"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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"I love the zeal Jean puts into her posts, especially when it comes to the prolife movement." Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
President Barack Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.
The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department. Read more
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor last night to discuss the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Indiana and how the Federal Government is bullying Indiana to force taxpayers to fund the biggest abortion chain in America. She does a great job in debunking the Planned Parenthood propoganda and in revealing the truth to the public -- Planned Parenthood is in the baby killing business for the money. It's not about helping women -- it's about hurting them (spiritually, physically, emotionally), killing their babies, and destroying their families.
When the city of Rome had been devastated by fire in the year 64, the Emperor Nero launched a persecution against the Christians, who were soaked in tar and burned as living torches at evening banquets, fed to wild animals in the arena, or crucified. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called “disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles’ death.”
Collect: Father, you sanctified the Church of Rome with the blood of its first martyrs. May we find strength from their courage and rejoice in their triumph. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
"In the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep (Jn 21:15-19), down to the present episcopate."
Archbishop José Horacio Gómez from Los Angeles received the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI during a ceremony in the Vatican. Other three American archbishops also received the pallium: Archbishop James Peter Sartain from Seattle; Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley from Oklahoma City; and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, from San Antonio.
Among the 40 new archbishops, also Gerard Cyprien Lacroix, from Québec (Canada) received the pallium.
The pallium is a garment used by archbishops as a sign of communion with the Pope.
In an official press release, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards claimed that Indiana’s defunding of Planned Parenthood would “take away health care from thousands of women in Indiana.”
Last week, Live Action’s undercover investigators called 16 of the 28 Indiana Planned Parenthood clinics posing as women on Medicaid concerned about where they could receive services if Planned Parenthood’s funding was not restored.
Planned Parenthood staffers at all 16 locations admitted that Medicaid women would still have access to medical care after the defunding. Staffers suggested local health clinics or state-assigned primary care physicians for Medicaid patients: “Your primary care doctor should be able to do [a Well Woman exam,] I mean, that’s what they’re there for,” said a Planned Parenthood in Michigan City, while the Merrillville Planned Parenthood said of a local community health center, “They have the same services we have.”
“According to Planned Parenthood’s own statistics, their 28 clinics serve less than 1% of Indiana Medicaid patients, yet they do more than 50% of Indiana abortions,” notes Rose. There are over 800 other Medicaid providers available to these women in the counties with Planned Parenthood clinics alone.”
Even Indiana doctors agree that defunding Planned Parenthood in Indiana would have little to no effect on the care and services provided to Medicaid patients.
“If Planned Parenthood only sees 1% of Medicaid patients in the state, and that’s their statistic, it doesn’t seem like they are making a big imprint in the first place,” said Dr. Geoff Cly, at the Northeast Ob/GYN Women’s Health Group in Fort Wayne, IN. “I know in our group, we currently have capacity to see more patients and I’m sure many other groups could easily take care of the 1% that’s left if Planned Parenthood no longer took care of those patients.”
However, President Obama has come to Planned Parenthood’s aid by threatening to deny billions in low-income healthcare funds unless Indiana starts contracting with them.
“The Obama administration is holding patients’ health hostage in return for funding the largest abortion provider in the country,” asserted Lila Rose. “This abuse of power is a threat to every other state – that no matter the cost or consequences, this Administration will sacrifice healthcare for the needy to continue pouring tax dollars into Planned Parenthood.”
“Today we launch a ‘Stand with Indiana’ petitionexposing Planned Parenthood’s deception and demanding that President Obama revoke his intervention on their behalf,” continues Rose. “Planned Parenthood has lied in covering up sex trafficking and statutory rape, lied about abusing taxpayer dollars, lied about mammograms, and now lies about Medicaid–all in the interest of protecting the taxpayer subsidies of their abortion business. States and their citizens no longer want to fund this corrupt organization.”
Sts. Peter and Paul are the co-founders of the Church - the solid rock on which it was founded.
Peter's original name was Simon. He was a fisherman and the brother of Saint Andrew, the apostle who led him to Christ. As an apostle of Christ, Simon was renamed "Peter" (in Hebrew Kephas) or "rock" by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built.
Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since Jesus would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples.
After the Ascension, Peter took the leading role that Christ had assigned to him and became the first Pope. He served as the first Bishop of Rome and died there as a martyr in 64 a.d. crucified with his head downward, as he was not worthy to die in the same manner as Christ.
Peter is the author of two letters, the first encyclicals. St. Peter is buried beneath the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica on the Vatican Hill in Rome. A visitor to the Vatican Basilica can go into the crypt, which is the floor of the original church built by the Emperor Constantine.
Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was raised as a Pharisee. A tent-maker by trade, Saul hated and persecuted Christians as heretics and even participated in the stoning of Stephen the martyr.
On his way to Damascus to persecute another group of Christians, Saul was knocked to the ground and struck by a heavenly light, when God gave him the message that in persecuting Christians, he was also persecuting Christ Himself. This profound experience led to his conversion to Christianity. He was baptized, changed his name to Paul, and became traveling and preaching. He met Peter in Jerusalem and was introduced to the Christian Community by Barnabus.
Paul was eventually seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in confinement before being released.The last years of the saint's life were devoted to missionary work. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy.
We learn through the selection of these men to lead the Church, Christ teaches us that he chooses ordinary men and women to do his work and to be His leaders. Peter was a simple fisherman whom he chose in an official way, while Paul was a tent maker chosen in a very unconventional manner. Both men were imperfect - Peter denied Jesus three times; Saul persecuted Christians before his conversion. Neither of the men were trained in their work for the Lord, but the Lord provided them with all the graces necessary to spread the Good News. Christ works in a powerful way through weak, imperfect people, if we come to him with humble hearts and surrender to His will. "For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12, 10)
The saint of the day for June 28th is St. Irenaeus (c.130 - c.200), Bishop of Lyons and Father of the Church.
