Friday, March 31, 2017

What should we pray for?

Pray for the reestablishment of the kingdom of God,
for the spread of the Faith,
for the praise and triumph of our Holy Mother Church …
Pray for the unfaithful
and for heretics and
for the conversion of sinners.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Guy of Pomposa

Guy was born near Ravenna in northern Italy to parents who took great pride in him. Primarily to give them pleasure, he was meticulous in his dress and personal appearance. Still, one day during a festival, realizing the vanity of this way of being, and taken with deep compunction, he stripped himself of his fine garments and gave them all away to the poor.

To his parents’ further mortification, their son donned shabby garments and departed for Rome, where he received the tonsure.

On his return, he placed himself under the direction of a hermit named Martin, who lived alone on a small island in the River Po. After three years of directing Guy, the hermit sent him to the Abbey of Pomposa to learn the ways of monastic life.

There Guy so advanced in virtue that he quickly rose to high office, and was elected abbot. Such was his reputation and so many flocked to the abbey that he was obliged to build another. Even his father and his brother joined the monastery.

At certain times of the year Abbot Guy would retire into solitude a few miles from his monastery and there would submit his body to severe austerities. Particularly during the forty days of Lent the austerities were such as to resemble tortures, and yet, he was extraordinarily tender toward his monks who were devoted to him.

Guy did not escape the persecution which often comes to those seeking holiness. For unknown reasons, the Archbishop of Ravenna had developed a hatred for the holy abbot and determined to destroy his monasteries. When Guy learned of the imminent attack, he fasted for three days, joined in this mortification by the entire community of monks. When the archbishop arrived with his soldiers, he was met by Guy with such humility and respect, that he was overwhelmed and asked the abbot's pardon.

Towards the close of his life Guy again withdrew to his solitary hermitage. The Emperor Henry III, who had come to Italy to consult with the holy abbot, summoned him to Piacenza. Though he was unwilling to do so, the aged abbot obeyed, taking a tender farewell from his brothers whom he said he would see no more. Attacked by a sudden illness in Borgo San Donnino near Parma, he died three days later.

Both Parma and Pomposa claimed his relics, but the emperor settled the dispute by having his body translated to the Church of St. John the Evangelist at Speyer in Germany.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What brings us to Heaven?

Contradictions bring us to the foot of the Cross,
 and the Cross,
to the gate of Heaven.

St. John Vianney

St. Leonard Murialdo

Leonard Murialdo was born in 1828 into a wealthy, but religious, family in Turin, Italy. The eighth child in a large family, he was only four years old when he lost his father.

During his adolescent years, Leonard went through a profound spiritual crisis and an interior conversion during which period he discovered his vocation to the priesthood. He received an excellent education and seminary formation, completed his studies in philosophy and theology at the University of Turin, and was ordained a priest in 1851.

As a seminarian he had begun assisting his cousin, Don Roberto Murialdo, at the Guardian Angels Oratory in Turin and it was through him that he came to work closely with two other saints: St. Joseph Cafasso and St. John Bosco. For a time, at the latter’s request, the young priest took charge of the Oratory of St. Louis, one of Don Bosco’s educational centers for boys at the edge of the city.

He went on to take charge of a college for young working men founded by another exemplary priest, Don Giovanni Cocchi, and although taking on the daunting assignment hesitantly, and only “provisionally”, he remained at this post for the next thirty-seven years. Partly to fund the college, he founded the Pious Association of St. Joseph. From Turin this association spread throughout Italy and then to America. Leonard also founded agricultural centers for young delinquents, another field in which he was an innovator.

He was a great proponent of true social justice, and was ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic Workers’ Union, a forerunner of Catholic Action. He was equally dedicated to the spread of piety, particularly devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He died on March 30, 1900 and his remains rest in the Church of St. Barbara in Turin.

Stories of Mary 20: A Contract With The Devil

The devil could not endure such
devotion to the holy Virgin, and tormented
him continually with temptations against purity.
See Preliminary Remark by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

A Contract With The Devil
A hermit of Mount Olivet had in his cell a holy image of Mary, and frequently offered up prayers before it.
The devil could not endure such devotion to the holy Virgin, and tormented him continually with temptations against purity; and the poor old hermit finding himself still pursued by them, notwithstanding all his prayers and mortifications, said one day to the enemy: “What have I done to you, that you will not leave me in peace?”
And the demon appeared to him and answered: “You torment me more than I torment you;” and then he added: “Now come, and swear secrecy to me, and I will tell you what you must cease to do, if you wish me not to molest you any more.”
The hermit took the oath, and then the devil said to him: “I wish you never again to approach that image that you have in your cell.”
The hermit was greatly perplexed, and went to take counsel of the Abbot Theodore, who told him that he was not bound by his oath, and that he must not cease to recommend himself to Mary before that image, as he had done before.
The hermit obeyed, and the devil was put to shame and conquered.*  (*Bonif. Hist. Virg. . 6.)
When Done For The Love Of Mary…
A young nobleman was reading one day, while at sea, an obscene book, in which he took great pleasure. A religious said to him: “Now come, would you give something to Our Lady?”
“Yes,” he answered; and the other said, “I wish that, for love of the holy Virgin, you would tear that book in pieces and cast it into the sea.”
“Here it is, Father,” said the young man.
“No,” said the religious. “I wish that you yourself would make this offering to Mary.”
He did so, and when he returned to Genoa, his native place, the mother of God so inflamed his heart with the love of God that he became a religious.* (*Ann. Marian. 1505.)
PRAYER to Overcome Temptation: by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day.
I venerate thee, great queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou hast bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved by my sins.
I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly for ever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy.
And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death.
My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.
Preliminary Remark by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Some persons, boasting of being free from prejudices, take great credit to themselves for believing no miracles but those recorded in the holy Scriptures, esteeming all others as tales and fables for foolish women. But it will be well to repeat here a just remark of the learned and pious Father John Crasset,* who says that the bad are as ready to deride miracles as the good are to believe them; adding, that as it is a weakness to give credit to all things, so, on the other hand, to reject miracles which come to us attested by grave and pious men, either savors of infidelity, which supposes them impossible to Gods or of presumption, which refuses belief to such a class of authors. We give credit to Tacitus and a Suetonius, and can we deny it without presumption to Christian authors of learning and probity? There is less risk, says Father Canisius, in believing and receiving what is related with some probability by honest persons, and not rejected by the learned, and which serves for the edification of our neighbor, than in rejecting it with a disdainful and presumptuous spirit.

This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What is the greatest type of courage?

Of the several types of courage which a man needs,
one of the greatest – or the greatest –
is the courage to decide to be pure.

To be pure requires
great manliness, great seriousness,
great strength of will.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Rupert of Salzburg

Rupert’s origins are obscure, though there are strong indications that he was a Frenchman, and, according to a certain tradition, a scion of the old Frankish Merovingian family – and certainly a contemporary of Childebert III, king of the Franks.

