Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pope Benedict's General Prayer Intention for April: Vocations

Blessed Jane of Toulouse

The saint of the day for March 31 is Blessed Jane of Toulouse.

Blessed Jane lived in the French town of Toulouse during the 13th century. A Carmelite monastery was founded in the same town in 1240 which exposed Jane to the Carmelite lifestyle and spirituality.

In 1265 when St. Simon Stock, a 13th century reformer of the Carmelites, was passing through Toulouse, Jane met him and requested to be affiliated with the Carmelites. Simon agreed and Jane became the first Third Order Carmelite.

Jane vowed herself to perpetual chastity and applied herself completely to the Carmelite Rule. In addition to many daily holy practices and penances, she reached out to the community and worked to help the sick and poor. One of Jane's primary missions was encouraging the boys of the town to help her serve the poor and help them discern whether or not they were called to be Carmelites.

Blessed Jane is considered to be a founder of the Carmelite tertiary order and is considered to be its first member.

She died in 1286.

Top Five Pitfalls of New Converts

According to Jenifer Fulwiler, a recent convert of five years, they include:

1. Discounting Spiritual Attack

2. Thinking that Catholics are Perfect

3. Not developing a relationship with Christ

4. Not seeking answers to tough questions

5. Not rooting yourself in a community

Read the story here.

Waiting Until Marriage is Worth It

Friday, March 30, 2012

Organic girl takes the Pill

This video points out the inconsistency of those who strive to eat a pesticide- and hormone-free diet yet take a hormone-laced contraceptive pill without thinking. Produced by the Catholic Advance, Diocese of Wichita.

NFP is so much better!

St. John Climacus

Today we commemorate St. John Climacus, a seventh century monk.

John was called Climacus (which means "of the ladder") because he wrote "Climax" also known as "The Ladder of Paradise." John was born in Palestine around the year 525. Although he was well-educated and brilliant, John decided at the at age 16 to retire to a life of solitude in Mount Sinai, which was inhabited by holy monks. There he was placed under the direction of a holy monk named Martyrius.

As a novice, John was fervent and unrelenting in his efforts for self-mastery. For the next four years, he spent his time in prayer, fasting, meditation and discernment while preparing to take solemn vows to the religious life. Through the direction of Martyrius, John curbed his vices and worked to perfect his virtues. After professing his solemn vows, John began to spend more of his time studying scriptures and the early fathers of the Church.

Martyius died when John was 35. At that time, John withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain, where he remained for forty years. He studied the lives and writings of the saints and was raised to an unusual height of contemplation. The fame of his holiness and practical wisdom drew crowds around him for advice and consolation.

When John had reached the age of seventy-five, he was chosen as Abbot of Mount Sinai by a unanimous vote of the Sinai religious. On the day of his installation,  he welcomed six hundred pilgrims to Saint Catherine’s Monastery, but at the hour of dinner, he could not be found to share the meal with them. He was encouraged by a brother abbot to write the rules by which he had guided his life; and the book which he had already begun, The Ladder, detailing thirty degrees of advancement in the pursuit of perfection, has been treasured in all ages for its wisdom and sanctity.

At the end of that time, he retired again to his solitude, where he died around 605, as he had foretold.


It is sheer lunacy to imagine that one has deserved the gifts of God. You may be proud only of the achievements you had before the time of your birth. But anything after that, indeed the birth itself, is a gift from God. You may claim only those virtues in you that are there independently of your mind, for your mind was bestowed on you by God. And you may claim only those victories you achieved independently of the body, for the body too is not yours but a work of God.

A chaste man is someone who has driven out bodily love by means of divine love, who has used heavenly fire to quench the fires of the flesh.

A person is at the beginning of a prayer when he succeeds in removing distractions which at the beginning beset him. He is at the middle of the prayer when the mind concentrates only on what he is meditating and contemplating. He reaches the end when, with the Lord, the prayer enraptures him.

A mother feels less pleasure when she folds within her arms the dear infant whom she nourishes with her own milk than the true child of charity does when united as he incessantly is, to his God, and folded as it were in the arms of his heavenly Father.

Humility has it signs: ...poverty, withdrawal from the world, the concealment of one's wisdom, simplicity of speech, the seeking of alms, the disguising of one's nobility, the exclusion of free and easy relationships, the banishment of idle talk.

If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons. So take heart, all you sinners.

Pride is utter poverty of soul disguised as riches, imaginary light where in fact there is darkness.

The fruit of arrogance is a fall; but a fall is often an occasion of humility for those willing to profit by it.

The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him.

You will know that you have this holy gift (of humility) within you and not be led astray when you experience an abundance of unspeakable light together with an indescribable love of prayer.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pope Benedict's Must Read Messages from Cuba

Here are some great Pope Benedict quotes collected by EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo:

TRUTH "The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom... On the other hand, there are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in "their truth", and try to impose it on others.... Each human being has to seek the truth and to choose it when he or she finds it, even at the risk of embracing sacrifices." Jose Marti Square, Havana March 28, 2012

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM "The Church lives to make others sharers in the one thing she possesses...Christ, our hope and glory. To carry out this duty, she must count on the basic religious freedom, which consists in her being able to proclaim and to celebrate her faith also in public, bringing others the message of love, reconciliation, and peace which Jesus brought to the world." Jose Marti Square, Havana March 28. 2012

Read them all.

Image Source.

St. Berthold

The saint we remember today is St. Berthold.

Berthold seems to have had a connection with the beginnings of the Carmelite Order. He was a relative of Aymeric, the Latin patriarch of Antioch who was installed in Antioch during the crusades. At the time, there were a number of hermits from the West scattered throughout Palestine, and Berthold gathered them together, founded a community of priests who settled on Mount Carmel, and became their first superior.

There is a legend that he was born at Limoges in France, studied in Paris, and was ordained a priest there. According to the legend, he accompanied Aymeric on the crusades and found himself in Antioch when it was being besieged by the Saracens. Through his urgings, the Christians in Antioch turned to prayer and penance, and the city was delivered.

What is known for certain is that St. Berthold directed the building of a monastery and church on Mount Carmel and dedicated the church in honor of the prophet Elias, who had defeated the priests of Baal there and seen the vision of the cloud out over the sea. This is confirmed in a letter of Peter Emilianus to King Edward I of England in 1282.

Berthold lived out his days on Mount Carmel, ruling the community he had founded for forty-five years until his death about 1195. His example and way of life stamped the beginnings of the Carmelite Order, leading to the drawing up of the order's rule by St. Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, about 1210. That rule was approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226 and it is this primitive rule that is considered the foundation of the Order of Mount Carmel.

But it seems to have been Berthold who first organized the monastic life of the hermits on Mount Carmel and governed them until his death. St. Brocard, who apparently was his successor, petitioned Albert to compose a rule for them, undoubtedly codifying and completing the work begun by Berthold.

