Monday, May 04, 2015

St. Judith of Prussia, patroness of widows

The saint of the day for May 5 is St. Judith, also known as Jutta.  Judith was born at Sangerhausen in Thuringia, which is now central Germany. Judith was married at the age of fifteen to a wealthy, young nobleman. As a wife and mother, she tried to emulate St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and was very generous to the poor. Although quite wealthy, she lived and dressed simply. Judith's holiness served as an inspiring example to her family who followed in her footsteps.

While they were on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, her husband died quite suddenly and Judith became a single mother. Each child eventually entered a monastery upon reaching a suitable age, and this left Judith able to pursue a more austere religious way of life.

Like her model, St. Elizabeth, Judith became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. She sold everything she had and moved to Prussia where people would not know that she was from a wealthy family. There she lived as a hermit in a little hut and spent her time praying for the conversion of nonbelievers and for newly baptized Christians to be true to their faith. She also took care of weary travelers who passed by. St. Judith died of fever in 1260 at Kulmsee in Prussia. The basics of her holiness included: simplicity, humility, love, kindness, and compassion. She is the patroness of Prussia and of widows.

Quote: "Three things can lead us close to God. They are painful physical suffering, being in exile in a foreign land, and being poor by choice because of love for God."

~ St. Judith of Prussia

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima May 4-12

Our Lady of Fatima is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima. The three children were Lucia Santos, Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto. Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia  This Marian Apparition was approved by the Holy See in 1930. Today, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal is a popular Marian Pilgrimage site. Around 4 million pilgrims visit the Basilica every year. The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated on May 13th. Here is a novena to Our Lady of Fatima in preparation for her feast. Let us pray to Our Lady for the conversion of sinners and for all our special intentions.

Novena Prayer

Most Holy Virgin, who deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary,
inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion,
so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it,
we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners,
the conversion of Russia and this favor which I so earnestly seek,

(Mention your Request)

which I ask of thee in this novena, for the greater Glory of God,
for thine own honor and for the good of all people.

Pray 3 sets of : Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

St. Florian, patron of firefighters

May 4 is the feast of St. Florian, a third century Roman military officer stationed in Austria, who openly professed his Christianity during the persecution of Diocletian.

St. Florian was an officer of the Roman army, who occupied a high administrative post in Austria, and who was martyred for his faith under Diocletian. His legendary "Acts" state that he gave himself up at Lorch to the soldiers of Aquilinus, the governor, when they were rounding up the Christians, and after making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His body, recovered and buried by a pious woman, was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz. It is said to have been at a later date translated to Rome, and Pope Lucius III, in 1138, gave some of the saint's relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Cracow. Since that time, St. Florian is the patron of Poland as well as of Linz, Austria, chimney sweeps, soap makers, and firefighters. There has been popular devotion to St. Florian in many parts of central Europe, and the tradition as to his martyrdom, not far from the spot where the Enns flows into the Danube, is ancient and reliable. Many miracles of healing are attributed to his intercession and he is invoked as a powerful protector in danger from fire or water.

Prayer for Firefighters 

Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us Grace to prepare each day for our own summons to Thy tribunal of justice. Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Withersoever Thou callest me, I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men, save my from all bodily harm, if it be Thy will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true, respectful and honorable, obedient and valiant. Thus fortified by virtue, I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to Thee and shall never be separated from Thee. Amen.

- Richard James Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston (1895-1970)

Saturday, May 02, 2015

St. Athanasius: Father of Orthodoxy

Today, May 2, is the memorial of St. Athanasius, bishop and doctor of the Church.

St. Athanasius (295 - 373) was the Church's greatest hero in the battle against Arianism (a heresy that denied Christ's divinity),which, in his lifetime, earned him the title "Father of Orthodoxy". Athanasius was born into a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, where he received a classical education. He was ordained a deacon and later became a priest. Athanasius served as secretary to Bishop Alexander and accompanied him to the Council of Nicea, which officially condemned Arianism. When Bishop Alexander died, Athanasius succeeded him.

