pillar was to be placed, which he did, the first shrine dedicated to the Mother of God on earth. Today, the sacred pillar, still in the same spot, is enshrined in the great Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza.

James returned to Judea after this apparition, and was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. He died by the sword in Jerusalem at the command of Herod Agrippa in the year 44. His relics rest in the city of Compostela in northern Spain, the final destination of the famous pilgrims of the “Camino de Compostela.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

When you are sick

When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord
all your pains, suffering, and your languor, and beseech Him
to unite them to those He bore for you.

St. Francis de Sales

St. Sharbel Makhlouf

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in the village of Bekka Kafra in Lebanon on May 8, 1828 and was one of five children born to Antoun Zarrour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. His father was a mule driver who died when Youssef was only three years old, leaving his widow to bring up their children alone.

Although Brigitta was left nearly destitute, she reserved a profoundly religious atmosphere in their home and instilled in her children a deep spirit of piety. Because of this fidelity, Youssef became unusually devoted and inclined to prayer and solitude at a very young age. He was greatly attracted to the life and spirituality of hermits; and as a young boy tending his family’s small flock, he would often go to a nearby grotto where he had erected a little shrine to the Holy Mother of God and would spend his whole day there in prayer.

When he was twenty-three years old, Youssef, feeling the call to the religious life, left his home and family to join the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Marfouq. Here he began his formation as a monk before later being transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron near Beirut. There he received the religious habit of the Maronite monk and took the name Sharbel. He made his final profession as a religious brother on November 1, 1853 – he was twenty-five years old.

Brother Sharbel immediately began his studies for the priesthood under the instruction of Father Nimattullah Kassab, who was also later declared a saint by the Church. Sharbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, following which he returned to the Monastery of St. Maron where he lived a life of great austerity. In 1875, he was granted permission by his superiors to live a solitary life in the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was under the jurisdiction of the monastery; and there he resided for the remaining twenty-three years of his life until his death on Christmas Eve, 1898.

St. Sharbel is renowned for his many miracles both during his life and after his death. His most famous miracle – which was also his first – occurred when, multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was filled with water. He is also credited with many healing miracles.

After his death, he was interned at the Monastery of St. Maron, now a famous pilgrimage site. His tomb was often witnessed surrounded by a dazzling light, and to this day his remains are incorrupt and an unexplainable blood-like fluid flows from his body. He was canonized on December 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, who held him up as an example to help us understand “in a world, largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”

Saturday, July 23, 2016

His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners

Behold Jesus Christ crucified,
Who is the only foundation of our hope;
He is our Mediator and Advocate;
 the victim and sacrifice for our sins.
He is goodness and patience itself;
His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners,
and He never refuses pardon and grace to those who ask it
with a truly contrite and humbled heart.

St. Charles Borromeo

St. Bridget of Sweden

Bridget was nobly born, her father was Birger, the governor of Upland in Sweden, and her mother, Ingeborg, was the daughter of the governor of East Gothland.

At fourteen she was married to young Ulf Gudmarsson, to whom she was happily married for twenty-eight years and had eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom was St. Catherine of Sweden.

In 1335, she was appointed lady-in-waiting to King Magnus II’s bride, Blanche of Namur, and she spent years at court trying to reform Magnus’ weak, and at times, wicked ways, and the queen’s often well-meaning, but irresponsible, bend.

Though Bridget’s famous visions were already under way at this time, spanning subjects from personal hygiene to politics, she did not have great success with her royal “charges”, and was often seen as a “dreamer.”

After her husband’s death in 1344, she founded an order of women and another of men to support them spiritually. When her order was established, she traveled to Rome accompanied by her daughter Catherine and some disciples, to seek approval of her Rule. But she was never to return to her native Sweden.

In Rome, she worked to bring back the Papacy, then in the French city of Avignon, to the Eternal City. Her visions and prophecies, dealing with the burning political and religious issues of her time, continued and so increased that, alarmed, she submitted them to the direction of Canon Matthias of Linkoping who pronounced them to be of God. Peter, Prior of Alvastra, recorded these visions in Latin.

Her order was only approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.

In 1373 she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with Catherine and three of her sons. At Naples, Charles, her favorite son, became entangled with Queen Joanna I who wanted to marry him despite both being already married (Joana thrice). Anguished, Bridget stormed heaven, and Charles, struck by a fever, after two weeks died in his mother’s arms.

Returning from Jerusalem, Bridget, already ailing, received the last rites from her faithful friend, Peter of Alvastra, and died on July 23 at the age of seventy-one.

