Showing posts from July, 2016

St. Bridget of Sweden

July 23 is the feast of St. Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden (1303 – 1373), a widow and a Third Order Franciscan. For twenty-eight years, she was a devoted wife and mother of eight. Following her husband's death, she pursued a life of contemplation and charity, caring for the sick and the poor.  She is one of the most prominent women of the Christian Middle Ages.

St. Bridget is renowned for her astonishing revelations documented carefully by her confessors, filling several volumes. Their accounts of her visions of biblical scenes, especially the nativity and the crucifixion, have greatly inspired imagery in Christian art and her devotions have inspired popular piety. It was, however, for her practical works of charity, that she was canonized, and not for her private revelations.

Bridget was born in Finista in Sweden. From childhood, the Lord granted her special graces, visions and an extraordinary understanding of divine mysteries. At age seven, she had a vision of the Crucified Jesu…

St. Mary Magdalene: "Apostle to the Apostles"

On July 22, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the patron of penitent sinners and contemplatives.  Her name is derived from her native town of Magdala in Galilee. She plays a vital role in the New Testament, as she was the first to announce Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Scriptures tell us that she was a follower of Christ, who was exorcised of seven demons, ministered to Christ and His disciples, stood at the foot of the Cross during Jesus’ Crucifixion, went to anoint the body of Jesus before daybreak on Easter morning, and witnessed the Risen Lord.

The Gospels all describe Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on Easter morning. When she saw that the tomb was empty, she stood outside, weeping. Jesus appeared to her and asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” (Jn. 20:15)

She did not recognize him, however, and thought he was the gardener, until he said her name, “Mary!” (Jn. 20:16) Upon hearing this, Mary recognized him. She returne…

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church

On July 21, we commemorate St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the first Capuchin Franciscan to be honored as a Doctor of the Church. One of the most famous theologians of the sixteenth century, Saint Lawrence is renowned for his comprehensive refutation of the doctrines of Martin Luther.

St. Lawrence was born at Brindisi, in the kingdom of Naples, Italy, on July 22, 1559 and named Caesar de Rossi. He took the name Lawrence when he became a Capuchin Franciscan at the age of sixteen.

While still a deacon, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became known for his powerful preaching and after his ordination startled the whole of northern Italy with his amazing sermons. Because he could speak Hebrew, he worked for the conversion of the Jews living in Rome.

In 1596, he became a high-ranking superior in the order, and five years later was sent to Germany with Blessed Benedict of Urbino. They founded several priories throughout Europe. Lawrence also helped to raise an army to combat the Turks in Hungary, where h…

St. Apollinaris, Miracle-Worker and Martyr

The saint of the day for July 20 is St. Apollinaris, an illustrious second century bishop and a great apologist for his time. Born in Antioch, Turkey, he became the first bishop of Ravenna, in Italy, where he shepherded his flock for twenty-six years.

He addressed a defense of the Christian religion to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who, shortly before, had obtained a signal victory over the Quadi, a people inhabiting the country now called Moravia. One of his legions, the twelfth, was composed chiefly of Christians. When the army was perishing for want of water, the soldiers of this legion fell upon their knees and invoked the assistance of God. The result was sudden, for a copious rain fell, and, aided by the storm, they conquered the Germans. The emperor gave this legion the name "Thundering Legion" and mitigated his persecution.

It was to protect his flock against persecution that St. Apollinaris, who was bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, addressed his apology to the Emper…

St. Macrina the Younger

The saint of the day for July 19 is St. Macrina the Younger.

St. Macrina (330-380) was the eldest child in a family of saints. Her grandparents were martyrs. Her grandmother was Macrina the Elder. Her parents, Basil the Elder and Emmelia, are also recognized as saints. She was well educated by her mother and was able to read at an early age. Macrina, in turn, became the teacher of her younger brothers Basil, later bishop of Neocaesarea, and Gregory, later bishop of Nyssa, who themselves became two of the greatest teachers in the Universal Church.

At age 12, Macrina was engaged to be married, but when her fiancé died quite suddenly, she decided she would not marry despite subsequent offers. Instead, she dedicated her life to raising her brothers and assisting her mother with housework, cooking, and directing the servants. She also devoted a good part of her time to prayer. After her siblings had grown up, they called her Macrina the Great, as they had in their childhood, a sign of the…

St. Camillus of Lellis, patron of the sick

The saint of the day for July 18 is St. Camillus of Lellis, founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick. He is the patron of the sick, hospitals, and nurses.

