Showing posts from February, 2016

Bishop Barron on Nature and Grace


Novena to Saint Dominic Savio

Today we begin the novena to St. Dominic Savio, whose feast day is on March 9. He is the patron saint of boys, children’s choirs, falsely accused people, and juvenile delinquents.

Dominic, one of 10 children of a blacksmith and a seamstress, was born in 1842 in Riva di Chieri, Italy. He became an altar server at age five, and began preparing for the priesthood as a  twelve year old under the direction of Father John Bosco (the future St. John Bosco), for his new Salesian order of priests.

In 1857, fifteen-year-old Dominic contracted tuberculosis and was sent home to recover. He died shortly after his return.

On his deathbed, Dominic prayed, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony!” A change came over him and he sat up to say his final words: “What beautiful things I see!”

Novena Prayer

Dear Saint Dominic Savio, you grew under the supervision and care of St. John Bosco. Witnessing the zeal of your mentor you shared his desire to bring the Lord a great many souls. Despite yo…

St. Isabelle of France, Princess: Woman of Charity and Humility

Today, February 26, the Church honors Saint Isabelle of France, (1225-1270, also known as Isabel and Isabella), the daughter of King Louis VIII of France and sister to the illustrious king of France, St. Louis IX.

Isabelle was gifted in many ways: she was beautiful, intelligent, and virtuous. She was well-known for her charity to others. Daily, she invited poor people to her dinner table, waiting on them herself. She spent her evenings visiting the poor and the sick.

As a child, she requested spiritual direction and became even more devoted to the Lord, under the guidance of the Franciscans. She sought holiness above all else and refused to marry, but consecrated her virginity and her entire life to God alone.

In 1252, Isabelle founded a cloister for Franciscan nuns, which she built just four miles from Paris, at Longchamp. She had a great love for the virtue of humility and named the Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The rules, which were written by St. Bonaventu…

St. Walburga: Missionary, Benedictine Nun, and First Woman Author in England and Germany

Today is the feast of St. Walburga (710-777)  missionary, Benedictine nun, author, and abbess of Hiedenheim. She had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. She wrote a biography of Winibald and an account in Latin of St. Willibald's travels in Palestine and is thus, considered to the first woman author in both England and Germany.

St. Walburga was born in Wessex, England, about 710, the daughter of St. Richard and Winna, the sister of St. Boniface. When St. Richard set out for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his sons, he entrusted 11-year-old Walburga to to the abbess of Wimborne. She was educated by the nuns at the monastery school at Wimborne, and became a nun there, remaining with the community for twenty-six years.

When St. Boniface requested nuns to help him in the evangelization of pagan Germany, St. Walburga responded to that call. On the way to Germany, there was a terrible storm at sea. Walburga knelt on the deck of the ship and prayed. The sea immediately beca…

Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco, the "Don Bosco of Southern Italy"

Today the Church honors Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco, who was beatified in 2001 as a model of holiness for priests. He was dedicated to his priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and missions, teaching catechism to youth and organizing prayer evenings for young people and adults at the parish. Pope John Paul II referred to him as the "Don Bosco of Southern Italy" due to his heroic charity and concern for the plight of poor orphaned children. He had a deep devotion to the crucified Christ throughout his life and worked to build the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus among the faithful.

He was born December 1, 1831, in Pagani, Italy, the seventh of eight children. Orphaned by the age of 10, his uncle, a priest and a teacher, who took charge of his education.

Since 1839, the year of the canonization of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas Mary had dreamed of the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1847 and was ordained in 1855. In 1862 he opened a school of moral t…

Saint Katharine Drexel Novena

The novena to St. Katherine Drexel begins today and lasts for nine consecutive days. Mother Katharine Drexel was a Philadelphia native, who at the age of thirty, used her $20 million inheritance to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. The interest from her family's fortune was also used to found numerous schools for Native and African Americans including Xavier University in New Orleans. Her father, Francis Drexel, was a banking magnate and business partner of J.P. Morgan, and her uncle, Anthony Drexel, founded Drexel University. The heiress died at age 97 in 1955. She is the patron saint of racial justice and philanthropists. Her feast day is March 4.


Ever loving God, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Black and Native American peoples.