Rupert was already a bishop and known for his great virtue, when he was invited by Duke Theodo of Bavaria, himself still a pagan, to evangelize his people. Although the Gospel had already been preached in Bavaria, its people were, for all intents and purposes, but nominally Catholic, as pagan practices and Arian heretical beliefs persisted in their midst, adulterating the purity of the Christian doctrine.

Rupert and his companions were warmly received in the ancient town of Ratisbon. The Duke Theodo presently received Baptism and with him a number of his nobles.

With no serious opposition to the missionaries’ work, Christianity flourished under the apostolate of Bishop Rupert and his companions who proceeded to confirm the faith of some, to evangelize many, Christianize pagan temples, and build churches. In the course of his work the saintly bishop worked countless miracles.

In his generosity, Theodo gave Rupert the region of Juvavum, present-day Salzburg in Austria, for his apostolic see. Returning to France, the abbot-bishop convinced another twelve men, as well as his niece St. Erentrudis, to join him in his mission. With his niece he founded a Benedictine monastery for women in Nonnberg, and with the twelve men a Benedictine monastery for men, St. Peter at Salzburg. The saint spent his life dedicated to the work of not only evangelizing and guiding his flock, but also of civilizing his people. He also did much to promote the salt mines in the region for which he renamed the city Salzburg.

Rupert died in Salzburg around the year 710. Many churches in the region are named after this Apostle of Austria and Bavaria, and the first Abbot-Bishop of Salzburg.

Stories of Mary 19: She Was The Scandal Of Alexandria

Oh, if all men loved this most kind and loving Lady,
and in temptations always and immediately had
recourse to her, who would fall?
Who would be lost?
Nothing remains to be done, says St. Thomas of Villanova, when the devil comes to tempt us, but, like the chickens when the kite appears, to run quickly under the shelter of the wings of our mother.
Let us, then, at the approach of the temptations which assail us, without stopping to parley with them, place ourselves at once under the protection of Mary. And then, the saint goes on to say, Our Lady and mother must defend us; for, after God, we have no refuge but thee, who art our only hope, and the only protectress in whom we may confide.
Let us then conclude with the words of St. Bernard; Oh man, whoever thou art, thou knowest that in this miserable life thou art rather tossing on the tempestuous waves, among dangers and tempests, than walking upon the earth; if thou wouldst not sink, keep thy eye fixed on this star, namely, Mary.
Look at the star, invoke Mary. When in danger of sinning, when tormented by temptations, when doubts disturb thee, remember that Mary can aid thee, and instantly call upon her. May her powerful name never depart from the confidence of thy heart, nor from the invocation of thy lips.
If thou wilt follow Mary, thou shalt never wander from the path of safety. Commend thyself always to her, and thou shalt not despair. If she upholds thee, thou shalt not fall. If she protects thee, thou need not fear ruin. If she guides thee, thou shalt be saved without difficulty. In a word, if Mary undertakes to defend thee, thou shalt certainly arrive at the kingdom of the blessed.
Thus do, and thou shalt live.
In the celebrated history of St. Mary of Egypt, which we find in the first volume of the Lives of the Fathers, we read that, at twelve years of age she fled from her parents, and went to Alexandria, where she led an infamous life, and became the scandal of the city. After sixteen years spent in sin, she wandered off to Jerusalem; when, on the festival of the Holy Cross, she was led to enter the church, more from curiosity than devotion. On the threshold she was thrust back, as if by some invisible power; she attempted a second time to enter, and again was repelled, and a third and a fourth time the same thing happened.
The wretched creature withdrew then into a corner of the portico, and there she was interiorly enlightened, and saw that God had refused her entrance into the church on account of her wicked life.
By chance she raised her eyes, and saw a picture of Mary which was painted in the vestibule. She turned to it, weeping, and said: “Oh Mother of God, have pity on this poor sinner! I know that, on account of my sins, I do not deserve that thou shouldst regard me; but thou art the refuge of sinners: for the love of Jesus, thy Son, help me. Obtain for me that I may enter the church, for I desire to change my life, and go and do penance wherever thou shalt direct.”
Then she heard an interior voice, as if the blessed Virgin answered her: “Come, since thou hast invoked me, and wishest to change thy life, enter the church, for the door will no longer be closed against thee.”
The sinner entered, adored the cross, and wept. She returned to the picture: “Oh Lady,” she said, “I am ready; where shall I retire to do penance?” “Go,” said the Virgin, “beyond the Jordan, and thou wilt find the place of thy repose.”
She made her confession, received Holy Communion, passed the river, reached the desert, and understood that there was her place of penance.
During the first seventeen years that she lived in the desert, the evil spirits fiercely assailed her, to make her fall again. What did she then do? She recommended herself to Mary, and Mary obtained for her strength to resist for seventeen years, after which the conflict ceased.
Finally, after fifty-seven years spent in the desert, in the eighty-seventh of her age, through Divine Providence, she was found by the abbot St. Zosimus. To him she related the story of her whole life, and begged him to return there the following year, and bring her holy communion.
The holy abbot returned, and gave her communion. Then she implored him again to do the same thing. He returned the second time, and found her dead, her body surrounded with light, and at her head these words written in the sand: “Bury in this place the body of me, a miserable sinner, and pray God for me.”
A lion came and dug her grave, the abbot buried her, and, returning to the monastery, he related the wonders of divine mercy towards this happy penitent.
Oh mother of mercy! holy Virgin! behold at thy feet the traitor, who, returning ingratitude for the favors received through thee from God has betrayed thee and God. But, oh my Lady! know that my misery does not destroy, but rather increases my confidence in thee, because I see that my misery increases thy compassion for me.
Show, oh Mary! that thou art the same to me as thou art to all those who invoke thee, full of grace and mercy. It is enough for me that thou regardest me with compassion. If in thy heart thou hast pity for me, thou wilt not cease to protect me; and if thou dost protect me, what should I fear?
No, I fear nothing; I fear not my sins, for thou canst remedy their evil consequences; nor the demons, for thou art more powerful than hell; nor thy Son who is justly angry with me, for at one word of thine He will be appeased.
I only fear that through negligence I may fail to implore thy protection in my temptations, and that this may cause my ruin. But I promise thee today; I will always have recourse to thee. Help me to keep this resolution. Behold the opportunity thou hast of satisfying thy desire to relieve so miserable a creature as I am.
Oh mother of God, I have great confidence in thee. From thee I expect the grace to do just penance for my sins, and from thee I hope the strength never more to fall back into them. If I am sick, thou canst heal me, oh heavenly physician. If my sins have made me weak, thy help can make me strong. Oh Mary, I hope every thing from thee, for thou hast all power with God.

This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The unlimited power of prayer

Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata
who is queen 
even of God's heart. 

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Tutilo

Tutilo was an Irish man who, while visiting the renowned Benedictine Abbey of St. Gall in present-day Switzerland, delayed his departure – and stayed his whole life.

