Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Nine First Fridays Devotion


The Nine First Fridays Devotion

“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:
  1. Receive Holy Communion on each First Friday;
  2. The nine Fridays must be consecutive;
  3. 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 every virtue!
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 souls!
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.



 
Sacred Heart Devotional Set

Also Read:

Good example

Good example
is the most efficacious apostolate.
You must be as lighted lanterns and
shine like brilliant chandeliers among men.
By your good example
and your words,
animate others to know and love God.

St. Mary Joseph Rossello
 

St. Romanus of Condat

Romanus was just 35 years old when he dedicated his life to that of a hermit, living humbly in prayer in the Jura Mountains between Switzerland and France. At first, Romanus lived under the protection of a large tree, and survived on the seed he had brought with him. Before long, however, he was joined by his brother, sister and a number of other followers. The brothers’ built two monasteries and a nunnery for their sister and each sibling governed their respective establishments.

Romanus decided to visit the place of martyrdom of the Theban Legion, a band of 6600 Catholic soldiers who were killed in 286 A.D. when they refused to assist in the eradication of Christianity. As he traveled, the holy monk came upon two lepers, and miraculously cured them. News of this miracle spread, and Romanus became well-known as a man of God.

Romanus died around 460 and was buried in the church of the nunnery where his sister governed.
Photo by: Giogo

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”


Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title gained a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears. Her mother, Marie Jeannine Michel, a native from Haiti, had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was now dying.
I was more than happy to take the statue to visit her at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was painfully clear, when we arrived in the Intensive Care Unit, that this poor soul was reaching the end.
Over the next couple of hours we prayed numerous rosaries, litanies and the prayers for the dying by her bedside. We also struggled to provide the dying women with all the spiritual assistance we could.
As we prayed, the attending nurse, who happened to be Catholic, kept calling local Churches to find a priest who would administer last rites. Whenever she entered the room to care for Mrs. Michel she would join in the responses to the Hail Mary. Overwhelmed by the scene, she exclaimed, “I hope when I am dying someone will bring the statue to visit me and pray the rosary.”
Moments before the priest arrived, Dominique asked me if I had an extra scapular for her mother. I did not. As the priest administered the last rites I scurried from the room in search of this precious sacramental, only to find I was the only person wearing one. Mrs. Michel was in much more need of it than me, so with the help of a doctor we temporarily removed her oxygen mask and placed my scapular around the dying woman’s neck. Dominique then took her Miraculous Medal and pinned it on to the scapular.
The most moving part of this visit occurred when Mrs. Michel opened her eyes and showed signs she wanted to speak. When they removed the oxygen mask, Dominique told her mother, in their native tongue, that “Momma Mary” was in the room.
Since Mrs. Michel seemed to be already looking into eternity, with a type of “fog of death” in her gaze, I carried the statue over next to her bed. Surprisingly she reached up and took hold of our Lady’s hands and held on for some moments. The oxygen mask was then replaced as the nurse administered morphine to deaden the pain she was experiencing.
Mrs. Michel died at 6:00 AM the following morning with Dominique praying beside her bed.
While the America Needs Fatima home visitation program is a very rewarding apostolate, nothing on earth compares to the satisfaction of a visit like this. A person going through such a moving ordeal, however, could naturally ask, “Was there something more we could have done?”
In the case of Mrs. Michel, the answer is a resounding no. She received the last rites of Holy Mother Church, was clothed in the brown Scapular, and was almost continuously surrounded by the melodious sound of the Angelic Salutation.
Hours before she passed into eternity, Mrs. Michel also had the grace to hold hands with She who truly is the Gate of Heaven.
By: Norman Fulkerson

We must be pure

We must be pure.
I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses.
We must observe great purity
in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Anne Line

Anne was the daughter of William Heigham of Dunmow, Essex, a gentleman of means and an ardent Calvinist. When Anne and her brother converted to Catholicism, they were disowned and disinherited by their family. In 1583, Anne married Roger Line, a convert like herself. But shortly after their marriage Roger was arrested for attending Mass and exiled to Flanders in Belgium, where he died in 1594.

