Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to make the devil powerless

 Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces?
Visit Him often.
Do you want Him to give you few graces?
Visit him seldom.
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and
an indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil.
Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
and the devil will be powerless against you.

St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco

The youngest of a poor farming family of Piedmont in northern Italy, John Melchior Bosco was born on August 16, 1815. He lost his father at the age of two, and his saintly “Mamma” Margarita brought up three sons in extreme poverty and want.

When he was nine, John had the first of a series of vivid dreams that left a profound impression upon him for the rest of his life. Standing in a field filled with fighting, cursing and blaspheming lads, he tried in vain to pacify them with arguments and fists. Then he saw a beautiful lady who said, “Softly, softly does it…if you wish to win them! Take your shepherd’s staff and lead them to pasture.” At this the boys were transformed into wild beasts and then into lambs.

Intelligent and talented, John Bosco received his first instruction from a priest who, perceiving his gifts, took him under his wing. Supported by his mother and facing many difficulties, he pursued the priesthood, and at twenty-two was ordained in the diocese of Turin.

Turin, a vast industrialized city of 117,000 inhabitants, had seen an influx of migrants from the country in search of work. Many young men, some as young as 11 and 12, lived in the streets, under bridges or in bleak public dormitories. Visiting prisons in the city, Don Bosco was heartsick at the condition of many of these youth who ended up behind bars. In 1842 he began to gather these social outcasts, befriend them and instruct them in the Catholic faith. By 1846 the numbers of this young flock had risen to 400. Despite the anti-clerical government’s opposition to new religious orders, Don Bosco went on to found the Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales, known as the Salesians, where boys learned the faith, Christian morality, academics and a trade.

A teacher, spiritual director, mystic and miracle worker, Don Bosco knew how to mingle the spiritual with the human so as to win these young souls. He was beloved of his students, guiding them out of darkness and hopelessness into light and hope.

At the time of Don Bosco’s death on January 31, 1888 the Salesians had 250 houses dispersed throughout the world.

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 March for Life - To Make America Great, Turn Back to God

By William Gosset and Antonio Fragelli

This past Friday was a glorious day when Americans from all walks of life marched in our Capital to defend the right to life and the personhood of the unborn. The overwhelming participation of young people was astounding holding a great promise for America.
On January 27, 2017, hundreds of thousands marched in Washington, D.C. for the 44th annual March for Life to protest and make reparation for the sin of abortion. While the cynics say that Roe v. Wade is settled law and unchangeable, the multitudes that marched from the Washington Monument, up to Capitol Hill and to the steps of the Supreme Court were not deterred.
Members of the American TFP and America Needs Fatima along with the Holy Choirs of Angels Marching Band playing bagpipes, brass, fifes, and drums, joined the marchers. The music was upbeat and firm, encouraging those marching to strengthen their resolve to defeat abortion.

Images of the 2017 March for LifeImage1Image2
Sister organizations from other countries joined: Aktion SOS Leben (Germany), Irish Society for Christian Civilisation (Ireland), Droit de Naître (France), Tradición y Acción (Colombia), Foundation for the Protection of Human Life from Conception (Netherlands), and Krikščionškosios Kultūros Gynimo Asociacja (Lithuania)

To Make America Great, Turn Back to God
Our volunteers distributed copies of their pro-life statement, “To Make America Great, Turn Back to God,” to the multitudes passing by. While acknowledging the massive conservative win last November, the statement listed those values and principles that must now be defended and promoted to take advantage of the victories.
The statement listed the demands and hopes we wished to express for the conversion of America.
“Today, thanks be to God, the conservative vote won the White House, Senate and House, and a record number of governorships and statehouse majorities. This reality has brought relief and awakened great hopes. Above all, conservatives were buoyed by the promises of President Donald Trump who assured them they would not be forgotten and that they would have a voice. Now is the time to fulfill these promises. American conservative voters must not be betrayed.”
“What moved America’s forgotten voters on November 8 was a shattered order that has affected all aspects of life. As was repeated during the election cycle, the whole system is broken, its liberal and permissive vision for society has failed and voters are desperately looking for solutions.”
A series of demands were listed beginning with:
“It must be a moral order in which leaders fearlessly do everything possible to advance the cause of life, the traditional family and Christian morals. If the nation is to prosper, it needs to return to that moral code based on the Ten Commandments and natural law that made America great. People must no longer be afraid to affirm this and stand up to a politically correct culture that claims there is no right and wrong by blurring all definitions. Without this essential component, America will not recover.”
Among America’s forgotten voters are those who fight for the most vulnerable—the unborn—demanding for them the fundamental right to life.
“Now is the time to bleach out the stain on America’s honor, its great sin against God: Roe v. Wade,” the statement concluded.

Vice President Mike Pence Speaks
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the march, greatly increasing the enthusiasm of the pro-lifers. For them, it was a sign that their voice has a presence in the current administration.
“I’m deeply humbled to be the first vice president of the United States to ever have the privilege to attend this historic gathering,” Vice President Pence stated.
“Be assured, be assured,” he concluded, “we will not grow weary, we will not rest until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity. Thank you and God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

2017: Making Abortion Unthinkable
Entering 2017, the pro-life movement needs to redouble its efforts in the fight for life and the family. It must incessantly hold President Donald Trump’s administration to its pro-life promises. There can be no compromise, no slackening, and no apathy.
During this centennial year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, let us ask the Mother of God for her intercession in the fight against abortion.

We become what we love

We become what we love
and who we love shapes what we become.
If we love things, we become a thing.
If we love nothing, we become nothing.
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather
it means becoming the image of the beloved,
an image disclosed through transformation. This means
we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.

St. Clare of Assisi

St. Hyacintha Mariscotti

Born of a noble, wealthy family at Vignanello in Italy, Hyacintha’s baptismal name was Clarice. In her early youth she was remarkable for her piety, but later became frivolous, vain and worldly despite being almost miraculously saved from death at the age of seventeen and being educated at the Franciscan Convent of St. Bernardine in Viterbo.

At twenty she had set her heart on marrying the Marquess Cassizucchi; the young nobleman married Clarice's younger sister instead. Despondent, Clarice joined the community at St. Bernardine and received the name, Hyacintha.

In the convent, far from giving up the luxuries of the world, she had her father furnish her apartment with every comfort, kept her own kitchen, wore a habit of the finest material, and received and paid visits outside the monastic enclosure.

For ten years she led a life of scandal to the spirit of her religious community but by a special protection of God retained a lively faith, remained pure, was regular at her devotions, and had a special tenderness for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Falling ill at thirty-five, and exhorted by her confessor to change her ways, she was touched by grace and made a radical and total conversion embarking upon an astounding life of penance, prayer, corporal mortification and charity to the poor of all stations.

She founded two confraternities: one helped the poor, homeless and prisoners, the other assisted the elderly. She worked numerous miracles, had the gift of prophecy and discernment of the secret thoughts of others.

When she died at fifty-five, her habit had to be changed three times in succession, so many were her devotees snipping it for mementos.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The more she is honored...

Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son
by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for
the more she is honored,
the greater is the glory of her Son.
There can be no doubt that
whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Gildas the Wise

St. Gildas is considered to be the first British historian quoted by the Venerable Bede and Alcuin.

Gildas was born in Scotland of a noble British family. He was educated in Wales under St. Illtud and was the companion of St. Samson and St. Peter of Leon.

He embraced the monastic state and went to Ireland where he was ordained. From Armagh in Ireland he went to North Britain where his teaching was confirmed by miracles. On returning to Ireland at the invitation of King Ainmire, he strengthened the faith of many and built monasteries and churches.

After a pilgrimage to Rome, his love of solitude led him to a hermetical life on the Island of Houat off the coast of Brittany. Discovering his place of retreat, the Bretons convinced him to establish a monastery at Rhuys, on the mainland from whence he wrote his famous rebuke to five petty British kings and also to the clergy accusing them of sloth and simony. His writings indicate a man of no small culture, scriptural knowledge and sanctity.

He died on January 29, the day his feast is celebrated.

