Sunday, September 25, 2016

When tempted

When tempted, invoke your Angel.
He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!
Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him:
he trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel.

St. John Bosco

St. Albert of Jerusalem

Albert was born in Parma, Italy, about 1149 to a prominent family. He became a canon of Holy Cross Abbey in Mortoba and, in 1184, was appointed as the Bishop of Bobbio, Italy. Soon after, he was named to the see of Vercelli.

Albert served as a mediator in the dispute between Pope Clement III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who fought against Clement’s papacy. In gratitude, Clement appointed Albert as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1205, a post established in 1099 when Jerusalem became a Latin kingdom in the control of Christian crusaders. Jerusalem, however, was no longer in Christian hands as the Saracens recaptured the city in 1187. The Christians needed a patriarch, but the position was a dangerous one, open to persecution and martyrdom at the hands of the Muslims.

Though his predecessors had failed, Albert accepted and in time, proved himself not only to the local Christians, but also to the Muslims who respected him for his sanctity and his intelligence. Because of the heavy Muslim presence in Jerusalem, Albert took up residence in Acre, a northern port. Near the city is the holy Mount Carmel, where a group of hermits lived. In 1209, they sought Albert out and requested that he devise a rule of life that they may follow (this rule was the beginning of the Carmelite Order.). Pope Honorius III confirmed the rule in 1226, and it was mitigated twenty years later in 1254 by Pope Innocent IV.

Albert was called to the general council of the Lateran to lend his wisdom and diplomacy, but was assassinated before leaving Palestine. Albert had disposed a doctor of his post at a local hospital and in revenge the doctor stabbed the holy man to death. The year was 1214, and Albert had been presiding over a procession on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Powerful over the devil

God made Mary so powerful over the devils that
not only can she instantly terrify them with a single glance,
but also that the devils prefer
to have their pains redoubled
rather than to see themselves subject to her power.

St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Gerard of Csanad

Gerard was a Venetian, born in the beginning of the eleventh century. At a young age, he consecrated himself to God and dedicated his life to fighting for Christ. He joined the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore at Venice. Not long after, he began a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was passing through Hungary when King Stephen – the future St. Stephen – asked him to remain and tutor his son. Finding the people of Hungary likewise in need of evangelization, Gerard decided to stay and preach.

On the death of King Stephen, Hungary was thrown into anarchy by competing claims to the throne, and a revolt against Christianity and Gerard ensued. On September 24, 1046, he was attacked and beaten, but still forgave his assailants. As a spear was thrust into his body he prayed, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, they know not what they do.”  His dead body was thrown into a river below.

Gerard and King Stephen were canonized in 1083. St. Gerard is considered one of the patrons of Hungary.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Favor Granted

Centuries ago, in Toledo, Spain, there lived a Cistercian nun called Mary. Being at the point of death, the Blessed Mother appeared to her, and Mary said to her:
"Oh Lady, the favor you do me of visiting me at this hour emboldens me to ask you another favor, namely, that I may die at the same hour that you died and entered into heaven.”
"Yes," answered Mary Most Holy. "I will satisfy your request; you will die at that hour, and you will hear the songs and praises with which the blessed accompanied my entrance into heaven; and now prepare for your death."
When she had said this she disappeared.
Passing by Mary’s cell, other nuns heard her talking to herself, and they thought she must be losing her mind. But she related to them the vision of the Virgin Mary and the promised grace. Soon the entire convent awaited the desired hour.
When Mary knew the hour had arrived, by the striking of the clock, she said:
"Behold, the predicted hour has come; I hear the music of the angels. At this hour my queen ascended into heaven. Rest in peace, for I am going now to see her."
Saying this she expired, while her eyes became bright as stars, and her face glowed with a beautiful color.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

When things get hard

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine will.
Adore and bless it,
especially in the things which are the hardest for you.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Francesco was born in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. His parents, Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio, were peasant farmers, but they recognized their son was close to God. When he was only five years old, he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. It is said he often spoke with Our Lord, Our Lady and his guardian angel, who defended him against attacks by the devil. He joined the Capuchin Franciscans at the age of fifteen, and took the name Pio with his religious vows. After seven years of study he was ordained to the priesthood in 1910.

During the same month he was ordained, Padre Pio was praying in the chapel when Our Lord and His Blessed Mother appeared and gave him the Stigmata. However, the wounds soon faded and then disappeared. “I do want to suffer, even to die of suffering,” Padre Pio told Our Lady, “but all in secret." Soon after, he experienced the first of his spiritual ecstasies.

Pio was in the military for a short time, but was discharged due to poor health. Upon his return to the monastery, he became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He often advised, "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry."

In July of 1918, Padre Pio received the visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ (hands, feet and side), after offering himself as a victim for the end of the war. By 1933, the holy priest was recognized by the Church and by 1934 had attracted thousands of pilgrims that attended his masses and frequented his confessional.

On September 23, 1968, Padre Pio said his final Mass, renewed his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and died in his cell after suffering from grave physical decline. Before his death, Padre Pio orchestrated and oversaw the building of the “House for the Alleviation of Suffering,” a 350-bed medical and religious center.

He was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. An estimated 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony.