Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There are saints in all states of life

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and
in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity
by fulfilling their obligations well.

St. Anthony Maria Claret

St. Andrew the Apostle

















   “O most beautiful Cross that was glorified by carrying the Body of Christ! Glorious Cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”

Thus did the Apostle Andrew salute the cross upon which he was to die. For two days he hung upon it and never ceased preaching to the crowds that gathered round him. Who was Andrew? And how had he come to embrace so willingly – no, more, to long for – this universal symbol of infamy?

Andrew was an elder brother of Simon Peter and both plied their trade of fishermen on the tempestuous Sea of Galilee. Sons of Jonas, they lived in the fishing village of Bethsaida, a town much frequented by Our Lord during His public ministry. Andrew had become an early disciple of St. John the Baptist and it was while listening to him preach on the banks of the River Jordan one day that John’s words set him on a course he was to follow for the rest of his life. “Behold the Lamb of God,” proclaimed the Baptist on seeing Our Lord approach. Immediately, Andrew and another disciple followed Him.

The words of this beautiful prayer attributed to the Apostle Andrew upon meeting his cross show that he had known for a long time that he would be a martyr. He had meditated on it in relation to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He entirely understood and loved the hour of his supreme suffering. He completely accepted the chalice God had prepared for him to drink.

The cross was a symbol of punishment and was reserved for criminals. But for Andrew, it was a “most beautiful” thing because it had been “glorified by carrying the body of Christ.”

Then, he added that he had “sweetly desired it.” With this, one understands that for years he had prepared himself to offer this disinterested holocaust: to be killed for the love of Our Lord, to allow himself to be consumed and spent like the perfume that Mary Magdalene spilt to honor Our Lord. There was no practical goal in those acts of homage. They were sacrifices made for no other reason than to please God: to expend precious things to manifest love for Him. Even if his sacrifice would not produce a good for souls and a humiliation for the enemies of the Church, Andrew wanted do die a martyr to prove how much he loved Our Lord. This is why he said he had “sweetly desired” to be crucified. The words express the splendor of the soul of a martyr.
The Apostle continued by saying that he had “ardently awaited” the cross. Today men flee far from any kind of suffering, any kind of fight against their own passions, any kind of renunciation. For them to live is to enjoy a good life. Andrew, however, ardently awaited his own cross because he understood that what counts in life is not the pleasure he has, but the sacrifice he makes. This is what gives meaning to life. Therefore, the truly supernatural man is a friend of the cross, as St. Louis Marie de Montfort said so well.

Andrew not only accepted the crosses given him during his life, but he looked for them. This is clear when he said that he had “always sought” sacrifice. Then, in the hour of his martyrdom he had that marvelous reaction – he said that his “heart had long awaited” the crucifixion. Which one of us can say a thing like that? What a sublime courage Andrew had in saying these words, which, however, came to his lips naturally and with complete serenity because he had always lived in preparation for that.

Our Lord said that there is no greater friend than one who would give his life for the other. No one can give a greater proof of friendship with Our Lord than to desire the cross like this Apostle did.

He continued: “Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.” Can any soul be more prepared for the beatific vision than one who would make this prayer at the hour of his death?

After his crucifixion, Andrew remained two days hanging on the cross before dying. While he was on the cross he was teaching the people who came to watch him die. How priceless that teaching was! What "cathedra" could ever be more sublime to teach people from? These were his last words:

Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Problems

Problems do not go away.
They must be worked through or else they
remain
forever a barrier to the growth and
development of the spirit.


Dr. Scott Peck M.D.

St. Radbod of Utrecht

The last pagan king of the Frisians was noted for saying that he preferred to be in Hell with his ancestors than in Heaven without them. However, his great-grandson and namesake became a saint.

Under the tutelage of his maternal uncle, Gunther, Bishop of Cologne, the young Radbod often wrote hymns and poems about the saints. In the year 900 he wrote: “I, Radbod, a sinner, have been taken, though unworthy, into the company of ministers of the church of Utrecht; with whom I pray that I may attain to eternal life.

Before the year was out, he was chosen bishop of that church. As the church of Utrecht had been founded by priests of a monastic order, Radhod made his profession as a monk before being consecrated its bishop.

From the time of his consecration the new bishop never ate meat, often fasted as long as three days and was renowned and loved for his kindness to the poor.

During a Danish invasion, Radhod moved his episcopal see from Utrecht to Denventer, and there died in peace in the year 918.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Freedom

Everyone is free to deny morality.
No one is free to escape the effects of its violations.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Catherine Labouré

Catherine was born Zoé Labouré on May 2, 1806, the ninth of eleven children born to a farm family in Fain-les-Moutiers, France. When only eight years old, her mother died and Catherine was made responsible for the running the house and helping her father. Although she would remain illiterate her whole life, she was allowed to enter the convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the Rue du Bac in the French capital when she was twenty-two and took the name Catherine upon her profession.

