Monday, February 20, 2017

Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto - February 20



Blesseds Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) - February 20

Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, were born in the tiny town of Aljustrel, Portugal, two years apart in a family of ten siblings.
Francisco was a handsome boy with light hair and dark eyes and a retiring disposition. Jacinta was a beautiful girl, also light haired and dark eyed but of a spritely temperament. With their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, brother and sister pastured their families’ sheep.

In 1916 their calm, rural life was changed forever by the apparition of an angel in a field near Aljustrel. The angel, calling himself “The Angel of Portugal”, prepared them spiritually for a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 13, 1917 the Mother of God appeared to the three children atop of a holm oak near the village of Fatima. The Virgin asked the children to return another five times and promised to work a miracle at the last apparition so that all would believe, which she did by making the sun “dance” before 70,000 in October of 1917. At that time she also called herself, “Lady of the Rosary.”

Throughout the apparitions, the Mother of God made prophecies about the advent of Communism and its spread throughout the world, about the coming of World War II, spoke of the sinfulness of the humanity, and asked for prayer (specially the daily recitation of the Rosary), penance and conversion of life as a means of obtaining peace for the world.


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She also asked the children if they were willing to pray and sacrifice to help save the souls of poor sinners. She assured Francisco and Jacinta that she would take them soon to heaven but that Lucia would stay on earth longer.
Francisco and Jacinta convinced that they were not long for this world, and interiorly transformed by great mystical graces as well as a terrifying vision of hell, accepted a type of  “spiritual victimhood”  for the sake of offering reparation to God and saving the souls of sinners.
Francisco spent hours on end in prayer, and contemplation even giving up his games and play time. Jacinta embarked on a life of prayer and penance, offering many small sacrifices for the salvation of sinners.
In 1918 both fell victims to the influenza ripping through Portugal, gladly embracing their illness and all its suffering.
Francisco died with a smile on his face on April 3, 1919 at his home in Aljustrel. And Jacinta died in a hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920 which day she had predicted.

Brother and sister were beatified on May 13, 2000.

Jacinta's Transformation: Something Akin to the Secret of Mary

By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?
Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.


Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

He waits

He loves, He hopes, He waits.
If He came down on our altars on certain days only,
some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have
to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait.
Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner
for years
rather than keep him waiting one instant.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Wulfric of Haselbury

Wulfric was born south of Bristol in Compton Martin. Assigned to a parish in Deverill near Warminster after his priestly ordination, he avidly continued some of his more worldly pursuits. Hunting – with both hawks and hounds – had been a passion with him and he was loath to give either of them up until a chance conversation with a beggar. Converted to more godly pursuits by the words of the poor man, Wulfric moved back to his native village, now as its parish priest.

In 1125, desiring to live as an anchorite, Wulfric withdrew to a cell adjacent to the Church of St. Michael and All the Angels in Haselbury Plunett, Somerset. He had failed to obtain his bishop’s permission to do so, but was supported by the Cluniac monks at Montacute and others, who shared a great respect for his holiness.

His cell stood on the cold northern side of the church. In these simple quarters, Wulfric lived alone for twenty-nine years, devoting his time to prayer, meditation, the study of the Scriptures and severe bodily mortifications: he slept little, ate frugally, abstained from meat, exposed his emaciated body to extreme temperatures and wore a hair shirt and heavy chain mail tunic.

People soon sought him out for his blessing and then for his guidance and counsel. He came to be known as a healer of body, mind and spirit; miracles and prophesies followed. From his humble abode, the saintly anchorite came to exercise a powerful influence even at court. To King Henry I he predicted his imminent death; his successor, King Stephen, he chastised for the evils of his government.

Wulfric was one of the most influential anchorite priests of medieval England. Upon his death on February 20, 1154, a scuffle erupted in and around the church that had sheltered him in its shadows for nearly three decades. The Cluniac monks of Montacute maintained that since they had provided food for the holy man for many years, this gave them a claim to the hermit’s mortal remains while the pastor of Haselbury, the town’s inhabitants and their neighbors from Crewkerne, forcibly retained their possession of the same. Wulfric was buried in his own cell by the Bishop of Bath who had come to visit him shortly before his death.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We must decide

This world and the world to come
are two enemies.
We cannot therefore be friends to both; but
we must decide which we will forsake
and which we will enjoy.

Pope St. Clement I

St. Boniface of Lausanne

Boniface was born in Belgium in 1205, and when he was just 17, was sent to study at a university in Paris. Once he completed his education, he remained at the university as a teacher, and over the course of seven years, became a very popular lecturer.

When the students at the university became locked in a dispute with their teachers and started boycotting classes, Boniface left Paris to fill a post at the cathedral school in Cologne.

Just two years later, in 1230, Boniface was elected Bishop of Lausanne. He accepted his new position enthusiastically and devoted all his energies to the spiritual leadership of his diocese.

But his eight years as Bishop of Lausanne were riddled with disputes, and the people of his diocese were discontented with his frank and open ways in the pulpit: he publicly scolded Emperor Frederick II and the local clergy for their corruption.

As a result of this rebuke, in 1239 he was attacked and gravely wounded by Frederick's men. This caused Boniface to ask Pope Gregory IX for permission to resign as bishop. The pope agreed, and Boniface returned to his native Belgium and began living at the Cistercian monastery at La Cambre. Although he stayed there for the rest of his life and wore the habit of the order, he apparently never became a Cistercian.

Boniface was canonized in 1702.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

It sums up man’s entire relation to God

Charity
may be a very short word,
but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it
sums up man’s entire relation to God
and to his neighbor.

St. Aelred of Rievaulx

St. Theotonius

Born in 1082 into a wealthy and pious family in northern Portugal, Theotonius was a nephew to the Bishop of Coimbra and studied with him from a young age to prepare for the priesthood.

When Theotonius was ordained a priest, he lived most austerely, avoiding luxury. After the death of his uncle around the year 1112, the young priest, now thirty years old, accepted – though not without reluctance – the office of the Superior of the Cathedral Chapter of Viseu.

