Thursday, June 22, 2017

When the devil again tempts you to sin

When the devil again tempts you to sin,
telling you that God is merciful,
remember that
the Lord "showeth mercy to them that fear Him" but
not to them who despise Him.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More

The lives of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher are very closely linked, and thus it is quite appropriate that the Church celebrate their feasts together. They are both renowned Englishmen martyred within two weeks of each other for the same cause of defending religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage and Papal authority against State usurpation. They were both associates of King Henry VIII before his apostasy, and it was at his hands that they both suffered martyrdom.

Sir Thomas More was a distinguished statesman in the English Parliament. First and foremost, however, he was a faithful Catholic, a loving husband, and a devoted father. More was widely known for his “unfailing moral integrity, sharpness of mind, his open and humorous character, and his extraordinary learning." He was a close friend and confidant of Henry VIII, and the King himself eventually promoted Thomas to the prominent office of Lord Chancellor. However, the two were alienated when Thomas refused to compromise his conscience and faith when Henry openly defied Church teachings and divorced his wife to marry Anne Boleyn, choosing instead to renounce the King’s friendship, his own public career, wealth and worldly prestige. Thomas was consequently imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually condemned and beheaded on July 6, 1535. He was named patron saint of statesmen and politicians by Pope John Paul II.

A friend of St. Thomas More’s, St. John Fisher also had a close connection to Henry VIII, having once been his tutor, and was a friend of the royal family. As the Bishop of Rochester, he was known as a man of great leaning and deep and unshakable faith. He was supported by the King and appointed to the lifetime position of Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. However, he too fell into disfavor with Henry when he also opposed the King’s unlawful divorce of Queen Catherine of Aragon. Bishop Fisher courageously warned Parliament of Henry’s encroaching powers over the Church in England in direct disregard of the Papal audit, and publicly preached against the divorce from the pulpit at the same time as Sir Thomas More was resigning his high office. By thus calling down the King’s fury on himself, the holy Bishop of Rochester suffered multiple imprisonments in the Tower, during which time he was made a Cardinal by the authority of Pope Paul III – an appointment which Henry rejected. Fisher was condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered; and, although originally sentenced to be killed on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist, the King had a superstitious fear of executing him on that feast because of the strong resemblance of the deaths of these two saints, and instead had him beheaded – ironically just like John the Baptist after all – two days earlier, on June 22, 1535.

Thomas More and John Fisher were beatified together by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, and canonized together by Pius XI in 1935. One a layman and statesman, the other a priest and bishop – they stand together as models and heroes of religious freedom against encroaching government powers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do you love God?

He who wishes to love God
does not truly love Him
if he has not
an ardent and constant desire
to suffer for His sake.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Aloysius was born in the Italian province of Lombardy in 1568, the first-born son of a Marquis and the lady of honor to the Queen of Spain. When he was seven, he experienced a spiritual awakening: he made a vow of perpetual virginity, keeping his eyes downcast in the presence of women to safeguard himself from possible temptation, and dedicated most of his time to prayer, especially the Office of Our Lady.

When he was just eleven years old he fasted in the manner of a monk, eating only bread and water three days a week, practiced austerities and taught poor children the catechism. The next year, he received his First Holy Communion from the hands of the great saint and cardinal, Charles Borromeo.

By age fourteen, Aloysius had resolved to join the Society of Jesus and become a missionary. He was to suffer much from his family's strenuous opposition to this decision, particularly from his father, who hoped Aloysius would join the military. However, he persevered, and his father finally relented.

In 1585, the seventeen-year-old Aloysius was admitted into the Jesuit novitiate in Rome where he took the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience two years later. While the young Gonzaga was ordained a deacon at twenty, he was never to realize his dream of becoming a priest and missionary in this life.

As had been foretold to him in a vision, Aloysius died on the octave of Corpus Christi in 1591 after contracting the plague while caring for the sick in the Jesuit hospital. He was twenty-three years old. He was canonized in 1726 and his relics remain under the altar dedicated to the Jesuit founder in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome. The virtue that had so marked him in his youth – purity – and which he preached and practiced to a heroic degree during his short life, became the spiritual crown by which he will be forever known.
Second Photo by: Philippe Alès

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What is the reward of faith?

Faith
is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith
is to see what you believe.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Silverius

Born in Italy, Silverius was son of Pope Hormisdas, who had been married before becoming one of the higher clergy. He was only a subdeacon, when, upon the death of Pope St. Agapetus in 536, the Ostrogoth King Theodehad of Italy forced him on the Catholic Church. Soon afterwards, Silverius was formally accepted as pope by the Roman clergy.

Silverius soon incurred the wrath of the Empress Theodora. He refused to accept and recognize the heretical Eutychian patriarchs – Anthimus of Constantinople, Severus of Antioch, and Theodosius of Alexandria – who had all been excommunicated and deposed from their episcopal sees by the previous pope. Silverius is said to have remarked that by his signing the letter of refusal to Theodora's imperial request, he was also signing his own death warrant. And so it proved to be.

Theodora had Silverius kidnapped and imprisoned on the island of Ponza, and the empress nominated her supporter, Archdeacon Vigilius, for the papal throne. Vigilius was named pope, but upon taking the position, he ceased to support the Empress’ heresy and became a strong defender of orthodoxy.

In 537, after a reign of just a year, Silverius died of neglect during his imprisonment. He is now recognized as the patron saint of the island of Ponza, where he died.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Keep our hearts open

We should strive to keep our hearts open
to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people,
and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion
which is truly the spirit of God.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Romuald

Romuald was born into a noble Italian family in 956. He spent his youth wildly in comfort and laziness. One day, when he was twenty, he saw his father kill another man in a duel. He fled to a monastery in disgust, and he stayed there for three years before deciding to travel, and spending the next thirty years building monasteries and hermitages in Italy.

On one occasion, Romuald was falsely accused of a scandalous crime. The accuser was a young nobleman whom the holy monk had previously rebuked, and Romuald’s fellow monks believed the young rake. Romuald was severely reprimanded, forbidden to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and excommunicated, an unwarranted sentence which he endured for six months without complaint.

Of the monasteries established by Romuald, the most famous was called Camaldoli. There he developed an order he called “Camaldolese Benedictine,” where he brought together the monastic and hermitical ways of life.

Romuald died on June 19, 1027 at the monastery of Valdi-Castro, which he founded. Eventually, his father too became a monk. He gave up his wealth and followed his son to spend the rest of his life doing penance for his sins.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Forgetting something?

Forget the services
you have rendered to others, but not
those rendered to you.

St. John Bosco

St. Gregory Barbarigo

Gregory Barbarigo was born in 1625, of a very ancient and distinguished Venetian family. A brilliant student, he embraced a diplomatic career and accompanied the Venetian Ambassador, Contarini, to the Congress of Munster in 1648. He was later ordained to the priesthood and became the first Bishop of Bergamo consecrated by Pope Alexander VII. Eventually he became a Cardinal with authority over the diocese of Padua. Through his efforts the seminaries of both Padua and Bergamo were greatly increased.

Gregory worked unceasingly toward the Counter-Reformation – the movement by the Council of Trent as a response to the Protestant Reformation specifying Catholic doctrine on salvation, the sacraments, and the Biblical canon.

Gregory died at Padua of natural causes in 1697. He was canonized in 1960 and his body is buried in the Cathedral of Padua.
Photo by: Wolfgang Moroder

Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.
One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.
On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.
As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.
When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”
“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”
And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”
She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help


 Pray for 9 consecutive days - June 19th to June 27th


MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP, you are the dispenser of every grace that God grants us in our misery.
For this reason He has made you so powerful, so rich, and so kind that you might help us in our needs.
You are the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners, if they but come to you.
Come to my aid for I commend myself to you.
In your hands I place my eternal salvation; to you I entrust my soul.
Count me among your most faithful servants. Take me under your protection; that is enough for me.
If you protect me, I shall fear nothing: not my sins, because you will obtain for me their pardon and remission; not the evil spirits, because you are mightier than all the powers of Hell; not even Jesus, my Judge, because He is appeased by a single prayer from you.
I fear only that through my own negligence I may forget to recommend myself to you and so lose my soul.
My dear Lady, obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace to have recourse to you at all times, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Say Three Hail Marys

O MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP, grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.
O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on you, for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.
O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fills my soul when I utter your sacred name, or even only think of you.
I thank God for having given you, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name; let my hope in you prompt me ever to hail you, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sign the Petition: Help us oppose TESTAMENT assault on Mary



Dear Friend of Mary,
   It is simply outrageous and shocking beyond belief that the Holy Mother of God is subject again to the intolerable blasphemies of the play The Testament of Mary. 
   The devil never gives up in his raging blasphemies against the meek, humble, and most pure Virgin who will crush his head.
   We ask you to join us again as this blasphemous play is scheduled to be shown by The Mamai Theatre Company in Cleveland, Ohio, with blasphemies against Mary, such as:
  1. Possibly stripping most pure Mary completely naked on stage, as was done in NYC on Broadway in 2014.
  2. Denying Jesus to be the Son of God.
  3. Saying “I am not one of his followers.”
  4. Calling the apostles “a group of misfits.” Not one of them “normal.”
  5. Fleeing the Crucifixion, saying: “It was my own safety I thought of; it was to protect myself.”

   We will steadfastly oppose this outrage, and ask that you join us. 

This drives out the devil - always!

The devil can be driven out in a thousand ways:
the only infallible way
is through obedience.

St. Joseph Marello

St. Albert Chmielowski

Born on August 20, 1845, Albert belonged to a wealthy, aristocratic Polish family. Involved in politics from a young age, at eighteen he lost his leg during an uprising against Czar Alexander III of Russia.

Albert had a great talent for painting, and eventually became a well-know and rather popular artist. But he soon became aware of the suffering of the poor of the city, and felt compelled to help those in need. He abandoned his art and became a Secular Franciscan to dedicate his life to helping those in need. In 1887, he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, known as the Albertines or the Gray Brothers. Then, in 1891, he founded a community of Albertine sisters, known as the Gray Sisters. The Albertines organized food and shelter for the poor and homeless of any age or religion, dedicating their good works to God.

Albert died on Christmas Day, 1916.  He was canonized on November 12, 1989.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Resentment

We should blush with shame
to show so much resentment at what is done or said against us,
knowing that so many injuries and affronts
have been offered to our Redeemer and the saints.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Lutgardis

Born in the Netherlands in 1182, Lutgardis was sent to a Benedictine convent at the age of twelve because her merchant father had lost the money meant for her dowry, and marriage without it seemed unlikely.

She was fond of worldly things, and had no inclination toward a religious life. However, one afternoon she had a vision of Our Lord, Who showed her His sacred wounds and asked her to love Him and Him alone.

Lutgardis immediately renounced all worldly pleasures and became a religious. She often saw Christ while engaged in prayer, and was allowed to share in His sufferings: her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of blood when she meditated on The Passion.

Desiring to live under a stricter rule, Lutgardis later joined a Cistercian convent at Aywieres. There she spent the final thirty years of her life, becoming known as a mystic with the gifts of healing and prophecy. During the last eleven years prior to her death she was totally blind, an affliction which she treated as an extraordinary gift from God because it reduced the distractions of the outside world.

Before she died, Our Lord appeared to her to warn her of her approaching death, and asked her to prepare for this event in three ways. She was to give praise to God for what she had received, pray constantly for the conversion of sinners and rely in all things on God alone. She died soon after the vision on June 16, 1246.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

You can only take with you a heart enriched

Remember when you leave this earth, you
can take with you nothing that you have received
– only what you have given:
a heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Germaine of Pibrac

Germaine was born in 1579 in Pibrac, a village in southern France. Her mother died soon after her birth, leaving the child in the care of her husband. Germaine’s father, who had no love for her on account of her right hand being paralyzed and deformed, eventually remarried. Her new step-mother was abusive, forcing her to sleep in the stable or in a cupboard under the stairs. She gave the sickly girl scraps and isolated her from her healthier step-siblings.

