Showing posts from April, 2016

St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

April 29th is the feast of my Confirmation saint, St. Catherine of Siena, Caterina di Giacomo di Benicasa (1347 - 1380). As a mystic, activist, reformer, contemplative, and Doctor of the Church, she is one of the most prominent figures in Christian history.

Catherine, the youngest of twenty-six children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, her mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic -- a lay order.

Catherine managed a large household of followers, all of whom called her "Mama". She served as spiritual director to royalty and religious. She …

St. Louis de Montfort

Today is the feast of St. Louis de Montfort, a French priest and confessor. He was a renowned preacher and missionary, who founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom.

Louis de Montfort is one of the most prominent promoters of Marian devotion. Totus tuus ("I am all yours.") was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla (Pope St. John Paul II) chose it as his episcopal motto.

Born to a poor family in 1673 in the Breton village of Montfort, as an adult, Louis identified himself by the place of his baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.

He preached parish missions throughout western France, walking from city to city. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people b…

Saint Zita of Lucca

April 27 is the feast of St. Zita of Lucca (1212-72), the patron saint of housekeepers, domestic servants, and waitresses. She is also invoked to help find lost keys.

She was born in Tuscany, Italy in the village of Monsagrati. Zita came from a poor, but deeply devotional family. To help support the family, she became a maid of a wealthy family, Fatinelli, in the nearby Tuscan city of Lucca, serving them loyally for 48 years.

A member of the Third Order of St. Francis, Zita considered her work as an employment assigned to her by God and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and spent time in prayer while they slept. She started each day with Holy Mass before she began performing her duties.

She visited the sick and those in prison, giving them hope and spreading the gospel message. She was well - known for all her works of charity and her sweet, joyful disposition.

Zita had a great lov…

St. Franca of Piacenza: Cisterican Nun and Foundress

The saint of the day for April 26 is St. Franca of Piacenza, a Cistercian nun and foundress.  She was placed in the Benedictine convent of Saint Syrus at Piacenza, Italy in 1177 at age seven and entered the Order at age 14.  She was elected abbess as a young nun, but was removed from office due to her rigid interpretation of the Rule.

Nevertheless, one of the nuns, Sister Carentia, agreed with her discipline. When Carentia entered the Cistercian novitiate at Rapallo, Italy, she convinced her parents to build a Cistercian house at Montelana, Italy. Franca became abbess of the community, to which both she and Franca had entered. The community later moved to Pittoli, Italy. Franca consistently maintained the severe penances she imposed on herself, even in the face of poor health. She spent most nights in the chapel, praying for hours.  She was canonized by Pope Gregory X.

Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist

St. Mark, the Evangelist, the author of the second Gospel, is commonly identified as “John Mark” in the Acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 15:37). He is the patron saint of: attorneys, notaries, prisoners, and stained glass workers.

Born a Jew, he was baptized and instructed in the faith by St. Peter the Apostle and traveled with him to Rome. He had a close relationship with St. Peter, who referred to him as “my son Mark” (1 Peter 5:13).

Mark traveled with his cousin St. Barnabas and with St. Paul on their first missionary journey in Cyprus (Acts 13:5).  Mark is also said to have evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt and founded the Church there.

Like Luke, Mark was not one of the twelve apostles. Some scholars believe him to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52).  He is also considered to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.

According to Eusebius, the Christian historian, Mark died at Alexandria and was martyred for his faith. In the 9th century, Mark’s…

7 Quick Takes: A New Book!

1.  The most important item on my Quick Takes List is this (drum roll):

Coming May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, my new book, Learning to Love With the Saints a Spiritual Memoir.  Stay tuned for my Book Blog Tour which runs from May 13 - 23.
2. The second most important item on my agenda is a garage sale this coming week. I have a variety of items that I am getting ready for the sale.  I enjoy garage sales, even if they don't include the mystery that Hallmark adds to them. It's fun meeting new folks and sharing small "treasures" with them.

3. What have I been reading lately?  Some wonderful books, including:

33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Divine Mercy by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC
How To Be Holy: First Steps In Becoming A Saintby Peter Kreeft
The Four Keys to Everlasting Love by Karee Santos and Manuel P. Santos, MD

I highly recommend all three!

4. This past week we have celebrated the lives of some wonderful saints:


St. Anselm: Benedictine Bishop who Battled For Religious Freedom and Human Rights

April 21 is the feast of St. Anslem, a Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. He is a Doctor of the Church who is known as "the most luminous and penetrating intellect between St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas" and "the Father of Scholasticism". He preferred to defend the Faith using intellectual reasoning rather than with Scripture passages.