Irenaeus was born in Smyrna (modern-day Turkey), although he subsequently settled in Rome. He was well educated and was influenced by men who knew the Apostles, especially St. Polycarp, who had been a pupil of St. John the evangelist He became Bishop of Lyons (France) in 178. As bishop, he divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary. A prolific writer, he is known for his vigorous defense of the faith against Gnosticism, the prevalent heresy of the time. He was the first great Catholic theologian and his most significant work is "Against Heresies" (Adversus Haereses).
"For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."
"Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. For those who bear God's Spirit are led to the Word, that is, to the Son, and the Son presents them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on them. And it is impossible to see God's Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit."
~ St. Irenaeus
Prayer for Various Types of Christians
Father, give perfection to beginners,understanding to the little ones, and help to those who are running their course.Give sorrow to the negligent, fervor to the lukewarm,and a good consummation to the perfect.
Who can argue with this line of reasoning: it's more important to spend taxpayer money to kill human beings than to help them stay alive. This is the way the baby killers at Planned Parenthood think. The abortion providers would lose big bucks if the baby killing business were denied taxpayer funding.
Planned Parenthood has filed suit today to make the court force Kansas to give tax money to them instead of indigent health clinics.
The newly approved Kansas budget directs that family planning services financed in any way under “Title X” federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with qualified non-public hospitals or health centers that provide comprehensive health care--primary and preventative.
Mary Kay Culp, Kansans for Life Executive Director, responded, “Planned Parenthood is doing everything it can to divert attention away from the fact that the criminal charges against them are going back to court here in July, after being stalled for two years by the actions of former Kansas Attorney General, Steve Six, who is now a controversial nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
If found guilty of the felonies they are charged with, they will lose much more than Kansas Title X money,” Culp said. “It is just plain bad practice to give tax dollars to prevent pregnancies to an organization that makes more money when they fail to do so.
Federal tax dollars benefit any organization that receives them-- beyond what they are specifically appropriated for-- because they free up other income and donations to fulfill the organization's other mission or services.
Kansas has every right to insure that Title X monies are directed to the provision of family planning at full service county health clinics before abortion clinics, which financially benefit when their efforts at pregnancy prevention fail. This wish by taxpayers not to subsidize Kansas abortions should be lauded and honored, not sued.”
In plain language, Kansas wants to support the local health clinics that see patients of all ages and provide a wide range of services including immunizations, screenings, physicals, and referrals. These health clinics are easily accessible, important to a community and serve the poor. By definition of their limited practices, Planned Parenthood fails in this mission.
While Planned Parenthood does offer some cancer screenings and limited services for men, their main orientation is toward sex-related “problems” of reproductive-age women. But local health clinic staff can easily do all the STD education, pelvic exams, and contraceptive services that PP does.
Kansas has decided that our taxes should pay for part of the salary and overhead of full-service community clinics oriented foremost to overall health, and that are struggling in these tough economic times.
Live Action president Lila Rose discusses Indiana's defunding of Planned Parenthood and how abortion is the greatest human rights abuse our nation faces. She also discusses her new campaign to STAND WITH INDIANA Tuesday -- who is under attack by the Obama administration for defunding Planned Parenthood!
Today we commemorate Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have had a long-time devotion to Our Blessed Mother under many titles, but began praying to Our Lady of Perpetual Help early in my childhood and continue to pray for her intercession today. She is such a sweet mother who always asks Jesus to grant me that which will draw me closest to Him.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a Byzantine icon from the middle ages that has resided in Rome since the late 1400s. It was brought to Rome near the end of the fifteenth century by a holy merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between Saint Mary Major and Saint John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Eastern Catholics refer to the icon as the "Holy Theotokos of the Passion."
The Message of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
The child Jesus has just seen the angels who have shown him the instruments of his passion. St. Michael the Archangel holds the lance and gall-sop. St. Gabriel the Archangel holds the Cross and the nails. Frightened by the sight, Jesus has run to his mother’s arms so quickly that he almost lost one of His tiny sandals. It dangles from his foot. Mary holds Him lovingly but her eyes look at us - pleading with us to avoid sin and love Her Son.
His hands are in hers to show that, as a child, Jesus placed Himself in Mary’s hands for protection and to remind us that He now has placed into Her hands all graces, to be given to those who turn to His mother and ask.
The star on Mary’s veil shows her to be the one who brought the light of Christ to the darkened world - the beacon that leads the way to Heaven.
The falling sandal symbolizes a soul clinging to Christ by one last thread--devotion to Mary.
The golden background is symbolic of Heaven and shines to show the heavenly joy Jesus and His mother can bring to tired human hearts.
Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as you loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and his mercy is from age to age on those who love him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen.
Prayer To Our Lady of Perpetual Help for Financial Aid
Realizing, dearest Mother of Perpetual Help, that thou art our perpetual help not only in spiritual but also in temporal necessities, we approach thee with submissive and humble hearts because we have a child-like and affectionate trust in thy power and goodness, beseeching thee to assist us in our present financial worry (the needs of all those mentioned and our own personal needs.) Owing to untoward circumstances which have arisen in our lives, we are in dire want and pecuniary embarrassment, being unable to meet our honest debts.
We are not asking, dearest Mother, for wealth, if the possession of it is not in accordance with the holy will of God. We merely beg of thee that assistance which will enable us to satisfy our most pressing obligations. We believe, dear Mother of God, that thou art the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and as such, the instrument and special dispenser of thy divine Son's graces; that thou hast acquired by virtue of thy wonderful dignity, a sweet jurisdiction over all creation. We believe that thou art not only rich and bountiful, but extremely kind and generous to all thy loving and devoted children. We plead with thee, therefore, dear Mother, to obtain for us the help we so urgently need in our present financial difficulty. We thank thee, glories of thy miraculous picture. Amen.
