Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Miracle we Celebrate on August 5

An affluent, aristocratic family witnessed an astonishing miracle during the 4th century.  John and his wife were childless and prayed to the Blessed Mother for a child with whom they could share their love.  They made a vow to donate their possessions to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our Lady appeared to them in a dream on the night of August 4th into August 5th and told them to build a church in her honor on the Esquiline hill. She explained that the exact location of where they were to build would be marked out in snow.  This would be their sign that the request was truly from her. Incredibly, during that sultry summer night, a snowfall outlined the shape of the basilica on the hill. That night, the Blessed Mother also appeared to Pope Liberius in a dream so that he, too, could witness and confirm the miracle.

The next morning, Roman citizens gathered on the hill to see the uncommon occurrence of snow sparkling in the summer sun. When John and his wife woke up, they hurried to the hill to see the miracle. Shortly afterward, the pope arrived. The people quickly staked off the area of the basilica’s location before the snow melted. The basilica was built within two years and blessed by Pope Liberius.

After the Council of Ephesus defined Mary as Theotokos, which means "God bearer", the Mother of God, in 432 A.D., Pope Sixtus III rebuilt and beautified the basilica. Since the seventh century, it has been referred to as St. Mary Major. The Basilica has also been called Our Lady of the Snows in honor of the miraculous snowfall. On August 5th, we celebrate the great miracle of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and its dedication to our Blessed Mother, who continually demonstrates her ardent and infinite love for each one of us.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Fifteen Fantastic Quotes from St. John Vianney

August 4 is the feast of St. John Mary Vianney,the humble Cure of Ars, who is the patron of priests and confessors. Here are fifteen powerful quotes from this great saint.

1. "All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man."

2. "I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures."

3. "Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains."

4. "Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself."

5. "Man is a beggar who needs to ask God for everything."

6. "When our hands have touched spices, they give fragrance to all they handle. Let us make our prayers pass through the hands of the Blessed Virgin. She will make them fragrant."

7. "All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone - for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good. "

8. "You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions."

9. "Upon receiving Holy Communion, the Adorable Blood of Jesus Christ really flows in our veins and His Flesh is really blended with ours."

10. "We should consider those moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament as the happiest of our lives."

11. "I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master."

12. "If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of man. The miser would run no more after his treasures, or the ambitious after glory; each would shake off the dust of the earth, leave the world, and fly away towards heaven."

13. "When we go before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open His. We shall go to Him; He will come to us; the one to ask, the other to receive. It will be like a breath from one to the other."

14. "Christian wife! Follow in the footsteps of the ideal of all womanhood, the Blessed Mother of God; in joy and in sorrow, she will be your advocate at the throne of her Son."

15. "Matrimony is a great Sacrament, as St. Paul says, but only in Christ and His holy Church. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves His Church: wives, be subject to your husbands, in love and obedience, and care for one another. Bear with your imperfections."

St. Lydia Purpuraria

Today's saint, St. Lydia Purpuraria, was the first Christian convert in Europe, a businesswoman who dealt in luxury goods. She is the patron saint of dyers.

Saint Lydia was born during the first century in Thyatira, a town famous for its dye works in Asia Minor, famous for its dye works, (hence, her name which means purple seller). She was a seller of purple dye and was St. Paul's first convert at Philippi. The following is from the Acts of the Apostles:

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, did hear: whose heart the Lord opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
~Acts 16:14-15

She was baptized with her household. Thereafter, Paul made his home with her while in Philippi.

Lydia was a woman of hospitality, a woman of faith. As a successful businesswoman she most likely had a home spacious enough to welcome guests and to use her home as a Christian center, where others would gather for the Holy Mass and prayer. After Paul and Silas were released from prison, they went immediately to Lydia’s house to see and encourage the believers gathered there. Lydia served the Lord through her gift of hospitality by welcoming others into her home.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for August

The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for August is: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.”

His intention for evangelization is: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.”

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Fifteen Quotes from St. Alphonsus Liguori

St. Alphonsus Liguori, the saint of the day for August 1, is a Doctor of the Church, known for his contribution to moral theology and his great kindness. You can read a brief biography here.

Here are fifteen powerful quotes from this great moral theologian:

1. "Our Savior says, if you have not received the graces that you desire, do not complain to me, but blame yourself, because you have neglected to seek them from me."

2. "Realize that you may gain more in a quarter of an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament than in all other practices of the day."

3. "It is well known, and is daily experienced by the clients of Mary, that her powerful name gives the particular strength necessary to overcome temptations against purity".

4. "I Love Jesus Christ and that is why I am on fire with the desire to give Him souls, first of all my own, and then an incalculable number of others."

5. "He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts God can do all things."

6. "If we would completely rejoice the heart of God, let us strive in all things to conform ourselves to His divine will. Let us not only strive to conform ourselves, but also to unite ourselves to whatever dispositions God makes of us. Conformity signifies that we join our wills to the will of God. Uniformity means more. Uniformity means that we make one will of God's will and our will. In this way we will only what God wills. God's will alone is our will. "

7. "The sovereigns of the earth do not always grant audience readily; on the contrary, the King of Heaven, hidden under the eucharistic veils, is ready to receive anyone…"

8. "If you pray, you are positive of saving your soul. If you do not pray, you are just as positive of losing your soul. "

9. “Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears— of everything that concerns you. Converse with Him confidently and frankly; for God is not wont to speak to a soul that does not speak to Him.”

