born in Syria, converted to Christianity at a young age, and was
thought to be a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. He is one of the
five Apostolic Church Fathers, who were instructed personally by
An early tradition has it that he was the
child that Our Lord took up in his arms, as recorded by St Mark: “And
taking a child, he set him in the midst of them. Whom when he had
embraced, he saith to them: Whosoever shall receive one such child as
this in my name, receiveth me (9:35-36).
Consecrated bishop by the Apostles, he succeeded St. Peter and Evodius as the third Bishop of Antioch about the year 69.
ideal pastor and true soldier of Christ, Ignatius comforted and
strengthened his flock when the persecution of Domitian broke out. He
was arrested during the persecution of Trajan, and shipped aboard a
vessel bound for Rome. Along the route his ship made several stops,
which afforded the saint opportunity of confirming the faith of various
churches. He wrote several letters to these communities which have been
preserved, and deal with early Catholic theology. St. Ignatius was the
first to use the Greek word “katholikos”, “universal” in reference to
the Church founded by Christ.
At Smyrna, he had the joy of
meeting his former disciple and dear friend, St. Polycarp. His route to
martyrdom was a sort of triumphant march, with Christian communities
flocking to meet him everywhere, hailing and encouraging him on his way. He
was martyred in Rome on the last day of the public games, December 20
in the year 107. Condemned to be devoured by lions in the public arena,
his prayer before his death was: “I am God's wheat, and I am to be
ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread
of Christ. Indeed the lions devoured all of his body leaving only the
Today, these relics of St. Ignatius rest in the Church of San Clemente in Rome.
ago, in Toledo, Spain, there lived a Cistercian nun called Mary. Being
at the point of death, the Blessed Mother appeared to her, and Mary said
"Oh Lady, the favor you do me of visiting me at this hour emboldens
me to ask you another favor, namely, that I may die at the same hour
that you died and entered into heaven.”
answered Mary Most Holy. "I will satisfy your request; you will die at
that hour, and you will hear the songs and praises with which the
blessed accompanied my entrance into heaven; and now prepare for your
When she had said this she disappeared.
Passing by Mary’s cell, other nuns heard her talking to herself, and
they thought she must be losing her mind. But she related to them the
vision of the Virgin Mary and the promised grace. Soon the entire
convent awaited the desired hour.
When Mary knew the hour had arrived, by the striking of the clock, she said:
"Behold, the predicted hour has come; I hear the music of the angels.
At this hour my queen ascended into heaven. Rest in peace, for I am
going now to see her."
Saying this she expired, while her eyes became bright as stars, and her face glowed with a beautiful color. From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
From this Divine Heart three streams flow endlessly. The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts sentiments of contrition and repentance. The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids those seeking perfection to find the means of surmounting their difficulties. From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of His friends who have attained perfection; these He wishes to unite to Himself so that they may share His knowledge and commandments and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing His glory.
Mary was born in the small Burgundian town of L’Hautecour in France,
the fifth of seven children of Claude Alacoque, a notary, and his wife,
Her father died when she was eight and she was
sent to school with the Poor Clares. She was immediately attracted to
their way of life and so exemplary was her piety that she was allowed to
make her First Communion at the age of nine – an unusual privilege at
Struck by a very painful rheumatic illness, which
confined her to bed until the age of fifteen, the young girl returned to
L’Hautecour only to find her family home occupied by several relatives
who proceeded to treat her mother and herself almost like servants.
the age of twenty, she was being pressured by these relatives to marry.
Strengthened and supported by a vision of Our Lord, she refused.
did not receive Confirmation until she was twenty-two, but once she was
fortified by the sacrament, she bravely confronted and decisively
overcame her family's remaining opposition to her religious vocation,
and entered the Monastery of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial in 1671.
devoted to the Passion of Our Lord and to the Holy Eucharist, Margaret
felt sensibly the presence of Our Lord. On December 27, 1673, while
praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the convent chapel, she
felt Our Lord inviting her to step into the place taken by St. John the
Beloved at the Last Supper near His Heart.
communication was followed by several others during a period of eighteen
months in which Our Lord Jesus revealed and expanded to her the
devotion to His Most Sacred Heart in which He wished His Heart to be
honored under the form of a heart of flesh. He also asked for the
Communion of Reparation on the nine First Fridays of the month, and an
hour vigil on Thursdays.
Mary suffered misunderstanding and persecution from within her
religious community as she attempted to reveal Our Lord’s wishes.
Falling ill under the strain, her superior promised to heed her if she
was healed, both of which came to pass.
Further supported by the
spiritual guidance of the Jesuit, St. Claude de la Colombière, who while
visiting Paray-le-Monial recognized both Margaret’s sanctity and her
message, the new devotion began to gradually spread throughout France
and the world.
Margaret Mary Alacoque died in October of 1690 and was canonized in 1920.