As soon as she was old enough, she was charged with the care of the family’s flock of sheep. During this time, surrounded by nature as she was, Germaine became closer to God, and attended Mass as often as she could. If she heard the church bells toll for the beginning of Mass, she would plant her crook and her distaff in the ground, commend her flock to her guardian angel and hurry to receive Holy Communion.

When she returned, she would find that though she had left the flock unattended, not one of the sheep in her flock had strayed or fallen prey to the wolves that often lurked nearby.

One winter day, when the ground was still frozen, her step-mother chased her with a stick, accusing her of concealing stolen bread in her apron. But when Germaine let her apron fall, summer flowers tumbled onto the hard ground. Her parents realized the deformed girl had been touched by God, and showing her kindness at last, invited her to live with them in the house. Yet she refused, and continued to live as before until one morning in 1601, she was found dead in the little cupboard under the stairs. She was twenty-two years old.

Germaine was buried in the church of Pibrac. Forty-three years after her death, her body was accidentally exhumed and was found incorrupt and flexible.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reject the corruption of the world

The whole essence of a Christian life is
to reject the corruption of the world
and to oppose constantly
any indulgence in it.

Pope Leo XIII

St. Methodius of Constantinople

Born in Sicily in the eighth century, Methodius, well educated and wealthy, hoped to receive a place in the Court of Constantinople. However, influenced by a holy monk, he decided to abandon materialism and become a religious, and built a monastery on the island of Chios.
In 815, during the second outbreak of the iconoclastic persecution, the movement against the veneration of icons, Methodius was sent to Rome as a representative of Patriarch Nicephorus, who was exiled by Emperor Leo V the Armenian for refusing to yield to the imperial decrees on the destruction of icons. The holy man spoke in favor of the reverence for holy images, seeking acceptance and approval for the icons, but he returned to Constantinople unsuccessful.

Methodius returned to Rome in 821 when a new emperor, Theophilius, sat on the throne, hoping to convince him to allow the veneration of icons. Instead, he was scourged and imprisoned for seven years.

In 843 he was consecrated as Patriarch of Constantinople with the backing of the Empress Theodora, Theophilius’ widow, and convened a council. Theodora was an ardent supporter of the veneration of icons and was the reason icons were restored to Catholic churches.

Methodius died in Constantinople in 847 of dropsy, or what is now called edema.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

One Hundred Years Ago Today: What did Our Lady say at Fatima?



Preceding the second apparition, the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, once again saw a great brilliance, which they called lightning. Some people in the group of fifty spectators noticed that the light of the sunlight dimmed during the first few minutes of the conversation. Others said that the top of the budding holm oak bent down, as if under the weight of something. During Our Lady's conversation with the seers, some of the bystanders heard a whispering, like the humming of a bee.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to pray the rosary every day, and to learn to read. I shall later say what I want.
(Lucia asked for the healing of a sick person.)
Our Lady: If he converts, he will be healed within the year.
Lucia: I would like to ask you to take us to heaven.
Our Lady: Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain here for some time yet. Jesus wishes to use you in order to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.
Lucia: Will I stay here alone?
Our Lady: No, daughter. Does that make you suffer much? Do not be dismayed. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart shall be your refuge and the road that shall lead you to God.

Lucia writes, ”Upon saying these last words, she opened her hands, and for the second time she communicated to us the reflection of that intense light. We could see ourselves in it, as if immersed in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the part of this light that went up toward heaven, and I in the part that was cast toward the ground. In front of Our Lady's right hand there was a heart encircled by thorns that seemed to pierce it. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, insulted by the sins of humanity and which desires reparation."
When this vision ceased, the Lady, still surrounded by the light that she radiated, rose from the little tree and glided toward the east until she disappeared completely. Several persons who were closer noticed that the buds at the top of the holm oak were bent in the same direction, as if they had been drawn by the Lady's clothes. They returned to their usual position only some hours later.

Jesus wishes to use you

Jesus wishes to use you in order to make me known and loved.
He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.
I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and
these souls will be beloved of God
like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.

Our Lady of Fatima to Lucia dos Santos

St. Anthony of Padua

Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal, in August, 1195. His noble and wealthy family arranged for him to be instructed at the Cathedral school where he was instilled with a deep religious piety. At fifteen, Fernando entered the Augustinian Order at the Abbey of Saint Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon and there studied theology, Latin and the Holy Scriptures.It was after his ordination to the priesthood that Fernando first came into contact with some Franciscan friars who settled near his monastery. From the beginning, Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars. However, it was not until the news came of the first martyrs of their order – five Franciscans beheaded in Morocco – and Fernando saw their mutilated bodies, which had been ransomed, being buried in the Abbey of Santa Cruz, that he obtained permission to leave the Augustinian Order and join the Franciscans, where he received the new name of Anthony. So inspired was he by the martyrs’ example that he set out for Morocco himself, with the hope of becoming a martyr too. However, he fell seriously ill en route and was forced to return to Portugal to regain his health. According to the designs of Divine Providence, on the return voyage, the ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily.

From Sicily he made his way to Tuscany where he was assigned to a convent of the order, but he was later assigned to the rural hermitage of San Paolo near Forlì, Romagna, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he lived in a cell made by one of the friars in a nearby cave and spent his time in private prayer and study.

One day, in 1222, in the town of Forli, on the occasion of an ordination, Anthony was persuaded to be the homilist. So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith that even the most unlettered and innocent might understand it and it made a great impression on all who heard. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers. Everyone was impressed with his knowledge of Scripture, acquired during his years of solitude at the hermitage of Forli.

Anthony was known as the “hammer of the heretics” in Italy. His great protection against their lies and deceits in the matters of Christian doctrine was to utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary. Outstanding among the stories of his dealings with the heretics – who would not listen to him as he tried to teach them the truths and joy of the Gospel – is the one which recounts how he became so frustrated one day by their stubbornness that he went out and preached to the fishes, who gathered in droves to listen attentively to his words, poking their heads up out of the water and refusing to leave until they had received the saint’s blessing.

