"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.
"Thank you Jean, you are a beautiful soldier for the cause. I appreciate your superb work. Keep it up!"
Amazing Catechists and Catholic Mom Puppet Show Ministry
" I’m amazed at your blog. I can barely get out one post a day and sometimes you have a few (and I now know how much work it takes to do that). You do a great job! "
Michelle, Unborn Word of the Day
"When I read your blog, I just want to comment on everything, your insights are just so on-key!" Leticia, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae and Cause of Our Joy.
"I enjoy your blog every day. It is the best Catholic blog out there. Thank you so much for all the work you put into it!"
Ellen Gable, author, "Emily's Hope"
"I love the zeal Jean puts into her posts, especially when it comes to the prolife movement." Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
"Thank you, Jean....Awesome, Awesome information for those of us who are........may I say politically illiterate, but wanting to vote educated!! I'm leaning on you for voting info!!"
Ebeth, A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars
"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.
"PH, NC, RT, IT, O, H+, R+, T, C, NLU, AM, BS, F... Take that, Catholic Fire! You think you can curse us with your Latin language stuff? Well, try this on for size: May your life-spirit be exchanged with that of an polar bear who has just been stranded on an ice-floe that broke off because of global warming!" Father Tim, Spirit of Vatican 2
I celebrate it by attending the Vigil Mass of all Saints Day and welcoming neighbors and friends into my home for refreshment, passing out special treats to children, and celebrating the feast of All Saints once again with Mass and a special meal with my family.
Here are how some authentic Catholic families are celebrating :
O God, the King of saints, we praise and glorify your holy Name for all your servants who have finished their course in your faith and fear: for the blessed Virgin Mary; for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~The Book of Common Prayer, p. 504.
Today we celebrate Helen Kafka, better known as Blessed Maria Restituta.
Helen Kafka was born in 1894 to a shoemaker and grew up in Vienna, Austria. She initially worked as a salesgirl and then as an assistant caregiver at the Lainz public hospital, which brought her into contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. At the age of 20, she decided to join the Order and took the name Restituta, after a 4th century Christian martyr.
In 1919, she began working as a surgical nurse at the Moulding hospital in Austria. When the Germans took over the country, she became a local opponent of the Nazi regime. Her conflict with them escalated after they ordered her to remove all the crucifixes she had hung up in each room of a new hospital wing.
Sister Maria Restitua refused and she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She was sentenced to death for "aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.”
Martin Bormann decided that her execution would provide "effective intimidation" for other opponents of the Nazis. She spent her remaining time in prison caring for other prisoners; even the Communist prisoners spoke well of her. She was offered her freedom if she would abandon her religious community; but she refused.
Blessed Maria was beheaded March 30, 1943 in Vienna. Pope John Paul II beatified her on June 21, 1998.
"I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ."
Her name is synonymous with elegance and beauty. Her films, forever classic. Now a unique exhibit in Rome, is putting the spotlight back on Audrey Hepburn. But this time, it's not just her professional life that's getting attention.
Hollywood is preparing three big films on biblical personalities. These are the stories of Noah, Moses and Judah Maccabee. On October 3, Paramount Pictures announced the start of the movie production “Noah”. After a tough battle with 20th Century Fox, Paramount came away with the rights to the project.
The film will be directed by Darren Aronofsky and has the same screenwriter from “Gladiator”. While the main actor is slated to be Christian Bale.
The other two biblical projects are being produced by Warner Bros.
The first is the big-budget film “Gods and Kings” about the life of Moses. Among the possible directors, Steven Spielberg has been mentioned as a possibility.
According to The Guardian newspaper, this project could be delayed by the other Warner project on Judah Maccabee from Mel Gibson.
The name of St. Simon usually appears eleventh in the list of the apostles. The first cousin of Jesus, he was born at Cana and is surnamed "The Zealot." He preached in Egypt, Spain, and Lybia, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they preached and died as martyrs together.
Apostle Saint Thaddeus (Jude)
1606 - Oil on Canvas
Museo del Greco, Toledo
Sts. Simon and Jude left the comfort and safety of their secure environment to go out into the world and to preach the gospel, converting many hearts. As simple farmers, they appear to be the least likely candidates to be called to perform such a great task for the Lord. However, the Lord chooses the simple and and the weak and empowers them with grace to do the "impossible." Let us pray that we, too, will be obedient to the Lord in the little tasks He calls us to do each day so that we, too, can carry out His will in our lives and draw others to Him -- an accomplishment which would otherwise be impossible without our permission and acceptance of the gift His grace.
St. Jude is the patron saint of hospital workers, desperate situations, and impossible causes.
St. Simon is the patron saint of sawers and tanners.
Father, You revealed yourself to us through the preaching of your apostles Simon and Jude. Help us follow their example, to draw others to You through our actions today, as we perform our daily duties and endeavor to carry out your holy will in our lives. Amen.
Saint Frumentius was still a child when his uncle, a Christian philosopher of Tyre in Phoenicia, took him and his brother, Aedesius, on a voyage to Ethiopia. In the course of their voyage the vessel anchored at a certain port, and the barbarians of that country slew with the sword all the crew and passengers, except the two children.
Because of their youth and beauty they were taken to the king at Axuma, who, charmed with the wit and sprightliness of the two boys, took special care of their education, and later made Aedesius his cup-bearer and Frumentius, who was a little older, his treasurer and secretary of state. The king, on his deathbed, thanked them for their services and in reward gave them their liberty. After his death the queen begged them to remain at court and assist her in the government of the state until the young prince came of age; this they did, using their influence to spread Christianity. When the young king reached his majority, Aedesius desired to return to Tyre, and Frumentius accompanied him as far as Alexandria. There he begged Saint Athanasius, its Patriarch, to send a bishop to the country where they had spent many years; and the Patriarch, considering him the best possible candidate for this office, in the year 328 consecrated him bishop for the Ethiopians.
Vested with this sacred character he gained great numbers to the Faith by his discourses and miracles, and the entire nation embraced Christianity with its young king, thus fulfilling a famous prophecy of Isaiah, uttered 800 years before Christ. (Isaiah 45:14) Saint Frumentius continued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to call him home and reward his fidelity and labors, in about the year 383.
The Latins celebrate the feast of Frumentius on October 27, the Greeks on November 30, and the Copts on December 18.
Today is the feast of Blessed Damian of Fulcheri, a Dominican priest.
Damian was born at the end of the fourteenth century to wealthy, Italian nobility. As a baby he was kidnapped by a man who was mentally ill. His parents prayed to Our Lady, and searchers were led to the baby by a miraculous light. He was returned to his family unharmed.
Damian entered the Dominican order at Genoa and became a diligent student and later, a dedicated priest. He was well-known for his forceful preaching and hundreds of people were converted during his missions in Italy.
Damian died in Modena, Italy in 1484, and immediately became the object of much pious speculation, because of the miracles worked at his tomb. He was beatified in 1848 by Pope Pius IX (cultus confirmed).
God of truth, for the salvation of the faithful you endowed Blessed Damian with wondrous virtues and powers of speech. Through his prayers may we hear your word with an open heart and hold fast to it with patience. 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. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers
Speaking of encouraging our children to serve the church, the BBC is looking at the slow but steadily-increasing numbers of young women investigating the consecrated life:
Catherine describes herself as “a girly girl” who loves to be pampered. She has also wanted to be a nun since she was four years old.
Like many of her contemporaries, the 25-year-old has spent the last few years travelling, partying and studying for a degree in languages at King’s College in London.
She also worked as a model, but for her it was an unfulfilling experience and left her thinking again about devoting her life to God.
“I went to castings, they always wanted me to do catwalk shows,” she says. “I remember after my first professional paid show, going home and feeling really empty. Feeling like ‘is that it’? ‘That’s not great as I thought it would be’.
“I love people and I love having a good time, but that’s not all there is.”
Knowing that only chemotherapy would save her from terminal neck cancer, newly-pregnant Stacie Crimm made the ultimate sacrifice. The 41-year-old, who had been told by doctors she would never be able to conceive a child, decided to refuse the treatment so her unborn daughter could live instead. Stacie was able to survive for five months before being forced to deliver Dottie Mae by Cesarean section - and even managed to hold her on one occasion before succumbing to the cancer three days later.
This feast honors the hundreds of British men and women who died for their faith in wake of the dispute between the Pope and King Henry VIII during the 16th century. Many loyal Catholics were tortured and killed by the British state from 1535 to 1679.
In 1970, the Vatican selected 40 martyrs, men and women, lay and religious, to represent the full group of about 300. Each martyr has their own day of memorial, but they are all remembered as a group on October 25.
The forty martyrs are:
Edmund Arrowsmith Edmund Campion
Ambrose Edward Barlow
"Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past--whether he admits it or not--can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love."
~ Hans Urs von Balthasar(The Glory of the Lord, Vol. 1)
October 24, 2011. (Romereports.com) The Catholic Church welcomed three new saints when Benedict XVI canonized Luigi Guanella, Guido Maria Conforti and Boniface Rodriguez in St. Peter's Square. All three have unique stories. The Italian bishop, Guido Maria Conforti, founded the Xaverian Missionaries. He always showed an interest in being a missionary, but because of health issues it wasn't possible. The ceremony was symbolic since it took place on World Mission Day.
“He was the first to give a testimony of what he had experienced. He taught his missionaries that perfection consists in doing the will of God according to the model of Jesus on the Cross.”
When speaking about Luigi Guanella, the pope highlighted his compassion toward the needy. Benedict XVI said the new saint was “an apostle of charity.” Listening on the front row, were a group of handicapped people, who receive help from the Don Guanella Center.
“In his testimony, full of humanity and care of the forgotten, we recognize a luminous presence and action of God.”
While speaking in Spanish, the pope also honored the role of St. Boniface Rodríguez, who founded the Congregation of the Servants of St. Joseph. She dedicated her life to helping poor women gain economic independence.
"Through her intercession, we ask God for all workers, especially those who do modest trades and who are sometimes not valued enough. We pray that in the midst of their daily work, they may discover the friendly hand of God. That they may bear witness to His love and in doing so, transform their fatigue into a song of praise for our Creator.”
During the ceremony, the people who led these causes for canonization, greeted the pope and thanked him.
William Glesson says he's living proof of a miracle. Through the intercession of Luigi Guanella, the young American was cured from a serious neck injury. During the ceremony he carried a relic of Don Guanella before presenting it to the pope.
Today is the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret -- a favorite saint that my husband introduced me to several years ago when he gave a teaching on this amazing man of God. I don't think I have ever heard of any saint who was filled with so much zeal for his apostolate. He was a monk and a mystic who exerted an unusual amount of influence over the laity by obeying the call of God.
Born on Christmas eve, 1807, in the village of Sallent, in Catalonia, Spain, Anthony was a very pious child. When he was eleven years old, the bishop visited his school and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without the least bit of hesitation, he replied: "A priest."
As a young adult, Anthony Claret excelled as a maker of cloth as a weaver in his father's textile factory. He then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented him from entering the Order, so he served as a diocesan priest. He was ordained at age 27 and busied himself preaching in rural areas, organizing conferences for clergy, and writing. Zeal for the salvation of souls spurred him on to preach an estimated 25,000 sermons, write 144 books, and preach countless missions.
During his mission work, he accepted no money and walked everywhere -- from town to town through rugged terrain. He had only one pair of shoes, one set of clothes and a few books. He neither ate meat nor drank wine, and slept only 3 - 5 hours per night.
After one remarkable mission, Father Claret's bishop wrote: "this town has never seen the likes of this. Enemies are at peace. Scandals have been ended. Broken marriages are repaired. Restitutions have been made. No one can withstand the fire of his preaching, the kindness of his manner. Everyone, even the proudest, fall at his feet."
The secret of his success was LOVE. He summed it up this way: "Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbor- it will work wonders." (Autobiography #438-439).
In 1848, he established a publishing house at Barcelona and in the following year, founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the "Claretians". Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba, where he worked for six years to organize and evangelize his diocese. During that time, he visited every parish in his diocese four times (Some of these had not seen a bishop in 60 years) and conducted missions in each one, plus confirmed those who had not been (300,000), and rectified the invalid marriages (9,000). He also founded another new congregation, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, dedicated to the instruction of the young.
Miracles surrounded his work, and he possessed the gift of prophecy and the reading of hearts. He often saw Our Lord and Our Lady (to whom he was especially devoted), receiving from them instruction, encouragement, and prophecies. At the request of our Blessed Mother, he spread devotion to the Holy Rosary and was considered to be a latter day St. Dominic.
During a single day's visit to the city, he would preach to the local clergy, to several convents of nuns, and (in the evening) to the laity, besides hearing confessions much of the day. For his miracles and preaching, the Spaniards called him another St. Vincent Ferrer.
Though he avoided politics, both political parties considered him to be Spain's most influential man. He was so hated by the revolutionaries that they tried to kill him no less than 14 times and were still searching for him as he lay dying, an old man in exile.
St. Anthony Mary Claret died in the Cistercian monastery at Fontfroide in southern France on October 24, 1870 and was canonized in 1950.
Into his 35 years as a priest he packed 100 years of work.
Patronage: Catholic Press, Claretians, Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, weavers
“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who is consumed with love and who sets on fire everything in his path. He is a man who unceasingly expends himself to light the fire of divine love in the world. Nothing stops him; he places his joy in privations, he undertakes all works for the glory of God; he embraces willingly every sacrifice, he is happy in the midst of calumnies; he exults in torments. He can think of but one thing — working, suffering, and seeking at all times the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret, TAN BOOKS And Publishers, INC. Rockford, IL, 1985.
The Life of St. Mary Anthony Claret, Fanchon Royer, TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS INC., Rockford, IL, 1985.
Miracles of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Fr. Juan Echevarria, TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC., Rockford, IL
My special thanks to two lovely ladies and blogging friends, Ellen Gable and Esther G. for nominating me in the Stylish Blogger Awards. They have asked me to write seven things about myself and to nominate five other blogs (below).
Here are some little known facts about me:
1. When I was a child, I always wanted to be a writer and a nun when I grew up.
2. Although I grew up in the city, I love the outdoors and the country-- I like hiking, going on hayrides, and fishing.
3. My favorite movies as a child were: The Sound of Music, The Ten Commandments, and The Parent Trap -- the original versions, of course.
4. I am a cat lover and have owned over a dozen cats since I was a child. My oldest cat was almost 20 years old -- a shaded silver Persian named Moonshadow (after the Cat Stevens song).
5. I love art (especially portrait sketching) and listening music of all genres.
6. I was once quite athletic and played on an all girls' basketball team in high school (There were few of them around in those days).
7. Many years ago, I wanted to be a Spanish translator, but am now re-learning my Spanish so I can eventually translate the vulgate and encyclicals. (Prayers appreciated!)
Now this prestigious award goes to the following ladies and their stylish blogs:
A surprising discovery in the snow catapults three small-town boys into the spotlight. When their instant celebrity fades, the boys hatch a plan to set a Guinness World Records® title ensuring their names will never be forgotten. Along the way, the trio battles schoolyard bullies, unites their community and discovers that while fame may be fleeting - true friendship lasts forever.
The film stars Bobby Coleman (Last Song), Ray Liotta (Wild Hogs), Bobb'e J. Thompson (Role Models), Josh Flitter (Ace Ventura Jr) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future).
October 21, 2011. (Romereports.com) Italian Luigi Guanella was a champion for the defense of life. Born in 1842, he founded two congregations dedicated to serving those who were disabled and abandoned by their families.
Behind every person he would see a gift from God, which he said, has value in itself. He defended the dignity of the elderly, sick, and the mentally and physically disabled, who were abandoned or badly treated by their families.
San Giuseppe Rehabilitation Center (Italy)
“One day, the bishop of Como showed up because he had to speak with him about their activities, their charitable projects, and Don Guanella was with the mentally disabled, with his 'good kids'. He was playing cards with them and to make them happy he finished the game, but had to leave the bishop in the waiting room.”
He would tell the priests and nuns who followed him to trust in God's help, but to work hard in their lives. The fruits of their labor are obvious. The group includes 700 female religious, 528 male religious, and 265 households spread across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.
The miracle that led to his canonization is the healing of William Gleeson from the United States. He suffered a neck injury from skating. His doctors said, he had little hope.
San Giuseppe Rehabilitation Center (Italy)
“The mother, without saying anything to William or the doctors, placed a relic under the pillow, prayed and obtained this miracle: for her son to recover without any problems.”
William is one of thousands of pilgrims who will attend the canonization ceremony. Among them, will also be several handicapped, who receive help from the rehabilitation center founded by Don Guanella.
October 21, 2011. (Romereports.com) The Spanish nun Bonifacia Rodriguez will be remembered for her fight to help poor women to learn a trade. Before becoming a nun, she was actually a rope maker. She went on to found her own religious order known as the Servants of St. Joseph, right in the local shop where she worked.
It was in 1874, in the midst of the industrial revolution. From that moment, she and the Jesuit Francisco Butinyà devoted themselves to helping poor women to make a decent living and discover their faith in everyday life.
The new order allowed the nuns to dress like the artisans of the country. There was no dowry asked of them to enter the convent, where they would work side by side with lay people. It was a project that did not please everyone.
Sister Victoria López
Servant of Saint Joseph
“It was a life project that was too new for it to be understood. Still, some clergy of Salamanca don't understand it. They don't grasp how the gospel works in the project that's so close to the business world.”