We commemorate the anniversary of the apparitions of Our
Lady at Fatima, Portugal. The occasion is a time for reflection upon a
world and Church in disarray. As a result, many sense that a dark future
The reason for this foreboding is that the message and
requests of Our Lady have mostly gone unheeded. Our Lady warned of dire
consequences for the world if men did not repent and stop sinning
against God’s law. What Happened at Fatima
For those unfamiliar with the Fatima apparitions,
the account of the event is simple. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd
children tending their sheep near the village of Fatima. She asked them
to come back for five consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, during
which she would reveal to them an urgent message for our times.
the course of the apparitions, she continually asked for prayer,
penance, and amendment of life. She predicted future events that would
happen should men not convert. She also asked for the consecration of
Russia to Her Immaculate Heart and the practice of the First Saturday devotion—in
which the faithful are asked to confess, go to communion, say five
decades of the Rosary, and keep Our Lady company by meditating for
fifteen minutes on the mysteries of the rosary on the first Saturday of
five consecutive months.
On the day of the final apparition, Our Lady worked the most witnessed miracle in modern history as 70,000 people—including anti-Catholic reporters—saw the sun whirl in the sky on that cold and rainy day. An Impressive Record: More Urgent Than Ever
the one hundred years since these apparitions, everything has happened
exactly as Our Lady said it would. The Fatima record is impressive in
predicting both the past as well as the present.
are those who say the message is all behind us now. It’s over. It has
been a hundred years, and thus the message is outdated and need no
longer be observed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fatima Message is more urgent than ever. Here is why. No Conversion
Lady herself urgently called for the conversion of sinners back in
1917. She warned repeatedly that should her request not be heeded and
men not convert, the world would suffer a great chastisement, including the annihilation of some nations.
at the state of the world one hundred years later, no one can affirm
that the world has improved. The weakening of Faith is evident
everywhere. The Church is in a shattered state of crisis. Society is
coming apart because of abortion, the destruction of marriage and the
collapse of morals. The world is full of social and political crises and
military threats ready to explode at any moment.
is obvious that men have not converted. There is no doubt that Our
Lady’s requests have not been heeded. And given the present state of
world affairs, it is unlikely that men will do this in the near future.
Fatima is more urgent than ever because it foresees a chastisement for a
world that has lost all sense of order. The message says what so many
avoid saying: The present crisis is a moral crisis and, therefore, calls
for a moral solution. What Is Needed: A Change of Heart
society without morals sets itself on the road to ruin. Many already
sense this. They see the world and its institutions are coming apart.
That within the family itself, there is much strife and discord. The
horrific crimes of terrorism show that no place is safe from the evil in
Either we see a change of hearts, or this world is
lost. And that is the great beauty of the Fatima message. Fatima is not
only a message for those who heeded Our Lady’s requests. It speaks to
those who did not heed them and come to repent.
Fatima proposes a genuine change of heart. The message asks the faithful to have recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
as a means to bring about a grand return to order in times of trial and
chastisement. This recourse is the core of the unheeded Message.
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means confiding all our concerns,
trials and problems to her heart. Further, it means making our hearts
like her Immaculate Heart. In other words, avoiding all sin and
imitating her great virtue. Our Lady told the seers at Fatima that those
souls who embrace the devotion to her Immaculate Heart would find in it
“salvation,” a “refuge,” and that her Heart would be “a road that will
lead [them] to God.”
That is why Fatima is not over. We are on the
cusp of a great chastisement. We need direction and strength. We need
hope. And the message has it. Those who confide in the Immaculate Heart
of Mary during the coming storm can expect to see the fulfillment of her
last prediction: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy
Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a
period of peace will be granted to the world.”
This year we should resolve to make Fatima our compass. It
is not over. The best part, her triumph, is yet to come.
was born in the medieval fortified town of Avila in Spain on March 28,
1515. At seven she and her brother Rodrigo, impressed by the lives of
the saints, ran away from home, hoping to die as martyrs. They were
overtaken on the road out of Avila by an uncle and returned home where
they contented themselves with playing at being "hermits" in their
Beautiful, intelligent, and of a lively and
assertive temperament, Teresa was given to prayer and seeking God’s will
for her. At the age of twenty, having overcome her good father’s
reluctance to be parted from her, she entered the Carmelite Convent of
the Incarnation in Avila, and was professed as a religious a year later.
ill, she suffered much for several years and was once almost given up
for dead. Seeking God in the practice of virtue and solitude, she began
to develop her famous doctrine on prayer and divine contemplation.
her convent, much given to social encounters, and worldliness, for a
while distracted her. Coming to herself, she quit the society of
outsiders, and seeking only to fulfill her religious duties and grow in
prayer, greatly advanced in the spiritual life. She began to be favored
with rare divine communications, which she obediently submitted to the
guidance of her confessors.
to reform the Carmelites, amid opposition and persecution – including
from the Inquisition – Teresa went on to found the Discalced Carmelites
with the support of St. Peter of Alcantara. Her first convent, dedicated
to St. Joseph, was founded in Avila in 1562. Later, with the help of
St. John of the Cross, she also undertook the reform of the male branch
of the Order.
Once she started the great reform to return the
Order to its original spirit of poverty, prayer and total enclosure,
Teresa’s life was one of continuous foundations, which cost her much
labor and suffering. It was during this period of the foundations that
she wrote her treatises: The Way of Perfection, The Foundations, and The Interior Castle.
died in Alba de Tormes in October of 1582. She was canonized forty
years later, was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and is
universally revered as the Doctor of Prayer.
name of St. Callistus was made famous by the Roman cemetery along the
Apian Way that he beautified while he was its papal-appointed
superintendent. Today, it still bears his name though he is not buried
there but in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The cemetery of
St. Callistus is fittingly revered for having many relics of the
Christian martyrs buried within its precincts.