Thought for the Day: St. Berthold became aware of something that had to be done, and he put his hand firmly to the task before him, unknowingly laying the foundation of a great religious order. We have no way of knowing what fruit will grow from the seed we plant. What is important is that we plant well.

Excerpted from "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.

Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in half hour private meeting

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Church in Cuba

Pope St. Sixtus III

Today’s saint of the day is Pope St. Sixtus III, chosen to be the 44th pope in 432. He was born in Rome, Italy and died in 440. During his pontificate, he was falsely accused of favoring Nestorianism and Pelagianism, because of his conciliatory disposition during their controversies.

Pope St. Sixtus III

• approved of the Acts of the Council of Ephesus
• defended the supremacy of the pope over Illyricum, against the local bishops and Proclus of Constantinople
• restored the Basilica of Liberius, known as St. Mary Major
• beautified Saint Peter's, and the Lateran Basilica

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fr. Barron on "The Hunger Games" (Spoilers)

St. Rupert of Salzburg

The saint of the day is St. Rupert of Salzburg, a bishop and missionary who lived in the eighth century during the time of Childebert III, King of the Franks.

St. Rupert was a member of a noble Frankish family. Rupert was a lover of the truth who was well-known for his simplicity and common sense. He was pious, charitable, and pure. As bishop of Worms, Germany, he was dedicated to spreading the faith among the Germans and suceeded in converting whole regions. He took over the deserted town of Luvavum about 697, which was renamed Salzburg, Austria. Rupert founded St. Peter's Church and Abbey and the Nonnburg convent, where his sister served as the first abbess. He died on March 27, 718 at Salzburg and is venerated as the first archbishop of this major diocese in the West. Rupert is revered as the Apostle of Bavaria and Austria.

In Christian art, St. Rupert is depicted with a vessel of salt in his hand, symbolizing the universal tradition according to which Rupert inaugurated salt-mining at Salzburg. He is the Patron saint of salt miners and the Diocese of Salzburg.

Read more about St. Rupert.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pope dons a sombrero in Mexico

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

The Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne

Today is the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. This special Feast commemorates the moment when the angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Child Jesus. (Lk. 1:26-38). It was the moment when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that the Incarnation of God would be fulfilled through her. This was the official announcement that the Word of God would become man.

The Annunciation heralds the beginning of our salvation. By Mary's obedient "Fiat" the earth has become heaven. "In Jesus, God has placed in the midst of barren, despairing mankind, a new beginning which is not a product of human history but a gift from above" (Pope Benedict XVI). All that our heart cries out for became flesh in Mary's wound. When we repeat the words of the angel by praying the Hail Mary, the word of God germinates in our soul. Christianity is this never-ending event of encounter with God made present in the maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

~Gregory of Nyssa

More on The Annunciation of the Lord:


And She Conceived by the Holy Spirit: A Reflection on the Annunciation

The Annunciation of the Lord

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Continuing Prayers Needed for Fr. Trigilio of EWTN

Via Maryland Coalition for Life:

On Monday, March 19th, it was announced that Father John Trigilio has been in a bad car accident and is in critical condition! He was coming back home to his parish after visiting his mother who recently had surgery and is in rehab. Please pray fervently for the total recovery of this good and faithful priest, many of you may know him from EWTN.

Update via  EWTN:

 Dear EWTN Family:

Please keep Fr. John Trigilio, Co-host of Web of Faith and Crash Course in Catholicism, in your prayers as he recovers from non-life threatening injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He is currently at home recovering and his condition continues to improve. He appreciates all the prayers!

Please join me in praying for Fr. Trugillio.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

St. Catherine of Sweden

The saint of the day is St. Catherine of Sweden, the patron saint against abortion and miscarriages.

Catherine was born in 1331, the fourth of eight children, to Saint Bridget of Sweden and Ulf Gudmarsson.

At the age of seven, Catherine was sent to Risberg Convent to be educated. She desired to remain in the convent to pursue a religious vocation, but she was promised in marriage to the virtuous and pious German noble Eggard Lydersson von Kürnen, a lifelong invalid. At age 13, the two were united in the sacrament of matrimony. Although Catherine was very beautiful, she and Eggard took a mutual vow of perpetual chastity. They devoted themselves to a life of Christian perfection and active charity.

In 1348, Catherine's father died. With Eggard’s permission, Catherine joined her mother on various pilgrimages. During these pilgrimages, they visited the tombs of the martyrs the churches, and together practiced works of piety, caring for the poor and the sick. In 1349, Catherine traveled with her mother to Rome for the Jubilee; it was at this time that Eggard died. Following his death, Catherine turned down numerous marriage proposals.

When her mother died in 1373, she returned to Sweden, taking the mortal remains of Saint Bridget with her for burial. Catherine entered a monastery at Vatzan, where she lived a very austere life. For the last twenty-five years of her life, Catherine participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation daily to purify her soul. She died on March 24, 1381. At the time of her death, Catherine was the superior of the convent of Wadstena, founded by her mother; hence the name, Catherine Vastanensis, by which she is occasionally called. She was canonized in 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pope meets with reporters on Papal plane: "The Church has always sided with liberty"

March 23, 2012. ( During the flight to Mexico, Benedict XVI held a brief press conference with reporters who're traveling with him on the Papal plane.

He talked about the fond memories he has of John Paul II's travels to Mexico and Cuba. He also said that he wants to follow his predecessors footsteps in these two visits.

When asked about the situation in Cuba, Benedict XVI said the Church has always sided with freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

Given the problems of drug related violence affecting Mexico, the Pope said it's the Church's responsibility to educate people and unmask the dangers that come from idolizing money and power. He said, doing so only leads to false promises, lies and deceit.

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo

The saint of the day for March 23 is Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo also known as St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, the great figure in the history of the Church in Latin America, the second archbishop of Lima. Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius of Mongrovejo is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

In 1580 the archbishopric of Lima, capital of Spain's colony in Peru, became vacant. He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal those who had infected that area. He protested the assignment, but was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither sleep nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

Years before he died, he predicted the day and hour of his death. He contracted fever, but continued working up to the last moment, arriving at his destination in a dying condition. Dragging himself to the sanctuary he received the Viaticum, expiring shortly after. He died in 1606, was beatified by Pope Innocent XI in 1697, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.

Patronage: Native rights, Latin American bishops, and Peru.

Saint Quote: "Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Abby Johnson: Every Life is Beautiful

Fr. Barron comments on Palm Sunday

21 Catholic Bishops Speaking at Nationwide Religious Freedom Rallies Tomorrow

With the Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom now just one day away, 21 Catholic bishops are scheduled to speak at various Rallies across the country.

And, an additional five bishops have provided written statements that will be read at rally sites in their dioceses.

The Catholic bishops are the ones who led the call for resistance to the HHS Mandate, and it’s so encouraging to see them supporting our response.