Late on the night of July 18, 1830, Catherine was awakened by the vision of a young child who led her to the convent chapel. Arriving there, she found the Blessed Virgin awaiting her. Our Lady spoke to Catherine for more than two hours and revealed to her that God wished to charge her with a particular mission.

On November 27 of that same year, Our Lady appeared to her a second time in the chapel. She held a globe in her hands upon which the word France was written. Our Lady told Catherine that it represented the entire world, but that she had a special desire to help France in particular. Then the vision changed and Sister Catherine saw Our Lady standing on a globe crushing the serpent under her foot, with rays of light streaming from her hands. These words surrounded the vision: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The vision changed again and another image appeared of a cross surmounted by a capital M, and below it, two hearts, one thorn-crowned and the other pierced with a sword. The Virgin then spoke and instructed Catherine to have a medal made in replication of what she had seen and promised special graces to those who wore it.

Catherine told only her confessor about these visions. Though he was doubtful at first, he soon came to believe. He and the Archbishop of Paris were the only ones who ever knew that she was the sister who received the revelations – not even the Mother Superior of her convent knew – and with their help the first medals were forged and distributed in 1832. Soon many miracles were being attributed to them, and it took only a few years for their fame to spread throughout Europe.

Sister Catherine was transferred to the convent of Enghien-Reuilly and lived there for over 40 years, unknown, carrying out the humble functions of a gate-keeper, head of the poultry yard, and caring for the aged in the convent’s hospice. Only eight months before her death did she receive permission from her confessor to reveal to her Superior, Mother Dufès, that she was the one who had received the apparitions of Our Lady. She died on December 31, 1876. Soon after her funeral, miracles began being attributed to her intercession; and when her body was exhumed in 1933 it was found completely fresh and supple. She was canonized by Pope St. Pius XII on July 27, 1947.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

War

There must be a war in this life. 
In the face of so many enemies it is not possible
for us to sit with our hands folded.
 
There must always be a concern regarding
how we are proceeding interiorly and exteriorly.


St. Teresa of Avila

St. Francis Anthony Fasani

This son of the soil became one of the most illustrious preachers in the history of the Franciscan Order.

Born Donato Antonio Giovanni Nicola Fasani on August 6, 1681 to poor peasants in the Neapolitan town of Lucera, he lost his father at the age of nine. “Giovanniello”, or “Johnnie” as he was commonly called, was sent by his step-father to the Conventual Franciscans in his native town for his education. At fifteen, he entered the Franciscan novitiate at Monte Gargano taking the founder as his patron.

Remarkable among the young friar’s most cherished devotions was his tender love for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – not a dogma of faith at the time – his childlike affection for the Infant Jesus and his ardent devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.

In 1703 Brother Francis Anthony was sent to Assisi to continue his studies and two years later he was ordained to the priesthood. In Rome he received his doctorate in theology at the College of St. Bonaventure. First appointed lector of philosophy at the Franciscan college in Lucera, he was successively promoted to regent of studies, guardian and, ultimately, provincial superior, an office he held from 1721 to 1723. He later served as master of novices and then as pastor of the Church of St. Francis in his native town. When a bishopric was offered to him, he declined it.

A true shepherd of souls, his apostolic zeal was firmly grounded on an intense and deep interior life. His life of prayer was fortified by mortification, severe penances, and long hours spent in Eucharistic adoration. He was beloved by the poor, spent much time in visiting the sick and the aged, orphans and the imprisoned. Among the latter, his apostolic zeal embraced in a particular manner those condemned to death, whom he accompanied to their execution. He was much in demand as a confessor, spiritual director and preacher for which his ardent and filial love for the Blessed Mother was the inspiration. He gave retreats, led Lenten devotions and novenas and collected gifts for the children at Christmas.
Widely regarded in his own lifetime as a second St. Francis of Assisi, he died in 1742 just as he was beginning the solemn novena for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Upon hearing of his death, the poor children of Lucera ran through the streets, crying "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" In this humble Franciscan they had lost a true father and protector.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our last moment

We must live every moment of our lives, as if it were our last.

St. Francis de Sales

St. Sylvester Guzzolini

Sylvester was born in 1177 to a noble and prestigious Italian family. When he was of age, he was sent to Bologna and then Padua to study law, but feeling within himself a call to the ecclesiastical state, he left off the study of jurisprudence to pursue that of theology and the Sacred Scriptures. This course of action so angered his father upon Sylvester’s return to his native city of Osimo, that it is said his father refused to speak to him for ten years on that account.

Sylvester accepted a canonry at Osimo and zealously dedicated himself to his pastoral duties. He spent long hours in prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others. However, his efforts to rid his diocese of corruption were not always well received and he made enemies, among them, his own bishop. He had respectfully admonished his superior for neglecting the duties of his office and causing scandal and, in retaliation, the hostile prelate threatened to relieve him of his benefice.

It was not merely the threat from his bishop, however, that decided him to abandon the world. In 1227, while assisting at the funeral of a nobleman, his relative, who had been remarkably handsome in life and who had formerly been much admired for his worldly accomplishments, he looked into the open coffin. The sight of the decaying corpse brought his own certain end vividly to mind and placing before himself the thought that what this man had once been, he now was, and that likewise what his relative had become, he himself should one day be, he resolved to act in response of this spiritual awakening.

Renouncing the world entirely and deploring its scandals and blindness, the canon left the city quietly and retired to a secluded locale about thirty miles from Osimo. In this deserted place Sylvester lived in total solitude and utmost poverty until the owner of the property, recognizing his resident hermit, offered him a better site for his hermitage. His bodily mortification was most severe and yet many flocked to him for guidance and direction. Their numbers grew to such an extent that he eventually built a monastery to house them and when it became necessary to adopt a rule of life for the growing congregation, Sylvester chose that of St. Benedict.

Sylvester’s order was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. By the time of his death twenty years later, the saint had founded eleven monasteries and had guided the congregation for thirty-six years.

Friday, November 25, 2016

On the last day

The school of Christ is the school of charity.
On the last day, when the general examination takes place,
there will be no questions at all on
the text of
Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs
of Justinian.
Charity will be the whole syllabus.

St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandrian Egypt, and her mother was a secret Christian. Possessed of uncommon beauty and intellect, Catherine was educated in the sciences in her youth and, at the age of fourteen, was converted to Christianity by a vision and renounced the worship of false gods. Four years later, Catherine came to the attention of the Emperor in a most surprising way.

The Emperor Maximinus, who was violently persecuting the Christians at the time, was astounded when the young maiden presented herself to him and boldly admonished him for his cruelty and persecution, and endeavored to prove to him by the strength and logic of her arguments how iniquitous was the worship of false gods. Completely taken aback by Catherine’s audacity but unable to counteract any of her arguments himself, the Emperor summoned numerous scholars to the imperial palace to compel the young girl, by sophistic counter arguments and devious subterfuges, to apostatize against the Faith. However, not only did Catherine emerge from the contest victorious, but she conquered several of her adversaries by the eloquence and resounding veracity of her words. Declaring themselves won over to the Christian Faith, these new adherents were immediately put to death by the enraged Emperor and Catherine was most brutally scourged and imprisoned.

The Empress Augusta, meanwhile, curious to see the remarkable young girl for herself prevailed upon the military-commander Porphyry to accompany her to the prison with a detachment of soldiers. They in turn yielded to the strength of Catherine’s words, embraced the Faith and were baptized as Christians. They immediately won the martyr’s crown at the command of the furious Maximinus.

Seeing his best attempts to make the young noblewoman renounce her Faith come to naught, and her words converting many of those who came in contact with her, the Emperor condemned her to die on a spiked wheel. However, when it was brought before her, this instrument of torture was completely destroyed at her touch. Now enraged beyond all control, the tyrant issued orders for her immediate execution. She was summarily beheaded.

Over eleven hundred years after her glorious martyrdom, St. Joan of Arc identified St. Catherine of Alexandria as one of the saints who appeared to her and gave her counsels concerning her mission for France.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Give Thanks and Be Happy

Thanksgiving Article

 By M. Taylor

He stood in the road, a note of sadness in his simple, yet majestic demeanor, as He watched the ten men disappear in the distance.  Presently, a shape detached from the hazy group, and hurried back to thank the divine power that healed him of the dreaded leprosy.  “Were not ten made clean?” Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke, 17:17)



Indeed, gratitude is a virtue that our human nature often leaves by the wayside. I don’t know if we so much mean to be ungrateful, as that we easily take for granted what is given us, and so, forget the source–especially in a moment of joy. At times we can also have unrealistic expectations and thus fail to recognize the gift.
So, for a country to have made the giving of thanks a national holiday, and thus, so to speak, institutionalized gratitude, is indeed a great thing, and excellent thing, a thing that can’t fail to please God, the giver of all good things.
While many countries have some form of thanksgiving on their national calendars, Thanksgiving Day is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.
In Canada, the origin of the celebration has roots in English harvest festivals and, actually, precedes the origin of the American feast.
In the US, Thanksgiving dates back to the first colonists in Plymouth, M.A. in 1621, who organized a feast in thanks for a good harvest.
After that first gathering, religious and civil leaders offered various forms of thanksgiving through the years, but it was George Washington, while president of the United States, who proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving-Day on November 26, 1789.
He established the holiday “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
An attitude of gratitude moves the heart of God, as it moves the heart of anyone who is the object of sincere thanks.
Indeed, who knows but that the many and great blessings of our country are derived from that first attitude of grateful prayer of our first president?
In his marvelous little book, The Way of Trust and Love, Fr. Jacques Philippe, contemporary spiritual master, calls the virtue of gratitude “one of the secrets of the spiritual life that is also one of the laws of happiness.” 1
Expounding on the mysterious Gospel passage, “for to him who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 13:12),” Fr. Philippe elucidates that if we recognize and are grateful for all the good things we have received in life, we will receive even more. But if we choose to camp out in the barren land of resentment and discontent, we will receive less and less. 
This is a law written into nature. Indeed, a life lived with trust and gratitude shines, even in difficult moments. A life steeped in bitterness and resentment is miserable even amidst the greatest ease.
St. Paul invites us to “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  He also adds with force, “And be thankful!” (Colossians 3:15)
In the sight of God we are all lepers, our souls filled with sinful sores. As a nation, despite our great qualities, and our brave generosity, we have sinned grossly and continue to do so. Suffice it to mention the holocaust of abortion.
Yet God Our Lord makes His magnificent sun rise on us each day, and warms our lives, and grows our food and shines on our journey, ever inviting us back to Him.
So this Thanksgiving, as we carve that juicy turkey, and enjoy that velvety pumpkin pie, may America and Americans resolve to be the leper that not only comes to Him for forgiveness and healing, but who does not forget to return and thank–always.