The Countess Teresa of Portugal (referred to by Pope Paschal II in 1116 as "Queen," a title that remained from that time onwards) and her husband, Henry of Burgundy, with the consent of the clergy and at the urging of the people, often sought to appoint Theotonius as Bishop of Coimbra, but he always refused.

In an effort to dissuade the Queen from her intentions, Theotonius resigned his office as Prior of the Cathedral Chapter and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After he returned to Portugal, he resumed his work as a priest and Chapter member in Viseu, but refused to take up again the office of Prior.

Theotonius was fearless in rebuking sinful behavior, in public or in private. In one instance, the now widowed queen was attending Holy Mass celebrated by Theotonius. She was accompanied by the Galician nobleman Fernando Pérez de Traba and the nature of their scandalous relationship had become well-known. Theotonius' sermon, though not naming them, was clearly directed at their conduct. On another occasion, Theotonius was about to begin Holy Mass when the queen had a message sent asking him to say the Mass quickly. He replied simply that there was another Queen in heaven, far more noble, for whom he ought to say the Mass with the greatest reverence and devotion. If the queen did not wish to stay, she was free to leave, but he would not rush – Theotonius was ever insistent on the exact and reverent recitation of holy prayers.

Theotonius’s priestly life was distinguished by a great love for the poor and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for whom he offered Mass every Friday. The Mass was followed by a procession to the cemetery, and large sums were donated to the priest, but Theotonius distributed the money to the poor.

Theotonius died in 1162 at the age of eighty. When he heard the news, Don Afonso Henriques, Queen Teresa's son and the first king of Portugal, who was a good friend of Theotonius’s, remarked of him, “his soul will have gone up to Heaven before his body is lowered into the tomb.”

February 18 – Fra Angelico brought part of heaven to earth

Blessed Fra Angelico
A famous painter of the Florentine school, born near Castello di Vicchio in the province of Mugello, Tuscany, 1387; died at Rome, 1455. He was christened Guido, and his father’s name being Pietro he was known as Guido, or Guidolino, di Pietro, but his full appellation today is that of “Blessed Fra Angelico Giovanni da Fiesole”. He and his supposed younger brother, Fra Benedetto da Fiesole, or da Mugello, joined the order of Preachers in 1407, entering the Dominican convent at Fiesole. Giovanni was twenty years old at the time the brothers began their art careers as illustrators of manuscripts, and Fra Benedetto, who had considerable talent as an illuminator and miniaturist, is supposed to have assisted his more celebrated brother in his famous frescoes in the convent of San Marco in Florence. Fra Benedetto was superior at San Dominico at Fiesole for some years before his death in 1448. Fra Angelico, who during a residence at Foligno had come under the influence of Giotto whose work at Assisi was within easy reach, soon graduated from the illumination of missals and choir books into a remarkably naive and inspiring maker of religious paintings, who glorified the quaint naturalness of his types with a peculiarly pious mysticism.

He was convinced that to picture Christ perfectly one must need be Christlike, and Vasari says that he prefaced his paintings by prayer. His technical equipment was somewhat slender, as was natural for an artist with his beginnings, his work being rather thin dry and hard. His spirit, however, glorified his paintings. His noble holy figures, his beautiful angels, human but in form, robed with the hues of the sunrise and sunset, and his supremely earnest saints and martyrs are permeated with the sincerest of religious feeling. His early training in miniature and illumination had its influence in his more important works, with their robes of golden embroidery, their decorative arrangements and details, and pure, brilliant colours. As for the early studies in art of Fra Angelico, nothing is known. His painting shows the influence of the Siennese school, and it is thought he may have studied under Gherardo, Starnina, or Lorenzo Monaco.
On account of the struggle for the pontifical throne between Gregory XII, Benedict XIII, and Alexander V, Fra Giovanni and his brother, being adherents of the first named, had in 1409 to leave Fiesole, taking refuge in the convent of their order established at Foligno in Umbria. The pest devastating that place in 1414, the brothers went to Cortona, where they spent four years and then returned to Fiesole. There Fra Angelico remained for sixteen years. He was then invited to Florence to decorate the new Convent of San Marco which had just been allotted to his order, and of which Cosmo de’ Medici was a munificent patron.

At Cortona are found some of his best pictures. It was at Florence, however, where he spent nine years, that he painted his most important works. In 1445, Pope Eugenius IV invited Fra Angelico to Rome and gave him work to do in the Vatican, where he painted for him and for his successor, Pope Nicholas V, the frescoes of two chapels. That of the cappella del Sacramento, in the Vatican, was destroyed later by Paul III. Eugenius IV than asked him to go to Orvieto to work in the chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio in the cathedral. This work he began in 1447, but did not finish, returning to Rome in the autumn of that year. Much later the chapel was finished by Luca Signorelli. Pope Eugenius is said to have offered the painter the place of Archbishop of Florence, which through modesty and devotion to his art he declined. At Rome, besides his great paintings in the chapels of the Vatican, he executed some beautiful miniatures for choral books. He is buried in Rome in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Among the thirty works of Fra Angelico in the cloisters and chapter house of the convent of San Marco in Florence (which has been converted into a national museum) is notable the famous “Crucifixion”, with the Saviour between the two thieves surrounded by a group of twenty saints, and with bust portraits of seventeen Dominican fathers below. Here is shown to the full the mastery of the painter in depicting in the faces of the monks the emotions evoked by the contemplation of heavenly mysteries. In the Uffizi Gallery are “The Coronation of the Virgin”, “The Virgin and Child with Saints”, “Naming of John the Baptist”, “The Preaching of St. Peter”, “The Martyrdom of St. Mark”, and “The Adoration of the Magi”, while among the examples at the Florence Academy are “The Last Judgement”, “Paradise”, “The Deposition from the Cross”, “The Entombment”, scenes from the lives of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, and various subjects from the life of Christ. At Fiesole are a “Madonna and Saints” and a “Crucifixion”.