Bishops Attending Rallies

Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, S.T.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham
Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland
Most Rev. Cirilo Flores, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego
Most Rev. Thomas Doran, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford
Most Rev. Kenneth Steiner, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Portland
Most Rev. John Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona
Most Rev. John Kudrick, Bishop of the Eparchy of Parma
Most Rev. David Choby, Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville
Most Rev. John Yanta, Bishop Emeritus of Diocese of Amarillo
Most Rev. Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison
Most Rev. Leonard Blair, Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo
Most Rev. Joseph Latino, Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson
Most Rev. Peter Jugis, Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte
Most Rev. Luis Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta
Most Rev. Michael Byrnes, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Detroit
Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Baltimore
Most Rev. Randolph Calvo, Bishop of the Diocese of Reno
Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix
Most Rev. Denis Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore
Most Rev. Randolph Calvo, Bishop of the Diocese of Reno
Most Rev. John Smith, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Trenton
Rev. Liam Cary, Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Baker\

Bishops Providing Statements to Be Read at Rallies

Most Rev. Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta
Most Rev. Gerald Kagan, Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck
Most Rev. Samuel Aquila, Bishop of the Diocese of Fargo
Most Rev. Kevin Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond

We’re thrilled to have the support of these courageous shepherds!

~ Via Stand-up for Religious Freedom.

October Baby opens this weekend

Read the review by Steven D. Greydanus at National Catholic Register.

A Vote for Life!

This weekend, when the biggest box-office hit is expected be a film based on a popular book about young people being forced to fight to the death, OCTOBER BABY hits theaters with a resounding message about the sanctity of life. Talk about a culture in need of a wake-up call!

On top of that, every ticket purchased for OCTOBER BABY is a vote for life. The producers of OCTOBER BABY have assigned 10 percent of the profits of the movie to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which will distribute funds to frontline organizations helping women facing crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies, and those caring for orphans.

Learn more at

Find a theater near you.

Top Ten Films for Lent

Lent is a season of  drawing  into a deeper intimacy with Jesus. Watching sacred films during Lent is one method I use to draw closer to Christ. Here are the films I recommend watching this Lent, which have served that purpose for me:

1.  The Passion of the Christ (2004)  Oscar-winning actor-director Mel Gibson helms this epic that focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus's life -- from the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus to his brutal crucifixion and resurrection from the tomb. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Jesus's mother and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, The Passion is spoken entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and the violent Crucifixion scenes are incredibly graphic. This film moved me to tears and lifted me up spiritually in a way no other movie has.

2.  The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) Swedish actor Max Von Sydow made his English-speaking debut in this gargantuan retelling of the life of Christ from Giant director George Stevens. The much-ballyhooed all-star cast includes Charlton Heston as John the Baptist and John Wayne as The Centurion at The Crucifixion. Filmed in Death Valley and in Utah, Nevada and Arizona locations, this dazzling epic garnered five Oscar nominations, including Best Special Effects and Best Score.

3.  Into Great Silence (2005) Director Philip Gröning's study of the Grande Chartreuse monastery introduces a world of austere beauty as it follows the daily activities of the resident monks, whose silence is broken only by prayer and song. With no sound save the natural rhythms of age-old routines, the documentary -- a Special Jury Prize winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival -- captures the simplicity and profundity of lives lived with absolute purpose and presence.

4.  St. Anthony (2002) This engaging biopic chronicles the life of St. Anthony of Padua, a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi revered as one of the most-loved saints in all of Catholicism and known in his time as the "Hammer of the Heretics." Admired for his piety, his miracles and his loving treatment of the less fortunate, the gentle St. Anthony also served as the namesake for the Texan city of San Antonio.

5. Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (2000) In 19th-century Hawaii, lepers are exiled to the island of Molokai and left to fend for themselves without any outside assistance -- until a courageous priest named Father Damien (David Wenham) risks his own life to help ease their suffering. Although he's shunned by his church's greedy elders, Father Damien inspires others to reach out to the residents of Molokai. Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill and Derek Jacobi co-star in this inspiring biopic.

6.  Of Gods and Men (2010) Awarded Grand Prix honors at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this compelling historical drama relates the ordeal of seven French Trappist monks in the mountains of Algeria who are taken captive by Islamic fundamentalists. Before the monks' abduction, they have ample reason to believe they may be in danger, but their assumption that there can and must be common ground between Islam and Christianity leads them to remain at the monastery.

7.  Peter and Paul (1981) Director Robert Day's epic TV miniseries follows apostles Peter (Robert Foxworth) and Paul (Anthony Hopkins) as they spread the gospel of nascent Christianity while striving to keep the faith despite violent opposition from without and endless tumult from within. The two disciples unite in their attempts to win converts but pay the ultimate price for their beliefs. Anthony Hopkins does a superb job of playing Paul!

8.  Clare and Francis (2007) Both born in Assisi, St. Clare (Maria P. Petruolo) and St. Francis (Ettore Bassi) decide to leave behind their lives of luxury to follow Jesus Christ. This drama follows their attempts to live out the Gospel by working with the poor and establishing their own religious orders. An inspiring story of courage and commitment, this historically accurate epic was shot on location in Italy and features special behind-the-scenes footage.

9.   Bernadette (1988) A 15-year-old Sydney Penny takes on the title role in director Jean Delannoy's thoughtful retelling of the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a 19th century French peasant girl who sees a vision of the Blessed Virgin in the town of Lourdes. Although Bernadette's claim makes her the target of scorn and persecution by the townsfolk, politicians and skeptical authorities in the Catholic Church, she ultimately becomes canonized.

10.  Monsieur Vincent (1947) Tracing the story of 16th-century French priest St. Vincent de Paul (Pierre Fresnay), this compelling biography explores his remarkable mission to promote peace and faith among both peasants and nobles. He faced slavery in Algiers as a boy and the horrific Black Death in Europe as an adult but maintained his compassionate call for harmony. The internationally acclaimed film won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1948.

St. Lea of Rome

The saint of the day for March 22 is St. Lea of Rome.

St. Lea was a widow who lived in fourth century Rome and died around the year 384. After the death of her husband, she retired from the world to a monastery and eventually became superior of the community there. Much of the information available concerning the life of St. Lea, who has long been honored in the Roman Martyrology, comes from a letter from St. Jerome to Marcella which compares Lea's life to that of the Counsul Praetextaus. An excerpt of this letter, the twentieth epistle of St. Jerome is found below.

"Who will praise the blessed Lea as she deserves? She renounced painting her face and adorning her head with shining pearls. She exchanged her rich attire for sackcloth, and ceased to command others in order to obey all. She dwelt in a corner with a few bits of furniture; she spent her nights in prayer, and instructed her companions through her example rather than through protests and speeches. And she looked forward to her arrival in heaven in order to receive her recompense for the virtues which she practiced on earth."

"So it is that thence forth she enjoyed perfect happiness. From Abraham's bosom, where she resides with Lazarus, she sees our consul who was once decked out in purple, now vested in a shameful robe, vainly begging for a drop of water to quench his thirst. Although he went up to the capital to the plaudits of the people, and his death occasioned widespread grief, it is futile for the wife to assert that he has gone to heaven and possesses a great mansion there. The fact is that he is plunged into the darkness outside, whereas Lea who was willing to be considered a fool on earth, has been received into the house of the Father, at the wedding feast of the Lamb."

