Saturday, February 29, 2020

St. Auguste Chapdelaine

Auguste was born in La Rochelle, on January 6, 1814, the eighth of nine children of Nicolas Chapdelaine and Madeleine Dodeman. The ancestral cradle of the Chapdelaines was located in Lower Normandy, near Mont Saint Michael, and the family could trace their Gallo-Roman and Viking ancestry back to the mid-thirteenth century.
After grammar school, Auguste went to work on the family farm. Being physically strong, it is understandable that his parents, needing him at home, would object to his desire to become a priest. But, with the sudden death of two of his brothers including the youngest, they realized that God wanted Auguste as a priest and acquiesced to his wish. On October 1, 1834, at the age of 20, he entered the minor seminary of Mortain, studying with 12- and 13-year-old boys.
His father died the following year. Making up for lost time by arduous study, Auguste entered the Seminary of Coutances and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1843. He spent the next eight months with his family in La Rochelle before being appointed as associate pastor in Boucey, on February 23, 1844.
Before his assignment in Boucey, Father Chapdelaine confided to his brother that he had "not become a priest for those who already know God, but for those who don’t.” He wished to enter the French Foreign Missions immediately after ordination but submitted humbly to the will of his superiors. For seven years, he would remain in Boucey, under the guidance of the elderly and infirm pastor, Father Oury. Despite his parish work, Father Auguste never wavered in his desire: to found a mission church, then die! Still, he was not getting any younger. When Father Oury died in April, 1849, Father Chapdelaine was already 35 years old, the age limit to enter the French Foreign Missions. Yet, despite his ardent desire to enter, he would serve under the new pastor, Father Poupinet, for another two years. Then, in January, 1851, Bishop Robiou authorized him to leave the diocese for the Foreign Missions – if they would have a 37-year-old priest! Despite his age, Father Chapdelaine immediately reapplied for admission. In face of such zeal, he was accepted. Returning to La Rochelle he found his entire family assembled, not to bid him farewell but to his sister, Victoria, who had just died. After the funeral, Auguste announced his departure for Paris and let it be known he would never see his family again. Eight days later, he boarded the train for Paris. On March 15, 1851, the young man who had entered minor seminary at age 20 was now entering the French Foreign Missions two years over the age limit. Not only was his a late vocation but one that would be forever delayed in the attainment of its goals.
The motherhouse of the French Foreign Missions on Rue du Bac had produced so many martyrs for the Faith in Indochina and China that it was termed the “Polytechnic Institute of Martyrs." Directed by veteran missionaries, the seminary would evaluate Father Chapdelaine for his zeal, devotion and stamina to withstand the rigors of missionary life. Upon the completion of his probationary year, on March 29, 1852, Father Chapdelaine met with his director. For a long time after this meeting, he knelt before the altar, lost in prayer, then he penned a letter to his mother.
“... I am being sent to China. You must make the sacrifice for God and He will reward you in eternity. You shall appear before Him in confidence, at your death, remembering your generosity, for His greatest glory, in sacrificing what is dearest to you. As a sign of your consent, please sign the letter you will send me as soon as possible, and as a sign of your forgiveness for all the sorrow I have caused you, and as sign of your blessing, please add a cross after your name.” He then wrote to his brother, Nicolas. “I thank God for the wonderful family He has given me, and for the conduct of all its members.... It has been my greatest happiness on earth to have had such an honorable family.” Still, he made a final trip to Normandy, meeting his brother, Nicolas, and sister-in-law, Marie, in Caen on April 22, to make arrangements for Masses to be offered for his parents, for himself and for all his family members. On April 29, the imposing departure ceremony was held in the chapel of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs. The next day, accompanied by five other missionaries, Father Chapdelaine left Paris. Being the oldest, he was given charge of the group and control of its purse.
After a few days in Brussels, the six apostles boarded the Dutch ship, Henri-Joseph, at Anvers on May 5, 1852. Violent storms, seasickness, and unfavorable winds dogged and delayed their voyage. They were not to set foot on dry land for four months, landing in Singapore on September 5. While in Singapore, the aspiring and zealous missionary was delayed in his quest yet again, robbed by bandits who took everything he had. He spent the next two years trying to replenish his wardrobe and the necessary supplies for his mission in China.
On October 15, a Portuguese vessel offered them passage north towards Hong-Kong. However, the torrential rains and fierce winds of the monsoon forced them to return to Borneo and then head towards the Philippines in a voyage filled with storms and hurricanes. Their vessel finally anchored in the harbor of Macao on the evening of Christmas Day, 1852. Hong-Kong lay only sixty kilometers away in the estuary of the Canton River, but it too was a dangerous undertaking, the area being infested with naval pirates. It took them another twelve hours to reach Hong-Kong, the gateway of the Celestial Empire. Received at the house of the French Foreign Missions, Father Chapdelaine and his companions were to remain with his missionary confreres in Hong-Kong for ten and a half months while perfecting their command of the Chinese language.
On October 12, 1853, accompanied by some Christians, he set out for the missionary territory assigned to him in the Chinese province of Guangxi. All the hardships of his journeys by sea were now replaced by those on land: fast-flowing rivers, high mountain ranges, and bandits. Encouraged by the small groups of Christians they encountered on their way, they reached the mission at Kouy-Yang in February, 1854 where they were received by three missionary confreres. While resting and awaiting the opportunity of penetrating into Guangxi, he was given the pastoral care of three villages. During this time, he adopted the dress and appearance of the Chinese: black suit, moustache and long thin beard, and his long hair bound in a queue down his back. He also wore the black hat common to Chinese scholars.
Finally, in 1854, Father Chapdelaine made the acquaintance of a young widow who was well versed in Sacred Scripture and knowledgeable of the Faith. Agnès Tsao-Kouy agreed to accompany him to Guangxi, located on the northeast border of Vietnam, and to catechize the 30-40 Christian families living there. In 1854, the authorities still held that no evangelizing by Christians was permitted. Father Auguste celebrated his first Mass in Guangxi on December 8, 1854. Nine days later, the authorities arrested him in Su-lik-hien. He spent the next 5 months in close confinement before his release was secretly obtained in April, 1855. His apostolic endeavors during the next 8 months bore abundant fruits, but were by no means uncontested.

