Showing posts from May, 2015

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat: Courageous Visionary for Women

Today, May 29, we honor St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. She was born in Joigny, France on December 12, 1779, the third child of a Burgundy vine-grower and barrel-maker.

As a young child, Madeleine Sophie showed exuberance, optimism, good judgment and common sense as well as a strong dedication to God. Louis, her older brother and a priest, was responsible for her early education. At an early age, Madeleine became skilled in Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian. He also instructed her in the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, and theology. 

Through her brother, she met Father Varin who desired to found a female counterpart of the Jesuits which should do for girls' education what they did for boys' education.

On November 21st, 1800, Madeleine with three companions dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart and so the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was begun. From the first house at Amiens it was to spread in the lifetime of its foundress all over Europe and to Africa …

St. Joan of Arc: Woman of Courage, Patron of Soldiers

The saint of the day for May 30th is the courageous warrior Saint Joan of Arc, French national heroine, who was born in Domremy, France, 1412 and died in Rouen, France, 1431.

At the age of 13, Joan began to hear the voices of Saints Michael the Archangel, Margaret of Antioch, and Catherine of Alexandria, telling her that she had been chosen to free her country from the English. Joan’s visions told her to find the true king of France and help him reclaim his throne. She resisted for more than three years, but finally went to Charles VII in Chinon and told him of her visions.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, she was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans on May 8, 1429. Carrying a banner that read “Jesus, Mary”, she led the troops into battle.

She followed the famous campaign of the Loire during which the English were decisively beaten, and Charles was crowned at Rheims, on July 17, 1429. When she was captured by the Burgundians during th…

St. Bernard of Montjoux, model of charity and compassion

Today, May 28, is the feast of St. Bernard of Montjoux, patron saint of mountain climbers and skiers.

We know nothing of his early life, other than the fact that he was most likely born of nobility in Italy or France. Tradition tells us that he avoided an arranged marriage in order to devote his life to God.

Saint Bernard entered the Benedictine Order, at the monastery in Aosta, Italy, and was ordained a priest. He served as Vicar General of Aosta, and spent more than four decades performing missionary work in the Alps. He was deeply devoted to the Lord and tirelessly preached the gospel to travelers, offering them comfort and hospitality, and in doing so, converted many.

He is probably most famous for the hospices he built on the summits of passes over the Alps. Many pilgrims from France and Germany would travel over the Alps on their way to Rome, but it was always a possibility that one would die from freezing along the way. In the 9th century a system of hospices had been attempte…

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Apostle of England

St. Augustine preaching before King Ethelbert
On May 27th, we honor St. Augustine of Canterbury, an Italian Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 598. He is not be confused with the earlier St. Augustine of Hippo, the famous author of the Confessions and City of God. St. Augustine of Canterbury (sometimes referred to as “Saint Augustine the Lesser”)  founded the famous See of Canterbury and preached the Catholic faith to the country's Anglo-Saxon pagans during the late sixth and early seventh centuries.

The Catholic faith had already been accepted among England's original Celtic inhabitants, in earlier times; but from the mid-fifth century on, the country was controlled by Anglo-Saxon invaders who did not accept Christianity, and were not converted by the small number of isolated Celtic Christians. Thus, England largely had to be evangelized anew.

Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him to lead a…

St. Philip Neri, Patron Saint of Joy

May 26 is the feast of St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy. He was born in Florence, Italy on July 22, 1515, one of four children of the notary Francesco Neri. His mother died when he was very young, but a very capable and competent stepmother filled her place. Although they were related to Italian nobility, the family was quite poor. Philip was a cheerful and friendly boy, who was well-liked by all who knew him.

At eighteen, Philip was sent to the town of San Germano, where he lived with a childless relative who had a business there to train as an apprentice and heir. Philip had a strong aptitude for business. Soon after his arrival, Philip began speaking of his conversion, which dramatically changed his life. He left his relative’s home and set out for Rome, as he had a vision that he had a mission to fulfill there. He left without money or a specific plan, trusting in God’s providence.

In Rome, he found shelter in the home of Galeotto Caccia who offered him an attic and a few bas…

Memorial Day: Thanking God for our Military Heroes

What can I say to express my gratitude to our military heroes? Is a simple "thank you" really enough for those who have given their lives to preserve our freedoms? If for just one day, let us honor them and pray for them and for those they have left behind. Let us thank those who have served for all they have done.