As a result the bishop of Salamanca dismissed Mother Boniface and decided the order would be devoted to education. Boniface died being virtually excluded by her own order in 1905.
Years later, in 1936 her writings were rediscovered and the congregation again recognized her as the founder.
Sister Victoria López
Servant of Saint Joseph
“It's recognizing a charisma that was born in the heart of Nazareth. A charisma that is aimed at working women, poor women, women who are often abused, or underpaid, or deprived of liberty.”
The miracle that made her a saint took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the healing of a 33 year old man who suffered from an incurable stomach disease.
Sister Victoria López
Servant of Saint Joseph
“The entire world was waiting for it to die, but the community had begun to ask Mother Boniface for the healing of Kasongo Bavón. And inexplicably and unexpectedly, this boy was cured.”
Currently, the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph has around seven hundred sisters, working in one hundred communities in twelve countries. They are the successors of a simple working woman who had the courage to face the challenges of her time including being forced out of her order by those closest to her.
Charles was born in 1887 in Lower Austria to Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony. He grew up in a Catholic family, received a solid Catholic education, and developed a strong devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He took on the motto: “I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way.” In 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma, and they had eight children.
The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 triggered World War I. At this point, Charles became the presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Two years later, upon the death of his great-uncle, Emperor Francis Joseph, Charles became emperor and king of Hungary. He saw his office as a mandate from God and as a way to implement Christian charity and social reform.
He worked to end the war and was the only leader to support Pope Benedict XV's peace effort. In March 1919, he was exiled to Switzerland. From there, he tried to prevent the rise of Communism in Central Europe. He also tried to return to power twice in 1921, but he gave up at the risk of a civil war. He never gave up his crown, even when exiled to the island of Madeira, Portugal, where he lived in prayerful poverty until his death from pneumonia one year later.
Charles was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way.
I recently had the wonderful opportunity of previewing The Mighty Macs. I had no idea what to expect from this film, but when I watched it I fell head over heels in love with it. This isn’t just one woman’s view, but my husband enjoyed the film just as much, if not more, than I did.
The setting is a tiny Catholic women’s’ college Philadelphia 1971. Immaculta College is looking for a coach and newly married Cathy Rush accepts the job. Mother Superior wants someone who will help the girls get some exercise to "suppress their hormones," while Kathy wants so much more for her team. As a woman ahead of her time, she wants her team to strive for perfection and to become competitive, in order to open up the doors of opportunity for them in the world of women’s’ basketball (which were basically non-existent until Cathy Rush came on the scene.)
Cathy’s ambitious goal is not without obstacles. She quickly learns there is no gymnasium on campus. She receives little support from the school’s Mother Superior. She then learns that the school is facing a serious financial crisis and may have to close its doors. To top things off, she may not even have enough players to form a team.
With the help of a spunky, athletic nun (a former college basketball player herself), Cathy is able to get together a team that she whips into shape. Spurred on by the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Cathy develops a new game plan that changes things radically for these women and for the school.
This is one of the best Catholic movies I have seen in a long time – it is reminiscent of the Bing Crosby films of the 50s. The difference is it is based on a true story. It is exciting, funny, and uplifting – a feel good film. It is definitely a must-see. I give it an A rating.
Today is the optional memorial of St. Paul of the Cross.
St. Paul of the Cross was born in Ovada in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei in 1694. As a young man, he helped his father who was a merchant. Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious young man, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament without neglecting his duties.
At the age of 19, Paul had a vivid experience of the depth of God's love. As a result of this experience, he aspired to live a life of perfection. While still a layman, he left everything behind and founded the Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion (Passionists) in 1721.
While contemplation and prayer were at the very heart of Paul's life and the life of his new institute, Paul himself soon became a very famous popular preacher, spiritual guide, writer and mystic. For Paul the Passion of Christ was the most vivid witness to God's love for us and he constantly called upon his followers to remember the sufferings of Jesus.
During his lifetime Paul founded thirteen monasteries of Priests and Brothers throughout Italy as well as a monastery of Passionist Nuns. Today the Passionists live and serve in 59 countries of the world and are enhanced by other religious and lay groups who find inspiration in the Charism of St. Paul of the Cross.
Paul died in Rome on October 18, 1775. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.
Patron: Passionist order.
Spiritual Helps from St. Paul of the Cross:
"When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings."
"Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him."
"It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it. "
" Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will."
Today in the dioceses of the United States the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Sts. Issac Jogues and John de Brébeuf (priests and martyrs) and their companions (martyrs). They were Jesuit missionaries who died martyrs in North America, where they preached the Gospel.
Eight French Jesuit missionaries came to North America in the 17th century, amidst the hardships of sickness and extreme poverty, to bring the Word of God to the native Indians. They endured many horrific tortures and death in order to accomplish what they had set out to do.
In 1625, St. John de Brebuf, at age 32, entered into the Huron tribe in the harsh frontier of Canada. John had tuberculosis, but the climate so agreed with him that the Hurons, surprised at his endurance, called him Echon, which meant load bearer. John was tortured and martyred in 1649. The Indians, hoping to gain the incredible strength he had, drank his blood.
St. Isaac Jogues was sent to Canada in 1636, where he worked among the Mowhawks. He was taken captive by the Iroquois in 1642 and imprisoned for thirteen months, where he was kept as a slave and beaten by the women of the tribe. While in captivity, Father Jogues secretly taught and baptized the other captives and slaves of the tribe.
His greatest sorrow was the torture that cost him the use of his hands. The law of the Church is that whatever other infirmities a priest may have, he must retain the use of his hands in order to celebrate the Eucharist.
After more than a year with the Iroquois, he was rescued by Dutch settlers and returned to France. There he obtained a dispensation to continue as a priest, despite the injuries to his hands, and eagerly returned to the New World to resume his duties. When he returned to Quebec, he was tortured, decapitated, and martyred by the Iroquois tribe.