Roman by birth,
Callistus was the slave of a Christian member of Caesar's household. He
later became assistant to Pope St. Zephyrinus and then succeeded him in
218 or 219, reigning for about five years. Although the time in which he
reigned was mostly peaceful for Christians under Alexander Severus
whose mother was a Christian, there are historical indications that he
suffered martyrdom in the year 223.
Even his enemies attest to
his having ruled with equanimity, at times contravening the customs of
the era in favor of wisdom and mercy.
The sun began to spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again. Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky. Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on the very faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors. After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake, and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd. All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its everyday brightness.
The Miracle of the Sun as described by Sister Lucia dos Santos and witnessed by more than 70,000 people
In these sad times when faith is dead and wickedness is triumphant; when we are surrounded by those who have perpetual hatred in their hearts and blasphemy on their lips, the surest way of remaining immune from the pestiferous disease which surrounds us is to strengthen ourselves with Eucharistic food. This cannot be achieved by those who, month after month, live without satiating themselves with the Immaculate Flesh of the Divine Lamb.
the Confessor was the second son of King Ethelred II and his Norman
wife, Emma. After King Ethelred's death, Emma married Canute, the son of
the Danish king who had overthrown her husband in 1017. Hardly ten
years old, Edward and his elder brother, Alfred, were sent to Normandy.
The Danes having gained the complete mastery of England, the succession,
with Emma’s consent, was settled upon Hardicanute, her son by Canute.
Upon Canute’s death in 1035, however, his illegitimate son, Harold,
taking advantage of Hardicanute’s absence in Denmark, seized the throne
Edward and Alfred were persuaded to make an attempt
to regain the English crown, but this resulted in the cruel death of
Alfred who had fallen into Harold's hands, while Edward was obliged to
return to Normandy. Edward was only able to reclaim the throne after
Canute’s son and heir’s death in 1042. The people were eager for their
legitimate ruler to return to the throne, and Edward's accession was
received with wide acclaim.
Brought up in the ducal court of his
Norman uncle, Edward’s sympathies and loyalties always rested strongly
with the Norman people – a trait which would cause him considerable
Yielding to the entreaty of his nobles, he took
the powerful Earl Godwin’s daughter, Edith, for his wife in 1044. Out of
love for God and a desire for greater perfection, Edward had taken a
vow of chastity in his youth. With Edith's consent prior to their
marriage, he continued to live a life of absolute continence with her.
reign was a peaceful one. He was a wise and just ruler, well respected
and favored for his revocation of many exorbitant taxes. However,
conflict arose between Edward and his father-in-law, Godwin, when the
latter accused Edward of bias in his ecclesiastical nominations,
appearing to show favoritism to candidates of Norman origin and in
rejecting the election of a relative of Godwin’s to the archbishopric of
Canterbury. As tension rose to crisis level and violent friction became
imminent, Godwin and his sons’ position disintegrated due to the
unwillingness of their men to fight the King. Consequently, Edward
seized the opportunity to bring the over-mighty Earl to heel and he and
his family were banished. Within a year though, Godwin returned, and he
and the King were able to reconcile.
During his early exile in
Normandy, Edward had bound himself by vow to make a pilgrimage to St.
Peter’s tomb in Rome. However, as he could not leave his kingdom without
doing injury to his people, Pope St. Leo IX commuted its fulfillment
into the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Abbey at Westminster. The King
endowed it in a superb manner out of his own patrimony and it is to him
that we owe the magnificence of Westminster Abbey.
Edward was the
first King of England to use the “royal touch,” a form of laying on of
hands by which many suffering from diseases were cured by him.
saintly King was taken ill while attending the dedication of
Westminster Abbey on December 28, 1065. He died the following week on
January 5, 1066 and was buried within its walls the next day. Numerous
miracles took place at his tomb, wherein his incorrupt body was
enshrined, and he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161. He is the
only saint buried in Westminster Abbey and one of the few whose relics
were not destroyed by Henry VIII.
Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me? Our Lady: I wish to tell you that I want a chapel
built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray
the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will
soon return to their homes. Lucia: I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners...
Our Lady: Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.
Becoming sadder, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
Then, opening her hands, Our Lady shone the light issuing from them
onto the sun, and as she rose, her own radiance continued to be cast
onto the sun.
At that moment, Lucia cried, "Look at the sun!"
Once Our Lady had disappeared in the expanse of the firmament, three
scenes followed in succession, symbolizing first the joyful mysteries of
the rosary, then the sorrowful mysteries, and, finally, the glorious
mysteries. Lucia alone saw the three scenes; Francisco and Jacinta saw
only the first. The first scene: Saint Joseph appeared beside the
sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy
Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph
was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint
Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The
Child Jesus did the same. The second scene: A vision of Our Lady of Sorrows,
without the sword in her breast, and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow
on the way to Calvary.
Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.
Lucia could only see the upper part of Our Lord's body. The third scene: Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding
the Child Jesus near her heart.
While these scenes took place, the great throng of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun.
It had rained all during the apparition. At the end of the
conversation between Our Lady and Lucia – when the Blessed Virgin rose
and Lucia shouted, "Look at the sun!" – the clouds parted, revealing the
sun as an immense silver disk shining with an intensity never before
seen – though not blinding.
This lasted only an instant. Then the immense disk began to "dance."
The sun spun rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. Then it stopped
momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again. Its rim became
scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes,
and on the faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant
hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire
seemed to tremble, shake, and then plunge in a zigzag toward the
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to
its original place and once again became still and brilliant, shining
with its normal brightness. The cycle of the apparitions had ended.
Many people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had suddenly dried.
The miracle of the sun was also seen by numerous witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the place of the apparition.
In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.
was born in 634, the son of a nobleman. At odds with his stepmother, he
was sent to the court of King Oswy of Northumbria, where Queen
Eanfleda, complying with his wishes, kindly saw to his education in the
In 654 he went to Europe with St. Benet, and
after a stay in Lyons, went on to Rome where he studied under Boniface
the Archdeacon, secretary to Pope St. Martin. Back
in England, in league with King Alcfrith of Deira, he labored to bring
the Roman discipline to the English church, taking distance from Celtic
usages. Among the Roman practices he worked to establish in England was
the Roman calculation for the celebration of Easter.
He became abbot of the monastery of Ripon where he introduced the rule of St. Benedict, and soon after was ordained a priest.
Bishop of York, he went to France to be consecrated. Lingering, for
reasons unknown, then suffering shipwreck, when he returned, found that
another, St. Chad, had been appointed in his place by King Oswy.
did not dispute the election, but later, St. Theodore, Archbishop of
Canterbury, found that the appointment of St. Chad had been irregular
and placed St. Wilfrid in the see of York.
As a bishop, he was
exemplary and beloved of his people, but his path was not peaceful.
First at odds with the heir to Oswy, King Egfrith, and then with the
latter’s successor, Aldfrith, he twice lost his see and twice had to
travel to Rome to be reinstated, besides facing all sorts of
He died in 709 and his body is buried in his
monastery of Ripon. Part of the epitaph on his tomb reads: “… drove
error far, and showed his folk sound law and liturgy … At home, abroad
long time in tempests tossed … he bore a bishop’s charge … Passed to
rest and gained the joys of heaven … Grant Lord his flock may tread
their shepherd’s path!”
The Holy Ghost did not describe Mary in the Gospels but left it to you to picture her in your heart. In this way, you might comprehend that there is no grace, no perfection, and no glory conceivable in a simple creature that is lacking to her.
Bibiana Antonia Emanuela, her parents were Francis Torres and Antonia
Acosta, an exemplary Christian couple running a small business in
At first Emanuela thought of joining the Dominicans
whose convent she frequented, but her request was turned down due to
poor health and she decided to wait for a clearer direction to her life.
This direction came through Madrid’s Vicar, Fr. Miguel Martinez
y Sanz worried about the state of the sick in his parish. He gathered
seven women into a religious community devoted to their service.
Emanuela was among these first "handmaids" and took the name Maria
Soledad – “Solitude”, a Spanish title for the Sorrowful Mother.
years later Fr. Miguel took half of the community to make another
foundation, leaving Mary Soledad as superior in Madrid. After dealing
with difficulties that threatened the dissolution of the group, Mother
Soledad was able to secure the support of Fr. Gabino Sanchez and the
queen. At this time, the community was named Handmaids of Mary Serving
After becoming involved with the care of young
delinquents, the community received ecclesiastical approval. During the
cholera outbreak of 1865, their dedicated service won the love and
respect of all.
Again there were difficulties and, victim of
slander, Mother Soledad was removed as superior only to be reinstated
after an investigation. After several of the sisters left the community,
the Handmaids grew in number and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana,
Cuba. The new institute received papal approval in 1876 and the
community spread throughout Spain opening houses and hospitals.
governing the Handmaids for thirty-five years, Mother Soledad died of
pneumonia on January 18, 1893. At the time of her death, there were
forty-six houses of the congregation spread throughout Europe and Latin
In 1896, at the first exhumation of her body, required
during the process of canonization, it was still intact and exuded a
sweet fragrance. A few years later, however, only bones remained.
the United States the congregation is known as the Sisters Servants of
Mary, Ministers of the Sick. They have six communities still involved in
home health care.
apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal, May, 1917 to
three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, were Gospel-like in their
seriousness, simplicity and credibility. All events prophesized were
fulfilled, and so was Our Lady’s promise of a sign at the sixth and last
Adding to the believability of the miraculous event, the chosen seers
were very young, simple and innocent, incapable of conjuring or
embellishing. When Our Lady spoke, she spoke like
a messenger, plainly and objectively, although touchingly attentive to
the children, their questions and needs.
The theme of her message ran throughout the consecutive visits: sin
must stop; prayer (especially the Rosary), penance and conversion of
life must be adopted by humanity or there would be terrible
And she promised a portentous sign “for all to believe” which set Portugal abuzz.
It was a “bad” time for such an apparition and such a promise in Portugal.
In 1908 King Carlos I and his heir Prince Luis Felipe, had been
assassinated, and a Republic established. The new government was
adamantly anti-religious and anti-clerical and aimed at secularizing
centuries-old Catholic Portugal.
Thus, the Fatima apparitions deeply disturbed the status-quo, which went as far as imprisoning the children for a short while.
But God was indeed at work at Cova da Iria, Fatima, and a sign had been promised.
And the sign happened. Free copy of Meet the Witnesses
On October 13, about 70,000 spectators filled Cova da Iria, among them journalists, the curious and the incredulous.
The day was rainy. The seers saw a bright light, after which Our Lady
appeared atop the usual holm oak. Mary asked for a chapel to be built,
and revealed that she was the “Lady of the Rosary”.
She predicted that WWI would soon end, and that the soldiers would come home.
Lucia asked for the cure of some sick persons to which Our Lady
responded: “Some yes, some no. They must amend their lives and ask
forgiveness for their sins.”
Then she begged the world, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
On saying this, she opened her hands and projected the light coming from them onto the sun." Lucia cried, “Look at the sun!”
The heavy clouds parted revealing a huge silver disk. Though it shone
intensely, it did not blind. The sphere began to dance, then spin
rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. It stopped momentarily, then
spun vertiginously again, its rim scarlet, scattering flames through the
sky. The changing lights were reflected on the faces of the spectators,
on the trees and on the ground in fantastic hues.
After performing this bizarre pattern thrice, the fiery globe
trembled, shook then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag. People
screamed. All this only lasted a few minutes. The sun then zigzagged
back to its place and re-assumed its normal appearance.
People noticed that their rain-soaked clothes were dry. So were the
pools of water that had formed in the field. Engineers later affirmed
that an enormous amount of energy was necessary to dry those pools in
only a few minutes.
Numerous people also saw the miracle of the sun up to twenty-five miles away.
To the chagrin of secularists and support of the faithful, newspaper men in the crowd reported the miracle throughout the world.
Indeed, the miracle of the sun “sealed” the authenticity of the
Fatima Message, a crucial message for our sinful, troubled times.
The Holy Rosary, recited with the meditation on the sacred mysteries, is a sacrifice of praise to God for the great gift of our redemption and a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ.
Borgia belonged to one of the most prominent families of the kingdom of
Aragon, a family that gave the Church two popes. His father, Juan
Borgia, was the third Duke of Gandia. On his mother Juana’s side,
Francis was the great-grandson of King Ferdinand V of Aragon.
his arrival at the imperial court at eighteen, Francis crossed paths
momentarily with a man who impressed him, and who was being arrested by
the Inquisition: Ignatius of Loyola. The following year, Francis married
Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese noblewoman, with whom he had eight
children. On his father’s death in 1543, he became the fourth Duke of
At his wife's death in 1546, Francis sought admittance to
the Society of Jesus. Finally, in 1550, after settling his children and
the affairs of his estate, he entered the Jesuits in Rome. The news of
the “Duke turned Jesuit” spread and at his first public Mass the crowd
was so great, the altar had to be moved outside.
wonders throughout his country he crossed into Portugal and surpassed
himself there. In 1554 St. Ignatius made him commissary general of the
Society of Jesus in Spain.
commissary general, he practically founded the Society in Spain
establishing many houses and colleges. He was crucial in dissolving the
prejudices that his relative, Emperor Charles V, harbored against the
Jesuits. He also assisted at the death of the dowager queen Juana, who
had gone mad fifty years before, on the death of her husband. She died
healed and at peace. He also met St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer
of the Carmelite Order, and was the first to recognize her greatness.
in Rome, St. Charles Borromeo, and Cardinal Ghislieri, later Pope Pius
V. regularly attended his sermons. At the death of Father Laynez, second
general of the Jesuits, Francis was elected Father General of the
Backed by St. Pius V who admired and trusted him,
he was able to do great things for the Order in Rome and abroad,
building two churches, and at times using his personal influence to
obtain acceptance of the Jesuits.
Worn by the responsibilities of
his post and a last trip throughout Europe in which he was publicly
hailed as a saint, he returned to Rome on a littler. Through his
brother, Thomas, he sent a blessing to his children and grandchildren,
and as their names were spoken to him, he prayed for each. He died on
the night of September 30.
You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
flourishing Church of Gaul, in present-day France, suffered terribly
under the persecution of Emperor Decius, and Pope Fabian sent the
Italian-born Denis and other missionary bishops to encourage and restore
the Faith there.
and two inseparable companions, the priest Rusticus, and Eleutherius, a
deacon, arrived in the neighborhood of Paris and settled on the island
in the Seine River. On this island Denis set about building a church.
His fearless and tireless preaching made many converts, but also excited
the anger and envy of the heathen priest. Inciting the people against
the new preachers, he prevailed upon Governor Fescenninus Sissinnius, to
forcibly put a stop to their teaching. Denis and his two companions
were seized, tortured, and beheaded. Legend has it that St. Denis’ body
stood up, and before the astonished onlookers, picked up his head, and
walked six miles.
At the burial site of the three martyrs, a
small shrine was erected, later to be replaced by a great basilica which
became the burial place of the French kings.
The underlying motive of Columbus' voyage was the conversion of those who did not know Christ as the living Son of God Who became the Son of Mary. His favorite prayer, said in Latin, was Jesu cum Maria sit nobis in via, which means "May Jesus with Mary be with us on the way." For Columbus this way meant both the voyage through time into eternity and the voyage in time to bring Mary's faith in her divine Son to a still unbelieving world.
was a princess, one of the many children of King Brycan of South Wales.
