Saturday, February 24, 2018

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

February 24 – First Christian King Among the English

St. Ethelbert, King of Kent

Born, 552; died, 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest.

He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks. A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshiper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast.

In the interval between Ethelbert’s defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months.

Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety “Dooms of Ethelbert”, A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom.

When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan.
STUBBS in Dict. Christ. Biogr., s.v.; HUNT in Dict. Nat. Biogr., s.v.; BEDE, Hist. Eccl., I, II; GREGORY OF TOURS, Historia Francorum, IV, IX; Acta SS.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 24 Feb.
E. Macpherson (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Lent: Historically and Practically



Lent is a 40-day preparation for Easter, a period reminiscent of the 40 years the Israelites wondered in the desert, and of the 40 days Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed and fasted in the wilderness.
On both accounts, and in view of the Lord’s redemptive passion and death, Lent is a period marked by a spirit of penance, something for which Our Lady of Fatima insistently asked in her apparitions to three shepherd children in Portugal, 1917.

History and Facts
Though there are indications that the custom of a 40-days’ fast before Easter goes back to the apostles, there is no conclusive evidence. Nevertheless, by the year 339 history records St. Athanasius encouraging his hearers to keep a 40-days’ fast, a custom he claimed was being practiced all over Europe.
In the Middle-Ages, the Church-ascribed Lenten fast was severe, including all forty days, and the consumption of meat and dairy forbidden. Throughout the centuries there have been consecutive relaxations, following a better understanding of different human needs.
Today, though still binding for Catholics under pain of serious sin, the Lenten precept is mild requiring abstinence from meat only on Ash Wednesdays and all Lenten Fridays, including Good Friday. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, there is also a fast added to the abstinence from meat. This fast consists of two small meals (not to equal a full one), and a full meal.
Beginning with Ash-Wednesday, Lent involves forty weekdays excluding Sundays (the practical application being that everything we “give up,” we can have on Sundays).

Spirit of penance, the practical “ropes” for the spiritual life

The Catholic Church, in her genius for using matter to convey a spiritual message, begins Lent by using ashes, a custom retroactive to the Middle Ages when penitents poured blessed ashes on their heads to show sorrow for sin–in turn, a practice as ancient as the Old Testament. 
Ash Wednesday and the ceremony of receiving blessed cinder is generally respected, and esteemed, remaining popular today. Even lax Catholics attend, and wear the cross-like smudge with pride. 
On Ash Wednesday “all we sinners” stand in line in a packed church, patiently waiting our turn to be blessed with the ashes and hear the words, “You are dust and to dust you shall return”; or the more modern version of, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. ” The traditional version, being in line with the theme of ashes, is more to the point. 
Another great, popular practice is “giving up” something. In honor of the penitential nature of the 40 days ahead, we relinquish a fond item or habit: candy, coffee, smoking, etc…indeed, a wholesome, holy habit. 
But just as any habit can become so habitual we no longer remember the reason for first adopting it, or the deeper meaning of the exercise, so with holy habits. 
Mother Church never recommends anything on a whim, but intends all for our present good and ultimate salvation. Thus, the reason for giving up something we like is to help discipline our weak natures. Discipline strengthens the will and helps turn it to the practice of virtue. Indeed, mother Church teaches that mortification and sacrifice are indispensable for salvation. 
Just as a soldier is not made by thinking of becoming one, but by lifting the weights, strapping on the boots, and marching the march, so with the spiritual-combat.

Two aspects to penance
There are two aspects to salutary penance, a “negative” aspect and a “positive” aspect.
The “negative” or “taking away” aspect involves letting go of something, such as the above mentioned. But just as important as sacrificing a material good is sacrificing a spiritual ill, such as a sin, a fault or working on a particular defect like cursing, bickering, a short temper, etc.
Just as crucial is to practice some “positive” or “putting in” penance: attending Mass more than once a week, visiting the sick or lonely, volunteering time at the parish, reading a good spiritual book or praying a Rosary with the family.
A good priest once recommended we look at Lent as the Spring Cleaning of our year. Thus keeping Lent makes for a good program for a good life. Lent is a time to re-read the “owner’s manual”, to tune our “engines”, and to refurbish our “vehicles” not only for the journey of 40 days, but for the journey of life, the right life–and the right eternity.



WOC Devotional Set Flag


Books recommended for Lent:
  • The Spiritual Combat by Don Lorenzo Scupoli
  • Characters of the Passion by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
  • The Mystical City of God by Sister Maria of Agreda

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.

Friday, February 23, 2018

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.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Why does God conceal Himself?

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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Satisfy the heart?

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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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.

Feast of Saints Francisco and Jacinta



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 canonized in Fatima on May 13, 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.

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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.”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Thoughts for Lent



“The important thing is to teach the child who he is, who God is,
and how God wants to mingle His life with his by coming to dwell in him.”

Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

Lent: the 40-day period of preparation for the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here Holy Mother Church gives each of us time to follow in the footsteps of Our Divine Savior in a special way. At other times, we are called to imitate joy, expectation, diligence and perseverance. In Lent, it is self-discipline, self-control, prayer, penance, fasting and almsgiving that help us to curb our innate selfish tendencies and raise our hearts, our minds and our souls to God.
What better gift can we give to children?
Let us a take a moment this Lent to consider a few things that we can do to help “the little ones come unto” Him.

Benefits:
  • Lent helps the acquisition of good habits and the practice of virtue.
  • Prayer raises the heart and mind of a child to God.
  • Prayer obtains the graces necessary for a virtuous life leading to sanctification and salvation.
  • Penance will curb the effects of Original Sin such as selfishness, intemperance and pride.
  • Fasting, in particular, helps a child to gain mastery over their tendencies, desires and inclinations.
  • Self-Control which is one of the fundamental elements of virtue, it is obtained through penance and fasting.
  • Almsgiving teaches us to help those less fortunate than we are. It teaches us to be grateful for what we have received. It helps children to understand the difference between needs and wants.
  • Almsgiving also curbs selfishness by inviting the child to think of others and the needs of others.

Tips to help children with the 3 great Lenten practices:
Prayer is when we talk to God. Help a child do this by setting up the resolution to pray with him/her every day. It can be as simple as a Hail Mary, one decade of the Holy Rosary, or a whole Rosary depending on the child’s age and attention capacity.
Spend time with the child in front of Our Divine Savior truly present in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. On your way to the shopping center or to a play-date for your child, take 5 minutes to greet or bow to Our Lord. This might not seem like much, but it instills in the child the importance of God as the center of life.

Penance and Fasting. To instill the practice of penance, simple things will do. Giving up something the child really likes and enjoys like a specific toy, is a good practice in learning penance for a child. It is important that the adult guide the child in this. Perhaps it is best for the child to start giving something one-day-at-a-time and renewing the resolution and the reasons for it each day. This helps the child learn and remember the importance of penance and the reasons it is necessary.
Fasting can take the form of giving up the last bite of a delicious dessert or the entire dessert. It can also be giving up a TV show or a certain game. Fasting can also be doing something we don’t want to do. For example, I really want to just relax and do nothing, but I go and spend time with someone who is alone. In this case, I fast from my own desires and wants. The key to these practices is doing them together with the child so that you lead by word and example.

Almsgiving can be done through the Church or in person. Help your child to drop an alms for the poor in the poorbox at your local Church. You can also provide the opportunity to help someone who is in need. For example, if you know someone who is elderly and poor, take your child with you to go and prepare them a meal and spend time with them. The alms being given is your effort and your time. Thus, it helps the child learn that alms can be given in many ways, not just financially.
It is commonly said that it takes 23 – 31 days to form a good habit. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, gives us a wonderful opportunity in Lent to do just that, with a few days for consolidation.
It is an excellent time to help that child that you love so much to grow in virtue and in grace. It is the time in which you can help that little one form habits that help them become true disciples of Jesus Christ and true devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In essence, it gives them the tools and the means to walk in the best way possible the path toward our Heavenly Home!

One last thought: We all understand that a young person needs to go study for whatever it is that they wish to do or be in life. A doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a priest, a business consultant and so on. In the same way, religion, Christian piety, good habits and virtue also need teaching and the BEST University to learn in is the home; and the best teachers are mom and dad. For this did the Creator entrusted his little ones to you.




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.

Friday, February 16, 2018

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

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

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Fatima Seers Help You Have the Best Lent Ever



Lent, that time of the liturgical year when Holy Mother Church calls on Catholics to fast and abstain from meat in the spirit of penance and self-denial, also encourages the faithful to meditate on the dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this penitential exercise, Our Lord Jesus Christ serves as our supreme model- He led the way of mortification by denying Himself sustenance for forty days and forty nights in preparation for the commencement of His public ministry. He, who has most tender compassion for humble and repentant sinners, assures us, “I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.” Luke 5:32. And in a supreme act of immolation, Our Lord offered Himself in sacrifice for our salvation and accepted His suffering humanity for the redemption of the world.

WOC Devotional Set Flag

In light of the above, how are we to model our Lenten practices in the spirit of the Fatima message?

1.    During Lent, Fatima’s constant theme of prayer, penance and amendment of life becomes ever more relevant in our daily lives.
Nowadays, many are accustomed to the conveniences that technological progress provides. Fast food, TV dinners, cell phones, ATM’s, express delivery, Internet, email, on-line shopping, etc – modern inventions that fuel that frenetic desire to get things done quickly and easily. Everything comes at one’s fingertips at one’s beckoning. And voila! The recurring mantra jumps out, “I want it and I want it NOW.”  In short, no fuss, no delay; period!

•    The appeal of the Seven Capital Sins
In a fast paced world as such, instant gratification is the rule.  Sadly, it also opens the door wide to sin and vice. The myriad of ads that one watches or reads these days appeal in more ways than one to the seven capital sins.  A new facial anti-wrinkle cream flatters a 50-year-old’s vanity; a luscious and tantalizing food product feeds one’s gluttonous tendencies; the Jones’ new car spur’s one envy; an exotic perfume wakes up ones passion and lust; a sales pitch for faster delivery service mitigates one’s anger over a previously botched job; and so it goes down the line.

•    Our Ruling Passions
From another vantage view, each individual suffers from a ruling passion or vice that dominates all others and, frequently causes one to fall from grace. Be it pride or sensuality, intemperance, a loose tongue or what not, we know, more or less, our own weaknesses. Thankfully by the grace of God, Lent offers the opportunity for one to tackle this or that defect through serious reflection, prayer and the practice of mortification.
Would it burden us much if we cease to be creatures of comfort starting this Lenten season and mortify our senses for the good of our souls? Let us turn to the children of Fatima for inspiration and courage.

2.    Exemplary models of penance and sacrifice
The Angel of Portugal taught the children the virtue of asking pardon for evildoers through prayer and offering sacrifices. He impressed upon them the compelling need to make reparation for the insults, sacrileges and indifference committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady of Fatima consistently asked the children for prayers of reparation and sacrifice for poor sinners which culminated in the vision of hell that had a profound and lasting effect on them.  Having seen the horrors and torments of everlasting infernal fire, the seers were transformed into heroes of mortification and penance.

•    A belt of rope as self torment
The children devised innovative ways as they see them fit to observe mortified lives. Lucia found a rope one day and suggested it to be cut into three pieces so each of the seers could wear them continuously around their waists. This they practiced with such zeal that it bothered them in their sleep. Pleasing at it was to God, Our Lady had to intervene later and asked them to remove them at night.

•    Suffering Hunger
Francisco thought it a good sacrifice to give their lunches to the sheep and in later days to poor children they met along the way. Thus they fasted much like in the spirit of austere monks. They thrived admirably on acorns from holm oak and oak trees, pine nuts, roots, berries, mushrooms and other things harvested from the roots of pine trees.

•    Suffering Thirst
On one occasion, Lucia and the other two children, while suffering from severe thirst, decided to forego drinking from a jar of water that Lucia fetched from a nearby house and poured it instead into a hollow in a stone for the sheep to drink.

•    Self-Inflicted pain
On other occasions, they would hit their own legs with nettles, "so as to offer to God yet another sacrifice."
Such were the edifying examples of mortification the child seers practiced because of their deep understanding of the urgent necessity of acts of reparation and sacrifices to appease Divine Justice and to mitigate the injuries perpetrated against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Let us take all these to heart and apply them to our own situation keeping in mind the widespread decadence corroding the moral well-being of our contemporary times. It is undeniable that much penance and prayers are needed to atone for all these transgressions. One needs just to open the newspaper or watch the nightly news to find proofs.

3.    Adopting realistic resolutions appropriate for our condition and times
The messages revealed in the apparitions to the three Portuguese children by the Angel of Portugal and the Queen of Heaven and Earth all speak of the gravity of the sins and crimes of mankind - a tragedy that begs for serious and resolute atonement and conversion to appease the wrath of God. To avert a terrible chastisement, Our Lady asks men to pray ardently for the conversion of sinners and to offer many expiatory sacrifices.

•    A sense of urgency and a call to action
We must take this warning with utmost seriousness and immediacy.  It is a standing message for our times directed to all men.
The seers of Fatima responded to this call by making heroic acts of penance and reparation for they fully grasped the meaning of appeasing Divine wrath. Let us follow their lead and reconcile the Fatima message with the real moral crisis staring at us blankly.

•    No easy way out
What has been written here so far would be put to waste if our intellect fails to change our mentality and move our will to make steadfast resolutions. If the service of God consisted only in fulfilling certain obligations, devotional practices and prescribed prayers compatible to a life of ease and comfort, then the Church would be flooded with new-found saints.
But such is not the case. Sadly, it is our human nature to shun sufferings, to avoid pain and to be self-satisfied with whatever little progress we gain in the spiritual life. Let us shed our false optimism. Let us cast our tepidity and lukewarm spirit. With a changed mentality, let us replace our misconceptions with a sincere abiding sorrow for our sins.

•    Carrying the Cross
Take heart in the Divine counsel, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.
The cross is the embodiment of the Gospel and the glorious standard of a true Christian. And by carrying our cross, we must humble ourselves and look at ourselves as our greatest enemy; with whom we ought to wage a continual war for the rest of our lives.


WOC Devotional Set Flag

The current situation and the message of Fatima place the above reflections in a different perspective. Whatever self denial or sacrifice we choose to practice, we must perform with humility and prudence. Lent or otherwise, we must imbue ourselves with a lasting penitential spirit in face of the unabated moral chaos besetting mankind for, indeed, we are in extraordinary times!
And lastly, let us turn Our Lady for inspiration, strength and fortitude, always hoping in Her promise at Fatima,
“Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Saint Valentine


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



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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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 hairshirts, 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. Occuring forty six days before Easter, it is consequently moveable-as early as Februay 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 openess 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.



Jesus alone

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

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Catherine dei Ricci

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

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



By Tonia Long

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

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

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

Click here to print these cards(Instructions are included)



                                 




SAINT VALENTINE

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



 

One friend who will never leave me

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

St. Damien of Moloka’i

St. Meletius of Antioch

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Incorruptible!




"You will not allow your holy one to see corruption" - Psalm 16:10
The Catholic Church is full of mystery and miracles; those supernatural occurrences in time that display the power of God for eternity.
Incorruptibility is one of those miracles. And Saint Bernadette (feast day: April 16) is one of the saints chosen by God to show forth His power.
Every Ash Wednesday we hear “You are dust and unto dust you shall return.” Death and decay are a fact of life for us mere mortals; all of us, that is, except for God’s chosen few – the Incorruptibles. These are the saints throughout the history of the Church whose bodies have not decayed over time. Even millennia have passed, as in the case of St. Cecelia, without their bodies turning to dust.
The light of Christ has always shone brightest in times of darkness, and the 20th century was no exception. Certainly a dark time of apostasy and the disintegration of customs, one light that shone brightly was the canonization of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, France.

 The Life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)
It could be viewed as ironic that the messenger of Our Lady at Lourdes, a place of healing, should be so burdened by illness throughout her natural life. It seems the miracle of Lourdes was not for her. As a matter of fact, in a vision Our Lady said to Saint Bernadette, “I cannot promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.”

Born into a humble family which little by little fell into extreme poverty, Bernadette had always been a frail child. Quite young, she had already suffered from digestive trouble, then after having just escaped being a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855, she experienced painful attacks of asthma, and her ill health almost caused her to be cut off forever from the religious life. When asked by Monsignor Forcade to take Bernadette, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Nevers replied: "Monsignor, she will be a pillar of the infirmary."
She lived in the convent for thirteen years, spending a large portion of this time, as predicted by the Mother Superior, ill in the infirmary. When a fellow nun accused her of being a “lazybones,” Bernadette said, “My job is to be ill.” She was gradually struck by other illnesses as well as asthma: among them, tuberculosis of the lung and a tubercular tumor on her right knee.
On Wednesday, April 16, 1879, her pain got much worse. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. she seemed to be almost suffocating and was carried to an armchair, where she sat with her feet on a footstool in front of a blazing fire. She died at about 3:15 in the afternoon. She was thirty-five.

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

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


 by Tonia Long

I'll be getting broiled on a grill in purgatory

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

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Saturday, February 10, 2018

February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes



On February 11, 1858 in the Pyrenean village of Lourdes, France, a beautiful young lady appeared to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous.
Bernadette and her sister were searching for firewood near the Grotto of Massabielle. Bernadette was often ill, so when her sister removed her stockings in order to wade across the river, the frail girl remained where she was. Soon, a strange silence filled the air.
She turned her head towards the grotto and saw in the opening of the rock a young and beautiful lady. "The Lady" was dressed in white with a yellow rose at each foot and a rosary draped over her arm. Removing her own rosary from her pocket, Bernadette knelt down before "the Lady" and began to pray.
This was the first of eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Mother to the young girl. During the sixteenth apparition on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady identified herself as "the Immaculate Conception."
Bernadette ran to her pastor’s house, repeating to herself over and over again the strange name that "the Lady" had given her so as not to forget it. At that time, the "Immaculate Conception" was not a well known term: just four years earlier, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus.
Although unknown to the young illiterate Bernadette, the name that "the Lady" had given her was to her dumbfounded pastor more confirmation than he had ever expected.
Complying with Our Lady’s request, there is now a church at the grotto. Our Lady asked that people come in procession, and persevere with prayer and personal conversion.
During the ninth apparition, Our Lady asked Bernadette to kneel and wash in the spring. Confused, because there was no spring near Massabielle, she began to scratch the loose gravel off the ground inside the grotto. As she did so, a small pool formed, and she cupped her hands together and drank, and then washed her face.
The next day, the pool was overflowing and water was dripping down over the rock. To this spring are attributed countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the Church and medicine.
The shrine is considered the most visited place of pilgrimage and healing in the world.
The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was extended to the universal Church in 1907.


 First Photo by: Manuel González Olaechea