Said to have been a large, powerful, handsome and quick-witted Irishman, Tutilo was also genial in that he was a teacher, an orator, a poet, an architect, a painter, a sculptor, an accomplished illuminator, a musician, even a mathematician and astronomer. His numerous talents and gifts led to his being much in demand and, by permission of his abbot, he fulfilled many artistic commissions outside the monastery. One of these was his sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Cathedral at Metz, considered to be a masterpiece.

He was a member of the abbey at the zenith of its influence throughout all of Europe. Many of the Gregorian chant manuscripts that survive to this day, and some of the most authentic, are undoubtedly Tutilo’s own work.

Of all his many talents, the one Tutilo loved the most was music. According to tradition, he could play and teach all of the instruments in the monastery and had a fine musical voice.

King Charles had a great admiration for the gifted monk and remarked that it was a great pity for so much talent to be hidden away in a monastery. But the saint himself shrank from publicity and when obliged to go to the great cities he strove to avoid notice and compliments. All he wanted was to use his gifts for the service of God. Though Tutilo was the epitome of today's "Renaissance man", sanctity was his real crown.

Stories of Mary 17: Just For Wearing A Rosary

Looking at him with great kindness Our Lady said: “As a reward
for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my Rosary,
I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son.
Your life will be spared for a few more years.
See that you spend those years wisely, and do penance.”
It would hardly be possible for me to put into words how much Our Lady thinks of the Holy Rosary and how she vastly prefers it to all other devotions.
Neither can I sufficiently express how highly she rewards those who work to preach the devotion, to establish it and spread it, nor, on the other hand, how firmly she punishes those who work against it.
All during life, Saint Dominic had nothing more at heart than to praise Our Lady, to preach her greatness and to inspire everybody to honor her by saying her Rosary. As a reward he received countless graces from her; exercising her great power as Queen of Heaven, she crowned his labors with many miracles and prodigies. Almighty God always granted him what he asked through Our Lady. The greatest honor of all was that she helped him to crush the Albigensian heresy and made him the founder and patriarch of a great religious order.
As for Blessed Alan de la Roche, who restored the devotion to the Rosary, he received many privileges from Our Lady; she graciously appeared to him several times to teach him how to work out his salvation, to become a good priest and perfect religious, and how to pattern himself on Our Lord.
He used to be horribly tempted and persecuted by devils, and then a deep sadness would fall upon him and sometimes he would come close to despair – but Our Lady always comforted him by her sweet presence which banished the clouds of darkness from his soul.
She taught him how to say the Rosary, explaining its value and the fruits to be gained by it and she gave him a great and glorious privilege: the honor of being called her new spouse.
As a token of her chaste love for him she placed a ring upon his finger and a necklace made of her own hair about his neck and gave him a Rosary.
Father Tritème Carthagena and Martin of Navarre (both very learned men), and others as well, have spoken of him in terms of the highest praise. Blessed Alan died at Zwolle in Flanders September 8, 1475, after having brought over one hundred thousand people into the Confraternity [of the Rosary – Ed.].
Blessed Thomas of Saint John was well known for his sermons on the Most Holy Rosary, and the devil, jealous of the success he had with souls, tortured him so much that he fell ill and was sick so long that the doctors gave up on him.
One night when he really thought that he was dying, the devil appeared to him in the most horrible form imaginable. There was a picture of Our Lady near his bed; he looked at it and cried with all his heart and soul and strength: “Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”
No sooner had he said this than the picture seemed to come alive and Our Lady put out her hand, took him by the arm and said: “Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you: get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you used to do. I promise to shield you from your enemies.”
When Our Lady said this the devil fled and Blessed Thomas got up, finding that he was in perfect health. He then thanked the Blessed Mother with tears of joy. He resumed his Rosary apostolate and his sermons were marvelously successful.
Our Lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.
Alphonsus, King of Leon and Galicia, very much wanted all his servants to honor the Blessed Virgin by saying the Rosary. So he hung a large Rosary on his belt and always wore it, but unfortunately never said it himself.
Nevertheless, his wearing it encouraged his courtiers to say the Rosary very devoutly.
One day the King fell seriously ill and when he was given up for dead he found himself, in a vision, before the judgment seat of Our Lord. Many devils were there accusing him of all the sins he had committed and Our Lord as Sovereign Judge was just about to condemn him to hell when Our Lady appeared to intercede for him.
She called for a pair of scales and had his sins placed in one of the balances. On the other side, she put the Rosary that he had always worn, along with all the Rosaries that had been said because of his example.
It was found that the Rosaries weighed more than his sins.
Looking at him with great kindness Our Lady said: “As a reward for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my Rosary, I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son. Your life will be spared for a few more years. See that you spend those years wisely, and do penance.”
When the King regained consciousness he cried out: “Blessed be the Rosary of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, by which I have been delivered from eternal damnation!”
After he had recovered his health, he spent the rest of his life in spreading devotion to the Holy Rosary and said it faithfully every day.
People who love the Blessed Virgin ought to follow the example of King Alphonsus and that of the saints whom I have mentioned so that they too may win other souls for the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. They will receive great graces on earth and eternal life later on.
“They that explain me shall have life everlasting” (Ecclus. 24:31).

This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from The Secret of the Rosary, 1st Edition, by Saint Louis de Montfort, America Needs Fatima, PO BOX 341, Hanover, PA 17331

Monday, March 27, 2017

Take courage

Courage, my soul,
through prayer we can do all that is asked of us.
The Heart of Jesus is there:
let us knock.

St. Bernadette Soubirous

St. John of Egypt

John of Egypt was born in present-day area of Asyut and was trained as a carpenter. At the age twenty-five he submitted himself to the direction of a hermit who spent several years training him in the virtues of obedience and self-denial.

John came to love obedience and obeyed unquestioningly no matter how unreasonable the task thrust upon him. At the command of his spiritual director, he once spent an entire year watering a dry stick, thrust into the mud, as if it were a flowering plant.

As a reward for his humility and prompt obedience the Lord granted John extraordinary gifts such as the gift of prophecy, the power of reading thoughts, and miracles.

After spending four or five years visiting various monasteries, John retired to the top of a steep hill in which he opened three small cells: one for a bedroom, one for a workroom and living room, and another for an oratory. He then walled himself in leaving a small window through which he received necessaries and spoke to visitors.

During five days of the week he conversed with God, but on Saturdays and Sundays he received visitors, men only – no women – who wished to consult him on spiritual and temporal matters. He predicted future military victories to Emperor Theodosius the Great.

Though he founded no religious community he is considered as a father of ascetics.

Shortly before his death he was visited by Palladius to whom he prophesied that he would become a bishop. Palladius left an interesting account of their meeting.