St. Camilus was born in Bacchianico, Italy in 1550 and died in Rome, Italy in 1614. His mother died while he was still a child and his father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies, leaving him neglected. While still a youth, he became a soldier in the service of Venice and later of Naples, remaining there until 1574.

While Camillus referred to himself as a great sinner, his only vice seemed to be gambling. He gambled away everything he had and, to atone for actions, he went to work as a laborer on the new Capuchin buildings in Manfredonia. Here, after a moving appeal from the Friar, he completed his conversion and begged God for mercy, at the age of twenty-five.

Camillus entered the Capuchin novitiate three times, but a nagging leg injury, received while fighting the Turks, each time forced him …

Novena to St. Anne begins

Saint Anne’s feast day is on July 26th, so the St. Anne Novena is traditionally started on July 17th; however, you can pray it anytime. St. Anne (Hebrew, Hannah, grace; also spelled Ann, Anne, Anna) is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the grandmother of Jesus, and the wife of Joachim. She is mentioned in the Apocrypha, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back to the second century. Devotion to St. Anne dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome.

St. Anne is the patron saint of the province of Quebec, where the well-known shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, (the site of many miracles) is located. She is patroness: against poverty;  of broom makers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners…

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

July 16 is the patronal feast of the Carmelites. The Order of Carmelites takes its name from Mount Carmel in Israel, which was the first place dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and where a chapel was erected in her honor before her Assumption into heaven.

In the Old Testament, Mount Carmel was a holy place sanctified by the memory of Elijah and his followers - who fought for the rights of the true God 900 years before Christ.

Christians would interpret Elijah's vision of the cloud rising from the Mediterranean sea as a symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose Son would be the Messiah and Savior (1 Kings 18, 42-45). After the days of Elijah and Elisha other holy hermits lived on Mt. Carmel and led solitary, contemplative lives, praying and fasting. Along with the austere figure of Elijah, they looked for inspiration to the Mother of God. Her Latin title was "Virgo Dei Genitrix", which means "Virgin Mother of God".

July 16th is also the feast of the "Scapular …

Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima for Peace

Queen of the Rosary, sweet Virgin of Fatima, who hast deigned to appear in the land of Portugal and hast brought peace, both interior and exterior, to that once so troubled country, we beg of thee to watch over our dear homeland and to assure its moral and spiritual revival.

Bring back peace to all nations of the world, so that all, and our own nation in particular, may be happy to call thee their Queen and the Queen of Peace.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for our country. Our Lady of Fatima, obtain for all humanity a durable peace. Amen.

St. Bonaventure: Seraphic Doctor

By Jean M. Heimann

July 15 is the memorial of St. Bonaventure, O.F.M., who is known as "Seraphic Doctor" because of his burning love for God and his great zeal to do God's work. Born Giovanni di Fidanza, he was an Italian medieval Franciscan, a scholastic theologian, and a philosopher. He was appointed as Cardinal and Bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X.

St. Bonaventure was born in the small town of Bagnoregio, Tuscany, Italy in 1221 and received the baptismal name of John. An event that occurred when he was a boy profoundly influenced his life. He had a serious illness and not even his father, who was a physician, believed that he would survive. His mother prayed for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, who had been canonized a short time earlier. And John was cured.

He went to the University of Paris when he was 14, where he studied theology under the English Franciscan, Alexander of Hales. After he had received the diploma of Master of Arts, John asked himself an…

St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Lily of the Mohawks

By Jean M. Heimann

On July 14th, we commemorate St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint. Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks" and the “Geneviève of New France,” Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquin Christian. She was four-years-old when her parents and younger brother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri, scarring her face and damaging her eyesight. Due to her poor vision, Kateri was named "Tekakwitha", which means "she who bumps into things".

