Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pope: God can be seen through art

During the general audience, Benedict XVI explained that through artwork mankind seeks to find a relationship with God. “Today we reflect on the need to draw near to God through the experience and appreciation of artistic beauty. Art is capable of making visible our need to go beyond what we see and it reveals our thirst for infinite beauty, for God,” said Benedict XVI.

The pope also made note that artwork not only adds to the culture of society but also serves as a means of communication with the heavens.

Benedict XVI
“The cities and countries around the world, preserve works of art that express the faith and reminds us of the relationship with God. Visiting places of art is then not only an occasion for cultural enrichment, but can also become a time of grace, to stimulate and strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord.”

Benedict XVI spoke about on how art can make us appreciate life and the gift that is given to each one of us.

Benedict XVI
“Stop and contemplate the transition from simple reality external to the deeper reality, the radius of beauty that strikes us, that we almost 'hurt' the intimate and invites us to ascend to God.”

The pope then thanked the pilgrims for their attendance and asked that artwork move them toward prayer in the future.

~ Via Rome Reports.

Judicial Tyranny: Federal Judge Forces Taxpayers to Subsidize Failing Planned Parenthood Clinics

 Let us persevere in our prayers for the closing of all Planned Parenthood businesses and for the removal of corrupt judges who support them.

Wichita, KS - Yesterday, Federal Court Judge J. Thomas Marten ordered the State of Kansas to immediately resume quarterly Title X payments to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri even though the state has no valid contract with Planned Parenthood that would legitimize such an order.

On August 1, 2011, Marten set aside a new Kansas law that allowed the state to reprioritize how Title X family planning funds were disbursed even though the state had already redirected the money to legitimate health care providers not associated with abortion. Planned Parenthood was back in court yesterday demanding that payments resume immediately. Kansas had offered to pay Planned Parenthood monthly - only for services rendered - while the case was on appeal, but Marten insisted on full quarterly payments regardless of services.

Read more.

St. Raymond Nonnatus, Patron of Expectant Mothers, Newborn Babies

The saint of the day is St. Raymond Nonnatus.

Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain in 1204, the son of wealthy parents. He was delivered by cesarean 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 Raymond was drawn to religious life, ordered him to manage one of the family farms. Raymond 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.

Raymond 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 / Novena to St. Raymond Nonnatus

Prayers for Pregnant Women

Related Post:

Prayer of an Expecting Mother

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pope begins search for new head of Doctrine of the Faith

Planned Parenthood May Close Kansas Center Unless $ Restored

The Planned Parenthood abortion business says it may close an abortion-referral center in Hays, Kansas, located in the central part of the state, unless the taxpayer funding Kansas officials revoked is restored.

The abortion business has been complaining that Kansas is not complying with a judge’s order temporarily enjoining a new state provision prioritizing family planning funds to non-abortion agencies.

Read more.

St. Jeanne Jugan

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, 2011.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Novenas for Every Month of the Year

Novenas are very popular and traditional methods of Catholic prayer. Novena is derived from the Latin "novem", meaning nine. A novena is when a series of private or public prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favors, or to make special petitions. The prayers are given for nine days straight for the special intention. The novena is offered as a sacrifice to God. God sees a novena as a sign of devotion especially when the person saying the novena asks for a specific reason. There are many novenas to choose from to different saints.

Novenas can be made in public such as in a chapel or church or private in your own home. It takes only a few minutes a day to complete the prayers of the day.

Find a calendar of novenas here.

Novena for the Unemployed

Novena to Saint Cajetan
Patron of the Unemployed, Job Seekers

Cajetan was ordained priest in 1516. He left the papal court and dedicated himself entirely to the service of the Lord. With his own hands he cared for the sick. Such zeal did he show for the salvation of his fellowmen that he was surnamed the "huntsman for souls."

St. Cajetan often prayed eight hours daily. While attending the Christmas celebration at St. Mary of the Crib, he is said to have been given the grace of receiving from Mary the Child Jesus into his arms.

St. Cajetan founded in 1524 a community of priests who were to lead an apostolic life. They were to look with disdain all earthly belongings, to accept no salaries from the faithful; only from that which was freely donated were they allowed to retain the means of livelihood.

He founded a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks). It later became the Bank of Naples. His concern for the unemployed, giving them the necessary financial help in their time of need, made him their patron. His feast is celebrated on August 7.

Daily Prayer

O glorious St. Cajetan, you studied to be a lawyer, but when you felt that the Lord was calling you to his service, you abandoned everything and became a priest. You excelled in virtues, shunning all material rewards for your labor, helping the many unemployed people of your time. You provided loans without interest and you attracted a lot of benefactors who donated to your resources so that you could go on with your activities. Look on us with mercy. We wish to find employment that could help us and our families live with dignity. Listen to our petitions, dear saint; you, who could easily give up the food on your table for the needy, bring our petitions to Jesus (here make your request). Amen.

First Day

You were a model of virtue among the priests of your time, O St. Cajetan. You sought not to receive payments from your ministry, and you taught people how to pray the rosary and develop devotions to saints. You were truly a spiritual shepherd, and your concern was always focused on the salvation of souls. But despite this, you were also aware that with hungry stomachs, the faithful would have difficulty in understanding God’s Word. You embarked to help them, not just by giving them bread but helping them gain their living by work. Look on us with pity, O glorious saint. We have many unemployed people in our midst and their families go hungry. We ask you to guide the fathers and mothers who are looking for work. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Second Day

Despite your busy schedule, dear saint, you spent eight hours a day in prayer. Your happiness consists in being united with Jesus, to savor his presence in the Eucharist. Guide us to be like you by giving priority to prayer in our life. Enable us to savor Jesus’ presence and help us become contemplatives like you. Inspire us to understand that prayer is not just asking Jesus for our needs, but being with him, delighting in his presence. We ask you, dear saint, to lead us in this direction that we may learn to delight in Jesus’ presence. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Third Day

Since your death, dear St. Cajetan, the unemployed people of the world had sought your intercession. Work is the key to a happy life. Look with pity on the millions of people in our country who wake up each morning without certainty of finding food because they don’t have work. These people become victims of desperation and some even resort to crimes to survive. Help our government leaders formulate policies that will bring about employment. You who established a bank for the needy inspire our leaders to extend loans for the poor so that they may provide for the needs of their families. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Fourth Day

O glorious St. Cajetan, like the society where you lived, we are also beset by the same economic set up where the poor are becoming poorer and the rich, richer. You fasted so that the money you saved could be used to buy food for the poor, you did not accept any payment for your ministries because you wanted people to help the needy. You lived very frugally because you wanted to teach the rich about the need to share. Look with pity on our society where resources are wasted in buying useless goods, while the poor and the needy among us have not received the basic necessities. Inspire us to share that nobody among us would go hungry, and that everybody may live with dignity. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Fifth Day

O glorious St. Cajetan, you spent long hours helping the sick and worked yourself to exhaustion in helping victims of plagues which were frequent in your time. You cared for the sick not just to heal them, but to guide them to a happy death. You wanted their souls, not their bodies. Help us to understand that we have to prepare ourselves to a happy death. May we likewise see that the most terrible sickness is our sinfulness, and we always have to examine ourselves for the sins we commit daily. Inspire us to have repentant hearts that we may always be prepared to meet the Lord. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Sixth Day

O humble St. Cajetan, you spoke with rulers and kings, but you never gave them much importance. You know that prestige, honor, and positions in society could only be good if they are use to help the needy and the poor. For this reason, you also confronted tyrants and stood against armies that looted, killed, and raped. Your humility did not prevent you from becoming a prophet. You only feared Jesus. Help us to remain humble and self-effacing, knowing that before God, we remain nothing. We can only be someone if we stand close to Jesus. Inspire us to follow your footsteps so that we, too, may fight for justice and help stop corruption in our government. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Seventh Day

O glorious St. Cajetan, your unceasing fasting and penance help people understand that God must be loved above all things and above all persons. You sacrificed anything or anyone that could block you from loving God with your whole soul, mind, heart and body. By eating little, you showed to others that man does not live on bread alone. You renewed the faith of many people, touched their hearts, and helped much in the reformation of the Church. Inspire us to fast and do penance for our sins. Instill on us the spirit of sacrifice that we, too, may love God intensely as you did. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Eighth Day

