Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stories of Mary 5: Mary Assists Her Servants In Purgatory

Too happy are the servants of this most kind mother, since not only
in this world they are aided by her, but also in purgatory
they are assisted and consoled by her protection.
Mary Assists her Servants in Purgatory
Too happy are the servants of this most kind mother, since not only in this world they are aided by her, but also in purgatory they are assisted and consoled by her protection.
For succor being there more needed, because they are in torment and cannot help themselves, so much the more does this mother of mercy strive to help them.
Father Eusebius Nierembergh relates that there lived in the city of Aragona a girl, named Alexandra who, being noble and very beautiful, was greatly loved by two young men.
Through jealousy, they one day fought and killed each other. Their enraged relatives, in return, killed the poor young girl, as the cause of so much trouble, cut off her head, and threw her into a well.
A few days after, St. Dominic was passing through that place, and, inspired by the Lord, approached the well, and said: “Alexandra, come forth,” and immediately the head of the deceased came forth, placed itself on the edge of the well, and prayed St. Dominic to hear its confession. The saint heard its confession, and also gave it communion, in presence of a great concourse of persons who had assembled to witness the miracle.
Then, St. Dominic ordered her to speak and tell why she had received that grace.
Alexandra answered, that when she was beheaded, she was in a state of mortal sin, but that the most holy Mary, on account of the rosary, which she was in the habit of reciting, had preserved her in life. Two days the head retained its life upon the edge of the well, in the presence of all, and then the soul went to purgatory.
But fifteen days after, the soul of Alexandra appeared to St. Dominic, beautiful and radiant as a star, and told him, that one of the principal sources of relief to the souls in purgatory is the rosary which is recited for them; and that, as soon as they arrive in paradise, they pray for those who apply to them these powerful prayers.
Having said this, St. Dominic saw that happy soul ascending in triumph to the kingdom of the blessed.
Oh Queen of heaven and of earth, oh mother of the Lord of the world, oh Mary, creature most great, most exalted, most amiable, it is true that many on the earth do not love thee and do not know thee; but there are innumerable angels and
saints in heaven who love and praise thee continually. On this earth, too, how many souls burn with love of thee, and live enamored of thy goodness.
Ah, if I, too, might love thee, my most lovely Lady! Oh, that I might always be engaged in serving thee, in praising thee, in honoring thee, and in striving to awaken love of thee in others.
A God hath been enamored of thee, who, by thy beauty, if I may so speak, hast drawn him from the bosom of the eternal Father, to come upon the earth and become man and thy Son; and I, a miserable worm, shall I not be enamored of thee?
Yes, my most sweet mother, I also will love thee, love thee much, and do all in my power to make thee loved by others.
Accept, then, oh Mary, the desire I have to love thee, and help me to fulfill it: I know that thy lovers are regarded with much favor by thy God. Next to his own glory, he desires nothing more than thy glory, in seeing thee honored and loved by all.
From thee, oh Lady, I await all my blessings. Thou must obtain the pardon of all my sins, thou must obtain for me perseverance, succor in death, deliverance from purgatory, in a word, thou must conduct me to paradise.
All this thy lovers hope from thee, and they are not deceived. This I also hope, who love thee with all my heart, and above all things next to God.
St. Bernardine of Sienna says, that in that prison of souls who are spouses of Jesus Christ, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitude of power to relieve them, as well as deliver them from their pains. And, in the first place, as to relieving them, the same saint, applying the words of Ecclesiasticus: I have walked in the waves of the sea: adds, visiting and relieving the necessities and sufferings of my servants, who are my children.
St. Bernardine says, that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory, unlike the pains of hell, which never end: and they are called waves of the sea, because they are very bitter pains. The servants of Mary tormented by those pains are often visited and succored by her.
See, then, how important it is, says Novarino, to be a servant of this good Lady; for she never forgets such when they are suffering in those flames. And although Mary succors all the souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains more indulgences and alleviations for those who have been especially devoted to her.
This divine mother, in her revelations to St. Bridget, said: I am the mother of all the souls in purgatory; and all the sufferings which they merit for the sins committed in life are every hour, while they remain there, alleviated in some measure by my prayers.
This kind mother sometimes condescends even to enter into that holy prison, to visit and console these her afflicted children. I have penetrated into the bottom of the deep: as we read in Ecclesiasticus;* and St. Bonaventure, applying these words, adds: I have penetrated the depth of this abyss, that is, of purgatory, to relieve by my presence those holy souls.
Oh, how kind and beneficent is the holy Virgin to those who are suffering in purgatory! says St. Vincent Ferrer; through her they receive continual consolation and refreshment.
And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than Mary, and the help of this mother of mercy? St. Bridget one day heard Jesus saying to his mother: Thou art my mother, thou art the mother of mercy, thou art the consoler of those who are in purgatory.
And the blessed Virgin herself said to St. Bridget, that as a poor sick person, suffering and deserted on his bed, feels himself refreshed by some word of consolation, so those souls feel themselves consoled in hearing only her name.
The name alone of Mary, a name of hope and salvation, which these beloved children often invoke in that prison, is for them a great comfort.
But, then, says Novarino, the loving mother, on hearing herself invoked by them, adds her prayers to God, by which these souls receive comfort, and find their burning pains cooled as if by dew from heaven.
But not only does Mary console and succor her servants in purgatory; she also releases them from this prison, and delivers them by her intercession.
From the day of her glorious assumption, in which that prison is said to have been emptied, as Gerson writes; and Novarino confirms this by saying, that many weighty authors relate that Mary, when about to [be assumed] to paradise, asked this favor of her Son, that she might take with her all the souls that were then in purgatory; from that time, says Gerson, the blessed Virgin has possessed the privilege of freeing her servants from those pains.
And this also is positively asserted by St. Bernardine, who says that the blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from purgatory by her prayers and the application of her merits, especially if they have been devoted to her.
And Novarino says the same thing, believing that by the merits of Mary, not only the torments of these souls are assuaged, but also abridged, the time of their purgation being shortened by her intercession: and for this it is enough that she presents herself to pray for them.
St. Peter Damian relates, that a certain lady, named Marozia, after death, appeared to her god mother, and told her that on the day [feast day] of the Assumption of Mary she had been released by her from purgatory, with a multitude of souls exceeding in number the whole population of Rome.
St. Denis the Carthusian relates, that on the festivals of the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Mary descends into purgatory, accompanied by troops of angels, and releases many souls from their torments. And Novarino believes that the same thing happens on every solemn festival of the holy Virgin.
Every one has heard of the promise made by Mary to Pope John, to whom she appeared, and ordered him to make known to all those who should wear the sacred scapular of Carmel, that on the Saturday after their death they should be released from purgatory.
And this was proclaimed by the same pontiff, as Father Crasset relates, in a bull which he published. It was also confirmed by Alexander V., Clement VIL, Pius V., Gregory XIII. , and Paul V., who, in 1612, in a bull said: “That Christians may piously believe that the blessed Virgin will aid by her continual intercession, by her merits and special protection, after death, and principally on Saturday, which is a day consecrated by the Church to the blessed Virgin, the souls of the members of the confraternity of holy Mary of Mount Carmel, who shall have departed this life in the state of grace, worn the scapular, observing chastity according to their state of life, recited the office of the Virgin, and if they have not been able to recite it, shall have observed the fasts of the Church, abstaining from flesh meat on Wednesdays, except on Christmas-day.
And in the solemn office of the feast of holy Mary of Mount Carmel, we read that it is piously believed, that the holy Virgin, with a mother’s love, consoles the members of the confraternity of Mount Carmel in purgatory, and by her intercession conducts them to their heavenly country.”
Why should we not also hope for the same graces and favors, if we are devoted to this good mother? And if with more special love we serve her, why cannot we hope to obtain the grace of going immediately after death to paradise, without entering into purgatory? as we read that the holy Virgin said to the blessed Godfrey, through brother Abondo, in these words: “Go and tell brother Godfrey to advance in virtue, for thus he will be a child of my Son, and mine also; and when his soul quits the body, I will not permit it to go to purgatory, but I will take it and present it to my Son.”
And if we would assist the holy souls in purgatory, let us endeavor to remember them in all our prayers to the blessed Virgin, applying to them especially the holy rosary, which procures for them great relief.

“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

Most efficacious apostolate

Good example
is the most efficacious apostolate.
You must be as lighted lanterns and
shine like brilliant chandeliers among men.
By your good example
and your words,
animate others to know and love God.

St. Mary Joseph Rossello

St. Romanus of Condat

Romanus was just 35 years old when he dedicated his life to that of a hermit, living humbly in prayer in the Jura Mountains between Switzerland and France. At first, Romanus lived under the protection of a large tree, and survived on the seed he had brought with him. Before long, however, he was joined by his brother, sister and a number of other followers. The brothers’ built two monasteries and a nunnery for their sister and each sibling governed their respective establishments.

Romanus decided to visit the place of martyrdom of the Theban Legion, a band of 6600 Catholic soldiers who were killed in 286 A.D. when they refused to assist in the eradication of Christianity. As he traveled, the holy monk came upon two lepers, and miraculously cured them. News of this miracle spread, and Romanus became well-known as a man of God.

Romanus died around 460 and was buried in the church of the nunnery where his sister governed.
Photo by: Giogo

Monday, February 27, 2017

Stories of Mary 4: Hope For Worst Of Sinners

What, then, must a sinner do who finds himself so unhappy as to have become an enemy of God?

Mary is the Peace Maker between Sinners and God
What, then, must a sinner do who finds himself so unhappy as to have become an enemy of God? He must find a mediator who will obtain pardon for him and enable him to recover the lost friendship of God. 
But if ever, adds the saint [Saint Bernard], you fear to have recourse to Jesus Christ because his divine majesty alarms you, since when he became man he did not cease to be God, if you ever wish for another advocate with this mediator, invoke Mary, for she will intercede for you with the Son, who will surely graciously listen to her, and the Son will intercede with the Father, who can refuse nothing to this Son.
And so, concludes St. Bernard, this divine mother, oh my children, is the ladder of sinners, by which they ascend anew to the height of divine grace. This is my greatest confidence; this is the whole ground of my hope.
For this end, says St. John Chrysostom, the Virgin Mary was made mother of God, that those sinners who, by reason of their wicked life, could not be saved according to the divine justice, might obtain salvation through her sweet compassion and powerful intercession.*
St. Anselm confirms this when he says that Mary has been exalted to be mother of God for sinners rather than for the just, since Jesus Christ announced that he came not to call the just, but sinners.
And so the holy Church sings: Sinners thou dost not abhor, since but for them thou never wouldst have been worthy of such a Son; St. Bernard takes up the subject, and says: Give then thanks to him who has provided thee with such a mediatrix.*
Whoever thou art, oh sinner, plunged in the mire of guilt, hoary in sin, do not despair; thank thy Lord, who in order to show mercy to thee, has not only given thee his Son for an advocate, but, to increase thy confidence and courage, has provided thee with such a mediatrix, who, by her prayers, obtains whatever she wishes. Have recourse to Mary, and thou wilt be saved.
It is related by Rupensis (Ros. Sacr. p. 5, c. 60.), and by Boniface (Stor. Virg. 1. 1, c. 11.), that in Florence there lived a young girl, named Benedetta (the blessed), although she might better have been called Maladetta (the cursed), from the scandalous and wicked life she led.
Happily for her, St. Dominic happened to preach in that city, and she, from mere curiosity, went one day to hear him. But the Lord touched her heart during the sermon, so that, weeping bitterly, she went to make her confession to the saint.
St. Dominic heard her confession, gave her absolution, and directed her to say the rosary. But the unhappy girl, by the force of her evil habits, returned to her wicked life. The saint heard of it, and going to her, induced her to confess once more.
God, in order to confirm her in her good life, one day showed hell to her, and some persons there who had been already condemned on her account.
Then opening a book, he made her read in it the frightful record of her sins. The penitent shuddered at the sight, and, full of confidence, had recourse to Mary, asked her help, and learned that this divine mother had already obtained from God for her time enough to mourn for her numerous sins.
The vision disappeared, and Benedetta devoted herself to a good life; but seeing always open before her eyes that dark catalogue, she one day prayed in these words to her consoler: “Oh mother, it is true that for my sins I should now be deep in hell; but since thou, by thy intercession, hast liberated me from it, by obtaining for me time for repentance, most merciful Lady, I ask of thee one other favor. I will never cease to weep for my sins; but do thou obtain for me that they may be cancelled from that book.”
After this prayer, Mary appeared to her, and told her that in order to obtain what she asked, she must preserve an eternal remembrance of her sins, and of the mercy of God towards her; and still more, that she must meditate on the passion of her Son, which he suffered for love of her; and also that she must bear in mind that many had been damned who had committed fewer sins than she had done.