10. The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.

11.  "Today God invites you to do good; do it therefore today. Tomorrow you may not have time, or God may no longer call you to do it."

12.  "The sufferings endured for God are the greatest proof of our love for Him."

13.  "To save our souls we must live according to the maxims of the Gospel, and not according to those of the world."

14.  "Do not consider what others do, or how they do it; for there are but few who really work for their own sanctification."

15.  "Do not think that Jesus Christ is forgetful of you, since he has left you, as the greatest memorial and pledge of his love, himself in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

St. Ignatius of Loyola: A Knight for Christ

July 31 is the memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest, and founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

St. Ignatius of Loyola (Iñigo) was born in 1491 in the Basque Country of northern Spain to parents of distinguished families in that area. He was the youngest of 13 children and was called was called Iñigo. At the age of 15, he served as a page in the court of a local nobleman and received a courtly education, learned to read books of chivalry and romance, gambled recklessly, became involved with women, quarrled and dueled. He later embraced a military career and became a valiant soldier.

Wounded in battle by a cannonball, which broke one leg and injured the other, he was taken prisoner by the French, who set his leg and eventually allowed him to go home to Loyola. He spent his time recuperating at his family home. Confined to his sick bed,  he asked for novels of chivaly to read, but was given pious books instead, which he grudgingly accepted. To his surprise, he enjoyed them and began to dream of becoming a "knight for Christ", pursuing the ideals of St. Francis and St. Dominic. He eventually promised to devote his life to being a knight for St. Peter if he recovered, which he did after nine months of convalescence.

As soon as Iñigo had healed enough to walk, he began a journey to Jerusalem so that he could "kiss the earth where our Lord had walked." He traveled through the town of Montserrat, Spain where he gave away his fine clothes to a poor man. At the Monastery of Montserrat, he made a general confession. Then, in an all-night vigil before the Black Madonna in the church of the Benedictine abbey there, he hung up his sword and dagger. Effectively, his old life was over and his new life had begun.

He became a hermit at nearby Manresa, praying, studying the spiritual life, meditating on the Trinity, fasting, and doing penance. Ten months later, he emerged at peace with himself.

Ignatius noticed that after doing good deeds for the Lord, he felt peaceful -- which he termed as a "consolation," but when he thought of being a successful soldier or of impressing a beautiful woman where he had initially felt enthused, he later felt dry. He called this a "desolation." Through this process of discernment, Ignatius was able to recognize that God was leading him to follow a path of service. Out of this experience he wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises.

After traveling and studying in different schools, he finished in Paris, where he received his degree at the age of 43. Many initially hated St. Ignatius because of his humble and austere lifestyle. Despite this, he attracted many followers at the university, including St. Francis Xavier, and soon started his order, The Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. He travelled to Europe and the Holy Land, then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuits. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death. He died of liver cancer at the age of 65. He was canonized in 1622 and his remains are enshrined in what is now the church of the Gesu in Rome.

Favorite Quotes

"If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity."

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."

"May it please him through his infinite and supreme goodness to deign to give us his abundant grace, so that we may know his most holy will and perfectly fulfil it."

~ Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer of St. Ignatius

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve;
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for reward,
except that of knowing that we are doing your will.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron: Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity

The recently released videos featuring Planned Parenthood employees bartering body parts of aborted infants are startling and appalling. This brings forth dialogue about the human person and the dignity of life, the argument for which is not based upon sentimentality or compassion but rests firmly upon a belief in the existence of God.

St. Martha, patron of cooks and housewives

By Jean M. Heimann

July 29 is the feast of St. Martha, virgin (who died in France around 80). Martha was born into an aristocratic and affluent family, but she is most well-known for her gift of hospitality in serving Jesus.

Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus, for whom he had great affection, and he often came to visit them in their home in Bethany. In fact, the Gospel tells us: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus" (John 11:5). It was Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, when she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples, she realized that the task would be easier if her sister would help. She watched Mary sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, listening to him. She asked Jesus to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus was pleased with Martha's loving service. However, he wanted her to know that listening to God's Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part."(Luke 10:41-42).

St. Martha's great faith in Jesus was demonstrated when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She knew Jesus well enough to say: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21).  "Then Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, "He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) And Martha answered, Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-26). When Jesus saw Lazarus, he wept with Martha and Mary. Then, he performed the great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead!

Later, Jesus came again to dine with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha cooked and served them. This time, however, Martha showed a more loving attitude. She served with a generous and joy-filled heart.

Patronage: Butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers.

A Prayer to St. Martha

O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him”, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home.

Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things”. (mention your intentions) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron: The Mystery of God

Lesson 1 from Fr. Robert Barron's "The Mystery of God" film and study program. Learn more at http://MysteryOfGod.com. This sample lesson is on "Atheism and What We Mean By 'God'".