O glorious St. Cajetan, it pained you to see the Catholic Church divided into hostile groups. You always prayed for unity in the Church, asking laypersons, priests, and bishops to support the Pope through preaching, prayer, and sacrifices. You see the Church as the bride of Christ, the sacrament by which men and women can become holy. You worked hard for the return of the Protestants to the Catholic Church, and you preached against Protestant reformers who were attacking the heart of Catholic teachings. Teach us then to work for unity in our Church and at the same time, to defend her from sects and religious movements that attack her. Inspire us to follow your path. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Ninth Day

O glorious St. Cajetan, you received many special blessings from Jesus, visions and mystical experiences because of your union with him. While contemplating the mystery of incarnation, Mary appeared to you and put on your lap the baby Jesus. You held on to the baby and made your heart his dwelling place. Jesus truly loved you and his Mother trusted you. Listen then to our petitions on this last day of our novena and bring them to Jesus. Prove to us that now in heaven you are closer to Jesus and he listens to you. Amen.

Daily Prayer

(3) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary, (3) Glory Be

(3) St. Cajetan, pray for us.

Prayer of an Expecting Mother

Lord Jesus, I lovingly pray for this sweet hope that I keep within my womb. You have granted me the immense gift of a tiny little life, living in my own life, and I humbly thank you for choosing me as an instrument of your love. In this sweet waiting, help me to live in a constant attitude of self-surrender to your will.

Grant me a motherly heart that is pure, steadfast and generous. I hand over to you my own concerns; any anxious fears that may come, my own wishes for the little person that I still have no knowledge of. Grant that it may be born healthy in body, keep far from it every peril to its soul.

Mary, you have known the ineffable joy of a holy motherhood; give me a heart that can transmit an ardent, living faith. Sanctify my waiting, bless this joyful hope that is in me, grant that the fruit of my womb may open out in virtue and in holiness through your working with that of your divine Son. Amen.

What does it mean to be Catholic?

H/T: Acts of the Apostacy

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

We celebrated the birthday of St. John the Baptist on June 24; today we honor the anniversary of his martyrdom.

Shortly after he had baptized Jesus, John the Baptist began to denounce Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Herod had divorced his own wife and taken Herodias, the wife of his half- brother Philip and also his own niece. John the Baptist declared, "It is not lawful for you to have her," so Herod threw him into prison.

Not only did Herod fear John and his disciples, he also knew him to be a righteous man, so he did not kill him. Herodias was determined to bring about John's death. From prison John followed Jesus's ministry, and sent messengers to question him (Luke 7:19-29). One day Herod gave an eloquent banquet to celebrate his birthday. His entire court was present as well as other powerful and influential Palestinians. Herodias's daughter Salome so pleased Herod when she danced to entertain the company that he promised her whatever she would ask--even half of his kingdom. Salome asked her mother for counsel and was told to request the head of the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).

Because of his pride Herod, though deeply sorry, could not decline the request; as St. Augustine said, "an oath rashly taken was criminally kept." He sent a soldier of the guard to behead John in prison. Thus, the "voice crying in the wilderness" was silenced. The head was placed on a platter and taken to Salome, who gave it to her mother.

When John's disciples heard what had happened, they took away his body and laid it in a tomb, where he was venerated in the 4th century.

The Greatness of St. John the Baptist

John's holiness appears so great that the Jews come to ask him if he is the looked - for Christ. but he, forestalled as he is with divine favors, protests that he is but "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.

"The other prophets only saw the Messiah afar off; he points him out in person and in terms so clear that all sincere hearts understand them: "Behold the lamb of God," behold the one who is the object of all the desires of the human race, because he takes away the sins of the world; Ecce Agnus Dei. You do not yet know him, although he is in the midst of you: Medius vestrum stetit quem vos nescitis; he is greater than I, for he was before me; he is so great that I am not even worthy to loose the latchet of his shoe; so great that "I saw the Spirit coming down as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him...and I saw, and I gave testimony that this is the Son of God.

"What more has he yet to say? "He that comes from above, is above all. He who God has seen heard that he testified...he whom God has sent, speaks the words of God; for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The father loves the Son; and he has given all things into his hand. He that believed in the Son, has life everlasting; but he that not believes in the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

"These are the last words of the Precursor. By them he achieves his work of preparing souls to receive the Messiah. Indeed, when the Incarnate Word, who alone can speak the words from on high because he is ever in sinu Patris, begins his public mission as the Savior, John will disappear; he will no longer bear testimony to the Truth save with the shedding of his blood.

The Christ, whom he announced, has come at last; he is that Light unto which John bore testimony, and all those who believe in that Light have everlasting life. It is to Him alone that it must be said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

~ Blessed Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

Blessed Columba Marmion was abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous, Belgium.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review: Unplanned by Abby Johnson

By Abby Johnson (author) with Cindy Johnson (contributor) release date: January 11, 2011 Salt River Publishing,  pages 288, Amazon: hardcover - $12.01, paperback -$9.87

Reviewed by JEAN M. HEIMANN, freelance writer, wife and mother,  prayer warrior and sidewalk counselor, former crisis pregnancy counselor, graduate student in theology, retired educator, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity of hearing Abby Johnson speak and of meeting her at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference here in Wichita just a few weeks ago. At that conference, she gave me her signed copy of Unplanned for review.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of what happened with Abby Johnson when she resigned as Planned Parenthood director in Texas in 2009 and walked across the road to join the Coalition for Life – after all, it had been in all the national news reports, the blogs – even my own. I knew some of the basic facts, yes, but that was all I knew. Unplanned is Abby Johnson’s dramatic personal and eye-opening story of all that happened to her before, during, and after the event that led her to cross the line from death to life.

Enrolled as a student at Texas A&M, Abby Johnson, a psychology major, sincerely desired to help women in crisis, and was recruited by Planned Parenthood to become a volunteer for an organization that she thought shared her goal. As she rose through the ranks from volunteer to part-time employee, to full time employee, and eventually achieving the role of clinic director, Abby began to see things in a different light. Planned Parenthood seemed to be more concerned with finances than with helping women, more concerned with making money for their business and with pushing abortions rather than “reducing them”, which she had perceived to be their goal. She became more unsettled about her role as clinic director, but it wasn’t until she was asked to take part in an abortion ultrasound that she learned the truth of what she had been a part of for eight years. She shares in Unplanned what I had hoped to learn more about and that is an insider’s look at Planned Parenthood’s business practices.

What I did not expect to learn about in Unplanned was: the personal secret Abby had been carrying around for years which had influenced her behavior, exactly why she had been so attracted to Planned Parenthood in the first place, the information she shared with her patients, which she herself believed to be true, but later learned was false, and her relationship with the Coalition for Life and what a strong impact their prayers and witness had in her discovery of the truth.

What was most appealing to me about Abby’s beautifully written story is how God’s love was working in her life to transform her -- how He spoke to her in the silence of her heart, through the ordinary people in her daily life, and how He planned and arranged things in such a way that she would be a voice for life. This is a stunning story of  heartfelt conversion which will open up the eyes and hearts of those who read it. I highly recommend it. Unplanned is a must-read for all who care about life and women who are facing crisis pregnancies.

~ © Jean M. Heimann August, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

St. Monica, Patron of Married Women and Mothers

Today is the memorial of St. Monica - a saint admire so much for her tenacity, patience, and perseverance in prayer for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine. A persistent prayer warrior, Monica 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 a doctor of the Church.

Monica was born in 332 to Christian parents in Tagaste, northern Africa and married at the age 13 or 14 to an older man named Patricius, who was neither wealthy nor Christian. The marriage was indeed a cross for Monica.  Patricius was irritable and unfaithful and her live-in mother-in-law criticized her constantly. Monica sought refuge in God through an intimate prayer life and in caring for her three children: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua.  In answer to her constant prayers, both her mother-in-law and her husband Patricius converted to Christianity. Monica had been praying for the two of them for 20 years. Patricius died the year after his conversion.

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 sinful lifestyle. He took a Carthaginian woman as his mistress and lived with her for fifteen years. Monica prayed constantly for his faith. 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 outwitted her and had already embarked when she arrived at the docks.  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 a wealthy young woman, whom he later abandoned when he decided to take a vow of celibacy.