Anthony died in 1231, at the age of thirty-five, and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than a year later. He was declared a Doctor of the Church and is especially invoked as the patron saint of lost articles.

Monday, June 12, 2017

There is no problem that cannot be resolved by the Holy Rosary

The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live
has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent
that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is,
whether temporal or above all spiritual,
in the personal life of each one of us, of our families
- that cannot be solved by the Rosary.
There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is,
that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

Sister Lucia dos Santos

St. Paula Frassinetti

Paula Frassinetti was born in Genoa, Italy into a Catholic family. At nineteen, she left home to live with her brother, who was a priest, to fulfill the call she felt toward a life of servitude to God.
Paula often assisted her brother in teaching poor children at his parish, and soon realized her vocation as an educator. In 1834, she and six other women began a school for the poor, and became known as the Sisters of St. Dorothy. The congregation grew quickly, and the schools eventually spread across Italy, then to Europe and Africa, Asia and onto the Americas, many of which remain open to this day.

Sister Paula Frassinetti died in 1882 and was canonized in 1984.

The human soul is a field of battle

The field of battle between God and Satan
is the human soul.
This is where it takes place every moment of our lives.
The soul must give free access to our Lord and be completely
fortified by Him with every kind of weapon.
His light must illuminate it to fight the darkness of error.
He must put on Jesus Christ, His truth and justice, the shield of faith,
the word of God to overcome such powerful enemies.
To put on Jesus Christ we must die to ourselves.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Barnabas the Apostle

Though Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, was not one of the Twelve chosen by Our Lord, he is still considered an apostle. He was closely involved with the apostles after Pentecost, and was principally responsible for their accepting Paul, who was a recent convert, into their midst.

Barnabas was sent by the disciples to lend a guiding hand to recent evangelization efforts in Antioch. The success in Antioch led to his first official mission trip: the holy man traveled all over, preaching the Gospel to all who would listen, even the Gentiles. Barnabas took Paul with him, and the two continued to evangelize and preach the Gospel together for many years.

Later, when the two apostles decided to revisit their missions, a sharp contention arose between them over whether John Mark should accompany them, and they parted company going their separate ways: Paul with Silas to Asia Minor and Barnabas with John Mark sailing to Cyprus. In the Apostle Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians he indicates that their friendship was unimpaired by this disagreement.

It has been said that Barnabas was stoned to death at Salamis, the Greek city-state near Cyprus in about the year 60.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion

One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion
is to preserve the soul from sin, and
to help those who fall through weakness to rise again.
It is much more profitable, then, to approach this divine Sacrament
with love, respect, and confidence,
than to remain away
through an excess of fear and scrupulosity.

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ithamar of Rochester

We know very little about St. Ithamar, but we do know that he was consecrated to the see of Rochester after the death of St. Paulinius.

He was the first Anglo-Saxon bishop in Britain, but according to the Venerable Bede, his wisdom and piety were equal to that of his predecessors.

In 655, Ithamar consecrated a fellow countryman as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He died just a year later in 656, and many churches were dedicated to him on account of his reputation for miracles.

His relics were enshrined in 1100.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Irresistable Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus



O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Here I am, knocking, seeking, and asking the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,I place all my trust in Thee.
 
O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, it shall be granted to you.” Here I am, asking Thy Father in Thy name for the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.
O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.” Here I am, and supporting myself on the infallibility of Thy words, I ask Thee the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.
Prayer:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom only one thing is impossible and that is not to feel compassion for the wretched, have pity on us, miserable sinners, and grant us the grace which we ask Thee through the Immaculate Heart of She who is Thy tender Mother and also ours. Hail Holy Queen…  
Saint Joseph foster father of Jesus, pray for us.



Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Families
Who Honor His Most Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will bless every house in which a picture of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  4. I will console them in all their difficulties.
  5. I will be their refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
  6. I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  7. Sinners shall find in My Heart a fountain and boundless ocean of mercy.
  8. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  9. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the hardest hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all who communicate on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My displeasure nor without the sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Memorare:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

He will be crowned

Blessed the one who continually
humbles himself willingly; he
will be crowned by the One
who willingly humbled himself for our sake.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Ephrem was born about the year 306 in Nisibis in Mesopotamia and is the only Syrian Doctor of the Church. He was a vigorous defender of the Faith, taking it upon himself to expose and combat many false doctrines of his time.

In 350, Ephrem and other Christians were forced to flee their homes when the Persians attacked their city. The holy deacon retired to a cave in a rocky height overlooking Edessa and lived most austerely until his death in 373.

Ephrem is known as the “Harp of the Holy Spirit” because he was a great poet and composer of holy songs. It has been said that Ephrem prayed to Our Lord to “stop the flow of inspiration” because he could not work fast enough to pen all the compositions in his head.

“St. Ephrem’s Prayer” is considered to be the Lenten prayer par excellence in the Byzantine Rite tradition as it succinctly summarizes the true spirit of Great Lent:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk.
But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother.
For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Also called “the zither of Mary,” Ephrem wrote most of his compositions in his cave above Edessa, dedicating many of them to Our Lady, to whom he had a great devotion. He is credited with bringing song into the offering of the Holy Liturgy of the Mass

Pope Benedict XV proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1920.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Spirit of God dwells in you

“Know you not
that you are the temple of God, and
that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

St. Paul the Apostle

St. William of York

William, Archbishop of York, is a rather intriguing saint due to the conflicts surrounding his “on again, off again” reign as archbishop, due in part to its timing. It was during a period of great civil unrest in England known as the Anarchy (1135-54) when the armies of the two cousins – Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda – were fighting each other for the English crown. William was the nephew of Stephen of Blois, which launched his ecclesiastical career right into the middle of the political conflict.