The next 46 years were filled with constant conflict. Anthanasius was exiled on five different occasions under five different emperors. However, his loyalty to the Church never wavered, his courage never weakened even in the face of cruel persecution. For five years he hid in a deep, dry cistern to be safe from their wrath of the Arians and their attempts to assassinate him. The place was known only to one trusted friend who secretly supplied him with food.

Throughout these trials, Athanasius consistently experienced God's constant protection. On one occasion when the emperor's assassins were pursuing him, he ordered the ship on which he was fleeing to double-back and sail upstream so that he might meet and by-pass his persecutors. Not recognizing the boat upon meeting in semi-darkness, they naively asked whether the ship carrying Athanasius was still far ahead. Calmly and truthfully Athanasius called back, "He is not far from here." So his persecutors kept sailing on in the same direction, allowing the saint to complete his escape.

Preserved by Divine Providence through a lifetime of trial and danger, he finally died peacefully in his home in Alexandria in 373.


"You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress. "

~Saint Athanasius

Prayer to Mary, Mother of Grace

It becomes you to be mindful of us, as you stand near him who granted you all graces, for you are the Mother of God and our Queen. Help us for the sake of the King, the Lord God and Master who was born of you. For this reason, you are called full of grace. Remember us, most holy Virgin, and bestow on us gifts from the riches of your graces, Virgin full of graces.

~St Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor

Friday, May 01, 2015

7 Quick Takes: The Mary Month of May

1. This week, I gave a talk at the Spiritual Life Center on one of my favorite Doctors of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, who is also my Confirmation saint. 

 2. I had been praying the Novena Rose Prayer for a special intention to St. Therese of Lisieux, another favorite Doctor of the Church, and what did I see but this...

3. This week, I wrote about two other great women saints on Catholic Fire, St. Gianna Molla Beretta and St. Zita, patron of housekeepers and lost keys.

4.  Do you know the name of the Pope of the Rosary and his story?

Go here to learn more.

5.  May is Mary's Month and I am still trying to discern how I will celebrate this month. What are your plans? 

I found these special devotions to Mary for the month of May, and of course, I will continue to pray the Rosary.  Here are a few ideas that I have shared in the past.

In May there are many beautiful Marian feast days, some of which include:

May 13 - Our Lady of Fatima

May 24 - Our Lady, Help of Christians

May 31 - Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces

May 31 - Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

6. Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. You can find prayers here to pray for the workers or the unemployed in your family.

7.  Have a great weekend! I plan on working in my garden and enjoying the wonderful weather we are having here.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

May 1st is the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, is the patron saint of workers. Pope Pius XII decided in 1955 to add the optional feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker on May 1, to counteract the Communists’ May Day holiday by Christianizing this European Labor Day.

Like St. Joseph, let us offer our work as an act of charity done for the love of God and for the love of others, for work well done is a work of love. Work has the capacity to perfect us in a heavenly way. Through our work, we share in the cross of Christ. Like the mystery of the Incarnation, Joseph performed his work in a quiet, hidden way, offering up all that he did to God. Let us imitate him in this way and thank God for the gift of our work, which draws us closer to Him.

"Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. 'Full employment' therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good."  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 288)

Prayer to St. Joseph, as Patron of Workers

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God.

All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death.

~Composed by St. Pius X

Prayer to St. Joseph for Employment

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God. Amen.

Saint Quotes About St. Joseph

"The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world. But certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph.’”
- Pope St. Pius X

“St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.”
-St. Jose Maria Escriva

"I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me."
- St. Teresa of Avila

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May

Pope Francis prays in front of a statue honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for May is: “That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbors who suffer, especially the sick and the poor”.

His intention for evangelization is: “That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be open to proclaiming Jesus”.


The Pope of the Rosary: St. Pius V

The saint of the day for April 30th is St. Pius V, pope.

Michael Ghislieri was born near Alessandria in Italy in 1504. He was a poor shepherd boy, who entered the Dominican Order at the age of 14 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. He taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years and developed a reputation as a gifted teacher and preacher.

Michael led an austere and holy life in the monastery: he fasted, performed penance, spent long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, and traveled in silence on foot without a cloak.

After being ordained a bishop and named a Cardinal, he became pope at the age of 62, taking the name of Pope Pius V. His holiness and austerity continued in the papacy. He refused to wear the ornate and flowing garments of previous popes, but insisted upon wearing his white Dominican habit even as head of the Church. To this day, the pope wears white, a custom begun by this Dominican pontiff.

His reign, though short, was one of the most fruitful of the sixteenth century. During his six year pontificate, Pius ordered the establishment of seminaries for the training of priests, published a new missal (which remained in use for 400 years), and set up Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes for the young. He also attempted to uphold the Church's political authority against various European nations. Queen Elizabeth's interference with Church affairs in England led to her excommunication; the pope also struggled against the ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperor and King Philip II of Spain.

Perhaps the most famous success of his papacy was the miraculous victory of the Christian fleet in the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The island of Malta was attacked by the Turkish fleet, and nearly every man defending the fortress was killed in battle. The pope sent out a fleet to meet the enemy, requesting that each man on board pray the Rosary and receive communion.

Meanwhile, he called on all of Europe to recite the Rosary and ordered a 40 hour devotion in Rome during which time the battle took place. The Christian fleet, vastly outnumbered by the Turks, inflicted an impossible defeat on the Turkish navy, demolishing the entire fleet.

In memory of the triumph he declared the day the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary because of her intercession in answering the mass recitation of the Rosary and obtaining the victory. He has also been called ‘the Pope of the Rosary’ for this reason.

Pope Pius V died seven months later on May 1, 1572. He is enshrined at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.

Pope Pius V Quotes

"O Lord, increase my sufferings and my patience!"

“All the evils of the world are due to lukewarm Catholics.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

St. Catherine of Siena: My Nature is Fire

Happy Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church!

Here is one of my favorite prayers of St. Catherine of Siena:

My Nature is Fire

Prayer 12 (XXII)*

In your nature,

eternal Godhead,

I shall come to know my nature.

And what is my nature, boundless love?

It is fire,

because you are nothing but a fire of love.

And you have given humankind

a share in this nature,

for by the fire of love

you created us.

And so with all other people

and every created thing;

you made them out of love.

O ungrateful people!

What nature has your God given you?

His very own nature!

Are you not ashamed to cut yourself off from such a noble thing

through the guilt of deadly sin?

O eternal Trinity,

my sweet love!

You, light,

give us light.

You, wisdom,

give us wisdom.

You, supreme strength,

strengthen us.

Today, eternal God,

let our cloud be dissipated

so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth

in truth,

with a free and simple heart.

God, come to our assistance!

Lord, make haste to help us!


*Taken from The Prayers of Catherine of Siena. 2nd edition. Suzanne Noffke, OP, translator and editor.
(San Jose.: Authors Choice Press, 2001)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962

If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; Choose—and I demand it—the baby, Save him!”

Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian doctor, wife, and mother who refused to have either an abortion or hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child. Doctors had discovered in the second month of her pregnancy a fibroma tumor in her uterus. As a doctor, Gianna knew the consequences of not fully treating the fibroma. She chose the life of her child over her own.

On the morning of April 21, 1962, a healthy baby girl was born, Gianna Emanuela.

Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you," the mother died of septic peritonitis. She was 39 years old.

Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer.

Gianna was beatified by Pope St John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international year of the family and was canonized on May 16, 2004.

“Conscious immolation", was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

What is her special gift to the culture of life?

"The Church celebrates her new saint at a cultural moment when "choice" rarely means self-gift — making our lives the gift to others that our own lives are to us. "

"Saint Gianna Beretta Molla made a choice: a choice for love, even unto death, because she knew that "choice" in the truly human sense means freely choosing the good. May her prayers at the Throne of Grace strengthen us in living and defending the gospel of life."
~ George Weigel


O Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your Will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy Will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

- St. Gianna Beretta Molla