The saint of the day for June 27th is St. Cyril of Alexandria -- one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was chosen by divine Providence to be the shield and champion of the Church against Nestorius, who denied the unity of person in Christ. If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of God.
Cyril was born in 376 at Alexandria, Egypt and became patriarch archbishop of his birthplace in 412. He presided over the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus which defined the inseparable unity of the divine and human natures of Christ, and thus the appropriateness of invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of "Theotokos" or Mother of God. He died in 444AD.
Prayer in Honor of Mary, Mother of God
Hail, Mary, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole universe, lamp that is never extinguished, crown of virginity, support of the true faith, indestructible temple, dwelling of him whom no place can contain, O Mother and Virgin! Through you all the holy Gospels call blessed the one whom comes in the name of the Lord.
Hail, Mother of God. You enclosed under your heart the infinite God whom no space can contain. Through you the Most Holy Trinity is adored and glorified, the priceless cross is venerated throughout the universe. Through you the heavens rejoice, and the angels and archangels are filled with gladness. Through you the demons are banished, and the tempter fell from heaven. Through you the fallen human race is admitted to heaven.
Hail, Mother of God. Through you kings rule, and the only-begotten Son of God has become a star of light to those who were sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Today's saint is William of Vercelli. Saint William was born in Vercelli, Italy in 1085. He lost his father and mother in his infancy and was raised by a relative. At age fifteen, he made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. When he returned, he became a hermit in Naples and lived there in an uninhabited mountain.
After a miracle was obtained by his prayers, he was discovered and his contemplation interrupted, so he decided to move to another mountain, where he built a beautiful church in honor of Our Lady. His holiness attracted many followers and, in 1119, he established the Congregation of Monte Vergine, or Mount of the Virgin. These sons of Our Lady lived in great poverty. Saint William founded several more monasteries, both for men and women, in various places in the kingdom of Naples. He assisted the king of Naples in practicing all the Christian virtues of a worthy sovereign, and in gratitude, the king had a house of the Order built at Salerno directly across from his palace, to have him near for spiritual advice.
When Saint William died on the June 25, 1142, he had not yet written a Rule for his religious; his second successor, Robert, fearing the dissolution of a community without constitutions, placed them under that of Saint Benedict, and is regarded as the first abbot of the Benedictine Congregation of Monte-Vergine. Although his other foundations did not survive, the monastery at Monte Vergine still exists today.
Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John....” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).
John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life.
His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).
John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.
The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.
Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.
"And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways" (Lk 1,76)
Rightly, then, did the birth of this child make many rejoice then and does make many rejoice today: born in the old age of his parents he was to preach the grace of rebirth to an aging world. Rightly does the Church solemnly venerate this birth, which is wonderfully brought about by grace and at which nature wonders. To me certainly the birth of the world's Lamp (Jn 5,35) brings fresh joy, for it enabled me to recognize the true Light shining in the darkness but not mastered by the darkness, (Jn1,5.9). His birth brings me a joy utterly unspeakable, for so many outstanding benefits accrue to the world through it. He is the first to give the Church instruction, to initiate it by penance, to prepare it by baptism. When it is prepared he delivers it to Christ and unites it with him, (Jn 3,29). He both trains it to live temperately and, by his own death, gives it the strength to die with fortitude. In all these ways he prepares for the Lord a perfect people, (Lk 1,17).
Patron: Baptism; bird dealers; converts; convulsions; convulsive children; cutters; epilepsy; epileptics; farriers; hail; hailstorms; Knights Hospitaller; Knights of Malta; lambs; Maltese Knights; lovers; monastic life; motorways; printers, spasms; tailors; Genoa, Italy; Quebec; Sassano, Italy; Diocese of Savannah, Georgia; Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina; Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas; Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey; Diocese of Portland, Maine.
Symbols: Lamb; lamb on a book of seven seals; locust; camel's hair tunic; girdle; his head on a charger; scroll with words Ecce Agnus Dei or with Vox Clamantis in deserto; long, slender cross-tipped staff; open Bible; banner of victory.
You must read and watch this mutli-media NYT interview with Catholic psychotherapist Marsha Linehan. Once a profoundly mentally ill young woman, she was transformed by a incredible encounter with God's love before the Blessed Sacrament and has developed the world's first effective treatment for borderline personalities - for people like herself. Be sure and watch the brief video in which Dr. Linehan describes her transforming encounter with God.
It is a must-see if you or family or friends have lived the heart-breaking reality of serious mental illness.
Terry Barber (founder of Saint Joseph Communications), Jesse Romero, M.A., John W. Garcia (founder of Sober for Christ), and Eddie Chavez plead with Fr. John Corapi not to leave the priesthood. You have to admire their zeal! Let's pray along with them.
Today's saint of the day is St. Thomas Moore, the lawyer, author and statesman who lost his life opposing King Henry VIII's plan to subordinate the Church to the English monarchy.
Thomas More was born in 1478, son of the lawyer and judge John More and his wife Agnes. He received a classical education from the age of six, and at age 13 became the protege of Archbishop John Morton, who also served an important civic role as the Lord Chancellor. Although Thomas never joined the clergy, he would eventually come to assume the position of Lord Chancellor himself.
More received a well-rounded college education at Oxford, becoming a “renaissance man” who knew several ancient and modern languages and was well-versed in mathematics, music and literature. His father, however, determined that Thomas should become a lawyer, so he withdrew his son from Oxford after two years to focus him on that career.
Despite his legal and political orientation, Thomas was confused in regard to his vocation as a young man. He seriously considered joining either the Carthusian monastic order or the Franciscans, and followed a number of ascetic and spiritual practices throughout his life – such as fasting, corporal mortification, and a regular rule of prayer – as means of growing in holiness.
