Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kind children, ready for service and quick to love others

Children in a family without love
become rebellious, recalcitrant, stubborn,
selfish and cruel.
Adults who live in a loveless or Godless world
end in despair
which is the last extreme of self-love.
Those who are loved
become kind, ready for service
and quick to love others.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Augustine of Canterbury

One day, the story goes, Gregory was walking through the Roman slave market when he noticed three fair, golden-haired boys. He asked their nationality and was told that they were Angles. "They are well named," said Gregory, "for they have angelic faces." He asked where they came from, and when told "De Ire," he exclaimed, "De ira (from wrath)—yes, verily, they shall be saved from God's wrath and called to the mercy of Christ. What is the name of the king of that country?" "Aella." "Then must Alleluia be sung in Aella's land."

This brief encounter in the Roman Forum between the monk Gregory – later Pope St. Gregory the Great – and the English youths planted in him such a desire to evangelize England that having secured the blessing of Pope Pelagius, he immediately set forth with several monk companions. This ardent missionary desire, however, was not to be fulfilled by himself but by another.

Augustine was prior of a Benedictine monastery in the Eternal City when Pope St. Gregory the Great asked him and another thirty monks to take up the evangelization of England, a project close to the pontiff’s heart.

England had been Christianized before the seventh century, but the Saxon invasion had sent Anglo-Christians into hiding.

As Augustine and companions made their way to the isle, they heard so many stories of the cruelty of their future hosts, that by the time they reached France, they decided to turn back to Rome. But Pope Gregory who had heard differently, including the fact that King Ethelbert had married the Christian-French princess Bertha, respecting her religion, insisted on the mission being carried out.

On arriving in England, King Ethelbert in fact received the monks respectfully and allowed them to preach. In 597 the king accepted baptism, and although, unlike other kings of the time, he let his people free to choose, conversions began to happen.

Augustine was consecrated bishop of the English and ruled wisely, stepping carefully around the prevalent pagan practices, Christianizing old temples, and keeping certain holidays as feasts of Christian saints.

The holy prelate had more success with the pagans then with the old Christians who had taken refuge in Cornwall and Wales. They had a strayed a little from the teachings of Rome, and though Augustine met with them many times trying to bring them back, they could not forgive their Saxon conquerors and chose bitterness and isolation instead.

St. Augustine was primate of England for only eight years, and died in May of 605.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sanctity must be desired

Even though a man may be unable
to attain such a height of sanctity,
he ought to desire it,
so as to do at least in desire
what he cannot carry out in effect.

St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri

Philip Neri, known as “The Apostle of Rome,” was Florentine by birth, one of four children born to a notary.

At eighteen, sent to work with a well-to-do uncle, Phillip had a mystical experience which he called his “conversion”. All taste for earthly things left him and he subsequently made his way to Rome.

There he found lodgings at the house of one Galeotto Caccia and taught his children in return for his keep.

For the next two years, Philip led the life of a virtual recluse, giving up whole days and nights to prayer and contemplation. When he did emerge from his garret, he immersed himself in the study of philosophy and theology, determined to live for God alone.

Philip started an apostolate, first at street corners talking to all who would listen, and then with young Florentines working in Rome.

In 1548 with the help of his confessor, Fr. Persiano Rossa, Philip founded a confraternity of poor laymen, popularized the devotion of the forty hours, and undertook the care of pilgrims in need. Greatly blessed, this work developed into the celebrated hospital of Santa Trinitá dei Pellegrini.

Philip Neri was ordained on May 23, 1551 and became known for the gift of reading the thoughts of his penitents. As the number of conversions increased, he began to give regular conferences.

With five initial disciples, among them the future historian and cardinal, Cesare Baronius, he went on to found the Congregation of the Oratory, which was approved in 1575 by Pope Gregory XIII who gave them the ancient church of Santa Maria in Vallicella. Philip rebuilt the church on a larger scale and it became known as the “Chiesa Nuova,” or the "New Church."

On May 25, 1595, Philip, who was known for his good humor and infectious joy, was in an especially radiant mood. His doctor told him he hadn’t looked so well in years. Only the saint knew his hour had come. He heard confessions all day, and saw visitors as usual but, upon retiring, he remarked to those around him, “Last of all, we must die.” At midnight he was seized by a severe hemorrhage. His disciples gathered around him, and as Baronius besought him for a parting word, unable to speak, the ardent apostle raised his hand and imparted a last blessing to his congregation before entering his reward. He was eighty years old. St. Philip’s body is interred in the Chiesa Nuova, which his sons in the Congregation of the Oratory serve to this day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension of Our Lord

Upon entering Jerusalem, we recall that here rested Our Lord Jesus Christ in a close sepulcher, penetrated by neither air nor light, His Sacred Body disfigured by wounds. Wrapped in the Holy Shroud, Our Lord lies in utter darkness, reduced to isolated inertia and death. In the seeming hopelessness of the sepulcher, the triumph of the synagogue appears complete.
After two days, a ray of light penetrates the darkness, and then another, and yet another, as the angels manifest their presence. The heavy stone that guards the sepulcher cannot keep these pure spirits from entering. The angelic choir gathers and fills the empty silence with Heaven’s songs.
Suddenly, the sacred body stirs, as Our Lord raises Himself from the slab on which He lies and from death itself. He had been in Limbo, where He consoled the just with the Good News that the hour of their redemption was at hand. We may well imagine their joy and adoration as they welcomed their Redeemer!
As His Divine soul reanimates His mortal body, each wound shines with the sun’s brilliance. Christ’s crown of thorns is now a crown of light. Our Lord commands the stone to move, and the sun streams in, dispelling the tomb’s darkness as the Son vanquishes the despair of death in His eternal triumph.
Someone approaches. She is running. It is Mary Magdalen, and she is still weeping. Finding the sepulcher open with its stone rolled away and not a Roman guard in sight, she does not know what to think. Seeing a man whom she mistakes for a gardener, she asks, “Where is Jesus?” He answers with a single word: “Mary.” The scales fall from her eyes, and she responds, “Rabboni!” which means “Master.” However, Our Lord, whose glorious body can move faster than any rocket, is no longer there. He is in the Cenacle, where Mary Most Holy has retired to weep for her Son in the semi-darkness. Suddenly, Christ enters radiantly. She is not mistaken as Mary Magdalen was for she is His mother after all. Let us recall Jesus’ last gaze at His Mother from the height of the Cross. She is the last person He sees before He closes His eyes in death. It is a look of love that the world has never known— the love of God for His Holy Mother. Imagine then the first glance exchanged between Mother and Son after the Resurrection, as the deepest sadness becomes the greatest joy! In an instant, He returns to Mary Magdalen, for glorified, He is no longer limited to time and space.
He appears here and there, speaking first with one disciple and then another. Only at the Final Judgment will we know all those to whom Christ spoke during those days, giving courage and counsel, as He prepared His Church for the battles to come.
The hour of the Ascension is at hand. Accompanied by His holy mother, His Apostles and disciples, Jesus makes His way to the Mount of Olives. Theirs is not a simple farewell. With rapt attention, they hang on every word of His teaching. If Our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor had left the Apostles awestruck, we can imagine how He must appear at the moment of His Ascension. As Jesus speaks, His body gradually begins to rise. He knows that He is rising to Heaven, but it is so natural, so proper and so normal for Him to ascend that at first, His Apostles might see it as simply another example of His glorification. However, at a certain moment, He is so high that they realize, “He is leaving us now!” And thus, the Risen Lord ascends into the glory of Heaven.

