Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sweet Star of the Sea


Did you know that the Blessed Virgin Mary, embarked on a sea voyage in her lifetime?

Though this information does not come to us by way of Scriptures, it reaches us through a trustworthy private revelation, which the Church approved and leaves to our discretion to believe.
Such is the vast work entitled, City of God, written by Venerable Maria of Agreda, a Conceptionist nun and mystic of the seventeenth century to whom the Virgin Mary dictated her life.
One of the fascinating details of this account is the story of how St. John, to whom Our Lord entrusted His mother, wishing to protect Our Lady from the persecution developing in Jerusalem, moved her to the town of Ephesus in Turkey. To this day there is a house in Ephesus which is claimed to have been her abode.
So it was that the beloved disciple and Mary Most Holy came to the shore, and boarding a ship, made for the high seas.
For the first time, our Blessed Lady was on the sea. She marvelled at the might and beauty of the ocean, discerning the greatness, the power, and the charm of her Son written in its glistening movements. She praised God for this His mighty work, at the same time commanding all the inhabitants of the deep to give praise to their Creator. Immediately all the creatures of the ocean, from the biggest to the smallest began to show their heads above the breaking waves, gathering around the vessel and bobbing up and down in gleeful acknowledgement of their Queen’s presence in their midst.
At one point there were so many schools of fish and maritime animals crowding around the bow, that the ship’s progress was hindered. At this, the gentle queen, at St. John’s suggestion, graciously blessed them and dismissed them. All promptly obeyed, with one last foaming show of joy, to the astonishment of all on board who were ignorant of the origin of this wonder.
In this voyage, Our Lady also sensed how terrible a menace the sea can be when aroused, to those sailing it. In her maternal concern, she asked her Son to grant her the particular privilege to be a safe haven to all who invoke her at sea at such times of peril. At this prayer, Our Lord granted her the awesome title of “Star of the Sea” and the assurance to all those who invoke her on the ocean, never to perish by its raging might.
A twenty-first century appendix is that while relating this story to an uncle who was a Navy Commander and devotee of Mary, his face lit up on hearing of this divine grant and exclaimed, “I know by experience that what you tell me is true!”
By Andrea F. Phillips

Why do we profess one thing and display another?

Either we must speak as we dress,
or dress as we speak.
Why do we profess one thing and display another?
The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome is a Father and Doctor of the Church who is best known for his compiling of the Vulgate version of the Catholic Bible, now the standard edition in use.

He was born about the year 347 at Stidon, near Dalmatia, to wealthy Christian parents. Initially educated at home, his parents soon sent him to Rome to further his intense desire for intellectual learning. There he studied and excelled at grammar, Latin and Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy, and lived a deeply materialistic life alongside his fellow students. Jerome was baptized in his late teen years, as was the custom at the time, around the time he finished his schooling.

After spending many years in travel and, notably, discovering and investigating his extreme interest in monasticism, Jerome’s life took a sudden turn. In the spring of 375, he became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impacted him, because in it he was accused of being a follower of Cicero – an early Roman philosopher – and not a Christian. Afterwards, Jerome vowed never to read any pagan literature again – not even the classics for pleasure. He separated himself from society and left to become a hermit in the desert so as to atone for his sins and dedicate himself to God. Having no experience of monasticism and no guide to direct him, Jerome suffered greatly and was often quite ill. He was plagued terribly with temptations of the flesh and would impose harsh penances on himself to repress them. While there, he undertook the learning of Hebrew, as an added penance, and was tutored by a Jewish convert. When controversy arose among his fellow monks in the desert concerning the bishopric of Antioch, Jerome left to avoid the tension of the position he found himself in.

Having developed a reputation as a great scholar and ascetic, Jerome was ordained to the priesthood by the persuasion of Bishop Paulinus, on the condition that he be allowed to continue his monastic lifestyle and not be obliged to assume pastoral duties.

In 382, he was appointed as secretary to Pope Damascus, who urged him to undertake a Latin translation of the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew origins.

After the death of the Holy Pontiff, Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land with a small group of virgins who were led by his close friend, Paula. Under his direction, Paula established a monastery for men in Bethlehem and three cloisters for women. Jerome remained at this monastery until his death around A.D. 420, only leaving occasionally for brief trips. He is the patron saint of librarians and translators.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why the wicked exist

The wicked exist in this world
either to be converted
or that through them
the good may exercise patience.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Archangel St. Raphael

St. Raphael is first mentioned in the Book of Tobit, where he appeared disguised in human form to Tobias, son of the blind man Tobit, and traveled with him from Nineveh to Media. While they were in Media, the Archangel told Tobias of Sarah, daughter of Raguel. Sarah had been married seven previous times, but each time, on the night of the wedding, her husband was abducted and slain by a demon. St. Raphael convinced Tobias to present himself as a husband to Sarah, who accepted him.

Sarah despaired that yet another of her husbands would be taken from her, and she prayed for her own death. Raphael banished the demon from her, and she and Tobias had a happy marriage. After the wedding feast, Tobias and Sarah return to Nineveh. There, Raphael cured Tobit’s blindness, revealed his true identity and returned to heaven.

Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels. He is also the patron of the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and of travelers.

Archangel St. Michael

St. Michael is the model of the Christian warrior because of the fortitude which he showed by casting into hell the legions of damned spirits. He is the warrior of God who will not tolerate the divine Majesty to be challenged or offended in his presence, and who is ready to wield the sword at any time in order to crush the enemies of the Most High. He teaches us that it is not enough for a Catholic to behave well: it is also his duty to fight evil. And not just an abstract evil, but evil as it exists in the ungodly and in sinners. For St. Michael did not cast evil into hell as a principle, a mere conception of the intellect, nor are principles and concepts susceptible to be burned by eternal fire. It was Lucifer and his minions that the Champion of the Almighty cast into hell, as he hated the evil that existed in them and which they loved.