The predella in London is in five compartments and shows Christ with the Banner of the Resurrection surrounded by a choir of angels and a great throng of the blessed. There is also there an “Adoration of the Magi”. At Cortona appear at the Convent of San Domenico the fresco “The Virgin and Child with four Evangelists” and the altar-piece “Virgin and Child with Saints”, and at the baptistry an “Annunciation” with scenes from the life of the Virgin and a “Life of St. Dominic”. In the Turin Gallery “Two Angels kneeling on Clouds”, and at Rome, in the Corsini Palace, “The Ascension”, “The Last Judgment”, and “Pentecost”. At the Louvre in Paris are “The Coronation of the Virgin”, “The Crucifixion”, and “The Martyrdom of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”. Berlin has, at the Museum, a “Last Judgment”, and Dublin, at the National Gallery, “The Martyrdom of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”.

Angel of the Annunciation, by Bl. Fra Angelico
At Madrid is “The Annunciation”, in Munich “Scenes from the Lives of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”, and in St. Petersburg a “Madonna and Saints”. Mrs. John L. Gardner has in the art gallery of her Boston residence an “Assumption” and a “Dormition of the Virgin”. There are other works at Parma, Perugia, and Pisa. At San Marco, Florence, in addition to the works already mentioned are “Madonna della Stella”, “Coronation of the Virgin”, “Adoration of the Magi”, and “St. Peter Martyr”.

 
The Chapel of St. Nicholas in the Vatican at Rome contains frescoes of the “Lives of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen”, “The Four Evangelists”, and “The Teachers of the Church”. In the gallery of the Vatican are “St. Nicholas of Bari”, and “Madonna and Angels”. The work at Orvieto finished by Signorelli shows Christ in “a glory of angels with sixteen saints and prophets”. Bryan, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers; Edgecombe-Haley, Fra Angelico.
AUGUSTUS VAN CLEEF (Catholic Encyclopedia)
To view some of his paintings click here

Friday, February 17, 2017

On such occasions

Trials and tribulations offer us a chance
to make reparation for our past faults and sins.
On such occasions the Lord comes to us
like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins.
Tribulation is the divine medicine.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

Between 1225 and 1227, seven men from prominent families of Florence, Italy, left their lives of luxury and devoted themselves to prayer.
After some time, as they prayed on the feast of the Assumption, the Virgin Mary appeared to them, urging them to devote themselves to her service. Upon making arrangements for their families (two of the seven were married, and two others were widowers), the men withdrew to Monte Senario and established a simple and austere community there.

In 1240, Our Lady again appeared to the seven penitents. This time she asked them to wear a black habit and follow the Rule of St. Augustine and take the name “The Servants of Mary,” or “Servites.”

The seven men were ordained priests, and the order grew and expanded. The Order was not fully recognized by the Pope until 1304, over sixty years after its establishment.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Can you love the Blessed Virgin as much as Jesus did?

Never be afraid
of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.
You can never love her more than Jesus did.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

Gilbert was born in Lincolnshire, England, around 1083 to a wealthy knight and his wife. Deformed at birth, he was unfit to be a knight, and instead dedicated himself to learning. Over time, Gilbert was ordained a priest, and made pastor of two churches on his father’s estate.

Among his parishioners were seven devout young women who lived under his direction. Hoping to establish a religious community for them, he built a modest house and developed an order based upon the rule of St. Benedict. Soon, he admitted lay sisters to their community, and later, as the order gradually spread, lay brothers to provide manual labor. Lastly, Gilbert included chaplains for the nuns. Thus the Gilbertines, the only medieval religious order of English origin, developed, with Gilbert himself eventually becoming head of the order.

His generosity was legendary. He had such love for the less fortunate, that most of the alms received from his parishioners were donated to the poor. At his table he always had an additional plate, which he called “the plate of the Lord Jesus.” On this plate he put the highest quality food available and then gave it to the poor.

Gilbert remained head of the order until he began to go blind. He died in 1189 at 106, and was canonized in 1202.

February 15 - St. Sigfrid of Växjö

Sigfrid was a priest from York, England. He was one of three missionary bishops sent by the king to evangelize Norway. After spending some time spreading the word of God there, the three companions made their way to Sweden, where Sigfrid converted Olaf, the king. Olaf was baptized in a spring which later was named after the holy man, and credited with many miracles.
Over the years, Sigfrid made his home at Växjö, and invited his three nephews to be his assistants. His nephews, who were all religious, eventually took over the direction of his diocese as he traveled on missions to other areas. During his absence, a violent group of heretics came to Växjö and looted the church, killing the three nephews by severing their heads from their bodies. When he heard the news, Sigfrid returned to Växjö and enshrined his nephew’s heads, on which occasion, it is said, the three heads spoke. The king wished to put the murderers to death, but the holy man interceded in their behalf, and instead the king fined them heavily. The large sum was offered to Sigfrid, but in spite of his great poverty, he refused. After missionary work in Denmark, he died sometime in 1045.

