Monday, October 16, 2017

The Three Streams of the Sacred Heart

From this Divine Heart three streams flow endlessly.
The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts
sentiments of contrition and repentance.
The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids
those seeking perfection to find the means of surmounting their difficulties.
From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of His friends
who have attained perfection; these He wishes to unite to Himself
so that they may share His knowledge and commandments
and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing His glory.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Margaret Mary was born in the small Burgundian town of L’Hautecour in France, the fifth of seven children of Claude Alacoque, a notary, and his wife, Philliberte Lamyn.

Her father died when she was eight and she was sent to school with the Poor Clares. She was immediately attracted to their way of life and so exemplary was her piety that she was allowed to make her First Communion at the age of nine – an unusual privilege at the time.

Struck by a very painful rheumatic illness, which confined her to bed until the age of fifteen, the young girl returned to L’Hautecour only to find her family home occupied by several relatives who proceeded to treat her mother and herself almost like servants.

By the age of twenty, she was being pressured by these relatives to marry. Strengthened and supported by a vision of Our Lord, she refused.

Margaret did not receive Confirmation until she was twenty-two, but once she was fortified by the sacrament, she bravely confronted and decisively overcame her family's remaining opposition to her religious vocation, and entered the Monastery of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial in 1671.

Deeply devoted to the Passion of Our Lord and to the Holy Eucharist, Margaret felt sensibly the presence of Our Lord. On December 27, 1673, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the convent chapel, she felt Our Lord inviting her to step into the place taken by St. John the Beloved at the Last Supper near His Heart.

This first communication was followed by several others during a period of eighteen months in which Our Lord Jesus revealed and expanded to her the devotion to His Most Sacred Heart in which He wished His Heart to be honored under the form of a heart of flesh. He also asked for the Communion of Reparation on the nine First Fridays of the month, and an hour vigil on Thursdays.

Margaret Mary suffered misunderstanding and persecution from within her religious community as she attempted to reveal Our Lord’s wishes. Falling ill under the strain, her superior promised to heed her if she was healed, both of which came to pass.

Further supported by the spiritual guidance of the Jesuit, St. Claude de la Colombière, who while visiting Paray-le-Monial recognized both Margaret’s sanctity and her message, the new devotion began to gradually spread throughout France and the world.

Margaret Mary Alacoque died in October of 1690 and was canonized in 1920.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let nothing disturb you

 Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa was born in the medieval fortified town of Avila in Spain on March 28, 1515. At seven she and her brother Rodrigo, impressed by the lives of the saints, ran away from home, hoping to die as martyrs. They were overtaken on the road out of Avila by an uncle and returned home where they contented themselves with playing at being "hermits" in their garden instead.

Beautiful, intelligent, and of a lively and assertive temperament, Teresa was given to prayer and seeking God’s will for her. At the age of twenty, having overcome her good father’s reluctance to be parted from her, she entered the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, and was professed as a religious a year later.

Becoming ill, she suffered much for several years and was once almost given up for dead. Seeking God in the practice of virtue and solitude, she began to develop her famous doctrine on prayer and divine contemplation.

Yet her convent, much given to social encounters, and worldliness, for a while distracted her. Coming to herself, she quit the society of outsiders, and seeking only to fulfill her religious duties and grow in prayer, greatly advanced in the spiritual life. She began to be favored with rare divine communications, which she obediently submitted to the guidance of her confessors.

Inspired to reform the Carmelites, amid opposition and persecution – including from the Inquisition – Teresa went on to found the Discalced Carmelites with the support of St. Peter of Alcantara. Her first convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was founded in Avila in 1562. Later, with the help of St. John of the Cross, she also undertook the reform of the male branch of the Order.

Once she started the great reform to return the Order to its original spirit of poverty, prayer and total enclosure, Teresa’s life was one of continuous foundations, which cost her much labor and suffering. It was during this period of the foundations that she wrote her treatises: The Way of Perfection, The Foundations, and The Interior Castle.

Teresa died in Alba de Tormes in October of 1582. She was canonized forty years later, was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and is universally revered as the Doctor of Prayer.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why the Fatima Chastisement and Triumph Await Us

Why the Fatima Chastisement and Triumph Await Us

This year we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. The occasion is a time for reflection upon a world and Church in disarray. As a result, many sense that a dark future awaits us.
The reason for this foreboding is that the message and requests of Our Lady have mostly gone unheeded. Our Lady warned of dire consequences for the world if men did not repent and stop sinning against God’s law.
What Happened at Fatima
For those unfamiliar with the Fatima apparitions, the account of the event is simple. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children tending their sheep near the village of Fatima. She asked them to come back for five consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, during which she would reveal to them an urgent message for our times.
In the course of the apparitions, she continually asked for prayer, penance, and amendment of life. She predicted future events that would happen should men not convert. She also asked for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart and the practice of the First Saturday devotion—in which the faithful are asked to confess, go to communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep Our Lady company by meditating for fifteen minutes on the mysteries of the rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months.
On the day of the final apparition, Our Lady worked the most witnessed miracle in modern history as 70,000 people—including anti-Catholic reporters—saw the sun whirl in the sky on that cold and rainy day.
An Impressive Record: More Urgent Than Ever
In the one hundred years since these apparitions, everything has happened exactly as Our Lady said it would. The Fatima record is impressive in predicting both the past as well as the present.
However, there are those who say the message is all behind us now. It’s over. It has been a hundred years, and thus the message is outdated and need no longer be observed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fatima Message is more urgent than ever. Here is why.
No Conversion
Our Lady herself urgently called for the conversion of sinners back in 1917. She warned repeatedly that should her request not be heeded and men not convert, the world would suffer a great chastisement, including the annihilation of some nations.
Looking at the state of the world one hundred years later, no one can affirm that the world has improved. The weakening of Faith is evident everywhere. The Church is in a shattered state of crisis. Society is coming apart because of abortion, the destruction of marriage and the collapse of morals. The world is full of social and political crises and military threats ready to explode at any moment.
It is obvious that men have not converted. There is no doubt that Our Lady’s requests have not been heeded. And given the present state of world affairs, it is unlikely that men will do this in the near future.
Therefore, Fatima is more urgent than ever because it foresees a chastisement for a world that has lost all sense of order. The message says what so many avoid saying: The present crisis is a moral crisis and, therefore, calls for a moral solution.
What Is Needed: A Change of Heart
A society without morals sets itself on the road to ruin. Many already sense this. They see the world and its institutions are coming apart. That within the family itself, there is much strife and discord.  The horrific crimes of terrorism show that no place is safe from the evil in men’s hearts.
Either we see a change of hearts, or this world is lost. And that is the great beauty of the Fatima message. Fatima is not only a message for those who heeded Our Lady’s requests. It speaks to those who did not heed them and come to repent.
Fatima proposes a genuine change of heart. The message asks the faithful to have recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as a means to bring about a grand return to order in times of trial and chastisement. This recourse is the core of the unheeded Message.
Recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means confiding all our concerns, trials and problems to her heart. Further, it means making our hearts like her Immaculate Heart. In other words, avoiding all sin and imitating her great virtue. Our Lady told the seers at Fatima that those souls who embrace the devotion to her Immaculate Heart would find in it “salvation,” a “refuge,” and that her Heart would be “a road that will lead [them] to God.”
That is why Fatima is not over. We are on the cusp of a great chastisement. We need direction and strength. We need hope. And the message has it. Those who confide in the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the coming storm can expect to see the fulfillment of her last prediction: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In this centennial year, we should resolve to make Fatima our compass. It is not over. The best part, her triumph, is yet to come.