In December, 1855, Father Chapdelaine secretly returned to Guangxi, living in hiding among the Christian families of Su-lik-hien, ministering to their spiritual needs and converting hundreds of others. He was arrested on the night of February 25, 1856 and returned to the prison in Su-lik-hien where the Chinese magistrate had him sentenced to death. The French missionary had been denounced by Bai San, a relative of one of the new converts. He was subjected to excruciating tortures and indignities and then suspended in an iron cage outside the jail. He died from the severity of his sufferings; his head was decapitated and kept on public display for some time, his body was thrown to the dogs.
Two others accompanied him to his martyrdom: the widow-catechist, Agnès Tsao-Kouy, and a devout layman, Laurent Pe-man, an unassuming laborer. Beatified by Pope Leo XIII on May 27, 1900, they were also canonized together a century later.

Friday, February 28, 2020

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

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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

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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Why Ash Wednesday? Why Ashes?

Header-Why Ash Wednesday?Why Ashes?

Why Ash Wednesday? Why Ashes?
On Ash Wednesday Catholics proclaim their Faith in the public square as they go about marked with a black cross.
Still, as praiseworthy as it is for Catholics to uphold the feast of Ash Wednesday by making a point of receiving ashes, it can easily become merely a pious habit, "something we Catholics do."
Yet, like everything in our Catholic Faith, the liturgical feast of Ash Wednesday and the custom of ashes has a rich history, deep meaning and rich symbolism.
The custom initiated back in the early Middle Ages when repentant public sinners submitted to forty days of penance. The bishop blessed the hair-shirts, and the ashes which, after biblical penitential custom, were poured over the sinners' heads. In time, all Christians whether public or private sinners, wished to benefit from the practice.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent symbolic of the forty days Our Lord fasted in the desert. Occurring forty six days before Easter, it is consequently movable-as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.
The ashes applied to the forehead, made from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday, are blessed, perfumed with incense, and hydrated with a little holy water or oil as a binding agent. Thus treated, the ashes are considered a Sacramental.