February 15 - St. Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombiere
Missionary and ascetical writer, born of noble parentage at Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon, between Lyons and Vienne, in 1641; died at Paray-le-Monial, 15 Feb., 1682. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1659. After fifteen years of religious life he made a vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the rule and constitutions of his order under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude. In 1674 Father de la Colombière was made superior at the Jesuit house at Paray-le-Monial, where he became the spiritual director of Blessed Margaret Mary and was thereafter a zealous apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Claude de la Colombière
In 1676 he was sent to England as preacher to the Duchess of York, afterwards Queen of Great Britain. He lived the life of a religious even in the Court of St. James and was as active a missionary in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Blessed Margaret Mary by letter. His zeal soon weakened his vitality and a throat and lung trouble seemed to threaten his work as a preacher. While awaiting his recall to France he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as a conspirator. Thanks to his title of preacher to the Duchess of York and to the protection of Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was condemned to exile (1679). The last two years of his life were spent at Lyons where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits, and at Paray-le-Monial, whither he repaired for his health. His principal works, including “Pious Reflections”, “Meditations on the Passion”, “Retreat and Spiritual Letters”, were published under the title, “Oeuvres du R. P. Claude de la Colombière” (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864). His relics are preserved in the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.
SEQUIN, Vie du P. de la Colombière (Paris, 1876), tr. in Quarterly Series (London, 1883); LUBEN, Der ehrwurdige Diener Gottes P. Claudius de la Colombière (Einsiedeln, 1884); LETIERCE, Le Sacre Coeur, ses apotres et ses sanctuaires (Nancy, 1886); Lettres inedites de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1890); CHARRIER, Histoire du V. P. Claude de la Colombière (Paris, 1894); Bougaud, Histoire de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1900); Oeuvres completes du R. P. de la Colombière (Grenoble, 1901); HATTLER, Lebensbild der ehrwurdige P. Claudius de la Colombière (1903); POUPLARD, Notice sur le serviteur de Dieu, le R. P. Claude de la Colombière.
GERTRUDE DANA STEELE (Catholic Encyclopedia)
[Ed. note: He was canonized 31 May, 1992, by Pope John Paul II]

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to go to God

Go to God simply,
with great confidence that His goodness will guide you;
let yourself go confidently as your heart draws you, and
fear nothing but pride and self-love.

St. Claude de la Colombière

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You learn to love by loving

You learn to speak by speaking,
to study by studying, to run by running,
to work by working, and just so,
you learn to love by loving.
All those who think to learn in any other way
deceive themselves.

St. Francis de Sales

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Cyril and Methodius were born in Thessalonika, Greece. The area was inhabited by many Slavic people, and the brothers learned their language. They eventually became priests and were sent to Moravia, a Slav-speaking nation, to preach to people in their own language upon the request of Prince Rostislav.

In 863, the brothers were part of a small group of missionaries sent to Moravia. The group was led by Cyril, and they took with them an invaluable tool: the holy Mass translated into Slavic for the first time. The German-influenced clergy did not accept the missionaries, distrusting the translated liturgy. Catholicism blossomed in the foreign land, and the missionaries soon found themselves in need of more priests. However, without the support of the local clergy, they had no bishop to ordain new priests. They traveled to Rome to appeal to Pope Adrian II, who officially approved the translated liturgy and ordained them both bishops.

While still in Rome, Cyril died on February 14, 869, passing leadership onto his brother. Methodius returned to Moravia, bearing with him a letter of approval from the Pope. However, since his departure, Rostislav had been driven out by his nephew, Svatopluk, who had become an ally of Carloman of Bavaria.  The new prince stood against the missionaries. Methodius was imprisoned for two years before the Pope, now John VIII, could procure his release.

Pope John banned the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy, yet Methodius continued with his mission. His enemies also accused Methodius of heresy. Later, before the Pope, the holy bishop was able to convince him both of his orthodoxy and of the need for the use of Slavonic in the liturgy, which John VIII reinstated with some reservations.

St. Methodius spent the last four years of his life completing the Slavonic translation of the Bible, which suggests that he was prevented from fully exercising his missionary work by the continuous Germanic opposition. Methodius died on April 6, 884, his body exhausted from his apostolic efforts.
Photo by: Frettie

Monday, February 13, 2017

On Jesus alone...

We must pray without tiring, for
the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success;
nor on sciences that cloud the intellect.
Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but
on Jesus alone.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Catherine dei Ricci

Catherine’s father, Pier Francesco dei Ricci, was of an old and respected family of Florence. Her mother died when she was a small child, and Catherine was brought up by a devoted stepmother, Fiammetta da Diacceto. Her stepmother soon observed the child's unusual tendency to holiness, and did her utmost to foster and develop it.

At the age of thirteen, Catherine entered a Dominican convent at Prato, where she suffered from a number of diseases for two years. She sanctified her suffering with great patience, and often meditated on the Passion of Our Lord as she endured her illnesses.

In February of 1542, when she was just twenty years old, Catherine began to experience ecstasies of the Passion. Every Thursday and Friday, she beheld and enacted the scenes preceding Our Lord’s Crucifixion. Her holiness soon attracted visits from many people of every rank and calling – including three cardinals who later became Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII, and Pope Leo XI.  Catherine’s reputation attracted so many people, that the peace and strict observance of the order began to suffer. The ecstasies of the Passion ceased after twelve years in answer to the prayers of Catherine and the Dominican community.

Catherine was also known for her friendship with St. Philip Neri. Though she never met him in person, she often appeared to him in visions from her convent in Prato. This was expressly stated by St. Phillip and five witnesses, and aided in her beatification.

St. Catherine dei Ricci died the prioress of the Dominican Convent on February 2, 1590, after a long illness. Her body remains incorrupt.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How do YOU take back St. Valentine’s Day?


By Tonia Long

No sooner have the Christmas decorations been taken down than we are surrounded by pink hearts and red roses – St. Valentine’s Day is upon us. Labeled a “Hallmark holiday,” the feast named after a martyr of the Church has lost much of its true meaning.
Holy Mother Church has instituted these special days for our edification and sanctification. They are part of our Catholic heritage and are being stripped of their meaning – especially for our younger generation.
And what I propose is this: Let’s take back our Catholic holidays!
It can be as simple as what my mother used to do. You can do it too, for your family and friends.
Take St. Valentine’s Day, for example.
What I looked forward to the most was the candy – what child wouldn’t?!? My mom would hide chocolate hearts all around our living room. Each heart had a Scripture quote taped to it. We would have sooo much fun searching for our candy! Then, using much restraint, we would read out our Scripture quote (which always had something to do with God’s love for us) before eating the chocolate.
Lessons learned:
**Good things come to those who search for them.
**If you are looking for love, you will find it in the Holy Scriptures.
After the excitement, Mom would settle us down for story time (no small task!). It was the same story every time, but it never got old. By the end of it, we knew just whose feast day it was and why! He was our Super Hero!
And last, but not least, came the Valentine cards. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors looked forward to these homemade gems every year. By the time we finished making them, there was paper, glue, glitter and holy cards everywhere!