In Milan, Monica 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 experienced at that time.

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.”

~ About 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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pope meets with his former students to discuss the New Evangelization

What New Wives Need to Know

SIMCHA FISHER from the National Catholic Register writes:

1. You’re just an amateur, and that’s why your marriage isn’t perfect. The first meal I cooked was disgusting, indigestible—but I learned over time, and now I have the hang of it (with the occasional mealtime disaster). It’s the same with marriage, which is a much more complicated recipe to follow. Be patient with yourself and your husband, and be patient with the relationship. You’re in it for the long haul. Things that are worth doing take time to learn.

2. Do not mention divorce. Do not even allow words beginning with the letter “d” to cross your brain. If you’re hurt and angry with your husband, but it was a valid marriage and he isn’t doing any of the things listed in those abuse hotline posters in the YMCA bathroom, then remember that you married a human being, not a god. You can either work it out or learn to live with it, but no, you cannot leave.

Read more

5th Anniversary of the Community of St. John Founder, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe

Today is not only the birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but it is also the 5th 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.Com- International website

The Community of St. John - USA

Children of Hope

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann August 2011

~Photo Image: copyright Jean M. Heimann 2006

St. Francis' Prayer to Discern God's Will

MOST HIGH, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart,
and give me right faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
wisdom and understanding,
Lord, that I may carry out
your holy and true command.


St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars (also known as Saint Teresa de Gesu, Jornet y Ibars), the Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor.

Born in 1843 at Catalonia, Spain, she was raised on a farm and later became a teacher at Lérida. She had been preparing to take her final vows as a Poor Clare nun, when the government suppressed all convents and she was sent home. She struggled to understand why God would permit this to happen and for several years asked Him what she was to do with her life. Then, she met a priest/spiritual director who provided the answer. Along with Father Saturnino Lopez Novoa, she opened a shelter for the poor and the elderly. At the age 29, in Barbastro, Spain, Teresa founded the community known today as the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor. By the time of her death, at age 54, she had established more than 100 shelters in Spain and 58 congregation houses. Today the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor have more than 200 houses in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. She was beatified in 1958 and canonized in 1974 by Pope Paul VI.

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars is the patron saint of senior citizens and retired people.

"The Little Sisters have been and are the witnesses of the emptiness that often afflicts the old. They have been chosen to fill that emptiness with warmth and human affection. They have been chosen by God to reaffirm the sacredness of human life and to underline the truth that man is a child of God and can never be regarded only as a tool of cold utilitarianism."

~ Pope Paul VI

Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna)

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

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.

~ excerpted from the Mary Page 

Prayers to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Father Barron on World Youth Day

Priests in China arrested for not supporting illicit ordination

A group of priests and lay people were arrested in the city of Tianshui, in northeastern China. They are being held in separate cells and forced to attend political study sessions four hours everyday.

The Chinese Patriotic Church is controlled by the Chinese government. They arrested priests and Catholics that are faithful to the Church of Rome. It was done in an effort to support the new bishop proposed by the Patriotic Church for the city of Tianshui.

China has no official relationship with the Vatican. The Vatican has said those involved in illicit ordinations by the Chinese government would be excommunicated.

~ Via Rome Reports.

Archbishop Chaput: New York Times, CNN, MSNBC can’t be trusted on abortion, faith

When it comes to finding information on vital issues like abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and faith, the mainstream media simply can’t be trusted, the incoming archbishop of Philadelphia told a group of youth in Spain last week.

“Being uninformed about the world and its problems and issues is a sin against our vocation as disciple,” Archbishop Charles Chaput told his audience during a special World Youth Day session in Madrid. And yet, he went on to note, the Christian believer is faced with a unique challenge in finding accurate sources of information on key issues.

“In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex marriage, and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only of Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers,” he said.

“And with relatively few exceptions, the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.”

The archbishop said that Christians “make a very serious mistake” if they turned to outlets like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and MSNBC, “for reliable news about religion.”

“These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” he said. “These are secular operations focused on making a profit … They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”

Read the entire story.