Ash as a Sacramental
Though sacramentals do not ipso facto operate Grace as the sacraments, they are helpers to the sacraments in that they are visible, touchable, hearable signs that help predispose our souls to Grace.
Thus for example, when we enter a church,dip our finger in the fount and bless ourselves, we are making use of a sacramental, holy water, to place ourselves in a prayerful mode. With the right disposition, and a short prayer of contrition, holy water can even remit venial sin.
The Catholic Church is replete with sacramentals, holy objects, words and rituals that we can see, touch and hear to help convey to our spirit an attitude of openness to Grace.
The ash used on Ash Wednesday, accompanied by the words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," or, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" places us in a disposition of penance and humility, which is the attitude needed for a fruitful, Grace-filled Lent.
Sacramentals are specially potent when well explained to children who are so visual and touch oriented. They are a powerful means to convey the unseen mysteries of our Faith to their young minds.




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.

Monday, February 24, 2020

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.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

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.

Friday, February 21, 2020

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

February 21 - St. Peter Damian


Doctor of the Church, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, born at Ravenna “five years after the death of the Emperor Otto III,” 1007; died at Faenza, 21 Feb., 1072.
He was the youngest of a large family. His parents were noble, but poor. At his birth an elder brother protested against this new charge on the resources of the family with such effect that his mother refused to suckle him and the babe nearly died. A family retainer, however, fed the starving child and by example and reproaches recalled his mother to her duty.
Left an orphan in early years, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. The child showed signs of great piety and of remarkable intellectual gifts, and after some years of this servitude another brother, who was archpriest at Ravenna, had pity on him and took him away to be educated. This brother was called Damian and it was generally accepted that St. Peter added this name to his own in grateful recognition of his brother’s kindness. He made rapid progress in his studies, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza, finally at the University of Parma, and when about twenty-five years old was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna. But, though even then much given to fasting and to other mortifications, he could not endure the scandals and distractions of university life and decided (about 1035) to retire from the world. While meditating on his resolution he encountered two hermits of Fonte-Avellana, was charmed with their spirituality and detachment, and desired to join them. Encouraged by them Peter, after a forty days’ retreat in a small cell, left his friends secretly and made his way to the hermitage of Fonte-Avellana. Here he was received, and, to his surprise, clothed at once with the monastic habit.

Both as novice and as professed religious his fervour was remarkable and led him to such extremes of penance that, for a time, his health was affected. He occupied his convalescence with a thorough study of Holy Scripture and, on his recovery, was appointed to lecture to his fellow-monks. At the request of Guy of Pomposa and other heads of neighbouring monasteries, for two or three years he lectured to their subjects also, and (about 1042) wrote the life of St. Romuald for the monks of Pietrapertosa. Soon after his return to Fonte-Avellana he was appointed economus of the house by the prior, who also pointed him out as his successor. This, in fact, he became in 1043, and he remained prior of Fonte-Avellana till his death. His priorate was characterized by a wise moderation of the rule, as well as by the foundation of subject-hermitages at San Severino, Gamugno, Acerata, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria, and Ocri. It was remarkable, too, for the introduction of the regular use of the discipline, a penitential exercise which he induced the great abbey of Monte Cassino to imitate. there was much opposition outside his own circle to this practice, but Peter’s persistent advocacy ensured its acceptance to such an extent that he was obliged later to moderate the imprudent zeal of some of his own hermits. another innovation was that of the daily siesta, to make up for the fatigue of the night office. During his tenure of the priorate a cloister was built, silver chalices and a silver processional cross were purchased, and many books added to the library.

Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian watched closely the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Gregory VII, he strove for her purification in those deplorable times. In 1045 when Benedict IX resigned the supreme pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI), Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, especially with the evil bishops of Pesaro, of Citta di Castello, and of Fano. He was present in Rome when Clement II crowned Henry III and his wife Agnes, and he also attended a synod held at the Lateran in the first days of 1047, in which decrees were passed against simony. After this he returned to his hermitage. Pope St. Leo IX was solemnly enthroned at Rome, 12 Feb., 1049, to succeed Damasus II, and about two years later Peter published his terrible treatise on the vices of the clergy, the “Liber Gomorrhianus”, dedicating it to the pope. It caused a great stir and aroused not a little enmity against its author. Even the pope, who had at first praised the work, was persuaded that it was exaggerated and his coldness drew from Damian a vigorous letter of protest.

Meanwhile the question arose as to the validity of the ordinations of simoniacal clerics. The prior of Fonte-Avellana was appealed to and wrote (about 1053) a treatise, the “Liber Gratissimus”, in favour of their validity, a work which, though much combatted at the time, was potent in deciding the question in their favour before the end of the twelfth century. In June, 1055, during the pontificate of Victor II, Damian attended a synod held at Florence, where simony and clerical incontinence were once more condemned. About two years later he fell ill at Fonte-Avellana and nearly died, but suddenly, after seven weeks of pain, recovered, as he believed, through a miracle.
During his illness the pope died, and Frederic, abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected as Stephen X. In the autumn of 1057, Stephen X determined to create Damian a cardinal. For a long time he resisted the offer, but was finally forced, under threat of excommunication, to accept, and was consecrated Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia on 30 Nov., 1057. In addition he was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio. The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all. Four months later Pope Stephen died at Florence and the Church was once more distracted by schism. The Cardinal of Ostia was vigorous in his opposition to the antipope Benedict X, but force was on the side of the intruder and Damian retired to Fonte-Avallana.
 
About the end of the year 1059 Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Nicholas II. The Church at Milan had been, for some time, the prey of simony and incontinence. So bad was the state of things, that benefices were openly bought and sold and the clergy publicly “married” the women they lived with. But the faithful of Milan, led by St. Ariald the Deacon and St. Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, strove hard to remedy these evils. At length the contest between the two parties became so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See to decide the matter. Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates. But now the party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. At once Peter took action. Boldly confronting the rioters in the cathedral, he proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision. He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he re-instated in their benefices all who undertook to live continently. This prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigourists at Rome, but was not reversed. Unfortunately, on the death of Nicholas II, the same disputes broke out; nor were they finally settled till after the martyrdom of St. Ariald in 1066. Meanwhile Peter was in vain pleading to be released from the cares of his office. Neither Nicholas II nor Hildebrand would consent to spare him.

In July, 1061, the pope died and once more a schism ensued. Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw, but to no purpose. Finally Hanno, the Regent of Germany, summoned a council at Augsburg at which a long argument by St. Peter Damian was read and greatly contributed to the decision in favour of Alexander II. In 1063 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Damian was appointed legate to settle the dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Mâcon. He proceeded to France, summoned a council at Chalon-sur-Saône, proved the justice of the contentions of Cluny, settled other questions at issue in the Church of France, and returned in the autumn to Fonte-Avellana. While he was in France the antipope Cadalous had again become active in his attempts to gain Rome, and Damian brought upon himself a sharp reproof from Alexander and Hildebrand for twice imprudently appealing to the royal power to judge the case anew. In 1067 the cardinal was sent to Florence to settle the dispute between the bishop and the monks of Vallombrosa, who accused the former of simony. His efforts, however, were not successful, largely because he misjudged the case and threw the weight of his authority on the side of the bishop. The matter was not settled till the following year by the pope in person. In 1069 Damian went as the pope’s legate to Germany to prevent King Henry from repudiating his wife Bertha. This task he accomplished at a council at Frankfort and returned to Fonte-Avellana, were he was left in peace for two years.
Early in 1072 he was sent to Ravenna to reconcile its inhabitants to the Holy See, they having been excommunicated for supporting their archbishop in his adhesion to the schism of Cadalous. On his return thence he was seized with fever near Faenza. He lay ill for a week at the monastery of Santa Maria degl’Angeli, now Santa Maria Vecchia. On the night preceding the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch, he ordered the office of the feast to be recited and at the end of the Lauds he died. He was at once buried in the monastery church, lest others should claim his relics. Six times has his body been translated, each time to a more splendid resting-place. It now lies in a chapel dedicated to the saint in the cathedral of Faenza in 1898. No formal canonization ever took place, but his cultas has existed since his death at Faenza, at Fonte-Avellana, at Monte Cassino, and at Cluny. In 1823 Leo XII extended his feast (23 Feb.) to the whole Church and pronounced him a Doctor of the Church. The saint is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a discipline in his hand; also sometimes he is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.