She also revealed to her that a child of only eight years of age, one mortal sin only, had been that day condemned to hell.
Benedetta, having faithfully obeyed the most holy Virgin, one day beheld Jesus Christ, who showed her that book, and said to her: Be hold, thy sins are cancelled; the book is white, inscribe on it now acts of love and of virtue. Benedetta did this, led a holy life, and died a holy death.
Then, oh my most sweet Lady, if thy office is, as William of Paris says, to interpose as a mediatrix between the sinner and God, I will say to thee with St. Thomas of Villanova: Ah, then, oh our advocate, fulfill thy office.
Fulfill at once thy office also in my behalf. Do not tell me that my cause is too difficult to be gained; for I know, and all tell me, that no cause, how ever desperate, if defended by thee, was ever lost; and will mine be lost? No, I fear not this. I have only to fear, when I behold the multitude of my sins, that thou wilt not undertake my defense; but considering thy vast compassion and the great desire that fills thy most loving heart to help the vilest sinners, I no longer fear even this.
And who was ever lost that had recourse to thee? I invoke, then, thy aid, oh my great advocate, my refuge, my hope, and my mother Mary. To thy hands I commit the cause of my eternal salvation. To thee I consign my soul; it was lost, but thou must save it.
I always thank the Lord that he gives me this great confidence in thee, which, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I believe will secure my salvation. One fear alone remains to afflict me, my beloved queen: it is, that I may one day lose, through my neglect, this confidence in thee.
Therefore I pray thee, oh Mary, by all thy love for thy Jesus, to preserve and increase more and more in me this most sweet confidence in thy intercession, by which I certainly hope to recover the divine friendship, which I have hitherto so foolishly despised and lost; and once having recovered it, I hope by thy means to preserve it and preserving it, I hope finally, through thee, to go one day and thank thee for it in paradise, and there to sing the mercies of God and thine through all eternity. Amen.
Thus I hope, so may it be, and so it shall be.

“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

We must be pure

We must be pure.
I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses.
We must observe great purity
in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Anne Line

Anne was the daughter of William Heigham of Dunmow, Essex, a gentleman of means and an ardent Calvinist. When Anne and her brother converted to Catholicism, they were disowned and disinherited by their family. In 1583, Anne married Roger Line, a convert like herself. But shortly after their marriage Roger was arrested for attending Mass and exiled to Flanders in Belgium, where he died in 1594.

Anne remained in London, where, despite her poor health, she was put in charge of two houses of refuge for priests in the city. But soon, the English authorities began to suspect the widow's activities and she removed herself to another location. Then, on Candlemas Day in 1601, just as a Jesuit priest was about to celebrate Mass in Anne’s apartments, priest-catchers, men paid handsomely to root out Catholic clergy forced to celebrate Mass in secret, broke into the rooms. On this day, February 2, a blessing of candles traditionally takes place before Mass and a large number of people had gathered for the feast day. Quickly unvesting, Father Francis Page mingled with those in attendance as a form of concealment, but the altar prepared for the ceremony was all the evidence needed for Anne’s arrest. She was imprisoned in Newgate Prison and later brought to trial at Sessions House. Anne was so weak from fever that she had to be carried in a chair to her trial on February 26. She was indicted under Elizabeth I's 1585 Act Against Jesuits and Seminarists (Elizabeth 27, Cap. 2) for providing haven to a Catholic Jesuit priest, and sentenced to be hanged at Tyburn. The next day she was led to the gallows, bravely proclaiming her faith to the crowd before her sentence was carried out. Anne had finally achieved the martyrdom for which she had prayed and is known as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why Ash Wednesday? Why Ashes?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent symbolic of the forty days Our Lord fasted in the desert. Occurring forty six days before Easter, it is consequently moveable-as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.
The ashes applied to the forehead, made from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday, are blessed, perfumed with incense, and hydrated with a little holy water or oil as a binding agent. Thus treated, the ashes are considered a Sacramental.
The Catholic Church is replete with sacramentals, holy objects, words and rituals that we can see, touch and hear to help convey to our spirit an attitude of openess to Grace.
The ash used on Ash Wednesday, accompanied by the words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," or, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" places us in a disposition of penance and humility, which is the attitude needed for a fruitful, Grace-filled Lent.
Sacramentals are specially potent when well explained to children who are so visual and touch oriented. They are a powerful means to convey the unseen mysteries of our Faith to their young minds.

WOC Devotional Set Flag

If Mary is Mother, who is father?

All true children of God
have God for their father
and Mary for their mother.
Anyone who does not have Mary for their mother
does not have God for his father.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Alexander of Alexandria

Alexander was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and in 313, the gentle mannered man was made Patriarch of Alexandria because of his kindness, fervent religiousness and great love of God.

When heresy arose in the form of Arius, a wicked priest who was jealous of Alexander’s selfless and charitable ways as well as his title, Alexander became known for his zealous defense of the Catholic faith. Arius started a heretical faith called Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. At first, Alexander was kind to Arius, and tried to convince him to return to the church. But when the heretic refused, and instead began to gather a larger following, Alexander began to take steps to have him excommunicated.

Then, in 325, Alexander was part of an assembly of the ecumenical council, which was held in Nicaea. The council officially excommunicated Arius, condemned his heresy, and sent him and a few of his followers into exile. Victorious in his battle for the faith, Alexander returned home to Alexandria, where he died in 328 after naming St. Athanasius his successor.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

If you believe what you like

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and
reject what you don't like,
it is not the gospels that you believe,
but in yourself.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Tarasius of Constantinople

Tarasius was born around the middle of the eighth century. Raised in a patrician family, Tarasius was surrounded by earthly wealth and possessions, but lived a most austere and holy life. His virtue gained the esteem of the empire, and Tarasius was made Patriarch of Constantinople.

The emperor of the time, Constantine VI, became enamored of Theodotah, a maid of his wife, and sought to divorce his wife and marry her maid. As he strove to convince Tarasius to marry him to Theodota, the emperor sent a message to the holy man. Tarasius adamantly refused, replying to the emperor's ambassador, “I would rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." He continued to reject the emperor’s requests, and the ceremony was performed by another.

Just before his death, Tarasius fell into a trance. As his biographer, who was an eyewitness, relates, he was heard arguing with a number of unseen accusers. Tarasius defended himself against the accusers, and answered everything laid to his charge. Later, a great peacefulness came over him, and Tarasius gave up his soul to God in 806.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How do we measure our love of God?

God wishes to be served
to the last breath, to the exhaustion of the last drop of strength,
and He multiplies our capacities for suffering and doing
so that our dedication may reach the extreme limit
of the unforeseeable, the improbable, the miraculous.
The measure of the love of God is
to love Him without measure, said Saint Francis de Sales.
The measure of fighting for God consists
in fighting without measure, it may be said.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Praetextatus

Praetextatus became the bishop of Rouen, France, in 549. The thirty-five years during which he occupied the position of bishop were riddled with troubles involving the Frankish monarchy, a result of which was a time of exile for the saint.
Among the players of this political drama was Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman responsible for several deaths in the royal family. Fredegund despised Praetextatus and opposed his return from exile, but a council in Rouen overruled her interference and reinstated the holy bishop to his see.

“The time is coming when you shall revisit the place of your exile.” She threatened the saint shortly before his death. “I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile, and a bishop I shall remain; but as for you, you shall not always enjoy your crown.” He said, as he urged the queen to convert.

The wicked queen refused to reform her life, and in 586 as Praetextatus was offering Holy Mass, Fredegund had an assassin stab him under the arm. The mortally wounded bishop managed to drag himself to the altar and receive Holy Communion before he died.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The easiest way to pray

Prayer is the conversation
of a child with its Father; of a subject with his King;
of a servant with his Lord; of a friend with the Friend
to whom he confides
all his troubles and difficulties.

St. John Vianney

St. Polycarp

Polycarp, a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, was part of the group of early bishops. When heresy arose in Asia, violence toward Catholics arose with it, and Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to go into hiding.

Eventually Polycarp was found and arrested. When his persecutors arrived at his hideout, he went to them and served them a meal, asking for a short time to pray before being taken away. Polycarp was sent to trial, where his captors tempted him with freedom and tried to convince him to denounced Our Lord. “Fourscore and six years I have served Him and He hath done me no wrong,” he said, “how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

Soon after this, in the year 155, Polycarp was burnt at the stake – though there was no odor of burning flesh: instead a smell of incense was in the air. When the fire seemed to do him no harm, a spear was thrust into his side, killing him. A dove flew out of the wound, and Polycarp’s blood quenched the fire, causing part of his body to remain intact. However, his remains were later burned to ash because the heretics feared other Catholics would revere the body as a relic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”

Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title gained a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears. Her mother, Marie Jeannine Michel, a native from Haiti, had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was now dying.
I was more than happy to take the statue to visit her at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was painfully clear, when we arrived in the Intensive Care Unit, that this poor soul was reaching the end.
Over the next couple of hours we prayed numerous rosaries, litanies and the prayers for the dying by her bedside. We also struggled to provide the dying women with all the spiritual assistance we could.
As we prayed, the attending nurse, who happened to be Catholic, kept calling local Churches to find a priest who would administer last rites. Whenever she entered the room to care for Mrs. Michel she would join in the responses to the Hail Mary. Overwhelmed by the scene, she exclaimed, “I hope when I am dying someone will bring the statue to visit me and pray the rosary.”
Moments before the priest arrived, Dominique asked me if I had an extra scapular for her mother. I did not. As the priest administered the last rites I scurried from the room in search of this precious sacramental, only to find I was the only person wearing one. Mrs. Michel was in much more need of it than me, so with the help of a doctor we temporarily removed her oxygen mask and placed my scapular around the dying woman’s neck. Dominique then took her Miraculous Medal and pinned it on to the scapular.
The most moving part of this visit occurred when Mrs. Michel opened her eyes and showed signs she wanted to speak. When they removed the oxygen mask, Dominique told her mother, in their native tongue, that “Momma Mary” was in the room.
Since Mrs. Michel seemed to be already looking into eternity, with a type of “fog of death” in her gaze, I carried the statue over next to her bed. Surprisingly she reached up and took hold of our Lady’s hands and held on for some moments. The oxygen mask was then replaced as the nurse administered morphine to deaden the pain she was experiencing.
Mrs. Michel died at 6:00 AM the following morning with Dominique praying beside her bed.
While the America Needs Fatima home visitation program is a very rewarding apostolate, nothing on earth compares to the satisfaction of a visit like this. A person going through such a moving ordeal, however, could naturally ask, “Was there something more we could have done?”
In the case of Mrs. Michel, the answer is a resounding no. She received the last rites of Holy Mother Church, was clothed in the brown Scapular, and was almost continuously surrounded by the melodious sound of the Angelic Salutation.
Hours before she passed into eternity, Mrs. Michel also had the grace to hold hands with She who truly is the Gate of Heaven.
By: Norman Fulkerson

Stories of Mary 1: Abandoned…But Not By Mary

Mary, Queen of Mercy!

(3 minute read - Enjoy!)

Let us then always have recourse to this most sweet queen, if we would be sure of our salvation; and if the sight of our sins terrifies and disheartens us, first remember that Mary was made queen of mercy for this very end, that she might save by her protection the greatest and most abandoned sinners who have recourse to her.
They are to be her crown in heaven, as her divine spouse has said: Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come; thou shall be crowned from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards; And what are these dens of wild beasts and monsters, if not miserable sinners, whose souls become dens of sins, the most deformed monsters?
Now, by these same sinners, as Rupert, the abbot, remarks, who are saved by thy means, oh great Queen Mary, thou wilt be crowned in heaven; for their salvation will be thy crown, a crown indeed worthy and fit for a queen of mercy and let the following example illustrate this.

We read in the life of Sister Catherine, an Augustinian nun, that in the place where that servant of God lived, there lived also a woman named Mary, who, in her youth, was a sinner, who obstinately persevered in her evil courses, even to extreme old age. For this she was banished by her fellow-citizens, forced to live in a cave beyond the limits of the place, and died in a state of loathsome corruption, abandoned by all, and without the sacraments; and on this account was buried in a field, like a beast.
Now Sister Catherine, who was accustomed to recommend very affectionately to God the souls of those who had departed this life, after learning the miserable death of this poor old woman, did not think of praying for her as she and everyone else believed her already among the damned.
Four years having past, a soul from purgatory one day appeared to her, and said, Sister Catherine, how unhappy is my fate! You commend to God the souls of all those who die, and for my soul alone you have had no pity.
"And who are you?" asked the servant of God.
She answered: "That poor Mary who died in the cave."
"How? Are you saved?!" exclaimed Sister Catherine.
“Yes, I am saved,” she said, “by the mercy of the Virgin Mary. And how?... when I saw death drawing near, finding myself laden with sins, and abandoned by all, I turned to the mother of God and said to her, ‘Lady, thou art the refuge of the abandoned, behold me at this hour deserted by all; thou art my only hope, thou alone canst help me; have pity on me.’”
“The Holy Virgin obtained for me the grace of making an act of contrition; I died and am saved, and my queen has also obtained for me the grace that my pains should be abridged, and that I should, by suffering intensely for a short time, pass through that purification which otherwise would have lasted many years. A few masses only are needed to obtain my release from purgatory. I pray thee cause them to be offered for me, and I promise to pray to God and Mary for thee.”
Sister Catherine immediately caused those masses to be said for her, and that soul, after a few days, appeared to her again, more brilliant than the sun, and said to her, "I thank thee, Sister Catherine. Behold, I am now going to Paradise to sing the mercy of God and pray for thee."

 "Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

Why does God conceal Himself?

In times of desolation,
God conceals Himself from us
so that we can discover for ourselves
what we are without Him.

St. Margaret of Cortona

St. Margaret of Cortona

Margaret was born in Laviano, a little town in Tuscany, to a farmer and his wife. When she was only seven, her mother died and her father remarried a hard and difficult woman, who spared no great love for the free-spirited girl.

Margaret ran away with a rich young man. For nine years she lived in sin, and during that time bore him a son. Her immoral relationship caused great scandal, and Margaret strove to convince him of marriage, but to no avail. One day, the man took his dog and went riding. When he did not return, Margaret became anxious. After some time, his dog returned and led her to a forest. There Margaret found the broken body of her lover, dead for some days, and took it as a sign from God to amend her life.

Then Margaret traveled to Cortona where she lived a life of prayer and penance near the Franciscan Friars. She devoted herself to caring for the sick, living off of alms, eating and sleeping little, and eventually took the habit of the third order of St. Francis. She sent her son to school in Arezzo, where he later entered the Franciscan Order.

During the twenty-nine years she lived as a penitent, Margaret often spoke with God. A result of her dedication to the sick is the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, which she founded. She died at age fifty, and was proclaimed a saint immediately. The people of Cortona built a church in her honor, where her remains are housed. She was officially canonized in 1728.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

To satisfy the heart

Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able
to satisfy the heart?

