Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Wichita, Kansas

Welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival! We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. Be sure to visit RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing to check out the great posts from other bloggers participating in Sunday Snippets this week.

Here are my posts from the past week:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

I. What I am currently reading for Lent:

1. Thirsting for Prayer -- Jacques Philippe

2. The Magnificat Lenten Companion

3. The Word Among Us

II. Best Catholic Books for Lent 2015

III. Best Catholic Films for Lent 2015

IV. Lenten Activities 2015

VI. St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent 

VII. Lenten Reflection -- Fr. James Kubicki

Have a wonderful weekend!


For more Quick Takes, go here. 

Conquered by Love

St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent

Today is the feast of St. Paula Montal Fornés (1799 - 1889), foundress of the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of Pious Schools.

Paula was born in a small seaside village near Barcelona, Spain in 1799 to Ramon and Vicenta Fornes Montal. She was the oldest of five daughters and was only ten when her father died. To help support the family, Paula went to work as a seamstress and lace-maker and helped her mother raise her younger sisters. She also taught catechism in her parish and, in doing so, discovered her gift for teaching. Denied an education herself, Paula promised God that she would devote her life to the Christian education of girls and young women.

Paula believed that women needed an education to prepare them for life. Women in society at that time were treated as subordinate to men, which Paula and her followers perceived as a factor in the breakdown of the family unit and other social maladies. They were determined to advance women and their status in society through education -- a comprehensive Catholic education.

At the age of 30, Paula and her friend, Ines Busquets, opened a school in  Figueras (Gerona), a border city between Spain and France, which provided girls with a Catholic education to advance the role of women, to rescue families, and to transform society.

Paula founded a second school in her hometown of Arenys del Mar and opened a third school in Sabadell. After the third school was built, she founded  the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of Pious Schools, who were devoted to the Blessed Mother and to the education of young women. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, these sisters took a fourth vow -- that of teaching. When she made her vows, she took the name Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz, as she had been greatly influenced by Saint Joseph of Calasanz, and desired to live by the Calasanz spirituality and rules.

When the community gathered at the General Chapter meeting in 1847, Paula was not elected General Superior, or even Assistant General. This was quite unusual, as she was the foundress of the order.

From 1829 to 1859, she was intensely active, founding 7 schools. The last school she personally founded was in Olesa de Montserrat (Barcelona) in 1859. This was her favorite school, where she remained for thirty years, until her death in 1889.  Pope John Paul II beatified her in Rome in 1993 and canonized her in 2001. Today, her community is active on more than four continents.

The message of Saint Paula is one of love and service. We are put here on earth to love God and neighbor and reflecting on St. Paula's life, serving others through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy is one way that we can emulate her during this season of Lent.

~ Copyright Jean M. Heimann, February 2015


Lord, strength of the humble,
You chose St. Paula Montal
To give testimony by her words and deeds
Of your saving love for the family and society.
Through the integral promotion of women
And the Christian education of children and youth,
Grant us through her intercession, the grace
To imitate her in following Christ the Master
And reaching the eternal happiness of Your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exploring Lenten Themes in Art

Dr. Jem Sullivan explores Lenten themes in sacred art:

Fr. Robert Barron: Thomas Merton, Spiritual Master

Thomas Merton was not perfect, and he might not have been a saint. But he was indeed a master of the spiritual life, and his life and work had a profound effect on me and an army of others around the world. Fr. Barron offers a tribute to him on the 100th anniversary of Merton's birth.

St. Walburga, Benedictine Nun and First Woman Author in England and Germany

Today is the feast of St. Walburga (710 - 777)  missionary, Benedictine nun, author, and abbess of Hiedenheim.

St. Walburga was born in Wessex, England, about 710, the daughter of St. Richard and Winna, the sister of St. Boniface. She had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. When St. Richard set out for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his sons, he entrusted 11-year-old Walburga to to the abbess of Wimborne. She was educated by the nuns at the monastery school at Wimborne, and became a nun there, remaining with the community for twenty-six years.