"Hence, I tearfully beg you to refrain from seeking the favors of the world and to renounce all that is carnal. It is impossible to follow both the world and Jesus. Let us live a life of renunciation, for our bodies will soon be dust and nothing else will last any longer."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eduardo Verastegui stars in new film on Mexico's religious persecution: "For Greater Glory"

March 21, 2012. ( On April 20th a film that deals with a key part of Mexico's history with Catholicism will be released in Mexico. The movie, is called “For Greater Glory.” The cast includes big Hollywood names like Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, and Peter O' Toole.

The film deals with Mexico's so called “Cristero War,” which broke out in 1926. The war was fueled by religious persecution, but people fought back, hence the name “Cristeros” for Christ.

Among the actors is Eduardo Verastegui, who plays the role of a martyr named Anacleto Gonzalez. He was a family man who died forgiving his murderers.

The film is directed by Dean Wright who worked on big name films like 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'Lord of the Rings'. In the US it will be released on June 1st.

In fact, a preview of the movie was shown at World Youth Day in Madrid. Also Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, recently saw the film after showing interest in the project. As far as production costs, the movie “For Greater Glory,” is the most expensive in Mexico's history.

St. Nicholas of Flue

Today, the universal church celebrates the feast of St. Nicholas of Flue. During his lifetime, the Swiss saint had 10 children, became a hermit and later prevented a civil war.

Nicholas was born in 1417 near the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. He married at the age of 30 and had 10 children. In addition to his duties as a husband and a father, Nicholas donated his talents and time selflessly to the community and always strove to give an excellent moral example to all.

The saint was also able to devote much of his private life to developing a strong relationship with the Lord. He had a strict regime of fasting and he spent a great deal of time in contemplative prayer.

Around the year 1467, when he was 50 years old, Nicholas felt called to retire from the world and become a hermit. His wife and children gave their approval, and he left home to live in a hermitage a few miles away. While living as a hermit, Nicholas soon gained a wide reputation on account of his personal sanctity and many people sought him out to request his prayers and spiritual advice.

Nicholas lived the quiet life of a hermit for 13 years. However in 1481, a dispute arose between the delegates of the Swiss confederates at Stans and a civil war seemed imminent. The people called on Nicholas to settle the dispute, so he drafted several proposals which everyone eventually agreed on.

Nicholas' work prevented civil war and solidified the country of Switzerland. But, as a true hermit, he then returned to his hermitage after settling the dispute.

He died six years later on March 21, 1487 surrounded by his wife and children.

Patron: councilmen, difficult marriages, large families, magistrates, parents of large families, Pontifical Swiss Guards, separated spouses, and Switzerland.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Catholic Student's Response to the HHS Mandate

St. Maria Josefa of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today's saint of the day is St. Maria Josefa of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1 in the Jubilee Year 2000, St Maria Josefa was the Foundress of the Institute of the Servants of Jesus of Charity.

"Do not believe that caring for the sick consists only in giving them medicine and food; there is another kind of care which you should never forget, that of the heart which seeks to adapt to the suffering person, going to meet his needs.” These are the words of one whose mind and heart were fully seized of a mission, Saint Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus. The mission: to be a “neighbor” to the sick and the suffering in the world.

Maria Josefa was the eldest daughter of Bernabe Sancho and Petra de Guerra. Born on September 7, 1842 in Vitoria, Spain, she lost her father when she was barely 15. Very early in life, she nurtured a strong devotion to the Eucharist, the Sacred Heart and our Blessed Mother. She was deeply inclined towards solitude; however, a severe bout of typhus put an end to her plans to join the contemplative Conceptionists of Aranjuez in 1860. Feeling called, then, to an active religious life, she joined the Servants of Mary, an Institute newly founded in Madrid by St Soledad Torres Acosta. Realizing now that her vocation lay in exclusively caring for the sick and the suffering in the hospital and at home, she left the Institute together with three other sisters who shared her vision and embarked on her hew venture.

During the Carlist wars, Josefa and the Servants of Jesus heroically cared for patients suffering  from highly contagious diseases, such as cholera and tuberculosis. She was superior for 41 years and founded forty-three communities before heart disease confined her to the house at Bilbao, from where she maintained her contacts wholly via correspondence. Ardent adorers of the Mystery of the Redemption, her ideas are well expressed in her theses, Directorio de Asistencias. Sharing intimately in the suffering of the crucified Lord, she passed away on March 20, 1912. As in life, so in death, her holiness had such an impact on Bilbao and beyond as to have led her mortal remains, laid to rest in the municipal cemetery at Bilbao, to be transferred to the chapel of the motherhouse of her institute, where they are now preserved.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Benedict XVI celebrates his feast day quietly

March 19, 2012. ( March 19th is the feast day of St. Joseph. The adoptive father of Jesus, who cared for him and the Virgin Mary.

The day is actually a holiday at the Vatican, since St. Joseph is the patron of the Catholic Church, and of course, since it's also the feast day of the Pope, Joseph Ratzinger. But this year, the day will be celebrated calmly, since the Pope is getting ready for his upcoming trip to Mexico and Cuba in late March.

Pope Benedict XVI: Who is St. Joseph?

March 19, 2012. ( Monday, March 19th is the feast day of St. Joseph. Benedict XVI talked about this saint during a general audience held on December 28, 2011.

His humble and sincere love for his betrothed and his decision to join his life to Mary’s attracted and introduced him, “a just man”, to a special intimacy with God. Indeed, with Mary and later, especially, with Jesus, he began a new way of relating to God, accepting him in his life, entering his project of salvation and doing his will. After trustfully complying with the Angel’s instructions “Do not fear to take Mary your wife” — he took Mary to him and shared his life with her; he truly gave the whole of himself to Mary and to Jesus and this led him to perfect his response to the vocation he had received.

As we know, the Gospel has not recorded any of Joseph’s words: his is a silent and faithful, patient and hard-working presence. We may imagine that he too, like his wife and in close harmony with her, lived the years of Jesus’ childhood and adolescence savouring, as it were, his presence in their family.

Joseph fulfilled every aspect of his paternal role. He must certainly have taught Jesus to pray, together with Mary. In particular Joseph himself must have taken Jesus to the Synagogue for the rites of the Sabbath, as well as to Jerusalem for the great feasts of the people of Israel. Joseph, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, would have led the prayers at home both every day — in the morning, in the evening, at meals — and on the principal religious feasts.

In the rhythm of the days he spent at Nazareth, in the simple home and in Joseph’s workshop, Jesus learned to alternate prayer and work, as well as to offer God his labour in earning the bread the family needed.

St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus, and patron of the universal Church

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus, and patron of the universal Church. On May 31, we honor St. Joseph as the patron of workers.