St. Gerard Majella

St. Peter Damian

Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy. His parents died when he was still very young, and he was adopted by his older brother who sent him to school, where he excelled in his studies and eventually worked as a professor.

Fasting and prayer were the great hallmarks of his sanctity. He had a great love for those less fortunate than himself, and frequently dined with the poor at his table, serving them with his own hands.

Leaving all his earthly possessions, Peter became a hermit in the Order of St. Benedict. Though reluctant to do so, he later became abbot of the hermitage in 1043. He guided his holy brothers with great piety, and eventually founded five other hermitages.

Peter’s wisdom was valued greatly within the Church, and in time, he was asked to be Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. He reluctantly accepted, but often asked to be reinstated as a simple monk. Eventually his wish was granted, and he returned to his simple life as a hermit, though he continued to assist the Church in matters of importance. He died at Faenza in 1072 of a severe fever.

The Hildebrandine reform in the Church – the stress for clerical celibacy and the fight against simony – is largely due to St. Peter Damian. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto - February 20

Blesseds Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) - February 20

Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, were born in the tiny town of Aljustrel, Portugal, two years apart in a family of ten siblings.
Francisco was a handsome boy with light hair and dark eyes and a retiring disposition. Jacinta was a beautiful girl, also light haired and dark eyed but of a spritely temperament. With their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, brother and sister pastured their families’ sheep.

In 1916 their calm, rural life was changed forever by the apparition of an angel in a field near Aljustrel. The angel, calling himself “The Angel of Portugal”, prepared them spiritually for a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 13, 1917 the Mother of God appeared to the three children atop of a holm oak near the village of Fatima. The Virgin asked the children to return another five times and promised to work a miracle at the last apparition so that all would believe, which she did by making the sun “dance” before 70,000 in October of 1917. At that time she also called herself, “Lady of the Rosary.”

Throughout the apparitions, the Mother of God made prophecies about the advent of Communism and its spread throughout the world, about the coming of World War II, spoke of the sinfulness of the humanity, and asked for prayer (specially the daily recitation of the Rosary), penance and conversion of life as a means of obtaining peace for the world.

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She also asked the children if they were willing to pray and sacrifice to help save the souls of poor sinners. She assured Francisco and Jacinta that she would take them soon to heaven but that Lucia would stay on earth longer.
Francisco and Jacinta convinced that they were not long for this world, and interiorly transformed by great mystical graces as well as a terrifying vision of hell, accepted a type of  “spiritual victimhood”  for the sake of offering reparation to God and saving the souls of sinners.
Francisco spent hours on end in prayer, and contemplation even giving up his games and play time. Jacinta embarked on a life of prayer and penance, offering many small sacrifices for the salvation of sinners.
In 1918 both fell victims to the influenza ripping through Portugal, gladly embracing their illness and all its suffering.
Francisco died with a smile on his face on April 3, 1919 at his home in Aljustrel. And Jacinta died in a hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920 which day she had predicted.

Brother and sister were beatified on May 13, 2000.

Jacinta's Transformation: Something Akin to the Secret of Mary

By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?
Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.

Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

He waits

He loves, He hopes, He waits.
If He came down on our altars on certain days only,
some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have
to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait.
Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner
for years
rather than keep him waiting one instant.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Wulfric of Haselbury

Wulfric was born south of Bristol in Compton Martin. Assigned to a parish in Deverill near Warminster after his priestly ordination, he avidly continued some of his more worldly pursuits. Hunting – with both hawks and hounds – had been a passion with him and he was loath to give either of them up until a chance conversation with a beggar. Converted to more godly pursuits by the words of the poor man, Wulfric moved back to his native village, now as its parish priest.

In 1125, desiring to live as an anchorite, Wulfric withdrew to a cell adjacent to the Church of St. Michael and All the Angels in Haselbury Plunett, Somerset. He had failed to obtain his bishop’s permission to do so, but was supported by the Cluniac monks at Montacute and others, who shared a great respect for his holiness.

His cell stood on the cold northern side of the church. In these simple quarters, Wulfric lived alone for twenty-nine years, devoting his time to prayer, meditation, the study of the Scriptures and severe bodily mortifications: he slept little, ate frugally, abstained from meat, exposed his emaciated body to extreme temperatures and wore a hair shirt and heavy chain mail tunic.

People soon sought him out for his blessing and then for his guidance and counsel. He came to be known as a healer of body, mind and spirit; miracles and prophesies followed. From his humble abode, the saintly anchorite came to exercise a powerful influence even at court. To King Henry I he predicted his imminent death; his successor, King Stephen, he chastised for the evils of his government.

Wulfric was one of the most influential anchorite priests of medieval England. Upon his death on February 20, 1154, a scuffle erupted in and around the church that had sheltered him in its shadows for nearly three decades. The Cluniac monks of Montacute maintained that since they had provided food for the holy man for many years, this gave them a claim to the hermit’s mortal remains while the pastor of Haselbury, the town’s inhabitants and their neighbors from Crewkerne, forcibly retained their possession of the same. Wulfric was buried in his own cell by the Bishop of Bath who had come to visit him shortly before his death.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We must decide

This world and the world to come
are two enemies.
We cannot therefore be friends to both; but
we must decide which we will forsake
and which we will enjoy.

Pope St. Clement I

St. Boniface of Lausanne

Boniface was born in Belgium in 1205, and when he was just 17, was sent to study at a university in Paris. Once he completed his education, he remained at the university as a teacher, and over the course of seven years, became a very popular lecturer.