By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed.  Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of Yo…

St. Polycarp: Man of Piety and Fortitude

The saint of the day for February 23rd is St. Polycarp (69 A.D. - 155 A.D.), a disciple of the apostles, bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch. He is one of the earliest Christians whose writings still survive. St. Polycarp is the patron saint against ear aches and dysentery.

St. Polycarp was one of the immediate disciples of the Apostles, in particular St. John the Evangelist. He embraced Christianity very young and was named bishop of Smyrna, a post which he held for 70 years. He was greatly respected by the faithful, wrote many letters and formed many holy disciples. His epistle to the Philippians - the only one to be preserved - demonstrates his apostolic spirit, his profound humility and meekness, and his great charity.

St. Polycarp fought against heresy. He was a staunch defender of orthodoxy and an energetic opponent of heresy, especially Marcionism and Valentinianism (the most influential of the Gnostic sects). He also taught that Christians must walk in tr…

Bishop Barron on Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Bishop Barron comments on Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and how she served as a model of  love and prayer. He also discusses her struggle with darkness.

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle

February 22 is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle.  The Church has celebrated this occasion since at least the mid-4th century. It is a commemoration of St. Peter, the first pope, and his primacy over the Church as well as an acknowledgment of the primacy of the pope today.

St. Peter

St. Peter is consistently shown in the Scriptures to be the head or Vicar of Christ's Church on earth after Christ's Ascension. Peter's primacy over the rest of the apostles is clearly delineated. Peter presided over the election of Matthias as an apostle replacing Judas the traitor. After the Holy Spirit came among the apostles on Pentecost, it was Peter who first went forth to preach to the crowd that day. And it was he who worked the first miracle.

In fact, so great was his power that merely his shadow falling upon the sick as he passed by healed their maladies. It was Peter also who excoriated Simon Magus for trying to buy the apostles' power. On another occasion when Anan…

7QT: Romance, Lent, Music, and More

1. Valentine's Day -- Here are the cards we shared with one another. Bill's is on the left and mine is on the right.

2. We decided rather than go out to eat in.  Here is what I prepared for our Valentine's Day meal: shrimp cocktail,  keta salmon with a tasty rub, asparagus, and baked potatoes. It is so easy to prepare and super healthy as well as delicious.

3.  Here is my Valentine's Day gift from Bill -- a diffuser which is so relaxing at bedtime. I combine lavender essential oils with absolute rose and it produces a heavenly scent!

4. What have you been reading this Lent? Here is what has been on my night stand: The Autobiography of Dina Belanger (a French-Canadian Blessed), The Lenten Magnificat, Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion, and The Word Among Us -- Lent 2016. I am really enjoying reading about Blessed Dina, but am taking my time reading this volume, as there is much to savor here.

5. Lenten music -- For Lent, I tend to listen to Gregorian chants; however, I rece…

Blessed Fra Angelico: Patron of Artists

February 18 the Church honors Blessed Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar and an Italian Renaissance  painter. He is the patron of artists. I feel blessed to have viewed his original works of art on display in Florence when I traveled there on pilgrimage in 2006. This is a special feast day for me and my religious community.

Bl. John of Fiesole, popularly known as Bl. Fra Angelico, was a Dominican painter in the mid-fifteenth century known for the beauty of his paintings and the holiness of his priestly life. Nicknamed “Angelico” by his brothers, his Dominican consecration and life are worthy of imitation as he preached Jesus Christ by his life, his words, and his paintings.

Given the name Guido at Baptism, this saint was born near Vicchio, in the vicinity of Florence, at the end of the 14th century. From his youth he practiced the art of painting. Having entered the Dominican convent in Fiesole, he was given the name Brother Giovanni (Brother John). After ordination he held various resp…

Bishop Barron on “All The Light We Cannot See”

Bishop Robert Barron comments on the New York Times Bestseller, All The Light We Cannot See.

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

February 17 is the memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites.

These seven men were born into noble families in 13th century Florence, which was torn by political strife and filled with heresy. The city was decadent and religion was nearly non-existent. Drawn together by friendship and devotion to the Blessed Virgin, they dedicated themselves to common prayer and works of charity. On the feast of the Assumption, as they were absorbed in prayer, they saw Our Lady in a vision, and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into a solitary place and to live for God alone. Thus, they left their homes and businesses and formed a community outside the city walls, where they lived as hermits. Twenty-three days after they had received their call, they moved to a house called La Carmarzia. Because they received so many visitors from Florence, they decided to withdraw to the wild and deserted slopes of Monte Senario, where they built a simple church and hermitage.

On Fri…

Pope prays before Our Lady of Guadalupe

Image Source: Vatican Radio
(Rome Reports) The Pope managed to spend a few moments in prayer, alone with the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Pope Francis first placed some flowers before Her, just as he always does in Rome, before the 'Salus Populi Romani' icon. The Pope was there for over 20 minutes of prayer.

The pilgrims were able to catch a glimpse of him through the window, once St. Juan Diego's tilma was turned.

The Pope was able to fulfill his desire to pray as a child before the Empress of the Americas.

Related: Complete text of the Pope's Homily in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

St. Claude de la Colombiere: Apostle of Love and Mercy

The saint of the day for February 15 is St. Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682), a Jesuit missionary, (1641-1682), a Jesuit missionary, who was the brilliant and pious spiritual director of St. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Claude de la Colombiere is best known for his association with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the devotion of the Sacred Heart, but his life has its own drama. He was sent to England after his spiritual direction of St. Margaret Mary was over and became entangled in the Titus Oates "Popish Plot,” was imprisoned, then exiled from England. His story is part of the history of the seventeenth century.

He was born near Lyons, France in 1641 to a very devout family and at the age of 17 entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon, where he made his vows and completed his studies in philosophy. Following his novitiate, he taught grammar and literature in Avignon. At the age of 23, he attended the College of Clermont in Paris for his studies in theology. After completing …

7 QT: Catholic Films for Lent 2016

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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 seven films I recommend watching this Lent:

1. Risen (2016) It opens in theaters on February 19, 2016. While I have yet to see this film, the reviews are wonderful! Catholic World Report reviews it as does Our Sunday Visitor and Lisa Hendey gives her endorsement. 

2. Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine (2012) Filmed in Europe, the first full-length feature movie on Augustine uses a historic backdrop to tell the true story of one of the Church's most beloved and well-known Saints. Its message of sin, conversion, redemption is as timely today as it was in the 5th century of Augustine. It is the story of a gifted man who pursues fame and fortune without a moral compass - and the dramatic changes that occur in his soul when challenging events lead him to see the light of truth. It also chronicles the collapse of t…

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

The feast of Our Lady of  Lourdes, which we celebrate today, February 11 has always had a special place in my heart -- not only because of my French family background and living in a small French village (located in the heart of the USA), but because as a child, I related on a personal level to Bernadette. Like her, I was initially a slow learner in school. My health was poor and I was a little behind my peers in the primary grades because I missed so much school and also because I was nearsighted and needed glasses. (However, it didn't take me long to catch up and even excel in my studies after I got my glasses.) Everyday after school, I visited Bernadette and Our Lady at the Lourdes shrine behind our church and prayed there, often imagining what it would be like to have been St. Bernadette. To this very day, I continue to be fascinated by the simple obedience, humility, and holiness of this great saint.

February 11 marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 t…

Ash Wednesday: Beginning the Journey of Repentance

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

(Joel 2: 12-13)

It's that time of year again -- the time of both internal and external recollection that we are setting out on a journey. On Ash Wednesday, the ashes placed on our forehead invite us to begin a new journey of repentance. They invite us to turn back to God and to receive new life. Once again, we are called to let God penetrate deeper into our lives, for indeed, turning back to Him with our whole hearts is a submission to His holy will.