Kateri was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle, who was strongly opposed to Christianity. When she was 18 years of age, Kateri secretly began instructions in the Catholic Faith. Her uncle finally relented and gave his permission for Kateri to become a Christian, provided that she did not try to leave the Indian village. At the age of 20, she was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine after St. Catherin…

St. Ignatius Delgado: Dominican Bishop, Spanish missionary and martyr

The saint of the day for July 12 is St. Ignatius Delgado, a Dominican Bishop who was a Spanish missionary and martyr.

 Bishop Delgado OP was part of a group of 117 martyrs, who suffered and shed their blood out of love for Christ in the region known today as Vietnam. Of this group, 59 were from the Dominican Order.

 Bishop Delgado died together with bishop Dominic Henares OP and a catechist. Both bishops were from Spain and bishop Delgado was born in 1762. Bishop Delgado had worked for nearly fifty years in Tonkin before he died at the age of seventy-six.

In 1838, the two bishops and the catechist were captured, in a persecution recently stirred up. A copy of his trial showed that he answered truthfully and fearlessly where he himself was concerned, but that no amount of questioning or torture could make him reveal the whereabouts of his companions. Bishop Delgado endured torture rather than give any clue as to where they might be found.

The death sentence was passed on Bishop Delgad…

St. Benedict of Nursia: Founder of Western Monasticism

July 11 is the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, the twin brother of St. Scholastica, the patron of Europe, and the founder of Western monasticism. In 1964, Pope Paul VI declared him patron of Europe and in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chose Benedict as patron of his papacy.


Tradition teaches that St. Benedict lived from 480 to 547, though we cannot be sure that these dates are historically accurate. His biographer, St. Gregory the Great, pope from 590 to 604, does not record the dates of his birth and death, though he refers to a Rule written by Benedict. Scholars debate the dating of the Rule though they seem to agree that it was written in the second third of the sixth century.

Saint Gregory wrote about St. Benedict in his Second Book of Dialogues, but his account of the life and miracles of Benedict cannot be regarded as a biography in the modern sense of the term. Gregory's purpose in writing Benedict's life was to edify and to inspire, not to seek out the par…

Seven Quick Takes: Summer

1. I hope you had a Happy 4th of July!  Here are a couple of photos of me wearing my Lady Liberty t-shirt and of a cool, sugar-free dessert I made for Independence Day.

2.  This has been a short, but very busy week! Let's take a look at a book I have been reading -- Jeannie Ewing's From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. I highly recommend it! Read my review.

This is my only bumper sticker.
3. I am already getting a Study/Rosary Group together for the Fall. This is what we parish ministers/ stewards work on during the summer. I have been doing lots of reading and research for the group.

4. It's not too late to start the novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which began on Thursday. Her feast date is July 16.

5. How does my garden grow? Check out the photos below.

May 20, 2016
June 7, 2016

Here is the first blooming gladiola from our garden, which is falling over.

6. Now a word from our sponsor. I am so pleased with this beautiful review of my new book, Learning to L…

From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph

Many of us struggle to understand the mystery of suffering in our lives. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions by people of all faiths is, “Why would a loving God allow pain and suffering?” People often perceive pain and suffering as a punishment, rather than as a medicine or as a healing balm, which helps us grow closer to God. Redemptive suffering is something that we might understand intellectually, but have difficulty putting into practice. Even the great saints struggled to make sense out of the suffering and trials they endured.

In Jeannie Ewing’s book, “From Grief to Grace: The Journey From Tragedy to Triumph”, she shares her own poignant struggle with suffering and grief,  recounting the story of the birth of  her daughter, Sarah, who was congenitally  diagnosed with a rare genetic condition known as Apert Syndrome, which is characterized by facial abnormalities and fused fingers.  Although Jeannie initially experienced heartbreak, loss, and anger with this situ…

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Begins Today

The feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is July 16. Her novena begins on July 7.

First Day 

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother!
(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Second Day 

Most Holy Mary, Our Mother, in your great love for us you gave us the Holy Scapular of Mount Carmel, having heard the prayers of your chosen son Saint Simon Stock. Help us now to wear it faithfully and with devotion. May it be a sign to us of our desire to grow in holiness.
(pause and mention petitions)

Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Third Day 

O Queen of Heaven, you gave us the Scapular as an outward sign by which we might be known as your faithful children. may we always wear it wit…

Is Life Worth Living? Hope in the Face of Suicide

With the way our culture disregards life sometimes, it is easy for the question “Is life worth living?” to surface. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz emphatically states that not only is life worth living—it is sacred. If there are any feelings of doubt about life’s worth in your heart, take courage in Fr. Mike’s words here. If there is anyone you know who is weary of life, reach out to them and show them they are wanted.