Growing up into a very beautiful young woman she was sought in marriage
by many noble lords, but resolutely refused all of them. Instead, she
took a vow of virginity and retired into solitude. It was after this
resolution that she was called “Cain Wyry”, Keyne the Maiden.
over the Severn, she set up her abode on the left bank. She finally
settled in the area of present-day Keynsham, in Somerset. She lived
there for years making many journeys and founding oratories and
Her nephew, St. Cadoc, later convinced her to return to
Wales, where she settled near a mountain, at which place she caused a
healing well to spring up. She died on October 8 about the year 505. Photo by: Buckstymie
Blessed Virgin Mary first gave the Rosary to St. Dominic of Guzman in a
vision in 1208, as he earnestly begged God for a solution to the
Albigensian heresy then aggressively infecting the south of France.
After St. Dominic began to preach the Rosary, the days of the
Albigensian error were numbered.
The feast of Our Lady of the
Rosary was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in honor and thanksgiving for
the great victory of the Christian Maritime Coalition against the Muslim
fleet at Lepanto in 1571. The "League" was formed in response to the
Muslim advances made in Cyprus, with the intent of invading Western
Europe. Once its forces were gathered ready to meet the Turk in the
Mediterranean, St. Pius V blessed the banner of the fleet, which was
solemnly consigned to its Commander in Chief, the young Don Juan of
Austria, the twenty-four-year-old half-brother of King Phillip II of
As the fate of Europe hung in the balance, on October 7,
1571, the Sovereign Pontiff called for a Rosary procession in Rome and
it was during that procession that the victory was decided for the
At first St. Pius V instituted October 7 as the
feast of Our Lady of Victory. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the
title to that of “Feast of the Holy Rosary”.
In 1716 Pope Clement
XI inserted the feast into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and
extended it to the whole of the Latin Rite, assigning the feast to the
first Sunday in October. In 1913, Pope St. Pius X changed the date back
to October 7.
May 13, 1917, there began in Fatima, Portugal a series of apparitions
of a luminous lady to three little Portuguese shepherds, Lucia dos
Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto. She asked them to return to the
same spot for five consecutive months, and that in October she would
work a miracle for all to believe and reveal who she was. In every
apparition the lady asked for the daily recitation of the Rosary as a
remedy to life’s ills, and for peace in the world. On October 13, 1917, a
crowd of 70,000 people witnessed the astounding miracle of the sun, as
the fiery orb performed a fantastic dance in the sky above. The heavenly
lady then revealed her name: “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.
of a prominent family of Cologne, was born in this ancient city around
the year 1030. A promising scholar, he studied at the cathedral school
of Rheims, and was ordained to the priesthood in his native Cologne.
1056 he became a professor of grammar and theology at his former school
in Rheims where he taught brilliantly for eighteen years. Many eminent
scholars and philosophers studied under him and did him honor throughout
Europe, including Eudes de Châtillon, later Pope Urban II, who convoked
the First Crusade.
In 1076, he was appointed chancellor of the
diocese, and was about to be elected as Archbishop of Rheims when he
announced he was retiring into solitude. At first, Bruno placed himself
under the direction of Robert of Molesmes, who later was instrumental in
the founding of the Abbey of Citeaux.
Later, given land by St.
Hugh, the Bishop of Grenoble, he and six other followers settled in the
mountainous reaches of Chartreuse where they first build an oratory
surrounded by individual cells. Such was the origin of the Order of the
Carthusians, which takes its name from Chartreuse. A great admirer of
the Order's founder, Bishop Hugh made his spiritual retreats at the
Chartreuse where he took Bruno for his spiritual father.
of his sanctity, and personally acquainted with his prudence and
knowledge, his former pupil, now Pope Urban II, summoned Bruno to Rome.
Although this presented a great trial for the saint, he obeyed, leaving
one of his disciples, Landuin, as prior of the Chartreuse.
Rome Bruno served the Holy Pontiff in various capacities, including
helping in the preparation of several synods with the aim of reforming
the clergy. Pressed by the pope to accept the archbishopric of Reggio in
Calabria, Bruno earnestly excused himself, begging to be allowed to
live in solitude. Pope Urban II finally consented that he retire into
Calabria, but not so far off as Chartreuse.
With the help of a
noble friend, Count Roger, Bruno settled in the valley of La Torre with a
few new disciples from Rome. Here he embraced the life of solitude
with more joy and fervor than ever. It was here also, that Landuin
visited him on behalf of the monks of the Chartreuse. They wished to
consult their founder as to the manner in which their monastery should
follow more faithfully in the spirit of its founder. Bruno instructed,
comforted and urged them to perseverance and blessed them.
felt death approaching in 1101, Bruno gathered his monks about him and
made a public confession of his life, and a profession of faith, which
was lovingly preserved by his spiritual sons. He resigned his soul to
God on October 6 in the year 1101.
According to Carthusian
custom, which shuns all form of publicity, Bruno was never formally
canonized. Nevertheless, in 1514, the Order obtained permission from
Pope Leo X to keep Bruno’s feast. In 1674, Pope Clement X extended the
commemoration of his feast to the Universal Church.
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
On the First Saturday during 5 Consecutive Months, the Devotion consists of:
1. Going to Confession, 2. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion, 3. Saying five decades of the Rosary, 4. Meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this offered in REPARATION for the sins of blasphemy and ingratitude committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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
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
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
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
Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on
ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several
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.)