Evil thoughts

In the realm of evil thoughts 
none induces to sin 
as much as do thoughts 

that concern the pleasure of the flesh. 

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born about 1225 in the castle of Rocca Secca, into the noble lineage of the family of Aquino. His father, Landulf, was a knight and his mother, Theodora, a countess.

At age five Thomas was sent to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino as an oblate and remained until thirteen. He was studious, meditative and devoted to prayer, and frequently asked the question, “What is God?”

Around 1236, the Abbot convinced Thomas’ father that such a talented lad should go to Naples to study, and there he shone academically. In Naples Thomas came under the influence of the Dominican Order of Preachers, and at nineteen was received into the Order.

His family was indignant because he had chosen a mendicant order. At Theodora’s orders two of his soldier-brothers imprisoned him in a castle. They even introduced a temptress into Thomas’ chamber whom he drove away with a brand snatched from the fire. Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integrity of mind and body.  Falling asleep, he dreamt of two angels who girded him with a white girdle saying, “receive the girdle of perpetual virginity”, and he was never tempted by the flesh again – for which he is called “The Angelic Doctor”. He spent the two years of his captivity praying, studying and writing.

Finally his mother relented. Returning to the Dominicans they found that he had made so much progress on his own, that he was soon ordained. Sent to study in Cologne under St. Albert Magnus, his great size and silence earned him the encomium of “the Dumb Ox” but hearing his brilliant defense of a difficult thesis, St. Albert responded, "We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world."

Thomas received his doctorate in Theology in Paris, and went on to teach, preach, and write extensively. Between 1259 and 1268 he was in Italy as Preacher General teaching in the school of selected scholars attached to the Papal court. About 1266 he began writing the most famous of all his works, The Summa Theologiae.

In 1269 he was back in Paris, where he was a friend and counselor of King St. Louis IX. In 1272 he was recalled to Italy. On the feast of St. Nicholas the following year he received a revelation that caused him to leave his great Summa unfinished saying, “…all that I have written seems like so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”

Becoming ill, Thomas died on March 7, 1274 at fifty years of age. He was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The basis of confidence

Pray with great confidence, with confidence
based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God
and upon the promises of Jesus Christ.
God is a spring of living water
which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Angela Merici

Angela de Merici was born in Desenzano, on the southwestern shore of beautiful Lake Garda, in northern Italy. Left an orphan at the age of ten with an older sister and a brother, they were taken in by an uncle living in the neighboring town of Salò.

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died without the assistance of the last sacraments. At this time she had a vision, the first of many in her life, which set her mind at rest as to her sister’s salvation. In gratitude, she made a special consecration of herself to God, joined the Third Order of St. Francis and began to lead a life of great austerity.

After her uncle died when she was twenty, Angela moved back to Desenzano. Convinced of the need to instruct young girls in the Faith, she converted her home into a school. In a vision, she was shown that she would found a congregation for the instruction of young girls. Angela talked with fellow Franciscan tertiaries and friends who began to help her. Though petite in stature, Angela had looks, charm and leadership. Her school thrived and she was approached about starting a similar school in the larger city of Brescia where she came in contact with leading families whom she influenced with her great ideals.

In 1525 on a pilgrimage to Rome, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her holiness, suggested she found a congregation of nursing sisters in Rome. But Angela who felt called elsewhere and shunned publicity, declined and returned to Brescia.

On November 25, 1535, with twelve other virgins, Angela Merici laid the foundations for her order for the teaching of young women, the first congregation of its kind in the Church. She placed her order under the protection of St. Ursula the patroness of medieval universities and popularly venerated as a leader of women. To this day her followers are known as the Ursulines.

Angela died only five years after establishing the Ursulines, and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
Photo by: Benoit Lhoest

Thursday, January 26, 2017

If we do not cleanse our souls

External devotions are useless
if we do not cleanse our souls from sin.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Sts. Timothy and Titus

Timothy and Titus were two of St. Paul’s favorite and most trusted disciples.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. His grandmother, Lois, was the first to become Christian in the family. Timothy was a convert of St. Paul around the year 47 and later joined his apostolic work. He is the recipient of St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy in the Gospel. He was with the great Apostle when the church of Corinth was founded and worked with him for fifteen years.

St. Paul sent Timothy on difficult missions, often to face disturbances at churches he had just established, and was installed by Paul as his representative to the church of Ephesus.

Timothy was relatively young for the work he was doing as we read in Tim. 4:12, “Let no one have contempt for your youth,” and that he suffered with his health when we read in Tim. 5:23 “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

Timothy was with St. Paul in Rome during his house arrest, and at some point was in prison himself. Around the age of eighty he tried to halt a pagan procession and was beaten and stoned to death.

Titus was Greek and a convert from paganism; he is mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles. He is seen as a peacemaker, administrator and great friend of the Apostle Paul. When St. Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of his severe letter and with tact, firmness and charity succeeded in smoothing things out, which gave St. Paul great joy.

St. Paul charged Titus with the administration of the Christian community in the Isle of Crete and instructed him to organize the faithful, correct abuses and appoint presbyter-bishops. There is no record of his death.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

But will we still have time?

We put off our conversion
again and again, but
who says we will still have the time and strength for it then?

St. John Vianney

Conversion of St. Paul

Saul, later Paul, was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. Being born at Tarsus in Cilicia, he was by privilege a Roman Citizen. As a young man he studied the Law of Moses in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a learned and noble Pharisee, and became a scrupulous observer of the law.

Later, sincerely persuaded that the followers of Jesus opposed God’s true law, he became a zealous persecutor of the first Christians. He took part in the murder of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr of the Catholic Church.

In the fury of his zeal, he next applied to the high priest for a commission to travel to Damascus, then a Christian center, to arrest all followers of Jesus.

He was nearing the end of his trip on the road to Damascus with a contingent of armed men, when, about noon, they were surrounded by a brilliant light. Saul was struck to the ground, and though all saw the light he alone heard a clear voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” and the voice rejoined, “Jesus of Nazareth Whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”

Then Christ Our Lord instructed him to arise and proceed to Damascus where he would learn what was expected of him. On arising Saul found that he was blind, and was led into the town to the house of a man called Judas.

In Damascus, Christ appeared to Ananias, a virtuous man, and bid him go to Saul. Ananias trembled at the name of the well-known persecutor but obeyed. Finding Saul, the holy man laid his hands upon him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, sent me that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see.

Saul arose, was baptized, and ate. He stayed for a while with the disciples of Damascus and began to preach in the synagogues that Christ Jesus was the Son of God to the astonishment of all who knew his previous persuasion.

Saul, who became Paul, was the great apostle of the Gentiles, preaching far and wide to the pagan world. He was martyred in Rome about the year 67.

Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?

Question:  I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for the worse.
I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.
But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer, saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no real value?

Answer:  God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).
If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.
Our part is to ask. How must we ask?

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.
So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”
One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all, faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the time for full enjoyment.

Answering Atheists and Agnostics
As for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know God.
In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.
We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming.
Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.
Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such people might start believing purely out of self-interest.
They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us unending happiness in Heaven.
"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God."  Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Even if your whole world seems upset

Do not lose your inner peace
for anything whatsoever,
not even if your whole world seems upset.
If you find that you have wandered away from
the shelter of God,
lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales was born in the Duchy of Savoy, in present-day France, in the Château de Sales. His father was Francis, Lord of Boisy, Sales and Novel and his mother Frances de Sionnz, the daughter of a prominent magistrate.

Born prematurely, Francis was delicate but slowly strengthened, though his health was never robust.

Being the oldest son of six, his father destined him for a secular career, despite Francis’ early leanings to the religious life. He attended the Jesuit college of Clermont in Paris where he excelled in rhetoric, philosophy and theology. During this period, Francis suffered a terrible temptation to despair of being saved. He was miraculously delivered before an image of Our Lady and there and then made a vow of chastity.

At twenty-four he received his law degree in Padua. With a brilliant career ahead of him, and a noble prospect of marriage, Francis declared his intention of following an ecclesiastical career. A sharp struggle ensued between him and his father who only relented in his opposition when Bishop Granier of Geneva offered Francis the post of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva in the patronage of the Pope.