 References:
Douay Rheims Bible OnlineWikipedia1 The Way of Trust and Love by Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 112Painting: Jennie Brownscombe - 1914 The First Thanksgiving

Very pleasing

The devotions we practice in honor of the glorious Virgin Mary,
however trifling they may be,
are very pleasing to Her Divine Son, and
He rewards them with eternal glory.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam

Born in 1795 in the Tonkinese town of Bac-Nihh in North Vietnam, Tran An Dung was the son of pagan parents. In search of work for themselves in 1807, his parents moved to the ancient citadel of Hanoi. Here their twelve-year-old son was taken care of by a catechist and for three years was instructed in the Catholic faith. Baptized in Vinh-Tri, he received the Christian name Andrew (Anrê) in baptism and went on to learn both Chinese and Latin and himself became a catechist. He was selected for further studies in theology and was ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1823.

An exemplary pastor, Andrew was ardent and indefatigable in his preaching, often fasted, and drew many to the Faith by his simple and moral life. As a testament of the love which his congregation had for him, in 1835, when he was imprisoned during the persecution of the Annamite emperor Minh-Mang, his freedom was purchased exclusively by donations from his parishioners.

The Vietnamese Christians suffered unspeakably during this time. Beginning in 1832 Minh-Mang expelled all foreign missionaries and commanded all Vietnamese Christians to demonstrate their renunciation of the Catholic Faith by trampling on a crucifix. Churches were destroyed; religious instruction was forbidden. Christians were branded on the face with the words ta dao (false religion) and Christian families and villages were obliterated. Many endured extreme privations and hardship; many more were put to death for their fidelity to the Faith.

To avoid further persecution by the authorities, Andrew Dung changed his name to Lac and relocated to a different region. While visiting a fellow priest, in order to confess himself, Dung-Lac was arrested with Father Peter Thi on November 10, 1839. In exchange for a monetary ransom paid to their captors, the two priests were liberated, but their freedom was short-lived. Re-arrested not long afterwards, they were taken to Hanoi and severely tortured. They were beheaded shortly before Christmas Day on December 21, 1839.

The priests, Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, were beatified on May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and formed part of a group of Vietnamese martyrs beatified together on that day. Another group, Dominicans all, was beatified on May 20, 1906 and a third on May 2, 1909 both by Pope St. Pius X. A fourth group, which included two Spanish bishops, was beatified on April 29, 1951 by Pope Pius XII. All 117 martyrs were canonized in Rome on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

These 117 martyrs met their deaths during several persecutions of Christians that swept through the Vietnamese peninsula between the years 1625 and 1886. Approximately 130,000 gave their lives for the Catholic Faith and further beatifications may be expected from amongst their glorious ranks. Among the 117 that have been canonized were 96 Vietnamese and 21 foreign missionaries. Of the Vietnamese group 37 were priests and 59 were lay people, among whom were catechists and tertiaries. One of them was a woman, mother of six children. Of the missionaries 11 were Spaniards: 6 bishops and 5 priests, all Dominicans; and 10 were French: 2 bishops and 8 priests from the Société des Missions Etrangères in Paris.

The tortures these martyrs endured were among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The means included cutting off limbs joint by joint, ripping living bodies with red hot tongs, and the use of drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Among the 117 Martyrs of Vietnam, 76 were beheaded, 21 were suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated and 9 died in prison as a result of torture.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The more pleasing will you be to the Blessed Virgin

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco

St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

No one

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except through thee;
no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God;
no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother;
no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O Filled-With-All-Grace!”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople

St. Cecilia

Cecilia was a devout Christian maiden of noble Roman birth who lived during the early part of the third century. At a very young age, she secretly dedicated herself to God, resolving to remain a virgin to her death. She fasted and prayed often, and wore a coarse shift under her clothes as a perpetual penance.