When it seems grace has been taken away...

“I will take away
not the grace but the feeling of grace.
Though I will seem to leave you
I will be closer to you.”

Our Lord to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What leads to the annihilation of all religion?

Modernism leads to
the annihilation of all religion.
The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism;
the second is made by Modernism;
the next will plunge headlong into atheism.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Vincent of Lérins

St. Eucherius of Lyons, describes St. Vincent of Lérins as “a man pre-eminent in eloquence and learning”. Little is known of his early life, though it seems that he was a soldier before taking the religious habit on the Mediterranean island of Lérins, now St. Honorat Island, after its founder.

His fame rests on his work, Commonitorium Against Heresies, which he wrote three years after the Council of Ephesus. Because of the many heresiarchs, each proposing a different heresy in the first centuries of the life of the Catholic Church, St. Vincent felt the need and the calling to define what constitutes heresy.

From the writings of the Church Fathers, he recorded certain principles for distinguishing Christian Truth from falsehood. These notes expanded into his Commonitorium, a serious treatise of forty-two short chapters, from which an immense body of literature has emerged.

He asks why, Scripture being complete, we need to guide ourselves by the interpretation of the Church: “For this reason,” St. Vincent explains, “…owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another, so that it (Scriptures) seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and lastly Nestorius in another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various errors, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation. “ (The Vincentian Canon, Commonitorium)

In this book St. Vincent goes on to enunciate for the first time the axiom that for a dogma to be regarded as Catholic Truth it must have been held always, everywhere, and by all.

The exact date of St. Vincent’s death is uncertain, but is believed to have been in the year 445.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Lord was pleased to do this

Obedience is a virtue
of so excellent a nature, that
Our Lord was pleased to mark its observance
upon the whole course of His life; thus
He often says, He did not come to do His Own will,
but that of His Heavenly Father.

St. Francis de Sales

St. John Baptist de Rossi

Giovanni Battista de Rossi was born in the Piedmontese village of Voltaggio, in the diocese of Genoa, and was one of four children. His parents, of modest means, were devout and well esteemed.

A nobleman and his wife vacationing in Voltaggio, and impressed with the ten-year-old John Baptist, obtained permission from his parents to take him to live with them and be trained in their house in Genoa.

After three years, hearing of his virtues, John’s cousin, Lorenzo Rossi, Canon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, invited him to join him in Rome. Thus John Baptist entered the Roman Jesuit College at thirteen. Despite episodes of epilepsy, brought on by excessive zeal in imposing harsh penances upon himself, he was granted a dispensation and was ordained at the age of twenty-three.

From his student days he loved visiting hospitals. Now, as a priest there was much more he could offer suffering souls. He particularly loved the Hospice of St. Galla, a night shelter for paupers. There he labored for forty years. He also worked at the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini and extended his assistance to other poor such as cattlemen who came to market at the Roman forum. He had a great pity for homeless women and girls and from the little that he made in Mass stipends, and the 400 scudi sent to him by the Pope, he rented a refuge for them.

John Baptist was also selected by Pope Benedict XIV to deliver courses of instruction to prison officials and other state servants. Among his penitents was the public hangman.

In 1731 Canon Rossi obtained for his cousin a post of assistant priest at St. Maria in Cosmedin. He was a great confessor to whom penitents flocked, and as a preacher, the saint was also in demand for missions and retreats.

On the death of Canon Rossi, Fr. John inherited his canonry, but applied the money attached to the post to buy an organ, and hire an organist. As to the house, he gave it to the chapter and went to live in the attic.

In 1763 St. John Baptist’s health began to fail, and he was obliged to take up residence in the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini. He expired after a couple of strokes on May 23, 1764 at sixty- six years of age. He died so poor that the hospital prepared to pay for his burial. But the Church took over and he was given a triumphant funeral with numerous clergy and religious, and the Papal choir, in attendance.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rosary & True Beauty

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life.
Catherine was a young woman possessing great beauty. So much so, that she was known to those in Rome where she made her home as “Catherine the Beautiful.” Sadly, Catherine’s beauty went only skin deep, and she led a very sinful life.
One afternoon, strolling the streets of Rome, Catherine heard the voice of St. Dominic. This was the early 13th century and it was not unusual to cross paths with this great man of God.
On this particular day, he was preaching on the devotion to the Mother of God and the importance of praying her most holy Rosary. Caught up in the moment, Catherine had her name inscribed in the book of the confraternity and began to recite the Rosary. Though praying the Rosary gave her a sense of calmness she had not known before, Catherine did not abandon her sinful ways.
One evening, a youth, apparently a nobleman, came to her house. Catherine invited the handsome young man to stay to dine with her. When they were at supper, she saw drops of blood falling from his hands while he was breaking a piece of bread. Moments later, she observed, much to her discomfort, that all the food he took was tinged with blood.
Gathering up some courage to appease her curiosity, she asked him what that blood meant. With a firm but gentle look in his eyes, the youth replied that a Christian should take no food that was not tinged with the blood of Jesus Christ and sweetly seasoned with the memory of His passion.
Amazed at this reply, Catherine asked him who he was. "Soon," he answered, "I will show you." The rest of their meal passed uneventfully, yet always the drops of red catching Catherine’s eye, causing her to wonder about this man she supped with.
After dinner, when they had withdrawn into another room, the appearance of the youth changed. To Catherine’s stunned gaze, he showed himself crowned with thorns, his flesh torn and bleeding.
With the same firm but gentle gaze he said to her: “Do you wish to know who I am? Do you not know me? I am your Redeemer. Catherine, when will you cease to offend me? See how much I have suffered for you. You have grieved me enough, change your life."
Catherine began to weep bitterly, and Jesus, encouraging her, said: "Now begin to love me as much as you have offended me; and know that you have received this grace from me, on account of the Rosary you have been accustomed to recite in honor of my mother." And then he disappeared.
Catherine went in the morning to make her confession to St. Dominic, whose preaching on the Rosary had brought so marvelous a grace into her life. Giving to the poor all she possessed, from that day forward Catherine led so holy and joyful a life that she attained to great perfection.
It could now be said of her among the inhabitants of Rome that Catherine was indeed beautiful, but her beauty was no longer skin deep; her loveliness radiated from the depths of her soul.
The Most Holy Virgin often appeared to her; and Jesus himself revealed to St. Dominic, that this penitent had become very dear to him.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

As my sufferings increase...

O loving Jesus,
increase my patience
according as my sufferings increase.

St. Rita of Cascia

St. Rita of Cascia

Rita was born in Roccaborena, Italy in 1381 to aged parents who were known for their charity, and who fervently thanked God for the gift of a daughter so late in life.

Extraordinarily pious from an early age, Rita set her heart on entering the Augustinian convent in Cascia, but her parents had plans for her to marry the town’s watchman, Paolo Mancini, and she submitted to their desires in the matter.

Her husband proved to have an explosive temper, and became abusive, but Rita bore with his ill-treatment patiently for eighteen years bearing him two sons, who fell under their father’s pernicious influence.

She wept and prayed for her husband and children unceasingly. Finally won over by her virtue, Paolo had a change of heart and asked her forgiveness. Soon after, involved in a local feud, he was ambushed and brought home dead. His two young sons vowed to avenge their father’s slaying, which was a new source of affliction for Rita, who begged God to take them before they committed murder. The Lord heard the saint’s heroic plea and her sons contracted a disease from which both died, not before being reconciled to their mother and to their God.

Free from all earthly cares, Rita turned to the Augustinians seeking admittance only to be told that she could not be accepted on reason of having been married. Rita prayed and persisted and it is said that one morning she was found inside the walls of the convent though none knew how, the doors having been locked all night. She was received then at age thirty-six.

In religious life she was a model of virtue, prayer and mortification. One day, after hearing a sermon on Our Lord's crown of thorns, she felt as if one of the thorns was being pressed to her forehead. On the spot, an open wound developed, and the stench it emitted became so offensive that she had to be secluded. She bore this wound until her death.

Rita died on May 22, 1457 and her body has remained incorrupt to this day.

So many miracles were reported after her death, that, in Spain, she became known as “la santa del impossible”, the saint of impossible cases, a title that spread throughout the Catholic world.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pray without ceasing

We must pray without ceasing,
in every occurrence and employment of our lives – that prayer
which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God
as in a constant communication with Him.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

Christopher Magallanes was born in 1869 in the province of Guadalajara, Mexico, of devout parents who were poor farmers. As a youth, he worked as a shepherd, but felt called to be a shepherd of souls. He entered the seminary at nineteen and was ordained at the age of thirty.
He worked as a parish priest in his hometown of Totatiche for two decades, and there also opened a carpentry business to help provide jobs for the local men.
When, in the first decades of the twentieth century, the atheistic Mexican government launched a merciless persecution of the Catholic Church, a new constitution banned the training of priests.
In 1915, Fr. Christopher opened his own small seminary in Totatiche where he soon had a dozen students.
Consequently accused of trying to incite rebellion, Fr. Christopher was arrested on his way to say Mass, imprisoned and condemned to be shot without trial.
His few possessions he gave away to his jailer and he was executed on May 21, 1927 with another twenty-one priests and three lay Catholics.
His last words were, “I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.”
He was canonized on May 21, 2000.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Every grace has 3 steps

Every grace granted to man
has three degrees in order:
by God it is communicated to Christ,
from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and
from the Virgin it descends to us.

St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Bernardine of Siena

Bernardine, “The Apostle of Italy,” was born on September 8, 1380 in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima. His father, a member of the noble Sienese family of Albizeschi, was governor of the region.

Because Bernardine was orphaned at an early age, two aunts raised him like their own son. His youth was blameless, pious and studious.

In the year 1400, the plague descended with a vengeance upon Siena. Twelve to twenty people were dying daily at the city’s largest hospital, which was soon bereft of caring personnel. The twenty-year-old Bernardine volunteered to take charge of the hospital with another ten companions whom he had convinced to lay down their lives for the sake of the countless stricken and dying.

Four grueling months later, several of his companions died, but Bernardine escaped contagion. Nevertheless, weakened by his tireless labor, he contracted a fever from which his health never fully recovered.

He went on to join the Franciscans and was ordained on September 8, 1404. About two years later, St. Vincent Ferrer, one of the greatest preachers of all time, while in Italy, foretold that his mantle would descend upon one listening to him, saying he would return to France and Spain leaving to another the task of evangelizing the people of Italy. Twelve years were to pass before this prediction was fulfilled, as Bernardine lived a life of retirement in the monastery.

In 1417 his fiery eloquence burst forth, inflaming the souls of the multitudes. He preached fearlessly in cities large and small rebuking evil in places high and low. After hearing him, penitents of all classes flocked in droves to the confessionals. His great devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus and as he preached, he would hold up a plaque with the initials "I.H.S." an acronym for the name of JESUS, and had people place the Holy Name over the gates of towns, and over the entrances of their houses and businesses. Pope Pius II who listened to Bernardine in his youth said that people listened to him as to another Apostle St. Paul. Tirelessly and on foot, he traversed the length and breath of Italy, launching a true moral reform.

In 1444, although ill, Bernardine traveled to the Kingdom of Naples to preach. Being too weak to walk, he was obliged to ride an ass. Nevertheless, worn out by his forty years of apostolate, he died lying on the bare ground on the eve of the Ascension, as his companion Friars chanted: Pater manifestavi nomen Tuum hominibus … Father I have manifested Thy Name to men.

After a funeral of unprecedented splendor, miracles multiplied and he was canonized in 1450.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Let the storm rage and the sky darken

 Let the storm rage and the sky darken
– not for that shall we be dismayed.
If we trust as we should in Mary,
we shall recognize in her, the Virgin Most Powerful
“who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent.”