Francis was ordained in 1593. The next year he volunteered to evangelize the region of Le Chablais, recently returned to the Duchy of Savoy from Calvinist Geneva and on which the Genevans had imposed their creed. With enormous tact, charity and zeal the young provost confuted the preachers sent to debate him, converted several prominent Calvinists and at great personal risk and traveling extensively brought back to the Church tens of thousands of the people of Chablais.

He was consecrated Bishop of Geneva in 1602, ruling his diocese from Annecy in France where he immediately established regular catechetical lessons for young and old. He himself taught the children of  whom he was beloved. He visited the parishes throughout his rugged diocese, made provisions for the clergy, reformed religious orders, and preached incessantly, everywhere known for his kindness and patient zeal. Those who flocked to hear the holy bishop said, “Never have such holy, apostolic sermons been preached.”

With St. Jeanne Frances de Chantal he founded the Order of the Visitation for girls and widows who had not the health or inclination for the austerities of the great orders.

In the midst of all his activities he found time to write numerous letters and works, among the most famous being his Introduction to the Devout Life.

Francis de Sales died in 1622 at age fifty-six and crowds thronged to venerate him. He was canonized in 1665 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1877.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why does God punish us?

God does not wish to see us in affliction, but
it is we who draw down sufferings upon ourselves, and
by our sins enkindle the flames in which we are to burn.
God punishes us,
because we oblige Him to do so.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Vincent of Zaragoza

St. Vincent was a native of Huesca, Spain, but lived in Zaragoza.

He was ordained a deacon by his friend, Saint Valerius of Zaragoza.

In 303 the Roman emperor published edicts against the clergy and in 304 against the laity. Vincent and his bishop were imprisoned in Valencia, and though they were subjected to hunger and torture, they thrived.

Speaking for Valerius who had a speech impediment, Vincent angered Dacian, the governor, by his outspoken and fearless manner. Dacian exiled Valerius but subjected Vincent to the gridiron. Seeing the deacon unmoved, the governor had the torturers beaten.

Finally Dacian suggested a compromise. He suggested that Vincent at least give up the Sacred Scriptures to be burned according to the emperor’s edict. On the saint’s refusal, Dacian lost control and had him thrown in jail where the holy deacon converted the jailer.

In despair, the governor wept but, strangely enough, ordered the martyr to be given some rest. But Vincent had earned his eternal rest. As soon as he was laid on a bed, he gave up his faithful soul to God.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Marvels of the Rosary

Eighth Rose from the Secret of the Rosary by Saint Louis de Montfort

Rosary Guide Booklet

Rosary Guide Booklet Banner

It would hardly be possible for me to put into words how much Our Lady thinks of the Holy Rosary and of how she vastly prefers it to all other devotions. Neither can I sufficiently express how highly she rewards those who work to preach the devotion, to establish it and spread it, nor on the other hand how firmly she punishes those who work against it.

All during life, Saint Dominic had nothing more at heart than to praise Our Lady, to preach her greatness and to inspire everybody to honor her by saying Her Rosary. As a reward he received countless graces from her; exercising her great power as Queen of Heaven she crowned his labors with many miracles and prodigies. Almighty God always granted him what he asked through Our Lady. The greatest honor of all was that she helped him crush the Albigensian heresy and made him the founder and patriarch of a great religious order.

As for Blessed Alan de la Roche who restored the devotion to the Rosary, he received many privileges from Our Lady; she graciously appeared to him several times to teach him how to work out his salvation, to become a good priest and perfect religious, and how to pattern himself on Our Lord.
He used to be horribly tempted and persecuted by devils, and then deep sadness would fall upon him and sometimes he used to be near to despair - but Our Lady always comforted him by her sweet presence which banished the clouds of darkness from his soul.
She taught him how to say the Rosary, explaining its value and the fruits to be gained by it and gave him a great and glorious privilege: the honor of being called her new spouse. As a token of her chaste love for him she placed a ring upon his finger and necklace made of her own hair about his neck and gave him a Rosary.
Father Triteme, Cathagena and Martin of Navarre and others as well have spoken of him in terms of the highest praise. Blessed Alan died at Zunolle in Flanders September 8th, 1475, after having brought over one hundred thousand people into the Confraternity.

Our Lady and the RosaryBlessed Thomas of Saint John was well known for his sermons on the Most Holy Rosary, and the devil, jealous of the success he had with souls, tortured him so much that he fell ill and was sick so long that the doctors gave him up. One night when he really thought that he was dying, the devil appeared to him in the most horrible form imaginable. There was a picture of Our Lady near his bed; he looked at it and cried with all his heart and soul and strength: "Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!" No sooner had he said this than the picture seemed to come alive and Our Lady put out her hand, took him by the arm and said:
"Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you: get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you used to do. I promise to shield you from your enemies."
When Our Lady said this the devil fled and Blessed Thomas got up, finding that he was in perfect health. He then thanked the Blessed Mother with tears of joy. He resumed his Rosary apostolate and his sermons were marvelously successful.

Our Lady blesses not only those who preach her Rosary, but she highly rewards all those who get others to say it by their example.

Alphonsus, King of Leon and Galicia, very much wanted all his servants to honor the Blessed Virgin by saying the Rosary. So he used to hang a large rosary on his belt and always wore it, but unfortunately never said it himself. Nevertheless his wearing it encouraged his courtiers to say the Rosary very devoutly.
One day the King fell seriously ill and when he was given up for dead he found himself, in a vision, before the judgment seat of Our Lord. Many devils were there accusing him of all the sins he had committed and Our Lord as Sovereign Judge was just about to condemn him to hell when Our Lady appeared to intercede for him.
She called for a pair of scales and had his sins placed in one of the balances whereas she put the rosary that he had always worn on the other scale, together with all the Rosaries that had been said because of his example. It was found that the Rosaries weighed more than his sins.
Looking at him with great kindness Our Lady said: "As a reward for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my Rosary, I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son. Your life will be spared for a few more years. See that you spend these years wisely, and do penance."
When the King regained consciousness he cried out: "Blessed be the Rosary of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, by which I have been delivered from eternal damnation!"
After he had recovered his health he spent the rest of his life in spreading devotion to the Holy Rosary and said it faithfully every day.

People who love the Blessed Virgin ought to follow the example of King Alphonsus and that of the saints whom I have mentioned so that they too may win other souls for the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. They will then receive great graces on earth and eternal life later on. "They that explain me shall have life everlasting life."

The Only Thing That Could Save You

When Saint Francis Borgia (1510-1572) was in Rome, a cleric came to speak with him. The saint, being busy with many things, sent his good friend, Father Acosta to see him.
The cleric said to him: "Father, I am a priest and a preacher, but I live in sin, and distrust the divine mercy. A most amazing thing has just happened to me. After preaching a sermon against the stubborn, who afterwards despair of pardon, a person came to me to make his confession. This stranger then narrated to me all my sins, and at length told me that he despaired of the divine mercy! In order to do my duty, I told him that he must change his life, and trust in God. At that very moment, he rose to his feet and reproached me, saying: ‘you, who preach thus to others, why do you not amend, and why do you distrust? Know, that I am an angel come to your aid; amend and you will be pardoned.’”
The priest continued, “When he had said this, he disappeared. I abstained for several days from my sinful practices, but when temptation came I again returned to my sins.
On another day, as I was celebrating Mass, Jesus Christ sensibly spoke to me from the Host, and said: 'Why do you thus maltreat me, when I treat you so well?' After this I resolved to amend, but at the next temptation fell again into sin.”
Shaking his head in sorrow, the cleric continued, “A few hours ago, a youth came to me in my apartment, and drew from under his mantle a chalice, and from this a consecrated Host, saying: 'Do you know this Lord Whom I hold in my hand? Do you remember how many favors he has done you? Now behold the punishment of your ingratitude,' and saying this he drew a sword to kill me.
I then cried out: 'For the love of Mary do not kill me, for I will indeed amend.' Replacing the sword from where it was drawn, he replied: 'This was the only thing that could save you: make a good use of this grace, for this is the last mercy for you.' Then he left me, and I came immediately here, begging you to receive me among you."
Father Acosta consoled him, and the priest, by the advice also of Saint Francis, entered another order of strict observance, where he persevered in holiness till his death.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The right of the child

The doctor should not meddle.
The right of the child is equal to the right of the mother’s life.
The doctor can’t decide;
it is a sin to kill in the womb.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We’ve had enough of exhortations

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent!
Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues.
I see that the world is rotten
because of silence.