We cannot enter heaven without...

We cannot enter a house without first speaking to the porter.
Similarly, we cannot enter heaven
without calling upon the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary
who is the Portress of Heaven.

St. John Vianney

Pope St. Callistus I

The name of St. Callistus was made famous by the Roman cemetery along the Apian Way that he beautified while he was its papal-appointed superintendent. Today, it still bears his name though he is not buried there but in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The cemetery of St. Callistus is fittingly revered for having many relics of the Christian martyrs buried within its precincts.

Roman by birth, Callistus was the slave of a Christian member of Caesar's household. He later became assistant to Pope St. Zephyrinus and then succeeded him in 218 or 219, reigning for about five years. Although the time in which he reigned was mostly peaceful for Christians under Alexander Severus whose mother was a Christian, there are historical indications that he suffered martyrdom in the year 223.

Even his enemies attest to his having ruled with equanimity, at times contravening the customs of the era in favor of wisdom and mercy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

21,570 Rosary Rallies to Blanket America on October 14th



HANOVER, Penn., Oct. 9, 2017 — Hundreds of thousands of Catholics prepare to pray the Rosary in public and beg God and the Blessed Mother to save America. In 21,570 public places from coast to coast, lay Catholics associated with America Needs Fatima will hold Public Square Rosary Rallies.
The rallies refocus people on the urgency of the Blessed Mother's call to conversion given 100 years ago at Fatima, Portugal, and beg God to save America from unimaginable new levels of sin and chaos in society.
A map listing the rally locations by state can be found here!
"As people turn away from God, we’re seeing new levels of sin and chaos. Plus, it is harder to find solutions to our nation's growing moral problems," remarked Francis Slobodnik, national coordinator of the 2017 Public Square Rosary Crusade.
"World events are spiraling out of control. Society is splintering. We're suffering from the evil consequences of sexual immorality, abortion and same-sex 'marriage,'" Slobodnik said. "We must turn back to God and ask Our Lady for supernatural solutions. There is an urgent need for amendment of life and penance. If only we'd do what she requested at Fatima, people would get the courage and wisdom to turn things around in America."



In 21,570 locations, rally captains are gearing up for the 2017 Public Square Rosary Crusade on October 14, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM local time. This is the Saturday closest to October 13th the anniversary of the Fatima miracle of the sun.
"The concept of doing a Rosary Rally in a public place is catching on," Slobodnik added. "In South Africa there will be 683 rallies and in Canada 533 rallies, plus there will be hundreds of sister rallies in other nations such as Poland, Ireland, Belgium, Australia and Cuba that we know of."
"The Holy Rosary is powerful. It is the solution for our problems," said Mr. Slobodnik. "The thought of 21,570 Public Square Rosary Rallies taking place all across America gives hope. I just know the Blessed Mother will be touched by the rallies and work wonders on that day, just like the miracle of the sun 100 years ago. She cannot refuse the fervent prayers of her suffering children, who beg for help!"
The national prayer event is sponsored by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign.
Contact: Robert E. Ritchie, America Needs Fatima, 717-309-1990, reritchie@gmail.com





100 Years Ago Today - The Sixth Fatima Apparition



As on the other occasions, the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, first saw a bright light, and then they saw Our Lady over the holm oak.



Lucia:
What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
Lucia: I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners...
Our Lady: Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.
Becoming sadder, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
Then, opening her hands, Our Lady shone the light issuing from them onto the sun, and as she rose, her own radiance continued to be cast onto the sun.
At that moment, Lucia cried, "Look at the sun!"
Once Our Lady had disappeared in the expanse of the firmament, three scenes followed in succession, symbolizing first the joyful mysteries of the rosary, then the sorrowful mysteries, and, finally, the glorious mysteries. Lucia alone saw the three scenes; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first.
The first scene: Saint Joseph appeared beside the sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The Child Jesus did the same.
The second scene: A vision of Our Lady of Sorrows, without the sword in her breast, and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary.
Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.
Lucia could only see the upper part of Our Lord's body.
The third scene: Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding the Child Jesus near her heart.
While these scenes took place, the great throng of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun.
It had rained all during the apparition. At the end of the conversation between Our Lady and Lucia – when the Blessed Virgin rose and Lucia shouted, "Look at the sun!" – the clouds parted, revealing the sun as an immense silver disk shining with an intensity never before seen – though not blinding.
This lasted only an instant. Then the immense disk began to "dance."
The sun spun rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again. Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on the faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake, and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd.
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its normal brightness. The cycle of the apparitions had ended.
Many people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had suddenly dried.
The miracle of the sun was also seen by numerous witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the place of the apparition.