When St. Boniface requested nuns to help him in the evangelization of pagan Germany, St. Walburga responded to that call. On the way to Germany, there was a terrible storm at sea. Walburga knelt on the deck of the ship and prayed. The sea immediately became calm. The sailors who witnessed this spread the word that she was a miracle worker, so she was received in Germany with great respect.
Initially, Walburga lived at Bischofsheim, under the rule of St. Lioba. Then she was made abbess at Heidenheim, close to where her brother, Winibald served as an abbot over a men's monastery. After his death, she ruled both monasteries. She worked many miracles in the course of her ministry. She wrote a biography of her brother, Winibald, and of Willibald's travels in Palestine, in Latin. She is referred to as the first woman author in both England and Germany.

On September 23, 776, she assisted Willibald in translating the uncorrupt relics of their brother, Winibald, to a new tomb in the church at Heidenheim. Shortly after this, she became ill. Willibald cared for her until she died on February 25, 777, and then placed her next to Winibald in the tomb.
After St. Willibald's death in 786, people gradually forgot St. Walburga and the church fell into disrepair. In 870, Bishop Oktar was having Heidenheim restored. Some workmen desecrated Walburga's grave. She appeared in a dream to the bishop, who then translated her relics to Eichstadt.

In 893, St. Walburga's body was found to be immersed in a mysterious sweet-smelling liquid. It was found to work miraculous healings. The liquid, called St. Walburga's oil, has flowed from her body, ever since, except for a brief period when the church was put under the interdict after robbers shed the blood of a bell-ringer in the church. Portions of St. Walburga's relics have taken to several other cities and her oil to all parts of the world.

St. Walburga is the patroness of Eichstätt and Weilburg, Germany; Oudenarde, Veurne, Antwerp, Belgium; and Zutphen the Netherlands. She is invoked as special patroness against hydrophobia, in storms, and also by sailors. She is also patroness against coughs, dog bites, and rabies.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco: The "Don Bosco of Southern Italy"

Today we commerate the feast of Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco, who was beatified in 2001 as a model of holiness for priests. He was dedicated to his priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and missions, teaching catechism to youth and organizing prayer evenings for young people and adults at the parish. Pope John Paul II referred to him as the "Don Bosco of Southern Italy" due to his heroic charity and concern for the plight of poor orphaned children. He had a deep devotion to the crucified Christ throughout his life and worked to build the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus among the faithful.

He was born December 1, 1831, in Pagani, Italy, the seventh of eight children. Orphaned by the age of 10, his uncle, a priest and a teacher, who took charge of his education.

Since 1839, the year of the canonization of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas Mary had dreamed of the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1847 and was ordained in 1855. In 1862 he opened a school of moral theology in his home to train priests for the ministry of confession. That same year he founded the priestly Society of the Catholic Apostolate for missions among the faithful.

In 1873, deeply moved by the plight of an orphaned street girl, Fr. Thomas Mary founded a religious order for women, the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood, a congregation devoted to the care of orphans. He was a traveling missionary in southern Italy and through his apostolic travels, many new houses and orphanages were built. This was a result of his heroic charity, which developed dramatically during the last twenty years of his life.

Fr. Thomas Maria died of liver disease Feb. 24, 1891 at the age of 59.

His life was directed to the highest devotion of Christian virtues by the priestly life, lived intensely in constant meditation on the mystery of the Father’s love, contemplated in the crucified Son whose Blood is “the expression, measure and pledge” of divine Charity and heroic charity to the poor and needy, in whom Fr Tommaso Maria saw the bleeding Face of Jesus.

His writings, preaching and popular missions marked his vast experience of faith and the light of Christian hope that shone from his vocation and actions. He had a vital, burning love for God; it enflamed his words and his apostolate, made fruitful by love for God and neighbour, by union with the crucified Jesus, by trust in Mary, Immaculate and Sorrowful, and above all by the Eucharist.

The cause for the beatification of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was initiated in 1955 and the decree of his heroic Christian virtues was published on April 24, 2001. The miraculous healing of Mrs Maria Battaglia on August 20, 1964 in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily, through the intercession of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was recognized on July 7, 2001.

Monday, February 23, 2015

St. Polycarp: Bishop of Smyrna, Staunch Defender of Orthodoxy, Martyr

The saint of the day for February 23rd is St. Polycarp (- 155), a disciple of the apostles, bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch. He is one of the earliest Christians whose writings still survive.

St. Polycarp was one of the immediate disciples of the Apostles, in particular St. John the Evangelist. He embraced Christianity very young and was named bishop of Smyrna, a post which he held for 70 years. He was greatly respected by the faithful, wrote many letters and formed many holy disciples. His epistle to the Philippians - the only one to be preserved - demonstrates his apostolic spirit, his profound humility and meekness, and his great charity.

St. Polycarp fought against heresy. He was a staunch defender of orthodoxy and an energetic opponent of heresy, especially Marcionism and Valentinianism (the most influential of the Gnostic sects). He also taught that Christians must walk in truth, do God’s will, keep all of His commandments, and love whatever He loved. Christians must refrain from all fraud, avarice, detraction, and rash judgment. They must repay evil with forgiveness and mercy. He taught that one must pray all the time, so as not to be led into temptation, fast, persevere and be joyful.

During his episcopate, a violent persecution broke out in Smyrna against the Christians. During this time, though fearless, the bishop retreated to a neighboring village, spending most of his time in prayer.

A boy betrayed the bishop, and horsemen came by night to arrest him. He met his captors at the door, ordered them a supper, and prayed for two hours before he went with them.

He was led directly to the proconsul, who ordered him to blaspheme Christ. St. Polycarp refused and he was to be burned alive.

The executioners would have nailed him to the stake, but he convinced them that it wasn’t necessary. So they simply tied his hands behind his back. At the end of his prayer, the executioners set the fire, but the large flames formed into an arch, gently encircling but not burning his body. Exasperated, officials ordered a spearman to pierce him. Such a quantity of blood flowed from his left side that it put out the fire. The Christians wanted St. Polycarp’s body but the centurion burnt it to ashes. The bones were kept as relics.

Account of Polycarp's Martyrdom

When the pyre was ready, Polycarp took off all his outer clothes and loosened his under-garments. There and then he was surrounded by the material for the pyre. Whey they tried to fasten him also with nails, he said, “Leave me as I am. The one who gives me the strength to endure the fire will also give me strength to stay quite still on the pyre, even without the precaution of your nails.” So they did not fix him to the pyre with nails, but only fastened him instead.

Looking up to heaven, he said, “Lord, almighty God, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom have come to the knowledge of yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in your sight, I bless you for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, your anointed one, and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him by glory to you, together with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.”

When he had said, “Amen” and finished the prayer, the officials at the pyre lit it. But, when a great flame burst out, those of us privileged to see it witnessed a strange and wonderful thing. Like a ship’s sail swelling in the wind, the flame became as it were a dome encircling the martyr’s body. Surrounded by the fire, his body was like bread that is baked, or gold and silver white-hot in a furnace, not like flesh that has been burnt. So sweet a fragrance came to us that it was like that of burning incense or some other costly and sweet-smelling gum. - from a letter by the Church of Smyrna on the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets, where we share posts from the previous week.

Here are my posts from this past week:

St. Peter Damian: Monk, Bishop, Cardinal, Reformer, and Doctor of the Church

Friday, February 20, 2015

St. Peter Damian: Monk, Bishop, Cardinal, Reformer, and Doctor of the Church

The saint of the day for February 21 is St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who was one of the Church's greatest reformers in the Middle Ages.

Peter was the youngest child born to a large family in Ravenna, Italy in 1007. His parents both died when he was young and he was placed in the care of one of his brothers, who treated him like a slave. His oldest brother, a priest in Ravenna, rescued him and sent him away to study. Peter was brilliant and excelled in his studies (theology and cannon law), later returning to Ravena as a professor. Unable to endure the scandals and distractions of university life, he joined a group of Benedictine monks living in northern Italy. There he became a prior at the young age of 36: a position he held unto his death. While at the hermitage, Peter performed austere penances to the extent that he developed near permanent insomnia and was forced to modify them.

Although living in the cloister, Peter kept close watch on the Church and worked for her purification. He wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the Church in Italy. In 1051, Peter published his treatise on the vices of the clergy, "Liber Gomorrhianus". He fought the scandalous behavior among the clergy of the time and upheld priestly celibacy. He was illustrious and brilliant, simple and outspoken in his denunciation of all heresies and evils and was a great reformer of the Church in troubled times. His personal example and many writings exercised great influence on religious life in the 11th and 12th centuries. One of his greatest works is the biography of Saint Romuald, the founder of his Order.

Pope Stephen IX named Peter a cardinal and Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1072 at the age of 65 and was immediately acclaimed as a saint.  Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1823.

St. Peter Damian is the patron of headache sufferers.

Saint Quote:  "Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers." ~ Saint Peter Damian

Prayer of St. Peter Damian to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O holy Virgin,
Mother of God,
help those who implore your assistance.
Turn toward us.
Have you perhaps forgotten us
because you have been elevated
to a position close to God?
No, certainly not.

You know well in what danger you left us.
You know the miserable condition of your servants.
No, it would not benefit such great mercy
as yours to forget such great misery as ours.

Turn toward us, then,
with your power,
for He who is powerful
has made you omnipotent in heaven and on earth.
For you, nothing is impossible.
You can raise even those who are in despair
to a hope of salvation.
There more powerful you are,
the greater should be your mercy.

Turn also to us in your love.
I know.
O Mary, that you are all kindness
and that you love us with a love
that no other love can surpass.
How often you appease the wrath of our Divine Judge,
when He is on the point of punishing us!

All the treasures of the mercy of God
are in your hands.
You will never cease to benefit us, I know,
for you are only seeking an opportunity
to save all sinners
and to shower your mercies upon them.
Your glory is increased when,
through you,
penitents are forgiven and reach heaven.

Turn , then, toward us,
so that we may also be able to go
and see you in heaven.
For the greatest glory that we can have,
after seeing God,
will be to see you,
to love you,
and to be under your protection.
So be pleased to grant our prayer;
for your beloved Son wishes to honour you
by refusing nothing that you ask.

Seven Quick Takes

1. Ash Wednesday -- I went to Mass this Wednesday and got my ashes, despite the fact that I had been ill with chronic pain for two days. My husband took this picture of me, which I am offering up for the souls in purgatory, as Mother Teresa did.She made a contract with heaven that every time her photo was taken a soul would be released from purgatory. I am sure that purgatory will be empty after I publish this photo. ;-)

2. Lent -- That beautiful season of renewal is here again.  Need ideas for Lent? Check out my Lenten activities for 2015.

3. New Book -- I just have started writing a new book this Lent. It is very rough at this point in time, but I feel called by the Holy Spirit to write it.

"This would make a great Lenten read or a gift for a recently converted Catholic, a seminarian or religious postulant, or anyone seeking to grow in their knowledge of the saints and a life of virtue." ~ Erika Marie at Simple Mama in her review of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

4. Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, which was released on October 7, 2015,  has received some very favorable reviews from Lisa Hendey, Sarah Reinhard, Pat Gohn, and Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle.

5. If you missed this on EWTN last night, it is definitely worth watching:

RICK SANTORUM, former US Senator from Pennsylvania and possible GOP candidate for president, his wife KAREN, and daughter ELIZABETH discuss their new book, BELLA'S GIFT: HOW ONE LITTLE GIRL TRANSFORMED OUR FAMILY AND INSPIRED A NATION, an uplifting family memoir about their special needs little girl, Bella.

6. Today is the feast of  Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinto Marto, the visionaries at Fatima. Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church.

Have a blessed weekend! To see more Quick Takes, visit This Aint the Lyceum.