The genius of Saint Anselm's reasoning and writing about faith and God has captivated and influenced scholars since the Middle Ages. His highly acclaimed work, Monologium(Monologue), provides proof of God's existence. His Proslogium (Addition), advances the idea that God exists according to the human notion of a perfect being in whom nothing is lacking.  In his greatest work,Cur Deus Homo(Why God Became Man) he views Christ’s death in light of God’s mercy and love. Some of the world's greatest theologians and philosophers have studie…

St. Agnes of Montepulciano: Dominican Mystic and Woman of Miracles

St. Agnes of Montepulciano
April 20 is the feast of St. Agnes of Montepulciano, a Dominican abbess and foundress in medieval Tuscany. Seventy years after Agnes died St. Catherine of Siena made a pilgrimage to the shrine of this famous Dominican foundress.  As St. Catherine bowed to kiss Agnes’ foot, the saint raised it up toward her so she would not have to bend so far. Catherine may not have been completely surprised, as miracles surrounded Agnes’ life.

This holy virgin was born in 1268 in a little village near Montepulciano, Italy to the affluent De Segni family. When she was born, mysterious flashing bright lights illuminated the house where she was born, announcing her birth.

At age six, Agnes was already pleading with her parents to let her enter the cloister. When they told her that she was too young, she begged them to move to nearby Montepulciano, so she could make regular visits to the monastery there. The family did not move, but they did allow Agnes to make visits to see th…

The Virtue of Joy

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God within.” -- Cardinal Tmothy Dolan

“Here is the difference between the joys of the world and the cross of Jesus Christ: after having tasted the first, one is disgusted with them; and on the contrary, the more one partakes of the cross, the greater the thirst for it.”  -- St. Ignatius of Loyola

"Spiritual joy arises from purity of the heart and perseverance in prayer." -- St. Francis of Assisi

“Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier. Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile. Joy shows from the eyes. It appears when we speak and walk. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. Joy is very infectious.”
-- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"Joy is prayer -- Joy is strength -- Joy is love -- Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people…

Blessed Mary of the Incarnation: Mother and Foundress of Carmel in France

On April 17, we honor Blessed Mary of the Incarnation.  Also known as Barbara Avrillot and Madame Acarie, she is recognized as the "mother and foundress of the (Discalced) Carmel in France". She is the patron of widows and the poor.

Barbara Avrillot was born into an upper middle class family in Paris in 1566.  Her father, Nicholas Avrillot was a French government official. She was educated by the Poor Clares of Longchamp, who prepared her for the cloister.

At the age of sixteen, however, she married Pierre Acarie, a Catholic aristocrat of good character, with whom she had six children. She was a model wife and mother.

Pierre supported the Catholic League against Henry IV. When Henry became king, he seized the Acarie estates, impoverished the family, and exiled Pierre from Paris. Barbara had to remain behind to battle with creditors and business men for her children's fortune.  In addition, she endured considerable physical pain, the result of a fall from her horse. Neve…

Bishop Barron on the Resurrection of Jesus


Blessed César de Bus: Patron of Catechists

On April 15, we celebrate the feast of Blessed César de Bus, a priest, teacher, and founder of two religious congregations: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine and the Daughters of Christian Doctrine. He is the patron of catechists.

César was born at Cavaillon, France in 1544, and was educated by the Jesuits. As a youth, he led a holy and virtuous life.  At eighteen, he joined the French army, and fought in the king’s war against the Huguenots. After the war, he dedicated his time in pursuit of the arts, writing poetry and painting. Then, he tried to join a naval fleet, which was besieging La Rochelle; but due to serious illness was unable to carry out his plans. Instead, he travelled to Paris.

In Paris, César drifted away from his faith and began living a life of self-gratification and worldly ambition. For three years, he indulged his sinful wishes until the death of his brother, a canon of Salon. When his brother died, César managed to acquire his vacated position, which he desired …

St. Lidwina: Mystic, Stigmatic, Visionary, and Victim Soul

The saint of the day for April 14 is St. Lidwina, also known as Lydwina of Shiedam, a Dutch mystic. St. Lidwina is the patron of skaters and against sickness. In modern times, she is believed to be one of the first recorded cases of multiple sclerosis.

Saint Lidwina was born in 1380 in Schiedam, Holland to a poor family, the only daughter of nine children. Lidwina was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed often before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Schiedam. At the age of 12, she consecrated her virginity to Christ.

In 1396, while ice skating, she fell and broke a rib. Although she was treated by physicians, her rib never healed and gangrene set in, followed by many complications. This injury caused her to be an invalid for the rest of her life. For seventeen years, she could not move any part of her body, with the exception of her head and left arm. She ate almost nothing and became blind during the last seven years of her life.  Some of the illnesses which affected Lid…

Pope Saint Martin I: A Soldier for the Lord

On April 13, the Church commemorates Pope Saint Martin I. We know little of Saint Martin’s early life.  We do know that he was born in Umbria, Italy of a noble family. In his youth, he served as a lector and deacon.