Bridget was canonized in 1391, and is the patron saint of the Kingdom of Sweden. She is also considered one of the patron saints of Europe.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The only way to get into some hearts is to break them

Mary Magdalene . . . did not do what you and I would do.
She did not pour out the precious perfume drop by drop
as if to indicate by the slowness of the giving
the generosity of the gift.
She broke the vessel and gave everything, for love knows no limits.
Immediately the house was filled with perfume.
It was almost as if, after the death of that perfume and the breaking of the bottle,
there was a resurrection.
Broken things are precious. We eat broken bread because
we share in the death of our Lord and his broken life.
Broken flowers give perfume. Broken incense is used in adoration.
A broken ship saved Paul and many other passengers on the way to Rome.
Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, called “the penitent”, was a woman of great beauty who was known as a sinner, but was touched in her soul by the merciful power of Our Lord Jesus Christ and made a great conversion. Scriptures speak of the Lord driving out “seven demons” from her, symbolic of the seven capital sins (Mark 16:9).

Thinking to trick Our Lord, she had been presented to Him by the Scribes and Pharisees whilst He was teaching in the temple. Mary Magdalene had been caught in adultery and the Law of Moses was quite clear as to its punishment: death by stoning. In silence, Our Lord began to write with His finger on the ground. At their persistent questioning, He lifted Himself up and replied: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” and stooping down, He returned to His writing in the dust. One by one they left until none remained but the Judge and the Accused. “Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more” (John 8:10-11). From that moment onwards, her heart was won over completely.

At the house of Simon the Pharisee, the repentant Magdalene poured costly ointments on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair (John 7:38). On her action being censured by the host, Our Lord said in her defense: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much” (John 7:47).

Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany whom the Lord raised from the dead after four days.

She along with the Lord’s mother and other holy women stood at the foot of the cross unafraid for herself. She it was also that, along with others first discovered the empty tomb after the Lord’s Resurrection. And it was to Mary Magdalene that the Lord first appeared after He was risen.

After the martyrdom of the Apostle James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalen, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact claimed in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, known as La Sainte-Baume, or The Holy Cave. In this cave she lived the life of a penitent for thirty years until her death. Today, at this site, there is a shrine where her relics are venerated.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What does God love?

Our dear God loves
to be bothered.

St. John Vianney

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Born in Brindisi in Italy and christened Julius Caesar, the future saint’s father was Guglielmo Rossi, and his mother Elisabetta Massella, both excellent Christians.

His parents entrusted the boy’s education to the Conventuals of Brindisi where he showed early signs of a shimmering intelligence and a gift for oratory.

When twelve, his father died, and he pursued his studies in Venice with the Clerics of St. Mark, under the supervision of an uncle. In 1575 he was received into the Capuchin Order and was given the name of Lorenzo. Once professed, Brother Lorenzo studied philosophy and theology at the University of Padua.

Lawrence had a prodigious memory, and mastered most of the European languages and Semitic tongues. It is also said that he knew the entire original text of the Bible, a feat deemed miraculous. He is also renowned for his complete refutation of the doctrines of Martin Luther, as well as his work in defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary of whom he was an ardent devotee, and in whose name he worked all his miracles.

In his lifetime he filled all the posts of his order. As a great preacher, he was invited to preach all over Europe. Always seeking to move hearts, he adapted his preaching to his audience with enormous success. The sermons he left fill no less than eight volumes. Because of his knowledge of Hebrew, Pope Clement VIII assigned him to the instructions of the Jews, and due to his knowledge of the language, and powerful reasoning combined with his great kindliness, brought many into the Faith.

He founded houses in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, despite many obstacles placed by heretics. As the fame of his sanctity preceded him wherever he went, people flocked to hear his sermons.

In 1601 Lawrence served as chaplain for the army of Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor. In this capacity he was present at the battle of Albe-Royal against the Ottoman Turk’s force of 80,000, while the Christian army had 18,000.  Prior to the battle, hesitating at these odds, the leaders sought the holy chaplain’s advice. The saint took full responsibility for the outcome, and in a glowing speech communicated to them his own confidence. Aged and enfeebled, he mounted a horse, and, crucifix in hand, led the charge. The Turks were defeated, but regrouping, attacked again a few days later. Again the chaplain led the attack to complete victory.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

If Jesus pardoned Peter, He will pardon you

Jesus purified Magdalen and pardoned the triple denial of Peter.
He opened heaven to the good thief.
In truth, I assure you,
if Judas had gone to Him after the crime, Our Lord would have received him with mercy.
How, then, would He not pardon you as well?

The Book of Confidence—Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent

St. Apollinaris of Ravenna

Apollinaris was possibly born in Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria.
Consecrated bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter himself, he won many converts by his preaching, and the numerous miracles he wrought attracted the attention of the officials.
Furious with his success, the idolaters beat him cruelly and drove him from the city. The Christians found him half-dead on the seashore, and cared for and concealed him for a time. However, recaptured by the authorities, he was forced to walk on burning coals and then exiled from the city again.
Remaining in the vicinity, Apollinaris continued his work, journeying to the Roman province of Emilia.
Returning a third time to Ravenna, he was captured yet again and hacked with knives. Scalding water was poured on his wounds. He was beaten on the mouth with stones because of his persistence in preaching, flung into a dismal dungeon and left to starve. There, he continued performing miracles, teaching and preaching, silencing the oracles that dared to debate with him.
Imprisoned for three years, he was finally returned to Ravenna for a fourth time, and was martyred under the persecution unleashed by Emperor Vespasian. He died prophesizing that the persecutions would increase but that the Church would ultimately triumph.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Rosary and the Possessed Girl

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that a Dominican, Father Jean Amat, was once giving a Lenten Mission in the Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, when a young girl, possessed by the devil was brought to him.
Father Amat began the exorcism. After several unsuccessful attempts, the priest had an idea; taking his Rosary, he looped it around the girl’s neck.

No sooner had he done this, the girl began to squirm and scream and the devil, shouting through her mouth shrieked, “Take if off, take off; these beads are tormenting me!”
At last, moved to pity for the girl, the priest lifted the Rosary beads off her neck.
The next night, while the good Dominican lay in bed, the same devils who possessed the young girl entered his room. Foaming with rage, they tried to seize him, but he had his Rosary clasped in his hand and no efforts from the infernal spirits could wrench the blessed beads from him.
Then, going on the offensive and using the Rosary as a physical weapon, Fr. Amat scourged the demons crying out, “Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, help me, come to my aid!” at which the demons took flight.
The next day on his way to church, the priest met the poor girl, still possessed. One of the devils within her taunted him, “Well, brother, if you had been without your Rosary, we should have made short work of you…”
With renewed trust and vigor, the priest unlaced his Rosary from his belt, and flinging it around the girl’s neck commanded, “By the sacred names of Jesus and Mary His Holy Mother, and by the power of the holy Rosary, I command you, evil spirits, leave the body of this girl at once.”
The demons were immediately forced to obey him, and the young girl was freed.
“These stories,” concludes St. Louis de Montfort, “show the power of the holy Rosary in overcoming all sorts of temptations from the evil spirits and all sorts of sins because these blessed beads of the Rosary put devils to rout.”

How to gain strength

I shall spare myself neither care nor labor nor vigils
for the salvation of souls.
My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His divine help;
I can do all in Him who strengthened me!
His power is infinite, and if I lean on Him it will be mine;
His wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel I shall not be deceived;
His goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed on Him I shall not be abandoned.
Hope unites me to my God and Him to me.
Although I know I am not sufficient for the burden, my strength is in Him.
For the salvation of others I must bear weariness, face dangers, suffer offenses,
confront storms, fight against evil.
He is my Hope.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Macrina the Younger

Macrina was born in Caesaerea, Capadoccia, her parents being Basil the Elder and Emmelia. Her grandmother was St. Macrina the Elder and her three brothers were eminent figures in the Church: Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste.

Macrina’s parents arranged a marriage for her but her fiancé having died before the wedding, the bride turned to religion.

Well known as a holy woman and instructor of young women, she is honored as one of the most prominent nuns in the Eastern Church. Her ascetic way of life had a profound influence on her brothers. She purposely gave up classical education in favor of the study of Scriptures and sacred writings.  Her brother, Gregory of Nyssa wrote a life entitled, Life of Macrina, in which he describes the holiness of her life.

With the help of her younger brother, Peter, she turned her family estate at Pontus into a convent, where she died in 379.

Monday, July 18, 2016

God always speaks to you when...

God always speaks to you
when you approach Him
plainly and simply.

St. Catherine Labouré

St. Camillus de Lellis

Camillus was born on May 25, 1550 in the region of Abruzzo in the Kingdom of Naples. His father was a mercenary soldier and seldom at home. His mother, Camilla, though good was also timid and had trouble controlling her morose, hot-tempered son.

At seventeen, being tall for his age, Camillus joined his father in soldiering. Leading the rambling, ambulant life of a mercenary, he acquired the wayward habits of the profession, especially the vice of gambling.

Still, Camillus’ mother had instilled in him a respect for religion. After his father died repentant, and his regiment disbanded in 1574, he found himself, at twenty-four, destitute because of his gambling. He was offered a shot at reform when a wealthy, pious man, noticing the tall, lanky young man in town, offered him employment at a monastery that he was building for the Capuchins of Manfredonia.

Despite his aggressive nature and gambling habits, the guardian of the monastery saw another side to Camillus, and continually tried to bring out in him his better nature. Finally moved by the good friar’s exhortations, Camillus underwent a deep spiritual conversion.

Refused admission by the Capuchins because of an unhealed leg wound, he traveled to Rome where he began to serve the sick at the Hospital of St. Giacomo while attempting to lead a penitential and ascetic life.

Hearing of St. Philip Neri and his great gift with souls in need, Camillus sought his spiritual direction and was taken in by the saint.

He soon discovered that helping the sick was the cure for his wayward habits, and the only thing that gave him true joy.  He began to gather a group of men around him who had a desire to help the sick for love alone and not for pay. Feeling the need to be ordained, he studied under the Jesuit Fathers and was ordained in 1584 at the age of thirty-four.

Thus Camillus de Lellis, former wandering soldier and professional gambler, established the Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Sick. His group was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, and officially raised to the status of a mendicant order by Gregory XV in 1591. On their black habit they wore a large red cross which became the first inspiration for today’s Red Cross.

By the time of Camillus’ death in 1614, his order had spread throughout Italy and into Hungary. He was canonized in 1746.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

This fight fills the angels of Heaven with admiration

It is an arid fight, with neither palpable beauty nor defined poetry.
In this fight, one sometimes advances in the night of anonymity,
in the mud of indifference or misunderstanding
amidst storms and bombardments unleashed by the combined forces of
the devil, the world and the flesh. But fear not,
this fight fills the angels of Heaven with admiration
and attracts the blessings of God.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Clement of Okhrida

Clement of Okhrida was a convert of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of Moravia and Pannonia.

At the invitation of the Bulgarian ruler, Boris, who had accepted Christianity in 865, Clement and his other companions including St. Nahum, St. Sabas and St. Angelarius, helped evangelize Bulgaria. Sts. Cyril and Methodius are also counted as two of the seven apostles of Bulgaria because though their official jurisdiction was over Moravia and Pannonia, they also kept an eye on the Bulgars, most of whom were heathens until formal evangelization began with the acceptance of Christianity by Boris.

Clement seems to have been the first man of the Slavic race to receive the episcopate. He became Bishop of Velitsa, close to Okhrida where he established a monastery. He was regarded as the founder of that see which became very important in subsequent history.

St. Clement is venerated in Bulgaria as well as Russia as a wonder-worker.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

By Plinio Maria Solimeo

One day, a long time ago, walking the streets of Rome, three outstanding men of God bumped into one another. Friar Dominic of Guzman was recruiting members for the Order of Preachers, later known as the “Dominicans,” which he had founded. Brother Francis of Assisi, the Poverello, had just brought together some men to serve what he called Lady Poverty. The third, Friar Angel, had come from Mount Carmel in Palestine, and was called to Rome because he was a great preacher.
Illuminated by the Holy Ghost, the three recognized one another, and during the conversation made many prophecies. Saint Angel, for example, predicted God would give Saint Francis the stigmata. And Saint Dominic prophesied, “One day, Brother Angel, the Blessed Mother will give your Carmelite Order a devotion that will be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers a devotion that will be called the Rosary. And one day she will save the world through the Rosary and the Scapular.”
On the spot where that meeting took place, a chapel was built which exists in Rome to this day.1

Mother and Splendor of Carmel
It was on the celebrated Mount Carmel, on the coast of Palestine, that Saint Elias, the “Prophet of Fire,” saw the little cloud that, in a period of great drought, was a forerunning sign that a redeeming rain would fall upon the parched earth.
Through a supernatural intuition he figured that the simple cloud, in the form of a human footprint, symbolized that blessed woman, later mentioned by Prophet Isaiah in chapter 7, verse 14 (“Behold a virgin will conceive, and bear a child . . . .”), who would be the Mother of the Redeemer.
From her virginal bosom would come He who, washing with His blood the earth dried out by sin, would open the life of grace for mankind.
According to tradition, the Order of Carmel, of which Mary is the Mother and splendor, was born from the followers of Elias and his successors.
And, in Isaias’ words, “[T]he glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron” (Is. 35:2).
From Palestine, the hermits of Mount Carmel moved to Europe, laying down roots in several countries, including England, where Saint Simon Stock lived.

Saint Simon Stock: Noble and Holy
Saint Simon was born in 1165 in the castle of Harford, in Kent, England, thanks to the prayers of pious parents who were both very virtuous and from the highest nobility. Some authors believe they were related to the royal family.
His mother consecrated him to the Blessed Mother before he was born. Before breastfeeding him, in gratitude for her happy delivery and asking special protection for her son, the young mother would offer him to the Virgin Mary and say three Hail Marys on her knees. What a beautiful attitude by such a noble lady!
The boy learned to read at a very tender age. Like his parents, he began to pray the Little Office of Our Lady, and soon also the Psalter. At the age of seven, the young genius started to study fine arts at Oxford College and was so successful that his professors were surprised. At that time he also received his First Communion and consecrated his virginity to the Blessed Mother.
Persecuted by his envious older brother, and heeding an interior voice that gave Saint Simon a desire to leave the world, at the age of twelve he left home and found refuge in a forest where he lived entirely alone for twenty years in prayer and penance.

The Carmelite Order
Our Lady then manifested to Saint Simon her wish that he join some monks who were to come to England from Mount Carmel in Palestine, “especially because those religious had been consecrated to the Mother of God in a special way.” Simon thus left his solitude and, obeying another order from Heaven, studied theology and received Holy Orders.
He devoted himself to preaching until 1213, when two Carmelite friars finally arrived. He was then able to receive the habit of the Order in Aylesford.
In 1215, as the fame of Saint Simon’s virtues reached the ears of Saint Brocardo, Latin General of the Carmelite Order, he wished to make Simon lieutenant general of the Order. In 1226, Saint Brocardo appointed Saint Simon vicar-general of all Carmelite provinces in Europe.
Saint Simon had to face a real storm unleashed against the Carmelites in Europe, which the devil raised with men supposedly zealous for Church laws. On various pretexts, those men wanted at all cost to suppress the entire Order. But the pope issued a bull declaring the existence of the Carmelite Order to be legitimate and in accordance with the Lateran decrees, and allowed it to continue to establish new houses in Europe.
In 1237, Saint Simon participated in the General Chapter of the Order in the Holy Land. In 1245, in a new chapter, he was elected the sixth prior-general of the Carmelites.

The Great Promise: You Will Not Go Into the Fire of Hell
If the papal bull had momentarily placated the wrath of the enemies of Carmel, it did not stop it completely. After a period of calm, the persecution started again with more intensity.
Devoid of human aid, Saint Simon resorted to the Blessed Mother with all the sadness of his heart, asking her to help his beleaguered Order and to send a sign of her alliance with it.
In the morning of July 16, 1251, he was begging in earnest the Mother of Carmel for her protection, reciting a beautiful prayer he had composed, Flos Carmeli.2 As he reported to his secretary and confessor, Father Peter Swayngton, suddenly,
the Virgin appeared to me with a great retinue, and, having the habit of the Order in her hand, told me, “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire . . . . It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace. Whoever dies clothed in this Scapular will not suffer eternal fire.”3
That most special grace was immediately distributed in places where the Carmelites were established and confirmed by many miracles to such an extent that the enemies of the Brothers of the Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel were silenced.
Saint Simon attained old age and extremely high holiness, working many miracles, and also receiving the gift of tongues. He surrendered his soul to God on May 16, 1265.

The Sabbatine Privilege: Free of Purgatory on the First Saturday After Death

In addition to this special grace of eternal salvation, connected with the Scapular, Our Lady gave another, which became known as the Sabbatine Privilege. The following century, on March 3, 1322, she appeared to Pope John XXII, communicating to those who wear her scapular, “As a tender mother, I will descend into Purgatory on the Saturday after their death and will deliver them and bring them to the holy mountain, into the happy sojourn of life everlasting.”4
What are, then, the specific promises of Our Lady?
1. Whoever dies clothed with the Scapular, will not suffer the fire of Hell.
What did Our Lady mean with these words? First, on making this promise, Mary does not mean that a person who dies in mortal sin will be saved. Death in mortal sin and condemnation are the same thing. Mary’s promise undoubtedly translates into these words, “Whoever dies clothed in this Scapular, will not die in mortal sin.” To make that clear, the Church often adds the word “piously” to the pledge, “He who dies piously will not suffer the fire of Hell.”5

Our Lady will free from Purgatory the person wearing her Scapular on the first Saturday after his or her death.
Although this privilege is often interpreted literally, that is, the person will be freed from Purgatory on the first Saturday after his or her death, “everything that the Church has officially stated on several occasions to explain these words, is that those who fulfill the conditions of the Sabbatine Privilege, through the intercession of Our Lady, will be freed from Purgatory shortly after death, and especially on Saturday.”6
In any case, if we are faithful in observing the words of the Blessed Mother, she will be much more faithful in observing her own, as shown in the following example:
During the preaching of some missions, a young man who was touched by grace decided to quit his life of sin and receive the Scapular. Some time later he lapsed again into disorderly passions and became even worse. Nevertheless, he kept wearing the holy Scapular.
Being the mother that she is, the Most Holy Virgin struck him down with a serious illness. During his illness the young man dreamed that he found himself before the most just tribunal of God, Who condemned him to eternal damnation for his perfidy and his wretched life.
In vain did the hapless young man argue with the Supreme Judge that he was wearing the Scapular of His Holy Mother.
“And where are the customs that match this Scapular?” God asked him.
Not knowing what to answer, the unfortunate young man turned to Our Lady.
“I cannot undo what my Son has done,” she answered.
“But, Madam!” The young man exclaimed, “I will change!”
“Do you promise?”
“Live then.”
At that point the patient awakened frightened to death by what he had seen and heard, and resolved thenceforth to wear Mary’s Scapular with greater seriousness. Indeed, he was healed and joined the Order of Premonstratensians. And after an edifying life, he surrendered his soul to God, as the chronicles of the Order narrate.7