William was the unusually young treasurer of York Minster prior to his election as Archbishop of the diocese in 1141; but, even though he was elected by majority vote and with the support of Stephen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, who stood behind Empress Matilda on the other side of the political chasm, refused to recognize the canonical election and would not consecrate William. Indignant, Stephen authorized his brother, also William’s uncle, Archbishop Henry of Winchester, to consecrate him…without waiting for papal approval. Despite this, the clergy and people of York loved their new bishop for they saw in him a man of deep and intense piety, personal austerity, kindheartedness, and devoted generosity, especially towards the poor.

However, the Cistercians of Yorkshire, who had supported Henry Murdac, the Cistercian Abbot of Fountains Abbey, in the election, with the support and help of the renowned St. Bernard of Clairvaux, succeeded in accusing him of simony, sins against chastity, and intrusion, resulting in his deposition by Pope Eugenius III (also a Cistercian) and the corresponding appointment of Henry Murdac to head the diocese in William's place. However, the clergy of York refused to admit Murdac into the city and he was forced to withdraw and retire to Beverley for the remainder of his days. He died in 1147.

From this time until 1153, William took refuge with his friend the King of Sicily, where he lived a very austere life as a monk. By this time, the opponents to his election had died and the civil war in England had ended, and William appealed to the new pope, Anastasius IV, to restore him to his office. The Pope concurred and conferred on William the papal pallium. Thus, Archbishop William reentered his diocese in April, 1154, to the accompaniment of such a mass of exuberant supporters that the bridge over the Ouse collapsed under the weight. That no one was killed in the accident is considered a miracle.

Sadly, he was hardly back in office a month, before he died on June 8th, 1154, allegedly from his chalice being poisoned during Mass. He was canonized in 1227, by Pope Honorius III due to the large number of miracles reported at his tomb.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

10 Forgotten Facts About Fatima



While many Fatima devotees know the salient aspects of Our Lady’s message and the various events surrounding the apparitions, certain details or nuances could yet be overlooked. We dare offer here several points for study and reflection in the hope they will help one better appreciate the meaning of the Fatima message:



1.    A seventh apparition
Our Lady appeared six times at Fatima from May, 1917 to October, 1917. However, during the first apparition Our Lady mentioned that she will return to Cova the Iria, the site of the apparition, a seventh time. In her own words Our Lady said,
“I have come here to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the thirteenth day of each month at this same hour. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterward, I will return here a seventh time.”
Although Fatima specialists differ in their opinions with regard to its interpretation, nothing against Faith prevents a Catholic to hope and confide that this promise would be fulfilled in the near future. Certainly it is a glorious and most singular event a faithful Catholic could eagerly look forward to especially in our confusing and chaotic times. Perhaps, the seventh apparition would usher in the time of peace that St. Louis Grignion de Montfort described as the Reign of Mary and which Our Lady prophesied as the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.

2.    The Rosary and Purgatory                             
Also on the above occasion, Our Lady revealed to the three children that Francisco must say many Rosaries before he will go to Heaven and that a certain Amelia will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.
Here, Our Lady reiterates the salutary practice of praying the most Holy Rosary as a means to save one’s soul and offers it as a guarantee to Francisco’s safe passage to Heaven -certainly an invaluable counsel from the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
She likewise points out the very reality of the existence of Purgatory and even cites a striking example of a poor yet already saved soul who will endure its purifying fires till the end of the world. According to the research done by Father Sebastião Martins dos Reis, Amelia died under circumstances involving dishonor in matters of chastity. Shocking as this fact may had been to  Father Thomas McGlynn, O.P. during his own interview, Sister Lucia recalled that more tragic were those souls who suffered the fires of hell forever because of a single mortal sin!

3.    The difference between the Angel’s and Our Lady’s apparitions
The children’s physical, emotional and psychological experience with the Angel of Portugal and Our Lady were different. In her memoirs, Sister Lucia writes,
“I do not know why, but the fact is that the apparitions of Our Lady had a very different effect on us. There was the same intimate gladness, the same peace and happiness. But instead of physical weariness, we felt a certain expansive liveliness, a sense of glee instead of that annihilation in the Divine Presence, a certain communicative enthusiasm instead of that difficulty in speaking…”
One stark contrast between the angel and Our Lady is their different natures. The former is pure spirit while the latter is flesh and spirit; body and soul. The angel’s superior nature drained much energy from the children which left them in a state of annihilation.
Since the children are of the same nature as Our Lady, one could surmise that this may explain why the children were more at ease with Our Lady. The human nature they shared with Our Lady found a pleasing and lively consonance with her. One could feel assurance and confidence in Lucia’s observation and experience that, indeed, Our Lady was assumed into Heaven in both body and soul – a dogma of the Faith.

4.    The importance of prayer, penance, sacrifices and mortification for the conversion of sinners.
While it is true that the above is the constant and recurring theme of Our Lady’s Fatima message, it behooves Catholics to understand how and why it is so; especially in modern minds where the notion of mortification and penance is watered down or simply brushed aside as archaic or medieval.
The gravity of the moral crisis pervasive in the world requires continued prayers, penances and sacrifices which prompted the three children especially little Francisco and Jacinta to practice them to an extreme and heroic degree. At the height of their innocence, the two younger children understood their necessity and offered themselves admirably as expiatory victims. But Our Lady’s appeal for prayer and penance made to the children also applies to the rest of mankind.
According to Father Fredrick William Faber, D.D. in his book, Growth in Holiness, much is to be gained by us lesser mortals in the practice of mortification for it tames the body and brings the unruly passions under the control of grace and our superior will. It increases the range of our spiritual vision and makes our conscience more sensitive to the discernment of the subtleties that separate not only those between venial and mortal sins but also those between what is faulty and imperfect.
Suffering easily becomes power in the things of God. For isn’t it true that Our Lord redeemed mankind through His bloody sacrifice and immense suffering on Calvary?
Leading mortified lives encourages us to persevere in prayer, gives us strength in resisting temptations, makes us unworldly and frees our heart from earthly vanities and attachments.