In 1504, however, More was elected to Parliament. He gave up his monastic ambitions, though not his disciplined spiritual life, and married Jane Colt of Essex. They were happily married for several years and had four children together, though Jane tragically died in childbirth in 1511. Shortly after her death, More married a widow named Alice Middleton, who proved to be a devoted wife and mother.
Two years earlier, in 1509, King Henry VIII had acceded to the throne. For years, the king showed fondness for Thomas, working to further his career as a public servant. He became a part of the king's inner circle, eventually overseeing the English court system as Lord Chancellor. More even authored a book published in Henry's name, defending Catholic doctrine against Martin Luther.
More's eventual martyrdom would come as a consequence o f Henry VIII's own tragic downfall. The king wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a marriage that Pope Clement VII declared to be valid and indissoluble. By 1532, More had resigned as Lord Chancellor, refusing to support the king's efforts to defy the Pope and control the Church.
In 1534, Henry VIII declared that every subject of the British crown would have to swear an oath affirming the validity of his new marriage to Anne Boleyn. Refusal of these demands would be regarded as treason against the state.
In April of that year, a royal commission summoned Thomas to force him to take the oath affirming the King's new marriage as valid. While accepting certain portions of the act which pertained to Henry's royal line of succession, he could not accept the king's defiance of papal authority on the marriage question. More was taken from his wife and children, and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
For 15 months, More's wife and several friends tried to convince him to take the oath and save his life, but he refused. In 1535, while More was imprisoned, an act of Parliament came into effect declaring Henry VIII to be “the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England,” once again under penalty of treason. Members of the clergy who would not take the oath began to be executed.
In June of 1535, More was finally indicted and formally tried for the crime of treason in Westminster Hall. He was charged with opposing the king's “Act of Supremacy” in private conversations which he insisted had never occurred. But after his defense failed, and he was sentenced to death, he finally spoke out in open opposition to what he had previously opposed through silence and refusal.
More explained that Henry's Act of Supremacy, was contrary “to the laws of God and his holy Church.” He explained that “no temporal prince” could take away the prerogatives that belonged to St. Peter and his successors according to the words of Christ. When he was told that most of the English bishops had accepted the king's order, More replied that the saints in heaven did not accept it.
On July 7, 1535, the 57-year-old More came before the executioner to be beheaded. “I die the king's good servant,” he told the onlookers, “but God's first.” His head was displayed on London Bridge, but later returned to his daughter Margaret who preserved it as a holy relic of her father.
St. Thomas More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonized in 1935 by Pope Pius XI. The Academy Award-winning film “A Man For All Seasons” portrayed the events that led to his martyrdom.
Patron: Adopted children; diocese of Arlington, Virginia; civil servants; court clerks; difficult marriages; large families; lawyers; diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; politicians; politicos; statesmen; step-parents; widowers.
The people who mass-produce statues and holy cards have done St. Aloysius Gonzaga no favors. The standard image of the saint as a frail, doe-eyed novice has given us the wrong impression. It may even be responsible for the decline in devotion to St. Aloysius. Yet Aloysius deserves a revival, especially as the patron saint of teenagers.
The time and place where he grew up — 16th-century Italy — is not very different from 21st century America. It was a lax, morally careless, self-indulgent age. Aloysius saw the decadence around him and vowed not to be part of it. He did not, however, become a kill-joy. Like any teenage boy, he wanted to have a good time, and as a member of an aristocratic family he had plenty of opportunities for amusement. He enjoyed horse races, banquets and the elaborate parties held in palace gardens. But if Aloysius found himself at a social function that took a turn to the lascivious, he left.
Aloysius did not just want to be good, he wanted to be holy; and on this point he could be tough and uncompromising. He came by these qualities naturally: among the great families of Renaissance Italy, the Medici were famous as patrons of the arts, and the Borgias as schemers, but the Gonzagas were a warrior clan. While most Gonzaga men aspired to conquer others, Aloysius was determined to conquer himself.
Aloysius wanted to be a priest. When he was 12 or 13, he invented for himself a program he thought would prepare him for the religious life. He climbed out of bed in the middle of the night to put in extra hours kneeling on the cold stone floor of his room. Occasionally, he even beat himself with a leather dog leash. Aloysius was trying to become a saint by sheer willpower. It was not until he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome that he had a spiritual director — St. Robert Bellarmine — to guide him. Bellarmine put a stop to Aloysius’ boot camp approach to sanctity, commanding him to follow the Jesuit rule of regular hours of prayer and simple acts of self-control and self-denial. Aloysius thought the Jesuits were too lenient, but he obeyed. Such over-the-top zeal may have exasperated Bellarmine, but he believed that Aloysius’ fervor was genuine and that with proper guidance the boy might be a saint.
To his credit, Aloysius recognized that his bullheadedness was a problem. From the novitiate he wrote to his brother, "I am a piece of twisted iron. I entered the religious life to get twisted straight."Then, in January 1591, the plague struck Rome. With the city’s hospitals overflowing with the sick and the dying, the Jesuits sent every priest and novice to work in the wards. This was a difficult assignment for the squeamish Aloysius. Once he started working with the sick, however, fear and disgust gave way to compassion. He went into the streets of Rome and carried the ill and the dying to the hospital on his back. There he washed them, found them a bed, or at least a pallet, and fed them. Such close contact with the sick was risky. Within a few weeks, Aloysius contracted the plague himself and died. He was 23 years old.
In the sick, the helpless, the dying, St. Aloysius saw the crucified Christ. The man of the iron will who thought he could take Heaven by sheer determination surrendered at last to divine grace.
AIDS care-givers; AIDS patients; Catholic youth; Jesuit students; relief from pestilence; sore eyes; teenage children; teenagers; young people; youth.
cross or crucifix; lilies; crown at his feet; rosary; Often portrayed as a Jesuit with a cross, lily, and skull
"There is no more evident sign that anyone is a saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials."