The Scapular and Fatima
Is the Scapular related to Fatima in any way?
Yes. After the last appearance of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, the seers saw three different scenes. In the first, the Mother of God appeared as Our Lady of the Rosary, standing by Saint Joseph and holding the Child Jesus on her lap. Then, she appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, by the painful Christ on His way to Calvary. And finally, she appeared in glory, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, as Our Lady of Carmel, with the Scapular in her hand.
“Why do you think Our Lady appeared with the Scapular in that last vision?” Lucia was asked in 1950.
“That’s because Our Lady wants everyone to wear the Scapular,” she replied.
“And this is why the Rosary and the Scapular, the oldest, most privileged, universal and valuable Marian sacramentals are more important today than in any past period in history.”8

Origin and Historical Evolution of the Scapular
Both the Scapular (from the Latin scapulae, shoulders), and the monastic habit and liturgical vestments developed from lay clothing.
Over time, the monastic Scapular evolved until the twelfth century when it attained its present form, becoming an integral part of almost all monastic habits, including the Carmelite one. But it did not have the meaning that it later acquired, as we shall see.
With the development of the First Orders (monks or friars), there arose the Second Orders (nuns), and then the Third Orders or Oblates, formed by single or married lay people living with their families.
Members of the Third Orders were bound to the First Orders by vows or promises according to their state, and participated in the spiritual benefits of the Order.
These Third Order members received a simpler religious habit, which they wore every day or, more commonly, only on Sundays and religious feast days.
Later came the Confraternities for lay people unable to join the Third Orders.
According to Father María Simón Besalduch, the Confraternity of Our Lady of Carmel is as old as the Scapular.

The Scapular Protects a Young Lady from the Devil
A young lady went to confession to the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney.
Before she began her confession, Saint John Vianney said to her, “Remember a few days ago in the ballroom a good-looking young man who danced with all the girls but you? And you felt ashamed? And remember you saw sparks coming off his feet when he left? Know that it was the devil in human form, and the only reason he didn’t dance with you is because you were wearing the Scapular. Thank the Blessed Mother for that.”

1. Cf. John Haffert, Maria na sua promessa do Escapulário (Edições Carmelo, Aveiro, Portugal, 1967), 265–266. [back to text]
2. In Latin, that beautiful prayer says, “Flos Carmeli, Vitis florigera, Splendor Coeli, Virgo puerpera, Singularis; Mater mitis, sede viri nescia. Carmelitis da privilegia, Stella maris!” (Flower of Carmel, blossoming vine, Splendor of Heaven, incomparable and singular Virgin! O loving and ever virgin Mother, give Carmelites the privileges of thy protection, of Star of the Sea!). [back to text]3. Monsignor Paul Guérin, Les Petits Bollandistes (Bloud et Barral, Paris, 1882), 592. [back to text]4. Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, Enciclopedia del Escapulario del Carmen (Luis Gili Editor, Librería Católica Internacional, Barcelona, 1931), 243-293. [back to text]5. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 34. [back to text]
6. Id. at 112. [back to text]
7. Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, supra note 4, at 167. [back to text]
8. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 269, 272. [back to text]

You may not have time tomorrow

Today God invites you to do good;
do it therefore today.
Tomorrow you may not have time, or
God may no longer call you to do it.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”. In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and flowery beauty.

It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without its stains.

In the twelfth century, St. Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.

St. Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St. Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”

This privilege is extended to lay persons who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.

This practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Choosing Christ Over Chaos: America Needs Fatima to organize 5,000 Public Rosaries for Police

For Immediate Release
Contact: Robert E. Ritchie, America Needs Fatima
Tel.: 717-309-1990 
Hanover, PA, July 14, 2016 – America Needs Fatima is pleased to announce that 5,000 groups are preparing to pray a Public Rosary for Police in locations across America on Saturday, July 16, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at 12:00 noon local time.
The general public is invited to participate.  Special Prayer Captains to lead a Public Rosary can sign up at or for more information call 866-584-6014 or 888-317-5571.