Lent is a time when we permit God to purify our hearts allow Him to unite our wills with His. Lent is a time of interior spring cleaning and obtaining new strength and great graces from God. This is the time of year to take a good look inside of ourselves and take invent…

Best Lenten Reads for 2016 + Giveaway

With Lent beginning tomorrow, February 9, on Ash Wednesday, it's time to take a look at some inspiring reading material to help us grow in holiness. Here are some suggestions:

1.The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

This book is ideal for Lent as it teaches us about suffering, God’s grace, and living a holy life. It also touches on God’s great love and mercy in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In this candid, astonishing autobiographical account, this soft-spoken, delicate, and devout Catholic media celebrity reveals the shocking struggles she has tackled in life. She became engaged to a drug addict who held her against her will, threatening harm to her family. She faced miscarriages, abuse, serious illness, divorce, financial difficulties, custody battles, and single motherhood – all with great inner strength and tremendous courage. Through God’s providence, she met Mother Teresa, the spiritu…

St. Josephine Bakhita: From Slave to Saint

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Today is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian Sister who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sudan.

Bakhita was born in Eastern Sudan around 1869 and was captured by slave traders, who named her Bakhita, which means "the lucky or fortunate one."

Bakhita came from a happy, loving tribal family, which consisted of her parents, three brothers, and four sisters. In comparison to other African tribal families, her family was well to do, as her uncle was the village chief and her father owned cattle and large plantations. When Bakhita was about nine years old, slave traders captured her.

During the course of her life, she was sold five times. She was subjected to many cruel tortures, some of which included whip lashing, which tore off her flesh, and being tattooed multiple times on her body via incisions with a razor and having salt rubbed into her womb. Despite the cruel treatments, she had no resentment or bitterness in her heart, but prayed for those …

St. Agatha: Patroness of those with Breast Cancer

The saint of the day for February 5 is St. Agatha, the patroness of those who suffer from breast cancer.

Agatha was born in Sicily, the daughter of rich and pious parents. At a young age, she consecrated herself to God. She grew to be a virtuous Christian woman, known for her remarkable beauty, but resisted the advances of men. The Roman Senator Quintianus, who governed Sicily, had heard of her great beauty and wealth, and planned on seducing her. Consequently, he made laws against the Christians in order to trick her into coming to him.

When she was apprehended, Agatha prayed: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength. Quintianus made advances toward her, and when she refused them, he ordered her to be put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a woman who ran a brothel. Agatha refused to be influenced by the seductiveness …

St. Joan of Valois, patron of those in difficult circumstances

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On February 4, the Church commemorates St. Joan of Valois (also known as Jane, Jeanne, Joanna of France). The second daughter of Louis X1, King of France, and Charlotte of Savoy, she was born on April 23, 1464. Joan's father hated her from birth, partly because of her sex and partly because she was sickly and deformed.  Joan had a hump on her back and walked with a limp, suggesting that she had curvature of the spine.

 At the age of five, she was sent away to be brought up by guardians in a lonely country home, deprived of common comforts and sometimes even necessities. The neglected child offered her whole heart to God, and yearned to do some special service in honor of His blessed Mother. She developed a deep devotion to Our Lady, praying the Angelus daily.

At the age of two months Joan was betrothed to Louis, Duke of Orleans, the future King Louis XII, and the marriage took place when she was just nine years old. The marriage was forced upon Louis and was never con…

St. Blaise and the Blessing of Throats

On February 3, we commemorate St. Blaise, a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia in the 4th century. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus and was a healer of men and animals. Legend tells us that sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him at prayer.

As bishop, Blaise became a healer of souls and taught his people how to live a holy life by his example. His great virtues and sanctity were confirmed by many miracles.  Crowds came to him for the cure of both bodily and spiritual afflictions.

Agricola, the governor of Cappadocio, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His hunters discovered Blaise praying while seeking wild animals for the arena and arrested him as a Christian. Blaise was taken to prison, but on the way there he interceded to God on the behalf of a child who was choking to death on a fish bone. The child was cured, which led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day.

Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the wa…

The Presentation of the Lord: Candlemas

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy.

The Feast of the Presentation, often called Candlemas, commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the temple, which took place 40 days after his birth as Jewish law required. According to Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a boy was considered unclean for seven days. Also, she was to remain 33 days "in the blood of her purification." Luke tells us, quoting Exodus 13:2,12, that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem because every firstborn child was to be dedicated to the Lord. They also went to sacrifice a pair of doves or two young pigeons, showing that Mary and Joseph were poor. Once in the temple, Jesus was purified by the prayer of Simeon, in the presence of Anna the prophetess. S…