“the second founder of the Dominicans”, Raymond della Vigna was born in
Capua of a prominent family in the kingdom of Naples. He entered the
Dominican Order when attending the university in Bologna and went on to
fill several posts, including prior in Rome and lector in Florence and
in the latter city, he met St. Catherine of Siena and was appointed her
confessor. At first he accepted the assignment without enthusiasm as he
had doubts about the young mystic. But after a stunning proof of her
authenticity, which he relates in his biography of her, he guided her
fervently, becoming her closest advisor.
Through the years he was
involved in most of Catherine’s undertakings, including a call for a
Crusade, the reconciliation of Florence with the papacy, and the plea to
Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon in France.
During a plague that struck Siena, Raymond fell ill while aiding the victims and was nursed back to health by St. Catherine.
the great schism started in 1378 both saints supported Urban VI against
the anti-pope Clement VII. After Catherine’s death in 1380, Raymond
continued to strive for a settlement of the great crisis and was elected
Master General of the Dominicans.
At the helm of the Order until
his death in Nuremberg, he worked for the reform of the houses, and the
strict observance of the Dominican Rule. Originally buried in
Nuremberg, his body was later transferred to the Church of San Domenico
Maggiore in Naples. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1899, the fifth
centenary of his death.
“I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my
all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on
the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final
repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the
sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last
moment.” — Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary
How to complete the First Friday’s Devotion:
Receive Holy Communion on each First Friday;
The nine Fridays must be consecutive;
They must be made in honor and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.
ACT OF REPARATION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages
unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy,
and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind!
The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!
The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more
frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most liberal
Heart of Jesus!
The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the
more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart of Jesus, model of
The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be
inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of
The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more
we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit,
O Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more we will honor him
as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray
for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!
O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy
apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the
kingdom of heaven. Amen.
12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the
mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant
to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine
consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in
my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will
be their secure refuge in that last hour.
was born in Assisi, a charming hill town in the Italian region of
Umbria. His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy cloth merchant who
traded often in France, and his mother, Pica, is said to have belonged
to a noble family of Provence. Though baptized “John”, their only son
was called “Francesco” or “the Frenchman”. Young
Francis had an expansive nature and was a lover of life, spending his
father’s money lavishly. He was also devoted to romantic chivalry then
being extolled by troubadours.
At twenty he fought for Assisi
against Perugia and was imprisoned for a year. Later, he sought to join
another general, and bought a handsome horse and outfit, but meeting a
poor man on the way, gave him his clothes. Taken ill, he heard a voice
that invited him to fight for “the master” rather than the man.
he prayed in the Church of San Damiano, he heard a voice coming from
the crucifix: “Francis go and repair my house, which you see is falling
down.” Thinking he was ordered to rebuild the crumbling church, he sold a
bolt of cloth, and his horse and offered the money to the pastor who
refused to use it.
then on, young Francis embarked upon a spiritual path that culminated
in his father publicly disowning him. In a dramatic gesture, Francis
handed his father all his clothes, and was covered by the bishop’s
cloak. He then set out to beg alms to repair churches in his area.
Knowing him, the town’s people mocked him, all of which he bore
Francis had fallen in love with “Lady Poverty”, leaving
all to find ALL. His was the calling to counteract the worldly spirit
then infecting society, so contrary to the spirit of the Gospel that had
built the Middle Ages.
Around the small chapel of Portiuncula,
in the valley below Assisi, he built a first community of wood and mud
huts. As others joined him, the community grew to the point that he
sought approval of Pope Innocent III in Rome, who, having had a dream of
Francis holding up God’s falling church, blessed his Order.
of humility, Francis gave his order the name of “Friars Minor”, and
never sought ordination, thinking himself unworthy of such an honor.
He also co-founded a feminine branch of the Franciscans with St. Clare of Assisi.
the fall of 1212, St. Francis resolved to go and preach to the Muslims.
His first two attempts were foiled, and he returned to Italy where he
In 1219 he went into Egypt with the
Crusading army, and fearlessly sought and faced Sultan Malek-al-Kamil,
who, impressed with his teaching, invited the monk to stay with him,
but, ultimately, did not make a commitment.
returned to Italy to face a crisis developing in his Order, now spread
throughout Europe. In response to a movement attempting to overturn his
initial ideal of strict poverty, he revised his rule. The form
ultimately approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223 substantially
represented the spirit of St. Francis.
In August of 1224, Francis
retired with a companion to Mount Alvernia where he was granted the
stigmata of Christ. As his health worsened, the wounds were a source of
further pain and weakness and he also became nearly blind.
died surrounded by his spiritual sons, laying on the floor as he had
requested, exhorting his brethren to love of God, of poverty and of the
Gospel, “before all other ordinances”. He was forty five, and was
canonized only two years later by Pope Gregory IX.
into an illustrious and influential family, Thomas was the son of
William de Cantelupe, a minister to King John, and Millicent (or Maud)
de Gournay, the Dowager Countess of Evreux and Gloucester. He had four
brothers and three sisters.
His education was entrusted to his
uncle, Walter de Cantelupe, the Bishop of Worcester, who sent Thomas
first to Oxford and then to Paris. In 1245, while yet a student, Thomas
attended the first Council of Lyons. After his ordination to the
priesthood in France, he returned to Oxford to teach canon law. In 1262
he was chosen chancellor of the university, and though considered a
strict disciplinarian, was known for his charity to poor students.
