Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New video of World Youth Day Madrid 2011

St. Raymund Nonnatus, Patron of Expectant Mothers

The saint of the day is St. Raymund Nonnatus.

Raymund was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain in 1204, the son of wealthy parents. He was delivered by caesarean section when his mother died in childbirth. Hence his name non natus (not born). In his childhood he seemed to find pleasure only in his devotions and serious duties. His father, sensing that Raymund was drawn to religious life, ordered him to manage one of the family farms. Raymund readily obeyed but spent his time with the shepherds and workers, studying and praying until his father abandoned the idea of making his son a worldly success.

Raymund later joined the Mercederians, which was founded by St. Peter Nolasco, who devoted to ransoming Christians captured by the Moors. He succeeded Peter as chief ransomer and went to Algeria to ransom slaves. He remained as hostage for several slaves when his money ran out and was sentenced to be impaled when the governor learned that he had converted several Mohammedans. He escaped the death sentence because of the ransom he would bring, but was forced to run the gauntlet. He was then tortured for continuing his evangelizing activities but was ransomed eight months later by Peter Nolasco.

On his return to Barcelona, he was appointed Cardinal by Pope Gregory IX. He died the following year in 1240 and was canonized in 1657.

Patronage: childbirth; children; expectant mothers; falsely accused people; fever; infants; midwives; newborn babies; obstetricians; pregnant women.

Prayers to St. Raymond Nonnatus

Prayers for Pregnant Women

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saint Jeanne Jugan, A Saint for our Time

Saint Jeanne Jugan
Sister Mary of the Cross
(1792 – 1879)

The saint of the day is St. Jeanne Jugan, founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Jeanne Jugan was born in the small, impoverished village of Cancale, Brittany, France on October 25, 1792. Her father, who was a fisherman, was at sea most of the time and her mother died when she was four years old. Her mother taught the family the truths of the faith during the French Revolution at a time when the Catholic faith was under persecution and its truths were suppressed.

At age 16, Jeanne obtained work as a maid for a Christian woman who was devoted to helping the sick and the poor, and Jeanne accompanied her on these visits. As a result of this experience as well as her deep personal relationship with God, Jeanne chose to dedicate her life to God.

At age 25, she left her hometown and went to a nearby city to minister to the sick and poor by working in a hospital. However, after six years of this type of work, she became exhausted, and returned to work as a domestic servant. For the next twelve years, she lived with a lady, with whom she shared a deep prayer life, visited the poor, and taught religion to children. When her employer died, she left Jeanne her small savings.

In 1839, on a cold winter’s night, Jeanne was confronted with the misfortune of a sick, elderly blind woman who was completely abandoned. She carried the woman up to the small lodging that she shared with another lady, placed the woman in her own bed and cared for her as she would her own mother. Soon other poor and needy women came to Jeanne seeking her assistance.

In 1840, Jeanne and her friends met and formed a group to care for the needs of the poor. In 1841, they obtained a slightly larger lodging, which housed twelve women. When that became too small, they obtained donations for an even larger building. Many of the women who approached Jeanne had been beggars and now Jeanne decided that she would beg for them, even though she was a proud woman.

In 1844, Jeanne’s group changed their name from “Servants of the Poor” to “Sisters of the Poor” which later became known as “Little Sisters of the Poor” in 1849, and they became a religious community. From that time on, Jeanne was known as Sister Mary of the Cross.

Jeanne’s life changed completely when she was sixty years old, for she was sent to live in the Sisters’ main house and was no longer as physically active as she once had been. She lived a very humble life of prayer. The Sisters noticed how full of joy and love she was in even the little things, such as making the sign of the cross. She eventually became almost blind, but lived until she was eighty. Jeanne died on August 29, 1879 of natural causes. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009.

Saint Jeanne Jugan Quotes:

“God wants me for himself, he is keeping me for a work which is not yet founded.”

“Do not call me Jeanne Jugan. All that is left of her is Sister Mary of the Cross, unworthy though she is of that lovely name.”

“What happiness for us, to be a Little Sister of the Poor!”

“It is a great grace that God has given you in calling you to serve the poor.”

“If God is with us, it will be accomplished.”

“Little, very little, be very little before God.”

“Let us sing the glory of our risen Jesus.”

“My good Jesus, I have only you.”

“Remain little, hidden by humility in all God wants from you, as being only the instruments of his work.”

“We must know how to efface ourselves by humility in all that God asks of us.”

“When you will be near the poor, give yourself wholeheartedly.”

“Making the elderly happy – that is what counts!”

“If you keep the spirit of humility and simplicity, never seeking the world’s esteem, then God will be glorified and you will obtain the conversion of souls.”

“It is so good to be poor, to have nothing, to depend on God for everything.”

“Refuse God nothing … We must do all through love.”

“We were grafted into the Cross.”

“Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless. Say to him: ‘You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus. I have only you. Come to my aid ...’ And then go your way. And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage. It is enough to have told our good Lord. He has an excellent memory.”

“Refuse God nothing. Accustom yourselves to do everything for him ... Let us love him very much, that is all that is necessary.”

“God will help us; the work is his.”

“He is so good ... love God very much. All for him, do everything through love.”

“Love God very much, so that you can look after the aged well, for it is Jesus whom you care for in them.”

“My little ones, never forget that the poor are Our Lord; in caring for the poor say to yourself: This is for my Jesus – what a great grace!”

“Be kind, especially with the infirm. Love them well ... Oh yes! Be kind. It is a great grace God is giving you. In serving the aged, it is he himself whom you are serving.”

“The Hail Mary will take us to heaven.”

~ excerpted from Gold in the Furnace, by Jean M. Heimann, copyright 2004, revised and updated, 2010.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

St. Augustine: a saint after my own heart

Today is the memorial of St. Augustine - one of my favorite saints. At age 12, I read his Confessions and was fascinated with his great love and passion for the Lord. Little did I realize at that time that eleven years later, I would stop practicing my own Catholic faith and, like Augustine, it would be the long-suffering and persistent prayers of my mother that would draw me to the heart of Jesus and back to the faith of my youth.

St. Augustine was a Western Father of the Church and his conversion to Christianity is well-known as one of the most important events in the history of the Church.

Augustine was born in Tagaste, Africa in 354 to Patrcius, a pagan Roman official, and to Monica, a devout Christian. Monica raised Augustine in the Christian faith, but when he went to study law in Carthage, he turned away from his Christian beliefs and led a life of immorality and hedonism.

At age 15, he took a took a mistress who bore him a son, Adoedatus, which means “the gift of God,” and at age 18, he and his friend, Honoratus became members of the Manichaean heretical sect, which accepted the dual principle of good and evil.

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen explained his attraction to the heresy: “The conflict between flesh and spirit in him was resolved by the heresy of Manichæanism because it enabled him to pursue a voluptuous life without ever being held accountable for it. He could say that the evil principle within him was so strong, so deep, and intense that the good principle could not operate.”

Augustine turned away from his pursuit of law to literary endeavors and won poetic tournaments and made a name for himself in the world of philosophy. Augustine made plans to teach in Rome, but instead went to Milan.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen describes St. Augustine’s conversion so beautifully:

“Monica prayed that her son would never go to Italy because she feared that there would be more evil companionship there than in Northern Africa. Her prayers seemed to go unanswered, but at the same time, they were answered in a mysterious way.

In the year 384, Augustine told his mother to go to visit the Church of St. Cyprian the Martyr while he went to visit friends. He slipped away from Africa that night and went to Rome, against his mother's wishes. His reputation as an orator and rhetorician preceded him and he was recognized as one of the most learned men of his time.

When Augustine went to Milan, to plead for the restoration of paganism to the City, he heard of the scholarship and the oratorical powers of Ambrose, the Bishop. Many days he would sit under the pulpit in veneration of Ambrose. Later, he spent many hours in his company, discussing philosophy and he took manuscripts from Ambrose's library to read.

All the while, the chains of habit were strong in Augustine and his carnal nature was resisting his spiritual birth. In August, 386, he met Pontitianus who told Augustine the story of St. Anthony of the Desert. St. Anthony spent more than seventy years in the desert.

After hearing the story, Augustine said: "Manes is an impostor. The Almighty calls me. Christ is the only way and Paul is my guide.

"If Anthony has conquered the libido and sex, why could not he, Augustine asked himself.

Augustine eager to be alone went into the garden. There he underwent a conflict between the old ego and the new one that was being born.

Casting himself at the foot of a spreading fig tree, he cried hot and bitter tears, which overflowed and bathed his spirit. He cried aloud:

"When shall I achieve salvation, when shall I cast off my fetters? Tomorrow perhaps, or the day after? Why not this very hour?"

Suddenly he became aware of the voice of a child, a boy or girl, he knew not, speaking in a neighboring house.

"Take up and read," said the sweet voice.

He hurried back into the room. He found a copy of the epistles of St. Paul, which Pontitianus had been fingering. Seizing it, and opening it at random, his eyes fell upon the words of St. Paul to the Romans 13:13:

"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh."

In that one moment, the carnal passions, which had for sixteen years appeared invincible, were annihilated.

Augustine cries out in deep regret:

"Too late, O Ancient Beauty, have I loved Thee."

On Holy Thursday, which fell on April 22, 387 AD, he recited the Credo aloud in the presence of an assembled congregation. He fasted until Holy Saturday and in the evening he went to the Basilica, where Bishop Ambrose pronounced the last exorcisms over him, made the sign of the Cross upon his forehead and breast, and poured the baptismal waters.

Then, in accordance with the custom used only in the church in Milan, Ambrose got on his knees and washed the feet of Augustine. The two saints were united for perhaps the last time on earth. The elder humbled himself before the younger, the more famous before the more obscure.

Adeodatus, the carnal son of his sinning, received Baptism at the same time.

The nameless woman whom Augustine lived with, and mother of Adeodatus, returned to Carthage and spent her remaining days in penance.

One of the effects of Augustine's conversion was a return to joviality, and a deep sense of inner peace. There was also a great increase of literary productiveness. Between the years 380 and 386, before his conversion, he had not written a single page. Now, in a short space of time, he composed four brief books in succession.

In 397, or twelve years after his conversion, Augustine wrote his Confessions, the greatest spiritual autobiography ever written. It is the work of a teacher who explains, a philosopher who thinks, and a theologian who instructs. It is the work of a poet who achieves chaste beauty in the writing, and a mystic who pours out thanks for having found himself in peace.

"Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You. You have called to me, and have cried out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after You. I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst after You. You have touched me, and I have burned for Your peace" (Confessions 10,27).

None of the Freuds or Jungs or Adlers of our 20th century has ever pierced the conscious and the unconscious mind with a rapier as keen as Augustine's. No man can say he has ever understood himself if he has not read the 'Confessions' of Augustine.”

~ St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

St. Monica died in Ostia (modern Italy) and St. Augustine remained in Italy, for a time, praying, studying and writing, before returning to Tagaste, Africa, where he sold all his possessions and distributed the money to the poor. He was ordained as a priest in 391. He was later made bishop of Hippo at the age of 41 and became one of the four great founders of religious orders and a Doctor of the universal Church. He died on August 30, 430.