St. Catherine of Siena

St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why me?

God's purpose in creating us is
to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth,
so that
we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with Him in heaven.

St. Ignatius Loyola

Pope St. Fabian and St. Sebastian

Pope St. Fabian was the first layman ever to be elected to the papacy. Before entering into his pontificate in 236, Fabian was a humble and well respected farmer. Upon the death of his predecessor, Pope Anterus, Fabian traveled with some companions to Rome to mourn his passing with the faithful and to be present when the new pope was elected. While attending the council to determine who Anterus’ successor would be, a dove suddenly appeared and descended upon the head of Fabian as a clear sign of his divine election.  By unanimous vote, Fabian was instantly chosen as the next pope.

During his fourteen-year pontificate, the Church enjoyed relative peace under Emperor Philip, and Fabian was able to do much to consolidate and develop the Church. He died a martyr’s death in 250 and was one of the first victims of the persecution under Emperor Decius, who considered him a rival and personal enemy. He was buried in the Catacomb of Calixtus.

Celebrated alongside St. Fabian is the Roman martyr, Sebastian. Though the narrative of his story is largely unhistorical, legend tells us that he was a young officer in the imperial army, who secretly dedicated himself to the spiritual and temporal assistance of the Christians and martyrs. It was he who exhorted Sts. Marcus and Marcellianus to constancy in the Faith and inspired them with the courage to face their deaths when they began to waver under the pleas of their friends. Being thus discovered, Sebastian was condemned by Emperor Diocletian and delivered over to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. Miraculously, he survived though and was nourished back to health by St. Zoe, a convert of his and mother of Sts. Marcus and Marcellianus. Refusing to flee, Sebastian confronted the Emperor again and harshly reproached him for his cruelty to the Christians. He died in 288 after being clubbed to death and his body thrown into the common sewer. It was privately removed, and he also was buried in the cemetery of Calixtus.

Although St. Fabian and St. Sebastian’s feasts are liturgically separate, they are celebrated on the same day; and the relics of the two saints are both kept and venerated together in the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Rome.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The source of Satan's power

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Wulfstan of Worcester

Wulfstan (Wulstan) was a native of Warwickshire, England.  After his priestly ordination, he became a novice at the monastery of Worcester where he edified all by the innocence and sanctity of his life. He was assiduous at prayer, often watching all night in church.

The first task assigned to him at the monastery was the instruction of children, then treasurer and eventually - though against his fierce resistance - he was made prior. In 1062, he was elected Bishop of Worcester.

Wulfstan was a powerful preacher, often moving his audience to tears.

To his vigorous action is particularly attributed the suppression of the heinous practice among the citizens of Bristol of kidnapping men into slavery and shipping them over to Ireland. St. Patrick who became the great apostle and patron of the Irish was such a slave in his youth.

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror was initially uncertain about Wulfstan. But acknowledging his capacity and uprightness, Wulfstan was the only bishop William retained at his post under the new rule.

For the next thirty years Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor and put forth great effort in alleviating the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons. Whenever the English complained of the oppression of the Normans, Wulfstan told them: “This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with patience.”

The saintly bishop died on January 19 at eighty-seven years of age after washing the feet of a dozen poor men, a humble ritual he performed daily. He was canonized in 1203.
Photo by: Christopher Guy

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

St. Margaret of Hungary

Margaret of Hungary was the daughter of King Bela IV, a champion of Christendom, and Maria Laskarina, a pious Byzantine princess. Bella IV being the brother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Margaret was the saintly Queen of Hungary’s blood niece.

King Bela and his queen, worried about an impeding Tartar invasion, vowed to dedicate to God the child they were expecting. Bela was victorious over the Tartars, and little Margaret was taken to the Dominican monastery at Vezprem at the age of three.

The child thrived in her new surroundings. By age four she had memorized the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At age ten she was moved to a convent built for her by her father on an island – today named Margaret Island – on the Danube near Buda and there she professed her vows at age twelve.

King Ottokar II of Bohemia having seen Margaret at eighteen years of age, ignoring her religious habit, sought her in marriage. A dispensation would have been possible in this case, and King Bela seemed to favor the prospect for political reasons. Yet, Margaret adamantly refused declaring she would have no other bridegroom than Jesus Christ, and would rather cut off her nose and lips.

Margaret’s was a life of astounding penance, prayer and charity toward the poor. To avoid preferential treatment in the convent because of her royal rank, she sought the most menial tasks to the point that a maid once said that she was humbler than a servant.
Her body worn out by the fatigue of long hours of labor, fasting and prayer, Margaret died at the age of twenty-eight on January 18, 1270. The virtuous princess was universally venerated as a saint from the time of her death.

Life without struggle

To live without faith,
without a patrimony to defend,
without a steady struggle for truth,
that is not living, but existing.

Bl. Pier Georgio Frassatti

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why people hate truth

People hate the truth
for the sake of whatever it is they love more than the truth.
They love truth when it shines warmly upon them
and hate it
when it rebukes them.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Anthony of Egypt

Anthony was born in 251 in the village of Koman, south of Memphis in Egypt. Anthony’s well-to-do parents died before he was twenty leaving him in charge of a younger sister, and the owner of a considerable estate.

In 272, wishing to leave all to follow Christ, after securing his sister’s support and upbringing, he distributed his holdings among the poor, and retired to a life of solitude. He lived a life of penance, sleeping on a rush mat on the bare floor, eating and drinking bread and water. The devil was allowed to attack him grievously, on one occasion subjecting him to a beating that left him for dead, only to be saved by friends.  Anthony emerged victorious from all these trials.

At the age of thirty-five, the holy hermit moved from his solitude in the vicinity of his native village, to a location across the eastern branch of the river Nile where he made his abode in some ruins on the summit of a mountain. There he lived for twenty years, rarely seeing any man except one who brought him bread every so often.

St. Athanasius, his friend and first biographer, speaks of Anthony as not only spending his time in prayer and meditation but also in making mats. He also gardened.

At fifty-four, being sought out by men who wanted to follow his way of life, Anthony founded his first monastery in Fayum in a series of scattered caves, which he visited occasionally.

In 311 as religious persecution again broke out under Emperor Maximinus, Anthony left his solitude to give courage to the martyrs in Alexandria. When the persecution abated, he returned to his previous solitude. He later founded another community of monks near the Nile called Pispir, though he continued to live on his mountain.

Years later, at the request of the bishops, Anthony again journeyed to Alexandria to confute the Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ. All ran to hear the holy hermit, and even pagans, struck by the dignity of his character, flocked around him. Heathen teachers and philosophers often sought him out, and were astounded at his meekness and wisdom.

Anthony died at age 101 surrounded by his spiritual sons in his hermitage on Mount Kolsim. His last words were, “Farewell, my children, Anthony is departing and will no longer be with you.” Thus saying, he stretched out his feet and calmly ceased to breathe.

Rachel, Why do you cry?