1264 he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England, and was renowned for
his prudence, courage, blameless life, scrupulous justice, and disregard
of human respect and the least bribe, but did not hold office long.
1275 he was appointed Bishop of Hereford, a diocese he found in a bad
state owing to civil wars and the pusillanimity of his two predecessors.
One after another he met, defied and overcame the lords. He rebuked and
excommunicated public sinners equally publicly, especially those in
high places who set a bad example. He was also a trusted advisor to King
Yet, as it is with truly courageous shepherds, they
are just as tender and attentive as they are combative, and it is said
that whenever he was among the young, he would personally inquire if
they had received the sacrament of Confirmation. Receiving a negative
answer, he would personally supply what was needed and confirm them
Unhappily, toward the end of his life, Thomas entered
into a great dispute with John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, over
questions of jurisdiction and other particular cases. This disagreement
ended by the metropolitan excommunicating Thomas who traveled to Italy
to settle the matter with Pope Martin IV who, despite the fulminations
in Peckham’s letters, received him kindly. Thomas was ultimately
Pending the consideration and outcome of his appeal,
Thomas retired to Montefiascone but succumbed to the fatigues and the
heat, and died in Orvieto on August 25, 1282. His remains were later
transferred to Hereford and he was buried in the cathedral. He was
canonized in 1320.
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
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
existence of angels is a dogma of our Catholic Faith, and is abundantly
documented in Sacred Scriptures and Catholic Tradition.
is a spiritual creature, superior to human beings, with a three-fold
mission: to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over
mortals. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? ... For thou hast
made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory
and honor" (Psalm 8:4-5).
The name "angel" is from the Greek
"angelos" meaning "one who is sent" or "messenger". Though purely
spiritual, they can show themselves to men in human form as in the story
Passages in Scripture point to the existence of an
angel specifically assigned to each human being to help, guide and
protect him or her through the journey of life: “Behold I will send my
angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring
thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear
his voice” (Exodus 23:20) And in the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ
speaking of children: “See that you despise not one of these little
ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face
of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).
are often visible to Catholic saints as in the life of St. Frances of
Rome, St. Gemma Galgani and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. St. Gemma’s angel
even delivered letters for her, and brought her coffee in bed when she
Like many other feasts, the feast of the Guardian
Angels was celebrated on a local level before it was placed on the Roman
calendar. Pope Clement X officially established the feast of the
Guardian Angels for the Universal Church on October 2. Photo by: Louise Docker
Thérèse Martin was born on January 2, 1873 in the town of Alençon in
French Normandy. Her parents were Louis Martin, a watch maker, and Zélie
Guerin, both beatified by the Church. Called Thérèse, she was the last
of nine children, five of which survived to adulthood.
in a deeply Catholic family, Thérèse’s life was filled with love,
consideration and kindness. A pretty, blond and blue-eyed girl, hers was
a precocious mind, and passionate, willful, sensitive nature, a nature
made yet more sensitive by her mother’s death of breast cancer when
Thérèse was four.
After his wife’s death, M. Martin moved his
family to the town of Lisieux, and rented a charming home, “Les
Buissonnets”, where he raised his five girls in bourgeois comfort.
Thérèse was his “Benjamin” for whom he had a special affection and whom
he called “my little queen”.
For her mothering needs, the little
girl turned to her favorite sister, Pauline, who took the rearing of her
“child” seriously looking after her needs of body, mind and soul.
Pauline decided to enter Carmel in 1882, the shock made Thérèse
seriously ill. As the illness progressed, and as her family prepared for
the worst, on May 13, the sick girl appealed to a statue of Our Lady by
her bed. “Suddenly,” Thérèse writes, “Mary’s face radiated kindness and
love…” and she was healed. To the family the statue became “The Virgin
of the Smile”.
Christmas Eve in 1886 at the age of fourteen Thérèse received a great
grace. In one moment, she was cured of her hyper-sensitivity, and went
through what she calls “her conversion”. From then on she decided to
live no longer to please herself but for love. She felt her heart burn
with the wish to help Jesus save souls.
Hearing of a murderer,
Henri Pranzini, who had been condemned to death, but remained
unrepentant, she set out to pray and offer small sacrifices for his
conversion, and trusted that God would hear her against all appearances.
She was elated when she read that though refusing a priest to the last,
at the scaffold Pranzini suddenly turned and, snatching a crucifix from
the attending priest’s hands, kissed it repeatedly. Thereafter, Thérèse
always called Pranzini her “first son”– her course was set.
entered Carmel at age sixteen, and though only living as a Carmelite
for nine years, she rose to the heights of sanctity through her “little
way” of serving God and others in everyday life, and doing everything,
even the smallest things, with great love and child-like trust in her
God’s paternal love, and mercy. At the request of her sister Pauline
who glimpsed her sanctity, she penned her autobiography, The Story of a Soul.
with tuberculosis, Thérèse suffered greatly. Knowing she was dying she
promised, “I shall spend my heaven doing good on earth … I shall let
fall a shower of roses”. Thérèse died on September 30, 1897, after a
brief ecstasy. Her last gasping words were, “My God! ... I love Thee!”
was canonized by Pius XI in 1925 and devotion to her quickly spread
throughout the world. For her doctrine of “The Little Way” Thérèse was
declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997.