5.    The persecutions suffered by the children from family and friends, people and media because of the apparitions 
Lucia, in particular, was most aggrieved by the incredulity of her mother and kin as well as by the withdrawal of their affectionate treatment of her. Her sufferings were much more intensified given her tender age.
Francisco and Jacinta fared better within their family for their parents never held a hostile attitude towards the apparitions. Yet, they weren’t spared from the jokes and wisecracks of neighbors and from the laughter and sneers of by-standers along the road.
The skeptical and secular media of their day were no less forgiving in subjecting them to ridicule and sarcasm. Nationwide, newspapers staged a bitter campaign of hatred and denigration to discredit the apparitions.
Nevertheless, despite all these ill-treatment and vitriolic affronts, the children bore them with admirable patience and charity always mindful of Our Lady’s request to offer their sacrifices for the sake of poor sinners. An edifying example one should emulate in the daily inconveniences one encounters everyday. Here one is reminded of St. Therése of the Child Jesus’ little way.


6.    Modifications to the Five First Saturday Devotion to facilitate its practice
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:
  1. Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturday so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  2. Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  3. Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturday.  One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

7.    Reasons for the Five First Saturdays Devotion
This may seem academic to some but it would be good to recapitulate here the reasons for they can be forgotten. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
a. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
b. Blasphemies against her virginity
c. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
d. Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
e. Direct insults against Her sacred images

8.    A greater miracle denied
Sister Lucia revealed later in her life that the miracle of the sun could have been greater had the children not been abducted by Arthur Oliveira Santos, the cruel and conniving administrator of the Administrative Council of Vila Nova de Ourém. She originally expressed this remarkable detail in the interrogation done by Father Manuel Marques Ferreira on August 21, 1917, two days after the apparition but which she left out in her 1941 report.
Here is a fitting example of a transgression committed against the wishes of Our Lady which she left unpunished. Though no fault of the children, it is lamentably sad to note that the multitudes at Fatima on the afternoon of October 13, 1917 were deprived of a far greater miracle if not for the deception, trickery and malice of civil authorities.

9.    Unknown light or Aurora Borealis?
Sister Lucia considered the extraordinary light that illuminated the skies of Europe on the night of January 25-26, 1938 during the hours of 8:45 p.m. to 1:15 a.m., as “the great sign” - the unknown light that Our Lady predicted that would signal that war was near.
Astronomers and skeptic brush it off as a mere aurora borealis though its character was remarkably unprecedented.
Interestingly enough, the book, The Secrets of Fatima explains:
"This aurora appeared as far south as Galicia, Spain, where Sister Lucy was then cloistered, and she, the only survivor of the three Fatima shepherds, recognized it immediately as the sign. Visible even to Pius XI in Rome, the unprecedented aurora was accompanied by a ‘crackling' sound, possibly attributable to discharges of atmospheric energy. Indeed, in many areas of Europe, panic broke out; as the populace concluded that the world was on fire and that the End had come."
The New York Times for January 26, 1938, carried the following:
"London, January 25th, 1938. The Aurora Borealis rarely seen in Southern or Western Europe spread fear in parts of Portugal and lower Austria tonight while thousands of Britons were brought running into the streets in wonderment. The ruddy glow led many to think half the city was ablaze. The Windsor Fire Department was called out thinking that Windsor Castle was afire. The lights were clearly seen in Italy, Spain, and even Gibraltar. The glow bathing snow-clad mountain tops in Austria and Switzerland was a beautiful sight but firemen turned out to chase non-existent fires. Portuguese villagers rushed in fright from their homes fearing the end of the world."

10.    Jacinta’s last words:
Tempered and molded by extraordinary penance and sacrifice, 10-year-old Jacinta proved to be precocious and prophetic in her vision of things. She had many private apparitions and countless revelations. Such was her supernatural illumination and holy wisdom that Mother Godinho, the directress of the Lisbon orphanage where Jacinta stayed prior to her death in the hospital, could only asked in awe and wonder, “Who taught you all these things?” The following statements uttered by Jacinta showed her depth of soul in face of the moral decay ravishing the world:
  • The sins which cause most souls to go to Hell are the sins of the flesh.
  • To be pure of body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not look at what one should not see, not to steal, never to lie, always to tell the truth however hard it may be.
  • Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear. People who serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.
  • Doctors do not have the light to cure the sick because they do not have love of God
  • Priests should only occupy themselves with the affairs of the Church. Priests should be pure, very pure. The disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors and to the Holy Father greatly offends Our Lord.
  • To be a woman religious, it is necessary to be very pure in soul and body.
  • Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord, and they are not of God.
  • Confession is a sacrament of mercy. Therefore, one must approach the confessional with confidence and joy.
  • My godmother, pray much for those who govern! Woe to those who persecute the religion of Our Lord. If the government left the Church in peace and gave freedom to the holy Faith, it would be blessed by God.
  • Wars are nothing but punishments for the sins of the world.
  • Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of her beloved Son from the world. It is necessary to do penance. If people change their ways, Our Lord will still spare the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come.      





Sources:a.    Fatima: A Message More urgent than Ever, Luiz Sergio Solimeo
b.    Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy and Hope, Augusto A. Borelli
c.    Growth in Holiness, Father William Fredrick Faber, D.D.

I promise you

I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart
that my all-powerful love will grant to all those
who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays of nine consecutive months
the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace,
nor without receiving the sacraments.
My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Anthony Gianelli

Anthony Maria Gianelli was born in 1789 into a middle-class family living near Genoa in the north of Italy. As a child, people were often struck by his gentle nature, industriousness, and extraordinary intelligence. When he came of age, the lady who owned the farm his family lived on became his generous benefactress and financed his schooling and entry into the ecclesiastical seminary in Genoa.

He quickly distinguished himself by his virtue and exceptional eloquence, thus earning him the unusual privilege of being allowed to preach while still a subdeacon. In 1812, when he was twenty-three years old, he was granted special dispensation to be ordained a priest two years before the required canonical age.

Although Fr. Anthony was dedicated to his educational work, he also devoted himself to the work of preaching and hosting missions which resulted in a great harvest of souls. All this was in addition to all his ordinary duties and functions as a parish priest – indeed, he was often confined to his confessional for long stretches of time in order to accommodate the endless stream of penitents who flocked to him for spiritual aid. He was ordained a bishop in 1838 and appointed to the diocese of Bibbio, where he led his flock by his extraordinary example of virtue, prudence and firm government.