Although she had consecrated her body to the Lord, Cecilia’s father wished her to marry. She obeyed and married Valerian, the man her father had chosen for her. However, on the night they were married, Cecilia said to her new husband, “I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you touch me in the way of marriage, he will be angry and you will suffer; but if you respect my maidenhood he will love you as he loves me.”

Skeptical of his new wife and her religion, Valerian demanded to be shown the angel. “If you believe in the living and one true God and receive the water of baptism,” Cecilia told him, “then you shall see the angel.” The young man agreed, and sought out Bishop Urban who baptized him. Upon his return, Valerian found Cecilia in prayer with a crown of roses and lilies on her head. He saw that beside her stood an angel, who immediately crowned him as well.

Soon after, Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, found them praying in the chapel. He saw the crowns of flowers on their heads and the angel standing near and he, too, converted. From that time, the two brothers devoted themselves to the work of God. They were arrested and after refusing to pay homage to false idols, were tortured and killed.

Knowing that the two were married, officials visited Cecilia and tried to persuade her to worship the false idols. Instead, her holiness converted the officials who came to her door, and she was instead ordered to appear before Almachius, the provost of Rome. The provost entreated her to denounce Christ, and when she refused, condemned her to death. They barred her in her home and fed her furnace seven times the normal amount, an act that would have suffocated any other. However, after a day and a night spent in the fatal conditions, Cecilia still lived.

Almachius then sent a soldier to her house to behead her. The executioner struck her three times on the neck and still could not smite her head from her body. By law he could not do so a fourth time and he left her to die. During the three days of her agony, Cecilia gave all that she had to the poor, continually preached the faith, and all those who were converted by her words and example she sent to Pope Urban to be baptized.
St. Urban and his deacons buried her among the bishops in the catacomb of St. Callixtus along the Apian Way. As she had requested, her house was transformed into a church by the Holy Pontiff and it has remained in the service of the Church until this day.

St. Cecilia is known as the patroness of musicians because it is said that during the three days in which she lay dying, the crowd that had gathered could hear angels singing.
Second Photo by: Claude Valette

Monday, November 21, 2016

Make friends with the angels

Make friends with the angels. Though
invisible, they are always with you.
Often invoke them,
constantly praise them, and make good use
of their help and assistance
in all your
temporal and spiritual affairs.


St. Francis de Sales

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, we celebrate the fact that Our Lady’s parents brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a consecrated virgin where she might exclusively contemplate God.

There is a special beauty to this feast since it highlights the fact that Our Lady was chosen even before time began. She is called the root of Jesse (Isaiah, 11:1) from which Our Lord Jesus Christ would be born. She is introduced to the synagogue, the institution in charge of keeping this promise. Thus, the synagogue receives Our Lady as a first step. In this act, the hopes of ages would soon be fulfilled.

Our Lady, a supremely holy soul, is received in the Temple and entered into the service of God. Despite the corruption of the nation of Israel and the transformation of the Temple into a den of the Pharisees, an incomparable light appeared: the sanctity of Our Lady.

Unknowingly, Our Lady began to prepare herself to become the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In an atmosphere of grace in the Temple, she was set apart from everyone in order to serve God. She increased her love of God until she formed the ardent desire for the imminent coming of the Messiah and asked God if she might have the honor to be the servant of His Mother. She did not know that she was the one chosen for this honor. That is why she was perplexed when the Archangel Gabriel greeted her to ask her permission for the Incarnation.

Our Lady’s magnificent preparation to be the Mother of Jesus Christ began with her Presentation in the Temple, a feast the Church celebrates on November 21. It is fitting that we ask Our Lady to prepare us with the best of Catholic doctrine to serve God by serving her. We should present ourselves before Our Lady, asking her to assist us in taking up the task of our sanctification, as the Holy Ghost did with her in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.
While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.
Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.
On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.
Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.
During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.
A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.
When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”
When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 
Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.
The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  
By Armando Santos  

Most noble, profitable, and sweet

The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because
it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation,
because It gives us the Author of Grace;
it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself.

Pope St. Pius X

Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

During His life in this world, Our Lord exercised aspects of all professions fit for man—from the highest to the lowest. To even begin to appreciate the perfection of His Person, we would have to imagine the archetype of every licit profession known to man.

Consider Christ as king. In biblical times, a king held the highest office. Had not Israel demanded that God give them a king so that they might be like other nations? As Prince of the House of David and heir to the throne of Israel, Jesus possessed the nobility and grandeur proper to His state. As He entered Jerusalem in triumph that first Palm Sunday, it did not lessen His majesty that He rode in humility on the back of a donkey. To the contrary, the people acclaimed Jesus of Nazareth enthusiastically, sensing His royal grandeur without the prompts of pageantry.

Because His life was one of constant and unremitting struggle, Our Lord was also a warrior, a man of battle. Not only did Jesus defeat and drive out demons, He forcefully confronted the human allies of the Prince of Darkness. Even after He was betrayed into the hands of His adversaries, He humiliated them when, on being asked if He was Jesus of Nazareth, He answered simply, “Ego sum.” With these two words Christ cast His antagonists to the ground. What a magnificent warrior: hurling His enemies on their faces with but a simple affirmation!