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The sun began to spin...

The sun began to spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire.
Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again.
Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on
the very faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake,
and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd. All this lasted about ten minutes.
Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place
and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its everyday brightness.

The Miracle of the Sun
as described by Sister Lucia dos Santos and witnessed by more than 70,000 people

St. Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor was the second son of King Ethelred II and his Norman wife, Emma. After King Ethelred's death, Emma married Canute, the son of the Danish king who had overthrown her husband in 1017. Hardly ten years old, Edward and his elder brother, Alfred, were sent to Normandy. The Danes having gained the complete mastery of England, the succession, with Emma’s consent, was settled upon Hardicanute, her son by Canute. Upon Canute’s death in 1035, however, his illegitimate son, Harold, taking advantage of Hardicanute’s absence in Denmark, seized the throne for himself.

Edward and Alfred were persuaded to make an attempt to regain the English crown, but this resulted in the cruel death of Alfred who had fallen into Harold's hands, while Edward was obliged to return to Normandy. Edward was only able to reclaim the throne after Canute’s son and heir’s death in 1042. The people were eager for their legitimate ruler to return to the throne, and Edward's accession was received with wide acclaim.

Brought up in the ducal court of his Norman uncle, Edward’s sympathies and loyalties always rested strongly with the Norman people – a trait which would cause him considerable trouble later.

Yielding to the entreaty of his nobles, he took the powerful Earl Godwin’s daughter, Edith, for his wife in 1044. Out of love for God and a desire for greater perfection, Edward had taken a vow of chastity in his youth. With Edith's consent prior to their marriage, he continued to live a life of absolute continence with her.

Edward’s reign was a peaceful one. He was a wise and just ruler, well respected and favored for his revocation of many exorbitant taxes. However, conflict arose between Edward and his father-in-law, Godwin, when the latter accused Edward of bias in his ecclesiastical nominations, appearing to show favoritism to candidates of Norman origin and in rejecting the election of a relative of Godwin’s to the archbishopric of Canterbury. As tension rose to crisis level and violent friction became imminent, Godwin and his sons’ position disintegrated due to the unwillingness of their men to fight the King. Consequently, Edward seized the opportunity to bring the over-mighty Earl to heel and he and his family were banished. Within a year though, Godwin returned, and he and the King were able to reconcile.

During his early exile in Normandy, Edward had bound himself by vow to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. However, as he could not leave his kingdom without doing injury to his people, Pope St. Leo IX commuted its fulfillment into the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Abbey at Westminster. The King endowed it in a superb manner out of his own patrimony and it is to him that we owe the magnificence of Westminster Abbey.

Edward was the first King of England to use the “royal touch,” a form of laying on of hands by which many suffering from diseases were cured by him.

The saintly King was taken ill while attending the dedication of Westminster Abbey on December 28, 1065. He died the following week on January 5, 1066 and was buried within its walls the next day. Numerous miracles took place at his tomb, wherein his incorrupt body was enshrined, and he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161. He is the only saint buried in Westminster Abbey and one of the few whose relics were not destroyed by Henry VIII.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Medicine for the body, medicine for the soul

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick,
and unless he takes medicine, he will die.
Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin.
For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health;
and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Wilfrid of York

Wilfrid was born in 634, the son of a nobleman. At odds with his stepmother, he was sent to the court of King Oswy of Northumbria, where Queen Eanfleda, complying with his wishes, kindly saw to his education in the sacred sciences.

In 654 he went to Europe with St. Benet, and after a stay in Lyons, went on to Rome where he studied under Boniface the Archdeacon, secretary to Pope St. Martin.
Back in England, in league with King Alcfrith of Deira, he labored to bring the Roman discipline to the English church, taking distance from Celtic usages. Among the Roman practices he worked to establish in England was the Roman calculation for the celebration of Easter.

He became abbot of the monastery of Ripon where he introduced the rule of St. Benedict, and soon after was ordained a priest.

Appointed Bishop of York, he went to France to be consecrated. Lingering, for reasons unknown, then suffering shipwreck, when he returned, found that another, St. Chad, had been appointed in his place by King Oswy.

Wilfrid did not dispute the election, but later, St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, found that the appointment of St. Chad had been irregular and placed St. Wilfrid in the see of York.

As a bishop, he was exemplary and beloved of his people, but his path was not peaceful. First at odds with the heir to Oswy, King Egfrith, and then with the latter’s successor, Aldfrith, he twice lost his see and twice had to travel to Rome to be reinstated, besides facing all sorts of difficulties.

He died in 709 and his body is buried in his monastery of Ripon. Part of the epitaph on his tomb reads: “… drove error far, and showed his folk sound law and liturgy … At home, abroad long time in tempests tossed … he bore a bishop’s charge … Passed to rest and gained the joys of heaven … Grant Lord his flock may tread their shepherd’s path!”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

No grace, no perfection, and no glory...

The Holy Ghost did not describe Mary in the Gospels
but left it to you to picture her in your heart.
In this way, you might comprehend
that there is no grace, no perfection, and no glory
conceivable in a simple creature
that is lacking to her.

St. Thomas of Villanova

St. Mary Soledad

Christened Bibiana Antonia Emanuela, her parents were Francis Torres and Antonia Acosta, an exemplary Christian couple running a small business in Madrid.

At first Emanuela thought of joining the Dominicans whose convent she frequented, but her request was turned down due to poor health and she decided to wait for a clearer direction to her life.

This direction came through Madrid’s Vicar, Fr. Miguel Martinez y Sanz worried about the state of the sick in his parish. He gathered seven women into a religious community devoted to their service. Emanuela was among these first "handmaids" and took the name Maria Soledad – “Solitude”, a Spanish title for the Sorrowful Mother.

Five years later Fr. Miguel took half of the community to make another foundation, leaving Mary Soledad as superior in Madrid.  After dealing with difficulties that threatened the dissolution of the group, Mother Soledad was able to secure the support of Fr. Gabino Sanchez and the queen. At this time, the community was named Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick.

After becoming involved with the care of young delinquents, the community received ecclesiastical approval. During the cholera outbreak of 1865, their dedicated service won the love and respect of all.

Again there were difficulties and, victim of slander, Mother Soledad was removed as superior only to be reinstated after an investigation. After several of the sisters left the community, the Handmaids grew in number and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana, Cuba. The new institute received papal approval in 1876 and the community spread throughout Spain opening houses and hospitals.

After governing the Handmaids for thirty-five years, Mother Soledad died of pneumonia on January 18, 1893. At the time of her death, there were forty-six houses of the congregation spread throughout Europe and Latin America.

In 1896, at the first exhumation of her body, required during the process of canonization, it was still intact and exuded a sweet fragrance. A few years later, however, only bones remained.

In the United States the congregation is known as the Sisters Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick. They have six communities still involved in home health care.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Miracle of the Sun: Seal on a Serious Message

The apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal, May, 1917 to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, were Gospel-like in their seriousness, simplicity and credibility. All events prophesized were fulfilled, and so was Our Lady’s promise of a sign at the sixth and last apparition.
Adding to the believability of the miraculous event, the chosen seers were very young, simple and innocent, incapable of conjuring or embellishing. 
When Our Lady spoke, she spoke like a messenger, plainly and objectively, although touchingly attentive to the children, their questions and needs.
The theme of her message ran throughout the consecutive visits: sin must stop; prayer (especially the Rosary), penance and conversion of life must be adopted by humanity or there would be terrible consequences.
And she promised a portentous sign “for all to believe” which set Portugal abuzz.
It was a “bad” time for such an apparition and such a promise in Portugal.
In 1908 King Carlos I and his heir Prince Luis Felipe, had been assassinated, and a Republic established. The new government was adamantly anti-religious and anti-clerical and aimed at secularizing centuries-old Catholic Portugal.
Thus, the Fatima apparitions deeply disturbed the status-quo, which went as far as imprisoning the children for a short while.
But God was indeed at work at Cova da Iria, Fatima, and a sign had been promised.
And the sign happened.                      Free copy of Meet the Witnesses
On October 13, about 70,000 spectators filled Cova da Iria, among them journalists, the curious and the incredulous.
The day was rainy. The seers saw a bright light, after which Our Lady appeared atop the usual holm oak. Mary asked for a chapel to be built, and revealed that she was the “Lady of the Rosary”.
She predicted that WWI would soon end, and that the soldiers would come home.
Lucia asked for the cure of some sick persons to which Our Lady responded: “Some yes, some no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.”
Then she begged the world, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”

On saying this, she opened her hands and projected the light coming from them onto the sun."
Lucia cried, “Look at the sun!”
The heavy clouds parted revealing a huge silver disk. Though it shone intensely, it did not blind. The sphere began to dance, then spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. It stopped momentarily, then spun vertiginously again, its rim scarlet, scattering flames through the sky. The changing lights were reflected on the faces of the spectators, on the trees and on the ground in fantastic hues.
After performing this bizarre pattern thrice, the fiery globe trembled, shook then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag. People screamed. All this only lasted a few minutes. The sun then zigzagged back to its place and re-assumed its normal appearance.
People noticed that their rain-soaked clothes were dry. So were the pools of water that had formed in the field. Engineers later affirmed that an enormous amount of energy was necessary to dry those pools in only a few minutes.
Numerous people also saw the miracle of the sun up to twenty-five miles away.
To the chagrin of secularists and support of the faithful, newspaper men in the crowd reported the miracle throughout the world.
Indeed, the miracle of the sun “sealed” the authenticity of the Fatima Message, a crucial message for our sinful, troubled times.
By Andrea F. Phillips
References:

Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy or Hope?  By Antonio A. Borelli and John R. Spann
Wikipedia online

A holy reminder

The Holy Rosary,
recited with the meditation on the sacred mysteries,
is a sacrifice of praise to God for the great gift of our redemption
and a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia belonged to one of the most prominent families of the kingdom of Aragon, a family that gave the Church two popes. His father, Juan Borgia, was the third Duke of Gandia. On his mother Juana’s side, Francis was the great-grandson of King Ferdinand V of Aragon.

On his arrival at the imperial court at eighteen, Francis crossed paths momentarily with a man who impressed him, and who was being arrested by the Inquisition: Ignatius of Loyola. The following year, Francis married Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese noblewoman, with whom he had eight children. On his father’s death in 1543, he became the fourth Duke of Gandia.

At his wife's death in 1546, Francis sought admittance to the Society of Jesus. Finally, in 1550, after settling his children and the affairs of his estate, he entered the Jesuits in Rome. The news of the “Duke turned Jesuit” spread and at his first public Mass the crowd was so great, the altar had to be moved outside.

After doing wonders throughout his country he crossed into Portugal and surpassed himself there. In 1554 St. Ignatius made him commissary general of the Society of Jesus in Spain.

As commissary general, he practically founded the Society in Spain establishing many houses and colleges. He was crucial in dissolving the prejudices that his relative, Emperor Charles V, harbored against the Jesuits. He also assisted at the death of the dowager queen Juana, who had gone mad fifty years before, on the death of her husband. She died healed and at peace. He also met St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order, and was the first to recognize her greatness.

Back in Rome, St. Charles Borromeo, and Cardinal Ghislieri, later Pope Pius V. regularly attended his sermons. At the death of Father Laynez, second general of the Jesuits, Francis was elected Father General of the Jesuit Order.

Backed by St. Pius V who admired and trusted him, he was able to do great things for the Order in Rome and abroad, building two churches, and at times using his personal influence to obtain acceptance of the Jesuits.

Worn by the responsibilities of his post and a last trip throughout Europe in which he was publicly hailed as a saint, he returned to Rome on a littler. Through his brother, Thomas, he sent a blessing to his children and grandchildren, and as their names were spoken to him, he prayed for each.  He died on the night of September 30.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Lust after her?