Patron: Brewers; diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; printers; city of Saint Augustine, Florida; diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida; sore eyes; diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; theologians; diocese of Tucson, Arizona.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saint of the Day: St. Monica, patron of wives and mothers

Today is the memorial of St. Monica, one of my favorite saints. She was a tenacious, patient and persistent prayer warrior who never gave up on her son, Augustine, a great sinner, who later became so strongly drawn to the faith that he was eventually canonized, as one of the Church's greatest teachers and philosophers and was designated as a doctor of the Church.

Monica was born in 332 to Christian parents in present day Algeria to Christian parents and married at the age 13 or 14 to an older man named Patricius, who was neither wealthy nor Christian. He has also been described as an ill tempered man who was unfaithful to her. In addition, she had to deal with a live-in mother-in-law who was constantly criticizing her. She sought refuge in God through an intimate prayer life and in her three children: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. (It is believed that two other children died in infancy.) In answer to her constant prayers, both her mother-in-law and her husband Patricius converted to Christianity. Patricius died the following year, one year after his Baptism.

At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a student in Carthage. Augustine kept bad company and was immersed in “a cauldron of illicit loves.” He took a Carthaginian woman as his mistress and lived with her for fifteen years. Monica prayed constantly for his faith, but the faith he adopted was that of a Manichean. For a while, Monica banned him from her house. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her: "Don't worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost." Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.

When he was 29, Augustine left North Africa for a teaching position in Italy and Monica tried to follow him, but he was determined to go alone, so he tricked her into believing that he was only visiting the port to say goodbye to a friend, when he was actually leaving. Monica followed him anyway and found him seriously depressed and tried to arrange a wealthy marriage for him. The faithful mistress had left their son with him and had returned to Carthage. Augustine took another mistress and then became engaged to wealthy young woman, whom he later abandoned when he decided to take a vow of celibacy. Augustine had met Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, and was influenced greatly by him.

For a while, Monica resided with Augustine and her grandson in a country cottage in Milan, where they lived in community with friends and his brother, Navigus, and served as housekeeper. Here she found St. Ambrose, who became her spiritual director, and through him, she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance. Augustine was baptized by Ambrose in 387 in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.

Augustine tired of teaching and resolved to return to North Africa. The family set out on their journey, stopping at Cività Vecchia and then at Ostia. Here Monica died in peace and the finest pages of Augustine’s "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion he then experienced.

St. Monica is the patron of:

abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, Bevilacqua, Italy, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, Mabini, Bohol, Philippines, married women, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, widows, wives

Quotes of St. Monica

“Nothing is far from God.”

“Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” (referring to the conversion of St. Augustine)

Prayer to St. Monica

Dear St. Monica, troubled wife and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet, you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine; your prayers were answered. Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for(mention request here...)and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

4th Anniversary of the Death of Community of St. John Founder

Today is not only the birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but it is also the 4th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Community of St. John, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, who died at the age of 93.

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting our beloved founder, Fr. Philippe, just months before he returned to his eternal reward.

The following message from Sr Nirmala, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, was sent to the Community on the day of Fr Philippe's death:

"It is wonderful to hear that Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe returned to God on Aug 26, which is the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the link with our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, and which is also the birthday of our Mother, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. With these three in Heaven, we can expect great things for the Church!"

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe (1912-2006), a Dominican priest from France, taught philosophy and theology at the Saulchoir at Etiolles (the Dominican House of Studies of the Paris Province) from 1939 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1962, and philosophy at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) from 1945 to 1982. In addition to his teaching, Father Philippe conducted theological and philosophical conferences and preached retreats to numerous religious orders, to Houses of Charity, but primarily at the home of Servant of God Marthe Robin. In Fribourg in 1975, at the request of some French students, he founded the Community of the Brothers of St John, he himself remaining a Dominican, followed a few years later by the Community of Contemplative Sisters and shortly afterwards of Apostolic Sisters. These three communities have been joined by a number of lay people – the Oblates of St John – and together these communities form a new spiritual family in the Church: the Family of St John.

For a full biography and to learn more about the Community of St. John go here.

Related Information/Links:

Marthe Robin: A Modern Day Mystic, by Jean M. Heimann, Canticle Magazine, Fall 2005

St.Jean.ComInternational website

Children of Hope

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann August 2010

Photo Image: copyright Jean M. Heimann 2006

Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna) in Poland.

The Black Madonna was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist; and it was while painting the picture, Mary told him about the life of Jesus, which he later incorporated into his gospel. The next time we hear of the painting is in 326 A.D. when St. Helen found it in Jerusalem and gave it to her son and had a shrine built for it in Constantinople. During a battle, the picture was placed on the walls of the city, and the enemy army fled. Our Lady saved the city from destruction. The picture was owned by many other people until 1382 when invading Tartars attacked a Prince Ladislaus' fortress, where the painting was located. A Tartar's arrow lodged into through the throat of the Madonna. The Prince transferred the painting to a church in Czestochowa, Poland.

In 1430, the church was invaded and a looter struck the painting two times with his sword, but before he could strike it another time, he fell to the ground in agony and pain, and died. The sword cuts and the arrow wound are still visible on the painting. The miracles worked by Our Lady of Czestochowa seem to occur mainly on a public scale. During her stay in Constantinople, she is reported to have frightened the besieging Saracens away from the city. Similarly, in 1655 a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive off a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary. The following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by King Casimir.

When the Russians were at Warsaw's gates in 1920, thousands of people walked from Warsaw to Czestochowa to ask the Madonna for help. The Poles defeated the Russians at a battle along the Wisla (or Vistula) River. Today, every school child knows the victory as "The Miracle on the Wisla." During World War II under German occupation, the faithful made pilgrimages as a show of defiance. That spirit deepened during the atheistic years of Soviet-enforced communism. Government attempts to stop the pilgrimages failed.

In the early 1980s, Walesa didn't drape himself in the Polish flag when he was leading the outlawed Solidarity movement; he placed an Our Lady of Czestochowa lapel pin on his jacket. Poles knew it to be a subversive message. Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.

Why is She Black?

There have been reports for centuries of miraculous events such as spontaneous healings occurring to those who made a pilgrimage to the portrait. It is known as the 'Black Madonna" because of the soot residue that discolors the painting. The soot is the result of centuries of votive lights and candles burning in front of the painting. With the decline of communism in Poland, pilgrimages to the Black Madonna have increased dramatically.

Prayers to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prayer to Our Lady for College Students

St. Thomas Aquinas

O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, so many persons of common intellect have made through thy intercession admirable progress in their studies. I hereby choose thee as guardian and patron of my studies. I humbly ask thee to obtain for me the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that from now on I could

  • understand more quickly,
  • retain more readily, and
  • express myself more fluently.

May the example of my life serve to honor thee and thy Son, Jesus.


Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

St. Thomas Aquinas: Prayers for Students

A Prayer for Students

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer Before Studying

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saint of the Day: St. Louis IX, Confessor, King of France

Today is the optional memorial of St. Louis IX, (1215-1270).

Louis IX, King of France, son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile, was born at Poissy, April 25, 1215. Louis was twelve years old when his father's death made him king.At that time, his mother Queen Blanche of Castile, was declared regent and remained an important influence throughout his life.

Louis had tutors who made him a master of Latin, taught him to speak easily in public and write with dignity and grace. But Blanche's primary concern was to implant in him a deep regard and awe for everything related to religion. She used often to say to him as he was growing up, "I love you my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should commit a mortal sin."

At nineteen, he married Marguerite of Provence and the couple had eleven children. Louis was a model father and his children received careful instruction from him in the Christian life.

Louis brought justice to France. When, for example, a baron hanged three students for poaching rabbits, the King's response was firm. He forced the Baron to surrender his forest, imprisoned him for a time, fined him heavily, made him build a chapel in memory of each student, and ordered him to crusade for three years in Palestine.

Louis was a loving and generous king. The poorest of the poor were recipients of his charity and alms everyday. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, and ministered to the needs of the lepers. Daily, he fed 120 poor people. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Felles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), and hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compiégne.

Louis was a faithful Christian sovereign. One of his first acts as King was to build the famous monastery of Royaumont, with funds left for the purpose by his father. Louis gave encouragement to the religious orders, placing the Carthusians in the palace of Vauvert in Paris, and assisting his mother in founding the convent of Maubuisson.

Louis led an exemplary life, secretly spending long hours in prayer, fasting, and penance. He attended Holy Mass twice daily, and was surrounded, even while traveling, with priests chanting the hours.

Louis died near Tunis, August 25, 1270 and was canonized in Orvieto in 1297, by Boniface VIII.

Patron: barbers; builders; button makers; construction workers; Crusaders; death of children; difficult marriages; distillers; embroiderers; French monarchs; grooms; haberdashers; hairdressers; hair stylists; kings; masons; needle workers; parenthood; parents of large families; prisoners; sculptors; sick people; soldiers; stone masons; stonecutters; tertiaries; Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Missouri.


"If God send thee adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to our Saviour and bethink thee that thou hast deserved it, and that He will make it turn to thine advantage. If He send thee prosperity, then thank Him humbly, so that thou becomest not worse from pride or any other cause, when thou oughtest to be better. For we should not fight against God with his own gifts."

"In prosperity, give thanks to God with humility and fear lest by pride you abuse God's benefits and so offend him."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spot-on: Fr. Barron's critique of "Inception"

As a psychologist and a theology student, I agree with Father Barron and am impressed by his critique of this very secular film:

Video: Is Obama Muslim?

Why is the country so confused about Obama's religion and what does that say about the country?

Here is the link Michael Vorris mentions in the video: http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/11/obamas-interview-with-cathleen.html

Related Posts on Catholic Fire:

January 21, 2007: Fox News: Barack Obama Raised as Muslim (video removed by YouTube) Does this surprise anyone?

February 11, 2007: Pro-lifers greet pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama

February 13, 2007: Barack Obama, A Very Confused Man

September 11, 2007: New Survey: Voters Uneducated and Indifferent to Life and Family Issues

September 8, 2008: Obama slips on TV: 'My Muslim faith'

June 3, 2009: In Your Dreams, Obama...

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr

The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew
TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
Oil on canvas, 167 x 139 cm
San Stae, Venice

Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew.

Saint Bartholomew is one of the Twelve Apostles, mentioned sixth in the three Gospel lists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14), and seventh in the list of Acts (1:13). The name (Bartholomaios) means "son of Talmai" which was an ancient Hebrew name.

Besides being listed as an Apostle, he is not otherwise mentioned in the New Testament. At least not under the name Bartholomew: many ancient writers, and Catholic tradition have identified Bartholomew as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John (John 1:45-51, and 21:2).

The Gospel passage read at Mass on the feast of Saint Bartholomew is precisely this passage from John (1:45-51) where Nathaniel is introduced to Jesus by his friend Phillip, and Jesus says of him "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him (1:47)."

We are presented with the Apostle's character in this brief and beautiful dialogue with the Lord Jesus. He is a good Jew, honest and innocent, a just man, who devotes much time to quiet reflection and prayer - "under the fig tree (1:48)" - and has been awaiting the Messiah, the Holy One of God.

At Jesus' mention that "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you (1:48)," Nathaniel responded "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel (1:49)!"

Being "a true child of Israel," Nathaniel was a man well-read in the Scriptures and knew what they said of the Messiah and where he would come from. This is why he is skeptical of Phillip's claim that Jesus is the Messiah, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth (1:46)?"

But Nathaniel was lacking "duplicity" - that is, his heart was undivided, his intentions pure - his openness to reality was always ready to recognize and surrender to the truth when he encountered it. He remained open to his friend Phillip's invitation to "Come and see (1:46)."

In encountering Jesus and hearing His words, he found himself face to face with the Truth Himself, and, like John the Baptist's leap in his mother's womb at the Lord's presence, Nathaniel's words lept out of his own heart in a clear and simple confession of faith, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

Jesus, in Matthew 5:8, says, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." In Nathaniel we have an example of the pure man who sees - recognizes - God when confronted with Him, and on seeing Him believes in Him, and upon believing in Him follows Him.

Nothing is known for sure about the life of Nathaniel/Bartholomew after the Ascension of Jesus. But tradition has it that he preached in the East and died a martyr's death in Armenia, being flayed alive for having won converts to the Lord Jesus.

St. Bartholomew is the patron of: bookbinders, butchers, corn-chandlers, dyers, glovers, furriers, leather-workers, plasterers, shoemakers, tailors, tanners, vine-growers, and Florentine salt and cheese merchants. He is invoked against nervous disorders and twitchings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saint of the Day: St. Rose of Lima, Virgin

August 23 is the optional memorial of St. Rose of Lima, virgin.

Isabella Flores de Oliva was born April 20, 1586 to Spanish immigrants in Lima, Peru. At her confirmation, she took the name of Rose, because as an infant, her face had been seen transformed by a mystical rose.

She was pious from an early age. At age five, she built a small chapel for herself in the family garden. When she made her first confession, she obtained permission from her confessor to make a vow of virginity.

Rose had a strong devotion for Jesus and His Holy Mother and spent long hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament. With St. Catherine of Siena as her model, Rose fasted three times a week, offered up severe penances, and when her vanity was attacked, she cut off her beautiful hair, and wore coarse clothing. She frequently deprived herself of food, water, and sleep. As a result of her exterior mortification, she had interior mystical experiences as well as long periods of darkness and desolation. For fifteen years, she went through the "dark night of the soul."

Rose worked hard to support her poor parents (by embroidering and gardening) and she humbly obeyed them, except when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. For ten years she fought them on this issue as she had secretly taken a vow of virginity with the permission of her confessor at the age of five. At the same time, she experienced great temptations which resulted in excruciating mental anguish and loneliness.

At age 20, Rose joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and and thereafter increased her penances as well as her good works. She moved into a small hut in her parents' garden and served the poor and the sick in a makeshift infirmary. Our Lord frequently manifested Himself to her, filling her heart with peace and joy, leaving her in ecstasy for hours. In her last long, painful sickness, this heroic young woman prayed: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart." Exhausted from her many penances and austerities, Rose died of a fever and paralysis at age 31. She was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X and became the first American saint.

She is the patron of: the Americas; Central America; embroiderers; florists; gardeners; India; Latin America; needle workers; New World; people ridiculed for their piety; Peru; Phillipines; diocese of Santa Rosa, California; South America; vanity; Villareal Samar, Phillipines; West Indies.


“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

“When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”

“Would that mortal men might know how wonderful is divine grace, how beautiful, how precious; what riches are hidden therein, what treasures, what joys, what delights. If they but knew, surely they would direct their energy with all care and diligence to procuring sufferings and afflictions for themselves. Instead of good fortune all men everywhere would seek out troubles, illness and suffering that they might obtain the inestimable treasure of grace. This is the final profit to be gained from patient endurance. No one would complain about the cross or about hardships coming seemingly by chance upon him, if he realized in what balance they are weighed before being distributed to men.”

Learn more about St. Rose of Lima.

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A Personal Update and a Prayer Request

God has recently called me to follow a new path in my life -- to pursue my Master of Arts in Theology. The call has been there for several years, but just this summer, the doors were opened for me to enter without hesitation. It seems a little strange returning to college after 31 years, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the present time, but I feel confident that with God's grace, and if it is truly His will and not mine, that I will be successful in this new endeavor. For, "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." (Philippians 3:14) In your charity, would you please keep me in your prayers for success in my studies and for continued discernment for God's will in my life?

The second question I am sure many of you are all asking is, "Will she continue to blog?" The answer is "yes", but blogging will not be as frequent as it has in the past, as my studies must take precedence over blogging. Hopefully, my posts here will reflect my increased knowledge of the faith and show greater depth and spiritual insight.

There have been many changes in my life over the past year, which I have yet to adapt to, so I am taking things one day at a time. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, dear readers, thank you so much for all your support and for visiting me here daily. God bless you!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Saint of the Day: St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Today is the memorial of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot and doctor of the Church.

Bernard, the founding abbot of Clairvaux Abbey in Burgundy, was one of the most commanding Church leaders in the first half of the twelfth century as well as one of the greatest spiritual masters of all times and the most powerful propagator of the Cistercian reform. Bernard is also known as the second founder of the Cistercians, the Mellifluous Doctor, and the last of the Fathers of the Holy Church.

He was born to a noble family at Fontaines, near Dijon, France in 1090, the third of seven children, six of whom were sons.

Bernard left his privileged life near Dijon, France, to join the Cistercians at the age of 22. He was well educated and so passionate about his faith that he convinced 30 of his relatives -- including all of his brothers, his uncle, and later his widowed father -- as well as many friends to join him at the abbey. Bernard first entered the abbey at Citeaux, but only three years later was sent with 12 other monks to establish another monastery in the Diocese of Champagne. The monastery came to be known Clairvaux, the Valley of Light.

As a young abbot he published a series of sermons on the Annunciation. These marked him not only as a most gifted spiritual writer but also as the "cithara of Mary," especially noted for his development of Mary's role as mediator.

Bernard's spiritual writing as well as his extraordinary personal magnetism began to attract many to Clairvaux and the other Cistercian monasteries, leading to many new foundations. He was drawn into the controversy developing between the new monastic movement which he preeminently represented and the established the Cluniac order, a branch of the Benedictines. This led to one of his most controversial and most popular works, his Apologia.

Bernard's dynamism soon reached far beyond monastic circles. He was sought as an advisor and mediator by the ruling powers of his age. More than any other he helped to bring about the healing of the papal schism which arose in 1130 with the election of the antipope Anacletus II. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. In obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff he traveled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders.

Although he suffered from constant physical pain and illness and had to govern a monastery that soon housed several hundred monks and was sending forth groups regularly to begin new monasteries (he personally saw to the establishment of sixty-five of the three hundred Cistercian monasteries founded during his thirty-eight years as abbot), he yet found time to compose many spiritual works that still speak to us today. He laid out a solid foundation for the spiritual life in his works on grace and free will, humility and love.

His gifts as a theologian were called upon to respond to the dangerous teachings of the scintillating Peter Abelard, of Gilbert de la Porree and of Arnold of Brescia. His masterpiece, his Sermons on the Song of Songs, was begun in 1136 and was still in composition at the time of his death. With great simplicity and poetic grace Bernard writes of the deepest experiences of the mystical life in ways that became normative for all succeeding writers. For Pope Eugene he wrote Five Books on Consideration, the bedside reading of Pope John XXIII and many other pontiffs through the centuries.

Bernard died at Clairvaux on August 20, 1153. He was canonized by Pope Alexander III on January 18, 1174. Pope Pius VII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1830.
~ Excerpted, in part, from The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia

Patron: beekeepers; bees; candlemakers; chandlers; wax-melters; wax refiners; Gibraltar; Queens College, Cambridge.

Some of St. Bernard's writings can be downloaded here.

St. Bernard on the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips; never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer; neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

"If the hurricanes of temptation rise against you, or you are running upon the rocks of trouble, look to the star- call on Mary!"

St. Bernard on Love:

"Love is sufficient of itself; it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in the practice. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return. The sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him."


O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Video: Fr. Mitch Pacwa interviews Archbishop Raymond Burke

Fr. Mitch has a great interview with Archbishop Burke on last night's edition of EWTN Live:

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to mediate in mosque dispute

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has volunteered to act as a mediator in an increasingly bitter debate over plans to build a mosque near the "Ground Zero" site of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The archbishop said that he was hoping for a compromise between advocates and opponents of the Islamic-center construction project. He alluded to the success of Pope John Paul II in forging a compromise over the presence of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz. The late Pontiff had suggested moving the convent to a site somewhat removed from the Nazi death camp. Suggesting a similar option for New York, Archbishop Dolan said: “It worked there; might work here.”

~ Via Catholic Culture.


Archbishop Offers to Mediate Islamic Center Controversy (New York Times) 

President Obama Defends Ground Zero Mosque! (Jimmy Akin)

A Call to Common Sense (Barbara Nicolosi)

The Ground Zero of Our Madness (Elizabeth Scalia -- The Anchoress)

The Fatal Formula

There is only one reason anyone makes a distinction between a human and a person, and that is to exploit an individual for some purpose. So who is making the distinction, what are the excuses for making the distinction, and what is the REAL agenda behind making the distinction?

Another excellent video from American Life League:

Video: Some Clarity

Saint of the Day: St. John Eudes

Today is the optional memorial of St. John Eudes, a priest and member of a religious community, a parish missionary, founder of two religious communities and a great promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

John Eudes was born at Ri, Normandy, France, on November 14, 1601, the son of a farmer. He went to the Jesuit college at Caen when he was 14. Despite his parents' wishes that he marry, he joined the religious order of the Oratorians in France and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. John worked as a volunteer, caring for the victims of the plagues that struck Normandy in 1625 and 1631. In order to avoid infecting his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.

At age 32, John became a parish missionary, building a reputation as an outstanding preacher and confessor. He was known for his opposition to Jansenism, which taught that human nature was corrupt, original sin rampant, and perfection was both necessary for salvation and practically unattainable.

He became interested in helping prostitutes, and in 1641, with Madeleine Lamy, founded a refuge for them in Caen under the direction of the Visitandines. 

John resigned from the Oratorians in 1643 and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (the Eudists) at Caen, composed of secular priests not bound by vows but dedicated to upgrading the clergy by establishing effective seminaries and to preaching missions.

In 1650, the Bishop of Coutances invited him to establish a seminary in that diocese. The same year the sisters at his refuge in Caen left the Visitandines and were recognized by the Bishop of Bayeux as a new congregation under the name of Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge.

He shared with St. Mary Margaret Alacoque the honor of initiating devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (he composed the Mass for the Sacred Heart in 1668) and the Holy Heart of Mary, popularizing the devotions with his "The Devotion to the Adorable Heart of Jesus" (1670) and "The Admirable Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God", which he finished a month before his death at Caen on August 19th. He died at the age of 79. 


"He belongs to you, but more than that, He longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He wants His breath to be in your breath, His heart in your heart, and His soul in your soul."

“Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.”

"I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is our true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours. . . . You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Holy Father recalls the life and legacy of St. Pius X

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the ministry and legacy of Pope Pius X at his weekly general audience. More than 2,000 people attended the audience at his summer residence in the town of Castel Gandolfo.

Video: Angry Atheists

EMILY's List uses women dressed as bears to rally against pro-life candidates

Read my comments in red.

A pro-abortion group’s campaign against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin uses women dressed as bears to claim she does not speak for women. In response, a leader of a pro-life women’s group said the campaign shows the group is “running scared” and criticized it for calling pro-life women candidates “backwards-looking.” 

EMILY’s List, which backs pro-abortion candidates, launched its “Sarah Doesn’t Speak for Me” campaign on Tuesday at the National Press club to counter Palin’s influence and to oppose her favored candidates. Of course, Sarah Palin doesn't speak for them -- they are in favor of killing babies on demand.

One ad used in the campaign shows several actresses wearing bear noses and furry hoods with bear ears. Trying to affect a playful demeanor, they responded to the Palin’s statement that “mamma grizzlies” attack when their cubs are threatened. Don't they look ridiculous in these hideous costumes? LOL!

Read the full story.

Here are the ads -- First Sarah Palin's, then Emily's List:

Saint of the Day: St. Helena

The saint of the day is St. Helena.

Empress mother of Constantine the Great.  She was a native of Bithynia, who married the then Roman general Constantius I Chlorus about 270. Constantine was born soon after, and in 293, Constantius was made Caesar, or junior emperor. He divorced Helena to marry co Emperor Maximian’s stepdaughter. Constantine became emperor in 312 after the fateful victory at Milvian Bridge, and Helena was named Augusta, or empress. She converted to Christianity and performed many acts of charity, including building churches in Rome and in the Holy Land.  On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Helena discovered the True Cross.  She is believed to have died in Nicomedia.  Her porphyry sarcophagus is in the Vatican Museum.  Geoffrey of Monmouth, England, started the legend that Helena was the daughter of the king of Colchester, a tradition no longer upheld.  In liturgical art Helena is depicted as an empress, holding a cross.

Saint Helena is the patroness of difficult marriages, divorced people, converts, and archaeologists.

Picture source

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Video: Little Girl Inspires Hope and Healing

The inspiring story of 5-year-old Elena Desserich, a pediatric brain cancer victim. Elena left love notes hidden throughout her house, in which her parents keep finding, even 2 years after her death.

Pro-Life teen wins freedom of speech case in federal court (video)

PTL for this free speech victory!

KFSN Fresno covers a Merced, CA teenager's First Amendment victory to wear her pro-life t-shirt to school.

Read the story about this case.

Video: The Jews

Is the Old Covenant still in effect? Here's a clue: there's a new covenant.

Saint of the Day: St. Hyacinth, "Apostle of Poland"

St. Hyacinth was a Dominican missionary called “the Apostle of Poland.”

Born in Oppeln, Poland, he studied at Krakow, Prague, and Bologna and received the title of Doctor of Law and Divinity. Accompanying his uncle, Bishop Ivo Konski of Krakow, to Rome, he there met Saint Dominic and was among the first to be enrolled in the new Order of Friars Minor. He received the Dominican habit in 1220 from St. Dominic.

Hyacinth founded communities in Sandomir, Kracow, and at Plocko on the Vistula in Moravia. He extended his missionary work through Prussia, Pomerania, and Lithuania; then crossing the Baltic Sea he preached in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Russia, reaching the shores of the Black Sea.

During an attack on a monastery, Hyacinth managed to save a crucifix and statue of Mary, though the statue weighed far more than he could normally have lifted.

He died in Krakow, Poland, on August 15, 1257, and was canonized in 1594. St. Hyacinth is the patron of Poland.

Monday, August 16, 2010

$600,000 in Prizes to be Awarded to Life Saving Heroes

Gerard Health Foundation Announces Second “Life Prizes”

Natick, MA – Up to $600,000 will be awarded to individuals or organizations that have worked to save human lives and will be honored for their life saving principles and practices at an invitation-only ceremony in January hosted by the Gerard Health Foundation as part of their second Life Prizes program.

The inaugural awards and ceremony in 2009 were unprecedented in size and magnificence. More than 1,200 VIPs, students and pro-life activists gathered to honor the winners. Celebrity participation included Master of Ceremonies Laura Ingraham and popular Christian rock band BarlowGirl.

Again in Nobel Prize-like fashion, the 2009 - 2010 “Norinne A. and Raymond E. Ruddy Memorial Life Prizes” awards will formally recognize winners at a spectacular ceremony and reception to be held in Washington DC on January 22, 2011.

The 2009 – 2010 winners will be selected based upon their success in saving human lives through efforts including public advocacy, scientific research, outreach programs, public disclosure activities, legal action, and other worthy achievements as determined by a qualified selection committee that shares the values and principles of the Foundation.

Watch last year’s event video and read the ceremony speeches.

“Our Foundation has a profoundly simple mission: to save lives,” stated philanthropist Raymond B. Ruddy, founder of the Gerard Health Foundation. “Life Prizes works to honor those who have best accomplished this noble goal and to inspire the next generation to break the mold in their life-saving work. As last year’s winners will tell you, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary goals. We look forward to celebrating six new heroes and thanking them for their ingenuity, dedication, sacrifices and leadership.”

Nomination packages have been sent to more than 100 leaders of pro-life organizations and are due back in mid-August. The selection committee will announce Life Prizes winners in October, and awards will be given at a ceremony in Washington, DC in January of 2009.

For more information, go here.

Inspiring Catholics to Vote

Hat tip: Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report

Italian physician says ella should be absolutely 'condemned'

Reacting to the recent approval in Europe and the U.S. of the new drug ella, Lucio Romano, president of the Rome-based Science and Life Association, said today on Vatican Radio that the pill should be absolutely “condemned.”

Pro-life groups in the United States have denounced the drug because it has been marketed internationally as an emergency contraceptive, while claims have emerged that it acts instead as an abortifacient. Ella was approved on August 13 by the FDA for distribution in the U.S. and was approved for European distribution in May.

In an interview with Vatican Radio that aired on August 16, Romano, who is a gynecologist, said the news of the approval is “dramatic” in that it is furthering the societal acceptance of a drug that acts as an abortifacient. Romano explained that if the pill is taken when ovulation and fertilization have already occurred, the drug then “impedes the implantation of the embryo.”

Romano added that the approval of the drug shows how abortion has been increasingly “banalized” to the point where it is “becoming a method of contraception.

Read the entire story.

Related: FDA Approves Dangerous 'Ella' Abortion Drug as Contraception

Benedict XVI: "Love of the Virgin is Beginning of Christianity"

During the feast of the Assumption, the Pope prayed the Angelus with pilgrims who traveled to Castel Gandolfo.

FDA Approves Dangerous 'Ella' Abortion Drug as Contraception

Another disastrous and dangerous drug has been released by the FDA, driven by politics.

LifeSiteNews reports: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved Friday afternoon HRA Pharma’s “ella,” a new drug billed as an advanced form of "emergency contraception," for sale and distribution in the United States. However, pro-life advocates have raised the alarm on the drug’s safety and testing, and say ella is little more than a chemical abortion drug similar to RU-486, remarketed to the public as contraception.

The FDA’s unanimous decision allows the drug to be marketed in the United States as an “occasional” emergency contraception, taken by a woman up to five days after sexual intercourse. The FDA warned, however, that it was unsafe for women to use ella more than occasionally, as they had no data on its safety over the long term. They also warned that women should be ruled out as pregnant before being prescribed ella, and women experiencing lower abdominal pain or who become pregnant after taking ella should be checked by their health care providers for ectopic pregnancy. (see release)

Pro-life leaders, however, were upset with the federal regulatory agency’s decision to approve the drug, pointing out that ella chemically works the same as RU-486. Therefore it not only can cause an abortion, but may also pose a risk to a woman’s health and life, and even have an adverse effect on later pregnancies.

"The FDA underscored the point that this decision was driven by politics by releasing it late on a Friday when people are not paying attention,” said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America. "The meager trials done on ella indicate it may cause miscarriages and birth defects. Yet the FDA allowed the HRA Pharma to avoid fully testing the drug so women will be kept in the dark on what kind of serious complications it may cause to her and her baby."

Read the entire story.


Cardinal DiNardo warns against FDA plans to approve abortifacient Ulipristal

Jill Stanek: On the path to over-the-counter abortions

Saint of the Day: St. Stephen of Hungary

Today is the optional memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (977-1038).

Stephen was the son of the Magyar chieftain Geza and succeeded him as leader in 997. Born a pagan, Stephen was baptized at age 10, along with his father, and was raised as a Christian. In 996, at age 20, he married Gisela, the daughter of Duke Henry II of Bavaria and devoted much of his reign to the promotion of the Christian faith. He gave his patronage to Church leaders, helped build churches, and was a proponent of the rights of the Holy See.

Stephen also crushed the pagan counterreaction to Christianity, and converted the so-called Black Hungarians after their failed rebellion. In recognition of his efforts, Stephen was crowned king of Hungary in 1000, receiving the cross and the crown from Pope Sylvester II. His crown and regalia became beloved symbols of the Hungarian nation, and Stephen was venerated as the ideal Christian king.

The secret of St. Stephen's amazing success in leading his people to the Christian faith was his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He placed his entire kingdom under her protection and built a magnificent church in her honor.

Stephen served as King of Hungary for 42 years and died at Szekesfehervar on August 15, 1038. Soon after Stephen's death, miracles of healing occurred at his tomb. Stephen was canonized by Pope Gregory XVII in 1083.

He is the patron saint of: bricklayers, death of children, Hungary, kings, masons, stone masons, and stone cutters.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates her being taken up body and soul into heaven when her earthly title was finished. It first began to be celebrated as a feast day in the Eastern Church after the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431) proclaimed Mary the Mother of God. By the sixth century, the feast celebrated Mary’s Dormition, “her falling asleep”. The western church began to celebrate this feast around 650. The Church’s teaching on the Assumption was formally proclaimed a doctrine by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

In today’s society, many idolize sensuality, materialism, and self-indulgence. In contrast, the celebration of the feast of the Assumption Our Blessed Virgin Mary turns our eyes away from these temporary, earthly attachments and directs our focus on the dignity and destiny of our human body and the beauty and dignity of womanhood. It turns our eyes upon the true life which awaits us beyond the grave – eternal life.

May we take heart that one day our bodies and souls will be reunited with God after death. On her special feast day, let us ask Our Mother for the grace to keep our eyes fixed on her Son as we place our heart in hers, forever united with her, that we may be brought to the glory of the Resurrection.