We live at a time of profound religious liberalism. Few Christians have an inkling that they belong to a Church militant, as militant on earth as St. Michael and the faithful Angels were militant in heaven. We also should know how to crush the insolence of wickedness. We too must tenaciously counter the adversary by attacking him and rendering him powerless.

In this struggle, St. Michael should not just be our model but our help. The fight between St. Michael and Lucifer has not ceased but continues throughout the ages. He helps all Christians in the battles they wage against the power of darkness.

Archangel St. Gabriel

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

The message that St. Gabriel – which means “the strength of God” – took to Our Lady is a message that affirms the Incarnation of the Word and therefore the greatest act of power and domination that God could exercise upon the world. With the Incarnation of the Word, God was preparing to rescue the world. In doing this, He, who is king of the world by right, also became king by conquest. Thus, He – the second Person of the Blessed Trinity – entered the earth to conquer on the cross. In this special way, He established His kingship upon the world. From this, we can draw some applications for the prayers we can still address to him today. St. Gabriel announced the coming and triumph of the Messiah to Our Lady and thus to all men. We should ask that he now announce the recovery of God’s effective kingship upon the earth through the coming of the fulfillment of the Fatima message.

Today we are in a situation that is even worse than that of the ancient world before Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can ask that Our Lord Jesus Christ reign once again, that He establish His reign on earth in Mary and through Mary, and that this period of darkness in which we find ourselves come to an end. He has done one thing, let Him do the other. He had the key to do it to close the era of antiquity, and thus opened a new epoch. Let Him close this era and open the Reign of Mary. Second: we should ask St. Gabriel for an enormous, superabundant devotion to Our Lady and that this devotion grow every instant until the end of our lives. Third: we should ask him for a most ardent, intransigent, vigilant and therefore most militant love of purity; and to have every form of revulsion and disdain for impurity in every way and degree. This is what we should ask him. May he thus protect us and bring us closer to Our Lady.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions

We must practice modesty,
not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment,
and particularly
in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Wenceslaus

Wenceslaus was born near Prague in the year 907. His father was Duke Wratislaw, a Christian, and his mother, Dragomir, a pretended Christian, but a secret favorer of paganism. One of twins, Wenceslaus was raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, while his brother, known as Boleslaus the Cruel, was raised by their mother. Jealous of the great influence which Ludmilla wielded over Wenceslaus, Dragomir instigated two noblemen to murder her. She is said to have been strangled by them with her own veil. Wratislaw died in 916, also at the hand of assassins, leaving the eight-year-old Wenceslaus as his successor. Acting as regent for her son, Dragomir actively opposed Christianity and promoted pagan practices.

Urged by the people, Wenceslaus took over the reins of government and placed his duchy under the protection of Charlemagne’s successor, the German Henry I. Emperor Otto I subsequently conferred on him the dignity and title of king. However, his German suzerainty and his support of Catholicism within Bohemia were vehemently opposed by some of his subjects and a rebellion ensued.

After the virtuous monarch married and had a son, the king’s brother Boleslaus, seeing himself displaced from the direct succession to the throne by his nephew, joined the rebellion. At the instigation of their mother, Dragomir, Boleslaus conspired with the rebels to murder his royal brother. In September of 929, Boleslaus invited Wenceslaus to celebrate the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian with him. The king accepted, and on the night of the feast, said his prayers and went to bed. The next morning, as Wenceslaus walked to Mass, he met Boleslaus and stopped to thank him for his hospitality. Instead, the jealous brother stabbed the king and held him down as other traitors killed him. King Wenceslaus’s last words were addressed to his brother. “Brother, may God forgive you!” His body, hacked to pieces, was buried at the place of the murder.

Three years later, having repented of his deed, Boleslaw ordered the translation of his brother’s remains to the Church of St. Vitus in Prague where they may be venerated to this day. The martyr-king is the patron of Bohemia, Hungary and Poland.
Photo by: Ales Tosovsky

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Do not worry

Do not worry yourself overmuch …
Grace has its moments.
Let us abandon ourselves to the providence of God
and be very careful not to run ahead of it.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

Born in 1576, ordained to the priesthood in 1600, he suffered many trials and setbacks and did not become a pastor for a number of years after his ordination. He was captured by Muslim pirates and held in captivity for two years after which he escaped with an apostate Italian, whom he succeeded in converting back to Catholicism. It was only in 1617 that he became a pastor and also the chaplain to Queen Marguerite, the separated wife of King Henry IV.
During this period, he founded many hospitals and orphanages, and frequently visited prisons. Through all of these arduous works, he remained calm and pleasant with everyone despite the tremendous amount of work he had undertaken, because as Father de Laurent states, Vincent possessed treasures of goodness. His bright eyes reflected his burning charity and his copious undertakings were the fruit of his pure goodness for “no one exerts a serious influence upon his surroundings if he is not fundamentally good.” He welcomed all with a beaming smile and charm, and firmly believed that the hours that he sacrificed to charity were never lost.

He saw the wealthy as a reflection of the Divine nobility of Our Lord, and in the poor, His voluntary and sublime poverty. While Vincent received many considerably large donations along with notable recognition from on high, none of this affected his profound humility. He also led an intense spiritual life. His contemplation of God gave him the graces and strength to accomplish what ordinary men could never do. He was a man of action, but he also was a man of continual prayer. His actions were a mere overflowing of his interior life, which was well nourished. He would often say “There is not much to hope for from a man who does not like to converse with God.” Rising at four in the morning, he would go directly to the chapel to spend an hour in meditation, celebrate daily Mass and afterward, recite his breviary.

Visitors would come by seeking consultations in grave matters during which he would remain silent for a few minutes, praying to God for good counsel and then dispense advice. He would bless himself each time that the clock struck the hour or quarter-hour. Vincent said that he saw the soul of Jane Frances de Chantal rise to Heaven in the form of a fiery globe during one of his Masses. He was a humble man who never divulged his prayer life, often recommended communal prayer and would frequently say, “Perfection in love does not consist of ecstasies, but in doing the will of God.”

Most importantly, he had a special devotion to Our Lady. He began this devotion in his youth and increased it throughout his life. Ultimately, he went forward in life after contemplation and prayer, not relying on human support, and by doing the Will of God.

Vincent was taken ill and died in 1660. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Greatest drama of love the world has ever known

The rosary is the book of the blind,
where souls see and there enact
the greatest drama of love the world has ever known;
it is the book of the simple,
which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying
than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged,
whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and
open on the substance of the next.
The power of the rosary is beyond description.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Very little is known about Sts. Cosmas and Damian. It is said that they were twin brothers from Arabia some time in the early 200s. They were Christians, and students of medicine. They dedicated their lives to God and offered medical services for free – a charitable act that made them renowned among the people and was often the cause of conversions to the Faith, a fact which did not go unnoticed by officials.
Cosmas and Damian, who had lovingly become known in the East as the “moneyless ones” because of their kindness, were killed around the year 283. When the persecution under Emperor Diocletian began, their reputation as do-gooders marked them as objects of ruthless cruelty and they were both savagely tortured and beheaded.

Many churches have been erected in their honor. They are the patron saints of pharmacists.

Monday, September 25, 2017

When tempted

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

St. John Bosco

St. Albert of Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Powerful over the devil

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

St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Gerard of Csanad

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

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

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

When things get hard

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

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

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

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

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

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

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

When he was canonized on June 16, 2002, an estimated 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony.

Friday, September 22, 2017

When angry, remember this

Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little.
Remember that he of whom you are speaking
is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation,
God can make him a saint,
in spite of his present weakness.

St. Thomas of Villanova

St. Thomas of Villanova

Thomas was born in Castile, Spain in 1488. His family was not wealthy, but his father’s work as a miller allowed the family to be charitable and generous towards the poor. He was sent to school at the University of Alcala at the age of sixteen, where he threw himself enthusiastically into his studies and, ten years later, became professor of philosophy.

In 1516 he joined the Augustinian Friars at Salamanca and was ordained a priest two years later. He eventually became prior in several houses of the Augustinian Order, notably Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid. When Don Jorge, the Archbishop of Valencia, resigned, the emperor did not offer Thomas the see because he knew the high position would be a grievous trial for the humble friar-priest. Instead, the emperor nominated a religious of the Order of St. Jerome. However, when the emperor discovered his secretary had written the name of Brother Thomas of Villanova on the letter of nomination, he took it as a sign from God and appointed Thomas bishop. The year was 1545.

Thomas immediately began to restore the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was deeply committed to the poor, established care for orphans and convinced the emperor to provide funds to organize priests for service among the converted Moors who had lapsed back into their old religion for lack of a shepherd.

Renowned for his personal charity, sanctity and austerities, Thomas was eventually consecrated archbishop. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent supporter of the Reformation against the Lutheran heresy.

Thomas of Villanova died in 1555 of angina at the age of sixty-seven. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ

The effect of our sharing in
the body and blood of Christ
is to change us
into what we receive.

Pope St. Leo the Great

St. Matthew the Evangelist

Before his conversion, Matthew was a Jew who worked as a tax collector for the Romans. It was while Matthew was working at a tax collector’s bench in the custom house of Capernaum that Jesus passing by called him saying, “Follow me.” In his own account of himself, the Evangelist writes, “And he rose up and followed him.”
Jewish tax collectors were generally hated by their fellow Jews, and were considered sinners by the Pharisees. When they discovered Jesus’ choice of followers, they were scandalized, and questioned Him. “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12b-13), Jesus said to them.

After the death and resurrection of Our Lord, Matthew went on to evangelize and authored the first Gospel. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or as a martyr.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saint Michael Novena to End on Sept. 29th

saint_michael_archangel_novena.jpg
Saint Michael, pray for us! (Say for nine consecutive days)
Saint Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His Catholic people, I turn to thee with confidence and seek thy powerful intercession. For the love of God, Who hast made thee so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer.

Thou knowest the value of my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate thy loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and thy great love for God and men. And since thou art God’s messenger for the care of His people, I entrust to thee this special request:
(Here mention your request.)
Saint Michael, since thou art, by the will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in thy prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God’s holy will, my petition will be granted.
Pray for me, Saint Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through thy powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death and reach Heaven where we may praise and love God with thee forever.  Amen.

God is a physician

Let us understand that God is a physician,
and that suffering is a medicine for salvation,
not a punishment for damnation.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions

During the 17th century the Christian faith was brought to Korea through the zeal of lay persons. From the very beginning these Christians suffered terrible persecutions and many suffered martyrdom.

Son of Korean converts who were martyred during the persecution of 1839 (and beatified in 1925), Andrew Kim Tae-gon was baptized at fifteen. He traveled thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China, and was ordained to the priesthood six years later. He traveled back to his home and became involved in smuggling missionaries into the country to spread Christianity.

During the year 1846, he was arrested with Paul Chong Ha-sang and their companions, and they were all tortured prior to being beheaded for his beliefs. Among them were a few bishops and priests, but for the most part lay people, men and women, married and unmarried, children, young people, and the elderly.

These martyrs suffered greatly and gave their lives for Christ for the religious freedom which came in 1883. Pope John Paul II canonized them on May 6, 1984, during his trip to Korea.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The unfailing power which God has given us

Have confidence in prayer.
It is the unfailing power which God has given us.
By means of it you will obtain the salvation of
the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones.
Ask and you shall receive,” Our Lord said.
Be yourself with the good Lord.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Januarius of Benevento

Very little is known about these holy martyrs other than they were killed during the Diocletian persecution. Legend has it they threw Januarius onto a flaming furnace, but he was unscathed. Instead, they stretched him on a bench and beat him until his bones were exposed. When the saint still lived, they threw him and his companions to starving wild animals in the amphitheatre, but the animals would not touch them. Finally, the martyrs were beheaded and died around the year 304.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to make the angels jealous

If angels could be jealous of men,
they would be so for one reason:
Holy Communion.

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 
As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.
During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.
She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.”
Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men.
After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”
A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul.
 By Catherine Ferdinand

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Joseph was born in 1603 in the small village of Cupertino, Italy, to very poor parents. After his father died, his mother spared him no love and considered him a burden. She would often abuse Joseph, which caused him to become slow and absentminded. He was forgetful, and wandered around the village with his mouth open, causing him to become nicknamed “Boccaperta,” or “the gaper.”

When he was seventeen, Joseph went out in search of a job. However, the abuse he suffered as a child caused him to lack self discipline, and he never lasted long. The first two times he tried to enter religious life, he was turned away, but the third time, the Conventual Franciscans of Grottella accepted him as a stable boy. Joseph came closer to Christ, and often did extreme fasting and acts of mortification. He was ordained in 1628 after a five-year struggle with his priestly studies.

During the seventeen years Joseph remained at Grottella, God worked many amazing miracles through him. Over seventy times, people saw him rise from the ground while saying Mass or praying and he often went into ecstasy and would be completely rapt up in talking with God. Joseph became so famous for these miracles that he was often followed by large crowds of people and had to be kept hidden.

From 1653 until his death, Joseph was placed in complete seclusion from the outside world, restricted from writing letters and receiving visitors. Though he was isolated from humanity, he became even more loved of God: his supernatural manifestations had begun to occur daily, and his seclusion left him free of distraction to pray.

Joseph fell ill and died in 1663. He was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1776.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

If you have this, you will not be damned

 Charity is that with which
no man is lost, and
without which
no man is saved.

St. Robert Bellarmine

Sept. 17 -- The Stigmata of Saint Francis

The Stigmatization of Saint Francis, by Rubens
Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to “that rugged rock ‘twixt Tiber and Arno”, as Dante called La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the full meaning of the Passion so deeply entered.
It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) while praying on the mountainside, that he beheld the marvelous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says an early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart.
Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint’s autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear and simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than many another historical fact.
The saint’s right side is described as bearing on open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward. After the reception of the stigmata, Francis suffered increasing pains throughout his frail body, already broken by continual mortification. For, condescending as the saint always was to the weaknesses of others, he was ever so unsparing towards himself that at the last he felt constrained to ask pardon of “Brother Ass”, as he called his body, for having treated it so harshly.
Worn out, moreover, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind.
During an access of anguish, Francis paid a last visit to St. Clare at St. Damian’s, and it was in a little hut of reeds, made for him in the garden there, that the saint composed that “Canticle of the Sun”, in which his poetic genius expands itself so gloriously. This was in September, 1225.

St. Robert Bellarmine

Roberto Bellarmino was born into impoverished Tuscan nobility at Montepulciano on October 4, 1542. He was the third of ten children born to Vincenzo Bellarmino and Cinthia Cervini, a sister of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who later became Pope Marcellus II. Educated at the Jesuit College in Montepulciano, he entered the Society of Jesus at the age of eighteen. After studying philosophy at the Roman College, he taught first at Florence and then at Mondovi. He began his theological studies in Padua in 1567, but was sent to Louvain two years later in order that he might obtain a fuller acquaintance with the heretical teachings of the time.

Bellarmine was ordained a priest in Flanders and quickly obtained a reputation both as a professor and a preacher, attracting Catholics and Protestants alike by his sermons. In 1576 he was recalled to Italy, and entrusted with the chair of Controversies recently founded at the Roman College. He proved himself equal to the arduous task, and the lectures he delivered were later compiled into his most renowned work, “De Controversiis” - Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Bellarmine's monumental work was the earliest attempt to systematize the various controversies of the time, and made an immense impression throughout Europe. It dealt such a blow to Protestantism in Germany and England that special university chairs were founded in order to provide replies to it. Theodore of Blaise, an important Protestant leader who succeeded Calvin, acknowledged that “This is the work that defeated us.” So numerous were the conversions wrought by it that Queen Elizabeth I of England decreed that anyone who was not a doctor in theology was forbidden to read Bellarmine’s writings under penalty of death. To the present day, it remains an uncontested standard of orthodoxy that has yet to be superseded. In recognition of this, Benedict XV gave Bellarmine the title of “Hammer of Heresies” in 1921.

In 1588 Bellarmine was made Spiritual Father to the Roman College, but in 1590 he went with Cardinal Gaetano as theologian to the embassy Sixtus V was then sending into France to protect the interests of the Church amidst the troubles of the civil wars. While in France news reached him that Sixtus, who had warmly accepted the dedication of his “De Controversiis”, was now proposing to put its first volume on the Index. This was because he had discovered that it assigned to the Holy See not a direct but only an indirect power over temporal authorities. Bellarmine, whose loyalty to the Holy See was intense, took this greatly to heart; it was, however, averted by the death of Sixtus, and the new pope, Gregory XIV, even granted to Bellarmine’s work the distinction of a special approbation. Gaetano’s mission now terminating, Bellarmine resumed his work as Spiritual Father, and had the consolation of guiding the last years of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who died in the Roman College in 1591. Many years later he had the further consolation of successfully promoting the beatification of the saintly youth. It was also at this time that he sat on the final commission for the revision of the Vulgate translation of the Holy Scriptures.

In 1592 Bellarmine was made Rector of the Roman College, and in 1595 Provincial of Naples. In 1597 Clement VIII recalled him to Rome and made him his own theologian as well as Examiner of Bishops and Consultor of the Holy Office. “The Church of God has not his equal in learning,” he stated when making him a Cardinal in 1599. Bellarmine’s appointment as Cardinal Inquisitor soon followed. In 1602 Bellarmine was appointed as the Archbishop of Capua and consecrated by Pope Clement VIII himself, an honor usually accorded as a mark of special regard.

Three years later, Clement VIII died, and was succeeded by Leo XI who reigned only twenty-six days, and then by Paul V. In both conclaves, especially that latter, the name of Bellarmine was much before the electors, greatly to his own distress. The new pope insisted on keeping him at Rome, and the cardinal, obediently complying, demanded that at least he should be released from an episcopal charge the duties of which he could no longer fulfill. He was now made a member of the Holy Office and of other congregations, and thenceforth was the chief advisor of the Holy See in the theological department of its administration.

Bellarmine became one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation and the period will be forever marked by his method of confronting heresy: he understood that one cannot do away with a heresy by only preaching the truth; it was also necessary to attack and smash the error. By this method he converted heretics, bringing them back into union with the Church. The profound spiritual treatises that emanated from his pen earned for him the title of Doctor of the Church. But while he was a champion of orthodoxy and a brilliant polemicist, Bellarmine was also a man of capable of dealing with the most sensitive souls guiding them to sanctity as he did with St. Louis Gonzaga. This prodigious apostolate could only spring from a great calmness of spirit and deep interior life.

His death in the summer of 1621 was most edifying and a fitting end to a life which had been no less remarkable for its virtues than for its tremendous achievements. Accordingly, there was a general expectation amongst those who knew him intimately that his cause would be promptly introduced and swiftly concluded. However, reality proved to be otherwise. Although he was declared Venerable in 1627, technical obstacles arose in regards to the beatification process, delaying the progress of his cause for 300 years. Bellarmine was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930 and declared a Doctor of the Church and patron saint of catechists the following year.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The best prayer

We do not have to talk very much
in order to pray well.
We know that God is there in His holy tabernacle;
let us open our hearts to Him; let us rejoice in His Presence.
This is the best prayer.

St. John Vianney

Pope St. Cornelius

Cornelius was elected to the papal dignity during a time in which both the Church and civil society were in great turmoil. About the year 250, Rome was ruled by the Emperor Decius, who savagely persecuted Christians. He ordered all Christians to deny Christ by offering incense to idols or through some other pagan ritual. Many Christians refused and were martyred, among them St. Fabian, the Pope, while others burnt the sacrificial incense in order to save their own lives. In hopes that Christianity would fade away, Decius prevented the election of a new pope. However, he was soon compelled to leave Rome to fight the invading Goths and, in his absence, the papal election was held.

By 251, the Church had endured fourteen months without a pope when Cornelius was elected, much against his will. After the persecution, the Church became divided in two. One side, led by the Roman priest Novatian, believed that those who had stopped practicing Christianity during the persecution could not be accepted back into the Church even if they repented. Under this philosophy, the only way to re-enter the Church would be re-baptism. The opposing side, headed by Pope Cornelius, did not believe in the need for re-baptism. Instead, he believed the sinners should only need to show contrition and perform penance to be welcomed back into the Church. Novatian resisted Cornelius and declared himself Pope – thus becoming History's first antipope.

Later, during that same year, a synod of western bishops supported Cornelius, condemned the teachings of Novatian, and excommunicated him and his followers. When another persecution began in 253 under Emperor Gallus, Pope Cornelius was first exiled and then died as a martyr.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our Lady of Sorrows

About this day, Abbot Prosper Guéranger comments how the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom God predestined to be the Mother of His Son, was united in her person to the life, mysteries and suffering of Jesus, so that she might be a faithful cooperator in the work of Redemption.

He notes that God must consider suffering to be a great good since He gave so much suffering to His Son, Whom He loved so much. And since, after His Son, God loved Our Lady more than any other creature, He also wanted to give her suffering as the richest of all presents.

On the solemnity of this feast, we primarily remember Mary on Calvary where she suffered the supreme sorrow of all sorrows that filled her life. Indeed, so great was Mary's grief on Calvary that, had it been divided among all creatures capable of suffering, it would have caused them all to die instantly.

If the Church limits the number of sorrows to seven, it is because this number has always symbolized the idea of totality and universality. To understand the extent and suffering of Our Lady, one must know the extent of her love for Jesus. Her love as Mother of God only augmented her suffering. In fact, nature and grace came together to produce profound impressions on the heart of Mary. Nothing is stronger and more pressing than the love that nature gives a mother for her son or that grace gives for God.

These considerations help us understand the role of suffering in our lives.

We see we are not alone in our suffering. In fact, the immensity of the crosses suffered by Our Lady was so great that we might also say she suffered not seven, but all sorrows. She is Our Lady of All Sorrows since no one suffered more.

While it is true that all generations will call her "blessed," to a lesser but immensely real degree, all generations may also call her "sorrowful."

Thus, we need to understand better that when sorrow enters our lives, it is a proof of God's love. And when we are not visited with sorrow, we do not have all the proofs of God's love for us. It is in sorrow that our mettle is tested. Moreover, one finds a note of maturity, stability and rationality in those who suffer and who suffer much. And so we should understand that when adversity, difficulties, misunderstandings, bad health and conflicts visit us, we must not see them as things that should never happen. To suffer is normal in this vale of tears.

If she, whom God loves so much, suffered, how much more should we suffer. The one who is loved by God and Our Lady suffers because God will not refuse to give him that which He gave abundantly to the two whom He loved most: Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady.

Thus, we must see temptations, trials, stress and so many other sufferings as something normal in life. We must ask that sufferings pass but when they persist, we must bless God and Our Lady.
Photos by: Mflito

They give us joy

We grow weary of sense goods
when we possess them.
Not so of spiritual goods.
They do not diminish, they cannot be harmed,
they give us a joy that is ever new.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What is the life of the soul?

The life of the body
is the soul;
the life of the soul
is God.

St. Anthony of Padua

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

With great clarity the Gospels show us how much our Divine Savior in His mercy pities our pains of body and soul. We need only to recall the awesome miracles He performed in His omnipotence in order to mitigate these pains. But let us never make the mistake of imagining that this combat against pain and sorrow was the greatest gift He dispensed to mankind.

For the one who closes his eyes to the central fact of Our Lord's life — that He is our Redeemer and desired to endure the cruelest sufferings in order to redeem us — would have misunderstood His mission.

Even at the very apex of His Passion, Our Lord could have put an end to all those pains instantly by a mere act of His Divine will. From the very first moment of His Passion to the very last, Our Savior could have ordered His wounds to heal, His precious blood to stop pouring forth, and the effects of the blows on His Divine body to disappear without a scar. Finally, He could have given Himself a brilliant and jubilant victory, abruptly halting the persecution that was dragging Him to death.

But Our Lord Jesus Christ willed none of this. On the contrary, He willed to allow Himself to be led up the Via Dolorosa to the height of Golgotha: He willed to see His most holy Mother engulfed in the depths of sorrow. And, finally, He willed to cry out those piercing words "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46), which will echo down through the ages until the consummation of the world.

In considering these realities, we come to understand a profound truth. By granting each of us the grace to be called to suffer a portion of His Passion with Him, He made clear the unequaled role of the Cross in the lives of men, in the history of the world, and in His glorification. Let us not think that by inviting us to suffer the pains and sorrows of the present life, He thereby wished to dispense each of us from pronouncing our own "consummatum est" at the hour of our death.

If we do not understand the role of the Cross, if we do not love the Cross, if we do not live our own Via Crucis, we will not fulfill Providence's design for us. And at our death, we will not be able to make ours the sublime exclamation of St. Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up to me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day." (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Any quality, however exalted, will avail nothing unless it is founded on love of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With this love we can obtain all, even if we find heavy the holy burden of purity and other virtues, the unceasing attacks and mockeries of the enemies of the Faith, and the betrayals of false friends.

The great foundation, indeed the greatest foundation, of Christian civilization is that each and every person cultivates a generous love for the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Mary help us to accomplish this. Then we shall have reconquered for her Divine Son the reign of God that today flickers so faintly in the hearts of men.
Photo by: GFreihalter

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Demons and souls in human form

The vision of hell as described by Lucia dos Santos:

Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth.
Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers,
all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised
into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke,
now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and
amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.
The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to
frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.

St. John Chrysostom

John – later surnamed Chrysostomos, meaning “golden-mouthed” so called on account of his eloquence – was born in Antioch in Syria around 347. Raised by his widowed mother, he studied under Libanius, a famous orator of the period.

In 374, he joined a community of hermits in the mountains south of Antioch. After four years under the direction of a Syrian monk, he left them, and for the next two years he lived as an anchorite in a cave. The conditions of his crude abode and the severity of his mortifications caused him to become dangerously ill, and he was obliged to return to Antioch in 381. John was ordained a deacon that same year and for twelve years afterwards he served as a deputy to Bishop Flavian.

Upon the death of Nectarius, Archbishop of Constantinople, John was selected for that see by Emperor Arcadius. In this position, Chrysostom did away with many expenses which some of his predecessors had considered necessary to the maintenance of their dignity and devoted the money saved thereby to the relief of the poor and the support of hospitals for the sick and infirm. He also undertook the reformation of the clergy of his diocese by means of zealous exhortations and disciplinary actions which, though very necessary, were somewhat tactless in their severity. John added effect and force to these endeavors, by conducting himself as an exemplary model of what he desired so ardently to impress upon others.

Chrysostom was banished from Constantinople in 403 after he delivered too zealous a sermon against immodesty and vanity. The Empress Eudoxia took his words as a direct insult against herself. His exile was of short duration however, because a slight earthquake that shook the city was taken as a terrifying sign by the superstitious lady. Shortly afterwards he was again banished for preaching against the disorder, impropriety, and superstition occasioned by the public games commemorating the raising of a silver statue of Eudoxia in front of the great church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom. He was exiled to a remote place called Cucusus in the Taurus Mountains of Armenia, where he suffered greatly from the heat, fatigue, and the cruelty and brutality of his guards. The local bishop, however, vied with his people in showing the aging patriarch every mark of kindness and respect.

When a council was called by Pope Innocent and the Emperor Honorius to restore him to his see, Chrysostom’s enemies instead imprisoned the appointed papal legates, and sent him into further exile in Pityus at the eastern end of the Black Sea. He suffered intensely from his forced travel in the scorching heat and wet weather. When he and his escorts reached the Church of St. Basiliscus in Comana in Cappadocia, the clergy there, seeing he was close to death, took him in, changed him into white garments and administered Extreme Unction to him. He died the next day, September 14, 407, with the words "Glory to God in all things" on his lips.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What Our Lady Said at Fatima on September 13, 1917



A crowd estimated at 20,000 observed atmospheric phenomena similar to those of the previous apparitions: the sudden cooling of the air, a dimming of the sun to the point where the stars could be seen, and a rain resembling iridescent petals or snowflakes that disappeared before touching the ground.
This time, a luminous globe was noticed which moved slowly and majestically through the sky from east to west and, at the end of the apparition, in the opposite direction. The seers saw a light, and, immediately following this, they saw Our Lady over the holm oak. 

 


Our Lady: Continue to pray the Rosary to obtain the end of the war. In October, Our Lord will also come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus, to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to sleep with the ropes; wear them only during the day. (The children were wearing ropes around their waists as a sacrifice for sinners.)
Lucia: They have requested me to ask you for many things, for the cure of some sick persons, of a deaf-mute.
Our Lady: Yes, I will cure some, others not. In October, I will perform a miracle for all to believe.
And rising, she disappeared in the same manner as before.