The holy recluse died at the age of ninety. Three days before his death he shut the small window to his cell, and demanded to be left alone. He was found dead in a position of prayer.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Freed from a Contract with the Devil

Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of Theophilus (6th century). The Patriarch was an eyewitness of the fact which we relate here, and which is also confirmed by St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antoninus, and others.
Theophilus was an archdeacon of the Church of Adanas, a city of Cilicia, and was so well esteemed that the people wished him to become their bishop, but his humility prevented his consent.
Afterwards, some malicious persons slandered him, and he was deposed from his office. Upset and blinded by passion, he went to a magician, who induced him to apply to Satan for help in his misfortunes.
The devil answered that if he wished his assistance, he must renounce Jesus, and Mary his mother, and hand over to him the act of renunciation, written with his own hand.  Theophilus executed the vile document. On the following day the bishop, having heard of the wrong done him by his calumniators, asked his forgiveness, and restored him to his office. 
But Theophilus began to feel so tortured by the pangs of remorse over the great crime he had committed, that he wept continually.
Entering a church, he prostrated himself in tears before an altar of the Blessed Virgin, exclaiming: “O, mother of God, having you who art so merciful, I will not despair of your help.”
Thus he persevered for forty days, weeping and praying to the Holy Virgin.
Behold, one night the mother of mercy appeared to him and said: “O, Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced my friendship and that of my Son, and for whom, but for the sake of your enemy and mine!”
“O, Lady,” answered Theophilus, “it is in thy hand to pardon me, and to obtain my pardon from thy Son.”
Then, Mary, seeing his confidence, answered, “Take courage and I will pray for thee.”
Theophilus, encouraged by these words, redoubled his tears, his penance, and his prayers, remaining constantly at the foot of the altar. And, behold, Mary appeared to him again, and with a joyful countenance said to him:
“Theophilus, rejoice, I have presented thy tears and thy prayers to God; He hath accepted them, and hath already pardoned thee; henceforth be grateful and faithful.”
“Lady,” replied Theophilus, “this is not sufficient to console me; the enemy still possesses the impious deed, by which I have renounced thee and thy Son; thou canst obtain it for me.”
After three days, Theophilus awoke one night, and found the paper on his breast.
The next day, when the bishop with a large assembly were present in church, Theophilus cast himself at his feet, related the whole story, weeping bitterly, and handed him the infamous writing, which the bishop immediately ordered to be burned in the presence of the congregation. The people wept for joy, praising the goodness of God, and the mercy of Mary towards that miserable sinner.
Theophilus returned to the church of the Virgin, and there, three days later, died happily, with thanksgivings to Jesus and his holy mother on his lips.
References:  Glories of Mary, New Revised Edition of 1888, p.196

Keep it simple

There is no danger
if our prayer is without words or reflection
because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study.
It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God,
and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is,
the surer it is.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Braulio of Zaragoza

Braulio was a brilliant scholar and a pupil of St. Isidore, who founded a university in Seville, Spain. He eventually became a mentor to his mentor, and went on to advise not only ecclesiasts but kings.

At the death of his brother, Bishop John of Zaragoza, Braulio was nominated as his successor, a dignity he accepted. As bishop, he labored with zeal for his people, and also to extirpate the last vestiges of Arianism, still festering among them despite the conversion of King Recaredo.

He took part in the Council of Toledo, and was charged by the same council to write a response to Pope Honorius I who had accused the Spanish bishops of pastoral negligence. His defense was both dignified and convincing.

The good bishop spent many a night in prayer in the Church of Our Lady of the Pilar, which houses a miraculous statue delivered to St. James, the first apostle of Spain, by Our Lady herself.

He abhorred luxuries of all kinds, wore a hair shirt beneath the vestments of his office, and led a simple, austere life. An ardent preacher and a keen apologist, Braulio's deep sincerity was as convincing as his clear arguments. His generosity to the poor was only matched by the care he took of his flock.

Towards the end of his life he was afflicted by the loss of his sight, a heavy cross for anyone but especially burdensome to a scholar. As death approached, he gave up his spirit to his Lord while reciting the Psalms.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to honor the Annunciation