Blessed Maria Romero Meneses: Social Apostle of Costa Rica

On July 7, we commemorate Blessed Maria Romero Meneses (1902 - 1977), a Salesian Sister who was known as the Social Apostle of Costa Rica, due her active initiation of several projects which served the needs of the poor. Some of these included: teaching catechism and vocational skills, setting up a medical center, opening food distribution centers,  starting a school for teaching the social doctrine of the Church, and organizing the construction of homes for the poor in Costa Rica.

One of eight children, Maria Romero Meneses was born in Granada, Nicaragua, in 1902 to a wealthy, upper class family; her father was a government minister. She was well-educated by her parents, her aunts, and the Salesian Sisters at the local Catholic school. Because she was artistically and musically gifted, she had private instructors for drawing, painting, piano and violin.

At the age of twelve, Maria became very ill with a serious form of rheumatic fever that paralyzed her for six months. She was not w…

The Most Beautiful Chapel Ever Built: Sante Chapelle, Paris

Sante Chapelle, Paris
The Sainte Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a royal chapel in the Gothic style, within the medieval Palais de la Cité, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century, on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, France.

The Sainte Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ's Crown of Thorns—one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.

Along with the Conciergerie, the Sainte Chapelle is one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. Although damaged during the French Revolution, and restored in the 19th century, it has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collection anywhere in the world.

Medieval man was able to bring forth amazing faith-inspired works of beauty that organically flourished from a Christ-centered socie…

St. Maria Goretti: Virgin and Martyr, Model of Mercy and Purity

July 6 marks the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young virgin and martyr, who is a model of purity and mercy for all. Maria Goretti was a peasant girl who was stabbed fourteen times, while fighting off a rapist. She died forgiving her killer.

Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890, in Coranaldo in the province of Ancona in Italy, the third of seven children of Assunta and Luigi Goretti. When Maria was six, her father, realizing he could not support his growing family on the barren countryside, took them south, toward Rome, to a village near Anzio, believing that in the rich, warm farmlands of the Mediterranean he would find a more prosperous living and a make a better life for his family.

In order to make ends meet, Maria’s father entered into partnership with a man called Serenelli, and shared a house with him and his two sons, one of whom was called Alessandro. Luigi was a hard worker, but suffering from malaria, typhus, meningitis and pneumonia, he died in 1900, leaving his …

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria

The saint of the day for July 5 is St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, founder of the Barnabites.

St. Anthony was born at Cremona, Italy, in 1502, of noble parents. His father died when very young, and his eighteen-year-old mother was left to bring up her only son in the love of God and tenderness for the poor. As a child he gave his coat to a poor beggar who was shivering with cold.

He studied philosophy and medicine at the Universities of Pavia and Padua and became a licensed physician in 1524, but was striving more earnestly to care for souls than to heal their material envelope. Sometimes when he was traveling as a doctor and found abandoned children, he assembled them to teach them their Christian duties. He desired a more perfect life and wider possibilities for the apostolate of a Christian. He therefore studied theology, and was twenty-six years old when ordained in 1528.

Those present at the first Mass of Saint Anthony Mary saw him surrounded with an extraordinary light and a crown o…

Movie Review: The Innocents

This weekend I had the opportunity to view a very unusual film entitled The Innocents. It is a French film with English subtitles about cloistered nuns in a Polish Benedictine monastery at the end of World War II (December, 1945). The film begins with the nuns in their chapel, chanting, with the sound of a woman wailing in the background. One of the novices fears for the health of her fellow novice and breaks her vow of enclosure in an attempt to find a physician to help her.  She leaves the chapel and ventures outdoors, where she persuades a street urchin to assist her in her search and is led to the Red Cross. There, she connects with Mathilde, a young French Red Cross physician based in Warsaw. When she arrives at the monastery, she finds a young woman (a novice) in labor.  However, the nuns lie about her identity to prevent her from discovering the full truth. Eventually, Mathilde learns that the entire order has been deeply traumatized and that several of the nuns are pregnant a…