In our society today, we seldom see "red martyrs" -- those who shed their blood in order to preach the Word of God. However, there are many opportunities for "white martyrdom" -- to suffer persecution and ridicule -- from those we encounter on a daily basis for standing up for our beliefs and preaching the Gospel message. When we preach the message of life, we encounter resistance from a society that embraces a "culture of death" -- a society that promotes abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same sex unions, and cloning. When we preach the gospel message, we are often attacked by those who believe the lies that promote a culture obsessed with materialism, egotism, and addictions. When Christ's message is not preached, darkness, depression, and death prevail.
As pro-life Christians, we would need to follow the example of the North American martyrs, accepting all the graces and strength we receive through the power of prayer, the Holy Mass, and the sacraments, so that we, too, will overcome our human weaknesses, and boldly speak the truth, regardless of the consequences, so that all men will be freed from the darkness of death and come to know the Light of life -- the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
To learn more about these martyrs, go here. Fr. Hardon's article on the spirituality of the North American Martyrs is here.
Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. It is believed that St. Luke was born a Greek and a gentile. A physician at Antioch, and a painter, St. Luke became a convert of Saint Paul and afterwards his fellow-laborer. Luke was the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles and has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Saint Luke shared the shipwreck and perils of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome, and was with him in his last days. He later died a martyr's death in Achaia. Next to St. John, St. Luke's gospel writings are my favorite part of the New Testament.
There are so many beautiful scripture verses that have so much personal meaning for me. Although Luke was not an eye witness, he was a historian who carefully researched his material and obtained details from eye witnesses. As a physician, Luke emphasizes the miracles and the merciful love of Jesus, which heals his children and welcomes alll into his arms -- especially the sinner, the outcast, the gentile. Luke shows us the compassion of Jesus, especially toward women and children. Luke's gospel is noted for its praise and thanksgiving and is a very poetic book. For example, Mary's song, 1:46-55. Song of Zacharias, 1:68-79, and The Song of the Angels, 2:8-14. Finally, Luke's is the gospel of Jesus praying, and his parables concerning prayer.
Symbols: Winged ox; winged calf; ox; picture of the Virgin; palette and brushes; phials of medicine; physician's robes; easel; book and pen; hatchet; wooden horse; books of his Gospel and of the Acts; bishop; painting an icon of our Lady.
A Few of My Favorite Scripture Passages from Luke:
"When you hold a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the ressurection of the righteous."
~ Luke 14: 12- 14
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."~ Luke 11:9-10
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."~ Luke 1:46
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year of Faith” which will begin in October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
“It will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time,” said the Pope, making his announcement during Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Year of Faith will run from October 11, 2012, until November 24, 2013, which is the Solemnity of Christ the King. Continue reading.
“No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.”
Born aroud the year 50 in Syria, Ignatius was an Apostolic Father of the Church, a disciple, with Saint Polycarp, of Saint John the Evangelist, and the third bishop of Antioch, the former See of Peter before he went to Rome.
In 117 he was sentenced to death by the Emperor Trajan and arrested in Antioch. He was brought, on a slow journey that lasted months, to the circus in Rome to be devoured by lions.
During his months of captivity he wrote seven letters to Christian congregations in the Mediterranean, who he referred to generally as the “Catholic” (universal) Church – thus coining the term for the first time.
His letters show him to have been a zealous pastor, with a fierce love for his flock and the Church universal, and he had no fear of martyrdom, rather, he welcomed it. His letter to the Romans is a jewel of Christian literature:
“I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.
The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God's side.
Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you, still my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in my for any earthly thing.
Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: "Come to the Father." I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world I want only God's bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed from the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish.
Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God.”
Today is the memorial of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.
"This body has one fault, that the more people pamper it, the more its wants are made known. It is strange how much it likes to be indulged. How well it finds some good pretext to deceive the poor soul! . . . Oh, you who are free from the great troubles of the world, learn to suffer a little for the love of God without everyone's knowing it! . . . "
"Sometimes the Devil proposes to us great desires, so that we shall not put our hand to what we have to do, and serve our Lord in possible things, but stay content with having desired impossible ones. Granting that you can help much by prayer, don't try to benefit all the world, but those who are in your company, and so the work will be better for you are much bounden to them...."
A LOVE SONG by Saint Teresa of Avila
Majestic sovereign, timeless wisdom, your kindness melts my hard, cold soul.
Handsome lover, selfless giver, your beauty fills my dull, sad eyes.
I am yours, you made me.
I am yours, you called me.
I am yours, you saved me.
I am yours, you loved me.
I will never leave your presence.
Give me death, give me life.
Give me sickness, give me health.
Give me honor, give me shame.
Give me weakness, give me strength.
I will have whatever you give. Amen.
Bookmark of St. Teresa of Avila
This thought was found after St. Teresa's death on a prayer card in her breviary:
Let nothing disturb you; Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.
October 14, 2011. (Romereports.com) The pope will personally lead two key events organized to promote the New Evangelization. The events are unique, since they'll be first gatherings on the New Evangelization that will take place here in Rome, to encourage and further its cause.
Arch. Rino Fisichella
President, Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
“It's a sign of the importance the Pope gives to the New Evangelization, for it was he who instituted the Pontifical Council. The Pope will meet with us on Saturday as part of the celebration. On Sunday, he will preside over the Mass in St. Peter's Square with all the new evangelizers.”
Part of the meeting will include an exchange of ideas on the New Evangelization. On Saturday October 15th, representatives of the New Evangelization will speak. They include mother Veronica Berzosa, who is the founder of Iesu Communio. She heads a new religious order with a high success of vocations. Also speaking is Italian writer Vittorio Messori, who will talk about the reasons to believe in God. Scientist Marco Bersanelli, will address the relationship between science and faith and finally Colombian bishop Fabio Suescun will talk about the New Evangelization in Latin America.