Most of the reliable information on St. Joseph is contained in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Here we discover that Joseph was of royal descent from David, that the family was from Bethlehem in Judea and that Joseph, who was a builder, had moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth in Galilee.

Joseph was engaged to Mary and upon learning that she was pregnant; he had plans to divorce her. Described in Matthew as a righteous man, he intended to dismiss her quietly. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream to tell him, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (MT 1:20-21). "When Joseph woke from sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." (MT 1: 24).

Quotes from Pope John II and Pope Benedict on St. Joseph:

What a strong man of faith Joseph was! How he must have suffered, not knowing the secret of Mary's incarnation. Of course, she could not tell him - he would not have understood. "It was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language." (Pope John Paul II, The Holy Father's homily during the celebration of Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, at the L. Liberati Stadium. Vatican, March 1981.)

Pope Benedict shares the following: "St. Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. "

"In contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God's grace, come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in her."

"Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life."

"In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a 'just man because his existence is 'ad-justed' to the word of God."

"The life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church."

"His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia.'"

Patron: Against doubt; against hesitation; Americas; Austria; Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; California; Belgium; Bohemia; bursars; cabinetmakers; Canada; Carinthia; carpenters; China; confectioners; craftsmen; Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliament) dying people; emigrants; engineers; expectant mothers; families; fathers; Florence, Italy; happy death; holy death; house hunters; immigrants; interior souls; Korea; laborers; Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire; Mexico; Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee; New France; New World; Oblates of Saint Joseph; people in doubt; people who fight Communism; Peru; pioneers; protection of the Church; Diocese of San Jose, California; diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; social justice; Styria, Austria; travelers; Turin Italy; Tyrol Austria; unborn children Universal Church; Vatican II; Vietnam; Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston West Virginia; wheelwrights; workers; working people.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about 385 AD. His given name was Maewyn.

Until he was 16 he considered himself a pagan. He was kidnapped from the British mainland at that time by a group of Irish raiders who sold him into slavery. He escaped from slavery after six years and returned to his homeland. There he heard the call to return and bring Christianity to Ireland, so he went to Gaul and studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years.

He was ordained a priest, consecrated a bishop and returned to Ireland around 435 AD. Patrick was quite successful at winning converts, which led to clashes with the Celtic Druids. He was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity. In thirty-three years, he successfully converted Ireland. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17, 461.

Patron: Ireland; against snakes; against ophidiophobia; archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts; diocese of Burlington, Vermont; engineers; excluded people; fear of snakes; diocese of Fort Worth, Texas; diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; archdiocese of New York; Nigeria; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; ophidiophobics; diocese of Portland, Maine; diocese of Sacramento, California; snake bites.

Collect: God our Father, you sent St. Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim your love to all men. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Eusebia, Benedictine Abbess

Today's saint is St. Eusebia (637-680), a Benedictine abbess, the daughter of Sts. Adalbald and Rictrudis and the great-granddaughter of Saint Gertrude the Elder.

Eusebia's father was murdered when she was eight. Following his death, she was sent to the abbey of Hamage, Doudi, France, which her great-grandmother had founded and served as abbess. Gertrude died when Eusebia was twelve years old and she was elected to replace her. Rictrudis, realizing her daughter had no hope of governing the abbey, but wanting to keep it under the protection of a noble house, merged Hamage with her own house of Marchiennes, and ordered all the sisters to move in together under her rule. Many of the uprooted sisters, including Eusebia, were unhappy with this order as it kept them from obeying Saint Gertrude‘s last request. After much time and debate, the dissident sisters were permitted to return to their old house, taking Gertrude‘s relics with them, and taking Eusebia as their abbess. The delay had allowed her to grow into the position, and she proved an excellent abbess.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Obama's Plan for Abortion on Demand at Our Expense

This doesn't shock me. I actually suspected that something like this was in the making -- the devil is relentless. But, if God's people unite, we can bring a halt to this evil. We MUST pray, fast, and do penance to stop put an end to this. And, yes, if you aren't already, now is the time to become politically pro-active.


The Obama Administration has taken another step in what amounts to a four-year plan to make abortion-covering health insurance, subsidized by the federal government, commonly available in the United States.

The latest action came on March 12, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a lengthy regulation that spells out how some of the components of the massive 2010 Obama health care law (“ObamaCare”) will be implemented.

The new rule — consuming 644 pages, including HHS’s commentary — is concerned mainly with the “exchanges,” which are the government-operated health insurance markets that must be established in every state by January 1, 2014. While states may retain responsibility for administering the exchanges, they must do so according to the detailed blueprints provided in the federal law and in federal regulations, including the new rule.

Read the entire story.

The Truth About Contraception: I Have a Say

Conscience Claws

The HHS Mandate is Anti-Woman

The Catholic Information Center and the women's web-magazine Altcatholicah co-sponsored the panel discussion, "Women Challenging the HHS Mandate." Here, panelist Gloria Purvis discusses how the HHS Mandate is anti-Woman and how Catholics need to get speak up on the issue.

Video: Catholics Fight Obamacare

Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their rejection for Obamacare and its attack on the Catholic Church. TFP Student Action volunteers tour cities to oppose Obamacare.

St. Louise de Marillac, Patron of Widows and Social Workers

Today's saint is St. Louise de Marillac. Louise was born near Meaux, Auvergne, France, on August 12, 1591. Born out of wedlock, Louise never knew her mother, but was raised by her father, a member of the aristocracy. When her father married, Louise had a difficult time adjusting and was sent to be a resident student at a Dominican convent where her aunt was a religious.

When Louise was about sixteen years old, she believed she had a call to the religious life, but, after consulting her spiritual director, she decided not to pursue it. Instead, she married Antoine Le Gras. The couple had a son and Louise devoted most of her time in her motherly duties.

While at prayer, Louise had a vision in which she saw herself serving the poor and living the vows of religion in community. She wrote this experinence down on parchment and carried it on her person as a reminder that despite her difficulties, God was guiding her life. In that vision a priest appeared to her, whom she later identified as Vincent de Paul, her future confidante and collaborator in ministry.

In 1619 she met St. Francis de Sales, who was then in Paris.. Troubled by the thought that she had rejected a call to the religious life, she vowed not to remarry if her husband should die before her.

As a young matron, Louise traveled and socialized among both the royalty and aristocracy of France, but she was equally comfortable with the poor, no matter their desperate situations. She held a leadership role in the Ladies of Charity, an organization of rich women dedicated to assisting the poor.

Her husband died in 1625, after a long illness. Four years later, Vincent de Paul invited Louise to assist him with the Confraternities of Charity in the parishes of France. These tasks were therapeutic for Louise and were influential in preparing her for her future work.

In 1633, Louise began to train young women to address the needs of the poor and to gain support from their life together. From this humble beginning, the community of Daughters of Charity emerged.

Louise, who died on March 15, 1660 just a few months before Vincent de Paul, was proclaimed a Saint of the Church in 1934. In 1960 Pope John XXIII proclaimed her the Patroness of all Social Workers. As a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, social worker and religious foundress, she stands as a model to all women. She lives today in the 25,000 Daughters of Charity serving throughout the world, as well as in their many lay collaborators.

Patron: Disappointing children, widows, loss of parents, sick people, social workers, Vincentian Service Corps, people rejected by religious orders.

US bishops decry ‘illegal and unjust’ HHS mandate, call for prayer and penance

Via Catholic Culture:

Decrying the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate as “a mandate to act against our teachings” and “a violation of personal civil rights,” the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement calling upon “the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom--religious liberty.”

“The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day,” the statement began. “To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of ‘A Statement on Religious Liberty,’ a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.”

Read the entire story.

Image Source

Pope calls the Virgin Mary a teacher of prayer

( Benedict XVI traveled in the pope-mobile through St. Peter's Square, greeting thousands of pilgrims attending the general audience.

During the catechesis, the pope said the prayer of early Christians made it possible for the rapid spread of the Gospel. They learned from the Virgin Mary the importance of prayer and recollection.

Benedict XVI
“In all the events of her life, from the Annunciation through the Cross to Pentecost, Mary is presented by Saint Luke as a woman of recollected prayer and meditation on the mystery of God’s saving plan in Christ.”

The pope highlighted how Mary lived through the death of her Son and waited for the Resurrection in silence and dialogue with God. He said she is an example of the need of prayer to proclaim the Gospel.

Benedict XVI
“Let us entrust to her every moment of our own lives, and let her teach us the need for prayer, so that in loving union with her Son we may implore the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel to all the ends of the earth.”

During the audience, the pope blessed the torch of St. Benedict from the Benedictine religious order, which is being carried around Europe as a symbol of unity. The pope also rang the bell from the next International Eucharistic Congress as an invitation to the event that will gather thousands of laypeople in Ireland's capital of Dublin this June.

Inspirational Video: The Right Choice

Bishops declare day of fasting for religious liberty

The bishops of Pennsylvania have declared March 30 to be a day of prayer, fasting, and abstinence for religious liberty.

“The assault by the federal government on constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty continues,” the bishops said in a letter to the faithful. “Our concern and alarm flows from a mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which punishes the Church for its firmly held beliefs and consistent teaching.”

“Recognizing the efficacy of prayer and fasting as well as the challenges we face in overcoming the recent attack on our religious freedom, we, the Bishops of Pennsylvania, request that all Catholics dedicate the regular Lenten Friday practice of prayer and abstinence as well as the additional practice of fasting on Friday, March 30, to the preservation of religious liberty,” the letter continued. “On that day, offer your sacrifice for the cause of religious liberty, that the Church may be granted the basic right to practice what she preaches, and for our political leaders, that their eyes may be opened to the rights of all Americans, including those of faith.”

Here is a printable version of the Pennsylvania Bishops’ Letter on Religious Liberty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Matilda

Today is the feast of St. Matilda, the Queen of Germany and wife of King Henry I. She was born in Engern, Westphalia, Germany in 895 to Count Detrich and his wife, Reinhild. Raised by her grandmother, an abbess, she entered into an arranged marriage with King Henry the Fowler of Saxony in 913. Matilda became the mother of: Otto I, Emperor of Germany; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; St. Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, who married Louis IV of France; Hedwig, the mother of Hugh Capet. As queen, Matilda was humble, holy, and very generous -- always ready to help the poor and the down-trodden.

Following her husband's death, Matilda made an unsuccessful attempt to secure the throne for her favorite son Henry, but his elder brother was elected and crowned in 936. Later, the two brothers joined in persecuting their mother, whom they accused of having impoverished the crown by her lavish almsgiving. To satisfy them, she renounced the possessions the deceased king had left her, and retired to her villa at Engern in Westphalia. Later, when she suffered financial difficulties, Matilda was called back to the palace, and both Otto and Henry asked for her forgiveness.

She built many churches and founded and supported numerous monasteries; she was known for her great charity. She died of natural causes in 968 and was buried in the monastery at Quedlinburg, Germany. Matilda was venerated as a saint immediately after her death.


death of children
disappointing children
falsely accused people
large families
people ridiculed for their piety
second marriages

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ordained as a Priest at 80

For nearly half a century, Gérard Lafrenière was devoted to his wife, and, by all accounts, fulfilled his vows to love, honour and cherish her. Yet, he had another love, too.

In 2009, two years after his wife of 49 years, Gisèle Viau, died, Lafrenière fulfilled the vocation that had been with him since childhood. He became a Catholic priest, with his wife's blessing. Read his story here.

Creative, fast paced pregnancy video is a hit on the web

March 13, 2012. ( Most couples document a pregnancy by taking pictures, but one young couple decided to take a more creative route. The nine month pregnancy is summarized in a quick two minute video. Through fast paced images, the couple keeps track of the woman's womb, up until the baby's birth.

“If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?”...

I found this over at Adrienne's Corner and thought I would revisit this again. It's been so long -- I don't even recall my initial answers.

Here are my five:
  • Jesus
  • Blessed Virgin Mary
  • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • St. Catherine of Siena
  • St. Joan of Arc
Only five? I can think of so many others. 

Just five more:
  • St. Therese of Lisieux
  • Pope John Paul II
  • St. Teresa of Avila
  • Pope Benedict XVI
  • Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Now that's more like it!

Whoever is reading this is tagged. Five or ten -- whichever you prefer. 

St. Roderick/Rodriguez of Cordoba, Martyr

The saint of the day for March 13 is St. Roderick.

St. Roderick, also known as Rodriguez, was a Christian in Moorish Spain in the 9th century. He had a Moslem brother and another with no religion. One day he tried to break up a fight between his brothers but they turned on him and seriously beat him. The Moslem brother, seeking further revenge, announced to authorities that Roderick had converted to Islam. When Roderick awoke, he was questioned about it, but he claimed his allegiance to Christ. The Moslem authorities took this to be apostasy, deciding Roderick was denying his new Moslem faith. He was imprisoned for several months, and then martyred in 857 by beheading.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Saint Seraphina of San Gimignano

Today's saint is a great inspiration for those who suffer from poverty and illness, especially young people. She is the patron of the disabled and those who are physically challenged.

Seraphina was born to a poor family in San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy in 1238. Her father died when she was very young and her widowed mother went to work, leaving her alone at home. She was an attractive girl with a cheerful, congenial nature and a deep empathy for others -- sharing half her food with those less fortunate than herself. She spent her time alone sewing, spinning, and praying.

At the age of ten, Seraphina suffered from diseases, which caused her to become paralyzed from the neck down and which disfigured her body. She became totally dependent on her mother and had to be carried around on a wooden plank, which is where she spent her days -- flat on her back. She suffered immensely and lost her good looks, developing sores on her face, arms, and legs. In spite of her sufferings, she remained peaceful and prayerful, offering up it all up to God. Whenever she had visitors, she was gentle, loving, and genuinely concerned about them.