What our modern “Rachels,” undergo in this culture of abortion. How did we get here? Why in the name of freedom, liberation, rights and choice are girls and women so battered?
Woman’s Nature v. Lies of the Culture
A woman is made amazing. Hers is a nature so lofty that she instinctively understands that love is nurturing, and is, therefore, sacrificial. All she asks is to love and be loved so she can love forever. And what is greater, more selfless, stronger, more inspiring and propulsive than sacrificial love?
Hers is a mind so quick and intuitive, that she perceives things way before they’ve been spelled out. A true woman has the natural combination that is the spark of genius: heart and intuition.
But the culture lies to today’s growing girl. The culture tells her she must be ashamed of her femininity, and of her maternal instinct. She is told that compared to men, her femininity is weakness, and in light of the culture, her maternal instincts misguided. Unless she succeeds in the corporate world, she is a failure, and homes and children are only for the under-achieved woman.
Logically thus, since her body is not necessarily or primarily made to give life, but for pleasure and sexual satisfaction, she is told to show it off, to use it to her maximum “advantage”– out with the blushing bride, in with the voyeur.
But what the culture never tells the growing girl today is that the blushing bride calls man to his noblest; the “voyeur” to his basest. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “So goes the dignity of women, so goes the dignity of a nation.”
My mother’s version was, “Girls, sit on your mountain top and if he is worth his salt, he will climb it.”
What has more power–the ability to command or the ability to influence? Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand, eminent Catholic philosopher and lady, answers genially: “Command changes actions. Influence changes beings.”
And what is a woman’s greatest genius but that of influence? And what is the greatest secret of that genius but true, disinterested, sacrificial love that doesn’t care for recognition but for results: the good of those she loves.

To Dry Rachel’s Tears
It is time fathers again become teachers, guides and protectors of their daughters and give them the religious/philosophical principles that will aid them to choose husbands wisely. It is time fathers take their daughters to the garden bench; better still, on occasional dates to show how a gentleman treats a lady. It is time fathers take the initiative of countering the culture of death with the life-giving culture of Christ.
This Christ-centered enculturation must be done intelligently, insightfully, with common sense, but also with strength. Above all, it is time fathers give their daughters the supreme example of faith and virtue, first by example and then by doctrine. To a girl, a godly father is indeed, next to God. Brown, blue or green eyes will be raised to his face unflinchingly seeking to be convinced by his conviction.
It’s time mothers teach their girls modesty, purity, culture, manners, the arts of the home, and their priceless worth as the pearls of great price of society. It’s time the “lady” (layman’s term for “princess”) returns. It’s time that again a nation follows the dignity of its women. It’s time that knights again climb mountain tops to meet their ladies.
It’s time that we teach our daughters and sons how to prepare for founding Christian homes, homes where every baby is welcomed, cherished and raised, and yes, then yes, no child will be left behind.
It’s time that we stand in the gap for the preciousness of our young women, and teach our girls to see through the great LIE, and then, only then will our Rachels no longer cry.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The first step to loving Jesus

If you really want to love Jesus, first
learn to suffer, because
suffering teaches you to love.

St. Gemma Galgani

St. Honoratus of Arles

Honoratus was born into a patrician Roman family that had settled in Gaul, present-day France. As a young man, he renounced paganism and won his elder brother Venantius over to Christ.

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before them, the two brothers decided to leave the world. Under the tutelage of the hermit St. Caprasius they sailed from Marseilles with the intention of leading a secluded life in a Grecian desert.

In Greece, illness struck and Venantius died in peace. Also ill, Honoratus was obliged to return to Gaul with his instructor. At first, he lived as a hermit in the mountains near Fréjus.  Later, he settled on the island of Lérins off the southern coast of France. Followed by others, he founded a monastery on the island about the year 400. The monastic community is active to this day. St. Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland is said to have studied at Lérins.

In 426 Honoratus was pressed upon to accept the bishopric of Arles, where he reestablished Catholic orthodoxy, challenged by the Arian heresy. He died three years later exhausted from his apostolic labors.
The island of Lérins, today the island of Saint Honorat just south of Cannes, is home to Cistercian monks who live in a majestic monastery and produce fine wines and liqueurs which are well-known throughout the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why God sends us trials and afflictions

God sends us trials and afflictions
to exercise us in patience and
teach us sympathy with the sorrows of others.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Ita of Killeedy

Among the women saints of Ireland, St. Ita holds the most prominent place after St. Brigid. She is sometimes called Deirdre.

Though her life is overlaid with a multitude of legendary and mythical folklore, there is no reason to doubt her historical existence.

She is said to have been of royal descent and that she had been born near Waterford in the southeastern Irish province of Munster.

There was a royal suitor but through prayer and fasting she was able to convince her father to let her live a consecrated life of virginity. She migrated to Hy Conaill, in the western part of County Limerick where, at Killeedy, she founded a community of maidens.

It appears that St. Ida also led a school for small boys, and that St. Brendan was her student there for five years.

St. Ida died, probably in the year 570.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

People will notice

Be sure that you first preach
by the way you live.
If you do not, people will notice that … 

St. Charles Borromeo

January 14 – Matriarch of Saints

St. Macrina the Elder

Our knowledge of the life of the elder Macrina is derived mainly from the testimony of the great Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, her grandchildren: Basil (Ep. 204:7; 223:3), Gregory of Nyssa (“Vita Macrinae Junioris”), and the panegyric of St. Gregory of Nazianzus on St. Basil (Gregory Naz., Oratio 43).

She was the mother of the elder Basil, the father of Basil, Gregory, and other children whose names are known to us, including Macrina the Younger. Her home was at Neocaesarea in Pontus. In her childhood she was acquainted with St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, first bishop of her native town. As this venerable doctor, who had won Neocaesarea almost completely for Christianity, died between 270 and 275, St. Macrina must have been born before 270. During the Diocletian persecution she fled from her native town with her husband, of whose name we are ignorant, and had to endure many privations. She was thus a confessor of the Faith during the last violent storm that burst over the early Church.

On the intellectual and religious training of St. Basil and his elder brothers and sisters, she exercised a great influence, implanting in their minds those seeds of piety and that ardent desire for Christian perfection which were later to attain so glorious a growth. As St. Basil was probably born in 331, St. Macrina must have died early in the fourth decade of the fourth century. Her feast is celebrated on 14

J.P. KIRSCH (Catholic Encyclopedia)

St. Sava of the Serbs

Sava, born in 1174, was the youngest of the three sons of Stephen I, founder of the Nemanyde dynasty, of the independent Serbian State. At the age of seventeen he became a monk on Mount Athos, on the Greek peninsula. Abdicating the throne in 1196, his father joined him and together they established the thriving monastery of Khilandari.

Sava returned to Serbia in 1207 to help settle an inheritance dispute between his two brothers.

As his brother Stephen took the throne, Sava set to work to revamp the faith in his country which was lax and mixed up with paganism.

With the help of missionary monks from Khilandari, he established several important monasteries in Serbia. He also convinced the Eastern Emperor Theodore II, a relative, to establish Serbia’s own bishopric in order that its clergy might be better managed. The emperor established the prince-monk Sava as Serbia’s first Metropolitan of the new hierarchy.

Under Sava, his brother, Stephen II was duly recognized by the Holy See and though already crowned by a papal legate in 1217, was again crowned by his brother as Archbishop in 1222 with a crown sent by Pope Honorius III.

Thus, the retiring young prince, who left home to become a monk, succeeded before the age of fifty in consolidating, both civilly and religiously, the country founded by his father.

St. Sava died with a smile on his face on January 14, 1237 and is the patron saint of Serbia.

Friday, January 13, 2017

No matter how sinful

No matter how sinful one may have been,
if he has devotion to Mary,
it is impossible that he be lost.

St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers Presiding over a Council from the Hours of Etienne Chevalier

Hilary was born into an illustrious family in Poitiers, Gaul, in present-day France. Although he was brought up in idolatry, its tenets and beliefs did not satisfy his spiritual thirst. Chancing upon a copy of the Sacred Scriptures one day, after years of searching and studying, Hilary opened the Book of Exodus to God's words to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"
"I was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited to human intelligence," he wrote later.

The pursuit of meaning for his own existence, which had consumed all his thoughts up until then, had found its answer and he converted to Christianity. By this time he was married and had a daughter named Apra.

His eminent qualities attracted not only the attention of Gaul but of the Church, and in 350, against his humble protests, he was chosen, by clergy and laity alike, and consecrated Bishop of Poitiers.