When the students at the university became locked in a dispute with their teachers and started boycotting classes, Boniface left Paris to fill a post at the cathedral school in Cologne.

Just two years later, in 1230, Boniface was elected Bishop of Lausanne. He accepted his new position enthusiastically and devoted all his energies to the spiritual leadership of his diocese.

But his eight years as Bishop of Lausanne were riddled with disputes, and the people of his diocese were discontented with his frank and open ways in the pulpit: he publicly scolded Emperor Frederick II and the local clergy for their corruption.

As a result of this rebuke, in 1239 he was attacked and gravely wounded by Frederick's men. This caused Boniface to ask Pope Gregory IX for permission to resign as bishop. The pope agreed, and Boniface returned to his native Belgium and began living at the Cistercian monastery at La Cambre. Although he stayed there for the rest of his life and wore the habit of the order, he apparently never became a Cistercian.

Boniface was canonized in 1702.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

It sums up man’s entire relation to God

may be a very short word,
but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it
sums up man’s entire relation to God
and to his neighbor.

St. Aelred of Rievaulx

St. Theotonius

Born in 1082 into a wealthy and pious family in northern Portugal, Theotonius was a nephew to the Bishop of Coimbra and studied with him from a young age to prepare for the priesthood.

When Theotonius was ordained a priest, he lived most austerely, avoiding luxury. After the death of his uncle around the year 1112, the young priest, now thirty years old, accepted – though not without reluctance – the office of the Superior of the Cathedral Chapter of Viseu.

The Countess Teresa of Portugal (referred to by Pope Paschal II in 1116 as "Queen," a title that remained from that time onwards) and her husband, Henry of Burgundy, with the consent of the clergy and at the urging of the people, often sought to appoint Theotonius as Bishop of Coimbra, but he always refused.

In an effort to dissuade the Queen from her intentions, Theotonius resigned his office as Prior of the Cathedral Chapter and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After he returned to Portugal, he resumed his work as a priest and Chapter member in Viseu, but refused to take up again the office of Prior.

Theotonius was fearless in rebuking sinful behavior, in public or in private. In one instance, the now widowed queen was attending Holy Mass celebrated by Theotonius. She was accompanied by the Galician nobleman Fernando Pérez de Traba and the nature of their scandalous relationship had become well-known. Theotonius' sermon, though not naming them, was clearly directed at their conduct. On another occasion, Theotonius was about to begin Holy Mass when the queen had a message sent asking him to say the Mass quickly. He replied simply that there was another Queen in heaven, far more noble, for whom he ought to say the Mass with the greatest reverence and devotion. If the queen did not wish to stay, she was free to leave, but he would not rush – Theotonius was ever insistent on the exact and reverent recitation of holy prayers.

Theotonius’s priestly life was distinguished by a great love for the poor and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for whom he offered Mass every Friday. The Mass was followed by a procession to the cemetery, and large sums were donated to the priest, but Theotonius distributed the money to the poor.

Theotonius died in 1162 at the age of eighty. When he heard the news, Don Afonso Henriques, Queen Teresa's son and the first king of Portugal, who was a good friend of Theotonius’s, remarked of him, “his soul will have gone up to Heaven before his body is lowered into the tomb.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

On such occasions

Trials and tribulations offer us a chance
to make reparation for our past faults and sins.
On such occasions the Lord comes to us
like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins.
Tribulation is the divine medicine.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

Between 1225 and 1227, seven men from prominent families of Florence, Italy, left their lives of luxury and devoted themselves to prayer.
After some time, as they prayed on the feast of the Assumption, the Virgin Mary appeared to them, urging them to devote themselves to her service. Upon making arrangements for their families (two of the seven were married, and two others were widowers), the men withdrew to Monte Senario and established a simple and austere community there.

In 1240, Our Lady again appeared to the seven penitents. This time she asked them to wear a black habit and follow the Rule of St. Augustine and take the name “The Servants of Mary,” or “Servites.”

The seven men were ordained priests, and the order grew and expanded. The Order was not fully recognized by the Pope until 1304, over sixty years after its establishment.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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

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

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

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

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

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

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

February 15 - St. Sigfrid of Växjö

Sigfrid was a priest from York, England. He was one of three missionary bishops sent by the king to evangelize Norway. After spending some time spreading the word of God there, the three companions made their way to Sweden, where Sigfrid converted Olaf, the king. Olaf was baptized in a spring which later was named after the holy man, and credited with many miracles.
Over the years, Sigfrid made his home at Växjö, and invited his three nephews to be his assistants. His nephews, who were all religious, eventually took over the direction of his diocese as he traveled on missions to other areas. During his absence, a violent group of heretics came to Växjö and looted the church, killing the three nephews by severing their heads from their bodies. When he heard the news, Sigfrid returned to Växjö and enshrined his nephew’s heads, on which occasion, it is said, the three heads spoke. The king wished to put the murderers to death, but the holy man interceded in their behalf, and instead the king fined them heavily. The large sum was offered to Sigfrid, but in spite of his great poverty, he refused. After missionary work in Denmark, he died sometime in 1045.