Acta SS. Boll., III, Feb. (Venice, 1736), 406-27; BIRON, St. Pierre Damien, 1007-72 (Paris, 1908); CAPECELATRO, Storia di San Pier Damiano (Rome, 1887); KLEINERMANNS, Der heilige Petrus Damiani (Steyl, 1882); LADERCHI, Vita S. Petri Damiani (3 vols., Rome, 1702); MABILLON, Acta SS. O.S.B., S=E6c. VI, P. ii (Venice, 1733), 253-273; MARTIN, Saint L=E9on IX 1002-54 (Paris, 1904); MIGNE, Dictionnaire de Patrologie, V (Paris, 1864), 959-1000; P.L.., CXLIV, CXLV (Paris, 1867); MITTAREELLI ET COSTADONI, Annales Camaldulenses, II (Venice, 1756), 40-359; NEUKIRCH, Das Leben des Petrus Damiani=85bis zur=851059 (Göttingen, 1875); PF=DCLF, Damiani=92s Zwist mit Hildebrand in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, XLI (1891), 281-307, 400-416, 508-525; ROTH, Der heilige Petrus Damiani, O.S.B., in Studien O.S.B., VII (1886), i, 110-134; ii, 357-374; iii, 43-66; iv, 321-336; VIII (1887), i, 56-64; ii, 210-216.
LESLIE A. ST. L. TOKE (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

February 20 - Feast of the Fatima Saints


Header-Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta

Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) 
Francisco and Jacinta, brother and sister, were born in the hamlet of Aljustrel,
in the province of Fatima, Portugal.

Their parents, Manuel Marto and Olimpia de Jesus, had altogether ten children, of which the little seers were the eighth and ninth.
Francisco was a good-looking, sturdy lad, of a calm, retiring disposition. Jacinta was a pretty girl, with a spritely temperament, and just a bit spoiled.
At the time of the apparitions they were nine and seven years old, respectively. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, was ten years old.
Together with Lucia they thrice saw the Angel of Portugal in 1916. When Our Lady appeared on May 13, 1917 at Cova da Iria, Fatima, Lucia was the one to speak to the apparition, Francisco could see but not hear, and Jacinta could see and hear.
On the second apparition of June 13, when the children asked about going to heaven, Our Lady told them that Francisco and Jacinta would be going soon, while Lucia was to stay on earth a while. She added that Francisco would have to say many rosaries.
Between this information, and Our Lady’s insistence on reparation to Our Lord for so much offense, and prayer and sacrifices to help save the souls of poor sinners, the two youngest seers embarked on a rare program of holiness, culminating in their beatification in 2000.
Indeed, brother and sister were not beatified for having seen Our Lady, albeit the greatness of such a grace, but because, taking the heavenly invitation seriously, they attained heroic sanctity.
Francisco, though good and simple, obviously had some significant fault or faults for which to atone. On hearing from Lucia that Our Lady had said that he would have to say many rosaries to go to heaven, without the least trace of resentment he exclaimed: “O, my dear Our Lady, I will say as many rosaries as you want!”
He was often seen with his rosary in hand, seeking solitude or spending long hours before the Blessed Sacrament. His loving, innocent heart felt the special calling to “console Our Lord” for the sins of mankind.
After suffering without complaint the ravages of the Influenza of 1918, Francisco died on April 4, 1919 peacefully at home, with a smile on his lips. He was eleven years old.
Jacinta was riveted by the apparition of July 13 in which they were given a glimpse of Hell. After this vision, her every thought was of helping to save the souls of “poor sinners,” and she spared no prayer or sacrifice for that end.
Also contracting the Influenza of 1918, Jacinta suffered heroically. In a private apparition, Our Lady asked her if she would be willing to remain on earth a little longer to help save more sinners. The nine-year-old girl generously accepted, enduring a trip to Lisbon where she was admitted to two hospitals, and finally dying alone far from her family, as Our Lady had foretold to her. Still, the Blessed Mother herself supported her, appearing to her frequently, instructing and counseling her as well as showing her many things to come.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto were solemnly beatified on May 13, 2000 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II at Fatima, Portugal and canonized in May 2017 by Pope Francis.