 by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent

Out of love for us, the Eternal Word was made flesh in the chaste womb of Mary. His plan was marvelously arranged. From all eternity, He chose a man after His heart who would be the virginal spouse of His divine Mother, His adopted father on earth, and the guardian of His childhood.
While not granting Joseph the same privileges He had granted our Blessed Mother, the Lord adorned his soul with the rarest virtues and raised him to great holiness.
When Our Lady had completed her education in the Temple, she was wed to this humble artisan. Like her, Saint Joseph belonged to the royal race of David, then fallen from its ancient splendor. Also like her, he had consecrated his virginity to God and ardently desired to see with his own eyes the promised Messias, the salvation of Israel.
The Annunciation and Saint Gabriel
The Most High had prepared this excellent union by revealing His will to these humble and obedient souls. Mary accepted Joseph as the guarantor of Divine Providence, while Joseph received Mary as a precious treasure entrusted to him by Heaven. Neither one nor the other suspected what blessings the Lord would lavish on their modest dwelling. The young spouses had lived but a short time in the little house of Nazareth when the scene of the Annunciation took place in all of its divine simplicity.
The last days of March had brought the return of spring to the Galilean countryside. The fig trees had begun to unfold their ample leaves and the doves to build their nests in the hollows of the rocks. Flowers dotted the rejuvenated fields. Soon another flower, infinitely more precious, would blossom from the root of Jesse.
In Heaven, the Holy Ghost acclaimed the spotless conception of the Immaculate Virgin with admiration and seemed impatient for the hour when the work of His infinite charity would be fulfilled. No longer did the Divine Spouse wish to delay. He resolved to send an extraordinary messenger to her whom He called "My Spouse" —Soror mea, sponsa. 1
The Annunciation in Art: A Stunning Comparison
God chose the Archangel Gabriel from among the princes of the celestial court who remained constantly before the throne of the Almighty. He entrusted to him the most important and glorious assignment ever confided to a creature, the mission of announcing to the Virgin the awesome mystery of the Incarnation.
All Heaven now looked upon that simple house of Nazareth, where a profound peace reigned. Joseph probably rested from his hard labor. In the adjoining room, his virgin spouse was praying. The angel appeared and respectfully bowed before his Queen. His countenance resplendent with supernatural joy, he said to her, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." 2 Saint Gabriel uttered but the strictest truth.
At the moment of Mary's conception, divine grace flooded her magnificent soul. Ever since then, this grace had grown ceaselessly in proportions far surpassing our feeble understanding. Now, at this moment, the adorable Trinity wanted this already extraordinary holiness to shine with even greater brilliance: Our Lady would shelter in her womb the very Author of grace.
Yet, the Archangel's salutation troubled the Immaculate Virgin. By divine enlightenment she had long understood the immensity of God and the nothingness of creatures. In her prodigious humility, she considered herself the lowliest of creatures and thus wondered at receiving such praise. She pondered what hidden meaning could be shrouded in such words.
Seeing this most incomparably perfect of all creatures with such a humble opinion of herself, the celestial ambassador exulted with admiration. "Mary," he said to the trembling Virgin, "fear not, for thou hast found grace with God."3
Then slowly, majestically, in the name of the Eternal God, he communicated his sublime message: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end."4
These words were far too clear to Our Lady for any hesitation in grasping them. She immediately understood the incomparable honor reserved for her. It seems that she experienced no hesitation on account of her virginity. Indeed, it would be a gratuitous insult to her intelligence to suspect her of such ignorance. She was aware of the prophecy of Isaias that the Emmanuel would be born of a virgin.
Rather, she simply sought to know how God, so rich in miracles, would accomplish such a marvel. "How shall this be done," she asked the angel, "for I know not man?"5 "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore, the child which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren; for nothing shall be impossible with God."6 Profound silence filled that small room in Nazareth, one of those dramatic silences wherein the world's destiny hangs in the balance.
The angel had ceased speaking and Mary was quiet. How many thoughts crowded in upon her! In her mind's eye, she saw the resplendent crown divine motherhood would place on her head, yet she remained too profoundly humble for any complacency about this singular grandeur. She saw the indescribable joys that would surely fill her heart when holding her dear treasure against her bosom, her Jesus, both God and infant. Yet again, her self-mortification would not allow that she be guided by the allure of joy alone, even the most holy of joys.
She also saw the awful martyrdom that would rend her soul. Through Holy Scripture she knew that the Messias would be delivered to His death like a tender lamb to the slaughter. She foresaw and heard the mournful cry: "I am a worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people."7 Yet, such was her fortitude that she would not allow future sorrow to dishearten her. Above everything, she saw the extremely lofty, fatherly, and holy will of God. She owed obedience to Him; she did not hesitate.
The Annunciation and Saint Gabriel
The Immaculate Virgin at last broke the solemn silence. The angel waited to receive her consent in the name of the Holy Ghost. In accepting, she pronounced one of those sublime expressions that only the genius of humility can find. It was the most simple and modest formula of a soul completely submissive to the will of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word."8 At that, the grandest of all miracles took place. From the very flesh of the Immaculate Virgin, the Holy Ghost formed a small human body. To this body He joined a human soul; to this body and soul He united the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Word of God.
Although it is necessary to explain these three facts separately to make clear what took place, the three took place completely simultaneously as a single act. Not even for a second were this small body and soul separated from the Word. From that first instant the Child formed in the womb of Our Lady was the Word Incarnate. Without losing her virginity, Mary became the Mother of God, and in becoming the Mother of Christ, our Head, she also became the Mother of men—our Mother.
In this chapter I have simply followed the Gospel narrative step by step. We will later study the nearly infinite dignity the Immaculate Virgin confers on divine motherhood. We shall see how this privilege should inspire our Christian hearts to great respect, deep gratitude, limitless confidence, and filial devotion. But let us first complete our meditation on this mystery.
Through God's infinite love for us, the Word utterly humbled Himself in the womb of the Virgin. At the same time, other events took place in her soul. When God entrusts a mission to one of His creatures, He also provides the grace to accomplish it fully. Thus, the Most High, having granted a double motherhood to the Blessed Virgin Mary (to be mother of God and of men), conferred upon her a love that was doubly maternal. Such was the splendor in this work of grace that we will never perfectly understand it. Never will we completely understand the ardor of Mary's love for Jesus or the merciful goodness by which the Virgin loves each one of us in particular. Indeed, were we to further reflect upon this mystery, we would pray to her with greater fervor, and serve her with greater zeal. She, in turn, would lavish torrents of grace on us.
The Annunciation in Art: A Stunning Comparison
The Incarnation had just been completed. Our Lady remained in ecstasy. Every theologian agrees that during this thrice-holy moment God raised her to the most sublime contemplation a pure creature can attain upon earth. Perhaps she was even granted a momentary glimpse of the beatific vision. The Archangel Gabriel had fulfilled his mission. Upon his arrival he had respectfully bowed before the Queen of heaven. Before departing, he prostrated himself, for Mary was no longer alone. In true justice, the Child she bore in her womb merited the adoration of the archangel, who adored the God-made-man and then returned to Heaven.
From this mystery, we must draw a stronger and deeper devotion to the Blessed Virgin. The Church, which encourages us to pay special honor to the Immaculate Mother, does not wish to place her on the same level as the Most High. While Mary reigns over all the angels and saints in Heaven, she is still but a simple creature and, accordingly, an infinite distance stands between her and her adorable Son. Nevertheless, God has united Jesus and Mary so intimately that we cannot separate Them. By consenting to the work of the eternal God, Our Lady has become ipso facto the moral cause of our salvation. She is morally necessary for us to go to Jesus.
Souls today are powerfully attracted to the Heart of Jesus. To penetrate this adorable Heart, the sanctuary of the Divinity, more fully, we must go through Mary. Let us ask Our Lady for the sovereign grace of placing us confidently in the arms of Jesus and there, upon His heart, let us rest both in time and in eternity.
Written by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent

1. Canticle of Canticles 4:9. [back]
2. Luke 1:28. [back]
3. Luke 1:30. [back]
4. Luke 1:31-33. [back]
5. Luke 1:34. [back]
6. Luke 1:35-37. [back]
7. Psalm 21:7. [back]
8. Luke 1:38. [back]
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He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.

On his left hung another man, covered in the matted blood of his wounds. Yet, with the exception of a few intermittent words, there was no sound from him.

As time passed, the thief became more and more engrossed in the silent crucified beside him, and less and less in his own plight.St Dismas Picture

Indeed life is ironic, mused Dismas, this man who had lived in the open, and was acclaimed as a healer and even as a king, now hung beside him who had spent his life lurking and hiding.

And now they were lifted up, both on a high parallel. He could see the roof tops of the city, he could see the highways he had stalked, and he could see the way they had walked. Now he looked down on those gathered around this place of execution, the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the curious, the friends of the man beside him…and a young man supporting a lady directly beneath them...

And then he knew her; that upturned face, that maidenly majesty now wracked by sorrow, her tear-filled eyes fastened on the man on his left–Yes, he knew that face.

As the wheels of time rolled back in his mind,  his heart gave a jolt as he remembered that blessed day in the desert, decades ago, when a young family making its way to Egypt, sought refuge for the night in his family’s hovel. The man was strong and kind, the woman was the fairest his child’s eyes had seen, and she carried a golden haired babe, as if nothing in the universe was more precious.

He remembered the lady’s gaze on him, her beautiful eyes full of concern for the leprous sores on his young body. Then she and his mother talked. And next, he was being bathed in the same water the lady had just washed her infant son.

And then the sores were gone.  His mother wept for joy, and kissed the lady’s hands, and the baby’s feet. And even his robber-father was moved, and offered the strong man and his family the best in the house.
Now, in one revealing flash, he knew the identity of the wounded man on his left.  He looked again at the lady, and her eyes, those same sweet eyes of old, were on him once more.
He felt his heart quiver, as the power of gratitude filled his being and softened his criminal soul.  And then came tears, rivers of tears.  When he could speak, he turned to the left,

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And the Lord turned his face to him, His divine eyes on him, and he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard, a voice at once full of pain and full of strength, full of sweetness and full of majesty, a judge’s voice, and a father’s voice,

“Amen, amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”
By Andrea F. Phillips
Based on: A Legend of St. Dismas and Other Poems,
Copyright by P. J. Kenedy and Sons. 1927, p. 18.