When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most powerful Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church, at that time, were magnified by the close collaboration of emperor and patriarch.

Just prior to Martin’s papacy, a heresy known as Monothelitism, was creating chaos and misunderstanding in the Church. This doctrine held that Christ had only one nature—the divine nature—and that Christ had only one will.  Thus, it denied that Christ was like us in all things but sin and therefore rejected our redemption. In an edict entitled the Typos, Emperor Constans II essentially accepted the heretical doctrine by forbidding discussion of the issue.


Dr. Pia de Solenni on “Amoris Laeitia” (The Joy of Love)

Augustine Institute's Dr. Pia de Solenni is one of my favorite theologians. Here she provides answers to the newly released papal document on the family, “Amoris Laetitia” ("The Joy of Love").

St. Teresa of the Andes, Discalced Carmelite Mystic

On April 12, the Church commemorates the feast of St. Teresa of the Andes, a Discalced Carmelite mystic and the first Chilean to be beatified or canonized.  St. Teresa of the Andes is the patron of youth and sick people.

Born in Santiago, Chile on July 13, 1900 to an upper class family, she was baptized Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts Fernandez Solar. Her family and friends called her Juanita. Her family was devout in their Catholic faith and lived it out in their daily lives with consistency. Juanita was a cheerful, happy, attractive, extroverted young woman, who was athletic and enjoyed sports. She reflected the light of Christ and her holiness touched all who interacted with her as she witnessed to others the power of God’s love working in her life. She served as a model to her peers, who often sought her out for encouragement and advice.

As a young girl, she read an autobiography of the French Saint Thérèse of Lisieux which had a profound influence on her life, help…

St. Stanislaus, Courageous Champion of the Faith

The saint of the day for April 11 is St. Stanislaus, the Bishop of Cracow, and patron saint of Crakow and Poland. A champion of religious liberty and of the dignity of every human being, he vehemently opposed the evils of an unjust government. In fact, speaking the truth cost him his life.

Stanislaus was born of noble parents in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030. He was educated at Gnesen and at Paris. Following his ordination to the priesthood, he was made a canon of the cathedral at Cracow.  He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquent preaching and virtuous example resulted in a great spiritual renewal among both clergy and the laity. He was also distinguished for being an excellent spiritual director. In 1072, he became bishop of Kraków.

The king of Poland, King Boleslaus II, led an expedition against the grand duchy of Kiev, making him very unpopular with the nobles of the country, who opposed his corrupt policies. St. Stanislaus of …

St. Julie Billiart, patron of the sick and poor

The saint of the day for April 8 is St. Julie Billiart,  a French religious leader who founded, and was the first Superior General of, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. St. Julie Billiart is the patron saint of the sick and the poor.

Saint Julie was born in Cuvilly, France, on July 12, 1751 to a affluent farm family.  Her family provided a loving environment and nurtured her spiritual growth. At the age of 14, she took a vow of chastity and devoted her life to serving the sick and the poor.

She was a woman of serenity, despite the great personal suffering she endured. The Billiart family survived many hardships, including the deaths of several children. When Julie was 16, she went to work as a teacher to help support her family. One night, robbers invaded her home and shot her father as she stood by helplessly. He recovered from the incident, but the trauma caused Julie, who was then 23, to become paralyzed and a complete invalid. Julie spent more than twenty ye…

Novena to Saint Bernadette Soubirous begins

April 16 is the feast of St. Bernadette Soubirous, a mystic and visionary at Lourdes, France. St. Bernadette is the patron of: Lourdes, the poor, the sick, and people ridiculed for their piety. Her novena begins today.

Novena Prayer

Dear Saint Bernadette, Chosen by Almighty God as a channel of His Graces and Blessings, and through your humble obedience to the requests of Our Blessed Mother, Mary, you gained for us the Miraculous waters of Spiritual and physical healing.

We implore you to listen to our pleading prayers that we may be healed of our Spiritual and physical imperfections.

Place our petitions in the Hands of our Holy Mother, Mary, so that She may place them at the feet of Her beloved Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that He may look on us with mercy and compassion: (Make Petition)

Help, O Dear Saint Bernadette to follow your example, so that irrespective of our own pain and suffering we may always be mindful of the needs of others, especially those whose sufferings a…

St. John Baptist de la Salle: Patron of Teachers

April 7 is the feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle, a French priest, and the and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He is known for promoting and reforming Christian education, especially among the poor. He is the father of modern education and the patron saint of teachers.

John Baptist de la Salle was born to a wealthy family at Rheims in France in 1651. He was the oldest child of Louis de La Salle and Nicolle de Moet de Brouillet. John had many assets. He was well-educated, intelligent, attractive and genteel. He could have chosen any profession he desired.
However, he was determined to become a priest. Due to his education and noble stature, he could have obtained a high position in the Church, but God had other plans. Following his ordination to the priesthood at the age of 27. he devoted himself to the education of boys and the founding of schools for the poor. He liquidated his personal fortune (about $400,000) and donated it to the poor in the…

St. William of Paris, Abbot and Reformer

On April 6, we celebrate the feast of St. William of Paris (also known as St. William of Eskilsoe, Saint William of Æbelholt, and St. William of the Paraclete). Known for his holiness and austerity, he was the Abbot of Eskiloe (a city in Denmark which once housed an abbey) and one of the most venerated saints of Denmark.

William (1105 - 1203) was born in Paris of a noble French family. He was educated by the monks of Saint-Germain-des-Pres under the direction of his Uncle Hugh, the abbot. From there, he was received by the chapter of secular canons of St. Genevieve.  This was already a venerable college of canons, having been founded by King Clovis and St. Choltide in the 6th Century.  But it had grown decadent and in great need of reform. In fact, his fellow canons were so hostile to William and his disciplined way of life that he had to leave and relocate to Epinay, outside of Paris.

Pope Eugene III visited the abbey in 1148, discovering its poor state. The reform of St. Genevieve …

Novena to St. Jude

St. Jude, also called Thaddeus or "Courageous", is the author of the short epistle in the New Testament. He was the apostle who asked the Lord at the Last Supper why he had manifested himself only to the disciples and not to the whole world (John 14:22). He was the son of Cleophas and the woman named Mary who stood with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross as Our Lord was redeeming the world. He is remembered as a Healer.

St. Jude is the patron saint of lost or impossible causes and his novena is often prayed in desperate cases. Below are: (1) a novena for any intention, followed by (2) novena prayers for someone who is critically ill. Both are prayed for nine days.

Novena Prayers

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus,  the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult  cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.

Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help w…

St. Vincent Ferrer: Dominican Missionary who converted thousands

April 5 is the feast of St. Vincent Ferrer, a renowned Spanish Dominican missionary who converted thousands of Europeans to Catholicism. He is the patron saint of: builders, plumbers, and construction workers.
Vincent was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1350 and entered the Dominican Order at the age of 17. After years of study in Toulouse, in 1379, he was retained by Cardinal Pedro de Luna, legate of the Court of Aragon, who was trying to win the king to the obedience of the Avignon pontiff.
When France withdrew from the obedience of Avignon in September 1398 and the troops of Charles VI laid siege to the city, St. Vincent was struck by a fever that nearly killed him. He was miraculously cured after having an apparition of Christ, accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Francis. He began his preaching ministry again in November 1399, and for 20 years was a missionary in Western Europe. He was responsible for the conversion of thousands in the different regions of France, Switzerland, Spain a…

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

On April 4, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her in being the mother of His only Son. This solemnity is also the first joyful mystery of the rosary and an event which should fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving.

The Franciscans tell us: “The Immaculate Virgin Mary joyfully conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit.” In doing so, they describe the annunciation as the Blessed Virgin Mary’s first joy.

In the first chapter of Luke, we learn that the Angel Gabriel, who was sent by God, shared with the Blessed Virgin Mary the message that she was to be the Mother of God. Imagine the joy in the heart of Mary when she learned from this messenger of God that she, who was willing to be but a handmaid or servant in the household of the Lord, was actually to be the Mother of God!  What joy and happiness at the greeting of the angel! What joy to know that …

7 Quick Takes: Spring, Divine Mercy, Mother Angelica

1. Spring is my favorite season. It speaks of new life. To enjoy the beauty of spring, my dear husband Bill and I visited the Botanical Gardens in Wichita. Here are just a few of the living, growing things we saw there:

2. Here is "Granny Jean", about to visit her Tree House in the children's section of Botanica:

As you can tell, it was a windy day, but the temperature was comfortable.

3.  I hope you have been praying the Divine Mercy Novenawith me. Bill and I will be making our Divine Mercy consecration this Divine Mercy Sunday, based on Fr. Gaitley's excellent book, 33 Days to Merciful Love.

4.  This coming Sunday, March 27 is Divine Mercy Sunday, a very important day. Matthew Coffin at Big C Catholics writes about the great graces we can receive on this day, as well as the plenary indulgence that we can attain in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

5. Mother Angelica has been a big influence on me over the years in my ongoing conversion, as well as my blogging and writing. I …