Prayer of Self-Commendation to Mary
O Holy Mary, my Lady, into your blessed trust and safe keeping and into the depths of your mercy, I commend my soul and body this day, every day of my life, and at the hour of my death. To you I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life. By your most holy intercession and by your merits, may all my actions be directed and disposed according to your will and the Will of your divine Son. Amen.
St. Alban was the first Christian martyr in Britain during the early 4th century. He is the patron saint of converts and torture victims.
Even though he was not a man of faith, St. Alban was very hospitable and compassionate. As a soldier, he sheltered a persecuted priest, Amphibalus, during a time that Christians were being put to death in Britain. The priest struck St. Alban with his faith and piety, as well as his dedication to prayer.
Alban soon converted to Christianity.
In an effort to help the priest escape, he switched clothes with him. But Alban was caught and ordered to renounce his faith. St. Alban refused to worship idols, and when asked to state his name, answered “My name is Alban, and I worship the only true and living God, who created all things.”
When he refused, he was to be tortured and beheaded. The person first selected to execute Alban heard his testimony and converted on the spot. After refusing to kill Alban, he was executed as well.
A number of other conversions are claimed to have happened thanks to the witness of St. Alban’s martyrdom, specifically on behalf of spectators of his execution.
Finally, when the priest learned that Alban was arrested in his place, he turned himself in, hoping to save Alban’s life. But that wasn’t the case. The priest was killed as well.
St. Alban’s Cathedral now stands near the execution site. The town where he was born was also renamed after him.
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Incarnation of God's Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (⇒ Jn 14:26) and by the Son "from the Father" (⇒ Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. "With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified" (Nicene Creed).
"The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son" (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47).
By the grace of Baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG).
"Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal" (Athanasian Creed).
Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of the Son's Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Today's saint of the day is Blessed Osanna Andreasi of Mantua (1449 - 1505), a Dominican tertiary, stigmatic, and mystic.
The daughter of Italian nobles Nicolaus and Agnes, she is reported to have had her first mystical experience at the age of five: a vision of the Trinity, the nine choirs of angels, and Jesus as a child her own age, carrying His Cross.
Feeling called to the religious life, Osanna rejected an arranged marriage and became a Dominican tertiary at the age of 17; however, she waited 37 years to complete her vows so she could care for her brothers and sisters after the death of her parents.
At the age of eighteen she experienced mystical espousal to Jesus -- like St. Catherine of Siena, she had a vision in which Our Blessed Mother made her a bride of Christ, placing a ring on her finger.
When she was thirty she received the stigmata on her head, then her side, and finally on her feet. She also had a vision in which her heart was transformed and divided into four parts. For the rest of her life she experienced the Passion in a more intense way on Wednesday's and Friday's. In her case, the stigmata do not seem to have bled, but simply to have appeared as red, intensely painful swellings. She kept them hidden from everyone except her servants, but at times the pain in her feet was so great that she was unable to walk. For years also, like St. Catherine, she lived on almost no food at all.
Her reputation for sanctity spread because of her works of charity and her constant prayer, which sometimes caused her to fall into ecstasy at Mass. Consequently, people begin to visit her for spiritual counsel and report that she sometimes proved a true prophet about their affairs. Osanna assisted the poor and the sick, served as spiritual director to many, and spent much of her family’s considerable fortune to help the unfortunate.
Osanna died in 1505 and was beatified on November 24, 1694 by Pope Leo X and Pope Innocent XII.
Today's saint of the day is Saint Albert Chmielowski - Founder of the Albertine Brothers and Sisters, and one of the saints who inspired the vocation of the young Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.
Saint Albert was born on August 20, 1845 in Igolomia, Poland (near Kraków) as Adam Hilary Bernard Chmielowski. Born into a wealthy and aristocratic family, Adam was the oldest of four children.
Actively involved in politics from his youth, Adam lost a leg fighting in an insurrection against Czar Alexander III at age 18. In Krakow, he became a popular artist and his talent in the subject led him to study in Warsaw, Munich, and Paris.
A kind and compassionate person, Adam was always deeply aware of human suffering, and felt called to help those in need. Realizing that God was calling Him to a life of service, he returned to Krakow in 1874, determined to dedicate his talents to the glory of God. Instead of continuing his work as an artist, he decided to care for the poor and became a Secular Franciscan, taking the name Albert.
In 1887, Albert founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, known as the Albertines or the Gray Brothers. Then, in 1891, he founded a community of Albertine sisters, known as the Gray Sisters.
The Albertines organized food and shelter for the poor and homeless of any age or religion. Albert preached on the great crisis that results from a refusal to see and aid the suffering individuals in society.
In 1949, Pope John Paul II, who was at the time Father Karol Wojtyla, wrote a well-received play about Albert called Our God’s Brother. John Paul II later said that he found great spiritual support for his own vocation in the life of St. Albert, whom he saw as an example of leaving behind a world of art, literature, and theater to make a radical choice for the priesthood.
Brother Albert died on Christmas Day, 1916. He was canonized on November 12, 1989 by Pope John Paul II. The Church celebrates St. Albert’s feast day on June 17.
The saint of the day is St. Lutgardis, a Cistercian, and one of the first mystics of the Sacred Heart.
St. Lutgardis is the patron saint of the blind and physically disabled people. Born in the 12th century, she came to her vocation, in part, due to her father’s bad business sense. Her father lost her dowry in a failed business venture and sent her to a Benedictine convent at the age of 12.
A few years later, she received a vision of Christ showing her his wounds, and at age 20 she became a Benedictine nun. Her visions continued and she is said to have levitated and dripped blood from her head when meditating on the Passion.