He went on to wisely and valiantly combat the Arian heresy. The Arians did not believe in the divinity of Christ and they exerted much power and enjoyed the support of the emperor. This led to many persecutions. When Hilary refused to support the Arians in their condemnation of St. Athanasius in 356, he was himself exiled by Emperor Constantius. However, he continued his courageous fight from exile. "Although in exile we shall speak through these books, and the word of God, which cannot be bound, shall move about in freedom," he challenged them. Doctrinal works flowed from his pen during this period, the most renowned and esteemed of these being On the Holy Trinity. The earliest writing of Latin hymns is also attributed to him.

Returning to Gaul from exile, Hilary strengthened the weak in the Faith and convoked a synod to condemn that of Rimini in 359. He fought Arianism to his very death in 368.

St. Hilary was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1851.
Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber

Thursday, January 12, 2017

When in desolation...

Though in desolation
we must never change our former resolutions,
it will be very advantageous to intensify
our activity against the desolation.
We can insist more
upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves.
We can make an effort in a suitable way to do some penance.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite Bourgeoys was born the sixth child of twelve children in Troyes, France in 1620. At the age of twenty, touched by a special grace from Our Lady, and feeling called to the religious life, she applied to the Carmelites and the Poor Clares but was unsuccessful in both ventures.  A priest friend suggested that perhaps God had other plans for her.

When Marguerite was thirty-four, she was invited by the visiting governor of the French settlement in Canada to start a school at Ville-Marie, today Montreal. She generously accepted and traveled to the French colony then numbering two hundred people. Ville-Marie also had a hospital and a Jesuit mission chapel.

Marguerite started a school, but soon realized her need for help. Returning to Troyes, she recruited a friend, Catherine Crolo, and two other young women. In 1667 they added classes in their school for Indian children.  Six years later, on a second trip to France, Marguerite was joined by six other young women, and had her school approved by King Louis XIV.

The congregation of Notre Dame de Montreal was established in 1676 but their rule and constitutions were only approved in 1698, as orders of non-cloistered religious sisters were then a novelty.

Marguerite and her sisters worked untiringly for the establishment and growth of the French settlement, and when she died in 1700 she was known as “Mother of the Colony”. Marguerite Bourgeoys was canonized in 1982.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Sins That Cause Most Souls to go to Hell

Mother Godinho, who directed the Lisbon Orphanage where Blessed Jacinta Marto stayed shortly before dying at the hospital, carefully wrote down the holy girl’s words.
Two of her notes are outstandingly important today.
The First says, “The sins (that) cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”
With a directly supernatural illumination, that innocent, barely ten year-old girl repeats what Saint Alphonsus Liguori says – sins against chastity “fill hell with souls.”
When Mother Godinho asked Jacinta if she understood what it meant to be pure she answered, “I do. To be pure in body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not to look at what one should not see…” 
The second, rather prophetic statement is “Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear.”
It is good to recall that modesty is the outer defense of chastity, the walls defending the castle, as well as the gardens adorning the palace.
The correct question, when it comes to fashion, is not what is the extreme limit at which one is allowed to arrive, but how can one’s attire more clearly manifest love of modesty and the virtue of purity.

 Free Rosary Guide Booklet Banner

*Adapted from Fatima: A Message More Urgent Than Ever (The American TFP, Spring Grove, Pa., 2004), 98–99

St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch

Theodosius was born in Garissus, Cappadocia in 423. He took to the road as a pilgrim, and, in his travels visited the famous St. Simeon the Stylite on his pillar.

Eventually, he retired as a hermit to a cave on a mountain near Bethlehem, but his sanctity and miracles attracted many who wished to serve God under his direction. A spacious monastery was built on a place called Cathismus, which became a haven of saints in the desert.

Persecuted by Emperor Anastasius who favored the Eutychian heresy, Theodosius traveled extensively through Palestine exhorting the faithful to remain strong in the faith of the four general councils. The Emperor ordered the saint’s banishment, which was executed, but Theodosius died soon after in 529 at the advanced age of one hundred and five.

His funeral was honored by miracles, and he was buried in his first cell, called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who visited the Infant Christ were said to have lodged in it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When the devil wishes to make himself master

When the devil
wishes to make himself master of a soul, he
seeks to make it give up devotion to Mary.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Peter Orseolo

St. Peter Orseolo’s is an unusual life. He was born in 928 of a prominent Venetian family. At twenty he was appointed to the command of the city’s fleet and defeated the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic Sea.

In 976 there was a revolution in Venice that ended with the violent death of Doge Peter Candiani IV and the partial burning of the city. Although there are allegations that Orseolo was involved in the popular outbreak, the testimonies are inconclusive.

Peter Orseolo was elected doge in place of Candiani and, reputedly, ruled with energy and tact. Still, one night in 978, he secretly left Venice and sought admittance to the Benedictine Abbey of Cuxa, in Rousillon, on the border of France and Spain. Though married for thirty-two years and having an only son who was destined to become one of the greatest Venetian doges, there is early evidence that Peter and his wife had lived as brother and sister since their son’s birth.  As early as 968 there is also evidence that he wished to become a monk.

At Cuxa, Peter Orseolo led a life of the strictest asceticism, and then wishing for an even greater solitude, built a hermitage for himself. He died in 987 and many miracles were said to have taken place at his tomb.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Last one?

The deeds you do may be
the only sermon some persons will hear today.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Adrian of Canterbury

St. Adrian was North African Berber by birth.  Known for his virtue and learning, while Abbot of Nerida, near Naples, he was twice invited by Pope St. Vitalian to travel to England as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. In his humility, he first proposed a fellow monk for the position. When it was again offered to him, he recommended Theodore of Tarsus in his stead, finally accepting the Pope's condition that he accompany Theodore as his assistant and adviser.

St. Theodore made St. Adrian Abbot of the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul, later known as the Abbey of St. Augustine at Canterbury. Under his influence, the monastic school became a center of learning and virtue with far-reaching influence. Greek, Latin, Roman law and the ecclesiastical sciences were taught there.

After being a true beacon of sanctity and knowledge to England for thirty-nine years, St. Adrian died on January 9, 710.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Epiphany – The Three Kings made the Kingship of Christ Manifest to the Pagan World

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Saints Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior

Epiphany, which in the original Greek signifies appearance or manifestation, as St. Augustin observes, (1) is a festival principally solemnized in honor of the discovery Jesus Christ made of himself to the Magi, or wise men; who, soon after his birth, by a particular inspiration of Almighty God, came to adore him and bring him presents. (2)
The first miracle of Our Lord at the wedding feast at Cana, changing the water into wine. Painting by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
The first miracle of Our Lord at the wedding feast at Cana, changing the water into wine. Painting by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Two other manifestations of Our Lord are jointly commemorated on this day in the office of the church; that at his baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended on him in the visible form of a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard at the same time, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (3) The third manifestation was that of his divine power at the performance of his first miracle, the changing of water into wine, at the marriage of Cana, (4) by which he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him. (5)
Upon so many accounts ought this festival to challenge a more than ordinary regard and veneration; but from none more than us Gentiles, who, in the persons of the wise men, our first fruits and forerunners, were on this day called to the faith and worship of the true God. Nothing so much illustrates this mercy as the wretched degeneracy into which the subjects of it were fallen. So great this, that there was no object so despicable as not to be thought worthy of divine honors; no vice so detestable as not to be enforced by the religion of those times of ignorance, (6) as the scripture emphatically calls them. God had, in punishment of their apostasy from him by idolatry, given them over to the most shameful passions, as described at large by the apostle: Filled with all iniquity, fornication, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, contention, deceit, whisperers, detractors, proud, haughty, disobedient, without fidelity, without affection, without mercy, etc. (7) Such were the generality of our pagan ancestors, and such should we ourselves have been, but for God’s gracious and effectual call to the true faith.
Baptism of Our Lord, painting by Giovanni Battista Moroni
Baptism of Our Lord, painting by Giovanni Battista Moroni
The call of the Gentiles had been foretold for many ages before, in the clearest terms. David and Isaias abound with predictions of this import; the like is found in the other prophets; but their completion was a mercy reserved for the times of the Messiah. It was to him, who was also the consubstantial Son of God, that the eternal Father had made the promise of all nations for his inheritance; (8) who being born the spiritual king of the whole world, for the salvation of all men, (9) would therefore manifest his coming both to these that were near, and those that were afar off, (10) that is, both to Jew and Gentile. Upon his birth, angels (11) were dispatched ambassadors to the Jews, in the persons of the poor shepherds, and a star (12) was the divine messenger on this important errand to the Gentiles of the East; (13) conformably to Balaam’s prophecy, (14) who foretold the coming of the Messiah by that sign.
The summons of the Gentiles to Bethlehem to pay homage to the world’s Redeemer was obeyed by several whom the scripture mentions under the name and title of Magi, (15) or wise men; but is silent as to their number. The general opinion, supported by the authority of St. Leo, Cæsarius, Bede, and others, declares for three. (16) However, the number was small, comparatively to those many others that saw that star, no less than the wise men, but paid no regard to this voice of heaven: admiring, no doubt, its uncommon brightness, but culpably ignorant of the divine call in it, or hardening their hearts against its salutary impressions, overcome by their passions, and the dictates of self-love. In like manner do Christians, from the same causes, turn a deaf ear to the voice of divine grace in their souls, and harden their hearts against it in such numbers, that, notwithstanding their call, their graces, and the mysteries wrought in their favor, it is to be feared, that even among them, many are called, but few are chosen. It was the case with the Jews, with the most of whom, St. Paul says, God was not well pleased. (17)
King St. Caspar, by Lorenzo il Magnifico
King St. Caspar, by Lorenzo il Magnifico
How opposite was the conduct of the wise men! Instead of being swayed by the dictates of self-love, by the example of the crowd, and of many reputed moral men among them, they no sooner discovered the heavenly messenger, but, without the least demur, set out on their journey to find the Redeemer of their souls. Convinced that they had a call from heaven by the star, which spoke to their eyes, and by an inward grace, that spoke to their hearts, they cut off all worldly consultations, human reasonings, and delays, and postponed every thing of this kind to the will of God. Neither any affairs to be left unfinished, nor the care of their provinces or families, nor the difficulties and dangers of a long and tedious journey through deserts and mountains almost impassable, and this in the worst season of the year, and through a country which in all ages had been notoriously infested with robbers: nothing of all this, or the many other false lights of worldly prudence and policy, made use of, no doubt, by their counselors and dependents, and magnified by the enemy of souls, could prevail with them to set aside or defer their journey; or be thought deserving the least attention, when God called. They well knew that so great a grace, if slighted, might perhaps have been lost for ever. With what confusion must not this their active and undaunted zeal cover our sloth and cowardice!
The wise men being come, by the guidance of the star, into Jerusalem, or near it, it there disappears: whereupon they reasonably suppose they are come to their journey’s end, and upon the point of being blessed with the sight of the new-born king! that, on their entering the royal city, they shall in every street and corner hear the acclamations of a happy people, and learn with ease the way to the royal palace, made famous to all posterity by the birth of their king and Savior. But to their great surprise there appears not the least sign of any such solemnity. The court and city go quietly on in seeking their pleasure and profit! and in this unexpected juncture what shall these weary travelers do? Were they governed by human prudence, this disappointment is enough to make them abandon their design, and retreat as privately as they can to screen their reputation, and avoid the raillery of the populace, as well as to prevent the resentment of the most jealous of tyrants, already infamous for blood. But true virtue makes trials the matter and occasion of its most glorious triumphs. Seeming to be forsaken by God, on their being deprived of extraordinary, they have recourse to the ordinary means of information. Steady in the resolution of following the divine call, and fearless of danger, they inquire in the city with equal confidence and humility, and pursue their inquiry in the very court of Herod himself: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? And does not their conduct teach us, under all difficulties of the spiritual kind, to have recourse to those God has appointed to be our spiritual guides, for their advice and direction? To obey and be subject to them, (18) that so God may lead us to himself, as he guided the wise men to Bethlehem by the directions of the priests of the Jewish church.
King St. Balthasar, by Lorenzo il Magnifico
King St. Balthasar, by Lorenzo il Magnifico
The whole nation of the Jews, on account of Jacob’s and Daniel’s prophecies, were then in the highest expectation of the Messiah’s appearance among them; the place of whose birth having been also foretold, the wise men, by the interposition of Herod’s authority, quickly learned, from the unanimous voice of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the Jews, (19) that Bethlehem was the place which was to be honored with his birth; as having been pointed out by the prophet Micheas, (20) several ages before. How sweet and adorable is the conduct of divine providence! He teaches saints his will by the mouths of impious ministers, and furnishes Gentiles with the means of admonishing and confounding the blindness of the Jews. But graces are lost on carnal and hardened souls. Herod had then reigned upwards of thirty years, a monster of cruelty, ambition, craft, and dissimulation; old age and sickness had at that time exasperated his jealous mind in an unusual manner. He dreaded nothing so much as the appearance of the Messiah, whom the generality then expected under the notion of a temporal prince, and whom he could consider in no other light than that of a rival and pretender to his crown; so no wonder that he was startled at the news of his birth. All Jerusalem, likewise, instead of rejoicing at such happy tidings, were alarmed and disturbed together with him. We abhor their baseness; but do not we, at a distance from courts, betray several symptoms of the baneful influence of human respects running counter to our duty? Likewise in Herod we see how extravagantly blind and foolish ambition is. The divine infant came not to deprive Herod of his earthly kingdom, but to offer him one that is eternal: and to teach him a holy contempt of all worldly pomp and grandeur. Again, how senseless and extravagant a folly was it to form designs against those of God himself! who confounds the wisdom of the world, baffles the vain projects of men; and laughs their policy to scorn. Are there no Herods now a-days? Persons who are enemies to the spiritual kingdom of Christ in their hearts?
King St. Melchior by Lorenzo il Magnifico
King St. Melchior by Lorenzo il Magnifico
The tyrant, to ward off the blow he seemed threatened with, has recourse to his usual arts of craft and dissimulation. He pretends a no less ardent desire of paying homage to the new-born king, and covers his impious design of taking away his life, under the spacious pretext of going himself in person to adore him. Wherefore, after particular examination about the time when the wise men first saw this star, and a strict charge to come back and inform him where the child was to be found, he dismisses them to the place determined by the chief priests and scribes. Herod was then near his death; but as a man lives, such does he usually die. The near prospect of eternity seldom operates in so salutary a manner on habitual sinners, as to produce in them a true and sincere change of heart.