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 Liturgy of 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."

St. Louis' Letter of Advice to His Oldest Son

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Rep. Chris Smith

“The one child per couple policy is cruel, inhumane and the most egregious systematic attack on women ever. For the Vice President to publicly state that he fully understands the one child policy is unconscionable. He and all of us should be defending the women of China from this state-sponsored cruelty of forced abortion and forced sterilization, not supporting and enabling it.”

~ Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.)

Read the full story.

Pope announces slogan for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro 2013

Just a few days after announcing that World Youth Day 2013 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we now know the official slogan for the the next WYD.

Benedict XVI made the announcement during Wednesday's general audience.

Benedict XVI
"For World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, the theme will be based on Jesus' calling: 'Go and make disciples of all nations.' I ask for everyone's prayers while this important event is prepared.”

Brazil is the country with the most Catholics. Aside from hosting World Youth Day in 2013, Rio de Janeiro will also host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles who is mentioned only a few times in the Synoptic Gospels. In Mark 3:18 he is one of the twelve Jesus calls to be with him. Luke 6:14 lists him as one of the apostles, as does Matthew 10:2b - 3a. John's gospel does not mention Bartholomew, but refers to a Nathaniel, whom ancient writers and Catholic tradition have identified as Bartholomew. Besides being listed as an apostle, he is not otherwise mentioned in the New Testament. The name (Bartholomaios) means "son of Talmai" which was an ancient Hebrew name.

Philip shared the news of Jesus' ascension with  Batholomew/Nathanael: “We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile.” (John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!”

He carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantænus in the third century and according to local tradition, was taken there by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said Batholomew also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Armenia, where tradition has it that he was flayed alive and crucified for having won converts to the faith.

Patron: bookbinders; butchers; cobblers; Florentine cheese merchants; Florentine salt merchants; leather workers; nervous diseases; neurological diseases; plasterers; shoemakers; tanners; trappers; twitching; whiteners; Gambatesa, Italy; Armenia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

St. Rose of Lima

August 23 is the optional memorial of St. Rose of Lima, a Third Order Dominican, and the first canonized saint of the New World.

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.

St. Rose 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.

Litany of St. Rose of Lima 

Monday, August 22, 2011

2 Million attend World Youth Day in Madrid

Book Review: Stealing Jenny

By Ellen Gable , release date: September 15, 2011, Full Quiver Publishing, Pakenham, Ontario, pages, Paperback $12.99 (Amazon).

Reviewed by JEAN M. HEIMANN, freelance writer, wife and mother, graduate student in theology, retired educator, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.

In her third novel, Stealing Jenny, Ellen Gable masterfully creates a tight, compelling, and totally gripping tale of mystery and suspense. It grabs the reader’s interest and attention from the very first page to the last, moving at a quick pace from one action-packed scene to the next.

Stealing Jenny is the tale of Jenny Callahan, a Catholic wife and mother who, after three heart-breaking miscarriages, is now happily anticipating the birth of her sixth child. Jenny is nearing the end of a risky pregnancy and is eager to hold her newborn safely in her arms. Little does she realize that a mentally unbalanced neighbor has been stalking her and is plotting to take her baby from her. At a rural bus stop, Jenny is kidnapped and her three-old son is the only witness to the abduction. Will she escape or be rescued in time to save her life and the life of her unborn child?

Gable skillfully and cleverly crafts the story, combining elements of romance, drama, and suspense. The tender and loving, yet imperfect relationship between family members makes the characters seem very realistic and easy to relate to, the flashbacks reveal past information relevant to today, adding depth to the characters, and the well-concocted plans of the mentally unbalanced neighbor combine to produce a fast-paced, action-packed, suspense-filled tale.

Stealing Jenny is a uniquely Catholic story which contains themes of faith, love, hope, forgiveness, healing, and strongly emphasizes pro-life values. It is a book that provides high quality entertainment, while at the same time, reminds one of what is most important in life: faith and family. I highly recommend it.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann August, 2011.

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, we are commemorating a beautiful Marian Feast, that of the Queenship of Mary. This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter "Ad Caeli Reginam."