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Remember, Lord, the fallen

Who died in fields of war,

In flaming clouds,

in screaming crowds,

On streets that are no more,

That we today might waken

And greet this day in peace

With grateful prayer for those who bear

The storms that never cease.

Remember friends and strangers,

And those forgotten now,

Whose names are known to you alone,

Before whose love we bow

And ask that you surround them

With mercy’s endless light

That they may live,

and we forgive

The foe they went to fight.

Remember, Lord, the living,

Who bear the pain of loss-

A death she died who stood beside

Her Son upon the cross.

Remember all your children

The dead and those wh…

Pentecost: The Birthday of the Catholic Church


Today is a special anniversary for me.

Memories of Maureen, my Sister

Losing a sister is like losing an arm or leg. Both are irreplaceable. My sister, Maureen, took her last breath and passed on peacefully to eternal life, surrounded by family in her home, on Saturday, May 16, 2015, due to complications of an aggressive cancer, multiple myeloma.

She was my youngest sister, the baby of the family, and someone I felt I needed to nurture and protect. However, she was a feisty and independent lady with a bit of rebelliousness in her blood. I remember when my mom, worked the night shift in a nursing home, she asked that we play quietly in our rooms while she slept during the day. Maureen often had difficulty playing quietly. It seemed that her play time frequently required noise. I don’t remember her doing anything quietly. Her music, singing, dancing, talking, arguing, and playing were all loud. She may have been the youngest, but she was bound and determined to get attention one way or another. During mom’s sleeping hours, I usually quietly read books or …

Saint Rita of Cascia: patron of impossible causes

The saint of the day for May 22 is Saint Rita of Cascia, religious, patron of impossible, desperate causes and situations. She is also the patron saint of abuse victims, difficult marriages, infertility, parenthood, sterility, and widows.

St. Rita was born at Rocca Porena, Italy, in 1386 to Antonio and Amata Lotti, who were quite advanced in years. Rita’s birth was an answer to their prayers. The family was well-known for their charity, which merited them the surname of "Peacemakers of Jesus Christ."

Rita brought much joy to her parents. She was a cheerful, amiable, pious and devout child who spent much of her time in prayer. At the age of twelve, she desired to consecrate herself to God in the religious state. Pious though her parents were, they refused her pleas, but instead gave her away in marriage, at the age of eighteen, to an ill-tempered young man who was the town watchman. The couple had two sons, who inherited their father's temperament. After 18 years of marr…

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions, Mexican Martyrs

Today we honor St. Christopher Magallanes, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs.

Christopher and his twenty-four companion martyrs were members of the Cristero movement, a response to  anti-Catholic government in Mexico in the 1920s.  The government was determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Under the Cristero movement, members pledged their allegiance to Christ and to the church that he established to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico's leaders had made it a crime to receive baptism or celebrate the Mass.

Christopher's last words were: "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico".

These martyrs were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

A major motion picture depicts the story of these martyrs. It is entitled…

St. Bernardine of Siena: "Apostle of Italy"

May 20 is the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena, a Franciscan priest and missionary, who popularized the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He is known as “the Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the country's Catholic faith during the 15th century.

Born in 1380 in Tuscany, Bernardine’s parents died when he was seven years old. He was raised by a pious aunt as her own child.

As a youth, he loved the Blessed Virgin Mary and spoke to her as a child speaks to his mother. She kept him chaste and virtuous. He had a special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and later wrote that the Immaculate Heart of Mary was "a fiery furnace of Holy Love."

While still a student at the University of Siena, he took charge of the hospital there when an epidemic killed most of the staff. Afterwards, he cared for a bedridden aunt until her death. He then prayed and fasted to discern God's will for his vocation in life.

At the age of 22, Bernardine entered the Franciscan Order …

St. Celestine V: The Holy Hermit who served as Pope for Five Months

The saint of the day for May 19 is Saint Celestine V, Pope, a holy hermit and the founder of the Celestine Order. He is also known as Peter Celestine, Peter Morrone, and Pietro del Morrone.

Born in Isernia, Italy, in 1215, Peter was the eleventh of twelve children of humble, pious parents. His father died when he was very young. When his mother would ask, "Which one of you is going to become a saint?" little Peter would answer "Me, Mama! I'll become a saint!".