When her mother died suddenly, Seraphina became destitute. A friend, Belidia, who had a withered hand, did her best to care for Seraphina, despite her own disability. When it became apparent that Seraphina did not have long to live, St. Gregory the Great appeared to her in a vision and told her that she would be joining him soon. Serphina died on his feast day at the age of 15. At the moment of her death, the bells of the church began ringing without anyone touching them.

Tradition tells us that when Belinda lifted up Seraphina from the board on which she had laid for so long, beneath her were white violets in bloom and the fragrance of the fresh flowers permeated the air. Miraculously, Belinda's withered hand was instantly healed!

~ © Jean M. Heimann 2010

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saint John Olgilvie

Today, the universal Church celebrates the life of Saint John Ogilvie, a former Calvinist who was martyred in Scotland during the Protestant Reformation.

St. John Ogilvie was born of a noble Scottish family in 1579 and was raised a Calvinist. John converted to Catholicism at the age of 17 at the Scots College in Louvain, Belgium. He attended several Catholic schools and soon discovered a call to join the Jesuits. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Bohemia in 1599 and was ordained in Paris in 1610, the year before the last two Jesuits working in Scotland were obliged to leave as persecution intensified. He returned to Scotland in 1614 with a fellow Jesuit and they made converts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

John was betrayed by a potential convert, imprisoned, interrogated, then tortured for the names of active Catholics. He gave no information. “Your threats cheer me; I mind them no more than the cackling of geese,” he told his captors. Asked if he feared to die Father John replied, “No more than you do to dine.”

After a long imprisonment in which he was repeatedly tortured, St. John was tried on the charges of treason and was convicted after three trials. He continued to refuse to name names. The saint was martyred in 1615 at the age of 36 after he was sentenced to death by hanging. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976.

For more information, see Saint John Ogilvie, Jesuit Saint by Father John Hardon, S.J.

Friday, March 09, 2012

St. Frances of Rome

Today is the optional memorial of St. Frances of Rome.

St. Frances of Rome is one of the great mystics of the 15th century. She was born in Rome to a noble family in 1384 and died in Rome on March 9, 1440. She desired to enter the convent, but in obedience to her parents was instead married at age twelve to a young nobleman named Lorenzo de' Ponziani. Frances was a good wife and homemaker, and the mother to three children.

As a lay person, she became an Oblate with the Benedictine Oblate Congregation of Tor di Speechi and led the life of a religious, without taking formal vows. She spent much of her time in prayer and in doing works. She was humble, detached, and advanced in a life of contemplation. She had the supernatural gift of visions, miracles, and ecstasy and saw the bodily image of her guardian angel. She had visions of heaven and hell and foresaw the Western schism. She also possessed the gift of reading consciences.

Frances was known for her great works of charity to the poor and her zeal for souls. Frances cared for victims of epidemics and wars (both of which were frequent events in fifteenth-century Italy). In 1409 Lorenzo was forced into exile because of a civil war; he returned five years later as a broken man, and Frances also cared for him, in addition to her other activities. A severe plague struck Rome, claiming two of the couple's three children; Frances sold all her possessions to raise funds so as to care for the sick, and then she and her sister-in-law went door to door begging for additional money. Frances accepted these losses as the will of God and blessed His holy name.

When her husband Lorenzo died in 1436, following forty years of married life, Frances founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, and spent the remainder of her life with her community. She died in 1440 at age 56. She was canonized on May 29, 1608 by Pope Paul V.

Quote: "A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find Him in her household care."

Patron: automobile drivers, cab or taxi drivers, death of children, lay people, motorists, people ridiculed for their piety, Roman housewives, widows.


Dear Frances, you were an exemplary wife, ever faithful to your husband. After his death, you founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, revealing your great devotion to our Lord's Passion. Your faith in angels was rewarded by frequent visions of them. Please pray for Catholics in our day that they may be as dedicated to God as you were. Amen.
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Thursday, March 08, 2012

It's a Girl! Documentary Film -- Official Trailer

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called "gendercide".

St. John of God, servant of the poor and sick

St. John of God was born on March 8, 1495 in a small village in the south of Portugal called Montemor-o-Novo. At the age of eight, he left home and was raised by a Spanish family in Oropesa. John spent most of his life as a wanderer, working as a shepherd, soldier, a religious bookseller and laborer, traveling in Europe and North Africa.

When St. John of God settled in Granada around the age of forty he was so deeply moved by a homily of Blessed John of Avila, that he gave away all his worldly possessions to the poor and went about the city beating his breast, begging for God’s mercy. His conversion experience was so dramatic in its intensity that he was locked up in a lunatic asylum, where he was flogged and placed in solitary confinement.

His brief experience of this kind of treatment made him feel very compassionate toward the poor, the sick and the suffering; thus, he devoted the rest of his life to caring for those in need.John's work was motivated by his great love of God and Our Blessed Mother. "Whatsoever you do to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to Me." This was the yardstick John used to measure his service to others. John was a warm, loving person who created a warm, caring environment in his hospital.

People were impressed by John's sincerity, his deep love for others, and his service to them. He was able, therefore, to tap their generosity and involve them in his work. They donated food and money and many volunteered to help him with his work. They called him John of God. Because he believed that everyone was equal in the sight of God, John moved effortlessly across the social classes. He was as much at ease in the presence of royalty as he was with the sick and poor in his hospital. He created a family of St. John of God, which consisted of the nobility, the middle-class, the poor, his volunteers and his paid staff, all with the sole purpose of serving God by serving those in need.

St. John is the founder of the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitaliers of St. John of God. He is the patron of: booksellers, printers, publishers; heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, the dying, alcoholics (because a Dublin hospital for alcoholics was named after him.); Tultepec Mexico and firefighters.

His symbols include a Crown of thorns (brought to him by the Blessed Mother), an alms box, a crucifix, a rosary, holding a pomegranate.

Favorite Quotes -- St. John of God

If we look forward to receiving God's mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive according to his promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin.

So many poor people come here that I very often wonder how we can care for them all, but Jesus Christ provides all things and nourishes everyone. Many of them come to the house of God, because the city of Granada is large and very cold, especially now in winter. More than a hundred and ten are now living here, sick and healthy, servants and pilgrims. Since this house is open to everyone, it receives the sick of every type and condition: the crippled, the disabled, lepers, mutes, the insane, paralytics, those suffering from scurvy and those bearing the afflictions of old age, many children, and above all countless pilgrims and travelers, who come here, and for whom we furnish the fire, water, and salt, as well as the utensils to cook their food. And for all of this no payment is requested, yet Christ provides.

I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, who knows my heart. And so I say, "Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ."