You have heard that it was said to them of old:
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her,
hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5: 27-28

St. Denis of Paris

The flourishing Church of Gaul, in present-day France, suffered terribly under the persecution of Emperor Decius, and Pope Fabian sent the Italian-born Denis and other missionary bishops to encourage and restore the Faith there.

Denis and two inseparable companions, the priest Rusticus, and Eleutherius, a deacon, arrived in the neighborhood of Paris and settled on the island in the Seine River. On this island Denis set about building a church. His fearless and tireless preaching made many converts, but also excited the anger and envy of the heathen priest. Inciting the people against the new preachers, he prevailed upon Governor Fescenninus Sissinnius, to forcibly put a stop to their teaching. Denis and his two companions were seized, tortured, and beheaded. Legend has it that St. Denis’ body stood up, and before the astonished onlookers, picked up his head, and walked six miles.

At the burial site of the three martyrs, a small shrine was erected, later to be replaced by a great basilica which became the burial place of the French kings.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How much?

The true measure of loving God
is to love Him
without measure.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Keyne

Keyne was a princess, one of the many children of King Brycan of South Wales.
Growing up into a very beautiful young woman she was sought in marriage by many noble lords, but resolutely refused all of them.
Instead, she took a vow of virginity and retired into solitude.
It was after this resolution that she was called “Cain Wyry”, Keyne the Maiden.
Crossing over the Severn, she set up her abode on the left bank. She finally settled in the area of present-day Keynsham, in Somerset.
She lived there for years making many journeys and founding oratories and churches.
Her nephew, St. Cadoc, later convinced her to return to Wales, where she settled near a mountain, at which place she caused a healing well to spring up.
She died on October 8 about the year 505.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Our Lady of the Rosary

The Blessed Virgin Mary first gave the Rosary to St. Dominic of Guzman in a vision in 1208, as he earnestly begged God for a solution to the Albigensian heresy then aggressively infecting the south of France. After St. Dominic began to preach the Rosary, the days of the Albigensian error were numbered.

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in honor and thanksgiving for the great victory of the Christian Maritime Coalition against the Muslim fleet at Lepanto in 1571. The "League" was formed in response to the Muslim advances made in Cyprus, with the intent of invading Western Europe. Once its forces were gathered ready to meet the Turk in the Mediterranean, St. Pius V blessed the banner of the fleet, which was solemnly consigned to its Commander in Chief, the young Don Juan of Austria, the twenty-four-year-old half-brother of King Phillip II of Spain.

As the fate of Europe hung in the balance, on October 7, 1571, the Sovereign Pontiff called for a Rosary procession in Rome and it was during that procession that the victory was decided for the Christian fleet.

At first St. Pius V instituted October 7 as the feast of Our Lady of Victory. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title to that of “Feast of the Holy Rosary”.

In 1716 Pope Clement XI inserted the feast into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and extended it to the whole of the Latin Rite, assigning the feast to the first Sunday in October. In 1913, Pope St. Pius X changed the date back to October 7.
On May 13, 1917, there began in Fatima, Portugal a series of apparitions of a luminous lady to three little Portuguese shepherds, Lucia dos Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto. She asked them to return to the same spot for five consecutive months, and that in October she would work a miracle for all to believe and reveal who she was. In every apparition the lady asked for the daily recitation of the Rosary as a remedy to life’s ills, and for peace in the world. On October 13, 1917, a crowd of 70,000 people witnessed the astounding miracle of the sun, as the fiery orb performed a fantastic dance in the sky above. The heavenly lady then revealed her name: “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.

We shall be judged

In the evening of our lives,
we shall be judged
by our love for God and neighbor.

St. John of the Cross

Friday, October 6, 2017

First Saturday Devotion



The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.



On the First Saturday during 5 Consecutive Months, the Devotion consists of:
1. Going to Confession,
2. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion,
3. Saying five decades of the Rosary,
4. Meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this offered in REPARATION for the sins of blasphemy and ingratitude committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

History
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.

Why Five Saturdays?     
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
  a.    Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  b.    Blasphemies against her virginity
  c.    Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
  d.    Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
  e.    Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion to facilitate its observation
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:
  • Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  • Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.


REFERENCE:
Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever 
(Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
  
1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Also Read:

As a mother feels no disgust in dressing the sores of her child...

As a mother feels no disgust in dressing the sores of her child,
so Mary, the heavenly infirmarian,
never refuses to care for sinners who have recourse to her.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Bruno


Bruno, of a prominent family of Cologne, was born in this ancient city around the year 1030. A promising scholar, he studied at the cathedral school of Rheims, and was ordained to the priesthood in his native Cologne.

In 1056 he became a professor of grammar and theology at his former school in Rheims where he taught brilliantly for eighteen years. Many eminent scholars and philosophers studied under him and did him honor throughout Europe, including Eudes de Châtillon, later Pope Urban II, who convoked the First Crusade.

In 1076, he was appointed chancellor of the diocese, and was about to be elected as Archbishop of Rheims when he announced he was retiring into solitude. At first, Bruno placed himself under the direction of Robert of Molesmes, who later was instrumental in the founding of the Abbey of Citeaux.

Later, given land by St. Hugh, the Bishop of Grenoble, he and six other followers settled in the mountainous reaches of Chartreuse where they first build an oratory surrounded by individual cells. Such was the origin of the Order of the Carthusians, which takes its name from Chartreuse. A great admirer of the Order's founder, Bishop Hugh made his spiritual retreats at the Chartreuse where he took Bruno for his spiritual father.

Hearing of his sanctity, and personally acquainted with his prudence and knowledge, his former pupil, now Pope Urban II, summoned Bruno to Rome. Although this presented a great trial for the saint, he obeyed, leaving one of his disciples, Landuin, as prior of the Chartreuse.

In Rome Bruno served the Holy Pontiff in various capacities, including helping in the preparation of several synods with the aim of reforming the clergy. Pressed by the pope to accept the archbishopric of Reggio in Calabria, Bruno earnestly excused himself, begging to be allowed to live in solitude. Pope Urban II finally consented that he retire into Calabria, but not so far off as Chartreuse.

With the help of a noble friend, Count Roger, Bruno settled in the valley of La Torre with a few new disciples from Rome.  Here he embraced the life of solitude with more joy and fervor than ever. It was here also, that Landuin visited him on behalf of the monks of the Chartreuse. They wished to consult their founder as to the manner in which their monastery should follow more faithfully in the spirit of its founder. Bruno instructed, comforted and urged them to perseverance and blessed them.

As he felt death approaching in 1101, Bruno gathered his monks about him and made a public confession of his life, and a profession of faith, which was lovingly preserved by his spiritual sons. He resigned his soul to God on October 6 in the year 1101.

According to Carthusian custom, which shuns all form of publicity, Bruno was never formally canonized. Nevertheless, in 1514, the Order obtained permission from Pope Leo X to keep Bruno’s feast. In 1674, Pope Clement X extended the commemoration of his feast to the Universal Church.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tomorrow is 1st Friday

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 
NINE FIRST FRIDAYS DEVOTION

When Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary in 1673, He promised to grant the following favors to all those who practiced devotion to His Sacred Heart:

12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary:
1)  I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2)  I will give peace in their families.
3)  I will console them in all their troubles.
4)  I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5)  I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6)  Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7)  Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8)  Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9)  I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10) I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11) Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12) In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

A veritable treasure chest of spiritual gems! And what does He ask of us in return?

How to complete the Nine First Fridays Devotion:
On the first Friday of nine consecutive months:
1. Receive Holy Communion on each of the First Fridays;
2. The nine first Fridays must be consecutive;
3. They must be made in honor of and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.
 Sacred Heart Novena Banner

The gospel of envy

Socialism is a philosophy of failure,
the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.
Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Sir Winston Churchill

Bl. Raymond of Capua

Called “the second founder of the Dominicans”, Raymond della Vigna was born in Capua of a prominent family in the kingdom of Naples. He entered the Dominican Order when attending the university in Bologna and went on to fill several posts, including prior in Rome and lector in Florence and Siena.
While in the latter city, he met St. Catherine of Siena and was appointed her confessor. At first he accepted the assignment without enthusiasm as he had doubts about the young mystic. But after a stunning proof of her authenticity, which he relates in his biography of her, he guided her fervently, becoming her closest advisor.

Through the years he was involved in most of Catherine’s undertakings, including a call for a Crusade, the reconciliation of Florence with the papacy, and the plea to Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon in France.

During a plague that struck Siena, Raymond fell ill while aiding the victims and was nursed back to health by St. Catherine.

When the great schism started in 1378 both saints supported Urban VI against the anti-pope Clement VII. After Catherine’s death in 1380, Raymond continued to strive for a settlement of the great crisis and was elected Master General of the Dominicans.

At the helm of the Order until his death in Nuremberg, he worked for the reform of the houses, and the strict observance of the Dominican Rule. Originally buried in Nuremberg, his body was later transferred to the Church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1899, the fifth centenary of his death.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

At all times

Preach the Gospel at all times;
if needed,
use words.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Francis was born in Assisi, a charming hill town in the Italian region of Umbria. His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy cloth merchant who traded often in France, and his mother, Pica, is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence. Though baptized “John”, their only son was called “Francesco” or “the Frenchman”.
Young Francis had an expansive nature and was a lover of life, spending his father’s money lavishly. He was also devoted to romantic chivalry then being extolled by troubadours.

At twenty he fought for Assisi against Perugia and was imprisoned for a year. Later, he sought to join another general, and bought a handsome horse and outfit, but meeting a poor man on the way, gave him his clothes. Taken ill, he heard a voice that invited him to fight for “the master” rather than the man.

As he prayed in the Church of San Damiano, he heard a voice coming from the crucifix: “Francis go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Thinking he was ordered to rebuild the crumbling church, he sold a bolt of cloth, and his horse and offered the money to the pastor who refused to use it.

From then on, young Francis embarked upon a spiritual path that culminated in his father publicly disowning him. In a dramatic gesture, Francis handed his father all his clothes, and was covered by the bishop’s cloak. He then set out to beg alms to repair churches in his area. Knowing him, the town’s people mocked him, all of which he bore joyfully.

Francis had fallen in love with “Lady Poverty”, leaving all to find ALL. His was the calling to counteract the worldly spirit then infecting society, so contrary to the spirit of the Gospel that had built the Middle Ages.

Around the small chapel of Portiuncula, in the valley below Assisi, he built a first community of wood and mud huts. As others joined him, the community grew to the point that he sought approval of Pope Innocent III in Rome, who, having had a dream of Francis holding up God’s falling church, blessed his Order.

Out of humility, Francis gave his order the name of “Friars Minor”, and never sought ordination, thinking himself unworthy of such an honor.

He also co-founded a feminine branch of the Franciscans with St. Clare of Assisi.

In the fall of 1212, St. Francis resolved to go and preach to the Muslims. His first two attempts were foiled, and he returned to Italy where he preached extensively.

In 1219 he went into Egypt with the Crusading army, and fearlessly sought and faced Sultan Malek-al-Kamil, who, impressed with his teaching, invited the monk to stay with him, but, ultimately, did not make a commitment.

Disappointed, Francis returned to Italy to face a crisis developing in his Order, now spread throughout Europe. In response to a movement attempting to overturn his initial ideal of strict poverty, he revised his rule.  The form ultimately approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223 substantially represented the spirit of St. Francis.

In August of 1224, Francis retired with a companion to Mount Alvernia where he was granted the stigmata of Christ. As his health worsened, the wounds were a source of further pain and weakness and he also became nearly blind.