Anne remained in London, where, despite her poor health, she was put in charge of two houses of refuge for priests in the city. But soon, the English authorities began to suspect the widow's activities and she removed herself to another location. Then, on Candlemas Day in 1601, just as a Jesuit priest was about to celebrate Mass in Anne’s apartments, priest-catchers, men paid handsomely to root out Catholic clergy forced to celebrate Mass in secret, broke into the rooms. On this day, February 2, a blessing of candles traditionally takes place before Mass and a large number of people had gathered for the feast day. Quickly unvesting, Father Francis Page mingled with those in attendance as a form of concealment, but the altar prepared for the ceremony was all the evidence needed for Anne’s arrest. She was imprisoned in Newgate Prison and later brought to trial at Sessions House. Anne was so weak from fever that she had to be carried in a chair to her trial on February 26. She was indicted under Elizabeth I's 1585 Act Against Jesuits and Seminarists (Elizabeth 27, Cap. 2) for providing haven to a Catholic Jesuit priest, and sentenced to be hanged at Tyburn. The next day she was led to the gallows, bravely proclaiming her faith to the crowd before her sentence was carried out. Anne had finally achieved the martyrdom for which she had prayed and is known as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

True children of God

All true children of God
have God for their father
and Mary for their mother.
Anyone who does not have Mary for their mother
does not have God for his father.

St. Louis de Montfort

Charity Does Not Justify Compromise

Header - Charity does not justify compromise

"While Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them.
"While He called to Himself in order to convert them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. While He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. While His heart overflowed with gentleness to the souls of good will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them.
"He was strong as He was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body. Finally, He did not announce for future society the reign of an ideal happiness from which suffering would be banished; but, by His lesson and by His example, He traced the path of happiness in heaven: the royal way of the Cross."


 Pope St. Pius XEncyclical Our Apostolic Mandate, (Hawthorne, Vic., Australia: Tenet Books, 1974), pp.21-22


St. Alexander of Alexandria

Alexander was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and in 313, the gentle mannered man was made Patriarch of Alexandria because of his kindness, fervent religiousness and great love of God.

When heresy arose in the form of Arius, a wicked priest who was jealous of Alexander’s selfless and charitable ways as well as his title, Alexander became known for his zealous defense of the Catholic faith. Arius started a heretical faith called Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. At first, Alexander was kind to Arius, and tried to convince him to return to the church. But when the heretic refused, and instead began to gather a larger following, Alexander began to take steps to have him excommunicated.

Then, in 325, Alexander was part of an assembly of the ecumenical council, which was held in Nicaea. The council officially excommunicated Arius, condemned his heresy, and sent him and a few of his followers into exile. Victorious in his battle for the faith, Alexander returned home to Alexandria, where he died in 328 after naming St. Athanasius his successor.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Cafeteria Catholic?

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and
reject what you don't like,
it is not the gospels that you believe,
but in yourself.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Tarasius of Constantinople

Tarasius was born around the middle of the eighth century. Raised in a patrician family, Tarasius was surrounded by earthly wealth and possessions, but lived a most austere and holy life. His virtue gained the esteem of the empire, and Tarasius was made Patriarch of Constantinople.

The emperor of the time, Constantine VI, became enamored of Theodotah, a maid of his wife, and sought to divorce his wife and marry her maid. As he strove to convince Tarasius to marry him to Theodota, the emperor sent a message to the holy man. Tarasius adamantly refused, replying to the emperor's ambassador, “I would rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." He continued to reject the emperor’s requests, and the ceremony was performed by another.

Just before his death, Tarasius fell into a trance. As his biographer, who was an eyewitness, relates, he was heard arguing with a number of unseen accusers. Tarasius defended himself against the accusers, and answered everything laid to his charge. Later, a great peacefulness came over him, and Tarasius gave up his soul to God in 806.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

How do we measure our love of God?

God wishes to be served
to the last breath, to the exhaustion of the last drop of strength,
and He multiplies our capacities for suffering and doing
so that our dedication may reach the extreme limit
of the unforeseeable, the improbable, the miraculous.
The measure of the love of God is
to love Him without measure, said Saint Francis de Sales.
The measure of fighting for God consists
in fighting without measure, it may be said.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Praetextatus

Praetextatus became the bishop of Rouen, France, in 549. The thirty-five years during which he occupied the position of bishop were riddled with troubles involving the Frankish monarchy, a result of which was a time of exile for the saint.
Among the players of this political drama was Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman responsible for several deaths in the royal family. Fredegund despised Praetextatus and opposed his return from exile, but a council in Rouen overruled her interference and reinstated the holy bishop to his see.

“The time is coming when you shall revisit the place of your exile.” She threatened the saint shortly before his death. “I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile, and a bishop I shall remain; but as for you, you shall not always enjoy your crown.” He said, as he urged the queen to convert.

The wicked queen refused to reform her life, and in 586 as Praetextatus was offering Holy Mass, Fredegund had an assassin stab him under the arm. The mortally wounded bishop managed to drag himself to the altar and receive Holy Communion before he died.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Easiest way to pray

Prayer is
 the conversation
of a child with its Father;
 of a subject with his King;
of a servant with his Lord;
 of a friend with the Friend
to whom he confides
all his troubles and difficulties.

St. John Vianney

St. Polycarp


Polycarp, a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, was part of the group of early bishops. When heresy arose in Asia, violence toward Catholics arose with it, and Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to go into hiding.

Eventually Polycarp was found and arrested. When his persecutors arrived at his hideout, he went to them and served them a meal, asking for a short time to pray before being taken away. Polycarp was sent to trial, where his captors tempted him with freedom and tried to convince him to denounced Our Lord. “Fourscore and six years I have served Him and He hath done me no wrong,” he said, “how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

Soon after this, in the year 155, Polycarp was burnt at the stake – though there was no odor of burning flesh: instead a smell of incense was in the air. When the fire seemed to do him no harm, a spear was thrust into his side, killing him. A dove flew out of the wound, and Polycarp’s blood quenched the fire, causing part of his body to remain intact. However, his remains were later burned to ash because the heretics feared other Catholics would revere the body as a relic.

Friday, February 22, 2019

In times of desolation

In times of desolation,
God conceals Himself from us
so that we can discover for ourselves
what we are without Him.

St. Margaret of Cortona

St. Margaret of Cortona

Margaret was born in Laviano, a little town in Tuscany, to a farmer and his wife. When she was only seven, her mother died and her father remarried a hard and difficult woman, who spared no great love for the free-spirited girl.

Margaret ran away with a rich young man. For nine years she lived in sin, and during that time bore him a son. Her immoral relationship caused great scandal, and Margaret strove to convince him of marriage, but to no avail. One day, the man took his dog and went riding. When he did not return, Margaret became anxious. After some time, his dog returned and led her to a forest. There Margaret found the broken body of her lover, dead for some days, and took it as a sign from God to amend her life.

Then Margaret traveled to Cortona where she lived a life of prayer and penance near the Franciscan Friars. She devoted herself to caring for the sick, living off of alms, eating and sleeping little, and eventually took the habit of the third order of St. Francis. She sent her son to school in Arezzo, where he later entered the Franciscan Order.

During the twenty-nine years she lived as a penitent, Margaret often spoke with God. A result of her dedication to the sick is the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, which she founded. She died at age fifty, and was proclaimed a saint immediately. The people of Cortona built a church in her honor, where her remains are housed. She was officially canonized in 1728.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Who except God can give you peace?

Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able
to satisfy the heart?

St. Gerard Majella
 

St. Peter Damian

Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy. His parents died when he was still very young, and he was adopted by his older brother who sent him to school, where he excelled in his studies and eventually worked as a professor.

Fasting and prayer were the great hallmarks of his sanctity. He had a great love for those less fortunate than himself, and frequently dined with the poor at his table, serving them with his own hands.

Leaving all his earthly possessions, Peter became a hermit in the Order of St. Benedict. Though reluctant to do so, he later became abbot of the hermitage in 1043. He guided his holy brothers with great piety, and eventually founded five other hermitages.

Peter’s wisdom was valued greatly within the Church, and in time, he was asked to be Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. He reluctantly accepted, but often asked to be reinstated as a simple monk. Eventually his wish was granted, and he returned to his simple life as a hermit, though he continued to assist the Church in matters of importance. He died at Faenza in 1072 of a severe fever.

The Hildebrandine reform in the Church – the stress for clerical celibacy and the fight against simony – is largely due to St. Peter Damien. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Today is the Feast of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto



Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) - February 20
Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, were born in the tiny town of Aljustrel, Portugal, two years apart in a family of ten siblings.
Francisco was a handsome boy with light hair and dark eyes and a retiring disposition. Jacinta was a beautiful girl, also light haired and dark eyed but of a spritely temperament. With their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, brother and sister pastured their families’ sheep.

In 1916 their calm, rural life was changed forever by the apparition of an angel in a field near Aljustrel. The angel, calling himself “The Angel of Portugal”, prepared them spiritually for a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 13, 1917 the Mother of God appeared to the three children atop of a holm oak near the village of Fatima. The Virgin asked the children to return another five times and promised to work a miracle at the last apparition so that all would believe, which she did by making the sun “dance” before 70,000 in October of 1917.
At that time she also called herself, “Lady of the Rosary.”
Throughout the apparitions, the Mother of God made prophecies about the advent of Communism and its spread throughout the world, about the coming of World War II, spoke of the sinfulness of the humanity, and asked for prayer (specially the daily recitation of the Rosary), penance and conversion of life as a means of obtaining peace for the world.
She also asked the children if they were willing to pray and sacrifice to help save the souls of poor sinners. She assured Francisco and Jacinta that she would take them soon to heaven but that Lucia would stay on earth longer.
Francisco and Jacinta convinced that they were not long for this world, and interiorly transformed by great mystical graces as well as a terrifying vision of hell, accepted a type of  “spiritual victimhood”  for the sake of offering reparation to God and saving the souls of sinners.
Francisco spent hours on end in prayer, and contemplation even giving up his games and play time. Jacinta embarked on a life of prayer and penance, offering many small sacrifices for the salvation of sinners.
In 1918 both fell victims to the influenza ripping through Portugal, gladly embracing their illness and all its suffering.
Francisco died with a smile on his face on April 3, 1919 at his home in Aljustrel. And Jacinta died in a hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920 which day she had predicted.
Brother and sister were beatified in Fatima on May 13, 2000 and canonized in May 2017.

  
Related Article:  "A Fire in My Chest..."

He waits

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

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Wulfric of Haselbury

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

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

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

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

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

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.
The preparatory canonical processes for the beatification of the two Fatima seers were officially opened in 1949.
And on June 28, 1999, a decree was issued recognizing the authenticity of the miracle necessary for the beatification. Finally, on May 13, 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II went personally to the Sanctuary of Fatima where he solemnly beatified the servants of God Francisco and Jacinta Marto before a crowd calculated at 400,000. Their canonical feast is celebrated annually on February 20th, in the places and according to the norms of the law.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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!
 

*Indeed, Portugal remained neutral throughout World War II, despite much pressure. As Jacinta prayed, the war did not go to Portugal.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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

By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

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


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

Related Article: Jacinta's Visions and Prophecies

We must decide

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

Pope St. Clement I
 

St. Boniface of Lausanne

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

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

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

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

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

Boniface was canonized in 1702.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Cause of Our Joy

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

It sums up man’s entire relation to God

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

St. Aelred of Rievaulx

St. Theotonius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Divine medicine

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

St. Augustine of Hippo

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

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

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

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

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Can you love the Blessed Virgin too much?

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

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 15, 2019

How to go to God

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

St. Claude de la Colombière

St. Sigfrid of Växjö

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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

There is nothing that pleases God more...

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

St. Paul of the Cross

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

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

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

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

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

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