America Needs Fatima, based in Hanover Penn, has organized public rosaries for years across the nation as well as in other countries.
Mr. Francis Slobodnik, Public Rosaries Coordinator said: “After the brutal murder of five police officers in Dallas, Public Rosaries offer powerful moral support for our honorable police officers. They are a peaceful voice against those who promote anarchy, communism, and social tension.
“We pray for all people, but especially for our honorable police officers and their families.  They’re on the front lines for order against chaos.  When we pray for the police, we’re choosing Christ over chaos.
"The liberal media wants people to think there’s all this social tension.  And communist style agitators exaggerate the ‘hatred thing’.  It’s just not true," Slobodnik said. "Most Americans want peace.  And blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.  We’d have peace if we follow God and the Blessed Mother, and prayed the Rosary."

That’s why Prayer Captains are gearing up for 5,000 Public Rosaries for Police on July 16 at 12:00 noon local time. 
“The concept of doing a Public Rosary is catching on,” Slobodnik added, “with the crusader types who promote the pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-America message.”
"The Holy Rosary is a spiritual weapon," said Mr. Slobodnik.  "The idea of 5,000 Public Rosaries for Police across America somehow brings God’s healing power to work.  This gives me hope for our future!”
The Public Rosaries for Police is sponsored by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign.  For more information call 888-317-5571 or go to

The Tragedy of our time is...

The refusal to take sides on great moral issues
is itself a decision.
It is a silent acquiescence to evil.
The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty
lack fire and conviction,
while those who believe in dishonesty
are full of passionate conviction.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, “The Seraphic Doctor”, was born Giovanni di Fidanza in the vicinity of Viterbo, Tuscany in 1221. Nothing is known of his childhood except the name of his parents: Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Fidella.

Legend has it that when seriously ill as a child, his mother took him to St. Francis of Assisi. As the saint prayed over him, he was shown the infant's future spiritual greatness and exclaimed, “O, buona ventura!” O good fortune!”

He entered the Franciscan Order at age twenty-two and after taking his vows, was sent to Paris to study under the great Alexander Hale, and then John de la Rochelle. In Paris he became close friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, and both received their doctorate at the same time. Like St. Thomas, Bonaventure was held in high esteem by King St. Louis IX.

Already while in Paris he was a great preacher and discourser and wrote Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, a work covering the whole field of scholastic theology. He wrote extensively on philosophy and theology throughout his life. It is said of St. Bonaventure that he united in himself two elements: tender piety and profound learning, from whence proceeded all that is most noble, sublime, great and beautiful in the Middle Ages.

At thirty-five Bonaventure was chosen General of the Franciscans, and restored peace in the place of disturbances generated by internal dissensions. While some friars were for an inflexible severity, others were for a more relaxed rule. The saint steered the wise road of balance, reforming and restoring the spirit of his order and writing a life of St. Francis. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas once entered Bonaventure’s cell while he was writing this biography and found him in ecstasy, “Let’s leave a saint to write about a saint,” said the Angelic Doctor.

In 1265, Pope Clement IV nominated Bonaventure to the archbishopric of York, which the saint humbly turned down to the acquiescence of the Pope.

But in 1273 Pope Gregory X elevated him to ecclesiastical dignity, and made him Cardinal, Bishop of Albano. At the Council of Lyons, he was the Pope’s right hand in preparing the matters to be addressed. Before the council began, St. Bonaventure abdicated the office of minister general of his order.

The Council of Lyons was instrumental in the effective reunion of the Greeks, a union desired by Emperor Michael Palaeologus. St. Thomas died on the way to this council, and St. Bonaventure was the council’s outstanding figure. But amidst his triumph, Bonaventure died rather suddenly during the night of July 14-15. According to the chronicle of his secretary, Peregrinus of Bologna, discovered in 1905, Bonaventure was poisoned.

He was canonized in 1482, and declared Doctor of the Church in 1588.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)
“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 
Mission San Juan Capristrano, CA
With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.
At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”
During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.
With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.
John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”
by Joseph Ferrara

All or nothing

You cannot be
half a saint;
you must be a whole saint
or no saint at all.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha, baptized Kateri, “The Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, and a captured, Christian Algonquin woman, Tagaskouita.

Between 1661 and 1663 a small pox epidemic afflicted Kateri’s tribe. Both her parents and her brother died, and though also contracting the disease, she survived though her face was left scared and her eyesight affected. She was adopted by a paternal aunt and her husband, a chief.

At seventeen the young Mohawk girl turned down an offer of marriage, and though pressed, still refused.

Under the influence of missionary priests introduced into her tribe after the Mohawks were defeated by the French, Kateri converted to Catholicism at eighteen, and was baptized when twenty. Members of her tribe were hostile to her by reason of her Faith, but she persevered.

The Jesuit missionaries described Tekakwitha as a modest girl who covered most of her head with a blanket because of her scars.