HHS Mandate Threatens Little Sisters of the Poor elder care

Here's  another story just in that stirs my ire toward the HHS mandate -- forcing Roman Catholic nuns who serve the poor and the elderly to do the unconscionable  --  subsidize sterilization, contraception, and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. Unbelievable! This is a total violation of  conscience rights and religious freedoms. Are we living in the United States of America, where we are guaranteed freedom of religion under the first amendment, or are we living under some kind of bizarre dictatorship? Let's pray, fast, and be politically pro-active to put an end to this nonsense. This is Lent and the time to act is now.

Via CNA: 

The Little Sisters of the Poor say the HHS contraception and sterilization mandate threatens their continued ministry to the impoverished elderly. They are “strongly objecting” to the federal rule and say it should be repealed as soon as possible.

“Because the Little Sisters of the Poor cannot in conscience directly provide or collaborate in the provision of services that conflict with Church teaching, we find ourselves in the irreconcilable situation of being forced to either stop serving and employing people of all faiths in our ministry – so that we will fall under the narrow exemption – or to stop providing health care coverage to our employees,” the order said on March 1.

“Either path threatens to end our service to the elderly in America. The Little Sisters are fervently praying that this issue will be resolved before we are forced to take concrete action in response to this unjust mandate.”

Their order serves 13,000 needy elderly of all faiths in 31 countries around the world. In the U.S., it has 30 homes for the elderly, accommodating 2,500 low-income seniors.

Read the entire story.

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Three Favorite Religious Books

Esther, my dear friend at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, has a meme up on her three favorite religious books. I wasn't tagged for this, but decided I want to do it, as I wait on my final exam. It's something quick and fun and it's been ages since I have taken part in a meme. Here are my three favorites, apart from the Bible, of course, which is my favorite book and not in the same category as these:

1.  Lives of the Saints
Nihil Obstat: John M.A. Fearns, S.T.D., Censor Liborum
Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman Archbishop of New York
New York: John J. Crawley (1954)

2.  The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

3.  Those Who Saw Her:  Apparitions of Mary --by Catherine M. Odell

There are many others I enjoy, but these three have a special place in my heart. My favorite authors are: Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, St. Francis de Sales, Pope John Paul II, and of course, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe. I had better stop there, as there are many more I enjoy.

The Five Bloggers I will tag are:

1.  Therese at Aussie Coffee Shop
2.  Ellen at Plot, Line, and Sinker.
3.  Sarah at Snoring Scholar.
4.  Jackie at Heart Speaks Unto Heart.
5.  Sr. Lisa at nunspeak.

Also, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Superficial Preaching

This does not seem to be a problem in the Wichita diocese, but it certainly is in other areas of our country. This a great video and well worth watching.

International Womens' Day 2012

March 7, 2012. ( March 8th marks International Women's Day. It's a time to recognize the contributions women make to society and also a time to see what improvements are needed.

So, precisely to highlight the issue, the Holy See addressed the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York. There, a Vatican delegation talked about the rights of women who live in rural areas...rights that unfortunately are often ignored.

During the speech, the delegation said these women often work long hours, which usually go unpaid. They have poor nutrition, lack access to water, healthcare and are exposed to violence, even when pregnant.

The Vatican's message was echoed by Chile's former president Michelle Bachelet, who now serves as the executive director of UN Women.

Michelle Bachelet
UN Women, Executive Director
“They are farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders and their contributions sustain the families, communities, nations and all of us. Yet, they face some of the worst inequities in access to social services and land and other productive assets.”

Even though the challenges may seem overwhelming the Vatican delegation says they must be addressed. Worldwide, one in every four people are women or girls who live in rural areas. The Holy See said these challenges give rise to opportunities, where women's dignity and potential can be fully respected.

During the month of March, the Pope's prayer intention are for women, so that their contributions to society are recognized worldwide.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, Women of Faith and Courage

Today's saints are Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. Perpetua was a convert to Christianity who was born to a noble pagan family. She was martyred along with her maid and friend, Felicity in Carthage in 203 A.D.

The two women were arrested and imprisoned, along with three other Christians. Perpetua was 22 years old, with a son a few months old; Felicity was pregnant at the time of the arrest. Their only crime was defying Emperor Septimus Severus' prohibition of conversions to Christianity.

The account of their martyrdom and courage, The Suffering of Perpetua and Felicity is one of the earliest historical accounts of Christianity. It is one of the great treasures of martyr literature, an authentic document preserved for us in the actual words of the martyrs and their friends. Perpetua wrote a vivid account of what happened.

"While I was still with my companions, and my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and so weaken my faith, 'Father,' said I, 'do you see this vessel—water pot or whatever it may be? . . . Can it be called by any other name than what it is?" No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am—a Christian.' Then my father, provoked by the word 'Christian,' threw himself on me as if he would pluck out my eyes, but he only shook me, and in fact was vanquished.... Then I thanked God for the relief of being, for a few days, parted from my father . . . and during those few days we were baptized. The Holy Spirit bade me after the holy rite to pray for nothing but bodily endurance.”

While she was imprisoned, Felicity gave birth to a girl, who was taken and raised by one of her sisters. Perpetua wrote regarding her, "She rejoiced in the health of the child, for now she was free to be martyred: from blood to blood, that is, from motherhood to single combat, for after the birth she would be washed by a second baptism, that is to say, in her own blood.

"The prisoners turned their last meal into an agape, a love feast, and spoke of the joy of their own sufferings thereby astonishing most witnesses, and converting some.

On the day of Games, Perpetua and Felicity went to the amphitheater "joyfully as though they were on their way to heaven," as Perpetua sang a psalm of triumph. When the guards attempted to force the captives to wear robes consecrated to Roman gods, Perpetua challenged them: "We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn't lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn't have to worship your gods.

"The three male martyrs threatened the crowd, including the procurator who had condemned them, with the judgment of God, thereby enraging the crowd.

The men were attacked and killed by bears, leopards, and wild boars. A wild heifer was sent against the women. The heifer tossed Perpetua, who got up, straightened her hair, and helped Felicity regain her feet. Absorbed in ecstasy, Perpetua was unaware that she had been thrown, and did not believe it until Felicity showed her the marks on her body. Having survived the animals, the women were to be executed. They exchanged a final kiss of peace. A nervous gladiator tried to kill Perpetua, but failed to finish the job until she guided the knife to her throat.


Perpetua — Cattle, death of children, martyrs. Felicity — Death of children; martyrs; sterility; to have male children; widows.


Saints Perpetua and Felicity, watch over all mothers and children who are separated from each other. Help all of us to follow your example of faith and courage. Amen.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Note of Thanks to My Readers

Thank you to all those who are voting for Catholic Fire daily HERE  for Best Catholic Blog and thank you to all those who are voting daily for Jean M. Heimann (@CatholicFire) for Best Catholic to Follow on Twitter  HERE. 

I apologize for the light blogging lately. I have been ill for about three weeks now and have just finished a fourteen page research paper. Now, once I have finished my final exam, I will have maybe one day off to rest (I hope) before the next class begins. I am still weak, but am feeling like I have joined "the land of the living" once again.

Thanks so much for your prayers!

God bless you, friends! :)