Our Lord personified the fulfillment of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He was Priest and Pontiff par excellence. The priests of the Old Testament prefigured His priesthood, and every priest after Him would share His priesthood as an "alter Christus" - another Christ. On Holy Thursday, Christ was the Priest and Victim of the first Mass, which prefigured His sacrificial offering on the altar of the cross.

Our Lord was also a perfect diplomat. Consider how intelligently He thwarted the machinations of the Sanhedrin: here avoiding confrontation with circumspect and artful speech, there mastering it with impeccably judicious rejoinders.

Consider Christ as one who works with His hands, as does a manual laborer. Unthinkable? Have we forgotten the carpenter shop of Nazareth where Jesus worked under the watchful eye of His foster father Saint Joseph?

Christ was a servant, though few kings have washed the feet of their subjects.

In sum, were we to list every licit human endeavor, we would find that, in some manner, Christ exercised each with perfection beyond our comprehension.

As the perfection and pattern of the human race, Our Lord embodies all the gifts with which His Father has endowed every individual from Adam to the last man.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal



Opening Prayer:
O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, ask thy Son on my behalf for everything my soul and all mankind needs so that thy Reign be established on earth. My most earnest request is that thou mayest triumph in me and in all souls and implant thy Reign on earth.  Amen.



First Day Fourth Day Seventh Day
Second Day Fifth Day Eighth Day
Third Day Sixth Day Ninth Day



First DayFirst Day

The First Apparition
During the night of July 18-19, 1830, the Most Holy Virgin appeared for the first time to Saint Catherine Labouré, who had been awakened and led from the dormitory to the chapel by her guardian angel.
In the sanctuary, Saint Catherine later wrote:
“I heard something like the rustling of a silk dress, coming from the side of the tribune, close to Saint Joseph’s picture. She alighted on the steps of the altar on the Gospel side, in an arm chair like Saint Anne’s... As I looked up at Our Lady I flung myself close to her, falling on my knees on the altar steps, my hands resting in her knees. That was the sweetest moment of my life.”
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, look on my soul with mercy, obtain for me a spirit of prayer that leads me always to have recourse to thee. Obtain for me the graces that I implore of thee and, above all, inspire me to pray for the graces that thou most wants to grant me. 
 
Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



Second Day

Protection of Mary in times of trial
 “The times are very evil, misfortunes are going to befall France, the throne will be overthrown, the whole world will be overwhelmed with misfortunes of every kind.” The Holy Virgin looked very distressed as she said this. “But come to the foot of this altar. Here graces will be bestowed on anyone, great or small, who asks for them with confidence and fervor... A moment will come of such great danger that all will seem lost. But I shall be with you.”
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, amidst the great desolation in the world and the Church, obtain for me the graces I ask of thee and inspire me, above all, to request the graces that thou most wants to grant me. 
  
Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



Third Day


The Cross will be despised
 “The Cross will be despised and hurled to the ground, blood will run in the streets, the Side of Our Lord will be opened again. The archbishop will be stripped of his garments.” Here the Holy Virgin, her face filled with sadness, could no longer speak. “My child, the whole world will be plunged in sorrow,” she said to me.
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, obtain for me the grace to live in union with thee, with thy Divine Son and the Church at this crucial moment in history, as tragic as the Passion, when all humanity is about to choose sides for or against Christ! Obtain for me the graces I implore, especially the grace of requesting that which thou most wants to grant me.

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



Fourth Day


Mary crushes the head of the serpent
At 5:30 on the evening of November 27, 1830, as Saint Catherine was praying in the chapel, the Holy Virgin appeared to her for the second time, standing as high as Saint Joseph’s picture to the right of the main altar.
“Her face was so beautiful that it would be impossible for me to describe it. Her robe was white as the glow of dawn... Her head was covered with a white veil that extended to her feet which rested on a half sphere, with her heel crushing the head of a serpent.”
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, be my protection against the assaults of the infernal enemy. Obtain for me the graces I am asking of thee and, above all, inspire me to request the graces that thou most wants to grant me. 

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
 



 Fifth Day

The Virgin of the globe
The Holy Virgin holds a globe in her hands representing the whole world, and each person in particular, and offers it to God, imploring His mercy.
She wears rings on her fingers, bearing precious stones that shed rays, one more beautiful than the next, symbolizing the graces that the Holy Virgin pours out on those who ask for them.
Let us pray:  O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, obtain for me the graces I am asking of thee and inspire me, above all, to request the graces that thou most wants to grant me. 

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!




Sixth Day

The invocation on the medal
 During the second apparition, Our Blessed Mother explained to Saint Catherine “how pleased she is when people pray to her and how generous she is with them; how she gives special graces to those who ask; and what a great joy she takes in granting them.”
At that point “a frame formed around Our Lady, like an oval, bearing the following words in gold letters: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’”
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, obtain for me the graces I am asking of thee and inspire me, above all, to request the graces that thou most wants to grant me. 


Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



Seventh Day

Revelation of the medal
Then a voice was heard, saying, “Have a medal struck after this model. Those who wear it, blessed, around their neck will receive great graces. The graces will be abundant for those who wear it with confidence.”
Let us pray:  O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, obtain for me the graces that I ask of thee and inspire me, above all, to pray for the graces that thou most wants to grant me.

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
 
 
 



Eighth Day

The hearts of Jesus and Mary
 After contemplating the picture on the medal, Saint Catherine saw it turn to display the back. There she saw an “M,” the monogram of Mary, surmounted by a small cross and, below it, the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the first surrounded with thorns and the latter pierced with a sword.
Twelve stars surrounded the hearts and the monogram.
Let us pray: O Immaculate Heart of Mary, make my heart like unto thine. Obtain for me the graces I am asking of thee and, above all, inspire me to ask of thee the graces thou most wants to grant me.
  

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
 


Ninth Day

Mary will be proclaimed
Queen of the Universe Confirming the predictions of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort,  Saint Catherine says that the Most Holy Virgin will be proclaimed Queen of the Universe: “Oh! how beautiful it will be to hear: Mary is the Queen of the Universe. The children and everyone will cry with joy and rapture.
That will be a lasting era of peace and happiness. She will be displayed on standards and paraded all over the world.”
Let us pray: O Most Holy Virgin, O my Mother, obtain for me the graces I am asking of thee and inspire me, above all, to pray for the graces that thou most wants to grant me.

Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be...
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
 
 


 About the Miraculous Medal
In 1830, during the apparitions in the chapel on Rue du Bac in Paris, the Holy Virgin presented the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine Labouré: “Those who wear it, blessed, around their neck will receive great graces. The graces will be abundant for those who wear it with confidence.”
At the time of Saint Catherine Labouré’s death, the distribution of the medal in the world had surpassed the one billion mark. The innumerable conversions, cures and cases of extraordinary protection, quickly lead to its being called the “Miraculous Medal.”
Wearing and disseminating the Miraculous Medal means placing oneself under the protection of the Most Holy Virgin. It means placing oneself under the sign of the Immaculate and taking a stand in face of the troubles and indifference affecting the modern world.
“The whole world will be overwhelmed by misfortunes of all kinds... All will seem lost, but I shall be with you,” the Holy Virgin promised Saint Catherine, who repeated this prophecy till the end of her life.  The rays coming from Our Lady’s hands symbolize the graces she obtains for everyone who prays to her with confidence.




Miraculous Medal & Novena Banner

Fervently and devoutly

It is better to say one Pater Noster (Our Father) fervently and devoutly
than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.

St. Edmund the Martyr

St. Nerses I of Armenia

Born of royal descent, Nerses was the son of At'anagenes and his mother was the sister of King Tigranes VII and a daughter of King Khosrov III. His paternal grandfather was St. Husik I whose paternal grandfather was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the Armenian king to Christianity and became the first Patriarch of Armenia.

Nerses spent his youth in Caesarea and married a Mamikonian princess named Sanducht, who bore him a son, St. Isaac the Great. After his wife's death, he was appointed chamberlain to King Arshak of Armenia, but entered the ecclesiastical state a few years later. In 363, despite his protest of unworthiness, Nerses was consecrated Bishop of Armenia.

He was greatly influenced by St. Basil and, in effort to bring better discipline and efficiency to his diocese convened the first national synod in 365. He encouraged the growth of monasticism and established hospitals. His good deeds and promotion of religion angered the King, who was later condemned by Nerses for murdering his wife Olympia. It is said that Arshak mixed poison with the Lord's holy and divine Body, the Bread of Communion, and administered it to her, killing the queen in church.

Arshak died in battle against the Persians shortly thereafter. Nerses discovered that Pap, the king’s successor, was more ungodly than his predecessor. On account of his sinfulness, the holy man forbade Pap from entering the church until he repented of his ways. Angered, Pap feigned repentance and invited Nerses to dine at the royal table where he poisoned and killed him in 337.
Photo by: Adelchi

Friday, November 18, 2016

Which is better?

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I want to adorn myself

I want to adorn myself, not out of worldly pride,
but for the love of God alone – in a fitting manner, however,
so as to give my husband no cause to sin, if something about me were to displease him.
Only let him love me in the Lord, with a chaste, marital affection,
so that we, in the same way, might hope for the reward
of eternal life from Him who has sanctified the law of marriage.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia, she was born in Hungary in 1207. She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth’s brother succeeded his father on the throne as Bela IV; St. Hedwig, the wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia was her mother’s sister, while another saint, Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz, was her great-niece.

In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This marriage was the result of political considerations and intended as a ratification of an alliance against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarreled with the Church. Not long after the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him.

The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, little Elizabeth grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life.