He became a Benedictine at the age of 17 and at the age of 20, he became a hermit and spent his days praying and reading the Holy Bible. He left his hermitage to study for the priesthood and was ordained in Rome. He then became a Benedictine monk and founded the Celestine order in 1274.

After the death of Nicholas IV, a conclave which lasted more than two years elected him pope on July 5, 1294. He became known as Celestine V. On December 13, 1294, feeling overwhelmed by the position and his limited abili…

Pope Francis canonizes four new women saints

Banners showing Blesseds Marie-Alphonsine, Jeanne Emilie De Villeneuve, Maria Cristina Brando and Mary of Jesus Crucified hang from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis canonized four 19th century women religious – 2 from Palestine, and one each from Italy and France – during a festive mass in St Peter’s Square on May 17, attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and official State delegations from Jordan, Israel, Italy and France.

Read more.

St. John I, Pope and Martyr

Today, May 18, we commemorate the feast of Pope St. John I. He was a martyr for the faith, imprisoned and starved to death by a heretical Germanic king during the sixth century.

Pope St. John was born a Tuscan, the son of Constantius. He was an archdeacon for several years before being elected Pope on the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. He was a colleague and confidant of the philosopher Boethius.

In 525, Pope John was sent to Constantinople by King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths to reverse the edict of the Emperor Justin against the Arians two years earlier, which required Arians to give back churches which they had taken from orthodox Catholics. Throdoric was himself an Arian and a strong defender of Arianism (a heresy which arose in the 4th century that denied the divinity of Christ).
Although Theodoric desired a reversal of Justin’s policy, Pope John did not comply with his wishes, refusing to support heresy, and only counseled the Emperor Justin to be calmer in his fanatical de…

Novena to Our Lady, Help of Christians, begins today

The novena to Our Lady Help of Christians begins today and ends on her feast day, May 24.

Hail, Star of the sea, Blessed Mother of God, ever fruitful Virgin, happy gate of heaven.

PRAYER: O Virgin Most Holy, powerful help of Christians, I confidently appeal to the throne of your mercy. Hear the prayers of this poor sinner that begs your help, so I may always flee from sin and from the occasions of sin. Behold the first grace that I ask from this novena. Amen
Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory Be…
Hail Holy Queen…
Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for us.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Apoc. 12: 1)
“And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Apoc. 12: 17)
Two distinguishing signs of the authentic faithful: Jesus and Mary, salva…

Pentecost Novena for The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Novena begins on the day after the Solemnity of the Ascension, Friday of the 6th Week of Easter, even if the Solemnity of the Ascension is transferred to the 7th Sunday.

To be recited daily during the Novena

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Woun…

7 Quick Takes

1.  May is Mary's month and here are just a few flowers that I love to cultivate to celebrate her special feast days in May.


Rose -- This one is climbing.

2.  This past week we celebrated one of my favorite feasts -- that of Our Lady of Fatima, which you can read about in my piece, The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the Three Prophetic Secrets.

3.  This week we also celebrated the feast of a humble and charitable Franciscan Capuchin friar, who had a deep devotion to Mother Mary, St. Ignatius of Laconi.
4. It has been "monsoon" season here, but earlier this week we had a break in the rain and were able to pick the first "fruits" of our labor -- radishes. Praise God! There is nothing as tasty as fresh veggies from the garden.

5. Even our cat was happy to get out of the house and enjoy a sunshiny day on her private balcony. Doesn't she look content? 

6.  If you are a catfish lover, and are looking for a tasty baked recipe, here is a new one I tested …

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Today is Ascension Thursday, forty days after Easter when we celebrate Our Lord's Ascension. Today is a Solemnity and a Holy Day of Obligation in some parts of the world. The ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and the State of Nebraska have retained its celebration on the proper Thursday, while all other provinces have transferred this solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 20.

The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the Three Prophetic Secrets

May 13th is the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917.  She appeared six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917.

The story of Fatima begins in 1916, when, against the milieu of the First World War, which had introduced Europe to the most horrific and powerful forms of combat ever seen, and a year before the Communist revolution would plunge Russia and later Eastern Europe into six decades of oppression under militant atheistic governments, a resplendent figure appeared to the three children who were in the field tending the family sheep. “I am the Angel of Peace,” said the dazzling figure, who appeared to them two more times that year urging them to accept the sufferings that the Lord allowed them to undergo as an act of reparation for sins and to pray constantly for the conversion of sinners.

Then, on the 13th day of the mon…