Saturday, November 22, 2014

St. Cecilia: Patron of Poets and Musicians

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.

When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.

Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.

The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia's body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.

She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.

At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.

St. Cecilia was a favorite saint of St. Therese of Lisieux, who was inspired to write this prayer:

Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! Oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!

April 28, 1893

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria: Patroness of Single Women

On November 25, we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria (292 - 310), virgin and martyr.

Catherine was beautiful, brilliant, and extremely wealthy at the age of eighteen when she debated the Emperor Maximin (311-313) and harshly criticized him for his persecution of Christians who refused to worship pagan gods. Astounded by her wisdom, Maximin ordered her to be kept confined, and summoned fifty of his most learned philosophers, promising them great rewards if they could get Catherine to abandon her Christian faith. However, her arguments were so convincing that all fifty of the philosophers were converted to Christianity. Outraged by this, Maximin ordered all of them to be burned alive.

Then the Emperor attempted to win Catherine by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. Next, he had her thrown into a dungeon, without food and water. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in prison.

In the Emperor's absence, his wife and Porphyrius, general of the army, visited Catherine in prison and both were converted to Christianity. Porphyrius then converted 200 soldiers. When the Emperor returned, he had them all executed, including his wife, and offered to make Catherine his new wife.When she refused, he designed a new means of torture.

Catherine's next torture consisted of being placed upon a wheel with sharp and pointed knives, which was designed to tear her body into pieces, but when she was bound to it, a heavenly fire destroyed it. Finally, on November 25, Catherine was beheaded. By the hands of angels her body was carried to Mt. Sinai, where it was interred in the convent which bears her name.

Ranked with St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Barbara as one of the fourteen most helpful saints in heaven, (that group of saints notable for answering prayers especially for cures from disease and at the hour of death) she was unceasingly praised by preachers and sung by poets. In several dioceses in France, her feast day was observed as a Holy Day of obligation up to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Saint Catherine became the patroness of young maidens and female students. Looked upon as the holiest and most illustrious of the virgins of Christ, it was but natural that she, of all others, should be worthy to watch over the virgins of the cloister and the young women of the world.

Her feast on Nov. 25 falls immediately before the beginning of Advent during which no weddings could take place during the Middle Ages and for years afterward. So it was a custom for unmarried women of that time to pray to St. Catherine saying,
“A husband, Saint Catherine,
A good one, Saint Catherine,
A handsome one, Saint Catherine,
A rich one, Saint Catherine –
And soon, Saint Catherine!

Patronage: Apologists; craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters; spinners; etc.); archivists; attorneys; barristers; dying people; educators; girls; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; lawyers; librarians; libraries; mechanics; millers; nurses; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; single women; wheelwrights.

Symbols: Wheel set with sharp knives; broken wheel; sword; crown at her feet; hailstones; bridal veil and ring; dove; scourge; book; spiked wheel; woman strapped to the spiked wheel on which she was martyred; woman arguing with pagan philosophers.

A Prayer to Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Glorious Saint Catherine, virgin and martyr, help me to imitate your love of purity. Give me strength and courage in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.

Help me to love God with my whole heart and serve Him faithfully.

O Saint Catherine, through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ, help me to be loyal to my faith and my God as long as I live.

Giving Away THREE Advent Magnificats

Advent is only one week away! Are you ready? Have you purchased your Advent Magnificat Companion? Starting today and running through next Thursday-Thanksgiving Day- I will be running a drawing for a giveaway of three electronic Magnificats for use on your computer, cell phone,or Ipad. To enter, just send your name and address to with the subject title Advent Magnificat Companion. Winners will be notified on Friday, November 28.

A perfect way to live Advent to the full this year.
This Companion features original meditations on the Gospel reading of each day by nineteen gifted authors.
Each issue of the Advent Companion is never the same as the last and contains these one-of-a-kind extras that you won’t find anywhere else:
- a variety of beautiful blessings and essays
- an Advent Penance Service
- specially-commissioned poetry
- a unique feature: the Advent Stations

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the fact that the parents of Our Lady brought her to the Temple and handed her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.  Also known as the Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the feast originated in the East, where it is called the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.

History of the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Germanus of Constantinople adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church.

~ Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint Quote for the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"There never was, and never will be, an offering on the part of a creature greater or more perfect than that which Mary made to God when, at the age of three, she presented herself in the Temple. She offered him not aromatic spices, nor calves, nor gold, but her entire self, consecrating herself as a perpetual victim in his honor."

~ St. Alphonsus Liguori


As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why do children need a mother and father?

Read the related story.

Papal Quote of the day: Holiness

"The call to holiness is not just for bishops, priests or religious ... No. We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer. But it is not so! Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face... No! That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us. Indeed, it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints."

~ Pope Francis speaking in his General Audience on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Brief Tour of St. Benedict's Abbey (video)

Br. Joseph Ryan takes you on a brief tour of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, KS. For more information, see their website:

Who was St. Bernward?

The saint of the day for November 20 is St. Bernward, who was the thirteenth Bishop of Hildesheim, Germany. He was also an architect, painter, sculptor, and metal smith. Born in 1022, he came from a noble Saxon family. His grandfather was Athelbero, Count Palatine of Saxony. Having lost his parents at a young age, he was entrusted to the care of his uncle, Bishop Volkmar of Utrecht. He was educated at the cathedral school at Heidelberg, where he made rapid progress in Christian piety as well as in the sciences and in the liberal and mechanical arts. He became very proficient in mathematics, painting, architecture, and primarily in the manufacture of ecclesiastical vessels and ornaments of silver and gold.

He completed his studies at Mainz, where he was ordained as a priest by Archbishop Willigis, Chancellor of the Empire (975-1011).  In 987, he was appointed as chaplain of the imperial court, and was shortly afterwards selected by the Empress-Regent Theophano to tutor her six-year-old son, Otto III. The youthful emperor is known to have been an erudite and religious prince due to the diligent work of his tutor.

Bernward remained at the imperial court until 993, when he was chosen to be Bishop of Hildesheim. He became a wise, gifted, and enthusiastic pastor who remained bishop for nearly thirty years. He organized a system of deaneries for the diocese, held an annual synod, and is known to have built castles to use as defenses against the invading Danes or Slavs.  With his own hands, he made gold and silver vessels for the altars. Under his direction, numerous churches were built. Attesting to his skill as a painter and metal worker, there are still preserved in Hildesheim his works which include: a cross of rich and exquisite workmanship, known as the "Bernward Cross", the famous Bernward column, with winding reliefs representing scenes from the life of Christ, two bronze doors of the Cathedral of Hildesheim, showing Scriptural scenes, and two candlesticks symbolic of Christ, the light of the world.

A man of extraordinary piety, he was much given to prayer and the practice of mortification. Around 1020, he retired to a Benedictine monastery to spend his remaining days in prayer. He died in 1022 and was canonized by Pope Celestine III in 1193. St. Bernward is the patron of goldsmiths, architects, painters, and sculptors.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Humanum 2014: A New Affirmation of Marriage

The Vatican is currently sponsoring (November 17 - 19) an international and interreligious colloquium on the  complementarity of man and woman, entitled Humanum, which includes leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

The organizers have released six extraordinary videos on marriage. Filmed around the world and containing interviews with people like Fr. Robert Barron, Dr. Peter Kreeft, and N.T. Wright, the short films evocatively display timeless truths about men, women, and the family’s role in humanity.

The videos can be found on YouTube and are useful tools to those involved in the marriage and family ministry. They are just beautiful!

Here is the latest video in the series:

Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal begins today

(Recite this prayer for nine consecutive days.)

O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother,
penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal,
we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena,
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray.

(Here mention your petition)

You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.

Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

St. Agnes of Assisi: Co-founder of the Poor Clares

November 19, is the feast of Saint Agnes of Assisi (Catarina di Favarone) according to the Franciscan calendar.  She is the younger of sister of Saint Clare of Assisi, and Abbess of the Poor Ladies of Assisi, and co-foundress of the Poor Clares.

 Born in Assisi, Catarina was the youngest daughter of Count Favorino Scifi and Countess Hortulana (now Blessed). Catarina was later named Agnes by St. Francis of Assisi when she became a nun. Catarina was a beautiful girl who was gentle, prayerful, and kind.

On March 18, 1212, Clare renounced her inheritance and family and founded the Poor Clares, the Franciscan cloistered Order. Catarina joined her sixteen days later at the Benedictine cloister of St. Angelo in Panso, where they received their initial training. Her father, Count Favorino, sent knights to carry her away.  They tried to drag her out of the monastery, kicking and striking her, but all of a sudden her body became so heavy that several of the men could not budge it. Her uncle Monaldo tried to strike her but was temporarily paralyzed. The knights then left Agnes and Clare in peace.

Catarina was accepted by St. Francis, who gave her the name Agnes after of St. Agnes of Rome and placed her at San Damiano with Clare. She and Clare were soon joined by other noblewomen of Assisi, and there Agnes achieved perfection as a religious at a young age.

Agnes was eventually named abbess, and in 1219, was sent by St. Francis to direct the Poor Clares at Monticelli, near Florence. Agnes wrote a letter to Clare, and this surviving document clearly demonstrates her love of poverty and her loyalty to Clare's ideals. Agnes also established Poor Clares in Mantua, Padua, and Venice. In 1253, she was summoned to Clare's deathbed and assisted at her funeral.

Agnes died three months after the death of Clare, on November 16, 1253, at the monastery of San Damiano of natural causes at the age of 56, Her mother, Hortulana, and a younger sister, Beatrice, had already died, and Agnes was buried near them in the Church of Santa Chiara in Assisi, Italy.

Saint Quote

“I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee, O Lord, inspire me with that confidence which brings me to Thy holy mountain. Permit me, Divine Jesus, to come closer to Thee, that my whole soul may do homage to the greatness of Thy majesty; that my heart, with its tenderest affections, may acknowledge Thine infinite love; that my memory may dwell on the admirable mysteries here renewed every day, and that the sacrifice of my whole being may accompany Thine.”
~St. Agnes of Assisi


Father of mercies,
St Agnes did not hesitate to suffer for love of you.
Grant that we too may be willing to share
whatever comes our way,
and always seek your will.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord .

The beauty of marriage between man and woman transcends beliefs

The beauty of marriage between man and woman and its importance transcends divisions and beliefs.

That's what several participants of the Humanum conference have seen on its first day.

Religious Sisters of Mercy (USA)
"There are a few people, many people in this interfaith dynamic at the conference which is incredible where you can see the witness to marriage and the beauty and power of marriage in all the different religious traditions. How it's good, it's true, it's unifying, it's one, it's beautiful.”

In his address, Cardinal Müller explained that the complementarity of man and woman is important both in human relationships and in the relationship with God.

Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
"Their union reveals how each one are a mutual help to walk towards the Creator, God, who is beginning and end of the world and of mankind.”

Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, was there as the Jewish representative. He stressed that marriage between man and woman should be supported by all institutions because it is not only a religious issue. It is a union that strengthens society.

Former Chief Rabbi (England)
"And those children who, through no fault of their own, have grown up through fractured families will be disadvantaged in every way. And I think it is a crying scandal and needs somebody to stand up for the children who are the victims of this strange desertion of marriage. What I wanted to point out in my speech is that marriage is not simply a religious institution. Though it is the religious communities who seem to have stayed faithful to it rather more than secular society as a whole.”

The goal of the conference, which is being held at the Vatican, is to highlight that marriage between man and woman is tied to the fate of humanity and that it is crucial to protect for future generations.

Papal Quote of the Day: Call to Conversion for Christians of Appearances

"There is a second call" [to] "those who live by appearances, Christians of appearances." "Appearances are these Christians shroud: they are dead." [And the Lord] "calls them to conversion".

"Am I one of these Christians of appearances? Am I alive inside, do I have a spiritual life? Do I hear the Holy Spirit, do I listen to the Holy Spirit, do I  move forward, or ...? But, if everything looks good, I have nothing to reproach myself about: I have a good family, people do not gossip about me, I have everything I need, I married in church ...I am 'in the grace of God', I am alright. Appearances! Christians of appearance ... they are dead! Instead [we must] seek something alive within ourselves, and with memory and vigilance, reinvigorate this so we can move forward. Convert: from appearances to reality. From being neither hot nor cold to fervor".

~ Pope Francis in his homily on conversion at Mass at Santa Marta on November 18, 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: The "Woman-Who-Prays-Always"

November 18th is the optional memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.

Saint Rose was born on August 29, 1769 at Grenoble, France to a family of wealth and political connections. When she was eight years old, she heard a Jesuit missionary speak of his missionary work in America, which sparked a strong desire within her to evangelize. She was educated at home until she was 12 years old, when she was sent to the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble to continue her studies. She joined them when she was 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family.

Her convent closed quite abruptly during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. She spent the next ten years living as a laywoman, but continued to live as if she were still with her Order. She established a school for poor children, cared for the sick and hid priests from the Revolutionaries. When the Reign of Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and attempted to reestablish it with a small group of sisters. However, most were long gone, and in 1804, the group merged with the Society of the Sacred Heart under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. They then reopened their convent as the second house of Sacred Heart nuns. Rose became a postulant in December 1804, and made her final vows in 1805.

In 1815, Mother Duchesne was assigned to found a Sacred Heart convent in Paris. At age 49, she and four sisters were sent as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory to establish the Society's presence in America. Diseases contracted during the trip to America nearly killed her, and after she recovered in New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi nearly killed her again. She established her first mission at Saint Charles, Missouri, a log cabin that was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. She eventually opened six other houses in America, which included schools and orphanages. She experienced some opposition as her teaching methods were based on French models, and her English was terrible; her students, however, received a good education. She was constantly concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse.

Finally able to retire from her administrative duties, Mother Duchesne evangelized the Pottawatomies and in the Rocky Mountains at age 71, and taught young girls of the tribe. This work, however, lasted but a year, as she was unable to master the Pottawatomie language. She was known to the tribe as "Woman-Who-Prays-Always". She spent her last ten years in retirement in a tiny shack at the convent in Saint Charles, Missouri where she lived a life of poverty and penance, in constant prayer.

"We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self."

~ Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Gracious God, you filled the heart of Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make you known among all peoples. Fill us who honor her memory today, with that same love and zeal to extend your kingdom to the ends of the earth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Papal Quote of the Day: The Family

"For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can begin to 'breathe' values and ideals, as well to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families are places of tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals. But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions."

- Pope Francis, in his address to the Colloquium on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage," November 17, 2014

Pope Francis is coming to America!

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday confirmed he will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis.  “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The Holy Father speaking at the beginning of a Colloquium on Complementarity of Man and Woman happening in Rome which was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The World Meeting of Families takes place September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and has as its theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family fully alive.”

St. Elizabeth of Hungary: The Real Princess Bride

While so many of us are entertained and fascinated by the lifestyles of royalty and their romantic adventures in movies, St. Elizabeth was a genuine princess, who served as an exemplary model of the heroic virtues of charity and humility. The authentic biography of her life, devoid of the legends and the rumors, is a true love story.

Born in Bratislava, Hungary in 1207, Princess Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary and his wife Gertrude. Her aunt was St. Hedwig and her great niece was St. Elizabeth of Portugal.

Elizabeth was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Herman of Thuringia (in central Germany) and grew up in his father's court. In 1216, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she then became engaged to Ludwig, the second son. The couple married when she was fourteen and he was twenty - one.  She loved him and bore him three children. They were very happy together and deeply devoted to one another. Ludwig was protective of his wife and the couple often prayed together, holding hands while kneeling in prayer.

In the real world, as opposed to the fairy tale world, this princess was not content with living a life of luxury, but dedicated herself to caring for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. She was so moved by the plight of the poor that she sought to become one with them. Instead of wearing luxurious gowns, she dressed in simple clothing to display her solidarity with them.

In 1226, when floods, famine, and disease created chaos in Germany, and Princess Ludwig was attending to business in Italy, Elizabeth came to the rescue. Not only did she distribute food (bread) and clothing to hundreds of the needy, but she built a hospital with twenty-eight beds and personally cared for the patients. When Prince Ludwig returned from his business trip to Italy, he assured Elizabeth that she had done the right thing and was pleased with all that she had done.

A strong and courageous man, Ludwig joined the Crusades, but died within the year. Elizabeth, who received the news just after giving birth to her third child, cried out: “The world with all its joys is now dead to me.” She was twenty years old.

Elizabeth chose to leave the castle which had been her home for sixteen years. Her royal uncle made a castle available to her and began making plans for a second marriage for her. However, she had taken a vow never to remarry, but to become the bride of Christ.

On Good Friday 1228, Elizabeth became a Third Order Franciscan, sold all that she had, and worked to support her children. She settled into a small house and spent the few remaining years of her life serving the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Elizabeth’s strength was expended by her charitable work, and in 1231, she passed away at the tender age of twenty-four. She was canonized in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX and is known as the “greatest woman of the German Middle Ages.”

 St. Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, the homeless, nursing services, Catholic charities, widows, and young brides.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann November 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

The First Snow has arrived! The view from my front door. ♪ It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!♫

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.

My posts for this week include:

Book Review: Praying Made Me Catholic

Seven Quick Takes: Why I love Fall

Have a wonderful week!

Book Review: Praying Made Me Catholic

By Justin S. Steele, Imprimatur: Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels, released April 5, 2013, 260 pages, Light of Christ Press, Available in paperback ($14.95.) from Light of Christ Press.

Justin S. Steele graduated in 2012 with a Masters degree in Theology from Newman University in Wichita, KS. He serves as a full-time Youth Minister. He and his wife have four children and one on the way.

Reviewed by JEAN M. HEIMANN, M. A. Theology, author of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, freelance writer, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.

Praying Made Me Catholic: With the Biblical and Historical Reasons Why I Must Remain Catholic is Justin S. Steele’s captivating conversion story. Raised as a non-denominational Christian, Steele was taught many Protestant and Seventh-day Adventist misconceptions about the Catholic Church, which distorted his perceptions of Catholicism. However, that did not prevent him from learning the truth.

Thirteen family moves (due to dad’s work) during Justin’s twelve years of education prevented the family from rooting themselves in a specific Christian church because they never rooted themselves in a specific home. As a teenager growing up in the nineties, Steele found himself heavily involved in the secular culture of “sex, drugs, and gangsta rap.” He desired to be a “thug” in imitation of his gangsta rap musician idols and to do so; he had to live a hard life. During this period of adolescent rebellion, Steele states that he “didn't care about anything or anybody,” showing a lack of respect for the dignity of women, and “suffocating from the weight of paranoia and anxiety due to a mixture of marijuana haze and anti-conscience behavior.” He confesses: “Rap music began stealing my mind while sinful behaviors began stealing my soul.”  He cites peer pressure as well as the “liberal media” as the culprits for his rebellious behavior. Consistently acting contrary to his well-formed conscience caused Justin to enter into a state of depression and to entertain thoughts of suicide.

Then, turning to God for help, he had a vision which changed everything and dramatically drew him back to God. This vision enabled him to see things more clearly from a spiritual viewpoint. Instantly, he immediately understood: the problem of sin, the need of a Savior to free him from sin, and the process of sanctification. Consequently, his depression dissolved and he began to experience a newfound hope in God’s purposes for his life. This metanoia experience led him down the path of examination of the truths of Christianity and onto discovering, to his amazement, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Steele tells his story in an articulate and highly adept manner, lucidly and insightfully describing the circumstances of his life, the reasons for his behavior, and the consequences, which attest to God’s merciful love and guidance on his faith journey. However, this is only the first section of the book (Part One).

In Part Two and Part Three of Praying Made Me Catholic, Steele clearly and comprehensively conveys the reasons why he is a Catholic and the biblical and historical reasons why he must remain Catholic. These sections not only contain Catholic apologetics, but delve into a compelling discussion of the most common Christian controversies that exist regarding Catholicism. Steele masterfully explains and defends Catholicism, coherently presenting the true teachings of the Faith.

Praying Made Me Catholic is a spiritually and intellectually enlightening book that the Catholic reader will find inspiring and uplifting. It challenges the reader to enter into the deeper meaning of his beliefs and to appreciate the authentic gift he has been given. For those who are considering entering the Church, this book is a must-read. It serves as a comprehensive handbook of Catholic apologetics and as a guidebook for moving from the Protestant faith to the Catholic faith. Thus, it would serve as a useful supplemental teaching tool in RCIA programs as well as a great gift for RCIA candidates. It is also an excellent book for use in theology classes and with parish youth groups. It is an essential resource/reference book for church and high school/college libraries. I highly recommend it.