The wise men readily comply with the voice of the Sanhedrim, notwithstanding the little encouragement these Jewish leaders afford them from their own example to persist in their search; for not one single priest or scribe is disposed to bear them company, in seeking after, and paying due homage to, their own king. The truths and maxims of religion depend not on the morals of those that preach them; they spring from a higher source, the wisdom and veracity of God himself. When therefore a message comes undoubtedly from God, the misdemeanours of him that immediately conveys it to us can be no just plea or excuse for our failing to comply with it. As, on the other side, an exact and ready compliance will then be a better proof of our faith and confidence in God, and so much the more recommend us to his special conduct and protection, as it did the wise men. For no sooner had they left Jerusalem, but, to encourage their faith and zeal, and to direct their travels, God was pleased to show them the star again, which they had seen in the East, and which continued to go before them till it conducted them to the very place where they were to see and adore their God and Savior. Here its ceasing to advance, and probably sinking lower in the air, tells them in its mute language: “Here shall you find the new-born king.” The holy men, with an unshaken and steady faith, and in transports of spiritual joy, entered the poor cottage, rendered more glorious by this birth than the most sumptuous stately palace in the universe, and finding the child with his mother, they prostrate themselves, they adore him, they pour forth their souls in his presence in the deepest sentiments of praise, thanksgiving, and a total sacrifice of themselves. So far from being shocked at the poverty of the place, and at his unkingly appearance, their faith rises and gathers strength on the sight of obstacles which, humanly speaking, should extinguish it. It captivates their understanding; it penetrates these curtains of poverty, infancy, weakness, and abjection; it casts them on their faces as unworthy to look up to this star, this God of Jacob: they confess him under this disguise to be the only and eternal God: they own the excess of his goodness in becoming man, and the excess of human misery, which requires for its relief so great a humiliation of the Lord of glory. St. Leo thus extols their faith and devotion: “When a star had conducted them to adore Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils, or raising the dead, or restoring sight to the blind, or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine actions; but a silent babe, under the care of a solicitous mother, giving no sign of power, but exhibiting a miracle of humility.” (21) Where shall we find such a faith in Israel—I mean among the Christians of our days? The wise men knew by the light of faith that he came not to bestow on us earthly riches, but to banish our love and fondness for them, and to subdue our pride. They had already learned the maxims of Christ, and had imbibed his spirit: whereas Christians are for the greater part such strangers to it, and so devoted to the world, and its corrupt maxims, that they blush at poverty and humiliation, and will give no admittance in their hearts to the humility and the cross of Jesus Christ. Such by their actions cry out with those men in the gospel: We will not have this man to reign over us. (22) This their opposite conduct shows what they would have thought of Christ and his humble appearance at Bethlehem.
Reliquary in Cologne Cathedral of the Three Kings.
Reliquary in Cologne Cathedral of the Three Kings.
The Magi, pursuant to the custom of the eastern nations, where the persons of great princes are not to be approached without presents, present to Jesus, as a token of homage, the richest produce their countries afforded, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold, as an acknowledgement of his regal power: incense, as a confession of his Godhead: and myrrh, as a testimony that he was become man for the redemption of the world. But their far more acceptable presents were the holy sentiments and affections of their souls; their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and the unreserved sacrifice of themselves by mortification, represented by myrrh. (23) The divine king, no doubt, richly repaid their generosity by favors of a much greater excellency, the spiritual gifts of his grace. It is with the like sentiments and affections of love, praise, gratitude, compunction, and humility, that we ought frequently, and particularly on this solemnity, to draw near, in spirit, to the infant Jesus; making him an affectionate tender of our hearts, but first cleansed by tears of sincere repentance.
Stainglass window in Cologne Cathedral
Stainglass window in Cologne Cathedral
The holy kings being about to return home, God, who saw the hypocrisy and malicious designs of Herod, by a particular intimation diverted them from their purpose of carrying back word to Jerusalem, where the child was to be found. So, to complete their fidelity and grace, they returned not to Herod’s court; but, leaving their hearts with their infant Savior, took another road back into their own country. In like manner, if we would persevere in the possession of the graces bestowed on us, we must resolve from this day to hold no correspondence with a sinful world, the irreconcilable enemy to Jesus Christ; but to take a way that lies at a distance from it, I mean that which is marked out to us by the saving maxims of the gospel. And pursuing this with an unshaken confidence in his grace and merits, we shall safely arrive at our heavenly country.
It has never been questioned but that the holy Magi spent the rest of their lives in the fervent service of God. The ancient author of the imperfect comment on St. Matthew, among the works of St. Chrysostom, says, they were afterwards baptized in Persia, by St. Thomas the apostle, and became themselves preachers of the gospel. Their bodies were said to have been translated to Constantinople under the first Christian emperors. From thence they were conveyed to Milan, where the place in which they were deposited is still shown in the Dominicans’ church of that city. The Emperor Frederick Barbarossa having taken Milan, caused them to be translated to Cologne in Germany, in the twelfth century.
Note 1. St. Aug. Serm. 203. ol. 64. de div.
Note 2. According to Papebroch, it was Pope Julius the First, in the fourth century, by whom the celebration of these two mysteries, the nativity and manifestation of Christ to the Magi, was first established in the western church, on distinct days. The Greeks still keep the Epiphany with the birth of Christ on Christmas-day, which they call Theophany, or the manifestation of God, which is the ancient name for the Epiphany in St. Isidore of Pelusiam, St. Gregory Nazianzen, Eusebius, &c. See Thomassi, Tr. des Fêtes, Martenne Anecd. T. 5. p. 106. B. et in Nota, ib.
Note 3. Matt. iii. 17.
Note 4. Jo. ii. 11.
Note 5. Bollandus (Pref. Gen. c. 4.) and Ruinart (in Cal. in calce act. Mart.) quote a fragment of Polemeus Sylvius, written in 448, in which it is said that all these three manifestations of Christ happened on this day, though St. Maximus of Turin was uncertain.
Note 6. Acts xvii. 30.
Note 7. Rom. i..
Note 8. Ps. ii. 8.
Note 9. 1 Tim. ii. 4.
Note 10. Eph. ii. 17.
Note 11. Luke ii. 10, 11.
Note 12. This phenomenon could not have been a real star, that is, one of the fixed, the least or nearest of which is for distance too remote, and for bulk too enormous, to point out any particular house or city like Bethlehem, as St. Chrysostom well observes; who supposes it to have been an angel assuming that form. If of a corporeal nature, it was a miraculous shining meteor, resembling a star, but placed in the lower region of our atmosphere; its motion, contrary to the ordinary course of the stars, performing likewise the part of a guide to these travelers; accommodating itself to their necessities, disappearing or returning as they could best or least dispense with its guidance. See St. Thomas 3. p. quæst. 36. a. 7. Federicus Miegius Diss. De Stellá à Magis conspectá, in Thesauro Dissertationum in Nov. Testament. Amstelodami. An. 1702. T. 1. Benedictus XIV. de Canoniz. l. 4. part. 1. c. 25.
Note 13. What and where this East was, is a question about which interpreters have been much divided. The controverted places are Persia, Chaldea, Mesopotamia, and Arabia Felix. As they lay all more or less eastward from Palestine, so, in each of these countries, some antecedent notions of a Messias may be accounted for. In Persia and Chaldea, by the Jewish captivity and subsequent dispersion; also the prophecies of Daniel. In Arabia, by the proximity of situation and frequent commerce. In Mesopotamia, besides these, the aforesaid prophecy of Balaam, a native of that country.
Note 14. Num. xxiv. 17.
Note 15. In the eastern parts, particularly in Persia, Magi was the title they gave to their wise men and philosophers. In what veneration they were there held appears from the most important affairs, sacred and civil, being committed to their administration. They were deemed the oracles of the eastern countries. These that came to Bethlehem on this solemn occasion are vulgarly called kings, as they very likely were, at least of an inferior and subordinate rank. They are called princes by Tertullian, (L. contra Judæos, c. 9. L. 5. contra Marcion.) See Gretser, l. 1. de Festis, c. 30. (T. 5. Op. nup. ed. Ratisp.) Baronius ad ann. I. n. 30, and the learned author Annot. ad. histor. vitæ Christi, Urbini, anno 1730, c. 7. who all agree that the Magi seem to have been governors, or petty princes, such anciently being often styled kings. See a full account of the Magi, or Magians, in Prideaux’s Connexion, p. 1. b. 4.
Note 16. St. Leo, Serm. 30, etc. St. Cæsar. Serm. 139, etc. See Maldonat. on Saint Matt. ii. for the grounds of this opinion. Honoratus of St. Mary, Regles de la Critique, l. 3. diss. 4. a. 2. F. Ayala in Pictor Christian. l. 3. c. 3. and Benedict XIV. de Festis Christi. l. 1. c. 2. de Epiph. n. 7. p. 22. This last great author quotes a picture older than St. Leo, found in an ancient Roman cemetery, of which a type was published at Rome in a collection of such monuments printed at Rome in 1737. T. 1. Tab. 22.
Note 17. 1 Cor. x. 5.
Note 18. Heb. xiii. 17.
Note 19. This consisted principally of the chief priests and scribes, or doctors of the law.
Note 20. Ch. v. 2.
Note 21. Ser. 36. in Epiph. 7. n. 2.
Note 22. Luke xix. 14.
Note 23. Myrrh was anciently made use of in embalming dead bodies: a fit emblem of mortification, because this virtue preserves the soul from the corruption of sin.
(from The Lives of the Saints, by Rev. Alban Butler, 1866, Volume I: January)