Pope St. Pius X

St. Dunstan of Canterbury

St. Dunstan, most famous of the Anglo-Saxon saints, was born near Glastonbury of a noble family closely connected to the ruling house.

While expecting him, his saintly mother was in church on Candlemas Day, when all the lights were extinguished. Suddenly, the candle she held spontaneously re-ignited, and all present rekindled their tapers from this miraculous flame. This was taken to foreshadow that the child she bore was to be a light to the Church in England.

In fact, from early on, Dunstan gave signs of religious and academic fervor, and demonstrated a remarkable artistic talent. He studied under the Irish monks of Glastonbury Abbey and later, under the guidance of his uncle St. Alphege, the Bishop of Winchester, became a monk himself and received Holy Orders from his hands. After ordination, he retired to a cell near an old church where he divided his time between prayer and the crafting of sacred vessels and illuminating manuscripts. He also played the harp.

In 943 Dunstan was appointed Abbot of Glastonbury. As soon as he took office, he set about reconstructing the monastic buildings, restoring the church and revamping communal life. Under his stewardship, Glastonbury became a center of learning and the standard for the revitalization and restoration of other monastic communities.

Dunstan became chief council to King Edred, and then his successor, King Edgar. He stood firmly for discipline and reform, especially in morals, among the laity and particularly among the clergy. He also worked for the unification of his country becoming the leader of a party. Later, learning of Benedictine perfection, he applied its maxims to his labors.

Under Kind Edgar he was first consecrated Bishop of Worcester, then Bishop of London, and subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury. Upon going to Rome, he was appointed legate of the Holy See by Pope John XII. Armed with this authority, the saint set himself to energetically reestablish ecclesiastical discipline under the powerful protection of the king.

He was Edgar’s counselor for sixteen years, and continued to direct the state during the short reign of Edward the Martyr. The political assassination of the young prince and the dubious accession of his half-brother Ethelred in 970 ended Archbishop Dunstan’s influence at court, and he foretold the calamities which were to mark the new king’s reign.

No longer directly involved in the affairs of state, the holy archbishop retired to Canterbury. On the feast of the Ascension in 988, although gravely ill, he preached three sermons to his people and announced his impending death. He died peacefully two days later.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why does Our Lord not always show us the sweetness of His love?

Our Lord loves you
and loves you tenderly; and
if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love,
it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Pope St. John I

St. John I was a native of Siena in Tuscany and was one of the seven deacons of Rome when he was elected to the papacy at the death of Pope Hormisdas in the year 523.

At the time, Theodoric the Great ruled over the Ostrogoths in Italy and Justin I was the Byzantine Emperor of Constantinople. King Theodoric supported the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Justin I, the first Catholic on the throne of Constantinople in fifty years, published a severe edict against the Arians, requiring them to return to orthodox Catholics the churches they had taken from them. The said edict caused a commotion among eastern Arians, and spurred Theodoric to threaten war.

Ultimately, he opted for a diplomatic solution and named Pope John, much against his wishes, to head a delegation of five bishops and four senators to Justin.

Pope John, refused to comply with Theodoric’s wishes to influence Justin to reverse his policies. The only thing he did obtain from Justin was for him to mitigate his treatment of Arians, thus avoiding reprisals against Catholics in Italy.

After the delegation returned, Theodoric, disappointed with the result of the mission, and growing daily more suspicious at reports of the friendly relations between the Pope and Justin I, had the pontiff arrested at Ravenna.

Pope John I died in prison a short time later as a result of ill treatment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to love God more perfectly

Meditate well on this:
Seek God above all things.
It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else,
because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for.
This will also make you more ready to serve God and
will enable you to love Him more perfectly.

St. Paschal Baylon

St. Paschal Baylon

Paschal was born in Terra Hermosa, Spain on Pentecost Sunday, May 24, 1540 the son of Martin Baylon and Isabel Jubera, pious day laborers. The feast of Pentecost in Spain being called “Pasch of the Holy Ghost,” the child was named Paschal.

From age seven to twenty-four he tended sheep, and early on showed signs of a great passion for the Holy Eucharist. While out at pasture, he continuously contemplated from the book of nature, and was ever attentive to the sound of bells announcing the elevation at Mass.

His employer so esteemed Pachal’s virtues, that he offered to adopt him, which offer the youth gratefully declined, preferring to remain poor that he might better follow his chosen path to God.

At around age eighteen he applied to the Franciscan Friars Minors who, under St. Peter of Alcantara, then living, were undergoing a salutary reform. At first the friars put Paschal off, but when a few years later he was finally accepted, they soon realized what a treasure of virtue they had taken in. Though little educated, through his prayer life Paschal had reached a high degree of spiritual wisdom, which astounded his peers.

Again, his great spiritual characteristic was his devotion to the Holy Eucharist before which he spent hours on his knees, his hands clasped high in front of his face, at times rapt in ecstasy.

Once, when Paschal was sent on a mission through France, which was then undergoing fierce religious convulsions due to Calvinists and Huguenots, he bravely defended the doctrine of the Eucharistic Presence against a Calvinist preacher, barely escaping with his life afterwards.

Paschal died at fifty-two, on May 17, 1592 with the name of Jesus on his lips just as the host was being elevated.

His body was exposed for three days as multitudes gathered to venerate him and witnessed many miracles which God deigned to perform to confirm the sanctity of his servant. Paschal Baylon was canonized in 1690.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Too much attention to Mary?

Let those who think that the Church
pays too much attention to Mary
give heed to the fact
that Our Blessed Lord Himself
gave ten times as much of His life to her
as He gave to His Apostles.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Brendan of Clonfert

Little is known of the life of St. Brendan. Though his character is steeped in misty legend, he did very much exist and it is fairly certain that he was born near Tralee, Ireland, in County Kerry. He was baptized by St. Erc and, for five years, was entrusted to the care of St. Ita, the "Brigid of Muenster," to be educated. Later, in 512, Brendan was ordained by St. Erc.

He is thought to have started a community of monks, and at some point he embarked on his famous seven-year voyage with sixty companions, looking for the “Land of Promise”. Though much celebrated, this story is steeped in mystery. The isle of St. Brendan seems to have been one of his points of landing.

On more historically secure footing, St. Brendan established sees, churches and monasteries, the most famous of which was Clonfert in 557, where he appointed St. Moinenn as prior and school master. After his death, St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert.
Photos by: Andreas F. Borchert

Monday, May 15, 2017

Easy way to acquire humility

Here is one of the best means
to acquire humility.
Fix well in mind this maxim:
one is as much as he is in the sight of God,
and no more.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Isidore the Farmer

St. Isidore the Farmer, patron of Madrid, was born of poor parents and named for St. Isidore, the Archbishop of Seville.

As a young man he entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy resident of Madrid, as a farm laborer and worked for the same employer his whole life.

Isidore married a young woman as poor and as virtuous as himself, but after the early death of an only son, they decided to serve God in perfect continence. A shining example of holiness in ordinary, day-to-day living, Isidore would wake early, attend Mass, and then spend the day at the plow, engrossed entirely in prayer and contemplation. Many marvels accompanied his daily grind and he was granted heavenly visions and conversed familiarly with the angels.

He was a great almsgiver, at times sharing most of his meals with the needy. He also loved animals. Once, on a snowy winter day, as he carried a sack of corn to be ground at the mill, he spied birds on a branch, hopeless of a meal. Despite the jeers of his companions, he poured half of his corn on the ground. On arriving at the mill, not only was his sack full, but the corn yielded double the amount of flour.

Isidore died on May 15, 1130. His wife survived him by several years and is also honored as a saint. Countless miracles followed the translation of Isidore’s body to a more honorable shrine, and devotion to the saint spread like wildfire.

In 1211 he is said to have appeared to King Alphonsus of Castille then fighting the Moors in the pass of Navas de Tolosa, and to have shown him a hidden path, which allowed the king and his army to surprise the enemy and carry the day.

Devoted to the saint, the Spanish Royal Family supported Isidore’s cause for canonization, and he was declared a saint in 1622.

In 1947 St. Isidore the Farmer was declared the patron of the National Rural Conference of the United States.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary: Core of the Fatima Message



Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary permeates the whole story and message of Fatima. One may well say that it is the very core of the message, as well as the solution presented for the problems of today’s world.


Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart:
In 1916, the angel1 who came to prepare the three shepherd children for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin said to them, “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”2
In another apparition, the angel repeated the message: “Pray, pray a lot. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you.”3
And the Mother of God herself, in the second apparition, told Lúcia:
“Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish His Throne.”4 
Upon learning that she was going to be alone on earth after the death of her cousins, Lúcia was distressed. The Blessed Virgin consoled her, saying:
“I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”5
These two statements—that Jesus wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world, and that her Immaculate Heart is the refuge of suffering souls and the path that leads to heaven—summarize Fatima spirituality.

Symbolism of the Heart

Symbolic Language:
Man expresses his ideas not only through concepts and words, but also through symbols.
Symbols are sensible signs that evoke or represent a higher and more abstract reality. For example, the national flag represents the homeland; the lily evokes purity; the scepter and crown represent royal power.
Of all symbols, the human heart is perhaps the most common and universal.
Closely linked to emotions that alter one’s heartbeat, the heart symbolizes one’s preference, and especially one’s love.
A mother’s heart, for example, is a symbol of selfless love, full of affection and unconditionally capable of the greatest sacrifices.
On the other hand, the epithet of Richard I of England (1157-1199), “the Lion-Hearted,” expresses his fearlessness, courage, indomitable prowess, and indefatigable combativeness.

Biblical Texts:
Several examples of the various symbolic meanings of the word "heart" are found in both the Old and New Testaments:
  • “With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issued out from it.” (Prov. 4:23)
  • “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezech. 36:26-27)
  • “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8)
  • “That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts.” (Eph. 3:17)
  • "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Ps. 50:10)


The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Just as devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is essential, for it highlights the redeeming love of the Incarnate Word, so also is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, since it emphasizes the co-redeeming love of the Mother of God.
Unlike the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of Mary does not participate in the hypostatic union and is, therefore, a purely human heart. It is the heart of the most perfect of creatures who took the love of God to the highest point possible and was closely united to the Heart of Jesus in a maternal and filial intimacy. This intimacy began with the Incarnation of the Word in her most pure womb, culminated with her final offering on Calvary—where She offered her Son for our salvation—and continues now in Heaven.
By the Heart of Mary, as Fr. José Maria Canal, CMF explains, “we understand her intimacy, maternal feelings, mercy and tenderness toward sinners.”6 For Pope Pius XII it is “a symbol of all interior life, whose moral perfection, merits and virtues are beyond all human understanding!”7
Pius XII also emphasizes this maternal Heart’s compassion: “The Most Pure Heart of the Virgin [is the] seat of that love, compassion and all most lofty affections that participated so much in our redemption, especially when She ‘stabat iuxta Crucem,’ stood vigilantly next to the Cross." (cf. John 19:25)8 

Therefore, Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary Must Go Together:
“In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined.... It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people—who received the divine life from Christ through Mary—after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety, affection, gratitude and expiation. Entirely in keeping with this most sweet and wise disposition of divine Providence is the memorable act of consecration by which We Ourselves solemnly dedicated Holy Church and the whole world to the spotless Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”9


1 It was the “Angel of Peace” or “Angel of Portugal.” [return to text]
2 Solimeo, Fatima, 25. [return to text]
3 Ibid., 26. [return to text]
4 Ibid., 41. [return to text]
5 Ibid. [return to text]
6 Jose Maria Canal, CMF, La Consagracion a la Virgen y a su Corazon, I, 250. (Our translation.) [return to text]
7 Pius XII, Radio Message to the National Marian Congress in Spain, Oct. 12, 1954, in Discorsi e Radiomessasaggi, t. XVI, 197. (Our translation.) [return to text]
8 Ibid. [return to text]
9 Pius XII, Enc. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 63, 72, 124. [return to text]


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Marvelous thought for Mother's Day

 The loveliest masterpiece
of the heart of God is...
the heart of a mother.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Matthias the Apostle

The Greek name “Matthias” means “gift of Yahweh”. All we know for certain of Matthias is that he was chosen by the eleven apostles to replace the traitor, Judas, after the Ascension of Jesus and before the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, which makes St. Matthias the only apostle not directly chosen by Our Lord.

According to the Acts of the Apostles (1:15-26), after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (120 of Christ’s disciples) and said: “…it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” Acts 1:21-22. So it is clear that Matthias had followed Jesus since Our Lord's baptism by John in the Jordan.

For the selection of the new twelfth apostle, after a prayer beseeching God to guide them in His divine will, the eleven apostles cast lots between a Joseph, called Barsabas, and Matthias. The lot fell on Matthias who took his place among the first apostolic college.

According to Nicephorus' Church history, Matthias first preached in Judea and then in Ethiopia, where he was ultimately crucified.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lucia dos Santos describes Our Lady of Fatima:

“A Lady dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun,
shedding a light that was clearer and more intense
than that of a crystal goblet filled with crystalline water
and struck by the rays of the most brilliant sun.
Her face, indescribably beautiful, was neither sad nor happy, but serious,
with an air of mild reproach.
Her hands, joined together as if she were praying,
were resting at her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand.
Her clothes seemed to be made of light. The tunic was white.
The veil, white and edged with gold, covered the head of the Virgin and
descended to her feet. Neither her hair nor her ears could be seen.”

St. John the Silent

John was born in Nicopolis in Armenia in the year 454 into a noble and virtuous family. Unusually devout even from childhood, John did not pursue the careers popular in his family; instead, after the death of his parents, he was divinely inspired to build a monastery where he afterwards lived with ten other young men, living the life of monks. John was only eighteen years old. Under his direction, they led a devoted life of work and piety, gaining for him a reputation of leadership and sanctity. Because of this, the Archbishop of Sabaste was moved to consecrate John as Bishop of Colonia in Armenia at the young age of twenty-eight. Although he felt himself insufficient and unworthy of the office, John accepted the position with humility and governed his diocese for nine years before he decided to resign and fulfill his desire to live a life of seclusion. Thus he found his way to Jerusalem.

While at prayer one night, John was granted a vision in which he was guided to the monastery of St. Sabas and there the pilgrim was granted permission to dwell in a lonely hermitage to pursue uninterrupted contemplation.

Such was his sanctity that after four years, having disclosed to no one that he had once been a bishop, and St. Sabas wishing to have John ordained to holy orders, the abbot presented him to the Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem. However, upon their arrival at Calvary, John requested a private audience with the patriarch and disclosed his long-held secret. Upon learning of his previous consecration, St. Sabas was startled and reproached John for keeping the knowledge from him. Abashed at being discovered, John desired to abscond from the monastery. However, St. Sabas was able to convince him to remain by promising to keep his secret. Hence, John continued to reside in his cell for four more years, speaking to no one save the one who brought him his necessities.

In the year 503, trouble – caused by certain disruptive members of the community – was stirring in the cloister and St. Sabas was forced to leave his own monastery; consequently, John also decided to leave and went into a nearby wilderness where he lived in prayer, mortification and silence for six years. Only when St. Sabas was finally restored to his community was he again able to persuade John to also return. However, having become accustomed to conversing only with God, John was unable to find anything but emptiness in all else. Pursuing once more his own obscurity and humility, he retired to his old solitary cell and remained in that dwelling for forty more years. During that time, he never turned away any of the people who came seeking his instruction and counsel. One of these whom John instructed was a young man of sixteen named Cyril who later wrote John’s life.

John died in 558 at the age of one hundred and four – he had lived in solitude for seventy-six years, interrupted only by the nine years of his episcopate as bishop of Colonia.

100 Years Ago Today: First Fatima Apparition - May 13, 1917



On May 13, 1917, Lucia dos Santos, Francisco, and Jacinta Marto were, respectively, ten, nine, and seven years old. As we have said, the three children lived in Aljustrel, a hamlet of the township of Fatima.
After three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal in 1916, the children began to receive visits of a luminous Lady who later identified herself as “The Lady of the Rosary.” In Catholic language, “Our Lady of the Rosary” is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God made man.


The apparitions took place on a small property belonging to Lucia's parents called Cova da Iria, about a mile and a half from Fatima.
The three seers were playing at Cova da Iria on May 13, 1917 when they saw two flashes like lightning, after which they saw the Mother of God above a holm oak. She was, according to the description of Lucia, "a Lady dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun…" Her face, indescribably beautiful, was "neither sad nor happy, but serious," with an air of mild reproach. Her hands, joined together as if she were praying, were resting at her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand.
The seers were so close to Our Lady – about a yard and a half away – that they stood within the light that radiated from her.

The conversation developed in the following manner:

Our Lady: Do not be afraid; I will not harm you.
Lucia: Where is Your Grace from?
Our Lady: I am from heaven–pointing to the sky.
Lucia: And what does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I have come 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.
Lucia: And will I go to heaven, too?
Our Lady: Yes, you will.
Lucia: And Jacinta?
Our Lady: Also.
Lucia: And Francisco?
Our Lady: Also, but he must say many rosaries.
Lucia: Is Maria das Neves already in heaven?
Our Lady: Yes, she is.
Lucia: And Amélia?
Our Lady: She will be in purgatory until the end of the world. Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may be pleased to send you, as both an act of reparation for the sins with which He is offended and an act of supplication for the conversion of sinners?
Lucia: Yes, we do.
Our Lady: Well then, you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.

"It was upon saying these last words, 'the grace of God...' that for the first time she opened her hands, which emitted a most intense light that penetrated our breasts, reaching the innermost part of our souls and making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we can see ourselves in the best of mirrors.
Then, driven by a deep inspiration, we knelt down and repeated inwardly: 'O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.'”
"A moment later, Our Lady added, 'Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.'
She immediately began to rise serenely toward the east until she disappeared far into the distance.
The light that surrounded her was, so to speak, opening her way through the starry firmament."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Why did God give us the faculty of speech?

God who created us has granted us
the faculty of speech that we might disclose
the counsels of our hearts to one another
and that, since we possess our human nature in common,
each of us might share his thoughts with his neighbor,
bringing them forth from the secret recesses of the heart
as from a treasury.

St. Basil the Great

Sts. Nereus, Achilleus and Pancras

Nereus and Achilleus were early Roman soldiers and members of the Praetorian Guard, the emperor’s bodyguards, who are said to have been converted and baptized by St. Peter himself, and later martyred for their faith in Christ.

Most of what we know of them comes from an epitaph written by Pope St. Damascus: "Nereus and Achilleus, the martyrs, joined the army and carried out the cruel orders of the tyrant, obeying his will continually out of fear. Then came a miracle of faith: they were suddenly converted, gave up their savagery, and fled the camp of their evil leader, throwing away their shields, armor, and bloody spears. Professing the faith of Christ, they were happy to be witnesses to its triumph.” By these words of the Holy Father, we can understand what great deeds can be brought about by Christ’s glory; for, being once participants in the persecution of Christians themselves, Nereus and Achilleus knew perhaps better than any other Christian what pain awaited them. However, faith triumphed over the fear of death, and the victory of faith was the sweetest victory they had ever known, this time as soldiers in the army of Christ.

Also celebrated today is the young Roman martyr, St. Pancras. Although we have no reliable historical information about this courageous follower of Christ, legend tells us that he was a Syrian boy born of pagan origins at the end of the third century. He was brought to Rome and reared by his uncle after the death of both his parents before he had yet turned nine. There both he and his uncle were converted to Christianity, and the young convert became an ardent adherer to the teachings of Christ.

When he was discovered and refused to renounce his faith, the Emperor Diocletian ordered his execution, and Pancras was consequently beheaded in 304. He was only fourteen years old.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How to achieve peace in your heart, home, and country

If you want peace in your heart,
in your home,
in your country,
assemble together every night
and pray the Rosary.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Francis di Girolamo

Born in Taranto in the province of Naples of exceptionally virtuous parents, the “Apostle of Naples” was the eldest of eleven children.

Showing early signs of intense piety and intellectual ability, he was received into a community of secular priests who initiated his education. He received the tonsure at sixteen and was ordained with special permission before the age of twenty-four.

He taught at a Jesuit college for several years, and at twenty-eight was received into the Society of Jesus, having overcome his father's strong opposition to his decision by his own meekness and charity.

His novitiate complete, Francis was sent to Leece to assist a renowned preacher, Father Agnello Bruno. For the next three years the two ardent priests traversed the length and breath of the province of Otranto. At the close of the mission Francis completed his theological studies and was professed.

The next field of his apostolic labors was to preach at the Church of Gesu Nuovo in Naples, and from the onset, attracted huge crowds. His preaching produced such excellent results that he was appointed to train other missionaries.

Preaching was his dominant talent. Wherever he went, people were spellbound by his eloquence and crowded his confessional. He preached in one church after another, at times impromptu in the street, he visited hospitals, prisons, and galleys. Once he brought to the Faith twenty Turkish prisoners in a Spanish galley.

The holy Jesuit’s preaching was enhanced by his reputation as a wonder-worker, though he continuously disclaimed any extraordinary powers, and rather attributed the numerous cures which accompanied his ministry to the intercession of St. Cyrus to whom he had a special devotion.

After suffering from a painful illness, St. Francis of Girolamo died at age seventy-four. He was canonized in 1839.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Clothed in Light



Imagine being just five feet away from Our Lady! Wouldn’t it be great to be but five feet away from her? But, what about having Our Lord within us? If only we would think of this when we receive Holy Communion.

She was “a Lady dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun, shedding a light that was clearer and more intense than that of a crystal goblet filled with crystalline water and struck by the rays of the most brilliant sun.”
Her face, indescribably beautiful, was “neither sad nor happy, but serious,” with an air of mild reproach.
Her hands, joined together as if she were praying, were resting on her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand. Her clothes seemed to be made of light. The tunic was white. The veil, white and edged with gold, covered the head of the Virgin and descended to her feet. Neither her hair nor her ears could be seen.....
Description of Our Lady by Sr. Lucia


As Sister Lucia recounts, when Our Lady appears, everything is white, everything is clean and everything is pure. She is, after all, the Virgin of virgins; entirely pure. The hymn Ave Maris Stella reminds us that Mary became the gate of heaven, while remaining a virgin. That is to say, it was through her that Christ, Our Lord, came into the world and yet her virginity suffered nothing.  Always entirely pure, she attracts us by her purity.
Also, we learn the way of an apostle through the example of Our Lady.  When she appeared, she attracted us to the beauty of purity.  Let us never make the mistake of adopting questionable customs as far as purity goes, in order that people will accept us.  No! To invite people to be pure, we must first show them the beauty of purity.  Impurity seeks all darkness to hide its evil deeds but purity loves daylight and thrives in open air.
At Fatima, Our Lady spoke to an impure world using all the symbols of purity.  Was that an invitation only to the little shepherds or was it to the world? She was dressed in white and bathed in light.
This reminds us of when Our Lord spoke of the lilies of the field, “But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these” (Matt. 6:29)
Likewise, no one in all his or her glory was ever dressed as Our Lady was: in light.


The preceding text is taken from an informal address Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on June 5, 1984. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed

The key to Heaven

Holiness without suffering is just a dream.
The Cross is the key to Heaven.

St. Magdalena of Canossa

St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i

St. Damien is known as the Leper Priest and the Hero of Moloka'i. Born in Tremelo in Belgium on January 3, 1840, he was son of a farmer and his wife. He lived a devout life and in 1860 obtained permission to join the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Although born Jozef De Veuster, the young brother took the name Damien in religious life. In 1864, in answer to his prayers to St. Francis Xavier, he was sent as a missionary to Honolulu, Hawaii. Here he applied himself to diligent study to compensate for his lack of an early education, and he was ordained to the sacred priesthood on May 21. For the next nine years Fr. Damien worked in various missions throughout Hawaii.

Wishing to do more to help God’s suffering people, Fr. Damien volunteered as a missionary priest to the leper community on the island of Moloka'i. His offer was accepted by Bishop Louis Désiré Maigret, the Vicar Apostolic of Honolulu and on May 10, 1873 Damien was formerly presented by the bishop to the flock of his new mission.

Fr. Damien’s first course of action was to build a church for the inhabitants of the colony of Moloka'i and to establish the Parish of St. Philomena. He was not just an ordinary parish priest to his large flock, he went out "into the highways and byways,” dressing ulcers, building proper homes and furniture for his parishioners, making coffins and digging graves. “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all for Jesus Christ,” he wrote of himself to his brother. Under his leadership, working farms were organized, basic laws enforced, and hospitals, schools and orphanages established, for Fr. Damien had a particular concern and care for the children of his mission.

Contracting leprosy himself in 1885, Fr. Damien continued to work vigorously to build as many homes as he could and made plans for the continuation of the programs he had established for after he was gone.

The Hero of Maloka'i died of leprosy in the early morning of April 15, 1889, at the age of 49. After his funeral Mass at St. Philomena's the next day, the whole leper colony of Moloka'i followed the funeral cortège to the cemetery where Damien was laid to rest under the same pandanus tree where he had slept upon his arrival at the mission.

St. Damien of Moloka'i was canonized on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI who held the Leper Priest up as one who "teaches us to choose the good fights, not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pray the Rosary – Free Souls from Purgatory

Saint Louis de Montfort tells the story of a young girl of noble station named Alexandra, who had been miraculously converted and enrolled by St. Dominic in the Confraternity of the Rosary.  

After her death, she appeared to him and said she had been condemned to seven hundred years in purgatory because of her own sins and those she had caused others to commit by her worldly ways.
So she implored him to ease her pains by his prayers and to ask the Confraternity members to pray for the same end. St. Dominic did as she had asked.
Two weeks later she appeared to him, more radiant than the sun, having been quickly delivered from purgatory by the prayers of the Confraternity members.
She also told St. Dominic that she had come on behalf of the souls in purgatory to beg him to go on preaching the Rosary and to ask their relations to offer their Rosaries for them, and that they would reward them abundantly when they entered into glory.
By Saint Louis de Montfort

Never more powerful than when it appears forsaken

The privilege of our Church is such that
it is never stronger than when it is attacked,
never better known than when it is accused,
never more powerful than when it appears forsaken.

"Treatise on the Trinity"St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Pachomius

Pachomius was born to pagan parents in Upper Thebais in Egypt in the year 292. According to one biographer, he was unwillingly drafted into the Emperor’s army when he was about twenty years old. Along with others pressed into the service of the emperor, Pachomius was ferried down river to Thebes, in which city the young pagan encountered Christians for the first time. So much did they impress him, as he observed them daily bringing food and comfort to the army recruits, who were kept close confined and ill-treated, that he vowed to investigate the Christian religion thoroughly once he had completed his time in the service of the Emperor. He later converted and was baptized in the year 314.

A few years after his conversion, Pachomius became acquainted with several well-known ascetics and decided to pursue their way of life. After seven years of preparation and study under the guidance and direction of a hermit named Palemon, Pachomius received the habit of a monk and set out to join St. Anthony of Egypt in the desert.

For a time Pachomius imitated Anthony’s solitary asceticism, living in his own hut, as the other followers of the great desert father did, and meeting occasionally with them for divine worship. Some time later, Pachomius heard a voice which instructed him to build a monastery at Tabennisi on the banks of the Nile where hermits who were physically or mentally unable to follow the rigor of Anthony’s solitary life could come to live as a community. Thus Pachomius is considered the first founder of cenobitic monasticism.

The first to be received into this new monastic community was his eldest brother John; within a short time their number grew to a hundred. Not only was Pachomius obliged to expand this first monastery at Tabennisi, but eventually, when this became inadequate, to build ten additional monasteries for men and two convents for women. For forty years he ruled the cenobites as their abbot. By the time of his death in 348, there were some seven thousand monks living under the monastic rule he had drawn up for them.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Why do children sometimes break the hearts of their parents?

The faults of children are not always imputed to the parents,
especially when they have instructed them and given good example.
Our Lord, in His wondrous Providence, allows children
to break the hearts of devout fathers and mothers.
Thus the decisions your children have made
don’t make you a failure as a parent in God’s eyes.
You are entitled to feel sorrow, but not necessarily guilt.
Do not cease praying for your children; God’s grace can touch a hardened heart.
Commend your children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
When parents pray the Rosary, at the end of each decade
they should hold the Rosary aloft and say to her,
“With these beads bind my children to your Immaculate Heart!”
She will attend to their souls.

St. Louise de Marillac

St. Magdalena of Canossa

Magdalena was born on March 1, 1774, into an ancient and prominent family of Verona, Italy. She was a descendant of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany outside whose Castle of Canossa Emperor Henry IV of Germany did penance in 1076, in submission to Pope St. Gregory VII who had excommunicated him.

Her father, the Marquis Octavius of Canossa, died in 1779, and her mother remarried leaving her children to be raised by relatives. Suffering keenly this abandonment by her earthly mother, Magdalena had recourse to the Virgin Mother, “I wept … before Mary, invoking her in tears and calling her by the name of ‘mamma!’ … little by little I placed myself in the heart of Mary.”

In 1791 she entered a Carmelite convent but returned home after eight months. The Order of Mount Carmel was not her calling.

As Magdalena matured, she assumed the title of Marchioness and became the head of the large household at their palace of Canossa, a leading lady of her time.

When the Napoleonic Wars broke out, the Canossa family took temporary refuge in Venice where Magdalena had a dream in which Our Lady showed her needy girls, poor children and sick people.

Upon their return, Magdalena began a work to assist the sick and the wounded, particularly girls and those left abandoned. On several occasions, the young Marchioness hosted the conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte who, impressed with her work, granted her an empty convent for her enterprise.

As other women joined Magdalena’s work, they became known as the “Canossians”. She was invited to open a house in Venice from which they went on to make foundations in Milan, Trent and Bergamo, and other places in northern Italy. But it was in Venice that the foundress drew up the rule for the new congregation, which she called the Daughters of Charity. In 1828, the order was approved by Pope Leo XII.

Magdalena became poor with the poor, primarily concerned with the neglected of society, but went on to open schools and colleges as well, making special provision for the deaf and dumb.

Developing great powers of prayer and recollection despite her busy life, the saintly foundress attained high levels of contemplation. On several occasions she was found rapt in ecstasy and, at least once, was seen lifted from the ground.

In 1834 she was taken ill and died on April 10, 1835.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Before turning to God for help with earthly needs...

In all the miracles of healing
performed by Our Divine Savior, we must
admire the remarkable goodness which caused Him
to heal first the sickness of the soul, then that of the body.
He teaches us the great lesson
that we must first purify our consciences
before turning to God for help in our earthly needs.

St. John Bosco

St. John of Beverley

John was born in Harpham, a village in Yorkshire. As a young man he joined the famous school of St. Theodore in Kent, where he distinguished himself. Later, he joined the Abbey of Whitby in his own country, where his exceptional abilities marked him out for preferment, and when the diocesan see of Hexham became vacant, he was appointed its bishop.

A great contemplative, he often retired to a cell by the Church of St. Michael beyond the River Tyne whenever his duties allowed.

At the death of St. Bosa, John was appointed his successor as the Bishop of York. As such he ordained the Venerable Bede who wrote of him at length in his Ecclesiastical History, testifying to the bishop's sanctity and recording eye-witness accounts of his numerous miracles. As Bishop of York, John continued his accustomed habit of retiring periodically to the Abbey of Beverley, a monastery he had built around the year 700.

Worn by age and fatigue, John resigned his bishopric to his chaplain, St. Wilfrid the Younger, and retired to Beverley where he spent the last four years of his life. He died on May 7, 721.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Big thing, little thing, every thing

I am not capable
of doing big things, but
I want to do everything,
even the smallest things,
for the greater glory of God.

St. Dominic Savio