Monday, October 31, 2016

Through Mary and with Mary

If you want to grow in perfection,
you cannot advance by yourselves
– you need a guide.

Hence, when you go to God,
go through Mary and with Mary!

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

St. Wolfgang of Ratisbon

Sankt Wolfgang im Salzkammergut parish church ( Upper Austria ). Saint Wolfgang´s chapel: Fresco at the ceiling – Saint Wolfgang making the devil build a church.

Wolfgang, born around 930, was of the family of the Swabian counts of Pfullingen.

As a young man he was sent to the renowned Benedictine Abbey on the monastic island of Reichenau located on Lake Constance. Here he became a friend of Henry, the brother of the Bishop of Wurzburg. They studied together at the cathedral school there.

Henry became acquainted with Wolfgang’s intelligence and capacity, and when he was consecrated Archbishop of Trier in 956, Wolfgang helped him with the improvements of religion in his diocese.

After the Archbishop’s death in 964, Wolfgang became a Benedictine in the monastery of Einsiedeln. There, he was appointed director of the school of the monastery.  St. Ulric, Bishop of Augsburg, ordained Wolfgang a priest, and for a while was sent to preach to the Magyars of Pannonia.

After this mission, the results of which did not correspond to his zeal, he was recommended to Otto II for the ecclesiastical seat of Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg in Bavaria), and though he begged to return to his monastery, was consecrated in 972.

Never quitting the monastic habit, and practicing all the austerities of monastic life, Wofgang ruled his diocese with fortitude and wisdom. One of the first things he set out to do was to reform the clergy, as well as monasteries, specially two disorderly nunneries.

He generously worked with Emperor Otto II in the reduction of his large diocese and the resultant formation of the diocese of Prague whose first bishop was St. Aldabert.  He also took part in several imperial diets, and in 978 accompanied Otto in his campaign to Paris.

While traveling on the Danube to the south of Austria, he fell ill at the village of Pupping. At his request he was carried into the chapel of St. Othmar, where he breathed his last. His body, taken back to Bishop of Ratisbon by friends, was solemnly interred in the chapel of St. Emmeran where many miracles occurred. He was canonized in 1042.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Church still lives on

All past persecutors of the Church are now no more, but
the Church still lives on.
The same fate awaits modern persecutors; they, too, will pass on, but
the Church of Jesus Christ will always remain,
for God has pledged His Word
to protect Her and be with Her forever, until the end of time.

St. John Bosco

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Alfonso was the third child of a well-to-do merchant in Segovia. He met the Jesuits early on when Blessed Peter Fabre and another stayed with them for a while, and at fourteen was sent to Alcala to study under the Order.

But his father soon died and he carried on the business with his mother. At twenty-three, his mother retiring, he ran it alone. He married Maria Suarez with whom he had two children, a girl and a boy.

But business began to go badly, then his little girl died and after, his wife. Two years later his mother died, and this succession of misfortunes turned Alfonso’s thoughts to what God might be calling him.

After selling his business, he moved in with his two sisters, pious women who initiated him in the practice of meditative prayer, to which he took assiduously.

After a few years his son also died, and dividing all he had left between his sisters and the poor of Segovia, he applied to the Jesuits. Being forty, and not too strong in health, he was refused. With the support of a friend, Father Louis Santander, S.J., he put himself through Latin school, and was finally accepted in the Jesuit Order as a lay brother.

Sent to the College of Montefiascone in the island of Mallorca, he was made hall-porter. He fulfilled this duty until too old and infirm. At this post he was known by all: clergymen, noblemen, students, professionals, poor men, merchants, etc. All grew to respect and love Br. Alphonsus. One of his “pupils” was St. Peter Claver.

Every minute that he was not working was dedicated to prayer, and Alphonsus developed a deep intimacy with God, though he had periods of painful aridity.   He wrote many a manuscript on the spiritual life, which, after his death, was published as “Obras Espirituales del Beato Alfonso Rodriguez”.

In October, 1617 Alphonsus sensed that his end was at hand.  After receiving Holy Communion on October 29, all pain of mind and body left him. He lay in an unbroken ecstasy until midnight of October 31, when a terrible agony began. After half an hour he again became peaceful. Looking around lovingly at his brethren, he kissed the crucifix, cried out “Jesus”, and died.

He was canonized in 1888 with St. Peter Claver.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Value vs. love

An action of small value
performed with much love of God
is far more excellent
than one of a higher value
performed with less love of God.

St. Francis de Sales

St. Narcissus of Jerusalem

Born toward the end of the first century, Narcissus was advanced in age when he was elected bishop of Jerusalem. Many miracles were attributed to the saintly prelate, one of which the historian Eusebius relates: the deacons being out of oil for the lamps to be used in the Easter Vigil liturgical solemnities, the bishop bade them draw water from a well. Pronouncing a blessing over this water, he poured it into the lamps, and it immediately turned to oil to the astonishment of all the faithful. Some of this oil was still preserved when Eusebius wrote of the miracle.
The general veneration of all good men for this holy bishop could not shelter him from evil tongues. Three incorrigible sinners, resentful of Narcissus’ strictness in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, accused him of an atrocious crime, which Eusebius does not specify. They stressed the “truth” of their shameless slander by terrible oaths: one wished that he would perish by fire, the other to be struck with leprosy, and the other that he to be made blind.

Despite the fact that the faithful unwaveringly believed their bishop innocent, Narcissus – notwithstanding the shock of the detestable calumny – retired into solitude.

Sometime later, divine vengeance pursued the calumniators:  the first man died with his whole family in a fire that consumed his home; the second contracted leprosy, and the third, deeply repentant, died blind from the amount of tears he shed.

So that Jerusalem was not left without a pastor, the surrounding bishops appointed three consecutive pastors to lead the church. On the third bishop’s term, Narcissus reappeared, as one returned from the dead. His innocence having been authentically proven, his whole flock wished to reinstate him. Narcissus acquiesced, but because of his great age, he soon asked St. Alexander to be his coadjutor.

Narcissus continued to serve his flock and even other churches by his earnest prayers and exhortations as St. Alexander testifies in a letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt. In this letter he writes that Narcissus was, at that time, one hundred and sixteen years old. The Roman Martyrology honors his memory on October 29.

Friday, October 28, 2016

In their agony

The Blessed Virgin Mary comforts and refreshes
those who are in their last agony.

Then she also receives their souls at death.

St. Vincent Ferrer

Sts. Simon and Jude

Simon, surnamed the Zealot, may have been part of the group of that name, which repudiated foreign domination of Israel. Beyond the fact that he was chosen by Our Lord as one of the twelve Apostles, there is no mention of him in the Gospels. According to Western tradition, after preaching in Egypt, he joined St. Jude in Syria and suffered martyrdom there.

Jude, also known as Thaddeus, is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus.  Mentioned twice in the Gospels (John 6:16 and Acts 1:13), he is thought to have been a cousin of Our Lord on St. Joseph’s side.

His attribute is the club or ax, by means of which he is thought to have suffered martyrdom. The most generally recognized depiction of St. Jude, the apostle holds a medallion with the face of the Lord, possibly linked to the image of Edessa.

The legend of the image of Edessa is recorded in the Historia Ecclesiastica written by Eusebius. According to the account, King Abgar, being ill, sent a letter to Jesus through a messenger by the name of Hannan. In this letter Abgar asked Jesus for a cure. Hannan either painted an image of the face of Jesus, or received it miraculously, by Jesus lifting a cloth to His face and imprinting His image upon it. The royal messenger brought the image back to Edessa. After the death of our Holy Savior, the apostle Thomas sent Jude to Abgar, and Jude cured the king miraculously. Astonished, the king accepted Christianity and many of his subjects were baptized.

St. Jude is also depicted with a flame above his forehead indicating that he received the Holy Ghost with the other apostles at Pentecost.

According to tradition, after Jude’s martyrdom, pilgrims visited his grave and many experienced his powerful intercession. St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard had visions from God in which they were shown St. Jude as “The Patron Saint of the Impossible.”

His relics were brought from Beirut to Rome and today rest alongside those of St. Simon in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


They will have the two-edged sword of the word of God in their mouths
and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders.
They will carry the crucifix in their right hand
and the rosary in their left,
and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart.
The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus 

will be reflected in their whole behavior.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Frumentius of Ethiopia

Around the year 330, Meropius, a Christian philosopher of Tyre, undertook a voyage to the coast of Arabia. With him were two young pupils, Frumentius and Aedesius.

On the voyage homeward, their vessel docked at an Ethiopian port. Falling out with some of the sailors, the natives massacred the crew and passengers, with the exception of the two lads who were studying under a tree at some distance.

When found, they were taken to the king who, impressed with their demeanor and knowledge, made Aedesius his cupbearer, and the elder, Frumentius, his secretary.

On his deathbed, in gratitude for their services, this prince granted them liberty. But the queen, regent for her young son, begged them to stay and help her, which they did.

Frumentius, having the principal management of affairs, convinced several Christian merchants who traded in Aksum to settle in the country, procuring for them all sorts of privileges and conveniences for religious worship.

When the young prince came of age and became king, ruling with his brother, the two Tyrians resigned their posts despite the young king’s entreaties that they remain. Aedesius returned to Tyre where he was ordained a priest, and related his adventures to Rufinus who wrote them in his Church History.  Frumentius sought out St. Theodosius in Alexandria and talked to him about his zeal for the conversion of the Ethiopians, entreating him to send a pastor to that country. Whereupon, St. Athanasius consecrated Frumentius bishop of Aksum, judging no one better suited for the task.

The consecration of Frumentius took place roughly around the year 350. Returning to Aksum, he gained numbers to the Faith through his preaching and miracles. The two royal brothers are said to have received baptism. But the conversion of the Aksumite kingdom was far from completed during the life of Frementius, though the population held him in the highest esteem.

He died about the year 383, and was reverently called Abuna – “Our Father” – and  Aba Salama – “Father of Peace”. To this day Abuna is the title of the primate of the Church of Ethiopia.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It is very difficult to renounce sin without this

He who does not acquire the love of God
will scarcely persevere in the grace of God, for
it is very difficult to renounce sin
merely through fear of chastisement.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Cedd of the East Saxons

What little is known about St. Cedd comes to us from the saintly Venerable Bede, an early English historian.

A native of the region of Northumbria, England, he was one of four brothers, one of whom was St. Chad. By the year 653 he had been ordained a priest.

At the time what is today the British isle was divided into several small kingdoms. Under the influence of St Augustine of Canterbury and other missionary saints the seeds of Christianity were sown far and wide throughout the land.

King Oswid of Northumbria, having been baptized by St. Finan, sent Cedd to evangelize the Middle Angles of Mercia. Mercia’s king was Penda, a pagan tolerant of Christianity, while his son, Peada, had promised to become Christian in exchange for the hand of King Oswid’s daughter in marriage.

Though Cedd made some headway in Mercia, his brother Chad reaped a greater harvest ten years later, probably under the more secure patronage of Peada.

From Mercia, Cedd was sent to re-evangelize the East Saxons at the request of King Sigeberht, who under the influence of King Oswid accepted baptism from St. Finan. Bede speaks of Cedd as a man unafraid to confront the powerful.

His success in this mission, earned for him the respect of St. Finan who consecrated him bishop of the East Saxons. Cedd built churches and founded two monasteries, one of which was the monastery of Lastingham. Both structures were eventually destroyed by the Danes.

In 664 Cedd was present at the Synod of Whitby, and was one of those who accepted the implementation of the Roman calendar and practices as opposed to the Celtic rite. Bede recounts that his ease with languages greatly aided in the communication of the various parties, which spoke Gaelic, early Welsh, Frankish, Old English and Latin.

He died of a plague that struck in 664. He was succeeded by his brother St. Chad as abbot of Lastingham.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to keep purity

Humility is the safeguard of chastity.
In the matter of purity, there is no greater danger than not fearing the danger.
For my part, when I find a man secure of himself and without fear,
I give him up for lost.
I am less alarmed for one who is tempted and who resists by avoiding the occasions,
than for one who is not tempted and is not careful to avoid occasions.
When a person puts himself in an occasion, saying, I shall not fall,
it is an almost infallible sign that he will fall, and with great injury to his soul.

St. Philip Neri

St. Gaudentius of Brescia

Gaudentius succeed St. Philastrius as Bishop of Brescia, Italy, under whom he seems to have studied, and whom he calls his “father”. Prior to his election, being very popular in Brescia, Gaudentius went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem hoping to be forgotten. But upon returning and finding that his mentor had died, he also found that the Brescians would have no other as successor. He was consecrated by St. Ambrose in 387. A record of Gaudentius’ discourse made at the time of his elevation survives.

Brescia rejoiced in the treasure of so holy a pastor. A nobleman, Benevolus, who had been disgraced by the Empress Justina for refusing to uphold Arian beliefs, had retired to Brescia. Being ill, and missing the bishop’s Easter sermons, he convinced Gaudentius to write them for his benefit. Thus several of his sermons survive.

In 405, Pope Innocent I and Emperor Honorius charged Gaudentius to defend St. John Chrysostom, a personal friend of the bishop, before Emperor Arcadius. St. John Chrysostom had been unjustly accused by a heretic and exiled, and he had been replaced by another.

Ill received, the delegates were imprisoned in Thrace. Ultimately they were returned safely to Italy, though in a most untrustworthy vessel. Despite the failure of the mission, St. John Chrysostom sent a letter of thanks to his friend. Gaudentius died around the year 410.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Our Lady’s Power at the Time of Death

In her City of God, Venerable Maria of Agreda, a XVII Century Conceptionist nun and mystic, to whom the Blessed Mother dictated her life, writes of a marvelous event in the early Christian Church.
After the first Pentecost, one of the five thousand first converts was a girl called Lillian. One day she fell gravely ill, and the devil, capitalizing on her bodily weakness, and the fact that she had given in to a few sins, took the form of a woman, and paid her sick-calls.
Little by little, by slandering the disciples of Jesus and the Christian community, the fiend introduced doubts in Lillian’s mind about her new-found Faith. At first the sick girl resisted, speaking of the peace and kindness of the beautiful lady who was Jesus’ Mother. But the devil assured Lillian that she was the worst of all. In the end, Lillian gave up her Faith.
One of the disciples of Jesus on visiting and finding Lillian’s attitude changed, tried to win the girl back to Christ, but to no avail. Deeply concerned, he informed the Apostle John.
St. John immediately visited the young woman and was able to see legions of devils surrounding her sick bed. Though the devils recoiled at his sight, so deceived was the girl, that he could not make a difference.
He then had recourse to the Blessed Mother, who, at the time was living in Jerusalem. On hearing of the case, Mary Most Holy implored her divine Son for the welfare and salvation of this young strayed lamb. She then made ready to visit the girl with St. John.
Just then, several angels appeared, and gallantly ushering Holy Mary onto a throne of clouds, carried her to Lillian’s side.
As soon as the great lady set foot on the threshold of the sufferer’s door, the demons infesting the room took chaotic flight, tripping over each other in their haste, and seeking refuge in the depths of Hell.
With the air cleared, Holy Mary sat by the dying girl, and with gentle words sweetly brought her back into her Son’s fold. Lillian wept tears of repentance and asked for the last Sacraments, which St. John administered. Thus, with her Mother holding her hand, Lillian expired.
As if not enough, Our Lady, with her prayers, made up for the girl’s time in Purgatory, and summoning one of her angels, bid him deliver the purified soul to heaven.
So, when saying the Hail Mary, may we stress: “…pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
By A.F. Phillips

Wherever he goes

The man who burns with the fire of divine love
is a son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
and wherever he goes, he enkindles that flame;
he works with all this strength to inflame all men with the fire of God’s love.
Nothing deters him; he rejoices in poverty; he labors strenuously;
he welcomes hardships; he laughs off false accusations; he rejoices in anguish.
He thinks only of how he might follow Jesus Christ and imitate him
by his prayers, his labors, his sufferings, and by caring always and only
for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

St. Anthony Maria Claret

St. Anthony Maria Claret

Born in 1807 in Sallent, Barcelona, Spain, Anthony practiced his father’s trade of weaving cloth. In his spare time he learned Latin and printing. At twenty-two he entered the Seminary at Vich, and was ordained in 1835.

After an attempt to enter the Jesuits in Rome and join the missions, which was thwarted by poor health, he was advised to dedicate himself to the evangelization of his countrymen. For ten years he preached missions and retreats throughout Catalonia. His zeal inspired others to join in his work and in 1849 he founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Known as "the Claretians," the institute flourished in Spain, the Americas and beyond.

Shortly after this great work was inaugurated, Fr. Claret was appointed Archbishop of Cuba. The task was one of exceptional difficulty. His efforts to bring about a much needed reform were vehemently resisted and several attempts were made upon his life. In one of those, he was seriously wounded.

Having resigned as Archbishop of Cuba in 1857, Anthony returned to Spain and was appointed confessor to Queen Isabel II. He firmly refused to reside at court, and only remained at court the time strictly necessary to accomplish his duties.

In the course of his life St. Anthony is said to have preached 10,000 sermons and published 200 books or pamphlets for the instruction and inspiration of the clergy and the faithful. While rector of the Escorial, he established a science laboratory, a museum of natural history, schools of music and languages, and other institutions.

Deeply united to God, he was endowed with supernatural graces, ecstasies, the gift of prophecy, and the miraculous healing of bodies.

In Rome, toward the end of his life, he helped promote the definition of papal infallibility.

Falling fatally ill in France, he went to his reward in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide on October 24, 1870. He was canonized in 1950.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What things God prepared for them that love Him

The eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man,
what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.

St. Paul, I Cor. 2:9

St. John of Capistrano

Born in the Kingdom of Naples in 1386, John of Capistrano was a most talented youth. He studied law in Perugia, was appointed governor of the city in 1412 and married the daughter of a wealthy citizen.

Imprisoned during hostilities between Perugia and the Malatesta, he had a vision of St. Francis of Assisi inviting him to join his order and resolved to dedicate his life entirely to God. His marriage not being consummated, John obtained a dispensation and joined the Franciscans in Perugia. He was ordained a priest in 1420, and made extraordinary progress in his theological studies, while leading a life of extreme austerity. His master was St. Bernardine of Siena for whom he bore a deep veneration and affection.

Gifted with oratory, he preached extensively throughout the length and breadth of Italy attracting huge crowds wherever he went. He also helped St. Bernardine of Siena with reforms needed within the Franciscan Order. He was especially interested in helping the Franciscan nuns of St. Colette and with the Third Order Franciscans.

Frequently employed as ambassador by the Holy See, his missions on behalf of the Pope took him all over Europe. As Apostolic Nuncio to Austria, he helped Emperor Frederick III in his fight against the Hussite heresy and was appointed Inquisitor. He wrote many books, mainly combating the heresies of his day.

When Constantinople fell to the Turks, John of Capistrano preached a crusade in Hungary. At the age of seventy he personally led a wing of the army in the battle of Belgrade. Both his prayer and example were vital factors in the lifting of the siege. The infection spread by the decomposing bodies left unburied around the city ultimately took his life within a couple of months. He died peacefully at Villach on October 23, 1456.

He was beatified in 1694 and canonized in 1724.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of a pious but self-willed lady who lived in Rome. She was so devout that she put many a religious to shame.
One day, hearing of the holiness of St. Dominic, great apostle of the Rosary, she decided to make her confession to him. For penance the saint told her to say a Rosary and advised her to make it’s recitation her daily practice.
“But, Father, “ she protested, “I already say so many prayers and practice so many exercises…I walk the Stations of Rome every day, I wear sack-cloth and a hair-shirt, I scourge myself several times a week, and often fast…”

St. Dominic insistently advised that she adopt the recitation of the Rosary, but she would not hear it. Moreover, she left the confessional horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who wanted to impose on her a devotion for which she had no taste.
One day, when she was saying her prayers, she was shown a vision. In this vision she saw her soul appear before the Supreme Judge. She also saw St. Michael holding the scale of her life. On one side he placed all her prayers and penances, and on the other all her sins and imperfections. Down went the scale on the side of sins and imperfections, outweighing all her good works.
Wide eyed, the good lady cried out for mercy, and turned to Our Lady imploring her help. Our Lady then gently set down on the tray of her good works the only Rosary she had ever said, which was the one St. Dominic had imposed on her as a penance.
This one Rosary was so heavy that it outweighed all her sins as well as good works.
Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her son Dominic and for refusing to adopt the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary.
When the lady came to, she rushed to St. Dominic and casting herself down at his feet, told him what had happened. She begged forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she grew in holiness, and finally attained the glory of eternal life.
Thus says St. Louis de Montfort, “You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.”

God could not give more

God in His omnipotence
could not give more,
in His wisdom
He knew not how to give more,
in His riches
He had not more to give,
than the Eucharist.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Philip of Heraclea and Companions

Philip, the bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, became a martyr of Christ during the persecution of Diocletian. He was a diligent, courageous shepherd who confirmed the faith of his people, and when induced to flee the persecution, chose to remain.

Severus and Hermes were a priest and deacon who endured tribulation, prison and martyrdom with him. At first, Bassus, the governor, ordered the door of the church sealed, to which Philip retorted: “Do you imagine that God dwells within walls, and not rather in the hearts of men?” and continued to hold assembly outside. Finally the sacred vessels and books were confiscated, the sacred books burned publicly, and the roof of the church incinerated.

Under torture, Philip was invincible. Pointing to a large statue of Hercules, Bassus bid him to only touch it, but the martyr refused saying that graven images had value only to stone-carvers but were helpless to worshipers. Then the deacon Hermes was asked if he would offer sacrifice, he refused.

Bassus’ term as governor being up, another, Justin, a ruthless man, stepped in.

Under Justin, Philip was beaten till his flesh was pulp.

Imprisoned with Hermes and another, the priest Severus, Philip faced martyrdom alongside Hermes by fire. Buried up to their knees, the martyrs were burned. But when the flames died and the smoke cleared, although the martyrs were dead, their bodies were found whole. Justin ordered the bodies to be thrown into the river, but pious citizens fished them out with nets and gave them proper burial.

In prison, the priest Severus rejoicing on hearing of their victory,  begged God to think him not unworthy of following in the footsteps of his bishop and Hermes, and suffered martyrdom the next day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Largest Bouquet Ever!

By Antonio Fragelli

Fatima, Portugal – On October 12, 2016, more than 25,000 red and white roses were offered to Our Lady of Fatima. Fatima being a center of pilgrimage, such an amount of roses attracted many a pilgrim to inquire the reason for such an enormous offering.
America Needs Fatima held its 10th year of Public Square Rosary Rallies in the United States and for every Rally Captain who committed to holding a Public Square Rosary Rally we delivered ONE RED ROSE in his or her name. We also offered a WHITE ROSE for every devotee of Our Blessed Mother who chose to sponsor a Rosary Rally by giving a donation to help make this enormous effort possible.
As the day approached for the offering, the weather forecast was the worst possible. In Portuguese the expression used by was, “aguaceiro e trovoadas” which can be translated into “pouring rain and thunder.” The odd thing was that all the other days of the week had been beautiful, sunny days.
We had lots of praying to do, beseeching our good Mother to push the clouds away. And she didn’t let us down! As the time came for the delivery, 2:00 p.m. on October 12th, the clouds moved away and even parts of the sky became blue. The sun became as warm as her smile and we were able to make the offering of a massive bouquet of roses to Our Lady and remain as dry as the pilgrims were after the Miracle of the Sun.

As we carried the massive vases in one by one, I had time to reflect on what this offering meant in today’s world. In the very spot where I stood Our Mother came to deliver a heavenly message of warning and salvation for our times. And here I was, 99 years later delivering more than 25,000 roses in thanksgiving to that same Mother. These roses I carried represented thousands of children of Mary who gathered throughout America to publicly and proudly pray the Rosary for America – just as Our Lady had asked of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco nearly a century ago.
The beautiful roses basking in the Portuguese sun stood in sharp contrast to a world deep in moral trouble, a world that seems to move more and more away from God and His Divine law. It can only be by the grace of God that in such a sinful world, here at Fatima a huge act of love and devotion to Jesus and Mary could take place today.
Together with the rose offering our hopes and prayers went up to the Queen of Heaven beseeching her to hasten the fulfillment of her promise that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

O sinner, be not discouraged

 O sinner, be not discouraged,
but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities.
Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will
that she should help in every kind of necessity.

St. Basil the Great

St. Hilarion

Hilarion was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha, south of Gaza. He was converted to Christianity in Alexandria and baptized at fifteen.

Visiting St. Anthony of the Desert, he lived with him for two months, but finding the desert hermit’s cave only a little less populated than the city, because of the continuous flow of people seeking the saint’s help and guidance, he retired into the desert of Majuma, in Palestine.

For years he only ate fifteen figs a day, and for an occupation, he tilled the earth and made baskets. His first abode was a small hut woven of reeds. Later, he made himself a cell, one so small that it was more like a tomb. As the years passed, he found he needed more nourishment than figs alone provided and included a few vegetables and bread in his diet.

In 356 he was informed by revelation of the death of St. Anthony. He was sixty-five and was so afflicted by the number of people who crowded to him that he resolved to leave Palestine. From then on, he became a pilgrim of solitude, seeking to be left alone with God. But though silent, his miracles spoke loudly and people sought him out in whatever wilderness he fled to.

Finally, after trying several remote places, including Sicily, Hilarion wished to go into a country where not even his language was understood. And so his friend, St. Heyschius, took him to Dalmatia. But again miracles defeated the saint’s intent of living alone. Fleeing to Cyprus, his popularity followed him there, so traveling inland a dozen miles and climbing to an inaccessible but pleasant place, he at last found peace and quiet.

After a few years in this spot, he died at the age of eighty. Among those who visited him in his last illness, was St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, who later wrote of him to St. Jerome. He was buried near Paphos, but St. Hesychius secretly removed his body to Hilarion’s old home of Majuma.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you...

Beginners in the service of God
sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault.
When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God
and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness,
are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.
Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire;
if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant.
So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God,
and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of charity
and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear.

St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross

Paul Francis Danei was born on January 3, 1694, at Ovada, a small town in the then Republic of Genoa. He spent his youth at Castellazzo, in Lombardy, where his parents had taken up their residence when Paul was only ten years old. It was in Castellazzo, his father's native town, that Paul received his first inspirations concerning the work for which God had destined him. From his earliest years the crucifix was his book and the Crucified his model.

Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino. He made great progress in both his studies and in the practice of virtue. His early attraction for Our Lord Crucified grew naturally into an ardent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At the age of fifteen he left school and returned to his home at Castellazzo, and from this time his life was full of trials. In early manhood he renounced the offer of an honorable marriage as well as a good inheritance left him by an uncle who was a priest. He kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.

Inflamed with a desire for God's glory he formed the idea of instituting a religious order in honor of the Passion. The Bishop of Alessandria, his director, clothed him in a black tunic bearing the emblem of Our Lord's Passion, and barefooted and bareheaded, he retired to a narrow cell where he drew up the Rules of a new congregation according to a plan made known to him in a vision. He was still a layman and had no companions to form a community but drew up the rules during a five day period in December, 1720. Writing in obedience to his confessor, Paul narrates how Our Lord inspired him with the design of founding the congregation, and how he wrote the Rules and Constitutions. "When I was writing," he says, "I went on as quickly as if somebody were dictating to me. I felt the words come from my heart".

In 1725, on a visit to Rome with his brother John Baptist, his constant companion and co-operator in the foundation of the institute, Paul received from Pope Benedict XIII permission to form a congregation according to these Rules. The two brothers were ordained by the same pope in the Vatican basilica on June 7, 1727. After serving for a time in the hospital of St. Gallicano they left Rome with permission of the Holy Father and went to Mount Argentaro, where they established the first house of the institute. They took up their abode in a small hermitage near the summit of the mount, to which was attached a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. They were soon joined by three companions, one of whom was a priest.

At the first general chapter of the institute in April of 1747, Paul was elected, much against his wishes, as the first superior general; he was to hold the office until the day of his death. He became a model to his companions in all their endeavors. Sacred missions were instituted, new foundations and numerous conversions of sinners, seemingly hardened and hopeless, were made, “yet he never left off preaching the word of God, burning as he did with a wondrous desire for the salvation of souls" states the Brief of his Beatification of October 1, 1852. He was untiring in his apostolic labors and never, even to his last hour, remitted anything of his austere manner of life, finally succumbing to a severe illness, worn out as much by his austerities as by old age.

Constant personal union with the Cross and Passion of Our Lord was the prominent feature of St. Paul's sanctity. But devotion to the Passion did not stand alone, for he carried to a heroic degree all the other virtues of a Christian life. For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his sons. The body of St. Paul lies in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul, Rome. He was canonized on June 29, 1867.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A heart steadfast and unconquered

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out;
give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God,
understanding to know you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Sts. Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions

The first missionaries to North America arrived in 1608 in Acadia, Nova Scotia. They were the Jesuits Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé, who began work among the Souriquois Indians. This phase of the work of preaching the Gospel was brought to a standstill in 1613 as a result of an English raid.

After things had settled down, the indefatigable Governor of New France, Samuel Champlain, continuously asked for missionaries from France. At his request, several Franciscans came in 1615. These labored heroically, but in need of additional help, appealed to the Jesuits. In 1625 three Jesuits landed in Quebec: Jean de  Brébeuf, Charles Lalemant and Ennemond Massé returning from France.

Others joined the missions including: Antoine Daniel, Isaac Jogues, Charles Garnier, Noël Chabanel, René Goupil, Jean de Lalande, and Gabriel Lalemant.

By the late 1640's, after years of heroic perseverance, oftentimes in appalling circumstances, the Jesuits were making a considerable number of conversions mostly among the Hurons. The Iroquois, deadly enemies of the Hurons, considered the missionaries targets, and indeed massacred the seven mentioned above and also Jean de Brébeuf. Some of them were tortured beyond belief before being tomahawked, beheaded or having their still-beating hearts wrenched from their chests. Having survived the first round of tortures, Fr. Isaac Jogues had returned to France maimed, but he chose to rejoin the missions and finally met his death by martyrdom like his companions.

Canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, the martyrs are, collectively, the secondary patrons of Canada. Sts. René Goupil, Isaac Jogues and Jean de Lalande are considered the first U.S. saints because they were martyred in upstate New York.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

16,323 Rosary Rallies America Needs Fatima

No matter how burdened you may be

If you desire peace in your hearts,
in your homes, and in your country,
assemble each evening to recite the Rosary.
Let not even one day pass without saying it,
no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.

Pope Pius XI

St. Luke the Evangelist

Luke was not a Jew but a Gentile, and thought to have been a Greco-Syrian, probably born in Antioch. Though one of the four Gospel writers – known as the Evangelists – he was not one of Christ's Twelve Apostles. Whether he converted to Christianity from Judaism or paganism is not certain.

He was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul who mentions that he was also a medical man, “Luke, the most dear physician” and he probably helped St. Paul with his much-tried health. Luke was certainly with the great apostle in his first two imprisonments in Rome.

According to tradition, the physician and Evangelist was also an artist and painted several pictures of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Among the most famous is the Salus Populi Romani enshrined in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Not only is the third Gospel, written in Koine Greek, attributed to Luke by the early fathers, but Biblical scholars are in wide agreement that he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. While traditional Christian scholarship dates the writing of his Gospel to the 60’s, others place it in the last decades of the first century.

St. Luke is believed to have died a martyr though accounts of his death vary.

He is venerated as St. Luke the Evangelist and his symbol is the bull. He is patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students, and butchers.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to console a suffering soul

In order to console a soul in its sufferings,
point out to it all the good it can still do.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius, born in Syria, converted to Christianity at a young age, and was thought to be a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. He is one of the five Apostolic Church Fathers, who were instructed personally by Christ’s apostles.

An early tradition has it that he was the child that Our Lord took up in his arms, as recorded by St Mark: “And taking a child, he set him in the midst of them. Whom when he had embraced, he saith to them: Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name, receiveth me (9:35-36).

Consecrated bishop by the Apostles, he succeeded St. Peter and Evodius as the third Bishop of Antioch about the year 69.

An ideal pastor and true soldier of Christ, Ignatius comforted and strengthened his flock when the persecution of Domitian broke out. He was arrested during the persecution of Trajan, and shipped aboard a vessel bound for Rome. Along the route his ship made several stops, which afforded the saint opportunity of confirming the faith of various churches. He wrote several letters to these communities which have been preserved, and deal with early Catholic theology. St. Ignatius was the first to use the Greek word “katholikos”, “universal” in reference to the Church founded by Christ.

At Smyrna, he had the joy of meeting his former disciple and dear friend, St. Polycarp. His route to martyrdom was a sort of triumphant march, with Christian communities flocking to meet him everywhere, hailing and encouraging him on his way.
He was martyred in Rome on the last day of the public games, December 20 in the year 107. Condemned to be devoured by lions in the public arena, his prayer before his death was: “I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ. Indeed the lions devoured all of his body leaving only the large bones.

Today, these relics of St. Ignatius rest in the Church of San Clemente in Rome.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Three Streams of the Sacred Heart

From this Divine Heart three streams flow endlessly.
The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts
sentiments of contrition and repentance.
The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids
those seeking perfection to find the means of surmounting their difficulties.
From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of His friends
who have attained perfection; these He wishes to unite to Himself
so that they may share His knowledge and commandments
and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing His glory.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Margaret Mary was born in the small Burgundian town of L’Hautecour in France, the fifth of seven children of Claude Alacoque, a notary, and his wife, Philliberte Lamyn.

Her father died when she was eight and she was sent to school with the Poor Clares. She was immediately attracted to their way of life and so exemplary was her piety that she was allowed to make her First Communion at the age of nine – an unusual privilege at the time.

Struck by a very painful rheumatic illness, which confined her to bed until the age of fifteen, the young girl returned to L’Hautecour only to find her family home occupied by several relatives who proceeded to treat her mother and herself almost like servants.

By the age of twenty, she was being pressured by these relatives to marry. Strengthened and supported by a vision of Our Lord, she refused.

Margaret did not receive Confirmation until she was twenty-two, but once she was fortified by the sacrament, she bravely confronted and decisively overcame her family's remaining opposition to her religious vocation, and entered the Monastery of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial in 1671.

Deeply devoted to the Passion of Our Lord and to the Holy Eucharist, Margaret felt sensibly the presence of Our Lord. On December 27, 1673, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the convent chapel, she felt Our Lord inviting her to step into the place taken by St. John the Beloved at the Last Supper near His Heart.

This first communication was followed by several others during a period of eighteen months in which Our Lord Jesus revealed and expanded to her the devotion to His Most Sacred Heart in which He wished His Heart to be honored under the form of a heart of flesh. He also asked for the Communion of Reparation on the nine First Fridays of the month, and an hour vigil on Thursdays.

Margaret Mary suffered misunderstanding and persecution from within her religious community as she attempted to reveal Our Lord’s wishes. Falling ill under the strain, her superior promised to heed her if she was healed, both of which came to pass.

Further supported by the spiritual guidance of the Jesuit, St. Claude de la Colombière, who while visiting Paray-le-Monial recognized both Margaret’s sanctity and her message, the new devotion began to gradually spread throughout France and the world.

Margaret Mary Alacoque died in October of 1690 and was canonized in 1920.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let nothing disturb you

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa was born in the medieval fortified town of Avila in Spain on March 28, 1515. At seven she and her brother Rodrigo, impressed by the lives of the saints, ran away from home, hoping to die as martyrs. They were overtaken on the road out of Avila by an uncle and returned home where they contented themselves with playing at being "hermits" in their garden instead.

Beautiful, intelligent, and of a lively and assertive temperament, Teresa was given to prayer and seeking God’s will for her. At the age of twenty, having overcome her good father’s reluctance to be parted from her, she entered the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, and was professed as a religious a year later.

Becoming ill, she suffered much for several years and was once almost given up for dead. Seeking God in the practice of virtue and solitude, she began to develop her famous doctrine on prayer and divine contemplation.

Yet her convent, much given to social encounters, and worldliness, for a while distracted her. Coming to herself, she quit the society of outsiders, and seeking only to fulfill her religious duties and grow in prayer, greatly advanced in the spiritual life. She began to be favored with rare divine communications, which she obediently submitted to the guidance of her confessors.

Inspired to reform the Carmelites, amid opposition and persecution – including from the Inquisition – Teresa went on to found the Discalced Carmelites with the support of St. Peter of Alcantara. Her first convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was founded in Avila in 1562. Later, with the help of St. John of the Cross, she also undertook the reform of the male branch of the Order.

Once she started the great reform to return the Order to its original spirit of poverty, prayer and total enclosure, Teresa’s life was one of continuous foundations, which cost her much labor and suffering. It was during this period of the foundations that she wrote her treatises: The Way of Perfection, The Foundations, and The Interior Castle.

Teresa died in Alba de Tormes in October of 1582. She was canonized forty years later, was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and is universally revered as the Doctor of Prayer.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We cannot enter heaven without...

We cannot enter a house without first speaking to the porter.
Similarly, we cannot enter heaven
without calling upon the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary
who is the Portress of Heaven.

St. John Vianney

Pope St. Callistus I

The name of St. Callistus was made famous by the Roman cemetery along the Apian Way that he beautified while he was its papal-appointed superintendent. Today, it still bears his name though he is not buried there but in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The cemetery of St. Callistus is fittingly revered for having many relics of the Christian martyrs buried within its precincts.

Roman by birth, Callistus was the slave of a Christian member of Caesar's household. He later became assistant to Pope St. Zephyrinus and then succeeded him in 218 or 219, reigning for about five years. Although the time in which he reigned was mostly peaceful for Christians under Alexander Severus whose mother was a Christian, there are historical indications that he suffered martyrdom in the year 223.

Even his enemies attest to his having ruled with equanimity, at times contravening the customs of the era in favor of wisdom and mercy.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The sun began to spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire.
Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again.
Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on
the very faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake,
and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd. All this lasted about ten minutes.
Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place
and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its everyday brightness.

The Miracle of the Sun
as described by Sister Lucia dos Santos and witnessed by more than 70,000 people

St. Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor was the second son of King Ethelred II and his Norman wife, Emma. After King Ethelred's death, Emma married Canute, the son of the Danish king who had overthrown her husband in 1017. Hardly ten years old, Edward and his elder brother, Alfred, were sent to Normandy. The Danes having gained the complete mastery of England, the succession, with Emma’s consent, was settled upon Hardicanute, her son by Canute. Upon Canute’s death in 1035, however, his illegitimate son, Harold, taking advantage of Hardicanute’s absence in Denmark, seized the throne for himself.

Edward and Alfred were persuaded to make an attempt to regain the English crown, but this resulted in the cruel death of Alfred who had fallen into Harold's hands, while Edward was obliged to return to Normandy. Edward was only able to reclaim the throne after Canute’s son and heir’s death in 1042. The people were eager for their legitimate ruler to return to the throne, and Edward's accession was received with wide acclaim.

Brought up in the ducal court of his Norman uncle, Edward’s sympathies and loyalties always rested strongly with the Norman people – a trait which would cause him considerable trouble later.

Yielding to the entreaty of his nobles, he took the powerful Earl Godwin’s daughter, Edith, for his wife in 1044. Out of love for God and a desire for greater perfection, Edward had taken a vow of chastity in his youth. With Edith's consent prior to their marriage, he continued to live a life of absolute continence with her.

Edward’s reign was a peaceful one. He was a wise and just ruler, well respected and favored for his revocation of many exorbitant taxes. However, conflict arose between Edward and his father-in-law, Godwin, when the latter accused Edward of bias in his ecclesiastical nominations, appearing to show favoritism to candidates of Norman origin and in rejecting the election of a relative of Godwin’s to the archbishopric of Canterbury. As tension rose to crisis level and violent friction became imminent, Godwin and his sons’ position disintegrated due to the unwillingness of their men to fight the King. Consequently, Edward seized the opportunity to bring the over-mighty Earl to heel and he and his family were banished. Within a year though, Godwin returned, and he and the King were able to reconcile.

During his early exile in Normandy, Edward had bound himself by vow to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. However, as he could not leave his kingdom without doing injury to his people, Pope St. Leo IX commuted its fulfillment into the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Abbey at Westminster. The King endowed it in a superb manner out of his own patrimony and it is to him that we owe the magnificence of Westminster Abbey.

Edward was the first King of England to use the “royal touch,” a form of laying on of hands by which many suffering from diseases were cured by him.

The saintly King was taken ill while attending the dedication of Westminster Abbey on December 28, 1065. He died the following week on January 5, 1066 and was buried within its walls the next day. Numerous miracles took place at his tomb, wherein his incorrupt body was enshrined, and he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161. He is the only saint buried in Westminster Abbey and one of the few whose relics were not destroyed by Henry VIII.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sixth Fatima Apparition and the Miracle of the Sun

As on the other occasions, the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, first saw a bright light, and then they saw Our Lady over the holm oak.

What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
Lucia: I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners...
Our Lady: Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.
Becoming sadder, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
Then, opening her hands, Our Lady shone the light issuing from them onto the sun, and as she rose, her own radiance continued to be cast onto the sun.
At that moment, Lucia cried, "Look at the sun!"
Once Our Lady had disappeared in the expanse of the firmament, three scenes followed in succession, symbolizing first the joyful mysteries of the rosary, then the sorrowful mysteries, and, finally, the glorious mysteries. Lucia alone saw the three scenes; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first.
The first scene: Saint Joseph appeared beside the sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The Child Jesus did the same.
The second scene: A vision of Our Lady of Sorrows, without the sword in her breast, and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary.
Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.
Lucia could only see the upper part of Our Lord's body.
The third scene: Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding the Child Jesus near her heart.
While these scenes took place, the great throng of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun.
It had rained all during the apparition. At the end of the conversation between Our Lady and Lucia – when the Blessed Virgin rose and Lucia shouted, "Look at the sun!" – the clouds parted, revealing the sun as an immense silver disk shining with an intensity never before seen – though not blinding.
This lasted only an instant. Then the immense disk began to "dance."
The sun spun rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again. Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on the faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake, and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd.
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its normal brightness. The cycle of the apparitions had ended.
Many people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had suddenly dried.
The miracle of the sun was also seen by numerous witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the place of the apparition.



Man is sick

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick,
and unless he takes medicine, he will die.
Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin.
For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health;
and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Wilfrid of York

Wilfrid was born in 634, the son of a nobleman. At odds with his stepmother, he was sent to the court of King Oswy of Northumbria, where Queen Eanfleda, complying with his wishes, kindly saw to his education in the sacred sciences.

In 654 he went to Europe with St. Benet, and after a stay in Lyons, went on to Rome where he studied under Boniface the Archdeacon, secretary to Pope St. Martin.
Back in England, in league with King Alcfrith of Deira, he labored to bring the Roman discipline to the English church, taking distance from Celtic usages. Among the Roman practices he worked to establish in England was the Roman calculation for the celebration of Easter.

He became abbot of the monastery of Ripon where he introduced the rule of St. Benedict, and soon after was ordained a priest.

Appointed Bishop of York, he went to France to be consecrated. Lingering, for reasons unknown, then suffering shipwreck, when he returned, found that another, St. Chad, had been appointed in his place by King Oswy.

Wilfrid did not dispute the election, but later, St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, found that the appointment of St. Chad had been irregular and placed St. Wilfrid in the see of York.

As a bishop, he was exemplary and beloved of his people, but his path was not peaceful. First at odds with the heir to Oswy, King Egfrith, and then with the latter’s successor, Aldfrith, he twice lost his see and twice had to travel to Rome to be reinstated, besides facing all sorts of difficulties.

He died in 709 and his body is buried in his monastery of Ripon. Part of the epitaph on his tomb reads: “… drove error far, and showed his folk sound law and liturgy … At home, abroad long time in tempests tossed … he bore a bishop’s charge … Passed to rest and gained the joys of heaven … Grant Lord his flock may tread their shepherd’s path!”

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Miracle of the Sun: Seal on a Serious Message

The apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal, May, 1917 to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, were Gospel-like in their seriousness, simplicity and credibility. All events prophesized were fulfilled, and so was Our Lady’s promise of a sign at the sixth and last apparition.
Adding to the believability of the miraculous event, the chosen seers were very young, simple and innocent, incapable of conjuring or embellishing. 
When Our Lady spoke, she spoke like a messenger, plainly and objectively, although touchingly attentive to the children, their questions and needs.
The theme of her message ran throughout the consecutive visits: sin must stop; prayer (especially the Rosary), penance and conversion of life must be adopted by humanity or there would be terrible consequences.
And she promised a portentous sign “for all to believe” which set Portugal abuzz.
It was a “bad” time for such an apparition and such a promise in Portugal.
In 1908 King Carlos I and his heir Prince Luis Felipe, had been assassinated, and a Republic established. The new government was adamantly anti-religious and anti-clerical and aimed at secularizing centuries-old Catholic Portugal.
Thus, the Fatima apparitions deeply disturbed the status-quo, which went as far as imprisoning the children for a short while.
But God was indeed at work at Cova da Iria, Fatima, and a sign had been promised.
And the sign happened.                      Free copy of Meet the Witnesses
On October 13, about 70,000 spectators filled Cova da Iria, among them journalists, the curious and the incredulous.
The day was rainy. The seers saw a bright light, after which Our Lady appeared atop the usual holm oak. Mary asked for a chapel to be built, and revealed that she was the “Lady of the Rosary”.
She predicted that WWI would soon end, and that the soldiers would come home.
Lucia asked for the cure of some sick persons to which Our Lady responded: “Some yes, some no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.”
Then she begged the world, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”

On saying this, she opened her hands and projected the light coming from them onto the sun."
Lucia cried, “Look at the sun!”
The heavy clouds parted revealing a huge silver disk. Though it shone intensely, it did not blind. The sphere began to dance, then spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. It stopped momentarily, then spun vertiginously again, its rim scarlet, scattering flames through the sky. The changing lights were reflected on the faces of the spectators, on the trees and on the ground in fantastic hues.
After performing this bizarre pattern thrice, the fiery globe trembled, shook then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag. People screamed. All this only lasted a few minutes. The sun then zigzagged back to its place and re-assumed its normal appearance.
People noticed that their rain-soaked clothes were dry. So were the pools of water that had formed in the field. Engineers later affirmed that an enormous amount of energy was necessary to dry those pools in only a few minutes.
Numerous people also saw the miracle of the sun up to twenty-five miles away.
To the chagrin of secularists and support of the faithful, newspaper men in the crowd reported the miracle throughout the world.
Indeed, the miracle of the sun “sealed” the authenticity of the Fatima Message, a crucial message for our sinful, troubled times.
By Andrea F. Phillips

Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy or Hope?  By Antonio A. Borelli and John R. Spann
Wikipedia online

No grace, no perfection, and no glory...

The Holy Ghost did not describe Mary in the Gospels
but left it to you to picture her in your heart.
In this way, you might comprehend
that there is no grace, no perfection, and no glory
conceivable in a simple creature
that is lacking to her.

St. Thomas of Villanova

St. Mary Soledad

Christened Bibiana Antonia Emanuela, her parents were Francis Torres and Antonia Acosta, an exemplary Christian couple running a small business in Madrid.

At first Emanuela thought of joining the Dominicans whose convent she frequented, but her request was turned down due to poor health and she decided to wait for a clearer direction to her life.

This direction came through Madrid’s Vicar, Fr. Miguel Martinez y Sanz worried about the state of the sick in his parish. He gathered seven women into a religious community devoted to their service. Emanuela was among these first "handmaids" and took the name Maria Soledad – “Solitude”, a Spanish title for the Sorrowful Mother.

Five years later Fr. Miguel took half of the community to make another foundation, leaving Mary Soledad as superior in Madrid.  After dealing with difficulties that threatened the dissolution of the group, Mother Soledad was able to secure the support of Fr. Gabino Sanchez and the queen. At this time, the community was named Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick.

After becoming involved with the care of young delinquents, the community received ecclesiastical approval. During the cholera outbreak of 1865, their dedicated service won the love and respect of all.

Again there were difficulties and, victim of slander, Mother Soledad was removed as superior only to be reinstated after an investigation. After several of the sisters left the community, the Handmaids grew in number and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana, Cuba. The new institute received papal approval in 1876 and the community spread throughout Spain opening houses and hospitals.

After governing the Handmaids for thirty-five years, Mother Soledad died of pneumonia on January 18, 1893. At the time of her death, there were forty-six houses of the congregation spread throughout Europe and Latin America.

In 1896, at the first exhumation of her body, required during the process of canonization, it was still intact and exuded a sweet fragrance. A few years later, however, only bones remained.

In the United States the congregation is known as the Sisters Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick. They have six communities still involved in home health care.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A holy reminder

The Holy Rosary,
recited with the meditation on the sacred mysteries,
is a sacrifice of praise to God for the great gift of our redemption
and a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia belonged to one of the most prominent families of the kingdom of Aragon, a family that gave the Church two popes. His father, Juan Borgia, was the third Duke of Gandia. On his mother Juana’s side, Francis was the great-grandson of King Ferdinand V of Aragon.

On his arrival at the imperial court at eighteen, Francis crossed paths momentarily with a man who impressed him, and who was being arrested by the Inquisition: Ignatius of Loyola. The following year, Francis married Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese noblewoman, with whom he had eight children. On his father’s death in 1543, he became the fourth Duke of Gandia.

At his wife's death in 1546, Francis sought admittance to the Society of Jesus. Finally, in 1550, after settling his children and the affairs of his estate, he entered the Jesuits in Rome. The news of the “Duke turned Jesuit” spread and at his first public Mass the crowd was so great, the altar had to be moved outside.

After doing wonders throughout his country he crossed into Portugal and surpassed himself there. In 1554 St. Ignatius made him commissary general of the Society of Jesus in Spain.

As commissary general, he practically founded the Society in Spain establishing many houses and colleges. He was crucial in dissolving the prejudices that his relative, Emperor Charles V, harbored against the Jesuits. He also assisted at the death of the dowager queen Juana, who had gone mad fifty years before, on the death of her husband. She died healed and at peace. He also met St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order, and was the first to recognize her greatness.

Back in Rome, St. Charles Borromeo, and Cardinal Ghislieri, later Pope Pius V. regularly attended his sermons. At the death of Father Laynez, second general of the Jesuits, Francis was elected Father General of the Jesuit Order.

Backed by St. Pius V who admired and trusted him, he was able to do great things for the Order in Rome and abroad, building two churches, and at times using his personal influence to obtain acceptance of the Jesuits.

Worn by the responsibilities of his post and a last trip throughout Europe in which he was publicly hailed as a saint, he returned to Rome on a littler. Through his brother, Thomas, he sent a blessing to his children and grandchildren, and as their names were spoken to him, he prayed for each.  He died on the night of September 30.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lust after her?

You have heard that it was said to them of old:
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her,
hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5: 27-28