Before his death from a fever in 1846, at the age of fifty-seven, Bishop Gianelli founded three religious orders - two for men and one for women. The Missionaries of St. Alphonsus and the Oblates of St. Alphonsus were established in 1827-1828; but sadly, both lasted only twenty years. The Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden were founded in 1829 and dedicated their lives to teaching poor children and caring for the ill and infirm. They are still active and well known today in Italy and in other parts of the world as well.

Anthony Gianelli was canonized in 1951 by Pope Pius XII.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God gave Himself

God gave Himself
to you:
give yourself to God.

Bl. Robert Southwell

St. Norbert of Magdeburg

Norbert was born in the year 1080 in Xanten, Germany, to a noble and wealthy family. Norbert lived a life of pleasure until one day he lost consciousness after being thrown from his horse during a thunderstorm. He awoke an hour later, and said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “Turn from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it,” came the heavenly reply.

After his conversion, Norbert pursued the priesthood and was ordained in 1115. He received special permission from the Pope to preach the Gospel wherever he chose. Fiinding himself at Prémontré in France, Norbert founded a community under the rule of St. Augustine, with the sanction of the Holy See. At first, Norbert had only thirteen followers but the numbers increased to forty by 1121 and by 1125, eight abbeys and two convents had been established.

In 1126, Norbert was chosen Archbishop of Magdeburg. He struggled to reform the clergy, many of whom were leading careless lives, and ultimately succeeded in his reformation endeavors. Four years later, he defended Pope Innocent II, whose claim to the papacy was threatened by Antipope Anacletus II. Norbert won over the hierarchy of the Church in Germany to Innocent’s cause and influenced the German King Lothar to defend Innocent.

Norbert died in Magdeburg in 1134 at the age of fifty-three. He was formally recognized as a saint by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Does Love Arouse Hatred?

*by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
A friendly reader asked me to explain why the Church has been fought so fiercely throughout her history even though she is the preacher of the Truth. He also wants to know why true Catholics, who do not compromise with present-day errors and remain faithful to the immutable teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ are so relentlessly attacked. 
It seems to me that the reader could have broadened the scope of his question even further. Persecutions against the Church and today’s true Catholics are historic prolongations of those carried out against Our Lord Jesus Christ. How to explain that the Man-God, who is the Truth, the Way and the Life was persecuted to the point of being crucified between two vulgar thieves? 
This question was given a luminous answer by one of the greatest Church Doctors of all time, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hyppo. To facilitate the readers’ understanding, I reproduce here, slightly adapted, the teaching of the great Doctor of the fourth and fifth centuries.
 
Saint Augustine (by Fra Angelico)
Commenting on the famous phrase of Terentius, “truth engenders hatred,” Saint Augustine [Confessions, Book 10, Chapter 23] asks himself how to explain such an illogical fact. 
Indeed, he says, man naturally loves happiness. Now, happiness is the joy born of the truth. 
Thus, it is an aberration for anyone to see the man who preaches truth in the name of God as an enemy. 
Having thus enunciated the issue, the holy doctor goes on to explain it. Human nature has such a propensity to the truth that when man loves something contrary to the truth he still wants that something to be true. In so doing he falls into error by persuading himself of something which in reality is false. 
Therefore, someone must open his eyes. Now then, since man does not allow anyone to show him that he was mistaken, for the same reason he tolerates no one to show him the error in which he finds himself. 
And the Doctor of Hyppo notes: In so doing, some men hate the truth for the sake of that which they have taken as true! They love the light of truth but not being reprehended by it… They love it when it shows itself to them; they hate it when it makes them see who they are. 
This is how such men are punished for their disloyalty: they do not want to be unveiled by it and nevertheless it blows their cover. And yet, it — the truth — remains hidden to their eyes. “This is precisely how the human heart is shaped. Blind and slothful, unworthy and dishonest, it hides while not allowing anything to be hidden from it. So it happens to be unable to flee from the eyes of the truth, but the truth flees from its eyes.” With these words, Saint Augustine concludes his masterly commentary.

The Church is like a great ship

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church
is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses.
Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.

St. Boniface of Mainz

St. Boniface of Mainz

Boniface was born Winfrid around the year 680 to a respected and noble English family, and it was to his father’s great displeasure that, at the young age of five, his son devoted himself to the monastic life.

Educated at the monastery school close to Exeter, with further studies guided by the monks and, later, directed by the learned Abbot Winbert at the Abbey of Nursling in Winchester, Boniface became a very learned and popular scholar. His popularity and skill in teaching attracted many other students and scholars, for whose benefit he wrote the first Latin grammar known to have been compiled in English. After continued studies, he was ordained to the priesthood at the age of thirty.

Convinced of his calling to be a missionary, Winfrid declined the position of abbot at the monastery of Nursling and obtained from his superior permission to travel to Frisia to assist the famous missionary, St. Willibrord, who had been struggling for a long time to bring the Gospel home to his people. However, the mission ended in failure and Winfrid was forced to return to England a few months later.

Refusing to give up though, Winfrid set out for Rome to ask the Holy Father himself for an official mission and the backing of the Church. Pope Gregory II consented, gave him the new name of Boniface, and assigned him to work in German Thuringia, where the Church was in bad shape, isolated, and subjected to superstition and heresy. However, Boniface received no help from the local clergy and once more traveled to Frisia to join Willibrord and to be trained by the expert missionary. He was so helpful that St. Willibrord wanted to make Boniface his successor; but after three years of formation, Boniface still felt the pull of the missionary work in Germany that he had left behind. Returning first to Rome where he was consecrated bishop by the pope, Boniface set out once more for Hesse.

Boniface had enormous work ahead of him. The pagans, though attracted to Christianity, were still bound by fear and superstition to their old religion and gods. To prove to them the falseness of their beliefs and the reality of the one true God, Boniface called the people together and, approaching the “sacred” oak of Geismar, struck it down with an axe, whereupon it split into four parts and fell to the grown in the shape of a cross. Yet, there stood Boniface, still holding his axe, unharmed by their gods.

