Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Immaculate Heart of Mary: Core of the Fatima Message



Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary permeates the whole story and message of Fatima. One may well say that it is the very core of the message, as well as the solution presented for the problems of today’s world.

Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart:
In 1916, the angel1 who came to prepare the three shepherd children for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin said to them, “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”2
In another apparition, the angel repeated the message: “Pray, pray a lot. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you.”3
And the Mother of God herself, in the second apparition, told Lúcia:
“Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish His Throne.”4 
Upon learning that she was going to be alone on earth after the death of her cousins, Lúcia was distressed. The Blessed Virgin consoled her, saying:
“I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”5
These two statements—that Jesus wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world, and that her Immaculate Heart is the refuge of suffering souls and the path that leads to heaven—summarize Fatima spirituality.

Symbolism of the Heart

Symbolic Language:
Man expresses his ideas not only through concepts and words, but also through symbols.
Symbols are sensible signs that evoke or represent a higher and more abstract reality. For example, the national flag represents the homeland; the lily evokes purity; the scepter and crown represent royal power.
Of all symbols, the human heart is perhaps the most common and universal.
Closely linked to emotions that alter one’s heartbeat, the heart symbolizes one’s preference, and especially one’s love.
A mother’s heart, for example, is a symbol of selfless love, full of affection and unconditionally capable of the greatest sacrifices.
On the other hand, the epithet of Richard I of England (1157-1199), “the Lion-Hearted,” expresses his fearlessness, courage, indomitable prowess, and indefatigable combativeness.

Biblical Texts:
Several examples of the various symbolic meanings of the word "heart" are found in both the Old and New Testaments:
  • “With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issued out from it.” (Prov. 4:23)
  • “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezech. 36:26-27)
  • “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8)
  • “That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts.” (Eph. 3:17)
  • "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Ps. 50:10)

The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Just as devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is essential, for it highlights the redeeming love of the Incarnate Word, so also is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, since it emphasizes the co-redeeming love of the Mother of God.
Unlike the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of Mary does not participate in the hypostatic union and is, therefore, a purely human heart. It is the heart of the most perfect of creatures who took the love of God to the highest point possible and was closely united to the Heart of Jesus in a maternal and filial intimacy. This intimacy began with the Incarnation of the Word in her most pure womb, culminated with her final offering on Calvary—where She offered her Son for our salvation—and continues now in Heaven.
By the Heart of Mary, as Fr. José Maria Canal, CMF explains, “we understand her intimacy, maternal feelings, mercy and tenderness toward sinners.”6 For Pope Pius XII it is “a symbol of all interior life, whose moral perfection, merits and virtues are beyond all human understanding!”7
Pius XII also emphasizes this maternal Heart’s compassion: “The Most Pure Heart of the Virgin [is the] seat of that love, compassion and all most lofty affections that participated so much in our redemption, especially when She ‘stabat iuxta Crucem,’ stood vigilantly next to the Cross." (cf. John 19:25)8 

Therefore, Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary Must Go Together:
“In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined.... It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people—who received the divine life from Christ through Mary—after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety, affection, gratitude and expiation. Entirely in keeping with this most sweet and wise disposition of divine Providence is the memorable act of consecration by which We Ourselves solemnly dedicated Holy Church and the whole world to the spotless Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”9


1 It was the “Angel of Peace” or “Angel of Portugal.” [return to text]
2 Solimeo, Fatima, 25. [return to text]
3 Ibid., 26. [return to text]
4 Ibid., 41. [return to text]
5 Ibid. [return to text]
6 Jose Maria Canal, CMF, La Consagracion a la Virgen y a su Corazon, I, 250. (Our translation.) [return to text]
7 Pius XII, Radio Message to the National Marian Congress in Spain, Oct. 12, 1954, in Discorsi e Radiomessasaggi, t. XVI, 197. (Our translation.) [return to text]
8 Ibid. [return to text]
9 Pius XII, Enc. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 63, 72, 124. [return to text]


Why obedience is such an excellent virtue

Obedience is a virtue
of so excellent a nature, that
Our Lord was pleased to mark its observance
upon the whole course of His life; thus
He often says, He did not come to do His Own will,
but that of His Heavenly Father.

St. Francis de Sales

St. John Baptist de Rossi

Giovanni Battista de Rossi was born in the Piedmontese village of Voltaggio, in the diocese of Genoa, and was one of four children. His parents, of modest means, were devout and well esteemed.

A nobleman and his wife vacationing in Voltaggio, and impressed with the ten-year-old John Baptist, obtained permission from his parents to take him to live with them and be trained in their house in Genoa.

After three years, hearing of his virtues, John’s cousin, Lorenzo Rossi, Canon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, invited him to join him in Rome. Thus John Baptist entered the Roman Jesuit College at thirteen. Despite episodes of epilepsy, brought on by excessive zeal in imposing harsh penances upon himself, he was granted a dispensation and was ordained at the age of twenty-three.

From his student days he loved visiting hospitals. Now, as a priest there was much more he could offer suffering souls. He particularly loved the Hospice of St. Galla, a night shelter for paupers. There he labored for forty years. He also worked at the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini and extended his assistance to other poor such as cattlemen who came to market at the Roman forum. He had a great pity for homeless women and girls and from the little that he made in Mass stipends, and the 400 scudi sent to him by the Pope, he rented a refuge for them.

John Baptist was also selected by Pope Benedict XIV to deliver courses of instruction to prison officials and other state servants. Among his penitents was the public hangman.

In 1731 Canon Rossi obtained for his cousin a post of assistant priest at St. Maria in Cosmedin. He was a great confessor to whom penitents flocked, and as a preacher, the saint was also in demand for missions and retreats.

On the death of Canon Rossi, Fr. John inherited his canonry, but applied the money attached to the post to buy an organ, and hire an organist. As to the house, he gave it to the chapter and went to live in the attic.

In 1763 St. John Baptist’s health began to fail, and he was obliged to take up residence in the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini. He expired after a couple of strokes on May 23, 1764 at sixty- six years of age. He died so poor that the hospital prepared to pay for his burial. But the Church took over and he was given a triumphant funeral with numerous clergy and religious, and the Papal choir, in attendance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In the Earthquakes of Life, Hold onto Mary



In the beautiful city of Lima, Peru, close to the impressive Plaza de Armas, or Arms Square, is the Church of the Holy Rosary, more commonly called “of the Dominicans”.
In this Church, as you walk toward the main altar, on the left, there is a life-size statue of the Blessed Mother that will halt your steps. Maybe the first thing that will “grab” you is her beauty, then the joyful expression of her face.

She seems to say, I’m here–what are you worried about?
And then you’d pass on unless a friend held your arm and whispered,
“Stay. There is even more to this statue. She spoke to a saint once…Actually, to three saints!”
Then you’d take another look, possibly kneel and certainly pray. And then, leading the friend aside, you’d whisper back, “What did she say?!”

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St John MasiasAnd you’d hear this marvelous story:
Once, Saint John Masias who lived in Peru at the same time as St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres, was praying before this statue, called Our Lady of the Rosary, donated by Emperor Charles V, and beloved of Peruvians for her many miracles.
As he prayed, he felt rumblings…
Now, earthquakes are common in Peru, so John Masias probably stood still, hands folded, eyes wide, trying to gage the intensity of this rumble.
And then, as the reverberations continued, he stood up and turned to run when he heard the sweetest voice coming from the statue,
“Brother John, Brother John, where are you going?”
He stopped short and managed to answer,
“My Lady, like everybody else, I’m running from your Son’s severity…”
“Come back and don’t worry, am I not here?”
So he did. And after that, Brother John always affirmed that there was no better spot in all of Lima to weather an earthquake than by the statue of the Lady of the Rosary.

To this day, if an earthquake occurs during Mass, or when devotions are being held in this church, the faithful are asked not to leave. And never has it been known that anyone was ever harmed who stayed with the Statue of Our Lady of the Rosary in her church of the Dominicans.

You are now probably curious what else did this beautiful statue say to the other two holy contemporaries of St. John Masias.
St Rose of Lima
To St. Rose of Lima, who came one day to this same statue to ask her Blessed Mother which name she should go by, whether her official baptismal name of Isabel, or the nick name of Rose, she heard the same sweet voice that had regaled Masia’s ears:
Rose of Holy Mary”.
At another time it was the Infant Jesus who from His mother’s arms said to her, “Rose of my heart, I want you for my spouse.” To which the young saint fainted. It is no small thing to have God propose, you know.

St Martin de PorresAnd St. Martin de Porres the great miracle worker of Lima, came regularly to converse with the Blessed Lady, who one day, because the visit was so extended, ordered an angel to go ring the bell of St. Martin’s convent, which was the saint’s chore.

So, you see, dear reader, stay by Mary, stay with her Rosary, and there is no telling what she will do for you not only in the daily occurrences of life, but especially when life rumbles.

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 By Andrea F. PhillipsReferences: Revista Catolicismo, Nossa Senhora do Rosario, Padroeira de Lima, Peru by Valdis Grinstein.
Photo Attribution:  Church of Santo Domingo Lima-Imehling : Our Lady of the Rosary-TFP Peru : Saint John Masias-Kordas : St Rose of Lima-Seges : St Martin de Porres-Barcex

As my sufferings increase...

O loving Jesus,
increase my patience
according as my sufferings increase.

St. Rita of Cascia

St. Rita of Cascia

Rita was born in Roccaborena, Italy in 1381 to aged parents who were known for their charity, and who fervently thanked God for the gift of a daughter so late in life.

Extraordinarily pious from an early age, Rita set her heart on entering the Augustinian convent in Cascia, but her parents had plans for her to marry the town’s watchman, Paolo Mancini, and she submitted to their desires in the matter.

Her husband proved to have an explosive temper, and became abusive, but Rita bore with his ill-treatment patiently for eighteen years bearing him two sons, who fell under their father’s pernicious influence.

She wept and prayed for her husband and children unceasingly. Finally won over by her virtue, Paolo had a change of heart and asked her forgiveness. Soon after, involved in a local feud, he was ambushed and brought home dead. His two young sons vowed to avenge their father’s slaying, which was a new source of affliction for Rita, who begged God to take them before they committed murder. The Lord heard the saint’s heroic plea and her sons contracted a disease from which both died, not before being reconciled to their mother and to their God.

Free from all earthly cares, Rita turned to the Augustinians seeking admittance only to be told that she could not be accepted on reason of having been married. Rita prayed and persisted and it is said that one morning she was found inside the walls of the convent though none knew how, the doors having been locked all night. She was received then at age thirty-six.

In religious life she was a model of virtue, prayer and mortification. One day, after hearing a sermon on Our Lord's crown of thorns, she felt as if one of the thorns was being pressed to her forehead. On the spot, an open wound developed, and the stench it emitted became so offensive that she had to be secluded. She bore this wound until her death.

Rita died on May 22, 1457 and her body has remained incorrupt to this day.

So many miracles were reported after her death, that, in Spain, she became known as “la santa del impossible”, the saint of impossible cases, a title that spread throughout the Catholic world.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mary Rewards Childlike Obedience


Mary Rewards
Childlike Obedience

In 1832, the ravaging finger of cholera hit every home and house in the great city of Paris.
This terrible epidemic, a disease without cure, struck hundreds and beleaguered many more. And yet, an exceptional phenomenon was noticed. Those who devoutly wore a certain small medal around their neck were spared or relieved from the epidemic. Symptoms of the plague were observed to leave the victims and withdraw into the gutters of Paris.
What medal, what power, was this that through the course of time triumphed over such devastating odds? The answer lied among the winding streets of Paris, specifically at the bolted doors of a small sanctuary known as the Rue de Bac. It is here, at the convent of the Sisters of Charity, that so many miracles unfold by means of a small object: the Miraculous Medal.
The making of the Miraculous Medal came about through a humble nun, then a novice, whose body now lies beneath the stately main altar, incorrupt and untouched by time. She is none other than Saint Catherine Laboure. At the side of the altar is the chair that the Blessed virgin herself occupied when telling the awestruck novice of her wishes for the making of this medal.
Through the thousands of favors, cures, and conversions this medal has obtained, it quickly acquired its popular name.  And so it was that on my visit to the Rue de Bac I found myself graciously received by the Mother Superior, who allowed me to photograph evidence of the many prodigies that have occurred through the Miraculous Medal.
The kind sister who was assigned to accompany me through the convent told me of a recent miracle that cannot be left unrepeated. When telling it, she lowered her voice as if releasing a state secret; she was apprehensive since the Church had not yet officially accredited this latest phenomenon.