In 1677 Kateri moved to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada under the direction of Jesuit fathers where she found peace. There, she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance and the care of the sick and the aged.

Every morning, even in the bitterest cold, young Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’clock. Once inside, she attended every Mass, her greatest devotions being the Eucharist and Christ Crucified. She undertook severe penances, seeking to mortify her flesh so as to help her soul reach union with her beloved God.

In the Lent of 1680 friends noticed that Kateri was failing. She died on Wednesday of Holy Week around three o’clock. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love You.”

As she lay still in death, those around her noticed that her scars had disappeared and her face was white and beautiful.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21, 2012.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Our Lady said July 13

Mr. Marto, father of Jacinta and Francisco, noticed that when the third apparition began, a small grayish cloud hovered over the holm oak, the sunlight diminished, and a cool breeze blew over the mountain range, despite it being the height of summer. He also heard something like flies inside an empty jug. The seers saw the customary glare, and then Our Lady over the holm oak.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month and to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, for she alone can be of any avail.
Lucia: I would like to ask you to tell us who you are and to perform a miracle so everyone will believe that Your Grace appears to us.
Our Lady: Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I wish, and I will perform a miracle that everyone shall see so as to believe.
Lucia then made a number of requests for conversions, cures, and other graces. Our Lady recommended the constant recitation of the rosary; thus they would obtain those graces during the year.
Then she went on: "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make a sacrifice, 'O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"

8x10 Picture of Our Lady of Fatima

The first part—The vision of hell
Lucia writes, “Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”

The second part—The warning of the chastisement and how to avoid it
The children then looked up at Our Lady, who said to them so kindly and so sadly:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc. ...”

Communism—"The Errors of Russia"
Communism is an atheistic ideology that ultimately denies God’s natural order and natural law, which God inscribed on the hearts of men. Denying God, Communism attaches divinity status to the Party and to the State. As such, Communism transfers all personal responsibility to the Party and totalitarian state. Denying natural law, Communism rejects the basic rights to private property, and monogamous, indissoluble marriage two indispensable pillars of a free society. Dictatorship is not a chance fact in Communism, but the logical and necessary consequence of its ideology. For strategic reasons, Communism may take on different political forms, including apparently democratic ones, and hide behind varied labels. Already in the 1930’s, the Communist Party launched the so-called policy of the extended hand, in which it showed to the outside world a smiling, friendly face while, Stalin’s iron hand imposed a ferocious, despotic dictatorship in Russia.
This deception has been used time and again throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

You have seen hell

You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go.
To save them,
God wishes to establish in the world
devotion to my Immaculate Heart.
If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved
and there will be peace.

Our Lady of Fatima to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco

St. Clelia Barbieri

St. Clelia Barbieri is the youngest founder of a religious order in the entire history of the Catholic Church. However, of all the recently canonized saints, she is one of whom the least is known.

Clelia Mary Rachel was born in the small northern town of Budrie in Italy on February 13, 1847. Her parents, Joseph Barbieri and Hyacinthia Nanetti, were a pious couple who lived a very modest life. Joseph Barbieri died in 1855, when Clelia was only nine years old; and soon after, the intelligent young girl had to find work to help support her family.

Pious and unusually devout from a very early age, Clelia found new depths of spirituality and zeal when she was confirmed in 1856. She was further renewed and strengthened in her faith two years later, as was then the custom, when she first received the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Clelia began to dedicate herself to the work of propagating the faith in her own parish, and shortly thereafter became a catechist. Her remarkable piety and humble dedication brought her to the attention of her parish priest, Fr. Gaetano Guidi, who began to see great potential in her. He urged her and her close friend, Teodora Baraldi, to undertake the education of the young girls of the parish whose families were too poor to have them otherwise educated. They were soon joined by Orsola Donati who is considered along with Clelia to be one of the true founders of the Little Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. This name was given them by the Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Lucinda Maria Parocchi, whose blessing and support they enjoyed from the outset of their vocations. The Archbishop also suggested that they put their congregation under the patronage of St. Francis of Poala. Clelia was twenty-one.

Though young in years, Clelia’s piety and devotion, especially to Christ present in the Blessed Eucharist, was profoundly deep. From her childhood, she had been drawn to prayer and the practice of the virtues and also the mortification of her body. She was seen in ecstasy and often credited with the ability to read hearts. She became seriously ill shortly after the Congregation was established and for some time appeared close to death. Miraculously though, she recovered; but shortly thereafter she once more became ill. Clelia died on July 13, 1870, at twenty-three years old.

Clelia Barbieri was canonized in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, on August 9, 1989, by Pope John Paul II, who held her up as an example of how the Faith should be nourished, first in the family and then in the parish.