Seeking a stricter life, she joined the Cistercians and displayed the gifts of healing, prophecy, spiritual wisdom and teaching on the Gospels.
She accepted the blindness that afflicted her for the last 11 years of her life as a gift that helped reduce the distractions of the outside world. In her last vision, Christ told her when she was to die, the day after the Feast of the Holy Trinity, June 16, 1246. She was 64.
Other areas of patronage for St. Lutgardis include: childbirth, Flanders, Belgium.
For further information on St. Lutgardis, read this article.
Today is the is the feast day of St. Germaine Cousin, a simple and pious young girl who lived in Pibrac, France in the late 1500s. Germaine was born in 1579 to poor parents. Her father was a farmer, and her mother died when she was still an infant. She was born with a deformed right arm and hand, as well as the disease of scrofula, a tubercular condition.
Her father remarried soon after the death of her mother, but his new wife was filled with disgust by Germaine's condition. She tormented and neglected Germaine, and taught her siblings to do so as well.
Starving and sick, Germaine was eventually kicked out of the house and forced to sleep under the stairway in the barn, on a pile of leaves and twigs, because of her stepmother’s dislike of her and disgust of her condition. She tended to the family's flock of sheep everyday.
Despite her hardships, she lived each day full of thanksgiving and joy, and spent much of her time praying the Rosary and teaching the village children about the love of God. She was barely fed and had an emaciated figure, yet despite this she shared the little bread that she had with the poor of the village.
From her simple faith grew a deep holiness and profound trust in God. She went to Mass everyday, leaving her sheep in the care of her guardian angel, who never failed her. Germaine’s deep piety was looked upon with ridicule by the villagers, but not by the children, who were drawn to her holiness.
God protected Germaine and showered his favor upon her. It was reported that on days when the river was high, the waters would part so that she could pass through them on her way to Mass. One day in winter, when she was being chased by her stepmother who accused her of stealing bread, she opened her apron and fresh summer flowers fell out. She offered the flowers to her stepmother as a sign of forgiveness.
Eventually, the adults of the village began to realize the special holiness of this poor, crippled shepherdess. Germaine's parents eventually offered her a place back in their house, but she chose to remain in her humble place outside.
Just as the villagers were realizing the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. Her father found her body on her bed of leaves one morning in her 22nd year of life.
Forty-three years later, when a relative of hers was being buried, Germaine’s casket was opened and her body was found incorrupt. People in the surrounding area began praying for her intercession and obtaining miraculous cures for illnesses. Documents attest to more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces received through the intervention of Saint Germain. They include cures of every kind.
St. Germaine was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867 and inscribed into the canon of virgins.
Patronage: abandoned people, abuse victims, against poverty, bodily ills, child abuse victims, disabled people, girls from rural areas, handicapped people, illness, impoverishment, loss of parents, physically challenged people, poverty, shepherdesses, sick people, sickness, unattractive people, victims of abuse, victims of child abuse
Prayers to St. Germaine
Saint Germaine, look down from Heaven and intercede for the many abused children in our world. Help them to sanctify their sufferings. Strengthen children who suffer the effects of living in broken families. Protect those children who have been abandoned by their parents and live in the streets. Beg God's mercy on anyone who abuses children. Intercede for handicapped children and their parents.
Saint Germaine, you who suffered neglect and abuse so patiently, pray for us.
Remember us, blessed Germaine, your brothers and sisters who labor and suffer in this difficult world. Know that we place our hope in you, ask for your help in our need, and for consolation in our suffering. Hear us as we ask you to be with us in our time of trial. You experienced much pain, isolation, humiliation, and suffering. Now from your place of glory please look with kindness upon our sorrows. In your happiness, remember our tears.
Form us in the way of your humility, your patience, your faith, and your charity.
And then, at the hour of our death, welcome us to our eternal home.
The defunding of Planned Parenthood, promoter of the Pill -- a class one carcinogen for women, which is responsible for the death of babies, and is a major killer of marriages -- is the topic of this video. Karen Garnett, Executive Director of the Catholic Pro-life Committee of North Texas, speaks at The Pill Kills Marriage National Seminar in Dallas, TX; sponsored by Stop Planned Parenthood International and STOPP of Dallas.
St. Methodius worked for unity and reconciliation in the Eastern Church and had served as the Patriarch of Constantinople for the last five years of his life.
Born in Syracuse, he first felt the call to enter religious life while in Constantinople, where he had gone to seek a position at court. He left for the island of Chinos, where he built a monastery and started a monastic community.
However, his time at the monastery was short-lived since he was summoned by the Patriarch of Constantinople to help govern the diocese and create unity after a debate broke out on the use of icons in worship. While in Rome, seeking the Pope’s help, he was exiled for seven years. But he returned as patriarch in 842 and continued to work for unity.
Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, a Doctor of the Church, a Franciscan priest called the "Hammer of the Heretics", the "Wonder Worker", and the "Living Ark of the Covenant."
He was born Fernando Martin de Bulhom in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of a knight of the court of King Alfonso II. His parents sent him to be educated by the clergy at the Cathedral of Lisbon. At the age of 15 he joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and at 17, in order to have more seclusion, asked for and obtained leave to transfer to the priory of St. Cross, of the same order, at Coimbra, then the capital of Portugal. There, for a period of eight years, he devoted himself to study and prayer. With the help of a remarkable memory, he acquired a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
The arrival of the relics of St. Bernard and companions, the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, led Anthony to join the Franciscan Order at the age of 25. At this time, he changed his name to Antony in honor of St. Antony of Eygpt, which was the name of the chapel where he received the Franciscan habit. He was deeply inspired by the Franciscan martyrs and tried to emulate them. He received a friendly reception at the peaceful little Franciscan convent at Coimbra and in the same year his earnest wish to be sent to the missions in Africa was fulfilled.
But God had decreed otherwise. And so, Antony scarcely set foot on African soil when he gravely ill. Even after he had recovered, he was so weak that he boarded a boat back to Portugal. Unexpectedly, a storm came upon them and drove the ship to the east where it found refuge on coast of Sicily. There Antony was greeted and given shelter by the Franciscans of that island, and shortly thereafter was sent to Assisi, where the general chapter of the Order was held in May, 1221 A. D. Antony remained there nine months as chaplain to the hermits, occupied in the lowliest duties of the kitchen and convent, and to his heart's content he practiced interior as well as exterior mortification.
But the hidden jewel was soon to appear in all its brilliance. For the occasion of a ceremony of ordination some of the hermits along with Antony were sent to the town of Forli. Before the ceremony was to begin, however, it was announced that the priest who was to give the sermon had fallen sick. The local superior, to avoid the embarrassment of the moment, quickly asked the friars in attendance to volunteer. Each excused himself, saying that he was not prepared, until finally, Antony was asked to give it. When he too, excused himself in a most humble manner, his superior ordered him by virtue of the vow of obedience to give the sermon. Antony began to speak in a very quiet and reserved manner; but soon the power of the Holy Spirit seized him, and he spoke with such eloquence that everyone was amazed.
When St. Francis was informed of the event, he gave Anthony the mission to preach throughout Italy. At the request of the brethren, Antony was later commissioned also to teach theology, "but in such a manner," St. Francis distinctly wrote, " that the spirit of prayer be not extinguished either in yourself or in the other brethren." Antony himself placed greater value in the salvation of souls than on learning. For that reason he never ceased to exercise his office as preacher despite his work of teaching.
Antony was called the "Wonder Worker" for his many reported miracles. He preached to crowds in the rain, but his audiences remained dry despite the downpour.
The number of those who came to hear him was sometimes so great that no church was large enough to accommodate and so he had to preach in the open air. He was so energetic in defending the truths of the Catholic Faith that many heretics returned to the Church. This occasioned the epitaph given him by Pope Gregory IX "the ark of the covenant."
In all his labors he never forgot the admonition of his spiritual father, St. Francis, that the spirit of prayer must not be extinguished. If he spent the day in teaching and heard the confession of sinners till late in the evening, then many hours of the night were spent in intimate union with God.
Once a man, at whose home Antony was spending the night, came upon the saint and found him holding in his arms the Child Jesus, unspeakably beautiful and surrounded with heavenly light. For this reason St. Anthony is often depicted holding the Child Jesus.
In 1227 A. D., Antony was elected Minister Provincial of the friars living in northern Italy. Due to his taxing labors and his austere penance, he soon felt his strength so spent that he prepared himself for death. After receiving the last sacraments he kept looking upward with a smile. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered: "I see my Lord." He breathed forth his soul on June 13, 1231 A. D., at the age of 36. Soon the children in the streets of the city of Padua were crying: "The saint is dead, Antony is dead."
Antony was canonized in 1232 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1946. At Padua, a magnificent basilica was built in his honor, his holy relics were entombed there in 1263 A. D. From the time of his death up to the present day, countless miracles have occurred through St. Anthony's intercession.
Patron of: Poor, barren and pregnant women, also against shipwrecks, starvation and of American Indians, animals, boatmen, elderly people, fishermen, harvests, lost articles, mail, Portugal, travelers, travel hostesses, and watermen.
How he came to be invoked, as he now is, of the finder of lost articles has never been satisfactorily explained. The only story that relates to this is contained in the so-called Chronicles of the Twenty-Four Generals, number 21. A novice ran away from his monastery carrying with him a valuable psalter which Antony had been using. he prayed for its recovery and the novice was frightened by a startling apparition into returning it.
Symbols: book, bread, Infant Jesus, lily
He is occasionally accompanied by a mule which, legend said, fell on its knees when the Blessed Sacrament was upheld by St. Anthony, thus converting its heretical owner to believe in the Real Presence.
"Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth."
"The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ."
“It can easily be shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life. Saul was told by the prophet Samuel: ‘The Spirit of the Lord will take possession of you, and you shall be changed into another man.’ Saint Paul writes: ‘As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another.’
Does this not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives? With the Spirit within them it is quite natural for people who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook, and for cowards to become men of great courage. There can be no doubt that this is what happened to the disciples. The strength they received from the Spirit enabled them to hold firmly to the love of Christ, facing the violence of their persecutors unafraid. Very true, then, was our Savior’s saying that it was to their advantage for him to return to heaven: his return was the time appointed for the descent of the Holy Spirit.”
On the day of Pentecost, "suddenly from up in the sky there came a noise like a strong, driving wind which was heard all through the house where they were seated. Tongues as of fire appeared, which parted and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them" (Acts 2:2-4).
Today is a special day of celebration for me, not only because it is Pentecost, but because it is the anniversary of my lifetime Oblature with the Community of St. John.
Six years ago today, I made my promises to the Lord with the Community of St. John.
Today, I thank God for the outpouring of graces He gave me through the Holy Spirit, to do this. What a beautiful gift!
I didn't deserve this gift, but God, in His loving kindness, generously rewarded me. As I began to lose members of my own family through illness and death, He gave me a new family, whose hearts were so full of love.
I will be forever grateful for His gift to me.
For more information about the Community of St. John, please visit the following sites:
Barnabas was not one of the original apostles, but was a Levite from Cyprus, originally named Joseph but renamed Barnabas, which means "Son of Encouragement" by them. It was Barnabas who presented St. Paul to the other Apostles when, after his long retreat in Arabia, he came to Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion to submit for Peter's approval the mission to the Gentiles entrusted to him by the Master Himself. He was present with Paul at the Council of Jerusalem (ca. 50). Barnabas was Paul's companion and helper on his first missionary journey and returned with him to Jerusalem, but left him when he set out on his second journey and went to Cyprus. After having converted many souls to Christ, Barnabas died in Cyprus during Nero's reign; tradition has it that he was stoned to death. The name of St. Barnabas is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.
Name Meaning: son of encouragement; son of consolation
Patronage: against hailstorms; Antioch; Cyprus; invoked as peacemaker; Marino, Italy
Representation: ax; lance; middle-aged bearded apostle, often bearing a book or olive branch; standing on or near a pile of stones while holding a book; stones; with Saint Paul.
St. Luke describes Barnabas as a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith". (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Blessed Edward Poppe was born on December 18, 1890 in Moerzeke, Belgium, to a baker's family of modest means. From his mother he learned generosity and a devotion to prayer, and from his father a dedication to work and a love of the poor. In May 1909 Edward Poppe, a brilliant student, decided to become a priest to serve "poor Flanders". As a seminarian he was distinguished for his desire to fulfil the will of God perfectly by following the example of Jesus and Mary and by being open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
After ordination he was assigned as a curate to St Colette's, a working-class parish in Ghent. His special concern was for children, the poor and the dying. Leading a life of great personal poverty, he devoted particular attention to catechesis and Eucharistic associations, and was very concerned over the increasing dechristianization of society.
For reasons of health he was transferred to the rural area of Moerzeke and appointed rector of a religious community (1918-22). They would be four years of contemplation and study, half of which were spent in bed because of his poor health. He began writing about the problems affecting Flanders: Marxism, secularism and materialism. He wrote 10 short works, over 284 articles and thousands of letters. His visit in 1920 to the tomb of Therese of Lisieux had a deep impact on his spiritual life: from then on her "little way" became his way too.
He mobilized all educators for a re-evangelization campaign, whose starting point and goal was the Eucharist and whose watchword was: "First yourself, then others". During this period he perfected his forward-looking apostolic methods and promoted a priestly association, catechesis, education in the faith through a Eucharistic campaign, liturgical renewal, the lay apostolate and the Flemish social movement. His home became a place of prayer and encouragement.
In October 1922 he was sent to Leopoldsburg to serve as spiritual director to clerics fulfilling their military service. During these last 15 months of his life, he was happy to share his message not only with future priests but with countless people who were touched by his words and writings.
Flander's most beloved priest died on the morning of June 10, 1924 with his eyes fixed on the image of the Sacred Heart, on the merciful love to which he had totally entrusted himself.
"According to the divine plan, action must be fed with prayer. The interior life is the wellspring of the apostolate. Do not believe in the slogan, 'The priest is sanctified in sanctifying others' - it's an illusion. The real formula is, 'Sanctify yourself so as to sanctify others.'"
"Have you ever noticed the halo of light that surrounds holy priests and illuminates all those in their presence? They bring about such transformations by the silent preaching of their holy life! How many imitators they draw in their wake, attracting them by their priestly ideal! May Jesus favor us with entering into contact with such a priest!"
"Remember Your sufferings, Jesus. Remember Your love, and the innocence of the little ones! Send us Your priests!"
Today is the optional memorial of St. Ephrem, deacon and doctor.
St. Ephrem was born around 306 A.D. in Nisibis, Mesopotamia. He is called the "Harp of the Holy Spirit" and is the only Syrian father who is honored as a doctor of the Universal Church.
Ephrem was baptized at the age of eighteen and became a disciple of the famous bishop of Nisibis, St. Jacob. He also accompanied St. Jacob to the Council of Nicaea in 325. Due to his great knowledge of the Church and doctrine, Ephrem was put in charge of a school of theology in Nisibis. He lived through three sieges laid to Nisibis by the Persians. Although the Persians failed to capture the town by direct attack, they obtained it in 363 as part of the price of a peace settlement following the defeat and death of the Emperor Julian. The Christians then abandoned the city and Ephrem retired to a cave in a rocky height overlooking Edessa.
In Edessa, Ephrem led an austere life, sustained only by a little barley bread and a few vegetables. It was here that he wrote the greater part of his spiritual works. His appearance was that of an ascetic. He was of small stature, bald, beardless, and with skin shrivelled and dried up. His gown was all patches and the color of dirt.
As a deacon at Edessa, he vigorously combated the heresies of his time, and to do so more effectively wrote poems and hymns about the mysteries of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. His works were described as "a storehouse of treasures," and he was called -- "Harp of the Holy Spirit," "Doctor of the world," and "Pillar of the Church." He was a commentator on Scripture and a preacher as well as a poet, and has left a considerable number of works, which were translated into other Eastern languages as well as into Greek and Latin.
St. Ephrem was deeply devoted to Our Blessed Mother and no one in the early Church wrote more about Mary than Ephrem. He called devotion to her "the unlocking of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem."
Ephrem died in 373. Benedict XV proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1920. Ephrem is the patron of spiritual directors and spiritual leaders.
Catholic Charities offices from three dioceses in Illinois have filed suit against the state after having to shut down their adoption and foster care services following the enactment of the state's civil union law on June 1.
“Child welfare advocates know it is in the best interest of Illinois children for Catholic Charities to stay in this business,” said Steven Roach, head of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Springfield.
“It’s tragic that there are people who believe unnecessarily disrupting the lives of thousands of vulnerable children is an acceptable outcome in this situation.”
Catholic Charities organizations in the Dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joliet filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court on June 7 seeking to legally continue their current practices of working only with married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals. The suit was filed against the Illinois Attorney General and the Department of Children and Family Services.
The “State of Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act,” which became law on June 1, does not allow child welfare agencies to restrict their adoption and foster care work to married heterosexual couples, even in cases where these agencies partner with religious groups.
Rather than violate Catholic teaching, the three dioceses – along with the Diocese of Rockford which has not filed suit – chose to halt all state-funded adoptions and foster care placements.