The benefits of prayer

Virtues are formed by prayer.
Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger.
Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy.
Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Ghost,
and raises man to Heaven.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

St. Lucy Filippini

Lucy was born in 1672 in Tarquinia in Tuscany. Orphaned early in life, she was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle.

Her early inclination to piety was strengthened by a great seriousness of purpose and her remarkable gifts attracted the attention of the Cardinal-Bishop of the diocese, Marcantonio Barbarigo, who persuaded the young lady to take advantage of an institute for training teachers in Montefiasconi. Lucy excelled in the institute and won all hearts by her modesty and charity, her intense conviction of spiritual things, her common sense and her courage.

At the teachers' institute, Lucy met Blessed Rose Venerini, whose educational experience Cardinal Barbarigo had likewise recruited. In Montefiascone the two holy women trained schoolmistresses and co-founded the Maestre Pie or the Pious Matrons. Together they trained girls in the art of running a good home, weaving, embroidery, reading and Christian doctrine. Their work prospered. Both shared a tremendous gift for effective communication.

In 1707, at the express desire of Pope Clement XI, Lucy went to Rome and founded the first school of the Maestre Pie. The school flourished and children flocked to it from all over the region. Though only able to remain in Rome for six months, when Lucy left the Eternal City she was known as the “Maestra Santa”, the Holy School Mistress.

Unfortunately, the task sapped Lucy’s strength and she became seriously ill in 1726. Though she had good medical care, she never quite regained her health and died a most holy death on March 25, 1732, the day she had predicted.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Angelus: Honoring the Incarnation Year Round

On March 25th, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation: an important moment for us to pause to recall what suddenly happened in the history of mankind, so that man could be changed profoundly and saved. In order to honor the Annunciation all throughout the year, the Church has given the faithful the Angelus prayer, the name of which is derived from the first word of its Latin form. To say it is to replay the drama of the Annunciation once more, placing it vividly before our eyes and within our hearts.

The Angelus
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord,
Your Grace into our hearts;
that as we have known the incarnation of Christ,
your Son by the message of an angel,
so by His passion and cross
we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.
Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Medieval custom of triple Hail Mary in the evening
The Angelus as we know it sprung organically from an even more ancient tradition. The practice of reciting the Hail Mary three times in a row dates at least to the 12th century, and Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) strongly recommended it. This devout practice was a great favorite also of Saint Mechtilde of Helfta (1241-1298) in her Revelations. Saint Bonaventure, in a Chapter of the Order of the Friars Minor in 1269, proposed they recite three Hail Mary's in the evening after Compline, meditating on the mystery of Christ's Incarnation, urging at the same time that the recitation be preceded always by the ringing of a bell so that the brothers and all the faithful nearby would know that it was time for the triple Hail Mary.

The morning Angelus
Shortly after the recital of the three Hail Mary’s at evening had become familiar, a custom established itself of ringing a bell in the morning and of saying the Ave thrice. It was the town bell which was rung in this case, for the preservation of peace, whence it was called "the peace bell." The same designation was also applied elsewhere to the evening bell.
In a culture in which the activities of the Church and those of her children were intertwined, it seems probable enough that this morning bell was also an imitation of the monastic triple peal for the morning prayers. The morning Angelus soon became a familiar custom in all the countries of Europe and was almost as generally observed as that of the evening.

The Angelus Today
In most Franciscan and contemplative monasteries, the Angelus continues to be prayed three times a day. In the United States and Canada, some Catholic radio stations run by laity broadcast the Angelus daily.
In Ireland, the Angelus is currently broadcast every night at 6:00 pm on the main national TV channel, RTÉ One, and on the broadcaster's sister radio station, Radio 1, at noon and 6:00 pm. RTÉ Audience Research finds that a clear majority of Irish viewers still favors keeping the Angelus broadcasts, chimes and all. Its appeal is summarized by one audience member as follows, "To the person of faith, it's a moment of grace; to the person without faith, it's a moment of peace. What's not to like?"
In the Philippines, radio and television stations run by the Catholic Church and some religious orders broadcast the Angelus at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. The devotion is also broadcast over the public address system at noon and 6:00 pm in some shopping malls, and in many Catholic educational institutions mostly at noon on schooldays (some only ring bells at 6:00 pm).
Could there be a connection between these two countries continuing to honor the moment when “the Word became Flesh” and the fact that unborn children still find protection in the laws of both Ireland and the Philippines?

Incorporate the Angelus into Your Day
The Angelus should be recited three times a day: as early in the morning as possible (at 6:00 a.m., or upon awakening), again at noon, and once more at 6:00 p.m. It may be said privately, of course, but whenever recited with others, one person leads it by saying aloud the verses and the first half of the Hail Mary—that is, until “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The others make the responses and say the second part of the Hail Mary;—then all join in to say the closing prayer. (see below)
It is common practice that during the recital of the Angelus prayer, for the lines "And the Word was made flesh/And dwelt among us," those reciting the prayer bow or genuflect. Either of these actions draws attention to the moment of the Incarnation of Christ into human flesh.
Jesus loved us enough to die for us so that we might live with Him eternally! When we pray the Angelus with humility and love, we are emulating Mary’s faith in His goodness. We are blessed in that we can ask both God and His Blessed Mother for their assistance on our journey towards Eternal Life!


It is 3:00 on the afternoon of March twenty-fifth; it is a Friday. Taking on the appearance of a man, the Archangel Gabriel, whose name means Strength of God, leaves heaven for earth; he has a divine proposal to deliver—and a reply to receive.
His destination? A certain little house on a quiet street in the tiny Galilean town of Nazareth, for there she lives, whose coming God has anticipated from all eternity. She has ravished the Heart of God with her love for Him and her humility before Him, and in her we find the only perfect source of consolation that God has reserved for Him-self on earth-the only perfect refuge of comfort He has allowed Himself. Having remained faultless of any offence against God—never by one thought, word or deed did she fail to measure up to the supreme and consummate perfection of a creature conformed to the Will of God—her purity and sinlessness is beyond utterance. Her vocation was so select and sublime and divine that He created her soul free from Original Sin, the sin of Adam.
Thus at this moment her glorious title is that of the Immaculate Conception—but, kneeling in prayer, she is soon to be offered another…
“And the angel being come in, said unto her: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women…Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.’
The Virgin of virgins asks, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?”
“And the angel answering said to her: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’
Having thus made known to her His desire-and only after receiving her sweet and meek consent:
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done to me according to thy word.”—did God effect an event greater than that of the creation of the universe and the dawn of time. For within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived a God-Man—the Savior of the human race.
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Lo! Eternity and time have met, the Word has been made flesh! The Lord has become Our Lord—Jesus Christ. This holiest of names, Jesus, means Savior, Christ means the Anointed One; and now indeed the Redemption of the world is at hand. Oh, can we not feel the very trembling of the angels? It is the Incarnation that has finally come to pass! Although 2,017 years old, It is a Beauty ever new. Jesus said: “Abraham rejoiced that he might see My day;”—even the holy ones of the Old Law may now rest, satiated—”he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Emmanuel—God—is with us, and He shall not be taken away.
Now may we say:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Why do we seek knowledge?

Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge:
that is curiosity.
Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known:
that is vanity.
But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others,
and that is charity.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Irenaeus of Sirmium

Sirmium, then the capital of Pannonia, is in present-day Serbia. Apart from his position as bishop, Irenaeus seems to have been a man of local importance. Arrested during the terrible persecution of Diocletian, Irenaeus was brought before the governor, and commanded to offer sacrifice to the gods. At his refusal, he was stretched on the rack, but did not relent. His mother, wife (at that time the laws of celibacy were different) and children hung about his neck begging him to save himself and not to abandon them.

Steeling himself against their entreaties, the holy prelate maintained silence, and was again imprisoned, willingly submitting himself to the cruelty of the torments by which the pagans hoped to shake him. Publicly interrogated a second time – once more without effect – Bishop Irenaeus was sentenced to death by drowning for disobedience to the imperial edict.

At his protest that death by drowning was unworthy of a confessor of Christ, he begged to face the cruelest torments. He was finally beheaded.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How do we touch the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ?

When we appeal to the throne of grace
we do so through Mary,
honoring God by honoring His Mother,
imitating Him by exalting her,
touching the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ
with the sweet name of Mary.

St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Toribio of Mogrovejo

Born in Mayorga de Campos near Valladolid of a noble Spanish family, and named for the fifth-century saint, Turibius of Astorga, Toribio did not intend to be a priest though his family was notably religious. For his professional career he chose the law in the practice of which he shone. As professor of law at the University of Salamanca, he attracted the attention of King Phillip II who appointed him General Inquisitor.

As the seat for the Archbishopric of Lima in Peru, became vacant, the king turned to Judge Toribio de Mogrovejo as the only man with enough strength of character to rein in the scandals in the colony. Shocked at the prospect, he prayed, and in writing to the king pleaded his own incapacity and other canonical impediments, among them the canon forbidding laymen from being promoted to such dignities. Finally, compelled by obedience, Toribio accepted the charge. After a suitable time of preparation, he was ordained to the priesthood, consecrated bishop, and immediately nominated for the Archdiocese of Lima. He was forty-three years of age.

Arriving in the Peruvian capital in 1581, he soon took in the arduous nature of the task thrust upon him by Divine Providence. The attitude of the Spanish conquerors toward the natives was abusive, and the clergy were often the most notorious offenders.

His first initiative was to restore ecclesiastical discipline, proving himself inflexible in regard to clerical scandals. Without respect to persons or rank, Toribio reproved vice and injustice and championed the cause of the natives. He succeeded in eradicating some of the worst abuses, and founded many churches, convents and hospitals as well as the first seminary in the New World.

Learning the local dialects, he traveled throughout his enormous diocese (170,000 sq. miles), often on foot and alone, traversing the difficult Andes, facing all sorts of obstacles from nature and men. He baptized and confirmed half a million souls including St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres and St. John Massias.

From 1590 onwards he had the great help of another zealous missionary, St. Francis Solano.

Years before he died, he had predicted his own death. In Pacasmayo he contracted fever but labored to the very end. Dragging himself to the sanctuary in Sana, he received Holy Viaticum and died soon after on March 23, as those around him sang the psalm, “I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord".

Stories of Mary 16: Mary And The Nun-Prostitute

Oh, Mary, defend thou me,
or tell me to whom I shall have recourse,
and who can protect me better than thou.
Our advocate has shown how great is her kindness towards sinners by her mercy to Beatrice, a nun in the monastery of Fontebraldo, as related by Cesarius, and by Father Rho.

This unhappy religious, having contracted a passion for a certain youth, agreed to flee with him from the convent; and, in fact, she went one day before a statue of the blessed Virgin, and there deposited the keys of the monastery, for she was portress, and boldly departed.
Arrived in another country, she led the miserable life of a prostitute for fifteen years. It happened that she met, one day, the agent of the monastery in the city where she was living, and asked of him, thinking he would not recognize her again, if he knew sister Beatrice?
“I knew her well,” he said. “She is a holy nun, and at present is mistress of novices.”
At this intelligence she was confounded and amazed, not knowing how to understand it. In order to ascertain the truth, she put on another dress and went to the monastery.
She asked for sister Beatrice, and behold, the most holy Virgin appeared before her in the form of that same image to which at parting she had committed her keys, and her dress.
The divine mother thus spoke to her: “Beatrice, be it known to thee that, in order to prevent thy disgrace, I assumed thy form, and have filled thy office for the fifteen years that thou hast lived far from the monastery and from God. My child, return, and do penance, for my Son is still waiting for thee; and strive by thy holy life to preserve the good name I have gained thee.” She spoke thus and disappeared.
Beatrice re-entered the monastery, resumed the habit of a religious, and, grateful for the mercy of Mary, led the life of a saint. At her death she made known the foregoing incident, to the glory of this great queen.
Oh great mother of my Lord, I now see that the ingratitude shown by me, for so many years to God and to thee, would justly merit that thou shouldst abandon all care of me, for the ungrateful are no more worthy of favors.
But, oh Lady, I have a great idea of thy goodness; I believe it to be far greater than my ingratitude; continue, then, oh Refuge of Sinners, to help a miserable sinner who confides in thee. Oh mother of mercy, extend thy hand to raise a poor fallen creature who implores thy mercy.
Oh, Mary, defend thou me, or tell me to whom I shall have recourse, and who can protect me better than thou.
Can I find an advocate with God more merciful and more powerful than thou, who art His mother? Thou, having been created for the Mother of the Savior, art destined to save sinners, and hast been given me for my salvation.
Oh, Mary, save him who has recourse to thee. I do not merit thy love, but the desire thou hast to save the lost gives me the hope that thou dost love me; and if thou lovest me, how can I be lost?
Oh my beloved mother, if, as I hope, I am saved by thee, I will no longer be ungrateful; I will make amends by perpetual praises and by all the affection of my soul for my past ingratitude, and will make some return for the love thou bearest me.
In heaven, where thou reignest and wilt reign forever, I will always joyfully sing thy mercies, and forever I will kiss those loving hands that have freed me from hell as often as I have deserved it for my sins.
Oh Mary, my liberator, my hope, my queen, my advocate, my mother, I love thee, I wish thee well, and will always love thee.
Amen, amen; thus I hope, so may it be.

This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Secret of Mary

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
    Bl. Francisco Marto     Bl. Jacinta Marto
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?
Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.
Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

How to breathe the spirit of divine grace

Those who open their mouth
to confess their faith
breathe the spirit of divine grace,
which is the life of the soul.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Nicholas Owen

Perhaps no single person did more for the preservation of the Catholic Faith when its practice was forbidden in England than Nicholas Owen.

A “diminutive man” according to one report, and called “Little John” on that account, Nicholas Owen was possibly a builder by trade. He worked for eighteen years with the clandestine Jesuit missionaries Fathers Henry Garnet and John Gerard and built expertly concealed hiding places for priests and Catholic fugitives.

In an age of license, Nicholas led a singularly innocent life, untainted by the allurements of the world. His confessor affirms that he preserved his baptismal innocence unto death.

Every time Nicholas was about to design a hiding place, he began the work by receiving the Holy Eucharist, accompanied the project by continuous prayer and offered the completion of the work to God alone. No wonder his hiding places were nearly impossible to discover.

After working in this fashion for some years, he was received into the Society of Jesus by Father Garnet as one of England’s first lay brothers. For reasons of concealment, his association with the Jesuits was kept a secret.

He was arrested with Father John Gerard on St. George’s day in 1584. Despite terrible torture, he never revealed the least information about the whereabouts of other Catholics. He was released on a ransom paid by a Catholic gentleman, as his services in contriving hiding places were indispensable.

The unique and successful escape of Father Gerard from the Tower of London was most certainly planned by Owen, although the escape itself was carried out by two others.

Finally, on January 27, 1606, after a faithful service of twenty years, Nicholas Owen fell once more into the hands of his enemies. Closely pursued by government officials, he and three other Jesuits successfully avoided detection for eight days, hidden in a couple of priest holes at Hindlip Hall in Worcester- shire. Concealed in the two small cramped spaces in which they could neither stand upright nor stretch their legs, they received nourishment through small drinking straws hidden in the building’s own structure. Attempting to protect the two priests by drawing attention to himself, Owen left his hiding place first. His fellow lay brother was arrested with him as soon as he emerged from hiding; Fathers Garnet and Oldcorne were seized soon after.

His enemies exulted when they realized they finally had their hands on the great builder of hiding places. Father Gerard wrote of him: "I verily think no man can be said to have done more good of all those who labored in the English vineyard. He was the immediate occasion of saving the lives of many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular.”

Brother Nicholas was hung upon a wall; during “interrogation” periods, iron gauntlets were fastened about his wrists from which he hung for hours on end, day after day. When this torture proved insufficient to make him talk, weights were added to his feet. Finally, the pressure caused his entrails to burst forth, causing his death. He revealed nothing.
First Photo by: Quodvultdeus

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Virtue is nothing without this

Virtue is nothing
without the trial of temptation, for
there is no conflict without an enemy,
no victory without strife.

Pope St. Leo the Great

St. Enda of Aran

In the land evangelized by St. Patrick, there emerged in subsequent centuries a number of saints, who by the sanctity of their lives firmly established Christianity in Ireland. Among these is to be numbered the great St. Enda of Aran.

Enda was born in the sixth century to Oriel of Ulster, son of Conall Derg of Ergall, to whose principality he succeeded upon his death. One of his sisters was married to Oengus the king of Munster; another, the holy Fanchea, was abbess of a monastery. It was the pious exhortations of the latter that compelled him to leave the world and embrace the monastic life. He embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome to venerate the relics of the Apostles and was there ordained a priest.

Upon his return to Ireland, he built a church in Drogheda along the River Boyne and founded a religious community. From his brother-in-law, King Oengus of Munster, he obtained the grant of the wild and barren isle of Aran (Aranmore) in the Bay of Galway, where he founded the famous Monastery of Killeaney. Such was the fame acquired by this monastery and its abbot, that the island was called “Aran of the Saints”. Many of the great Irish saints had some connection with Aran and St. Enda: St. Brendan the Voyager, St. Kiaran of Clonmacnoise, St. Columba of Iona, St. Finnian of Clonard and others. So numerous were the pilgrims to Aran that St. Columba called it “The Rome of Pilgrims”.

Enda divided the island into ten parts, in each of which he built a monastery and over which he set superiors. His monastic settlement was known for its austerity, holiness and learning, and became a burning light of sanctity for centuries in Western Europe.

This father of Irish monasticism died in advanced old age and was buried on Aran Mor.

Stories of Mary 15: Of Convicts And Rosaries

What I’m about to tell you will back up
everything you believe about the
Blessed Mother and her rosary. 

Dear Mr. Ritchie,
What I’m about to tell you will back up everything you believe about the Blessed Mother and her rosary.
I am a volunteer in the sheriff’s department detention ministry program here in [name of city deleted], California. One afternoon, when I was done with Catholic services held for six pods (6 very large cells), I said ‘goodnight’ to the officers and began making my way toward the elevator to exit the jail.
I was wondering if we were really making a difference with the inmates. Were they learning anything? Were they paying attention? Were they praying only during the sessions together?
Just as I was getting ready to enter the elevator [to exit], two police officers came running, calling me back. I thought: what now?
They approached me and said, “We are really glad to see you when you come here for services.” He was talking to me and John C., my assistant.
“When those convicts come out of your services, they actually come out tranquilized. There is no fuss; they go to their pods and relax at the tables or their bunks.”
Continuing, he said: “One day, we saw the inmates starting to gather around the beds. We thought that something was about to happen for that’s what they do when a fight is about to break out. We alerted other officers and the group [of inmates] kept growing.”
“We got ready and just as we were about to go in to break it up, all of a sudden they pulled out their rosaries from their pockets, dropped to their knees bowing their heads, and began their prayer. We were so surprised....astounded! We stayed away and just watched.”
“We never have problems with the Catholics that go to your services. We want you to know that you guys make a difference here.”
We (John and I) thanked them for the info and left very gratified knowing that our questions were answered in the only way they could have been answered…by our Blessed Mother. She had control there where normally only Satan has control, and she wanted us to know it!
In my thirteen years there I have seen many things that have rocked me to the bone. This is only one of them.
Mr. Ritchie, if I could help with more dollars I would, but even some of us are hard pressed at times. I make it the best way I can and even then God does not let me go broke.
He reminds me when I pick up a penny, nickel, dime, quarters, and, yes, even dollar bills laying on the sidewalk or parking lot. He has a great way of saying, ‘Don’t worry, Sal, I got you covered.’
Mr. Ritchie, you are doing very great things on a very great scale. Don’t worry, God has your back, too.
Yours truly in Christ,

P.S. Note to Salvador and all of our dear America Needs Fatima members:
YOU all, after Our Lady, are what keeps us pushing ahead. We can only do the things we do because of your prayers and financial generosity, and Our Lady’s kindness. Please never forget that. You are responsible for what we do and share in it all.
And thank you for your letter and may Our Lady reward you for such an important spiritual work of mercy.
Our Lady showed that she wants such apostolate done with unfortunate prisoners (and all people) when she allowed her very innocent and tender Fatima seers be thrown in jail with hardened criminals and, by the time they were released, the innocent ones had all those prisoners praying a rosary together!
She is a friend and mother of repentant prisoners.
Refugium peccatorum, ora pro nobis! (Refuge of sinners, pray for us!)

The above unsolicited Story of Mary is taken from a recent letter from a member of America Needs Fatima to Mr. Robert Ritchie, Executive Director of America Needs Fatima.