The work of evangelization and conversion advanced steadily thereafter; and in answer to his appeal, monks and nuns enthusiastically began to arrive from England to assist him.

Boniface also lent his own support to the Frankish Church which was also in sad need of repair, setting up councils and synods and instituting reforms which revitalized the Church there.

One day, while camped in the open fields near the banks of the little river Borne with his attendants, he was awaiting the arrival of some confirmandi when they were attacked by a hostile band of pagans. The saint exhorted his companions to faith and courage and they all died the death of martyrs. St. Boniface’s body was taken to Fulda where it still rests.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Letter from Above

Young Lady Jane was as sweet as she was lovely. Being the daughter of a prince, the whole world lay before her, full of possibilities.
At a young age, Jane chose the road less traveled, that of giving her life to her Savior as His bride. With her parents’ blessing she entered a monastery, not too distant from her ancestral home. Sadly, the discipline of this monastery was so relaxed, that, although she was a young person of good intentions, she advanced but little in virtue.
But her Divine Spouse watched over Jane and sent her a blessing in the form of a holy confessor. This devout man of God recognized Jane’s plight – though she herself did not – and with all seriousness implored her to pray a Rosary every day. With youthful enthusiasm Jane took her confessor’s advice to heart and she began to say the Rosary, daily thinking about the mysteries as she prayed. This simple devotion caused her to become so changed that she was an example to all.
Unfortunately, her fervor pricked the consciences of those who enjoyed the laxity allowed in the monastery. The other religious, taking offence at her for withdrawing from them, attacked her on all sides, to induce her to abandon her newly-begun way of life.
One day while she was repeating the Rosary, and praying to Mother Mary to assist her in this persecution, she saw a letter fall from above. The paper was of purest white, feeling almost silky to Jane’s touch. The script flowed along the page as if it were dancing the most elegant of dances. On the outside were written these words: "Mary, mother of God, to her daughter Jane, greeting;" and within :
"My dear child, continue to say my Rosary ; withdraw from conversation with those who do not help you to live well ; beware of idleness and vanity ; take from your cell two superfluous things, and I will be your protectress with God."
The young nun kept her letter close and read it often. More importantly, she followed her Mother’s gentle advice to the letter and continued to hold fast in the face of persecution. It is no small thing to remain close to Our Lady while being deprived of human companionship, but Jane did all within her power to please her “protectress.”
It was not long before the abbot of that monastery paid a visited. Seeing the lack of discipline and virtue among the majority of its inhabitants, he attempted to reform it, but did not succeed. One day, to his horror, he saw a great number of demons entering the cells of all the nuns, except that of Jane. Drawing closer to the favored cell, the abbot came upon Jane kneeling before an image of Our Lady. At one glance the abbot could see that same heavenly mother banishing the demons from Jane’s cell.
He quietly withdrew and entered the gardens to pray for guidance. After a time, he called the young nun to his side, asking her the most general questions about her life in the monastery and her religious practices. When he heard from her of the devotion of the Rosary which she practiced, and the letter she had received from above, everything became clear. He now had a sure means of reform for the entire monastery! He ordered all the others to repeat it, and it is related that this monastery soon became a paradise under the gentle gaze of its protectress.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The heart of the most Holy Virgin Mary

The Father takes pleasure in looking upon
the heart of the most Holy Virgin Mary, as
the masterpiece of His hands; for we always
like our own work, especially when it is well done.
The Son takes pleasure in it as the heart of His Mother,
the source from which He drew the Blood that has ransomed us;
the Holy Ghost as His temple.

St. John Vianney

St. Francis Caracciolo

On October 15, 1563 Francis Caracciolo was born into a noble Italian family. When he was twenty-two, he developed a skin disease similar to leprosy. The disease was incurable, but Francis vowed that if he was healed, he would dedicate his life to God and the service of others. He quickly recovered after his vow and the healing was reported to be miraculous.

Francis then became a priest, and on June 1, 1588, officially began the Minor Clerks Regular, an order that combined the active with the contemplative life. Some of the priests and brothers lived in hermitages, devoting themselves entirely to prayer and contemplation, but the others worked mainly as missionaries and attended to those in hospitals and prisons.

Though he was opposed to filling the post himself, Francis eventually became superior. For seven years he remained in this position, all the while taking his turn maintaining household tasks. He founded houses in Madrid, Valladolid and Alcala before being allowed to retire in 1607 that he might prepare himself for death.

In 1608, at the age of forty-four, Francis was seized with a fever and died. He was canonized in 1807.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How much love?

The particular object of this devotion
 [to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]
is the immense love of the Son of God which induced Him
to deliver Himself up to death for us and
to give Himself entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
The thought of all the ingratitude and all the outrages
which He was to receive in this state of immolated victim until the end of time
did not prevent Him from operating this prodigy.
He preferred to expose Himself each day to the insults and opprobrium of men
rather than be prevented from testifying
– by working the greatest of all miracles –
to what excess He loved us!

Fr. Jean Croiset, spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

Charles Lwanga was one of twenty-two Ugandan martyrs who were converted from paganism by the Society of Missionaries of Africa. Chief of the royal pages, Charles eventually became a moral leader: he protected the other pages from the immoral demands of the Babandan ruler, Mwanga, and instructed them in the Catholic Faith, even baptizing some of them. He inspired and encouraged his companions to remain chaste and to be faithful to God even through imprisonment and persecution.
When Mwanga began to see the Catholics as a threat to his rule, he sentenced them to death. He ordered his pages into a great room and ordered the Catholics to separate themselves from the rest. Then he asked if they intended to remain true to their faith, even when faced with persecution. “Until death!” they responded.

On June 3, 1886, the converts were tortured and burned alive. Soon persecution spread, and more and more Catholics were sacrificing their lives rather than deny Christ. The twenty-two martyrs were solemnly beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1946.