So, how do YOU take back St. Valentine’s Day?

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3:
1.Share the Holy Scriptures: There’s a lot of love in there!
2.Tell a short story about St. Valentine. (see below)
3.Click on the link or any of the cards you see below and spread TRUE LOVE – No true love is sustained without the help of grace. 
This is your Catholic Faith – your children’s heritage! Don’t let it become just another “Hallmark holiday.”

Click here to print these cards(Instructions are included)



                                 




SAINT VALENTINE

Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, lived nearly 1,700 years ago in pagan Rome.
Father Valentine answered God’s call to the priesthood at a time when it wasn’t easy to be a Catholic, and it was downright dangerous to be a priest or bishop.
The infant Catholic Church was being brutally persecuted by Emperor Claudius II. But that didn’t scare young Valentine! He knew that the Christian Faith was the only remedy for the sick and permissive society in which he lived. Especially when it came to Her teachings about the relationship that should exist between a man and a woman as husband and wife.
Polygamy was the norm in pagan Rome. And to make matters worse, the Emperor issued an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to their wives or families if they died in battle.
Saint Valentine took that edict as a challenge. He made it his own personal mission to share the Catholic vision of marriage and the graces of the Sacrament with all those who would listen. And he would go one step further; he would secretly marry as many couples as he could.
Father Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the edict of Emperor Claudius II. But even while in prison, Father Valentine found ways to carry on his mission.
One of the men who was to judge him was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. Saint Valentine prayed with her and healed the young girl with such charity and compassion that Asterius himself became a Christian as a result.
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to execution all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's romantic missives by signing it, "from your Valentine."
So what does it REALLY mean to be a “Valentine”? Simply this: that there comes a time when you have to lay your life on the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that – just like Saint Valentine.



 

Cause of Our Joy

We are well aware Our Lady is constantly working and spreading her graces as we travel to homes with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. On a recent visit in south Texas, we were surprised to see Our Lady’s visit to one household as the culmination of a beautiful story of grace, nine months in the making.  
Our hosts had gathered friends and neighbors from their small town on a sunny afternoon to welcome the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. As the program progressed, the lady of the house asked to tell a story about a certain grace she had received.
Two years ago, her daughter had suffered a miscarriage in her first pregnancy, which had a devastating effect on the family. This past year, the same daughter again became pregnant.  However, rather than being a cause for rejoicing, the family was apprehensive due to what had happened previously. Our hostess then explained how she and her husband vowed to take a dozen roses at the beginning of each month of the pregnancy to Our Lady’s shrine at the local parish, asking the Queen of Heaven for a safe delivery.
The florist of the town, upon hearing the story, took great care to make an extra-beautiful bouquet in honor of our Blessed Mother.
For nine months, the couple was faithful in bringing the flowers and asking Our Lady’s powerful help. To their great surprise, the final time coincided with our visit with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Our hostess began to cry tears of joy in telling the story, so honored was she to have such a clear sign of the intercession of the Mother of God. She then told that the doctors all gave reports of a healthy pregnancy, and the child was due any day now. The last bouquet of roses, lovingly arranged by the town’s florist, was placed at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in thanksgiving for a healthy pregnancy and their soon to be newborn grandchild.
We later learned that a healthy boy was born two days after the visit. Not only did Our Lady grant new life to a family who was so eager to welcome it, but she also restored the hope and strengthened the faith of this family and all who were gathered to share their joy. This easily brought to mind one of the beautiful titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto: Causa nostrae letitiae, Cause of Our Joy. May Our Lady bring to the fullness of joy all who invoke her with confidence.
By Ben Broussard

The one friend who will never leave me

I find consolation in the one and only friend who will never leave me,
that is, our Divine Savior in the Holy Eucharist …
Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends
with souls who seek to please Him.
His goodness knows how to proportion itself
to the smallest of His creatures as to the greatest of them.
Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him
of your miseries, your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you,
of your projects, and of your hopes.
Do so with confidence and with an open heart.

St. Damien of Moloka’i

St. Meletius of Antioch

Meletius was born a Melitene, and belonged to one of the most distinguished families of Lesser Armenia. He was a kind and gentle man, and a great lover of peace. His virtue gained him the confidence and esteem of both the Catholics and Arians, and he was made Bishop of Antioch. However, the patriarchal Church of Antioch had been oppressed by the Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ, since 331, and some among the Catholics refused to acknowledge the new bishop, distrusting him because he had the support of the Arians.

The Arians hoped that the new bishop would declare himself a supporter of their heretical beliefs, but were undeceived when the Emperor Constantius ordered Meletius, along with two other men of faith, to explain the wisdom of God.

The first prelate explained it in an Arian sense, and the next explanation boarded on heresy, but Meletius proclaimed the truth, supported by Catholicism, and explained the Eternal Wisdom while linking it to the Incarnation of the Word. This public statement angered the Arians, and they banished the holy man and stripped him of his position.

Meletius was banished to Lesser Armenia and the Arians introduced Euzoius into the position. Euzoius was a former deacon of Alexandria, who with the priest and arch-heretic Arius had been previously exiled by St. Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria.

Meletius was eventually reinstated as bishop after the Arian persecution ended in 378, and he died while presiding over an ecumenical council in the year 381.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I'll be getting broiled on a grill in purgatory

They think I'm a saint...
When I'm dead, they'll come and touch holy pictures and rosaries to me, and
all the while I'll be getting broiled on a grill in purgatory.
At least promise me you'll pray a lot for the repose of my soul.

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858 in the Pyrenean village of Lourdes, France, a beautiful young lady appeared to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Bernadette and her sister were searching for firewood near the Grotto of Massabielle. Bernadette was often ill, so when her sister removed her stockings in order to wade across the river, the frail girl remained where she was. Soon, a strange silence filled the air. She turned her head towards the grotto and saw in the opening of the rock a young and beautiful lady. "The Lady" was dressed in white with a yellow rose at each foot and a rosary draped over her arm. Removing her own rosary from her pocket, Bernadette knelt down before "the Lady" and began to pray.

This was the first of eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Mother to the young girl. During the sixteenth apparition on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady identified herself as "the Immaculate Conception." Bernadette ran to her pastor’s house, repeating to herself over and over again the strange name that "the Lady" had given her so as not to forget it. At that time, the "Immaculate Conception" was not a well known term: just four years earlier, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. Although unknown to the young illiterate Bernadette, the name that "the Lady" had given her was to her dumbfounded pastor more confirmation than he had ever expected.

Complying with Our Lady’s request, there is now a church at the grotto. Our Lady asked that people come in procession, and persevere with prayer and personal conversion.

 During the ninth apparition, Our Lady asked Bernadette to kneel and wash in the spring. Confused, because there was no spring near Massabielle, she began to scratch the loose gravel off the ground inside the grotto. As she did so, a small pool formed, and she cupped her hands together and drank, and then washed her face. The next day, the pool was overflowing and water was dripping down over the rock. To this spring are attributed countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the Church and medicine. The shrine is considered the most visited place of pilgrimage and healing in the world. The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was extended to the universal Church in 1907.
First Photo by: Manuel González Olaechea

Friday, February 10, 2017

Incorruptible!



"You will not allow your holy one to see corruption" - Psalm 16:10

The Catholic Church is full of mystery and miracles; those supernatural occurrences in time that display the power of God for eternity.
Incorruptibility is one of those miracles. And Saint Bernadette (feast day: April 16) is one of the saints chosen by God to show forth His power.
Every Ash Wednesday we hear “You are dust and unto dust you shall return.” Death and decay are a fact of life for us mere mortals; all of us, that is, except for God’s chosen few – the Incorruptibles. These are the saints throughout the history of the Church whose bodies have not decayed over time. Even millennia have passed, as in the case of St. Cecelia, without their bodies turning to dust.
The light of Christ has always shone brightest in times of darkness, and the 20th century was no exception. Certainly a dark time of apostasy and the disintegration of customs, one light that shone brightly was the canonization of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, France.


The Life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)
It could be viewed as ironic that the messenger of Our Lady at Lourdes, a place of healing, should be so burdened by illness throughout her natural life. It seems the miracle of Lourdes was not for her. As a matter of fact, in a vision Our Lady said to Saint Bernadette, “I cannot promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.”
Born into a humble family which little by little fell into extreme poverty, Bernadette had always been a frail child. Quite young, she had already suffered from digestive trouble, then after having just escaped being a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855, she experienced painful attacks of asthma, and her ill health almost caused her to be cut off forever from the religious life. When asked by Monsignor Forcade to take Bernadette, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Nevers replied: "Monsignor, she will be a pillar of the infirmary."
She lived in the convent for thirteen years, spending a large portion of this time, as predicted by the Mother Superior, ill in the infirmary. When a fellow nun accused her of being a “lazybones,” Bernadette said, “My job is to be ill.” She was gradually struck by other illnesses as well as asthma: among them, tuberculosis of the lung and a tubercular tumor on her right knee.
On Wednesday, April 16, 1879, her pain got much worse. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. she seemed to be almost suffocating and was carried to an armchair, where she sat with her feet on a footstool in front of a blazing fire. She died at about 3:15 in the afternoon. She was thirty-five.

Doctor Declares: “Not a Natural Phenomenon”
Over the course of the next 46 years, Saint Bernadette’s body was exhumed no less than three times: the first time in 1909, then again in 1919 and finally in 1925.
At the first exhumation, it was quickly evident that a miracle had taken place; Saint Bernadette’s skin tone was perfectly natural. The mouth was open slightly and it could be seen that the teeth were still in place. Although the rosary in her hands had decayed, showing rust and corrosion in some spots, the virginal hands that still grasped it were perfect! The sisters present thoroughly washed the body and clothed it in a new habit before placing it in an officially-sealed double casket.
The second exhumation, in 1919, showed no further evidence of decomposition, though her hands and face had become somewhat discolored due to the well-intended washing given by the nuns ten years prior. A worker in wax was commissioned to create a light wax mask of Saint Bernadette’s hands and face. It was feared that, although the body was preserved, the blackish tinge to the face and the sunken eyes and nose would make an unpleasant impression on the public.
That brings us to 1946 and the final disturbing of Saint Bernadette’s resting place. One of the doctors overseeing the final exhumation, Doctor Comte, writes: "From this examination I conclude that the body of the Venerable Bernadette is intact, the skeleton is complete, the muscles have atrophied, but are well preserved; only the skin, which has shriveled, seems to have suffered from the effects of the damp in the coffin. … the body does not seem to have putrefied, nor has any decomposition of the cadaver set in, although this would be expected and normal after such a long period in a vault hollowed out of the earth."
The doctor was amazed by the state of preservation of the liver: "What struck me during this examination, of course, was …the totally unexpected state of the liver after 46 years. One would have thought that this organ, which is basically soft and inclined to crumble, would have decomposed very rapidly or would have hardened to a chalky consistency. Yet it was soft and almost normal in consistency. I pointed this out to those present, remarking that this did not seem to be a natural phenomenon."

Final Considerations
This is truly the body of Bernadette, lifelike in her attitude of meditation and prayer.
This is the face which was lifted eighteen times to the Lady of Lourdes, the very same hands which fingered her rosary during the apparitions, and the fingers which scratched the earth in obedience to Our Lady’s request and made the miraculous spring appear.
It seems only right that Our Lord would preserve perfectly those ears which heard the message of Lourdes and the lips which repeated “the Lady's” name to Father Peyramale; "I am the Immaculate Conception." This is the heart, too, which bore so much love for Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and sinners.
There is a profound understanding in this heart which would one day write, "I was nothing, and of this nothing God made something great. In Holy Communion I am heart to heart with Jesus. How sublime is my destiny."
Yes, how very sublime is the destiny of any Catholic who embraces the call of Christ to be a light shining in the darkness of whatever century he finds himself in. And how sublime the destiny of those who find healing in the arms of she who is “the Immaculate Conception.”


 by Tonia Long

There is nothing that pleases God more...