Read:  Sixth Apparition

Most Holy Name of Mary

“God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the sea – mare. He gathered all his graces together and called them Mary – Maria,” writes the great Marian apostle St. Louis Marie de Montfort in his renowned work, Treatise on True Devotion to Mary.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary was first celebrated in Spain in 1513. Granted by Pope Julius II to the diocese of Cuenta in Spain, it was assigned the date of September 15, the octave day of Our Lady's Nativity, on the papal calendar. The feast was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples In 1671.

In 1683, Vienna was besieged by Turkish invaders. Jan Sobieski, the devout King of Poland, came to the assistance of Vienna with an army that was vastly outnumbered by that of Mustapha. Early on the morning of September 12, having himself served at Holy Mass, the King entrusted himself and his army to the Virgin Mary, imploring her blessing upon himself and his troops and her assistance in the upcoming conflict. Then rising from his knees, the "Northern Lion," as he was called by the Turks, said aloud: “Let us now march to the enemy with an entire confidence in the protection of heaven, under the assured patronage of the Blessed Virgin.” And charging upon the enemy camp, they defeated and routed the Muslims completely. The Turkish forces were overwhelmed and Vienna was saved under the banner of Mary Most Holy.

In a letter to Pope Innocent XI announcing the victory of the Christian army over the Muslims at the gates of Vienna, King Jan SobieskI immediately attributed the victory to God and not to his own efforts, and paraphrased the words of Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” – "I came, I saw, God conquered!" In commemoration of this glorious victory over the Muslims, and in thanksgiving to God and honor to Our Lady for Their aid, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast of the Holy Name of Mary to the Universal Church that same year.

Although the feast was originally celebrated on September 15, in 1911 Pope St. Pius X decreed that it be celebrated on September 12.

Mary is the star...

“And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27).
Let us also say a few words about this name, which means “star of the sea” and is most
suitably fitting for a virgin mother. For she is most appropriately compared to a star, because,
just as a star emits its rays without being corrupted, so the Virgin
gave birth to her Son without any injury to her virginity. When the star emits its rays,
this does not make it less bright, and neither does the Son diminish his Mother’s virginal integrity.
She, therefore, is that noble star risen from Jacob, whose ray gives light to the whole world,
whose brightness both shines forth in the heavens and penetrates the depths.
It lights up the earth and warms the spirit more than the body; it fosters virtues and dries up vices.
Mary, I say, is the distinguished and bright shining star, necessarily lifted up above this great broad sea,
gleaming with merits, giving light by her example.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Monday, September 11, 2017

How to govern the world

A man who governs his passions
is master of his world.
We must either command them or
be enslaved by them.
It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.

St. Dominic de Guzman

St. Paphnutius

After spending many years in the desert under the direction of St. Anthony, Paphnutius, the holy confessor of Egypt, was made a bishop. Paphnutius suffered persecution under the rule of Emperor Maximinus, which is said to have been the bloodiest persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire. After his right eye was gouged out, and his left knee hamstrung and mutilated, the bishop was condemned to work in the mines for refusing to comply with traditional Roman religious practices.

When the persecutions ended about the year 313, Paphnutius returned to his priestly duties, bearing forever the evidence of his sufferings. He was most ardent in defending the Catholic faith against the Arian heresy. As one who had confessed the Faith before persecutors and under torments, he was an outstanding figure of the first General Council of the Church, held at Nicaea in the year 325. He died about 350.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Rosary Saves Man’s Life on September 11

A man from New York who had fallen away from the Catholic Church and not gone to confession in years was met at a Fatima Home Visit presentation given by Custodian, Jose Ferraz.  
After the visit, the New Yorker took home a Rosary and Rosary Guide and started praying it and going to the sacraments again. Months later, on September 11, 2001, he was in the World Trade Center at the very moment when the terrorist attack took place. 
Seeing the fireball and smoke from the crash, the man fled his office and tried running down the stairs to safety. However, he met a big obstacle. The fire doors had locked and he was trapped in the stairwell, listening to the screams of burning people who were still inside the building, unable to escape death.
It was awful—horrific. Any attempt to pry open the fire doors with bare hands would be futile.
With Our Lady’s help, instead of panicking, he felt calm. He grabbed his Rosary and started praying to the Blessed Mother for help.  And within minutes, firemen reached his floor, broke down the fire doors and set him free. He ran downstairs to safety, his prayers answered thanks to the power of the Most Holy Rosary.



Click Here to: Request a Fatima Home Visit

What is the first step downward?

No soul ever fell away from God without giving up prayer.
Prayer is that which establishes contact with Divine Power and opens
the invisible resources of heaven.
However dark the way, when we pray, temptation can never master us.
The first step downward in the average soul is the giving up of the practice of prayer,
the breaking of the circuit with divinity,
and the proclamation of one’s owns self sufficiency.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Nicholas of Tolentino

In the small Italian town of Sant’ Angelo, a couple prayed for a child at the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari. They prayed for a son and promised to dedicate him to God if their prayers were answered. In the Spring of 1245, Nicholas was born.

When he was still very young, Nicholas received the minor orders of the secular clergy in fulfillment of his parents' holy promise. However, he wished to dedicate more time and energy to God’s work, and in the year 1264 he was accepted by the Augustinian Friars. By 1270, he had been ordained a priest. He soon became renowned for his generosity and the miraculous cure of a blind woman. He performed his priestly duties in many different houses of the Order. Once, thinking to remain at a monastery near Fermo, he heard a voice calling to him whilst he was praying: “To Tolentino, to Tolentino. Persevere there.” Without hesitation, Nicholas left for Tolentino.

He spent the remaining thirty years of his life preaching on the streets of Tolentino, converting criminals, comforting the dying and caring for the sick – sometimes miraculously curing them. He died in 1305 after a year-long illness. Petitions for his canonization began immediately. Pope Eugene IV canonized him in 1446, and his relics were rediscovered in 1926 at Tolentino.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Helpful tip to reach perfection

Man’s salvation and perfection
consists of doing the will of God
which he must have in view in all things,
and at every moment of his life.

St. Peter Claver

St. Peter Claver

Peter was born in 1581 in Catalonia in Spain. He joined the Society of Jesus when he was twenty, and was sent to further his studies at the college of Montesione in Majorca. There he met St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, who predicted Peter would go to the West Indies and save souls. At his request, in 1610 he was sent to the South-American port city of Cartagena in modern-day Colombia, to complete his theological studies, and was there ordained to the priesthood in 1615.

At the time, Cartagena was the main slave market of the New World. Africans by the thousands were being shipped in from the Congo and Angola and it was estimated that one third of them died in transit due to their harsh treatment and the foul conditions of the voyage. Other Jesuits had been working among them prior to Peter’s arrival in 1610, but whereas they visited the slaves where they worked, Peter met them at the wharf. Most often he boarded the slave ships before they even docked, going down into their filthy and disease-ridden holds to treat the terror-stricken human cargo. Infants and the dying, he would baptize immediately; to the others he offered food, clothing and medical assistance; with the help of interpreters, he taught them about the sacraments and how to pray, educating them in the Catholic faith before baptizing them. In the course of forty years, Peter instructed and baptized over 300,000 slaves.

When making his solemn profession as a Jesuit religious in 1622, Peter signed the document in Latin as was the custom, and added the phrase, “aethiopum semper servus” – servant of the Ethiopians (i.e. the Africans ) – after his name, thereby making his total dedication to them official in the eyes of God as well as in fact. His missionary zeal and dedication embraced every form of misery. There were two hospitals in Cartagena at the time, one housed general patients and the other lepers and those suffering from St. Anthony’s Fire, an illness that produced infected boils, seizures and spasms, diarrhea, parenthesis, itching, mania, nausea and vomiting. He became renowned for his miracles, and converted many with his kind and caring ways.

Peter spent himself unstintingly and truly became the Apostle of Cartagena. In 1650 he fell gravely ill, and four years later on September 8, the birthday of Our Lady, he died, the last years of his life spent in his cell because his body never fully recovered from illness. He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and declared patron of all missionary work among the Africans by the same pope in 1896.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Today, sorrow turns into joy

The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God
is a day of universal joy,
because through the Mother of God,
the entire human race was renewed,
and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve,
was transformed into joy.

St. John Damascene

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Many days passed before Almighty God finally completed the masterpiece of His creation. For nine months, the soul of Mary had given form to her virginal body, and the hour, the moment, of her joyful birth approached. As the suffocating Palestinian summer neared its end, the mellowing sun poured abundant torrents of golden light on the opulent plain of Samaria, ripening the rich orchards of autumn fruit. On a magnificent September day, with nature adorned in radiant beauty, the most Holy Virgin came into the world in the white-walled city of Nazareth.

She was probably born in the same house where the great mystery of the Incarnation later took place and where Jesus spent most of His childhood and youth in work and prayer. The angels did not acclaim the coming of the glorious Queen with hymns of joy as they later did the birth of the Savior. Invisible to the eyes of mortal men, the angels considered it an honor to mount guard around the humble crib over which Saints Joachim and Anne lovingly watched. The prophecy of Isaiah had come to pass. The root of Jesse, ten centuries removed, had sprouted a new branch. On this same branch in but a few years more would blossom the eternal Flower, the Incarnate Word.

The day the Queen of Heaven was born ranks as one of the most beautiful in history since it announced to condemned mankind the long-awaited time of liberation. The birth of Mary begins the work of Redemption. In her crib, the mother of the Savior illuminates the desolate earth with the grace of her first smiles. Jesus will soon appear and, with His Precious Blood, will erase the sentence of our condemnation. The world which has suffered so much from the ravages of sin will finally delight in the joy of liberty and peace. Slavery will everywhere be abolished, and human dignity will henceforth be respected. Like a flowing stream, graces will spring forth in abundance from the sacraments. We have but to approach and draw from them — without limit — pardon, courage, and life everlasting.

The God who hid in Paradise will descend to earth and never abandon mankind. After His Ascension, Our Lord will remain among us under the Eucharistic veil until the end of time. Christ will visibly reign over the glorious souls of the resurrected elect. Such are the great joys the birth of Mary announces. “Thy nativity, O Virgin Mother of God has announced joy to the whole world.”

According to certain traditions, no one in the small town of Nazareth where Saints Joachim and Anne lived paid heed to the new arrival. Although the blood of King David flowed in her veins, her family had fallen from its ancient splendor. Who noticed these impoverished people?

Anne and Joachim had been childless for many years, but the Lord had at last answered their prayers. They saw their daughter Mary as the measure of His celestial goodness to them. Little did they suspect, however, the veritable treasures the Most High had instilled in the soul of their child. They could not have imagined the wonder of her Immaculate Conception. They did not realize that the Mother of the Redeemer now lay in their loving arms.

The Jews of the time were plunged in discouragement. The voice of the prophets had not been heard for years. Having lost their political freedom, they believed Divine Providence had abandoned them.

It was then that the hidden work of infinite Mercy began to be accomplished in their midst.

If only the obscurity of Our Lady’s birth would teach us to make little of human greatness! Let us keep a Christian perspective of indifference toward the fleeting vanities that Christ Himself shunned in His Mother’s birth. Were these important, surely He would not have refused them to His mother.

This great mystery also teaches us never to lose heart. The Immaculate Mother came into the world at a time when the Jews had lost hope. Indeed, they thought all was lost. Let us reap the benefit of this lesson. We often become discouraged when, calling on heaven to assist us, our request is not immediately granted. Sometimes God waits until we are on the brink of the abyss before extending His hand of mercy. So, let us not become discouraged and cease praying! The Almighty will intervene at the very moment when we believe ourselves completely abandoned. If we have confidence — an unlimited supply of confidence — we will be greatly rewarded!
First Photo by: Ralph Hammann

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.
Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.
One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.
But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:
“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”
No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:
“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”
No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed.
Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful.
St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”