Internationally known singer Andrea Bocelli will offer a small concert just before the arrival of Benedict XVI.
On Sunday the 16th, the pope will preside over the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica where the New Evengelization will of course be the main focus. It will be a turning point that will bring specific guidelines and benchmarks for the forthcoming Synod on the New Evangelization to be held in October 2012 in Rome.
Today is the optional memorial of St. Callistus I. This great pope and martyr lived in the first part of the third century. He was once a young slave in Rome, who got into serious trouble. His master, a Christian, had put him in charge of a bank. Somehow, Callistus lost the money deposited with him by other Christians. In fear, he ran away from Rome. He was caught, after jumping into the sea to try to get away. His sentence was a terrible one: he was chained and put to hard labor in a mill.
From this punishment Callistus was released, only because his creditors hoped he could get some of their money back. But once again he was arrested, this time for having gotten into a fight. He was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When the emperor freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines, Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to go better for him.
Pope St. Zephrinus came to know and trust the freed slave. He placed him in charge of the public Christian cemetery in Rome. This cemetery is now named after St. Callistus himself. Many popes were buried in it. Callistus proved himself worthy of the pope's confidence in him. St. Zephrinus not only ordained him a priest, but also made him his friend and advisor.
Later on, St. Callistus himself became pope. Some people complained because he showed too much mercy to sinners. However, the holy pope ruled that even murderers could be admitted to Communion after they had done penance for their sin. This great pope always defended the true doctrine of Jesus. He ended his life in 222 with a glorious martyrdom.
Patron: Cemetery workers.
Symbols: Window; model of church; stone; well; millstone or grindstone; papal tiara; a triple cross (papal symbol)
Fear can lead us to run away from the responsibility of our words and actions. We can ask St. Callistus for courage to admit and make up for our mistakes.
Edward, the last king of the Anglo-Saxons, a grandson of the martyr-king Edward, passed his youth in exile with his uncle, a Norman leader. In an environment of sin he preserved innocence of life. Called to the throne of England in 1042, he sought to put into practice the Christian ideals for a ruler, with the help of God's grace. His first efforts were directed toward a renewal of religion in the hearts of his people. Priests were invited into his kingdom, churches were built. Yielding to pressure, he married, but is said to have retained virginity during his whole married life.
His favorite saint was St. John the Evangelist; he would not deny any request asked in his name. One day the Beloved Disciple appeared to him in the form of a beggar and asked alms in the name of the fourth evangelist; as Edward had no ready money, he gave up the ring on his finger. Shortly thereafter St. John returned the ring with the message that his death was near. The king ordered public prayers to be said for himself and died in the Lord on the day foretold, January 5, 1066.
~ Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Above: The crowd experiencing the Miracle of the Sun.
Above: Photo of "the Miracle of the Sun" taken at Fatima on 13 October 1917, as published in L'Osservatore Romano in 1951. Believed to be in the public domain.
Today is the 94th anniversary of the sixth apparition of Fatima. On October 13, 1917, the three children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, went to the field called the Cova da Iria as Our Lady had instructed. There was a huge crowd gathered even though it was pouring rain. They were there to see the miracle. They had come from all over Portugal. The press was covering this story and it appeared in the European papers.
Our Lady spoke "I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes. Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."
Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself. At this time the sun began to spin in the sky and started to plunge towards the earth. The people began to scream they were terrified. The sun stopped and returned to its place in the sky.
Everyone had been soaked from the rain but after the miracle their clothes were completely dry as was the ground. This "miracle of the sun" was seen from many miles away."
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady clothed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph with the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady, it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner that St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Mt. Carmel". This account of the apparitions was taken from Lucia's memoirs.
The first Marian apparition in history appeared to Saint James the Apostle, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, on the bank of the river Ebro in Saragossa, Spain. Unlike every other recorded apparition, this one took place during the earthly life of the Mother of God.
According to tradition, She had promised Saint James that when he needed it most in his difficult mission to the pagans in today's Spain, she would appear to him to encourage him. In the year 40 A.D., while praying one night, the Virgin appeared with the Child Jesus standing on a pillar and asked Saint James and his eight disciples to build a church on the site, promising that “it will stand from that moment until the end of time in order that God may work miracles and wonders through my intercession for all those who place themselves under my patronage.”
The church of Our Lady of the Pilar in Zaragoza, is the first church dedicated to Mary in history and it remains standing to this day, having survived invasions and wars – in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 three bombs were dropped on the church and none of them exploded.
Our Lady is also said to have given the small wooden statue of the apparition to Saint James which now stands on a pillar in the church. Nuestra Señora del Pilar is the patron of Spain and all Hispanic peoples.
October 12, 1492, the feast of the Virgin of the Pillar, is the day Christopher Colombus first sighted American land, and when the first Mass in the Americas was celebrated.
Pope Benedict XVI met with the people of the Italian town of Serra San Bruno on Sunday during his pastoral visit to Calabria. In remarks to the people he celebrated the historic monastery there, saying that the presence of a monastic community is a constant reminder of God, opening upon the sky. "The climate that reigns in our society," he said, "is not healthy - it is tainted by a mindset that is not Christian, or even human, because it is dominated by economic interests, is concerned only with earthly things." In a world that marginalizes God and neighbor, without regard for the common good, therefore, monastic communities play an indispensable role: they clean up the environment, opening to the spiritual dimension.
Today is the feast of Blessed Pope John XXIII, pope from 1958-1963, best known for convening the Second Vatican Council. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000. His feast is assigned to the day on which the first session of Vatican II opened in 1962. His feast is not on the General Roman Calendar, but can be celebrated locally.
Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy on 25 November 1881; elected Pope on October 28, 1958; died June 3, 1963 in Rome; beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.
Angelo was the fourth child of 14, born to pious parents. His religious education was entrusted to his godfather who instigated in him a deep response to the mystery of God.
He entered the minor seminary in 1892 at the age of 11, became a Secular Francsican in 1896 and in 1901 he entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary. On being ordained in 1904 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and taught in the seminary.
His great friends among the saints during this formative period were St Charles Borromeo and St Francis de Sales, two outstanding intellectuals and also formidable pastors.
He served as a military chaplain during the First World War, served as spiritual directory of a seminary and in 1921 served as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
In 1925 Pius XI made him a bishop and sent him to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitator For his Episcopal motto he chose Oboedientia et Pax. In 1935 he was assigned to Turkey and Greece where he ministered to the Catholic population and engaged in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity and with Islam.
During the Second World War he used his diplomatic means to save as many Jews as he could by obtaining safe passage for them.
He was created cardinal and Patriarch of Venice in 1953 and was a much loved pastor, dedicating himself completely to the well being of his flock.
Elected Pope on the death of Pope Pius XII he was an example of a ‘pastoral’ Pope, a good shepherd who cared deeply for his sheep. He manifested this concern in his social encyclicals, especially Pacem in Terris, “On peace in the World.”
His greatest act as Pope however was undoubtedly the inspiration to convoke the Second Vatican Council, which he opened on October 11, 1962.
Pope John’s spirit of humble simplicity, profound goodness, and deep life of prayer radiated in all he did and inspired people to affectionately call him “Good Pope John.”
St. Francis Borgia was born October 28, 1510, at Gandia, Valencia, Spain, the first of 17 children, to noble parents. He was the son of the Duke of Gandia, the great grandson of Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Borgia pope, and the grandson of King Ferdinand of Aragon. He was named after St. Francis of Assisi.
Following the death of his mother at the age of ten he was educated by his uncle, the Archbishop of Saragossa. Because he posessed many natural gifts he became a favorite at the court of Charles V.
In 1539, Francis was appointed Viceroy of Catalonia, and four years later, on his father’s death, the Duke of Gandia. He built a university there, received the degree of Doctor in theology. After his wife died in 1546, Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1548, having made provision for his eight children.Two years later he left Gandia, never to return, and joined the Jesuits in Rome. He immediately set about initiating grand projects – he founded colleges, monasteries, and charitable insititutions. Then, he left for Spain where his powerful preaching and example sparked a renewal of religious fervor in the country.
In 1556 he was placed in charge of all the missions of the Society and his energetic work transformed them. He also started missions to Peru, New Spain and Brazil. He was elected the general of the Jesuits on July 2, 1565, and, although in poor health for his last years, he worked tirelessly and introduced so many reforms to the society of Jesus that he was considered its "second founder." Francis was a man of both contemplation and action, drawing much strength from the time he spent in silence with the Lord.
He died of natural causes in Rome on September 30, 1572 and was canonized in 1671.
Patron: Against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota; Marianas.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto on this day in the year 1570, a favor due to the recitation of the Rosary. This victory saved Europe from being overrun by the forces of Islam.
Lepanto, perhaps the most complete victory ever gained over the Ottoman Empire, on October 7, 1571, is commemorated by the invocation "Help of Christians," inserted in the Litany of Loretto. At Belgrade the Turks were defeated on the Feast of Our Lady ad Nives in 1716. A second victory gained that year on the Octave of the Assumption determined Pope Clement XI to command the Feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. Leo XIII added the invocation "Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us," to the Litany of Loretto. The Feast is in reality a great festival of thanksgiving for the signal and countless benefits bestowed on Christendom through the Rosary of our blessed Queen.
In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer which is centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.
"Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother." ~St. Padre Pio
"Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary" ~Pope Pius IX
"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary" ~Bishop Hugh Doyle
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” ~Saint Francis de Sales
“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” ~Saint Dominic
“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” ~Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche
The saint of the day for October 6 is Blessed Marie Rose Durocher.
Eulalie Durocher was born Born October 6, 1811 at St. Antoine (a small village near Montreal) in Quebec, Canada, the tenth of eleven children. At the age of 16 she felt she had a vocation to the religious life, but was turned away because of her frail health. At eighteen, following the death of her mother, her priest brother invited her and her father to come to his parish which was not far from Montreal . For twelve years she served as his housekeeper and facilitator of pastoral activities. In this capacity, she became known for her graciousness, her gift of hospitality, and her leadership skills. This position also opened her eyes to the great need for instruction of youth - especially for young women who received very little education at that time in Canada.
It was Eulalie's dream that every parish be blessed with an order of teaching sisters, although she never imagined that she would be the founder due to her poor health and family responsibilities. However, with the encouragement of both her spiritual director and at the request of Bishop Bishop Ignace Bourget, she went to Longueuil to found the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary with her companions Henriette Cere and Melodie Dufresne. On December 8, 1844, she made her religious profession, taking the name Sister Marie Rose. The Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary were dedicated to providing Christian education for the poor and the neglected. Today, the congregation's mission continues in Canada, the United States, Africa, Haiti, and South America with 1385 religious and 561 associates.
Sister Marie Rose died at the age of 38 on October 6, 1849 of natural causes. She was beatified on May 23, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.
Patronage: Bodily ills; loss of parents; illness; frail health.
Symbols: Lilies; lilies of the valley; white rose (these flowers are symbols of virginity); book (symbol of monastic rule).
Reflection: Although Blessed Marie was an unlikely candidate for founding an active order of teaching nuns due to her frail health, God worked powerfully through her despite and perhaps because of her weakness. Think of those "imperfect" babies who are being aborted today due to simple "defects" such as a cleft palate or other disability. God has a purpose for each one of them in this world and needs each of his children to preach the gospel message and convert the world through their own uniqueness and combination of individual gifts and talents. If He can give Blessed Marie Rose the grace of faith, courage, perseverance, and strength to transcend her health problems and accomplish such monoumental tasks, what graces does he have in store for the babe in the womb who may be slaughtered today? Every life is precious -- made in the image and likeness of God. Every life is a unique gift from God, created for a specific purpose. Every life is a manifestation of His unconditional and eternal love.
Today is the optional memorial of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905 - 1938), a Polish nun who was chosen by Jesus to remind the world of the mystery of God's merciful love, the devotion to Divine Mercy.
Saint Maria Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in a small village west of Lodz, Poland on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten children. When she was 15 years old, she quit school in order to work as a housekeeper to help support her family. By the time she was 18, she was sure that God was calling her to a religious life, but her parents objected. So she tried to put it out of her mind. But one night, while at a village dance, Helena saw Jesus, sad and suffering. The very next day she packed a small bag and went to the capital city of Warsaw to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the care and education of troubled young women. The following year she received her religious habit and was given the name Sister Maria Faustina, to which she added, "of the Most Blessed Sacrament". During her 13 years in various houses, she was a cook, gardener, and porter.
In the 1930's, Sister Maria Faustina grew in holiness and developed a mystical interior life. She began to have visions, receive revelations, and experience a hidden stigmata. She received from the Lord a message of mercy that she was told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world. Jesus appeared to her and asked that a picture be painted of him with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in You.” She commissioned this painting in 1935, showing a red and a white light shining from Christ’s Sacred Heart.Her entire life, in imitation of Christ's, was to be a sacrifice - a life lived for others.
At the Divine Lord's request, she willingly offered her personal sufferings in union with Him to atone for the sins of others; in her daily life she was to become a doer of mercy, bringing joy and peace to others, and by writing about God's mercy, she was to encourage others to trust in Him and thus prepare the world for His coming again. Her special devotion to Mary Immaculate and to the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation gave her the strength to bear all her sufferings as an offering to God on behalf of the Church and those in special need, especially great sinners and the dying.
She wrote and suffered in secret, with only her spiritual director and some of her superiors aware that anything special was taking place in her life. After her death from tuberculosis in 1938, even her closest associates were amazed as they began to discover what great sufferings and deep mystical experiences had been given to this Sister of theirs, who had always been so cheerful and humble. She had taken deeply into her heart, God's gospel command to "be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful" as well as her confessor's directive that she should act in such a way that everyone who came in contact with her would go away joyful. The message of mercy that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world; her diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul, has become the handbook for devotion to the Divine Mercy.
Maria Faustina was canonized by the first Polish pope, John Paul II, on April 30, 2000. The first Sunday after Easter was declared Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina's remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Kraków-Lagiewniki.
For more information on the Divine Mercy devotion and the feast of the Divine Mercy, go here.
Saint Francis of Assisi, “the little beggar” is perhaps the most popular saint in history.
Francis was born in 1182 in Assisi, Italy and his baptismal name was John, but his father renamed him Franceso, in honor of his love for France. The son of a wealthy merchant, Francis had time and money to host lavish banquets for young nobles who proclaimed him "King of Feasts." Parties and selling cloth left Francis little time for God.
A handsome, charming and educated young man, he spent his early life leading young nobles to parties. He dreamed of knighthood and longed for the adventurous life of chivalry. In pursuit of that dream, he joined in the war between Assisi and Perugia at the age of 20.
In that war, Francis fought with youthful enthusiasm, but was wounded and taken prisoner. Spending the next year in a dungeon, he contracted malaria. Ransomed by his father, a more reflective Francis returned to Assisi. Sickness overtook him and in that languishing experience he heard the first stirrings of a vocation to peace and justice.
The military victories of Count Walter of Brienne revived Francis' desire for knighthood. Under Brienne's command, he hoped to win his favor and become a knight. On his way to join Brienne, Francis stopped in Spoleto and heard the shocking news of his death. Overcome by depression, his malaria returned.
One night a mysterious voice asked him, "Who do you think can best reward you, the Master or the servant?" Francis Answered, "The Master." The voice continued, "Why do you leave the Master for the servant?" Francis realized the servant was Count Walter. He left Spoleto convinced God had spoken to him.
From that moment on, Francis began to care for the sick and the poor -- especially the lepers -- convinced that this was what God had called him to do.
A further call came in 1205, when, in a dramatic moment of prayer in the abandoned Church of San Damiano, Francis heard a voice coming from the crucifix which challenged him to rebuild the church. At first he thought it meant that he should rebuild San Damiano, so he sold some of his father's cloth to raise money to build the Church at San Damiano. His father, who was already upset about the life he was leading, took him to court, where was ordered him to pay back the money. Francis complied with a dramatic gesture, renouncing his inheritance and handing his expensive clothing to him as well. Dressed only in a workman's smock, he left town and spent the next two years as a hermit, taking a vow of poverty and dedicating his life his life to God.
Francis begged for his food, wore old clothes, and preached peace. He began to attract followers, and in 1209 with the papal blessing he founded the Friars Minor (Franciscans). Then in 1212 with St. Clare of Assisi he founded the foundation of the Order of "Poor Ladies," now known as the "Poor Clares." He also founded the "Third Order of Penance" (the Third Order) which included lay people. He was the first person (recorded) to receive the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) in 1224. Out of humility Francis never accepted the priesthood but remained a deacon all his life. He had a great love for animals. His ardent love of God merited him the name Seraphic.
Francis died at the age of 44 on October 4, 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than two years later.
Patronage: against fire; animals; Catholic Action; dying alone; ecology; environment; families; fire; lacemakers; merchants; peace; zoos; Italy; Assisi, Italy; Colorado; Sante Fe, New Mexico; archdiocese of San Francisco, California; archdiocese of Denver, Colorado; archdiocese of Sante Fe, New Mexico; diocese of Salina, Kansas.
"But as for me, I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any privilege from man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert the world by obedience to the Holy Rule rather by example than by word."
~The Little Flowers of St. Francis: Chapter 50
"If we endure things patiently and with gladness thinking on the sufferings of our blessed Lord, and bearing all for the love of Him: herein is perfect joy."
~ The Voice of the Saints, Tan Books, 1965, page 127