February 15 - St. Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombiere
Missionary and ascetical writer, born of noble parentage at Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon, between Lyons and Vienne, in 1641; died at Paray-le-Monial, 15 Feb., 1682. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1659. After fifteen years of religious life he made a vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the rule and constitutions of his order under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude. In 1674 Father de la Colombière was made superior at the Jesuit house at Paray-le-Monial, where he became the spiritual director of Blessed Margaret Mary and was thereafter a zealous apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Claude de la Colombière
In 1676 he was sent to England as preacher to the Duchess of York, afterwards Queen of Great Britain. He lived the life of a religious even in the Court of St. James and was as active a missionary in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Blessed Margaret Mary by letter. His zeal soon weakened his vitality and a throat and lung trouble seemed to threaten his work as a preacher. While awaiting his recall to France he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as a conspirator. Thanks to his title of preacher to the Duchess of York and to the protection of Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was condemned to exile (1679). The last two years of his life were spent at Lyons where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits, and at Paray-le-Monial, whither he repaired for his health. His principal works, including “Pious Reflections”, “Meditations on the Passion”, “Retreat and Spiritual Letters”, were published under the title, “Oeuvres du R. P. Claude de la Colombière” (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864). His relics are preserved in the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.

SEQUIN, Vie du P. de la Colombière (Paris, 1876), tr. in Quarterly Series (London, 1883); LUBEN, Der ehrwurdige Diener Gottes P. Claudius de la Colombière (Einsiedeln, 1884); LETIERCE, Le Sacre Coeur, ses apotres et ses sanctuaires (Nancy, 1886); Lettres inedites de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1890); CHARRIER, Histoire du V. P. Claude de la Colombière (Paris, 1894); Bougaud, Histoire de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1900); Oeuvres completes du R. P. de la Colombière (Grenoble, 1901); HATTLER, Lebensbild der ehrwurdige P. Claudius de la Colombière (1903); POUPLARD, Notice sur le serviteur de Dieu, le R. P. Claude de la Colombière.
GERTRUDE DANA STEELE (Catholic Encyclopedia)
[Ed. note: He was canonized 31 May, 1992, by Pope John Paul II]

How to go to God

Go to God simply,
with great confidence that His goodness will guide you;
let yourself go confidently as your heart draws you, and
fear nothing but pride and self-love.

St. Claude de la Colombière

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You learn to love by loving

You learn to speak by speaking,
to study by studying, to run by running,
to work by working, and just so,
you learn to love by loving.
All those who think to learn in any other way
deceive themselves.

St. Francis de Sales

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Cyril and Methodius were born in Thessalonika, Greece. The area was inhabited by many Slavic people, and the brothers learned their language. They eventually became priests and were sent to Moravia, a Slav-speaking nation, to preach to people in their own language upon the request of Prince Rostislav.

In 863, the brothers were part of a small group of missionaries sent to Moravia. The group was led by Cyril, and they took with them an invaluable tool: the holy Mass translated into Slavic for the first time. The German-influenced clergy did not accept the missionaries, distrusting the translated liturgy. Catholicism blossomed in the foreign land, and the missionaries soon found themselves in need of more priests. However, without the support of the local clergy, they had no bishop to ordain new priests. They traveled to Rome to appeal to Pope Adrian II, who officially approved the translated liturgy and ordained them both bishops.

While still in Rome, Cyril died on February 14, 869, passing leadership onto his brother. Methodius returned to Moravia, bearing with him a letter of approval from the Pope. However, since his departure, Rostislav had been driven out by his nephew, Svatopluk, who had become an ally of Carloman of Bavaria.  The new prince stood against the missionaries. Methodius was imprisoned for two years before the Pope, now John VIII, could procure his release.

Pope John banned the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy, yet Methodius continued with his mission. His enemies also accused Methodius of heresy. Later, before the Pope, the holy bishop was able to convince him both of his orthodoxy and of the need for the use of Slavonic in the liturgy, which John VIII reinstated with some reservations.

St. Methodius spent the last four years of his life completing the Slavonic translation of the Bible, which suggests that he was prevented from fully exercising his missionary work by the continuous Germanic opposition. Methodius died on April 6, 884, his body exhausted from his apostolic efforts.
Photo by: Frettie

Monday, February 13, 2017

On Jesus alone...

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

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Catherine dei Ricci

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tonia Long

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

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

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

Click here to print these cards(Instructions are included)



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


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The one friend who will never leave me

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

St. Damien of Moloka’i

St. Meletius of Antioch

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I'll be getting broiled on a grill in purgatory

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

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858 in the Pyrenean village of Lourdes, France, a beautiful young lady appeared to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Bernadette and her sister were searching for firewood near the Grotto of Massabielle. Bernadette was often ill, so when her sister removed her stockings in order to wade across the river, the frail girl remained where she was. Soon, a strange silence filled the air. She turned her head towards the grotto and saw in the opening of the rock a young and beautiful lady. "The Lady" was dressed in white with a yellow rose at each foot and a rosary draped over her arm. Removing her own rosary from her pocket, Bernadette knelt down before "the Lady" and began to pray.

This was the first of eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Mother to the young girl. During the sixteenth apparition on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady identified herself as "the Immaculate Conception." Bernadette ran to her pastor’s house, repeating to herself over and over again the strange name that "the Lady" had given her so as not to forget it. At that time, the "Immaculate Conception" was not a well known term: just four years earlier, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. Although unknown to the young illiterate Bernadette, the name that "the Lady" had given her was to her dumbfounded pastor more confirmation than he had ever expected.

Complying with Our Lady’s request, there is now a church at the grotto. Our Lady asked that people come in procession, and persevere with prayer and personal conversion.

 During the ninth apparition, Our Lady asked Bernadette to kneel and wash in the spring. Confused, because there was no spring near Massabielle, she began to scratch the loose gravel off the ground inside the grotto. As she did so, a small pool formed, and she cupped her hands together and drank, and then washed her face. The next day, the pool was overflowing and water was dripping down over the rock. To this spring are attributed countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the Church and medicine. The shrine is considered the most visited place of pilgrimage and healing in the world. The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was extended to the universal Church in 1907.
First Photo by: Manuel González Olaechea