There is nothing that pleases God more
than when we admit that
without Him we are nothing.

St. Paul of the Cross

St. Scholastica

Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict, consecrated her life to God when she was very young. After her brother established his monastery at Mount Cassino, she resided in the neighborhood at Plombariola, about five miles from where her brother lived. Scholastica founded a monastery of nuns that was governed by Benedict, though still under her own direction.

She visited her brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went with a few of his brothers to meet her at a house some distance away to pray together and speak of spiritual matters. On one such occasion in 543, they had passed the time as usual in prayer and holy conversation and in the evening sat down to eat supper. Scholastica begged her brother to remain until the next day, deviating from their usual custom, so that they might continue their conversation. Benedict refused to spend the night outside his monastery as it was contrary to his order’s rule.

Scholastica turned to God in prayer, and a thunderstorm erupted. The rain and lightning was so violent, that Benedict and his companions were prevented from returning home. "May God forgive you, sister" said Benedict, "for what you have done." "I asked a favor of you," she replied simply, "and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it!" Thus, they spent the night speaking of holy things. In the morning, they parted ways, never to see one another on earth again: just three days later, Scholastica died.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What is love?

Love is not just an affirmation,
but a negation.
It implies sacrifice – a surrender of our will,
of our selfish interests, for the good of the other.
It looks not to the lover’s pleasure, but to the happiness of the beloved.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Michael Febres Cordero

Michael was born in Cuenca, Ecuador in 1854 to a wealthy family. From birth he had a deformity that disabled him and prevented him from walking. One day, as he sat in his wheelchair, he saw a rose in the garden. Above the flowers, he saw a beautiful lady wearing a white and blue dress, calling his name. His family, who could see nothing other than the rose, was astonished when he proceeded to get up and walk. From then on, Michel spoke with Our Lady and Jesus on a regular basis.

When the De LaSalle Brothers arrived in Ecuador in 1863 and set up a seminary, Michael enrolled, though his parents objected to his plans to become a lay brother rather than a priest. Instead, they sent him to the seminary where his father taught, but within a few months he became seriously ill and had to return home. His mother finally agreed to let him become a lay brother. In 1868, Michael entered the order of the De LaSalle Brothers and a year later was assigned to the Beaterio, a congregation of lay sisters dedicated to prayer and charitable work in Quito, where he specialized in preparing children for their First Communion for the next 26 years.

Transferred to Spain to assist in the translation of sacred documents, he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia, and he died on February 9, 1910. His body was returned to Ecuador, and his tomb in Quito soon became a shrine and place of pilgrimage. The Ecuadorian government issued stamps bearing his likeness and erected a bronze and marble monument to him in Quito’s central park. Upon the statue’s dedication in June, 1965, there was a huge parade in which 30,000 school children participated.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What is the proof of love?

The proof of love is in the works.
Where love exists, it works great things.
But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.

St. Gregory the Great

St. Jerome Emiliani

Jerome was born in Venice in 1481. As a military commander who prided himself on the strength of his army, he was not a man of God. Yet when he was taken prisoner and thrown in a dungeon, the proud leader turned to God and miraculously escaped his captors. After his conversion, Jerome dedicated himself to Our Lady and the work of God, and was eventually ordained to the priesthood in 1518.

At that time, famine and plague were rampant in Northern Italy, and Jerome devoted himself to caring for sick orphans, housing and teaching them Catholicism. After contracting the plague and recovering, Jerome decided to wholly devote himself to caring for others. In 1531, he established multiple orphanages and a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and just a year later, along with two other priests, a congregation for men. The congregation, named The Clerks Regular of Somascha, mainly saw to the care of orphans and the instruction of youths and young clerics.

In 1537, Jerome caught an infectious disease while caring for the sick, and died on February 8. The Clerks Regular of Somascha still exist today, and it is said Jerome Emiliani was the first to introduce the idea of teaching catechism to children.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What does it mean to love God?

To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be
detached from all temporal love.
We must love nothing but Him, or
if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake.

St. Peter Claver

St. Luke the Younger

Born on the Greek island of Aegina, Luke belonged to a family of farmers. Saracen raiders forced his family to leave their homeland for Thessaly, where Luke worked in the fields and tended sheep. He was a dutiful child, but his charity towards the poor often frustrated his parents: Luke would often give his own food and clothing to those less fortunate. He was so charitable that God blessed him, and his family’s crops flourished, but his parents still did not approve.

After his father's death, Luke decided to become a hermit. The decision angered his mother, who wanted her son at home. He left Thessaly to find a monastery, but was captured by soldiers who mistook him for a runaway slave. Imprisoned for a short time, he then returned to his mother after he convinced his captors of his true identity.

Later, two monks on their way to the Holy Land persuaded Luke's mother to allow him to join a monastery in Athens. After only a short time, Luke’s superior claimed that his mother had appeared to him in a vision calling for help, and Luke was sent home.

Eventually, Luke's mother understood her son's call to religious life and no longer opposed him. Luke built his hermitage on Mount Joannitsa, near Corinth when he was only eighteen. At times, Luke was seen suspended above the ground in prayer. After his death, his cell was transformed into an oratory and named the Place of Healing.

Monday, February 6, 2017

To conquer the devil

The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is
humility.
For, as he does not know at all how to employ it,
neither does he know how to defend himself from it.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Paul Miki and Companions

By 1549, St. Francis Xavier had begun the evangelization of Japan. After he left to spread the faith elsewhere, a Catholic community flourished. The community grew, and eventually expanded to include Paul Miki, a high-born Jesuit priest who became well-known as a preacher. Paul followed St. Francis’ footsteps and continued the spread of Christianity, along with missionaries and priests from various countries and orders.