He died surrounded by his spiritual sons, laying on the floor as he had requested, exhorting his brethren to love of God, of poverty and of the Gospel, “before all other ordinances”.  He was forty five, and was canonized only two years later by Pope Gregory IX.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Favor Granted

Centuries ago, in Toledo, Spain, there lived a Cistercian nun called Mary. Being at the point of death, the Blessed Mother appeared to her, and Mary said to her:
"Oh Lady, the favor you do me of visiting me at this hour emboldens me to ask you another favor, namely, that I may die at the same hour that you died and entered into heaven.”
"Yes," answered Mary Most Holy. "I will satisfy your request; you will die at that hour, and you will hear the songs and praises with which the blessed accompanied my entrance into heaven; and now prepare for your death."
When she had said this she disappeared.
Passing by Mary’s cell, other nuns heard her talking to herself, and they thought she must be losing her mind. But she related to them the vision of the Virgin Mary and the promised grace. Soon the entire convent awaited the desired hour.
When Mary knew the hour had arrived, by the striking of the clock, she said:
"Behold, the predicted hour has come; I hear the music of the angels. At this hour my queen ascended into heaven. Rest in peace, for I am going now to see her."
Saying this she expired, while her eyes became bright as stars, and her face glowed with a beautiful color.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Prudence has two eyes

Prudence has two eyes,
one that foresees what one has to do,
the other that examines afterward what one has done.

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Thomas of Cantelupe

Born into an illustrious and influential family, Thomas was the son of William de Cantelupe, a minister to King John, and Millicent (or Maud) de Gournay, the Dowager Countess of Evreux and Gloucester. He had four brothers and three sisters.

His education was entrusted to his uncle, Walter de Cantelupe, the Bishop of Worcester, who sent Thomas first to Oxford and then to Paris. In 1245, while yet a student, Thomas attended the first Council of Lyons. After his ordination to the priesthood in France, he returned to Oxford to teach canon law. In 1262 he was chosen chancellor of the university, and though considered a strict disciplinarian, was known for his charity to poor students.

In 1264 he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England, and was renowned for his prudence, courage, blameless life, scrupulous justice, and disregard of human respect and the least bribe, but did not hold office long.

In 1275 he was appointed Bishop of Hereford, a diocese he found in a bad state owing to civil wars and the pusillanimity of his two predecessors. One after another he met, defied and overcame the lords. He rebuked and excommunicated public sinners equally publicly, especially those in high places who set a bad example. He was also a trusted advisor to King Edward I.

Yet, as it is with truly courageous shepherds, they are just as tender and attentive as they are combative, and it is said that whenever he was among the young, he would personally inquire if they had received the sacrament of Confirmation. Receiving a negative answer, he would personally supply what was needed and confirm them himself.

Unhappily, toward the end of his life, Thomas entered into a great dispute with John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, over questions of jurisdiction and other particular cases. This disagreement ended by the metropolitan excommunicating Thomas who traveled to Italy to settle the matter with Pope Martin IV who, despite the fulminations in Peckham’s letters, received him kindly. Thomas was ultimately absolved.

Pending the consideration and outcome of his appeal, Thomas retired to Montefiascone but succumbed to the fatigues and the heat, and died in Orvieto on August 25, 1282. His remains were later transferred to Hereford and he was buried in the cathedral. He was canonized in 1320

Monday, October 2, 2017

The first thing about the angels

The first thing about the angels
that we ought to imitate
is their consciousness of the Presence of God.

St. John Vianney

The Holy Guardian Angels

The existence of angels is a dogma of our Catholic Faith, and is abundantly documented in Sacred Scriptures and Catholic Tradition.

An angel is a spiritual creature, superior to human beings, with a three-fold mission: to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over mortals. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? ... For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:4-5).

The name "angel" is from the Greek "angelos" meaning "one who is sent" or "messenger". Though purely spiritual, they can show themselves to men in human form as in the story of Tobias.

Passages in Scripture point to the existence of an angel specifically assigned to each human being to help, guide and protect him or her through the journey of life: “Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear his voice” (Exodus 23:20) And in the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ speaking of children: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).

Guardian Angels are often visible to Catholic saints as in the life of St. Frances of Rome, St. Gemma Galgani and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. St. Gemma’s angel even delivered letters for her, and brought her coffee in bed when she was sick.

Like many other feasts, the feast of the Guardian Angels was celebrated on a local level before it was placed on the Roman calendar. Pope Clement X officially established the feast of the Guardian Angels for the Universal Church on October 2.
Photo by: Louise Docker

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The goal of all our undertakings

The goal of all our undertakings should be
not so much a task perfectly completed
as the accomplishment of the will of God.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Marie-Françoise Thérèse Martin was born on January 2, 1873 in the town of Alençon in French Normandy. Her parents were Louis Martin, a watch maker, and Zélie Guerin, both beatified by the Church. Called Thérèse, she was the last of nine children, five of which survived to adulthood.

Growing up in a deeply Catholic family, Thérèse’s life was filled with love, consideration and kindness. A pretty, blond and blue-eyed girl, hers was a precocious mind, and passionate, willful, sensitive nature, a nature made yet more sensitive by her mother’s death of breast cancer when Thérèse was four.

After his wife’s death, M. Martin moved his family to the town of Lisieux, and rented a charming home, “Les Buissonnets”, where he raised his five girls in bourgeois comfort. Thérèse was his “Benjamin” for whom he had a special affection and whom he called “my little queen”.

For her mothering needs, the little girl turned to her favorite sister, Pauline, who took the rearing of her “child” seriously looking after her needs of body, mind and soul.

When Pauline decided to enter Carmel in 1882, the shock made Thérèse seriously ill. As the illness progressed, and as her family prepared for the worst, on May 13, the sick girl appealed to a statue of Our Lady by her bed. “Suddenly,” Thérèse writes, “Mary’s face radiated kindness and love…” and she was healed. To the family the statue became “The Virgin of the Smile”.

On Christmas Eve in 1886 at the age of fourteen Thérèse received a great grace. In one moment, she was cured of her hyper-sensitivity, and went through what she calls “her conversion”. From then on she decided to live no longer to please herself but for love. She felt her heart burn with the wish to help Jesus save souls.

Hearing of a murderer, Henri Pranzini, who had been condemned to death, but remained unrepentant, she set out to pray and offer small sacrifices for his conversion, and trusted that God would hear her against all appearances. She was elated when she read that though refusing a priest to the last, at the scaffold Pranzini suddenly turned and, snatching a crucifix from the attending priest’s hands, kissed it repeatedly. Thereafter, Thérèse always called Pranzini her “first son”– her course was set.

She entered Carmel at age sixteen, and though only living as a Carmelite for nine years, she rose to the heights of sanctity through her “little way” of serving God and others in everyday life, and doing everything, even the smallest things, with great love and child-like trust in her God’s paternal love, and mercy.  At the request of her sister Pauline who glimpsed her sanctity, she penned her autobiography, The Story of a Soul.

Struck with tuberculosis, Thérèse suffered greatly. Knowing she was dying she promised, “I shall spend my heaven doing good on earth … I shall let fall a shower of roses”.  Thérèse died on September 30, 1897, after a brief ecstasy. Her last gasping words were, “My God! ... I love Thee!”

She was canonized by Pius XI in 1925 and devotion to her quickly spread throughout the world. For her doctrine of “The Little Way” Thérèse was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sweet Star of the Sea


Did you know that the Blessed Virgin Mary, embarked on a sea voyage in her lifetime?

Though this information does not come to us by way of Scriptures, it reaches us through a trustworthy private revelation, which the Church approved and leaves to our discretion to believe.
Such is the vast work entitled, City of God, written by Venerable Maria of Agreda, a Conceptionist nun and mystic of the seventeenth century to whom the Virgin Mary dictated her life.
One of the fascinating details of this account is the story of how St. John, to whom Our Lord entrusted His mother, wishing to protect Our Lady from the persecution developing in Jerusalem, moved her to the town of Ephesus in Turkey. To this day there is a house in Ephesus which is claimed to have been her abode.
So it was that the beloved disciple and Mary Most Holy came to the shore, and boarding a ship, made for the high seas.
For the first time, our Blessed Lady was on the sea. She marvelled at the might and beauty of the ocean, discerning the greatness, the power, and the charm of her Son written in its glistening movements. She praised God for this His mighty work, at the same time commanding all the inhabitants of the deep to give praise to their Creator. Immediately all the creatures of the ocean, from the biggest to the smallest began to show their heads above the breaking waves, gathering around the vessel and bobbing up and down in gleeful acknowledgement of their Queen’s presence in their midst.
At one point there were so many schools of fish and maritime animals crowding around the bow, that the ship’s progress was hindered. At this, the gentle queen, at St. John’s suggestion, graciously blessed them and dismissed them. All promptly obeyed, with one last foaming show of joy, to the astonishment of all on board who were ignorant of the origin of this wonder.
In this voyage, Our Lady also sensed how terrible a menace the sea can be when aroused, to those sailing it. In her maternal concern, she asked her Son to grant her the particular privilege to be a safe haven to all who invoke her at sea at such times of peril. At this prayer, Our Lord granted her the awesome title of “Star of the Sea” and the assurance to all those who invoke her on the ocean, never to perish by its raging might.
A twenty-first century appendix is that while relating this story to an uncle who was a Navy Commander and devotee of Mary, his face lit up on hearing of this divine grant and exclaimed, “I know by experience that what you tell me is true!”
By Andrea F. Phillips

Why do we profess one thing and display another?

Either we must speak as we dress,
or dress as we speak.
Why do we profess one thing and display another?
The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome is a Father and Doctor of the Church who is best known for his compiling of the Vulgate version of the Catholic Bible, now the standard edition in use.

He was born about the year 347 at Stidon, near Dalmatia, to wealthy Christian parents. Initially educated at home, his parents soon sent him to Rome to further his intense desire for intellectual learning. There he studied and excelled at grammar, Latin and Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy, and lived a deeply materialistic life alongside his fellow students. Jerome was baptized in his late teen years, as was the custom at the time, around the time he finished his schooling.

After spending many years in travel and, notably, discovering and investigating his extreme interest in monasticism, Jerome’s life took a sudden turn. In the spring of 375, he became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impacted him, because in it he was accused of being a follower of Cicero – an early Roman philosopher – and not a Christian. Afterwards, Jerome vowed never to read any pagan literature again – not even the classics for pleasure. He separated himself from society and left to become a hermit in the desert so as to atone for his sins and dedicate himself to God. Having no experience of monasticism and no guide to direct him, Jerome suffered greatly and was often quite ill. He was plagued terribly with temptations of the flesh and would impose harsh penances on himself to repress them. While there, he undertook the learning of Hebrew, as an added penance, and was tutored by a Jewish convert. When controversy arose among his fellow monks in the desert concerning the bishopric of Antioch, Jerome left to avoid the tension of the position he found himself in.

Having developed a reputation as a great scholar and ascetic, Jerome was ordained to the priesthood by the persuasion of Bishop Paulinus, on the condition that he be allowed to continue his monastic lifestyle and not be obliged to assume pastoral duties.

In 382, he was appointed as secretary to Pope Damascus, who urged him to undertake a Latin translation of the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew origins.

After the death of the Holy Pontiff, Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land with a small group of virgins who were led by his close friend, Paula. Under his direction, Paula established a monastery for men in Bethlehem and three cloisters for women. Jerome remained at this monastery until his death around A.D. 420, only leaving occasionally for brief trips. He is the patron saint of librarians and translators.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why the wicked exist

The wicked exist in this world
either to be converted
or that through them
the good may exercise patience.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Archangel St. Raphael

St. Raphael is first mentioned in the Book of Tobit, where he appeared disguised in human form to Tobias, son of the blind man Tobit, and traveled with him from Nineveh to Media. While they were in Media, the Archangel told Tobias of Sarah, daughter of Raguel. Sarah had been married seven previous times, but each time, on the night of the wedding, her husband was abducted and slain by a demon. St. Raphael convinced Tobias to present himself as a husband to Sarah, who accepted him.

Sarah despaired that yet another of her husbands would be taken from her, and she prayed for her own death. Raphael banished the demon from her, and she and Tobias had a happy marriage. After the wedding feast, Tobias and Sarah return to Nineveh. There, Raphael cured Tobit’s blindness, revealed his true identity and returned to heaven.

Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels. He is also the patron of the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and of travelers.