The Holy Catholic Church made this proclamation based upon the fact that whether in time of peace or in time of war, the faithful have incessantly offered prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven.

Following the tremendous destruction that occurred during World War II and considering the reality that the threat of a similar catastrophe filled the faithful with a great anguish, the Church turned its eyes towards Mary, the Heavenly Queen, in the hope of her protection. Mary has never failed those who have sought her intercession in prayer, placing their total trust in her.

Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. (Luke 1:32 -33) At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “Mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43) As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.

In the fourth century, St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church Fathers and Doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The Saints on Mary's Queenship:

“When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.”
~ St. John Damascene

"No one has access to the Almighty as His mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us; for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen forever."

~Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Just as Mary surpassed in grace all others on earth, so also in heaven is her glory unique. If eye has not seen or ear heard or the human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9), who can express what He has prepared for the woman who gave Him birth and who loved Him, as everyone knows, more than anyone else?"

~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

"She has surpassed the riches of the virgins, the confessors, the martyrs, the apostles, the prophets, the patriarchs, and the angels, for she herself is the first-fruit of the virgins, the mirror of confessors, the rose of martyrs, the ruler of apostles, the oracle of prophets, the daughter of patriarchs, the queen of angels."

~St. Bonaventure

Let us kneel at Mary's feet today and confidently place all our needs and concerns into the hands of our Mother, Mary the Queen of angels and saints, Queen of heaven and earth.

Queenship of Mary in Scripture

Litany of the Queenship of Mary

Saturday, August 20, 2011

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Abbott 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."

St. Bernard on Hope:

”Wait upon the Lord; be faithful to His commandments; He will elevate your hope, and put you in possession of His Kingdom. Wait upon Him patiently; wait upon Him by avoiding all sin. He will come, doubt it not; and in the approaching day of His visitation, which will be that of your death and His judgment, He will Himself crown your holy hope. Place all your hope in the Heart of Jesus; it is a safe asylum; for he who trusts in God is sheltered and protected by His mercy  To this firm hope, join the practice of virtue, and even in this life you will begin to taste the ineffable joys of Paradise.”


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.

Friday, August 19, 2011

World Youth Day Madrid: Pope participates in the Stations of the Cross

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."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pope met by horse shows and muscial group on his way to Plaza de Cibeles

Benedict XVI at WYD: "Let no one take away your peace, don't be ashamed of Christ"

Benedict XVI is now in Madrid. The papal plane landed at Barajas airport at noon. He was then greeted by the local Church and civil authorities, including the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, who thanked the pope for his third visit to Spain.

The King of Spain also took time to remember the visits of John Paul II.

Don Juan Carlos
King of Spain
“We dedicate a special remembrance to John Paul II who also made his third trip to Spain in 1989 for the fourth World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela. For the second time, this youth event has returned to Spain and welcomes young people from every corner of the Earth.”

The king spoke about the high unemployment currently facing many Spanish youth.

The pope also noted the concerns expressed by young people in finding work or feeling discrimination for their faith.

Benedict XVI
“I say again to young people, with all the strength of my heart: let no one take away your peace, don't be ashamed of Christ. He had no qualms about becoming one of us and experiencing our anguish to bring us to God, and by doing this he saved us.”

Read more at Rome Reports.

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Madrid for World Youth Day

Pro-life 'flash mob launches massive balloon rosary above the Chicago skyline

 This is so awesome! Thanks be to God for these wonderful, youthful pro-lifers!

Last Friday, a pro-life “flash mob” launched a massive 75-foot floating LIFE balloon rosary over the streets of Chicago.

The rosary, crafted of helium-filled yellow balloons bearing the word LIFE and a six-foot gold cross, was the work of 20 elementary-school-aged girls and their counselors from a summer camp at St. John Cantius Catholic parish. It was carried by the girls through downtown Chicago traffic following a prayer vigil in front of a local abortion clinic.

The floating rosary was the latest in a series of pro-life “flash mobs” utilizing the yellow balloons across the U.S.

Read the full story

Over a Million gather in Madrid for World Youth Day

Read more here:

Over a million gather in Madrid to greet Pope

WYD 2011: Madrid will never forget these scenes of devotion

Why I’m attending World Youth Day By Tim Muldoon

Saint of the Day: Saint Helena

It was the pious boast of the city of Colchester, England, for many ages, that St. Helena was born within its walls; and though this honor has been disputed, it is certain that she was a British princess. She embraced Christianity late in life; but her incomparable faith and piety greatly influenced her son Constantine, the first Christian emperor, and served to kindle a holy zeal in the hearts of the Roman people. Forgetful of her high dignity, she delighted to assist at the Divine Office amid the poor; and by her alms-deeds showed herself a mother to the indigent and distressed.

In her eightieth year she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with the ardent desire of discovering the cross on which our blessed Redeemer suffered. After many labors, three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the nails and the inscription recorded by the Evangelists. It still remained to identify the true cross of Our Lord. By the advice of the bishop, Macarius, the three were applied successively to a woman afflicted with an incurable disease, and no sooner had the third touched her than she arose, perfectly healed. The pious empress, transported with joy, built a, most glorious church on Mount Calvary to receive the precious relic, sending portions of it to Rome and Constantinople, where they were solemnly exposed to the adoration of the faithful.

In the year 312 Constantine found himself attacked by Maxentius with vastly superior forces, and the very existence of his empire threatened. In this crisis he bethought him of the crucified Christian God Whom his mother Helena worshipped, and kneeling down, prayed God to reveal Himself and give him the victory. Suddenly, at noonday, a cross of fire was seen by his army in the calm and cloudless sky, and beneath it the words, In hoc signo vinces—"Through this sign thou shalt conquer." By divine command, Constantine made a standard like the cross he had seen, which was borne at the head of his troops; and under this Christian ensign they marched against the enemy, and obtained a complete victory. Shortly after, Helena herself returned to Rome, where she expired, 328.

~Excerpted from Butler's Lives of the Saints

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can you make some book suggestions for this reader?

A reader asks:  I am looking for a new book for my parish womens book study group. We have done several of the Kimberly Hahn books and the Courageous Woman of the Bible book. They also did Familia recently. Any book suggestions? Thanks!

Here is one suggestion that I have for you.  I highly recommend "Come My Beloved" edited by Ellen Gable Hrkach and Kathy Cassanto, released June 15, 2011. You can read my review here. 

What suggestions do you have for this reader?

Audrey Hepburn's Beauty Secret

World Youth Day Film Festival

 Pilgrims in Madrid will have plenty to do these days during World Youth Day. On Wednesday night, one of the main attractions is a film festival in the city's Fuencarral street.

Many are looking forward to seeing the movie titled “Cristiada.” It's a Hollywood film that follows the religious persecution of Christians in Mexico in the late 1920's. Among the featured actors are Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.

Another popular thriller movie is “There be Dragons,” which combines the Spanish civil war with the life of Josemaria Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei.

Also on the list is Of Gods and Men,” a French film that has won several international awards. It tells the story of a group of monks who try to survive in Algeria amid threats of fundamental terrorists.

In total, the crowd will be able to see 20 films and documentaries. What's more, they'll also be able to meet with some producers, directors and even actors.

For those registered in World Youth Day the film festival is completely free. Others will have to pay a symbolic fee of 1 euro that will go toward the “Solidarity Fund.”

~ Via Rome Reports.


Fr. John Hay from the Catholic Diocese of Wichita speaks on Friendship:

ACLU sues Kansas’ insurance law limiting abortion coverage

A new Kansas law that bans insurers from providing elective abortion coverage is the state’s third abortion-related measure to draw a legal challenge this summer.

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union contends the law is unconstitutional and discriminates against women because it doesn’t apply similar insurance limits on men’s health care needs.

Read more

St. Hyacinth: Apostle of Poland

 The saint of the day for August 17 is St. Hyacinth, a Dominican missionary, known as “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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What is World Youth Day?

World Youth Day began with John Paul II's invitation to young people in 1984 to come to Rome for Palm Sunday. More than 300,000 turned out for the celebration.The following year - 1985 - coincided with the United Nations International Year of Youth. On Palm Sunday that year, young Catholics came to Rome once again.

St. Stephen of Hungary

Today's saint of the day is Stephen of Hungary, the first Christian king of Hungary. 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.