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It all began when a Brazilian couple visited the Rue de Bac.
They came to ask Our lady of the Miraculous Medal to cure their five-year-old girl, who was paralyzed from her waist down. The parents fervently prayed for a cure and, at a certain point, the mother encouraged her child to approach and touch the chair in which the Blessed Virgin had sat.
Without explanation, the child refused to do so. The parents were naturally perplexed. After some time, they left and made their way back to Brazil. On the airplane, the mother questioned her daughter as to why she had refused to approach the chair.
To both parents’ bewilderment, the child responded in a matter of fact voice: “Because,” she said, “the lady told me not to.”
Still puzzled, the parents said nothing further about the matter. Upon arriving in Brazil, however, the little girl stood up on her own and proceeded to leave the airplane. She had been cured!
I was amazed, not to say a little skeptical. The sister, calm and serene at my slight incredulity, merely smiled and said, “My son, every day we receive letters attesting new miracles that have been granted to many.
If we were to put each incident on a small plaque and place these on the wall, I don’t think we would have enough walls. Furthermore,” she went on, “since each case is thoroughly screened by the Church before it is approved as an authentic miracle, we catalogue them in our library in alphabetical archives because there are so many.”
I would have liked to describe in greater detail these miracles, but it is not easy. Nevertheless, they serve to show that whoever prays devoutly and confidently to the Blessed Virgin will never go unheard or unanswered, if it is for your salvation.

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 This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from Crusade Magazine, March -April, 2001, M-50, p. 36, “Miracle at Rue de Bac” by Felipe Barandiaran.

Also Read:  

Pray without ceasing

We must pray without ceasing,
in every occurrence and employment of our lives – that prayer
which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God
as in a constant communication with Him.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

Christopher Magallanes was born in 1869 in the province of Guadalajara, Mexico, of devout parents who were poor farmers. As a youth, he worked as a shepherd, but felt called to be a shepherd of souls. He entered the seminary at nineteen and was ordained at the age of thirty.

He worked as a parish priest in his hometown of Totatiche for two decades, and there also opened a carpentry business to help provide jobs for the local men.

When, in the first decades of the twentieth century, the atheistic Mexican government launched a merciless persecution of the Catholic Church, a new constitution banned the training of priests. In 1915, Fr. Christopher opened his own small seminary in Totatiche where he soon had a dozen students.

Consequently accused of trying to incite rebellion, Fr. Christopher was arrested on his way to say Mass, imprisoned and condemned to be shot without trial.  His few possessions he gave away to his jailer and he was executed on May 21, 1927 with another twenty-one priests and three lay Catholics. His last words were, “I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.” He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 21, 2000.
Second Photo by: Humberto

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Intentions for Pentecost Sunday

Pray for the reestablishment of the kingdom of God,
for the spread of the Faith,
for the praise and triumph of our Holy Mother Church …
Pray for the unfaithful
and for heretics and
for the conversion of sinners.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Deathbed Despair vs. Mary’s Dolors



Mary's Dolors at a Deathbed
vs.
60 Years of Sin

We read in the revelations of St. Bridget, that there was once a lord as noble by birth as he was low and sinful in his habits. He had given himself by an express compact, as a slave to the devil, and had served him for sixty years, leading such a life as may easily be imagined, and never approaching the sacraments.
Now, this prince was about to die and Jesus Christ, in His compassion, commanded St. Bridget to tell his confessor to visit him, and exhort him, to make his confession.
The confessor went, and the sick man told him that he had no need of a confessor, for that he had often made his confession. The confessor visited him a second time and that poor slave of hell persevered in his obstinate determination not to make his confession. Jesus again directed the saint to tell the confessor to go to him again. He obeyed, and this third time related to him the revelation made to the saint, and that he had returned so many times because the Lord, who desired to show him mercy, had directed him to do so.
On hearing this the dying man was moved, and began to weep. "But how," he exclaimed, "can I be pardoned, when for sixty years I have served the devil, made myself his slave, and have laden my soul with innumerable sins?"
"Son," answered the father, encouraging him, "do not doubt: if you repent of them, in the name of God I promise you pardon." Then, beginning to gain confidence, he said to the confessor: "Father, I believed myself lost, and despaired of salvation; but now I feel a sorrow for my sins, which encourages me to trust; and as God has not yet abandoned me, I wish to make my confession."
And in fact on that day he made his confession four times with great sorrow; the next day he received communion, and on the sixth he died contrite and entirely resigned.
After his death, Jesus Christ further revealed to St. Bridget, that this sinner was saved, and was in purgatory, and that he had been saved by the intercession of the Virgin, His mother; for the deceased, although he had led so sinful a life, yet had always preserved devotion to her dolors; whenever he remembered them he pitied her.

PRAYER: 
Oh my afflicted mother! queen of martyrs and of sorrows, thou hast shed so many tears for thy Son, who died for my salvation, and yet what will thy tears avail me, if I am lost?
By the merits, then, of thy dolors, obtain for me a true sorrow for my sins, and a true amendment of life, with a perpetual and tender compassion for the passion of Jesus and thy own sufferings. And if Jesus and thou, being so innocent, have suffered so much for me, obtain for me that I, who am deserving of hell, may also suffer something for love of you.
O Lady, I will say to thee with St. Bonaventure, if I have offended thee, wound my heart in punishment; if I have served thee, now I beg to be wounded as a reward. It is a shameful thing to see our Lord Jesus wounded, and thee wounded with him, and I uninjured.
Finally, oh my mother, by the grief thou didst experience on seeing thy Son before thy eyes bow his head and expire upon the cross, I entreat of thee to obtain for me a good death. Ah, do not cease, oh advocate of sinners, to assist my afflicted and struggling soul in that great passage that it has to make into eternity. And, because at that time it may easily be the case that I shall have lost the use of speech with which to invoke thy name, and that of Jesus, who are all my hope, therefore I now invoke thy Son and thee to succor me at that last moment, and I say: Jesus and Mary, to you I commend my soul. Amen.


 This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

St. Bernardine of Siena

Bernardine, “The Apostle of Italy,” was born on September 8, 1380 in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima. His father, a member of the noble Sienese family of Albizeschi, was governor of the region.

Because Bernardine was orphaned at an early age, two aunts raised him like their own son. His youth was blameless, pious and studious.

In the year 1400, the plague descended with a vengeance upon Siena. Twelve to twenty people were dying daily at the city’s largest hospital, which was soon bereft of caring personnel. The twenty-year-old Bernardine volunteered to take charge of the hospital with another ten companions whom he had convinced to lay down their lives for the sake of the countless stricken and dying.

Four grueling months later, several of his companions died, but Bernardine escaped contagion. Nevertheless, weakened by his tireless labor, he contracted a fever from which his health never fully recovered.

He went on to join the Franciscans and was ordained on September 8, 1404. About two years later, St. Vincent Ferrer, one of the greatest preachers of all time, while in Italy, foretold that his mantle would descend upon one listening to him, saying he would return to France and Spain leaving to another the task of evangelizing the people of Italy. Twelve years were to pass before this prediction was fulfilled, as Bernardine lived a life of retirement in the monastery.

In 1417 his fiery eloquence burst forth, inflaming the souls of the multitudes. He preached fearlessly in cities large and small rebuking evil in places high and low. After hearing him, penitents of all classes flocked in droves to the confessionals. His great devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus and as he preached, he would hold up a plaque with the initials "I.H.S." an acronym for the name of JESUS, and had people place the Holy Name over the gates of towns, and over the entrances of their houses and businesses. Pope Pius II who listened to Bernardine in his youth said that people listened to him as to another Apostle St. Paul. Tirelessly and on foot, he traversed the length and breath of Italy, launching a true moral reform.

In 1444, although ill, Bernardine traveled to the Kingdom of Naples to preach. Being too weak to walk, he was obliged to ride an ass. Nevertheless, worn out by his forty years of apostolate, he died lying on the bare ground on the eve of the Ascension, as his companion Friars chanted: Pater manifestavi nomen Tuum hominibus … Father I have manifested Thy Name to men.

After a funeral of unprecedented splendor, miracles multiplied and he was canonized in 1450.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Virgin Most Powerful

Let the storm rage and the sky darken
– not for that shall we be dismayed.
If we trust as we should in Mary,
we shall recognize in her, the Virgin Most Powerful
“who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent.”

Pope St. Pius X

St. Dunstan of Canterbury

St. Dunstan, most famous of the Anglo-Saxon saints, was born near Glastonbury of a noble family closely connected to the ruling house.

While expecting him, his saintly mother was in church on Candlemas Day, when all the lights were extinguished. Suddenly, the candle she held spontaneously re-ignited, and all present rekindled their tapers from this miraculous flame. This was taken to foreshadow that the child she bore was to be a light to the Church in England.

In fact, from early on, Dunstan gave signs of religious and academic fervor, and demonstrated a remarkable artistic talent. He studied under the Irish monks of Glastonbury Abbey and later, under the guidance of his uncle St. Alphege, the Bishop of Winchester, became a monk himself and received Holy Orders from his hands. After ordination, he retired to a cell near an old church where he divided his time between prayer and the crafting of sacred vessels and illuminating manuscripts. He also played the harp.

In 943 Dunstan was appointed Abbot of Glastonbury. As soon as he took office, he set about reconstructing the monastic buildings, restoring the church and revamping communal life. Under his stewardship, Glastonbury became a center of learning and the standard for the revitalization and restoration of other monastic communities.

Dunstan became chief council to King Edred, and then his successor, King Edgar. He stood firmly for discipline and reform, especially in morals, among the laity and particularly among the clergy. He also worked for the unification of his country becoming the leader of a party. Later, learning of Benedictine perfection, he applied its maxims to his labors.

Under Kind Edgar he was first consecrated Bishop of Worcester, then Bishop of London, and subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury. Upon going to Rome, he was appointed legate of the Holy See by Pope John XII. Armed with this authority, the saint set himself to energetically reestablish ecclesiastical discipline under the powerful protection of the king.

He was Edgar’s counselor for sixteen years, and continued to direct the state during the short reign of Edward the Martyr. The political assassination of the young prince and the dubious accession of his half-brother Ethelred in 970 ended Archbishop Dunstan’s influence at court, and he foretold the calamities which were to mark the new king’s reign.

No longer directly involved in the affairs of state, the holy archbishop retired to Canterbury. On the feast of the Ascension in 988, although gravely ill, he preached three sermons to his people and announced his impending death. He died peacefully two days later.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mary and The Jealous Wife


"Mary Is The Hope Of All"

It is related in the Fourth Part of the Treasure of the Rosary, miracle eighty-fifth, that a gentleman who was most devoted to the divine mother, had set apart in his palace an oratory where, before a beautiful statue of Mary, he was accustomed often to remain praying, not only by day, but also by night, interrupting his rest to go and honor his beloved Lady; but his wife, for he was married, though she was a very devout person, observing that her husband in the deepest silence of the night left his bed, and going from his apartment did not return for a long time, became jealous, and was suspicious of evil; wherefore, one day, to free herself from this thorn which tormented her, she ventured to ask him if he ever loved any other woman but herself.
Smiling, he answered her: "I assure you that I love the most amiable lady in the world; to her I have given my whole heart and rather would I die than cease to love her; if you knew her, you would say that I ought to love her more than I do."
He meant the most holy Virgin whom he loved so tenderly. But his wife, conceiving a greater suspicion than before, in order to ascertain the truth better, interrogated him anew, and asked him if he arose from his bed and left the room every night to meet that lady.
The gentleman, who did not perceive the great trouble of his wife, answered "Yes." The wife was completely deceived, and, blinded by passion, one night when her husband, according to his custom, had left the chamber, seized a knife in despair, cut her throat, and very soon died.
Her husband having finished his devotion, returned to his apartment, but on going to bed, found it wet. He called his wife; she did not answer: he tried to arouse her; she was immovable. At length he took a light, found the bed full of blood, and his wife dead, with her throat cut. Then he perceived that she had destroyed herself through jealousy.
What does he do? He locks the door of his apartment, returns to the chapel, prostrates himself before the most blessed Virgin, and shedding a torrent of tears, said to her: "Oh my mother, behold my affliction: if thou dost not console me, to whom shall I go? Remember I am so unfortunate as to see my wife dead and lost because I have come hither to pay thee honor, oh my mother, who dost help us in all our troubles, help me now."
How surely does every one obtain what he wishes if he supplicates with confidence this mother of mercy! No sooner did he offer this prayer than he heard a servant-maid calling him: "My lord, come to your apartment, for your lady calls you."
The gentleman could hardly believe these words for joy. "Return," he said to the servant, "and see if she really calls me." She returned, entreating him to go quickly, for her mistress was waiting for him. He went, opened the door, and found his wife living; she threw herself at his feet in tears and begged him to pardon her, saying: "Oh, my husband, the mother of God, through thy prayer, has delivered me from hell."
Weeping for joy, they went to their oratory to thank the blessed Virgin. The next day the husband made a feast for all their relations, to whom the wife herself related the facts, at the same time showing the marks of the wound, and all were more deeply inflamed with the love of the divine mother.