In 1597, Hideyoshi, a powerful Japanese official, listened to the gossip and lies of a Spanish merchant. The merchant said that Paul and the missionaries were traitors of Japan, and were spies for Spain and Portugal. Hideyoshi cut off the left ears of twenty-six Catholics, including Paul Miki, smeared their cheeks with blood as a warning to others and paraded them through towns before executing them. Priests, brothers, laymen, catechists, doctors, servants, old men and innocent children were bound to crosses and raised into the air, a lance trust into their sides, killing them. Hideyoshi crucified the martyrs on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, above Nagasaki. They were canonized in 1862.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Power of Prayer

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and thought, “I’ll pray for him or her later”?
This story will show you how real these urges can be.
A missionary on furlough in Michigan told this true story to the congregation at his home church. While in Africa, he served in a small field hospital. Every two weeks he travelled to a certain city for medicines and supplies, and since it was a two-day journey through the jungle on his bicycle, he camped overnight at the halfway point.
On one of these trips, as he entered the city, he noticed two men fighting. As he approached, he realized one of them was seriously injured. He treated the injured fellow and then tried to do good to his soul by talking to him about Our Lord.
The missionary then went on to withdraw funds from the bank and purchased the necessary medicines and supplies for his hospital. After loading everything on his bicycle, he started on the return journey.
Two weeks later the missionary returned for more supplies. As he walked to his errands, he spotted the young man whom he had treated on the previous visit, and engaged him in conversation.
The good priest inquired about his wounds, and touched by the goodness shown to him, the young man confessed, “Last time when you left here, some friends and I followed you into the jungle. We knew you had money and supplies. We also knew you would camp overnight and we planned to kill you and take the money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw armed guards around you. As we stood there, peering through the foliage and weighing our odds, we counted twenty-six men. We then just gave it all up and walked away.”
The priest laughed and said that he certainly did not have twenty-six guards with him. But the young man pressed the point, “No, sir, I was not the only one to see the guards. My friends also saw them and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we left you alone.”
Just then, a man in the congregation jumped up, interrupted the missionary and asked him as to the day this had happened. The missionary replied, and it was the man’s turn to tell a story.
“Father, on the night of your incident in Africa, I was playing golf. I was about to putt when I felt a great urge to pray for you. It was so strong that I called several men to come into church and pray with me.” Then, turning to the congregation, he said, “Will all those who joined me in prayer that day stand up?”
As several men in church rose to their feet, the missionary counted. There were twenty-six men.
By: M. Taylor

What does it mean to belong to the Church?

Belonging to the Church is a very great and very demanding thing.
We must think as the Church thinks, have the mind of the Church,
proceed as the Church wishes in all the circumstance of our lives.
This supposes a real Catholic sense,
an authentic and complete purity of customs, and
a profound and sincere piety.

In other words,
it supposes the sacrifice of an entire lifetime.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Agatha

Very little is known about St. Agatha, other than that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251. According to legend, Agatha dedicated her life to Our Lord at a young age and refused any man who wanted to marry her. Agatha was arrested after refusing the advances of Quintian, a powerful man of high rank, and was imprisoned in a brothel. Throughout the month she spent being tortured in the brothel, Agatha would pray, “Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil," and was preserved from being violated.

Agatha was removed from the brothel and again advanced upon by her captor. Again, she refused him, saying she was dedicated to God alone. Her captor then sent her to prison, and had her tortured repeatedly. He refused her any medical care, but God comforted her in the form of a vision of St. Peter. Agatha was tortured yet again, and this time her body was grossly mutilated. She died with this prayer on her lips: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer.”

About a year after her death, Agatha was attributed with calming an erupting volcano, and is revered as a protector against fires. Because of the way her body was mutilated before her death, she is also known as the patroness of breast cancer patients.

Photos by: Hermetiker

Saturday, February 4, 2017

First Saturday



The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

History
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.


Why Five Saturdays?     
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
  a.    Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  b.    Blasphemies against her virginity
  c.    Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
  d.    Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
  e.    Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

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

This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.


REFERENCE:
Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever 
(Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
  
1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Begin every day like this

If we wish to make any progress in the service of God
we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.
We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and
have no other view or end in all our actions
but the divine honor.

St. Charles Borromeo

St. John de Britto

John de Britto, was born in Lisbon on March 1, 1647 to a noble Portuguese family. His father died while serving as Viceroy of Brazil. Growing up, John was a playmate to the future King of Portugal, Pedro II. At fifteen, the young nobleman applied to join the Society of Jesus into which he was duly accepted. His talent for academic excellence was soon noted by his superiors; however, John’s great admiration and devotion to St. Francis Xavier urged him to apply to serve in the Indian missions. Amid strong opposition from his family, in 1673 John traveled to Madura in southern India.

As he traveled throughout India on foot, John lived austerely. He dressed himself in the saffron cloak and turban of the native Indians, abstained from eating meat and lived humbly. Through his holy efforts, John soon became well-known, and developed a group of catechists. Though the practice of Catholicism was not illegal in India, John was hated by many because of his faith. He and his followers were often subjected to agonizing torture, but each time John miraculously recovered.

In 1683, John was banished from India, and departed for Portugal. Returning soon after, the ardent missionary continued in his apostolate for three more years. In 1693, he was again arrested, tortured and once more commanded to leave India. When he refused, John was sentenced to death. “I await death, and I await it with impatience,” he wrote to his superior. “It has always been the object of my prayers. It forms today the most precious reward of my labors and my sufferings.”

On February 4, John de Britto was executed. As he knelt at the execution block, the rajah's order of death was read aloud. The executioner hesitated, but John said to him, "My friend, I have prayed to God. On my part, I have done what I should do. Now do your part.”

John de Britto was canonized in 1947.