In the year 1213, Elizabeth’s mother was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On December 31, 1216, the oldest son and heir of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment and his mother, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria and a deeply religious and very charitable woman, became a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth.

The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died on April 25, 1217, still unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in 1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year, Ludwig and Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The marriage was in every respect a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils, and often held Elizabeth’s hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier.

They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse; and Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth’s third child, who was born several weeks after the death of her father and later in life became abbess of the convent of Altenberg.

The followers of St. Francis of Assisi had made their first permanent settlement in Germany the year of Elizabeth’s marriage to Ludwig. For a time, the German Franciscan Caesarius of Speier was her spiritual director and through him she became acquainted with the ideals of St. Francis. These strongly appealed to her and she began to put them into practice: she observed chastity, according to her state of life, and practiced humility, patience, prayer, and charity. Her position, however, prevented her from living one she ardently desired: voluntary and complete poverty. In 1225, with Elizabeth’s assistance, the Franciscans founded a monastery in Eisenach.

Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the affairs of the empire. During the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the plague wrought havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the emperor. Under these disastrous circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs, distributed alms, giving even state robes and ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the castle of Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their needs; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life that has preserved Elizabeth’s renown as the gentle and charitable chételaine of the Wartburg. Upon his return, Ludwig confirmed all that she had done in his absence.

The following year he set out with Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died of the plague on September 11 at Otranto. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October, just after she had given birth to her third child. Upon hearing the news the queen, who was only twenty years old, cried out: “The world with all its joys is now dead to me.” In that winter of 1227, Elizabeth directed the Franciscans to sing a Te Deum and left the castle of Wartburg, accompanied by two female attendants. Her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, now acted as regent for her son Hermann, then only five years old.

At Pope Gregory IX’s recommendation, Master Conrad of Marburg, a well known preacher of the crusade and inquisitor, had become Elizabeth’s spiritual guide. He directed her by the road of self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization. Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity and tenderness.

Elizabeth’s aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine convent of Kitzingen near Würzburg, took charge of the widowed landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of chastity in the event of his death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants.

While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping bitterly, she buried his body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth’s strength was consumed by her charitable labors, and she passed away in 1231 at the age of twenty-four.

Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the church of the hospital. By papal command examinations were held of those who had been healed and at Pentecost of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the “greatest woman of the German Middle Ages” was celebrated by Pope Gregory IX at Perugia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This pierces My Heart

“The confidence that I truly have the power, the wisdom
and the goodness to aid a soul faithfully in all her miseries,
is the arrow which pierces My Heart,
and does such violence to My love that I can never abandon her.”

Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great

St. Margaret of Scotland

Born around the year 1046, Margaret was a pious and virtuous English princess of the House of Essex. She and her family fled north to the court of the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore to take refuge from William the Conqueror. Malcolm was captivated by Margaret’s goodness and beauty, and in the year 1070, they were married at the castle of Dunfermline.

A veritable blessing for the people of Scotland, Margaret brought civilization, culture and education to the rough Scots. She benefited her adopted country both academically and spiritually by obtaining good priests and educators for her people. She softened her husband’s temper, cultivated his manners, and helped King Malcolm to become known throughout the land as one of the most virtuous kings of Scotland.

Margaret bore Malcolm six sons and two daughters and reared them with utmost attention to their Christian faith. One of her daughters later married Henry I of England and three of her sons occupied the Scottish throne. Margaret lived a most austere life, giving herself mostly to God by fasting often, denying herself sleep and praying for long periods of time, the king often sharing in her prayers.

In 1093, King William Rufus of England attacked Scotland, and Malcolm was killed in battle. Margaret, already on her deathbed, died four days later. She was buried in the Abbey of Dunfermline, one of the many churches she and her husband had founded. Canonized in 1250, she was named patroness of Scotland in 1673.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Sheer Power of Mary's Name

At the name of Mary, the angels rejoice and the demons scramble.
Thomas a Kempis, author of the famous Imitation of Christ, affirms that:
“The devils fear the queen of heaven so much that by just hearing her name pronounced they fly from the person who utters it like from a burning fire”.
St. Ambrose compares her name to a sweet ointment, because whenever pronounced, it is a healing balm to our sinful souls.
“The name of Mary heals sinners, rejoices hearts and inflames them with God’s love”, says St. Alphonsus Liguori in his Glories of Mary.
Our Blessed Lady revealed to St. Bridget that there is not on earth a sinner, no matter how far he may be from God’s love who, on invoking her name with the resolution to repent, does not cause the devil to flee from him or her. No matter how imprisoned a sinner may be in the devil’s grip, as soon as the latter hears this sinner pronounce the sweet name of Mary, he is obliged to release him or her.
Our Lady also revealed to St. Bridget that in the same way as the devils fly from a person invoking her name, so do the angels approach pious souls that pronounce her name with devotion.
So, fellow sinners, this Lent let us invoke this “air-clearing” sweet and powerful name of Mary often! We and our loved ones will be the better, the freer and the happier for it!
Taken from The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori