Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How to go to sleep more cheerful and pleased

Do not let any occasion of gaining merit
pass without taking care to draw some spiritual profit from it; as,
for example, from a sharp word which someone may say to you;
from an act of obedience imposed against your will;
from an opportunity which may occur to humble yourself,
or to practice charity, sweetness, and patience.
All of these occasions are gain for you, and you should seek to procure them; and
at the close of that day, when the greatest number of them have come to you,
you should go to rest most cheerful and pleased …

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. Of the noble family of Loyola, as a boy he was sent as a page to serve the treasurer of the kingdom. There, he had access to court and developed a taste for all its ways, including the ladies.

Intelligent, of a fiery temperament and handsome, Inigo, or Ignatius, harbored dreams of romance and worldly conquests. He was addicted to gambling, and wasn’t above sword play, once getting into serious trouble.

At age thirty we find him a soldier defending the fortress of Pamplona against the French. Hugely outnumbered, the Spanish commander wished to surrender but Ignatius egged him to fight on. As the fight continued, Ignatius’ leg was fractured by a canon shot. Honoring his courage, the French allowed him to be treated at his castle of Loyola rather than in prison.

After enduring an operation without anesthetics, it was found that there was a bone protruding from under his knee. The thought of not being able to wear the slimming leggings of the time was unendurable, so he had doctors saw off the bone – without anesthetics. Still, he always limped as one leg remained shorter than the other.

Convalescing, he asked for romance novels, but was given to read the only books in the castle: a life of Christ and lives of the saints. As he begrudgingly picked up the volumes, he began to notice that while his thoughts of romance and fantasy left him restless and agitated, these books gave him peace and a sense of true accomplishment and well-being.  Slowly moved by what he read, he made a powerful conversion.

Shedding his fineries and donning a poor habit, he ultimately came to the cave of Manresa by a river where he stayed for ten months. Here, he had a powerful revelation, an experience of God as He really is so that he now looked at all of creation in a new light – an experience that allowed Ignatius to find God in all things – one of the central characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. It was in the seclusion of Manresa that ideas for his famous Spiritual Exercises began to take shape.

After a trip to the Holy Land, the holy wanderer decided to go back to school to learn Latin with the goal of entering the priesthood. He ultimately went to the University of Paris where he met several young men whom he led in the Spiritual Exercises. Two of these men were Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber. Once ordained, he and his group decided to place themselves at the disposition of the Pope in Rome. They taught catechism to children, worked in hospitals and instructed adults in the Spiritual Exercises.

In September of 1540, this first nucleus was approved by Pope Paul III, as the order of The Company of Jesus, an institution that was to be instrumental in countering the protestant reform of Martin Luther. They were also active in the missions, and later became unparalleled academic instructors of young men, as well as performing countless other services in the Church.

Since his early conversion days, because of indiscreet, severe penances, St. Ignatius had developed stomach troubles that plagued him for the rest of his life. In the summer of 1556 his complaint grew worse, and his health ailing, he felt the end approaching. Still, those around him were not unduly alarmed. But shortly after midnight on July 31, the former soldier presented arms at the heavenly court.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Scapular—A Powerful Weapon Against the Devil

Abbé Francis Trochu, in his book, The Cure D’Ars, relates a story of a young lady who, having decided to consecrate her life to religion, sought the holy pastor of Ars, Saint John Vianney, for a general confession.
When she finished relating her sins, St. John Vianney asked her if she was not forgetting something. The girl, upon recollecting her thoughts, could not recall anything else. The holy priest then proceeded to refresh her memory.
He asked her if she remembered a certain dance where she encountered a handsome young man with whom she desired to dance, but who, in turn, only danced with the other girls, passing her up.
Surprised, again she replied in the affirmative, that such was indeed true. The Cure D’Ars then asked her if she remembered how downcast she had felt at the snub, and how, upon leaving the ballroom, she had glanced back once more and had seen the young man dancing with a girl, but this time there were two small blue lights under his feet.
Again she agreed and confirmed that in fact she had seen the two blue lights under the youth’s feet, but that, finding them strange, she could not account for them.
Saint John Vianney then explained to her that the young man was in fact the Devil in human form, and that the only reason why he would not dance with her was because she was wearing the holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Words vs. actions

It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law
if he undermines its teaching
by his actions.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Peter Chrysologus

Peter Chrysologus was born in Imola, Italy in 406 and died there in 450. He was baptized, educated and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, and was consecrated Bishop of Ravenna in 433. He shared the confidence of Pope Leo the Great and enjoyed the patronage of Empress Galla Placidia.

Of his homilies, 176 survive, as well as others known to have been written by him under different names. Many of these are brief and concise explanations of the Bible. Others are beautiful discourses on the Incarnation, the Apostles’ Creed, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, as well as talks countering the heresy of Arius and Eutyches.
Photo by: Fcosampieri

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The power of just one prayer

It was the thief’s last prayer,
perhaps even his first.
He knocked once, sought once, asked once,
dared everything, and found everything.
When even the disciples were doubting,
and only one was present at the Cross,

the thief owned and acknowledged Him as Savior.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Martha

Martha, named in the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, was the sister of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus whom the Lord resurrected. She was also the sister of Mary Magdalen, the repentant sinner whom the Lord converted from a life of sin. They lived in Bethany, thought to be the town al-Eizariya, two miles from Jerusalem.The Gospels speak of Martha as a dutiful housekeeper, serving the Lord hospitably when He visited:"but Martha was busy about much serving…" (Luke 10:40) Complaining that her sister Mary was listening to Him instead of helping, Our Lord sweetly rebuked : "Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away her" (Luke 10:41-42) - words the Master which established the priority of prayer for all time.When her brother, Lazarus, fell ill, she sent for the Lord, but He delayed and when He arrived, Lazarus had been four days in the tomb. She complained to Jesus about His delay, but He assured her: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live." (John 11:25) And he proceeded to call Lazarus forth the tomb before a crowd of astonished witnesses.After the martyrdom of St. James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus and his two sisters, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact recorded in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, to do penance for the rest of her life.Martha is said to have died about the year 84. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the Collegiate Church of Tarrascon, France.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Our single endeavor should be this

My confidence is placed
in God who does not need our help
for accomplishing His designs.
Our single endeavor should be
to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to Him, and
not to spoil His work by our shortcomings.

St. Isaac Jogues

St. Samson of Dol

St. Samson is counted among the seven founding saints of Brittany. He was born in Wales, his father being the son of Amon of Demetia and Anne of Gwent, daughter of Meurig, king of Glamorgan and Gwent.

Early in life his education was entrusted to St. Illtud, the abbot of Llandtwit Fawr.

Seeking an even more austere life than this school provided, Samson moved to the island monastery of Caldey where he became a model of virtue. There, he succeeded St. Pyr as abbot.

Later, his father Amon and an uncle joined him in the monastic life. At one point he made a visit to Ireland, and on his return, with his father and uncle retired to a hermittage.

But his peace did not last. He was again made abbot, and was subsequently consecrated bishop by St. Dubricius. After a vision instructing him to travel beyond the sea, he sailed for Cornwall, converting a number of idol worshipers by miraculously restoring a boy who had been thrown by a horse.

He founded a couple of churches, after which he sailed for Brittany possibly visiting the Scilly Islands, one of which is named after him.

In Brittany he traveled extensively preaching and teaching, and working many miracles. A town in Guernsey bears his name. He founded two monasteries, one in Dol and another in Normandy. While visiting Paris he attracted the notice of King Childebert who is said to have appointed him bishop of Dol. Samson died peacefully among his monks in the year 565.
Photo by: Humphrey Bolton

Friday, July 27, 2018

A most powerful weapon to overcome the devil

If our age – in its pride – laughs at and rejects Our Lady’s Rosary,
a countless legion of the most saintly men of every age and of every condition
have not only held it most dear and have most piously recited it
but have also used it at all times as a most powerful weapon
to overcome the devil, to preserve the purity of their lives,
to acquire virtue more zealously,
in a word, to promote peace among men.

Pope Pius XI

St. Theobald of Marly

Theobald was the son of Bouchard of Montmorency, one of the most illustrious families of Europe. They were constables of France, marshals, admirals, cardinals, grand officers of the crown and grand masters of various knightly orders.

And yet Theobald is called the “great ornament” of the family of Montmorency.

He was born in the family castle of Marly, highly educated and trained as a knight. He served for a time in the court of King Phillip Augustus II, but showed a strong inclination to a state of retirement. Even at court he spent a long time in prayer and often visited the church at the convent of Port Royal founded by a relative, and which his father largely endowed.

Theobald took the Cistercian habit at Vaux-de-Cernay in 1220 and was chosen abbot in 1235. He lived in his monastery as the servant of all, surpassing others in his love of poverty, silence and prayer.

He was known to King St. Louis IX who held him in high esteem and veneration.

Theobald died on December 8, 1247.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jacinta of Fatima: Suffering to Save Sinners



+ March 11, 1910: Jacinta is born
+ From May 13 to October 13, 1917: the Blessed Mother appears to the three little shepherds
+ October 1918: Jacinta’s illness begins
+ February 20, 1920: Jacinta dies

A mystery to many
“Why should I read an article about Jacinta?” you may ask. “What can I get out of it? I already know everything about Fatima: the Blessed Mother appeared in Portugal to three little shepherds in 1917, told them to pray the rosary, and Jacinta was a very lucky little girl even though she died very young... she is now another little angel among the angels! How does it concern my life? How can I relate to a little girl who lived almost 100 years ago? Will I find it interesting at all?”
As you read this article you will discover that which is still a mystery to many, namely, why, during the apparition of July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to the three children: Lucia, 10, Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7.
Yes, the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to a little girl of seven, with demons in the form of horrible monsters, and souls of the damned burning in a huge fire! Why would she do such a thing?
That vision transformed Jacinta’s life: from then on she agreed to suffer so that sinners could convert, and therefore avoid losing their souls forever. As you read these few pages, you will see how the love of neighbor, including sinners, can lead a child to a heroic acceptance of suffering.
And how she suffered! Small, ignorant, poor and sick, through suffering Jacinta is transformed into a giant of virtue, a universal model of wisdom, inner richness and strength.
I am convinced that Jacinta has something very special to convey to you. Read her story, look her in the eyes, and discover for yourself what her questioning look suggests.

“How I have pity for souls who go to Hell!”
The concept of eternity was one of the things that most impressed Jacinta in the vision of Hell. At times she would stop in the middle of a game and ask her cousin,
“But look. So, after many, many years, will Hell still not be over? And you never get out of there?”
“No.”
“Even after many, many years?!”
“No. Hell never ends. Neither does Heaven. Whoever goes to Heaven never leaves. And those who go to Hell don’t either. Don’t you see that they are eternal, that they never end?”
Also:
“And those people burning there do not die? They do not turn into ashes? If we pray a lot for sinners, does Our Lord deliver them from there? And with sacrifices too? Poor ones! We will pray and make many sacrifices for them...How good that Lady really is! She has already promised to take us to Heaven!”
The vision of Hell had caused Jacinta such horror that all the penances and mortifications she could make seemed little to prevent a few souls from falling into it.
How could Jacinta, so small, understand and accept such a spirit of mortification and penance? Lucia explains,
“It seems to me that it was first by a special grace God wished to grant through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; secondly, by seeing Hell and the terrible state of the souls that fall into it.
“There are people, even pious ones, who do not want to talk about Hell to children so as not to frighten them. But God did not hesitate to show it to a seven-year-old child, knowing that she was going to be horrified, I would almost venture to say, to the point of dying of terror.”
Often, Jacinta would sit on a stone, and plunged into her thoughts, would say:
“Hell! Hell! What pity I have for the souls that go to hell! And the people burning alive there, like wood in a bonfire!”
Then, shuddering, she would kneel down, clasp her hands and recite aloud the prayer which the Blessed Virgin had taught them:
“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”
“There are so many who go there!”
Jacinta remained on her knees for a long time, repeating the same prayer. From time to time she stopped to call her companions:
“Francisco, Francisco, are you praying with me? We need to pray a lot to deliver souls from hell. So many go there! So many!”
One day Lucia went to see her cousin and found her sitting in bed, pensive.
“Jacinta, what are you thinking about?”
“About the war that is to come. So many people will die! And almost all will go to hell! Many houses will be razed and many priests killed. Look, I am going to Heaven. And as soon as you see that night light the Lady said will come before [the war], make sure to flee there too!”
“Don’t you see that one can’t flee to Heaven?”
“It’s true! You can’t. But do not be afraid! In Heaven I will pray very much for you, for the Holy Father, for Portugal* so the war does not come here, and for all priests.”
At other times, she would ask,
“Why does Our Lady not show Hell to sinners? If they only saw it they would no longer sin to avoid going there! You must tell the Lady to show hell to all those people [present at Cova da Iria at the time of the apparition]. You will see how they will convert.”
Then, somewhat dissatisfied, she would ask Lucia,
“Why didn’t you tell Our Lady to show hell to those people?”
“I forgot,” she replied.
“I did not remember it either!” Jacinta said sadly.
At other times she also asked,
“What sins do these people commit to go to hell?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps the sin of not going to Mass on Sunday, stealing, saying ugly words, cursing, swearing.”
“And they go to hell just because of a single word?!”
“Of course! It’s a sin!”
“What would it cost them to keep silent and go to Mass? What a pity I have for sinners! If only I could show them hell!”
And then she would take Lucia by the arm and insist,
“I am going to Heaven, but you who stay here if Our Lady lets you, tell everyone what hell is like so they don’t sin anymore and don’t go there.”
At other times, after a period of reflection, she would say,
“So many people falling into hell, so many people in hell!”
To reassure her, Lucia would remind her:
“Do not fear; you are going to Heaven.”
“I am,” she said peacefully, “but I wanted all those people to go there too.”

Suffering to Save Sinners
Jacinta would not miss any opportunity of making sacrifices to obtain the conversion of sinners.
When Jacinta would not eat to mortify herself, Lucia would tell her:
“Jacinta! Come on, now eat!”
“No. I offer this sacrifice for sinners who overeat.”
And when, already very affected by illness, she would go to Mass during the week, Lucia tried to prevent her:
“Jacinta, don’t come, you cannot. Today is not Sunday!”
“It does not matter. I am going for the sinners who do not even go on Sunday.”
And if she happened to hear unseemly words uttered by some people, she would hide her face with her hands and say,
“O my God! Don’t these people know that by saying these things they can go to hell? Forgive them, my Jesus, and convert them. Surely they do not know that, with this, they offend God. What a pity, my Jesus! I pray for them.”


The three little shepherds knew children of two poor families who begged for alms from door to door. Seeing them one day when leading her flock, Jacinta proposed to Lucia and Francisco:
“Shall we give our lunch to those poor people for the conversion of sinners?”
And she ran to take her lunch to them.
Of course, in the afternoon, the three little shepherds got hungry. To remedy that, Francisco climbed up a green oak tree and filled his pockets with long, sweet and nutty acorns. But Jacinta suggested that they could instead eat acorns from great oaks to make the sacrifice of chewing something very bitter.
That became one of her usual sacrifices. She also gathered olives before the brine bath that would cut down their bitterness. The acorns and olives were so bitter that one day Lucia said to her:
“Jacinta, do not eat that, it’s very bitter!”
“That’s why I eat it, to convert sinners.”
Jacinta seemed insatiable in offering sacrifices. In her generosity as a little victim, all she thought of was to suffer to save sinners. For this end, she frequently accepted the harsh conditions of life as it presented itself.

Everyday Sacrifices to Save Sinners
Jacinta's mother knew well her little girl’s repugnance for milk. One day, she brought her a cup of milk and a nice bunch of grapes.
“Here, Jacinta,” she told her, “if you can’t take the milk, just leave it and eat the grapes.”
“No, mother, I do not want the grapes, you may take them. Let me have the milk.”
And without showing the slightest repugnance, she drank it. Her mother was happy, thinking that her daughter's distaste for milk was gone. Then Jacinta told Lucia:
“I craved those grapes so much, and it was so hard to drink the milk!” But I wanted to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.”
One morning, Lucia found her with an altered countenance and asked if she felt any worse.
“Tonight,” she replied, “I’ve had many pains and wanted to offer Our Lord the sacrifice of not going back to bed, so I did not sleep at all.”
Another time she confided to Lucia,
“When I am alone, I get out of bed to say the prayers of the angel; but now I can no longer reach the ground with my head because I fall. I pray only on my knees.”
Concerned, Lucia mentioned it to the confessor who knew how to guide her. He ordered that Jacinta should no longer get out of bed to pray but say all the prayers she wanted in bed, without tiring too much. She hastened to pass the message on to Jacinta, who asked:
“Will Our Lord be pleased?”
“He will,” I replied. “Our Lord wants us to do what the pastor tells us.”
“Then it’s fine; I will never get up again.”

“I saw the Holy Father crying, and people insulting him”
On one very hot day, the children spent the siesta hour on the well at the back of the garden of Lucia’s house. Jacinta asked her cousin,
“Haven’t you seen the Holy Father?”
“No!”
“I do not know how it happened! I saw the Holy Father in a very large house, on his knees, in front of a table, with his hands on his face, crying. Outside the house were many people and some threw stones at him, others cursed and told him many ugly words. Poor little Holy Father! We have to pray a lot for Him!”
Another day, two priests who had gone to interrogate them explained who the Pope was and asked the children to pray for him. Jacinta then asked Lucia,
“Is he the same I saw crying, and of whom the Lady spoke in that secret?”
“Yes.”
“Certainly that Lady also showed him to these priests! See? I was not mistaken. We must pray a lot for him.”
In fact, Jacinta was taken with such a love for the Holy Father that every time she offered one of her sacrifices to Jesus, she added:
“And for the Holy Father.”
At the end of each rosary she always recited three Hail Marys for the pope and sometimes would say,
“I wish I could see the Holy Father! So many people come here and the Holy Father never comes.”
Another time, the three little shepherds had gone to their favorite rock hollows on Cabeço hill, where the angel had appeared to them. Prostrating with their foreheads on the ground, they fervently recited the prayer he had taught them. After a moment, Jacinta arose and asked,
“Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying with hunger, who have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And many people praying with Him?”
After several days, she asked Lucia:
“Can I say that I have seen the Holy Father and all those people?”
“No. Don’t you see that it is part of the secret and they would soon discover it?”
“All right, then I won’t say anything.”

Jacinta’s illness
One year after the last apparition, towards the end of October 1918, Jacinta fell ill, followed by Francisco.
The flu epidemic affecting so many people at the time was undoubtedly the cause of her very strong bronchopneumonia, which never healed but degenerated into an infected pleurisy with an external abscess, and ultimately tuberculosis.
On the eve of her illness, she said to Lucia,
“My head hurts so bad and I am so thirsty! But I do not want to drink in order to suffer for sinners.”
Despite her pain, she would not complain. Her only confidante was Lucia:
“I feel such pain in my chest! But I do not say anything to my mother; I want to suffer for Our Lord in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father, and for the conversion of sinners.”
One morning, when Lucia came to see her, she asked,
“How many sacrifices did you offer to Our Lord tonight?”
“Three: I got up three times to say the prayers of the angel.”
“I have offered Him many, many; I do not know how many, for I had many pains and did not complain.”

At the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourem: “I am not going there to be healed”
On July 1, 1919, Jacinta, who had been ill for almost a year, was taken to the hospital at Vila Nova de Ourem, the same town where she had been imprisioned by the Mayor back in August, 1917.
Her father carefully arranged her thin and feverish body on the back of a mule for the three-mile journey from their hamlet to the town.
She knew very well that she was not at the hospital to be cured, but to suffer for the conversion of sinners. The Lady had told her so.
Along the way she remembered a visit the Lady had paid to her and Francisco when she was doing a little better and would spend her day sitting on her brother's bed. Immediately afterwards she had called Lucia to tell her,
“Our Lady came to see us and says that she will soon come to take Francisco to Heaven. And she asked me if I wanted to convert more sinners. I told her I did. She told me that I would be going to a hospital and would suffer a lot there; that I should suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the love of Jesus. I asked her if you were going with me. She said no. For me this is the hardest part. She said that my mother was going to take me and I would be there alone!”
The poor little girl was extremely afraid of staying alone in a place she imagined to be terrible. So she added:
“If you only went with me! The hardest thing for me is to go without you. Maybe the hospital is a very dark house where you cannot see anything, and I will be there suffering alone!”
And then she immediately returned to the only thing that really mattered:
“But it is all right; I suffer for Our Lord’s sake, to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father.”
In fact, the Saint Augustine Hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem was all white and flooded with light. But the treatment Jacinta received there for two months could do nothing to improve her health, and she suffered greatly.
What had begun as the flu in October 1918 had turned into tuberculosis, which affected one of her lungs. An abscess had formed and a wound opened on her left side through which oozed foul-smelling pus.
She received few visits, as distance and daily occupations prevented her mother from visiting her youngest child as often as she would like. When she came to see Jacinta, she asked if she wanted anything. Of course, what Jacinta wanted the most was to see Lucia and converse with her.
So, as soon as she could her mother brought Lucia with her, not a small complication as she had to make a round trip of more than twelve miles in a single day. This trip was made, not in a car or by train, but as all the poor traveled, by donkey cart.

As soon as Jacinta saw Lucia she kissed her with joy and asked her mother to leave them together while she went shopping.
“Do you suffer much?” Lucia asked her.
“Yes, I do suffer; but I offer everything for sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
And she began to speak enthusiastically of Our Lord and the Blessed Mother:
“I am so glad to suffer for Their love! To make Them pleased! They love very much those who suffer to convert sinners.”
The visit went by quickly and when Jacinta’s mother asked her again if she wanted something, she asked her to bring Lucia again when she came to visit.
The second time around, her cousin found her suffering with the same joy for the love of God, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for sinners and the Holy Father.
Lucia wrote, “It was her ideal; that was what she talked about,” adding:
“She was only a child of ten. As for the rest, she already knew how to practice virtue and show her love for God and the Blessed Virgin by practicing sacrifice.”
In Lucia’s opinion, she had an intimate and meticulous knowledge of the profound meaning of the message which the three had received:
“It seems to me that Jacinta was the one to whom the Blessed Virgin communicated a greater abundance of grace, knowledge of God and virtue.”

Back from the hospital
After two long months in the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourém, she returned home. She never complained or showed impatience during the daily care required by the open and infected wound on her side.
In September 1919, despite her lamentable state, Jacinta was still moving a little. Weakened and emaciated, she went to Mass at the church of Fatima. But the Cova da Iria was too far away for her feeble strength.
In October, a friend of the family found her in a pitiful state, remarking: “The little one is skeletal. Her arms are woefully skinny. She continually burns with fever. Her appearance inspires compassion.”
She was again the object of endless visits and questions from people who came to see her now that she could no longer hide.
“I offer also this sacrifice for sinners,” she said with resignation. “I wish I could go to Cabeço to say a chaplet in our grotto! But I am no longer able to.”

A new visit by the Blessed Mother: “I will die all alone!”
Again the Blessed Virgin came to see Jacinta, bedridden, to announce new crosses and sacrifices. She hastened to break the news to Lucia:
“She told me that I am going to Lisbon, to another hospital; that I will not see you again, or my parents; that, after suffering very much, I will die alone but should not be afraid, as she is going to take me to Heaven.”
Jacinta wept as she kissed her cousin:
“I’ll never see you again. You’re not going to visit me there. Look, pray a lot for me, as I am dying alone.”
“Do not think about it,” I told her one day.
“Let me think, because the more I think, the more I suffer; and I want to suffer for the love of Our Lord and for sinners. And then I do not care! Our Lady is going there to fetch me to Heaven.”
She was also worried she still had not been able to receive communion:
“Am I going to die without receiving the hidden Jesus? If only Our Lady would bring Him to me when she comes to get me!”
And when Lucia asked her what she would do once in heaven,
“I am going to love very much Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and siblings, and for all those who have asked me to pray for them.”
If asked whether she needed anything, she replied:
“No, thank you very much, I need nothing.”
After people left, she would say to Lucia:
“I'm very thirsty but do not want to drink; I offer it up to Jesus for sinners.”
On another occasion, Lucia found her kissing an image of the Blessed Virgin and saying,
“O my sweet heavenly Mother, will I then die alone?”
The poor child seemed frightened at the idea of dying alone. To console her, Lucia recalled,
“What do you care if you die alone, if Our Lady will come fetch you?”
“It’s true! I do not care at all. I don’t know what will happen to me ; sometimes I do not remember that she’s coming to get me, just that I will die without you standing by me."


Lisbon and the death of Jacinta
In mid-January, 1920, Canon Formigão, a priest who had been present at several of the apparitions and had been able to question the seers with tact and precision, returned with a doctor from Lisbon, a pious soul who came to pray at Cova da Iria with Lucia. He then met Jacinta and her parents.
Although they told him that she had shown no improvement after the two-month stay at the hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem, and that they knew the Blessed Virgin would soon take their little Jacinta to heaven, the doctor finally convinced them to send her to Lisbon.
Knowing that the use of all possible remedies to cure the little patient was not opposed to the will of God, her parents agreed and her father went to announce their decision.
Jacinta was saddened by the news but accepted it with resignation.
Her father explained to her that they had to send her to Lisbon so people would not say they had refused a treatment that could have cured her.
“Oh, daddy! Even if I recover, another illness will come and I will die. If I go to Lisbon, you can bid me goodbye.”
Shortly before Jacinta left for Lisbon, where she knew she was going to die away from her family, finding her immersed in her memories, Lucia told her,
“Do not be sad that I am not going with you. It is a short time; you can spend it thinking of Our Lady, Our Lord, and often saying these words that you like so much:
“My God, I love You! Immaculate Heart of Mary! Sweet Heart of Mary!”
“That’s right!” she answered in a lively way. “I will never tire of saying them until I die! And then I will sing them many times in Heaven!”
Before leaving her home forever, Jacinta asked her mother to take her to the Cova da Iria, where she wanted to pray again and see the place where the Blessed Virgin had appeared.
With the help of a neighbor who lent a mule, they made the journey which they had traveled so often in the past. The little one got off of the mule a little before arriving in order to pluck a few flowers. These she placed in the little chapel that had been built where the little green oak once stood which served as a support to the Queen of the Universe.
She prayed on her knees for a long while, and then, rising, showed her mother the trees over which the Lady would pass when she went back to Heaven.

Departure from Fatima
The day of departure for Lisbon, January 21, 1920, finally arrived. Jacinta’s farewells to her dear Lucia were poignant. She embraced her for a long time, weeping and saying,
“We’ll never see each other again! Pray a lot for me, until I go to Heaven. Then, there, I will pray a lot for you. Never tell anyone the secret, even if they kill you. Love Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary very much, and make many sacrifices for sinners.”
Then Jacinta departed with her mother to take the train to the capital.

At the orphanage of Mother Godinho
Having arrived at the Lisbon station, three ladies came to fetch them and took them to the orphanage of Our Lady of Miracles, founded and directed by Mother Godinho, where Jacinta had to wait a little before being admitted to the hospital.
Her mother stayed with her for a few days, and after a week returned to the hamlet, leaving her little Jacinta in the care of Mother Godinho, whom all the little orphans called “Godmother.”
Jacinta’s great consolation was to discover that the house where she was had a passage to the back of the church adjoining the pulpit. She was installed on a small chair from which she could see the tabernacle and the altar, and she would stay there for as long as they would allow it.
She was admitted to communion almost every day: finally, she was able to receive the hidden Jesus in her heart!
Having noticed that many visitors were talking and laughing in the orphanage chapel, Jacinta asked Mother Godinho to admonish them about the lack of respect that this represented to the Real Presence. When that didn’t work, she asked that the cardinal be warned: “Our Lady does not want us to speak in church.”
It is certain that the Most Holy Virgin came to see her several times, conversing with her and announcing the day and hour of her death. Jacinta had someone write this to Lucia, again recommending her to be very good.
Who can tell the depth of Jacinta’s conversations with the Mother of God? Knowledge of certain future events and discernment of souls are also a small indication of what these conversations were like. Following are several examples:
She confided to Godmother that the Blessed Virgin would have liked two of her sisters, aged sixteen and seventeen, to become nuns. But since her mother opposed it, Our Lady would soon take them to heaven, something that happened shortly after Jacinta’s death.
A doctor who looked after her asked her to pray for him when she was in heaven. Jacinta said yes, but told him to be prepared, for he too would soon die.
She likewise predicted to another physician his coming death and that of his daughter.
After hearing the sermon of a priest whom everybody admired, she said, “Godmother, when you least expect it, you will see how bad this priest is.” Indeed, shortly after that the priest left the priesthood and began to live openly in scandal.
She was well aware that, even if she prayed for sinners, their conversion depended on themselves and if they persisted in sin it was their own responsibility. Thus, when Godmother asked her to pray for some people in a miserable spiritual state, she replied,
“Yes, Godmother, but those are already beyond any hope!”

The last hospital – “I am going to die”
She was finally admitted to the hospital on the 2nd of February with two ribs that were turning necrotic and were about to be removed in the hope of containing the infection in the lungs.
There she was separated from the company of her good Godmother and especially from the presence of Jesus hidden in the tabernacle and frequent communion.
Placed in a large, cold and sad infirmary with many beds, she was as sorry as ever for sinners.
She blamed some nurses and visitors for their frivolous and hardly modest way of dressing:
“What’s all this for? If these people only knew what eternity is!”
She was operated on the 10th of February.
Because of her great weakness they did not use chloroform to make her sleep, but only the local anesthetic available at the time.
Her greatest suffering, however, was to have her little body undressed at the hands of doctors, so little attentive to the admirable modesty of that little Christian girl. She cried a great deal.
Every day they had to tend to the gaping wound, which rekindled excruciating pain. As they were taking care of her, she groaned softly:
“Ouch! Nossa Senhora! Ouch! Nossa Senhora! (In English it would have been, “Ouch, Mother of God! Ouch, Mother of God)
And then she would add:
“Patience! We must all suffer to go to Heaven.”
For the rest of the time she was never heard to complain. The Most Holy Virgin, who came to see her several times in this infirmary, completely removed her pain four days before taking her away.
To her “Godmother,” Mother Godinho who came to see her once a day, Jacinta said,
“Our Lady has appeared to me again; she will soon come for me and has immediately taken away my pains.”
As her Godmother went to sit at a certain place, Jacinta protested:
“Not there, Godmother. That is where Our Lady sat.”
Shortly before her death, someone asked her if she wanted to see her mother. Jacinta replied:
“My family will last a short time and we will soon meet again in heaven. Our Lady will appear another time, but not to me, for without a doubt I will die as she told me.”
The day fixed for her departure to heaven, February 20th, a Friday, finally arrived.
About six o'clock in the evening, feeling ill, she asked to receive the last sacraments. A priest came from the nearby parish and heard her confession. She insisted that she should be given communion, but the priest told her that he would bring It the next day.
Once he left, Jacinta insisted again to receive communion, saying she was going to die.
About half-past ten Jacinta died very quietly, but without communion. Only a young nurse, whom she affectionately called “my little Aurora,” stood beside her and watched over her remains for the rest of the night.

“In Heaven I will pray much…”
“I will return to Fatima, but only after my death,” Jacinta told Godmother. She was first buried in the cemetery of Vila Nova de Ourem, in the vault of Baron de Alvaiazere, protector of her family.
Francisco was buried in the cemetery of Fatima. On September 12, 1935, Jacinta’s precious remains were transferred to the Fatima cemetery and placed in a new grave prepared especially for her and her brother. The tombstone bore this simple inscription: “Here lie the mortal remains of Francisco and Jacinta, to whom Our Lady appeared.”
Subsequently (in 1951 and 1952, respectively), the precious remains were moved to the Basilica of Fatima, where they now are.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jacinta had told Lucia what she would do once in Heaven:
"I am going to love very much Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and siblings, and for all those who have asked me to pray for them.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The story of Jacinta Marto is not for the Catholic inclined to sentimentality. It is a story of a little girl who saw with her own eyes the Mother of God, but also Hell. As a consequence of these facts and of her correspondence to graces received, Jacinta went from being a simple little shepherd girl in the fields of Portugal to a great Saint.
She understood what really matters in this life as well as the immense importance and reality of eternity. She was called to be what the Church calls an “expiatory victim” and she accepted this calling with great love and generosity. Her life and example stand in sharp contrast with the 21st century and that is precisely why her story is so relevant for us today.
Saint Jacinta, Pray for us!

Faith

To one who has faith,
no explanation is necessary.

To one without faith,
no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Sts. Joachim and Anne

According to tradition, Our Lady’s parents were Joachim and Anne to whom, after years of childlessness, and much prayer, an angel appeared and announced they would bear a child. Much like Hannah who dedicated her son Samuel to the service of God (1 Kings), Anne also dedicated Mary to God as a child.   Hence, we find the abundant iconography representing the child Mary being presented in the Temple.

Eastern tradition of devotion to the parents of Mary goes back to the sixth century. Relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710. In the twelfth century, this devotion reached the West, with Crusaders bringing back relics of St. Anne to Western Europe.

Two popular shrines to Saint Anne are that of Ste. Anne D’Auray in Britanny in western France, and that of St. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec, where countless mementos hang in thanksgiving for favors and healings granted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Queen of Heaven and the Son of Thunder


 By Andrea Phillips

When Our Blessed Lord ascended into heaven, He left His most holy Mother here on earth for several years to help the young Catholic Church.  All of the Apostles and disciples held her in great esteem and sought her counsel in all things. She, the holiest, wisest, and most blessed of women, always had a word of encouragement and precious advice to answer their requests.
At times, as the Apostles and disciples went on their journeys to far off places to preach the Faith, she would send one or several of her many guardian angels to strengthen or console them in some way.
For example, after the Apostles’ Creed had been composed by the Twelve, she wrote several copies of this profession of our Faith with her own hand and, summoning several of her angels, bade them deliver these copies to the disciples who were in distant places so they might recite it and teach others to do the same.
She also prayed constantly for their work and begged God to deliver them from the assaults of the devil, who from the very beginning has unceasingly prowled around seeking to destroy God’s Church.

Our Lady and Saint James
The Apostle Saint James the Greater, brother of Saint John the Evangelist and a cousin to Our Lord Jesus, had a most special and tender devotion to Our Blessed Lady.
Possessed of a generous nature, he preached the word of God with such zeal and fearlessness that he aroused the fury of all who hated Our Lord and His Church.
The more the evil people persecuted him the more ardently and louder he preached. Some say that he had a powerful, booming voice, in keeping with his designation as a “Son of Thunder.” He knew how needful he was of Our Lady’s help and sought it constantly.
One day, about a year and a half after the death of Our Lord, Saint James traveled to Spain to carry the true Faith to the people there. In imitation of his Master, he took twelve disciples with him. One of the first cities he and his disciples visited was Granada in the south of Spain. In Granada were several Jews who hated the new Faith of Jesus and watched the newcomers closely. Saint James and the disciples fearlessly began to preach as if nothing were wrong. While several of these Jews became impressed and listened, others became even more hardened against these holy men and began a terrible persecution against them. Seizing one of them, they brought him to his martyrdom.
Yet another day they managed to seize Saint James and the remaining eleven and took them to a field outside the walls of Granada to put them to death. As had occurred so many times before, Saint James prayed to the Blessed Mother to assist them. If they were to die for her Son, then he wished that somehow he be allowed to see her before dying.

Our Lady interceeds
Back in Jerusalem, by a special gift granted to her by her Divine Son, the Holy Virgin, saw everything that was happening, and her mother’s heart went out to this devoted son who sought her help. She felt a great sorrow that she was so far away, but knowing that nothing is impossible to God, she besought her Son to allow her to aid Saint James and his friends.
Our Lord, seeing His Mother’s holy desire from heaven, commanded the angels of her guard to carry her to Spain. Immediately, one thousand angels appeared before her and, placing her on a shining throne of clouds, carried her across the sea to Granada.
All the while, Saint James and his disciples remained in great danger. The Jews already had their swords bared and ready to strike when, looking up, the Apostle beheld his beloved Queen and Mother coming on this dazzling cloud surrounded by angels. She spoke beautiful words of encouragement to this faithful son and made him understand that he and his companions were not yet to shed their blood for her Son.
At her command, their fetters and chains fell to the ground. Simultaneously, the would-be executioners fell as if dead and remained stunned for many hours. The devils that had accompanied them and incited them to this terrible deed were hurled into the deepest abysses of Hell, leaving Saint James and his friends completely free.
Saint James was filled with joy at the sight of his Queen and what she had done. He thanked her from the depth of his heart and, bowing his face to the ground, thanked God Our Lord for such a favor. Although the other disciples had not seen her and the thousand angels, they understood that a great miracle had taken place, and Saint James later told them what he had seen to increase and confirm their Faith.
Before leaving, the Most Holy Mother wished to bless Spain even further by sending Saint James all over its territory to preach the new Faith of her Son. For this she assigned hundreds of her own angels to accompany him and his disciples wherever they went, showing them the way and protecting them from every danger. In this manner, the Son of Thunder and his worthy friends traveled throughout Spain and brought about many conversions.
Eventually they entered the old city of Saragossa. There, the Mother of God came to visit Saint James once more. This came about in the following manner.

Spain honored by a second visit from the Mother of God
One day, Our Lord Jesus decided in heaven to visit His mother in her home in Jerusalem to speak with her about Saint James. While she prayed, He entered her room seated on a shining throne and surrounded by thousands of angels. He told her that He wanted her to visit Saint James in Saragossa and have him build a house of prayer in her honor so that through her He might be specially honored there.
Once again the angels built a shining throne of clouds and, placing their Queen on it, carried her over the land and sea to far away Spain. This time, however, Our Lord had commanded them to travel slowly so that along the way they might sing beautiful songs to her. Their repertoire included the “Ave Maria,” “Salve Sancta Parens,” “Salve Regina,” and “Regina coeli laetare,” chanted by various choruses of angels in the most pleasing harmony.
During this joyous celestial singing, the most humble Lady returned all this praise to God Most High: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, have pity on the poor children of Eve. Thine is the glory, Thine the power and majesty. Thou alone art holy, the most High and the Lord of all the heavenly armies and of all creation.”
Meanwhile, Saint James was camped outside the walls of Saragossa with his disciples. He was praying by himself some distance from them when he suddenly perceived the most beautiful music he had ever heard.
The disciples, some while praying and others awakening from sleep, likewise heard this heavenly chorus, and their hearts filled with an ineffable joy. Looking up, they saw a most brilliant light forming a luminous globe. Evidently something marvelous was happening.
To his immense joy, the holy Son of Thunder once again beheld, within this brilliance, his holy Mother coming across the sky to visit him. All resplendent with the very light of God as she sat on her throne of clouds, the great Lady far outshone her angel escort.
The angels placed the throne with their Queen within sight of the Apostle who, beside himself with joy, bowed low to the earth. The loving Queen greeted him sweetly and then gave him a blessing in the name of her Son Jesus.

Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa
Saint James noticed that some of the angels held a small marble column and a small statue of their Queen holding the Infant God. Our Lady relayed to him the desire of her Divine Son that he build a temple on that very spot to be dedicated to her name so that, through her, Her Son might be glorified.
In His name she promised great favors and blessings to those who sincerely requested her intercession in this church, as well as her protection and assistance, “for this is to be my house and temple, my inheritance and possession.” The column and the statue were presented as a pledge of this promise: “In the temple which thou shalt build for me, it shall remain and be preserved, together with the holy faith, until the end of the world.”
She told him that he should begin building this church immediately. When it was finished, he was to return to Jerusalem where he would be called to imitate his Lord Jesus, the first of the Apostles to surrender his life for Him. She assured him that she would be there to assist him.
As she finished speaking, she ordered the angels to place the column with her statue on the ground. As soon as this was done, both the angels and Saint James gave thanks to God and celebrated this spot as the first place on earth to be dedicated to the name of Mary Most Holy for the greater glory of Almighty God.
Such was the beginning of the famous shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa. The original chapel built by Saint James has grown into a great church that stands today on the very site of Our Lady’s visit nearly 2000 years ago.
Our Lady guaranteed this before leaving by appointing one of her angels to guard the statue and the place against every attack of devil or man. And attack it the devil has done, throughout all these years, but that mighty angel has foiled every attempt of the infernal fiend.
So, dear reader, if you wish to see this great marvel that is, still today, the great church of Our Lady of the Pillar, the very first place dedicated to Holy Mary even as she was still on this earth, you have only to go with a sincere heart and you will certainly receive her sweet favor.

Adapted from The Mystical City of God, by Venerable Maria of Agreda, “The Coronation,” Chapters 16 and 17.

Ideas for when it is hard to pray

When you can do nothing at prayer,
make acts of humility, comparing
your nothingness with God’s greatness,
your ingratitude with His benefits,
your lack of virtue with the purity and perfection of the saints.

St. Claude de la Colombière

St. James the Greater

James the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome, one of the women at the tomb on Easter morning, (Matt.27:56, Mark 15:40, 16:1) and the brother of John – probably the elder of the two. He is called “the greater” to distinguish him from James the Lesser, who was probably shorter in stature.

There is evidence in Scriptures that these two brothers were cousins of the Lord, which may explain Our Lord entrusting His mother to John as He was dying. Both James and John were probably of a fiery temperament for which they were called “sons of thunder.”  They once wished to call fire upon a city, for which Our Lord rebuked them. (Luke 9:51-6)

James was one of the first apostles called by Jesus, and was one of the three selected to witness His transfiguration.

James was apostle in Iberia, in the region of present-day Spain. Ancient tradition ascertains that when praying one night in the year 40, the Virgin Mother, then still living, appeared to him on the banks of the River Ebro to encourage him in his difficult mission. She was accompanied by a multitude of angels who bore with them a marble pillar on top of which was a small statue of her holding the Child Jesus. She bid James build a shrine where the pillar was to be placed, which he did, the first shrine dedicated to the Mother of God on earth. Today, the sacred pillar, still in the same spot, is enshrined in the great Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza.

James returned to Judea after this apparition, and was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. He died by the sword in Jerusalem at the command of Herod Agrippa in the year 44. His relics rest in the city of Compostela in northern Spain, the final destination of the famous pilgrims of the “Camino de Compostela.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

White Roses Delivered to Fatima, Portugal, 2018

Persevere!

It is easy to infuse
a most fervent devotion into others, even in a short time;
but the great matter is
– to persevere.

St. Philip Neri

St. Charbel Makhlouf

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in the village of Bekka Kafra in Lebanon on May 8, 1828 and was one of five children born to Antoun Zarrour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. His father was a mule driver who died when Youssef was only three years old, leaving his widow to bring up their children alone.

Although Brigitta was left nearly destitute, she reserved a profoundly religious atmosphere in their home and instilled in her children a deep spirit of piety. Because of this fidelity, Youssef became unusually devoted and inclined to prayer and solitude at a very young age. He was greatly attracted to the life and spirituality of hermits; and as a young boy tending his family’s small flock, he would often go to a nearby grotto where he had erected a little shrine to the Holy Mother of God and would spend his whole day there in prayer.

When he was twenty-three years old, Youssef, feeling the call to the religious life, left his home and family to join the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Marfouq. Here he began his formation as a monk before later being transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron near Beirut. There he received the religious habit of the Maronite monk and took the name Charbel. He made his final profession as a religious brother on November 1, 1853 – he was twenty-five years old.

Brother Charbel immediately began his studies for the priesthood under the instruction of Father Nimattullah Kassab, who was also later declared a saint by the Church. Charbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, following which he returned to the Monastery of St. Maron where he lived a life of great austerity. In 1875, he was granted permission by his superiors to live a solitary life in the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was under the jurisdiction of the monastery; and there he resided for the remaining twenty-three years of his life until his death on Christmas Eve, 1898.

St. Charbel is renowned for his many miracles both during his life and after his death. His most famous miracle – which was also his first – occurred when, multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was filled with water. He is also credited with many healing miracles.

After his death, he was interned at the Monastery of St. Maron, now a famous pilgrimage site. His tomb was often witnessed surrounded by a dazzling light, and to this day his remains are incorrupt and an unexplainable blood-like fluid flows from his body. He was canonized on December 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, who held him up as an example to help us understand “in a world, largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.
A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.
"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.
The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.
The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"
He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."
"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."
The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.
He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

He never refuses pardon and grace

Behold Jesus Christ crucified, Who is the only foundation of our hope;
He is our Mediator and Advocate; the victim and sacrifice for our sins.
He is goodness and patience itself; His mercy is moved by the tears of sinners,
and
He never refuses pardon and grace to those who ask it
with a truly contrite and humbled heart.

St. Charles Borromeo

St. Bridget of Sweden

Bridget was nobly born, her father was Birger, the governor of Upland in Sweden, and her mother, Ingeborg, was the daughter of the governor of East Gothland.

At fourteen she was married to young Ulf Gudmarsson, to whom she was happily married for twenty-eight years and had eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom was St. Catherine of Sweden.

In 1335, she was appointed lady-in-waiting to King Magnus II’s bride, Blanche of Namur, and she spent years at court trying to reform Magnus’ weak, and at times, wicked ways, and the queen’s often well-meaning, but irresponsible, bend.

Though Bridget’s famous visions were already under way at this time, spanning subjects from personal hygiene to politics, she did not have great success with her royal “charges”, and was often seen as a “dreamer.”

After her husband’s death in 1344, she founded an order of women and another of men to support them spiritually. When her order was established, she traveled to Rome accompanied by her daughter Catherine and some disciples, to seek approval of her Rule. But she was never to return to her native Sweden.

In Rome, she worked to bring back the Papacy, then in the French city of Avignon, to the Eternal City. Her visions and prophecies, dealing with the burning political and religious issues of her time, continued and so increased that, alarmed, she submitted them to the direction of Canon Matthias of Linkoping who pronounced them to be of God. Peter, Prior of Alvastra, recorded these visions in Latin.

Her order was only approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.

In 1373 she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with Catherine and three of her sons. At Naples, Charles, her favorite son, became entangled with Queen Joanna I who wanted to marry him despite both being already married (Joana thrice). Anguished, Bridget stormed heaven, and Charles, struck by a fever, after two weeks died in his mother’s arms.

Returning from Jerusalem, Bridget, already ailing, received the last rites from her faithful friend, Peter of Alvastra, and died on July 23 at the age of seventy-one.

Bridget was canonized in 1391, and is the patron saint of the Kingdom of Sweden. She is also considered one of the patron saints of Europe.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Miraculous Warning

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

On July 21, 1972, newspapers around the world published this photograph from New Orleans showing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima shedding tears.
The best source of information on the matter is found in an article with the title: "The Tears of Our Lady Wet My Finger" by Fr. Elmo Romagosa. It was published on July 20, 1972, in the Clarion Herald, a New Orleans weekly, distributed in eleven Louisiana parishes or counties.
The 3 Shepherd ChildrenThe background to this event is universally known to Fatima devotees. During 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to Lucy, Jacinta, and Francisco, three shepherd children In Fatima, Portugal. The authenticity of these visions was confirmed by the miracle of the sun, witnessed by a whole multitude, even as the Virgin spoke to the three children.
In general terms, Our Lady charged the little shepherds to tell the world that she was deeply upset by the wickedness and corruption of men. She warned that if men did not amend, a terrible chastisement would come that would annihilate many nations. Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The Holy Father would have much to suffer.
The punishment could only be avoided if men converted, Russia and the world were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and men did the communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

In view of the above, a question naturally comes to mind: Were Our Lady’s requests heeded?
In 1942, Pius XI consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lucy said the consecration lacked some characteristics Our Lady had requested. I do not intend to analyze this complex subject here. I simply mention, in passing, that whether Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia was heeded is open to debate.
As for Our Lady’s second request for an amendment of life, it has so obviously been neglected that no further comment is necessary.
Our Lady stated that obedience to her requests was a condition to avoid the apocalyptic punishments that she predicted. Therefore, since her requests have not been irrefutably kept, it is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady promised that, after the punishments, “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace.”
Of the three Fatima children, only Lucy survived beyond her childhood. She became a Carmelite nun in Coimbra. Under her supervision, a sculptor carved two statues that reproduced as closely as possible the facial expression of the Most Holy Virgin as she appeared at Fatima. Both of them were called “pilgrim statues” and have been taken around the world by priests and laity. One was in New Orleans, where it shed tears.
Father Romagosa, author of the above-mentioned report, was told of the statue’s tears by Fr. Joseph Breault, M. P., the statue’s custodian. However, he was reluctant to admit the miracle and thus asked Father Breault to call him if any further weeping occurred.
Father Breault noticed moisture in the eyes of the Pilgrim Virgin statue on July 17 and immediately called Father Romagosa, who reached the statue at 9:30pm, bringing along photographers and reporters. In fact, they all noticed the moisture in the eyes of the statue, which was soon photographed. Father Romagosa then touched his finger on the moist surface and collected a drop, which was also photographed. According to Father Breault, this was the thirteenth weeping he had witnessed.
At 6:15 the next morning, Father Breault called Father Romagosa saying that the statue had been crying since 4am. Father Romagosa arrived shortly afterwards. In his words: “I saw much liquid in the Our Lady of Tearsstatue’s eyes, and a large drop hanging from the tip of her nose.” This drop, so graciously hanging, was captured in the famous photograph that came out in the press.
Father Romagosa adds that he saw “a tear move as it slowly formed on the lower eyelid.”
However, he wanted to eliminate all doubt. He noticed that the statue had a crown fixed on its head by a small metal connecting rod and thought: can it be that water was poured into the hole where the crown is fixed on the statue, and this water drains into the eyes?
Once the weeping ceased, Father Romagosa removed the crown from the statue: the metallic connecting rod was entirely dry. He then inserted into the hole a wire wrapped in a special paper which would absorb any liquid that might be there. The paper remained absolutely dry.
Still not satisfied with his efforts, he poured some water into the hole. Yet the eyes remained absolutely dry. Father Romagosa then turned the statue upside down. The water he had poured into the hole drained normally. He was finally convinced that no water could come through the hole in the statue’s head into her eyes, and there simply was no other hole.
Father Romagosa knelt. At last, he believed.

Our Lady of Tears Banner

These mysterious tears show Our Lady of Fatima crying over the modern world, as Our Lord once cried over Jerusalem. Tears of most tender affection, tears of deep pain for the punishment that will come.
It will come in God’s due time if mankind does not reject immorality and corruption. It will come if we do not fight especially against the self-destruction of the Church, the cursed smoke of Satan that, according to Paul VI, has penetrated even into the sacred places.
There is still time, therefore, to stop the punishment!
But, some will say, these thoughts are not those for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I answer: Is it not better to read this article now under the tender manifestation of our Mother’s prophetic sadness than to live through the days of tragic bitterness that will come if we do not amend?
If they come, I am convinced a special mercy will be shown to those who, in their personal lives, have taken the miraculous warning of Mary seriously. I offer my readers this article so they may benefit from that mercy.
It is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady promised that, after the punishments:

"Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace."

Broken things are precious

Mary Magdalene . . . did not do what you and I would do.
She did not pour out the precious perfume drop by drop
as if to indicate by the slowness of the giving
the generosity of the gift
She broke the vessel and gave everything, for love knows no limits.
Immediately the house was filled with perfume.
It was almost as if, after the death of that perfume and the breaking of the bottle,
there was a resurrection.
Broken things are precious. We eat broken bread because
we share in the death of our Lord and his broken life.
Broken flowers give perfume. Broken incense is used in adoration.
A broken ship saved Paul and many other passengers on the way to Rome.
Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, called “the penitent”, was a woman of great beauty who was known as a sinner, but was touched in her soul by the merciful power of Our Lord Jesus Christ and made a great conversion. Scriptures speak of the Lord driving out “seven demons” from her, symbolic of the seven capital sins (Mark 16:9).

Thinking to trick Our Lord, she had been presented to Him by the Scribes and Pharisees whilst He was teaching in the temple. Mary Magdalene had been caught in adultery and the Law of Moses was quite clear as to its punishment: death by stoning. In silence, Our Lord began to write with His finger on the ground. At their persistent questioning, He lifted Himself up and replied: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” and stooping down, He returned to His writing in the dust. One by one they left until none remained but the Judge and the Accused. “Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more” (John 8:10-11). From that moment onwards, her heart was won over completely.

At the house of Simon the Pharisee, the repentant Magdalene poured costly ointments on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair (John 7:38). On her action being censured by the host, Our Lord said in her defense: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much” (John 7:47).

Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany whom the Lord raised from the dead after four days.

She along with the Lord’s mother and other holy women stood at the foot of the cross unafraid for herself. She it was also that, along with others first discovered the empty tomb after the Lord’s Resurrection. And it was to Mary Magdalene that the Lord first appeared after He was risen.

After the martyrdom of the Apostle James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalen, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact claimed in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, known as La Sainte-Baume, or The Holy Cave. In this cave she lived the life of a penitent for thirty years until her death. Today, at this site, there is a shrine where her relics are venerated.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Why devotion to the Immaculate Heart is so crucial



Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is at the very core of the Fatima message.
The Blessed Mother presented it as the solution to the problems of the world
and to save souls from going to Hell.


Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart
At the third apparition, in July 1917, after the terrible vision of Hell, Our Lady presented devotion to her Immaculate Heart, together with the Communion of Reparation of the First Five Saturdays and the consecration of Russia, as the means to avoid the perdition of souls, the chastisement of a new world war and the expansion of communism.

At an earlier apparition in June, Our Lady had told Lucia, "Jesus . . . wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish His Throne.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Devotion of Reparation
As recommended by the Blessed Mother, this devotion is intended to make reparation for the ongoing offenses suffered by the Immaculate Heart. At the June 1917 apparition, Our Lady opened her hands, which gave off an intense light: "In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart surrounded with thorns that appeared to be piercing it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, insulted by the sins of humanity, which wanted reparation."

What is the meaning of this devotion? Why should we venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Given our limited space, we will detail a few aspects, rich in meaning, of this admirable devotion.

A Symbol of Our Lady's Love
From time immemorial the heart has symbolized love, the most noble of all sentiments. In relation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it represents the Savior's redeeming love to the point of delivering Himself for us and the co-redeeming love of Mary Most Holy that is united intimately with her Divine Son's sacrifice.

Thus, the object of devotion to the Sacred Hearts is His merciful love. This is why Pope Pius XII affirmed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—it is fundamental. Based on his argument, theologians say the same about the Immaculate Heart of Mary: it is well understood and it is the essence of all devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Devotion to the Persons of Jesus and Mary
In addition to their specific functions, the parts of the human body serve to symbolize an aspect of a person's most salient characteristics. Thus, a perspicacious person is said to have "eagle eyes" and a very courageous man has "a lion's heart." The same happens with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary: it emphasizes a body part to symbolize a salient aspect of the whole adorable Person of Jesus Christ and the venerable Person of His Most Holy Mother, which is their merciful love. Devotion to these Hearts addresses therefore to the Persons of Jesus and of Mary.1

Immaculate, Most Holy, Full of Grace
The absence of any sin in a creature implies a most abundant help of grace, which would not be possible without the extraordinary help from God. This is why the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary as being "full of grace."2 Likewise, the absence of all sin implies a high degree of perfection and sanctity. Therefore, the Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizes the hallowed purity and sanctity of Mary Most Holy and her complete fidelity to God.

Dolorous Heart
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also a dolorous heart, pierced with sorrow. Soon after the joys of the Savior's birth, at the Presentation in the Temple, the old Simeon, turning to the Mother of God, prophesied, "Behold, this child is set for the ruin, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed."3
Maximo Peinador, a Spanish theologian, comments:
What were the feelings of Mary's heart upon hearing the words of Simeon? They are easily guessed: her admiration and joy before the manifestation of her Son suddenly turns into bitter sorrow. The words, not only about the future of her Son but her own, were clear and definitive. But the entire and definitive fulfillment of Simeon's announcement would be realized on Calvary . . . . There, as nowhere else, Christ crucified would be a sign of contradiction . . . . At the foot of the cross, His Mother would feel the announced sword in all the fibers of her motherly heart.4

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

A Wise Heart
Mary Most Holy is the Mother of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, and for this reason she is venerated as the Seat of Wisdom. Her Immaculate Heart also is, therefore, a Wise Heart, and Catholic liturgy has applied to her, since the 8th century, texts from the Sapiential books of Scripture.5
This sapiential aspect is emphasized in the two references that Saint Luke makes to the Heart of Mary. "Heart" here is a symbol of Our Lady's interior life and of her continuous contemplation of God's marvels, particularly as manifested in her Divine Son.
The first reference is to the scene of the shepherds visiting the newborn Savior. Saint Luke comments, "But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). The second reference is about the loss and finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Saint Luke repeats the same comment, with a slight difference, maintaining the same sense, "And his mother kept all these words in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

A Maternal Heart, Full of Tenderness
It would be impossible in a short article to cover all aspects of the Immaculate Heart. But one cannot fail to recall that it is a motherly Heart filled with the tenderness that the best of all mothers had for the best of all sons. This tenderness is reflected in the love, full of mercy, that she has for us; which is why we invoke her as Mater Misericordiae.

A Devotion Suited to Our Days
We find ourselves today in a time when sentiment is dying and relationships between persons are increasingly dominated by brutality, cynicism, self-interest and sensuality.

Just think of abortion! Is this not the most cruel and brutal suppression of the most noble of all affections, which is motherly love? Isn't this love often shortchanged by the attachment for a professional career or a transitory promiscuous relationship?
Isn't something similar happening to fatherly love? Isn't this tragic egoism that destroys family relationships, and thus the family itself, spreading to all other types of human relationships? Thus one understands the Blessed Mother's 1917 prophetic wisdom in Fatima when men would witness the death of sentiment.
Hence the remedy for the immense crisis we find ourselves in is devotion to that venerable and most holy Heart capable of restoring true feelings of love, affection and mercy, and the purity of which our times are so needful. The Immaculate Heart is the source, overflowing with motherly love, of the one who is "full of grace."6


Notes
1. The Sacred Heart of Jesus can be the object of adoration. Indeed, Pope Pius XII taught: . . . His Heart, the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word. Consequently, there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself. We are dealing here with an article of faith, for it has been solemnly defined in the general Council of Ephesus and the second Council of Constantinople. Haurietis Aquas, His Holiness Pope Pius XII. Encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart, May 15, 1956, 21. [back]
2. Luke 1:28. [back]
3. Luke 2:34–35. [back]
4. Maximo Peinador, C.M.F., Teologia Biblica Cordimariana (Madrid : Co. Cul. S.A., 1959), 125. [back]
5. The books of the Scripture that teach wisdom, known as Sapiential books, are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach). [back]
6. Luke 1:28. [back]


White Rose Banner