PRAYER:
Oh mother of holy love, oh our life, our refuge, and our hope, thou knowest that thy Son Jesus Christ, not content with making Himself our perpetual intercessor with the eternal Father, would have thee also engaged in obtaining for us, by thy prayers, the divine mercy.
He has ordained that thy prayers should aid in our salvation, and has given such power to them that they obtain whatever they ask; I, a miserable sinner, turn to thee then, oh hope of the wretched. I hope, oh Lady, through the merits of Jesus Christ and thy intercession, to secure my salvation. In these I trust; and so entirely do I trust in thee, that if my eternal salvation were in my own hands, I would wish to place it in thine; for in thy mercy and protection I would trust far more than in my own works.
My mother and my hope, do not abandon me, as I deserve. Behold my misery, pity me, help me, save me. I confess that I have often, by my sins, shut out the light and aid which thou hast obtained for me from the Lord.
But thy compassion for the wretched and thy power with God are far greater than the number and malignity of my sins. It is known in heaven and on earth that he who is protected by thee will certainly not perish. Let all forget me, but do not thou forget me, oh mother of the omnipotent God. Say unto God that I am thy servant, tell Him that I am defended by thee, and I shall be saved.
Oh Mary, I trust in thee: in this hope I live, and in this hope I wish to die, repeating always: "Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus, Mary."


This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

Why does Our Lord not always show us His love?

Our Lord loves you
and loves you tenderly; and
if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love,
it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Pope St. John I

St. John I was a native of Siena in Tuscany and was one of the seven deacons of Rome when he was elected to the papacy at the death of Pope Hormisdas in the year 523.

At the time, Theodoric the Great ruled over the Ostrogoths in Italy and Justin I was the Byzantine Emperor of Constantinople. King Theodoric supported the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Justin I, the first Catholic on the throne of Constantinople in fifty years, published a severe edict against the Arians, requiring them to return to orthodox Catholics the churches they had taken from them. The said edict caused a commotion among eastern Arians, and spurred Theodoric to threaten war.

Ultimately, he opted for a diplomatic solution and named Pope John, much against his wishes, to head a delegation of five bishops and four senators to Justin.

Pope John, refused to comply with Theodoric’s wishes to influence Justin to reverse his policies. The only thing he did obtain from Justin was for him to mitigate his treatment of Arians, thus avoiding reprisals against Catholics in Italy.

After the delegation returned, Theodoric, disappointed with the result of the mission, and growing daily more suspicious at reports of the friendly relations between the Pope and Justin I, had the pontiff arrested at Ravenna.

Pope John I died in prison a short time later as a result of ill treatment.

St. Eric IX of Sweden

Eric the Holy or Erik the Saint was acknowledged king in most provinces of Sweden in 1150, and his family line subsisted for a hundred years. He did much to establish Christianity in Upper Sweden and built or completed at Old Uppsala the first large church to be erected in the country. It is said that all the ancient laws and constitutions of the kingdom were, by his orders, collected into one volume, which came to be known as King Eric’s Law or The Code of Uppland.

The king soon had to take up arms against the heathen Finns. He vanquished them in battle, and at his desire, St. Henry, Bishop of Uppsala, who had accompanied him on the expedition, remained in Finland to evangelize the people.

The king’s zeal for the Catholic Faith was far from pleasing to his nobles, and we are told that they entered into a conspiracy against him with Magnus, the son of the king of Denmark. King Eric was hearing Mass on the day after the feast of the Ascension when news was brought that a Danish army, swollen with Swedish rebels, was marching against him and was close at hand. With unwavering calm he answered, “Let us at least finish the sacrifice; the rest of the feast I shall keep elsewhere”. After Mass was over, he recommended his soul to God, and marched forth in advance of his guards. The conspirators rushed upon him, beat him down from his horse, and beheaded him. His death occurred on May 18 in 1161.

The relics of St. Eric IX of Sweden are preserved in the Cathedral of Uppsala, and the saintly king's effigy appears on the coat of arms of the city of Stockholm.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Adulteress And The Wife



"Justice, Mother of God, justice."
Our blessed Lady answered:"Justice! do you seek
justice from me?" 

How Great is the clemency and mercy of Mary
Father Charles Bovius relates that in Doinana, in France, lived a married man who had held a criminal connection with another woman. Now the wife being unable to endure this, continually besought God to punish the guilty parties; and one day in particular went to an altar of the blessed Virgin, which was in a certain church to implore vengeance upon the woman who had alienated her husband from her; and this very woman went also every day to the same altar, to repeat a "Hail Mary."
One night the divine mother appeared in a dream to the wife, who, on seeing her, began her accustomed petition: "Justice, Mother of God, justice." But the blessed Lady answered: "Justice! do you seek justice from me? Go and find others to execute justice for you. It belongs not to me to do it for you. Be it known to you," she added, "that this very sinner offers every day a devotion in my honor, and that I cannot allow any sinner who does this, to suffer and be punished for her sins."
The next day the wife went to hear mass in the above named church of our Lady, and on coming out met her husband's friend; at the sight of her she began to reproach her and call her a sorceress, who had even enchanted with her sorceries the blessed Virgin.
"Be silent," cried the people: "what are you saying?"
"I be silent!" she answered: "What I say is only too true; this night the Virgin appeared to me; and when I implored justice of her, she answered me, that she could not grant it on account of a salutation which this wicked woman repeats daily in her honor."
They asked the woman what salutation she repeated to the Mother of God. She answered that it was the "Hail Mary"; and then on hearing that the Blessed Virgin had dealt with her so mercifully in return for that trivial act of devotion, she cast herself on the ground before the sacred image, and there, in the presence of all the people, asked pardon for her scandalous life, and made a vow of perpetual continence.
She afterwards put on a religious habit, built for herself a little cell near the church, where she retired, and persevered in continual penance until the day of her death.

PRAYER:
Oh mother of mercy! since thou art so compassionate, and hast so great a desire to do good to us sinners, and to satisfy our demands, I, the most wretched of all men, today have recourse to thy mercy, that thou mayest grant my requests. Let others ask what they will, health of body, wealth, or temporal advantages; I come to ask of thee, oh Lady, those things which thou thyself dost most desire of me, and which are most conformable and most pleasing to thy sacred heart.
Thou who wast so humble, obtain for me humility and love of contempt. Thou who wast so patient in the difficulties of this life, obtain for me patience in things contrary to my wishes. Thou who didst overflow with love to God, obtain for me the gift of a holy and pure love. Thou who wast all charity towards thy neighbor, obtain for me charity towards all men, and especially towards those who are my enemies. Thou who wast wholly united to the divine will, obtain for me a perfect uniformity with the will of that God in all his dispositions concerning me.
Thou, in a word, art the most holy of all creatures; oh Mary, obtain for me the grace to become a saint. Thy love is unfailing; thou canst and wilt obtain all things for me.
Nothing, then, can hinder me from receiving thy graces but my neglect to invoke thee, or my want of confidence in thy intercession. But thou thyself must obtain for me the grace to seek thee, and this grace of confidence in thy intercession.
These two greatest gifts I ask from thee – from thee will I receive them – from thee do I confidently hope for them. Oh Mary! Mary, my mother, my hope, my love, my life, my refuge, and my consolation. Amen.


 This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

How to love God more perfectly

Meditate well on this:
Seek God above all things.
It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else,
because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for.
This will also make you more ready to serve God and
will enable you to love Him more perfectly.

St. Paschal Baylon

St. Paschal Baylon

Paschal was born in Terra Hermosa, Spain on Pentecost Sunday, May 24, 1540 the son of Martin Baylon and Isabel Jubera, pious day laborers. The feast of Pentecost in Spain being called “Pasch of the Holy Ghost,” the child was named Paschal.

From age seven to twenty-four he tended sheep, and early on showed signs of a great passion for the Holy Eucharist. While out at pasture, he continuously contemplated from the book of nature, and was ever attentive to the sound of bells announcing the elevation at Mass.

His employer so esteemed Pachal’s virtues, that he offered to adopt him, which offer the youth gratefully declined, preferring to remain poor that he might better follow his chosen path to God.

At around age eighteen he applied to the Franciscan Friars Minors who, under St. Peter of Alcantara, then living, were undergoing a salutary reform. At first the friars put Paschal off, but when a few years later he was finally accepted, they soon realized what a treasure of virtue they had taken in. Though little educated, through his prayer life Paschal had reached a high degree of spiritual wisdom, which astounded his peers.

Again, his great spiritual characteristic was his devotion to the Holy Eucharist before which he spent hours on his knees, his hands clasped high in front of his face, at times rapt in ecstasy.

Once, when Paschal was sent on a mission through France, which was then undergoing fierce religious convulsions due to Calvinists and Huguenots, he bravely defended the doctrine of the Eucharistic Presence against a Calvinist preacher, barely escaping with his life afterwards.

Paschal died at fifty-two, on May 17, 1592 with the name of Jesus on his lips just as the host was being elevated.

His body was exposed for three days as multitudes gathered to venerate him and witnessed many miracles which God deigned to perform to confirm the sanctity of his servant. Paschal Baylon was canonized in 1690.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fatima Celebrations: May 12th & 13th, 2018


by Joshua Long

On the night of May 12th, 2018, if you were to stand on one of the many hills surrounding the small country town of Fatima, Portugal, you would have thought that every star in the sky had fallen to earth. In the center of town, under a dark sky, many thousands of pilgrims from around the world stood holding candles, praying the Rosary and other prayers.
Antonio Fragelli from America Needs Fatima stood amongst the crowd, candlelight illuminating the banner he carried with him. On the banner were printed thousands of names of America Needs Fatima members who signed up to join us in spirit for the celebrations.

On the day of May 13th, Mother's Day, we returned to the village square to deliver 9037 beautiful roses pledged on behalf of mothers and offered to Our Lady in Fatima.
Red, white, yellow and pink, these roses were carried in wicker baskets all the way from the center of town to the Fatima shrine, where they were arranged in front of one of the many altars surrounding the exact site where Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children.






After the offering of the roses, and a little later in the evening, we joined the candlelight procession on May 13th, gathering at the steps of the impressive Fatima basilica.
Leading the procession was a large, lighted cross. Flanking the cross on the right and holding a place of honor was the America Needs Fatima banner. This special banner carried the names of 13,558 devotees of Our Lady of Fatima. The American flag was held aloft to the left of the cross.

We also delivered the thousands of intentions sent to us by America Needs Fatima members and supporters and lit candles for them and their intentions.
 



Mary’s Life In The Temple





The Immaculate Virgin, who enjoyed use of her reason

from the moment she was born, understood the significance of this act.

Saints Joachim and Anne proved their gratitude to God Who, against all hope, 
had satisfied their innermost desire.
They promised, probably with a vow, to consecrate their daughter to the service of the Temple.
Such a practice was nothing out of the ordinary for the chosen people of God. For generations, a given number of young girls would devote their lives from childhood until their wedding day in the House of the Lord. There they received the education commonly given to women of Israel in their day.
Several passages of Holy Scripture refer to them spending their days praying and working. Indeed, they embroidered the fine linen and the sumptuous purple ornaments bordered with gold used in the liturgy. They enhanced the magnificence of the liturgical celebration with their singing. Finally, as the book of Kings tells us, they formed an honor guard before the Tabernacle.

When the Virgin Mary attained the age of three, her pious parents fulfilled their promise to the Lord.
Despite the immense sorrow of losing their daughter, such a tender, gracious, and gentle child, they took her to Jerusalem. The Immaculate Virgin, who enjoyed use of her reason from the moment she was born, understood the significance of this act.
On that day, she who had already been entirely consecrated to the Lord, gave herself fully to Him with all the élan of her will and love.
Her devotion, however, did not prevent her from acutely experiencing the bitterness of her sacrifice. As souls draw closer to God, they become more loving and good.
Indeed, the affectionate heart of Mary was torn when she left her parents, but, even at such a young age, she ascended the long stairway to the Temple unhesitatingly and disappeared into the House of God.

* * *
For twelve years the Queen of Heaven dwelled in the shadow of the sanctuary, leading a hidden and very ordinary life. Let us bow respectfully before her and ask permission to draw near her soul that we might study her virtues in the Temple, which made her the favorite garden of the Most High.

How did the Blessed Virgin consider herself:
She who was such an incomparable masterpiece of the Lord and the most beautiful of all creatures aside from the holy humanity of our Savior? Assuredly, Mary knew she had received exceptional favors. She sensed the absence of any interior temptation, the fire of love burning within her heart, and the incomparable and frequent ecstasies, without ever calling attention to herself.
All this proved without a doubt the immensity of God’s divine mercy for her.
In the Temple of Jerusalem, however, she was not aware of the grandeur that was hers. It seems unlikely that she would have known of the unique privilege of her Immaculate Conception. In any case, she was not cognizant that the Son of God had chosen from all eternity to take on flesh in her womb.
She would have thought herself fortunate to have become the humble servant of this glorious virgin who would one day be the Mother of the Messias. Little did she suspect the honor that awaited her.
Give heed to what she revealed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: “Be certain that I saw myself as the lowliest creature and most unworthy of God’s graces.”1 Do not be astounded to hear such an affirmation! After Our Lord, only Mary understood more profoundly the immensity of the Most High and the lowliness of mankind. She knew that by her human nature she was nothing. She attributed the virtues adorning her heart to God alone, taking no merit for them whatsoever. In the presence of the Heavenly Father, she immersed herself in an unfathomable abyss of humility.
Her exterior manner reflected this humility. No other child showed herself more docile to her tutors. She learned much that she did not know through infused knowledge. She was taught to read the Scriptures, to sew and embroider, and made rapid progress. The priests also taught her about divine things, although she was incomparably more advanced than they! Yet, she listened to their lessons with respectful attention and submitted in every way to their opinions.
The Virgin Mary’s humility made her attentive and helpful toward her little companions. She revealed to Saint Mechtilde that as she immersed herself in the consideration of her nothingness, she liked to admire their youthful virtues. It never occurred to her to prefer herself over the least among them.

This rare humility enchanted the adorable Trinity.
Indeed, it merited a sublime response, attracting the Incarnate Word to reside within Our Lady’s chaste womb. If the Immaculate Virgin pleased the Most High by her spotless purity, said Saint Bernard, it was by her humility that she became the Mother of God: “Virginitate placuit, humilitate concepti.”2


This study should not be merely speculative. It must have practical applications.
Let us then speak with frank brutality and merciless cruelty. I pray this humble and gentle Virgin will deign to give me just and propitious words!
All men are naturally vain. There is, however, a pride that is more subtle, more dangerous, and more difficult to cure than any other, that of pious souls. In the Temple, Mary did not cling complacently to the favors she received. Some devout persons lose considerable time scrutinizing their progress in virtue. If they experience some sweetness or consolation in prayer, they become ecstatic and immediately see themselves as favored by God. Yet, these insignificant feelings often come from purely natural sources.
In the Temple, Mary preferred herself to no one. Certain pious souls judge their neighbor with extreme severity. It is not that they occasionally let loose biting remarks about the exterior faults of others. Indeed, their conscience forbids them to utter such caustic remarks—regrettable without doubt—but which are not in themselves grave sins. They do not do this, but instead very candidly and sincerely think themselves superior to those who do not cast sighing looks of longing towards the Blessed Sacrament.
In the Temple, Mary had no suspicion of the sublime mission God had reserved for her. Occasionally one finds pious souls who think they have some special mission. They apply themselves to a thousand devotional practices that God has not asked of them but neglect the most essential aspects of their state in life.
The seventeenth century produced one of these false saints who believed herself called to finally make “pure love” known to the world. She unabashedly described herself as the most perfect image of the spouse from the Canticle of Canticles. For a while, she led astray even the enlightened mind of Fenelon3 by her dangerous delusions.
Let us sincerely examine our consciences. If we find some complacency or fail to consider our complete nothingness, then we are undoubtedly dragging along miserably at the basest level of mediocrity.

God cannot pour His gifts into a proud heart.
When He discovers a soul that is full of itself, either He lets it stagnate or He uses the only means of healing it, allowing it to fall prey to its own faults—at times considerable—in order for it to open its eyes and recognize its miserable state.
In fact, Saint Peter preferred himself to the other apostles when he said: “Although all may abandon Thee, I will never leave Thee.… Even though I should die with Thee…” In vain the Master reminds him of his weakness, but Peter stubbornly replies, “I will not deny you.”4 Poor Saint Peter! How harshly he learned the lesson so necessary to humility.
If you seriously want to progress in the way of perfection, beg the Queen of Heaven to inspire you with true humility. Never think yourself better than others. Recall the words of Our Lord Himself to the Pharisees, so self-righteous with their exterior acts of justice. I would not dare refer to such words had the Master not pronounced them Himself. “There are sinful souls whom you despise,” He declared to these proud men. “But because they recognize the depth of their depravity, My grace will one day touch them. They will enter the Kingdom of Heaven before you.”5


* * *
I would like to have continued studying the other excellent virtues Mary practiced during her childhood. I would like to have shown Our Lady waiting with impatience for the coming of the Messias. She knew that the time fixed by the Prophets approached. She meditated with particular fervor on the chapter of Scripture wherein Isaias foretells the humiliation and suffering of the Man-God. She ardently asked Our Heavenly Father for the particular favor of serving the Lord. Her prayers were granted far beyond her expectations.
I would also like to have studied the vow by which she consecrated her virginity to the Lord. Through such a radiant example, we would have learned how the Most High crowns Christian virginity with admirable fecundity. To develop these topics would exceed the confines of the present work. We have chosen the virtues of the Immaculate Virgin that we deemed most appropriate for souls desiring to lead a profound interior life.


* * *
When speaking of the Savior’s childhood at Nazareth, the Gospel tells us that He grew in age, wisdom, and grace before both God and men. Our Lady’s childhood, like that of her Divine Son, was also a time of growth. The Virgin quickly rose to peaks of holiness.

During the years she lived in the Temple, she blossomed fully in physical beauty and especially in the radiant splendor of her incomparable virtue.
She was now ready for the great designs of the Lord’s divine mercy. The luminous radiance of divine maternity would soon engulf her.
Let us ask the holy Virgin to be not only our model but, even more, our guide along the way of perfection.
Under her guidance, we will have neither illusions nor dangers to fear, as Saint Bernard assures us.6 She will lead us on the surest and most direct route to God, and in hearts, shaped by her maternal hands, she will place her divine Infant.

 Notes:

1. “Me reputabam vilissimam et gratia Dei indignam.” Quoted by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in The Glories of Mary in discussing her humility. [back to text]
2. St. Bernard, Homilia…super Missus est. [back to text]
3. Transl. Note: Fenelon was a priest and writer of the seventeenth century. He is known for his criticism of the political regime of Louis XIV. His Explanations of Maxims of the Saints was condemned by the Church for its quietism. He is nonetheless considered one of France’s great thinkers of that time. [back to text]
4. Matt 26:33-35. [back to text]
5. Cf. Matt 21:28-32. [back to text]
6. Homilia 2 super Missus. [back to text]
This devotional article is taken from Crusade Magazine, November-December, 1999; a Special Edition dedicated almost entirely to the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of a work by Fr. Raymond de Thomas de Saint-Laurent as a token of reparation for the many blasphemies and insults that are continuously hurled against them.

Too much attention to Mary?

Let those who think that the Church
pays too much attention to Mary
give heed to the fact
that Our Blessed Lord Himself
gave ten times as much of His life to her
as He gave to His Apostles.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Brendan of Clonfert

Little is known of the life of St. Brendan. Though his character is steeped in misty legend, he did very much exist and it is fairly certain that he was born near Tralee, Ireland, in County Kerry. He was baptized by St. Erc and, for five years, was entrusted to the care of St. Ita, the "Brigid of Muenster," to be educated. Later, in 512, Brendan was ordained by St. Erc.

He is thought to have started a community of monks, and at some point he embarked on his famous seven-year voyage with sixty companions, looking for the “Land of Promise”. Though much celebrated, this story is steeped in mystery. The isle of St. Brendan seems to have been one of his points of landing.

On more historically secure footing, St. Brendan established sees, churches and monasteries, the most famous of which was Clonfert in 557, where he appointed St. Moinenn as prior and school master. After his death, St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert.
Photos by: Andreas F. Borchert

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pray the Rosary – Free Souls from Purgatory

Saint Louis de Montfort tells the story of a young girl of noble station named Alexandra, who had been miraculously converted and enrolled by St. Dominic in the Confraternity of the Rosary.  

After her death, she appeared to him and said she had been condemned to seven hundred years in purgatory because of her own sins and those she had caused others to commit by her worldly ways.
So she implored him to ease her pains by his prayers and to ask the Confraternity members to pray for the same end. St. Dominic did as she had asked.
Two weeks later she appeared to him, more radiant than the sun, having been quickly delivered from purgatory by the prayers of the Confraternity members.
She also told St. Dominic that she had come on behalf of the souls in purgatory to beg him to go on preaching the Rosary and to ask their relations to offer their Rosaries for them, and that they would reward them abundantly when they entered into glory.
By Saint Louis de Montfort

Easy way to acquire humility

Here is one of the best means
to acquire humility.
Fix well in mind this maxim:
one is as much as he is in the sight of God,
and no more.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Isidore the Farmer

St. Isidore the Farmer, patron of Madrid, was born of poor parents and named for St. Isidore, the Archbishop of Seville.

As a young man he entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy resident of Madrid, as a farm laborer and worked for the same employer his whole life.

Isidore married a young woman as poor and as virtuous as himself, but after the early death of an only son, they decided to serve God in perfect continence. A shining example of holiness in ordinary, day-to-day living, Isidore would wake early, attend Mass, and then spend the day at the plow, engrossed entirely in prayer and contemplation. Many marvels accompanied his daily grind and he was granted heavenly visions and conversed familiarly with the angels.

He was a great almsgiver, at times sharing most of his meals with the needy. He also loved animals. Once, on a snowy winter day, as he carried a sack of corn to be ground at the mill, he spied birds on a branch, hopeless of a meal. Despite the jeers of his companions, he poured half of his corn on the ground. On arriving at the mill, not only was his sack full, but the corn yielded double the amount of flour.

Isidore died on May 15, 1130. His wife survived him by several years and is also honored as a saint. Countless miracles followed the translation of Isidore’s body to a more honorable shrine, and devotion to the saint spread like wildfire.

In 1211 he is said to have appeared to King Alphonsus of Castille then fighting the Moors in the pass of Navas de Tolosa, and to have shown him a hidden path, which allowed the king and his army to surprise the enemy and carry the day.

Devoted to the saint, the Spanish Royal Family supported Isidore’s cause for canonization, and he was declared a saint in 1622.

In 1947 St. Isidore the Farmer was declared the patron of the National Rural Conference of the United States.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The importance of obedience

 Obedience is rightly placed
before all other sacrifices, for
in offering a victim as sacrifice,
one offers a life that is not one’s own; but
when one obeys
one is immolating one’s own will.

St. Gregory the Great


St. Matthias the Apostle

The Greek name “Matthias” means “gift of Yahweh”. All we know for certain of Matthias is that he was chosen by the eleven apostles to replace the traitor, Judas, after the Ascension of Jesus and before the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, which makes St. Matthias the only apostle not directly chosen by Our Lord.

According to the Acts of the Apostles (1:15-26), after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (120 of Christ’s disciples) and said: “…it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” Acts 1:21-22. So it is clear that Matthias had followed Jesus since Our Lord's baptism by John in the Jordan.

For the selection of the new twelfth apostle, after a prayer beseeching God to guide them in His divine will, the eleven apostles cast lots between a Joseph, called Barsabas, and Matthias. The lot fell on Matthias who took his place among the first apostolic college.

According to Nicephorus' Church history, Matthias first preached in Judea and then in Ethiopia, where he was ultimately crucified.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

St. John the Silent

John was born in Nicopolis in Armenia in the year 454 into a noble and virtuous family. Unusually devout even from childhood, John did not pursue the careers popular in his family; instead, after the death of his parents, he was divinely inspired to build a monastery where he afterwards lived with ten other young men, living the life of monks. John was only eighteen years old. Under his direction, they led a devoted life of work and piety, gaining for him a reputation of leadership and sanctity. Because of this, the Archbishop of Sabaste was moved to consecrate John as Bishop of Colonia in Armenia at the young age of twenty-eight. Although he felt himself insufficient and unworthy of the office, John accepted the position with humility and governed his diocese for nine years before he decided to resign and fulfill his desire to live a life of seclusion. Thus he found his way to Jerusalem.

While at prayer one night, John was granted a vision in which he was guided to the monastery of St. Sabas and there the pilgrim was granted permission to dwell in a lonely hermitage to pursue uninterrupted contemplation.

Such was his sanctity that after four years, having disclosed to no one that he had once been a bishop, and St. Sabas wishing to have John ordained to holy orders, the abbot presented him to the Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem. However, upon their arrival at Calvary, John requested a private audience with the patriarch and disclosed his long-held secret. Upon learning of his previous consecration, St. Sabas was startled and reproached John for keeping the knowledge from him. Abashed at being discovered, John desired to abscond from the monastery. However, St. Sabas was able to convince him to remain by promising to keep his secret. Hence, John continued to reside in his cell for four more years, speaking to no one save the one who brought him his necessities.

In the year 503, trouble – caused by certain disruptive members of the community – was stirring in the cloister and St. Sabas was forced to leave his own monastery; consequently, John also decided to leave and went into a nearby wilderness where he lived in prayer, mortification and silence for six years. Only when St. Sabas was finally restored to his community was he again able to persuade John to also return. However, having become accustomed to conversing only with God, John was unable to find anything but emptiness in all else. Pursuing once more his own obscurity and humility, he retired to his old solitary cell and remained in that dwelling for forty more years. During that time, he never turned away any of the people who came seeking his instruction and counsel. One of these whom John instructed was a young man of sixteen named Cyril who later wrote John’s life.

John died in 558 at the age of one hundred and four – he had lived in solitude for seventy-six years, interrupted only by the nine years of his episcopate as bishop of Colonia.