 
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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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tomorrow is the 100th Anniversary of the Death of St. Jacinta of Fatima



+ 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.

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.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

This 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 16, 2020

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

Founder of the Order of Gilbertines, b. at Sempringham, on the border of the Lincolnshire fens, between Bourn and Heckington. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but it lies between 1083 and 1089; d. at Sempringham, 1189. His father, Jocelin, was a wealthy Norman knight holding lands in Lincolnshire; his mother, name unknown, was an Englishwoman of humble rank. Being ill-favoured and deformed, he was not destined for a military or knightly career, but was sent to France to study. After spending some time abroad, where he became a teacher, he returned as a young man to his Lincolnshire home, and was presented to the livings of Sempringham and Tirington, which were churches in his father's gift. Shortly afterwards he betook himself to the court of Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln, where he became a clerk in the episcopal household. Robert was succeeded in 1123 by Alexander, who retained Gilbert in his service ordaining him deacon and priest much against his will. The revenues of Sempringham had to suffice for his maintenance in the court of the bishop; those of Tirington he devoted to the poor. Offered the archdeaconry of Lincoln, he refused, saying that he knew no surer way to perdition. In 1131 he returned to Sempringham and, is father being dead, became lord of the manor and lands. lt was in this year that he founded the Gilbertine Order, which he was the first is "Master", and constructed at Sempringham, with the help of Alexander, a dwelling and cloister for his nuns, at the north of the church of St. Andrew.
His life henceforth became one of extraordinary austerity, its strictness not diminishing as he grew older, though the activity and fatigue caused by the government of the order were considerable. In 1147 he travelled to Citeaux, in Burgundy, where he met Eugene III, St Bernard, and St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh. The pope expressed regret at not having known of him some years previously when choosing a successor to the deposed Archbishop of York. In 1165 he was summoned before Henry II's justices at Westminster and was charged with having sent help to the exiled St. Thomas a Becket. To clear himself he was invited to take an oath that he had not done so. He refused, for, though as a matter of fact he had not sent help, an oath to that effect might make him appear an enemy to the archbishop. He was prepared for a sentence of exile, when letters came from the king in Normandy, ordering the judges to await his return. In 1170, when Gilbert was already a very old man, some of his lay-brothers revolted and spread serious calumnies against him. After some years of fierce controversy on the subject, in which Henry II took his part, Alexander III freed him from suspicion, and confirmed the privileges granted to the order. Advancing age induced Gilbert to give up the government of his order. He appointed as his successor Roger, prior of Malton. Very infirm and almost blind, he now made his religious profession, for though he had founded an order and ruled it for many yeas he had never become a religious in the strict sense. Twelve years after his death, at the earnest request of Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, he was canonized by Innocent III, and his relics were solemnly translated to an honourable place in the church at Sempringham, his shrine becoming a centre of pilgrimage. Besides the compiIation ot his rule, he has left in little treatise entitled "De constructione monasteriorum". His feast is kept in the Roman calendar on 11 February.
R. Urban Butler (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

How to approach 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