Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saint Juan Diego


"Thousands of people gathered in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe July 31, 2002, for the canonization of Juan Diego, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in the 16th century. Pope John Paul II celebrated the ceremony at which the poor Indian peasant became the Church’s first saint indigenous to the Americas.

The Holy Father called the new saint “a simple, humble Indian” who accepted Christianity without giving up his identity as an Indian. “In praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the church and the pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you are going through,” John Paul said. Among the thousands present for the event were members of Mexico’s 64 indigenous groups.

"First called Cuauhtlatohuac (“The eagle who speaks”), Juan Diego’s name is forever linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was to him that she first appeared at Tepeyac hill on December 9, 1531. The most famous part of his story is told in connection with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). After the roses gathered in his tilma were transformed into the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, however, little more is said about Juan Diego.

"In time he lived near the shrine constructed at Tepeyac, revered as a holy, unselfish and compassionate catechist who taught by word and especially by example.

"During his 1990 pastoral visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II confirmed the long-standing liturgical cult in honor of Juan Diego, beatifying him. Twelve years later he was proclaimed a saint." (From A Saint A Day, American Catholic.org)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

St Teresa of Avila


"In the Autobiography which she completed towards the end of her life, Saint Teresa of Avila gives us a description of her parents, along with a disparaging estimate of her own character. "The possession of virtuous parents who lived in the fear of God, together with those favors which I received from his Divine Majesty, might have made me good, if I had not been so very wicked." A heavy consciousness of sin was prevalent in sixteenth-century Spain, and we can readily discount this avowal of guilt. What we are told of Teresa's early life does not sound in the least wicked, but it is plain that she was an unusually active, imaginative, and sensitive child. Her parents, Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda and Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, his second wife, were people of position in Avila, a city of Old Castile, where Teresa was born on March 28, 1515. There were nine children of this marriage, of whom Teresa was the third, and three children of her father's first marriage.



"Piously reared as she was, Teresa became completely fascinated by stories of the saints and martyrs, as was her brother Roderigo, who was near her own age and her partner in youthful adventures. Once, when Teresa was seven, they made a plan to run away to Africa, where they might be beheaded by the infidel Moors and so achieve martyrdom. They set out secretly, expecting to beg their way like the poor friars, but had gone only a short distance from home when they were met by an uncle and brought back to their anxious mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. She and her brother now thought they would like to become hermits, and tried to build themselves little cells from stones they found in the garden. Thus we see that religious thoughts and influences dominated the mind of the future saint in childhood...continued at EWTN here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi


"Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy."

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious "nut," begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (see Luke 9:1-3 ).

Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord." (From American Catholic.org - A Saint a Day)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Feast of St. Padre Pio


You can check out information from the Vatican here.

"In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."
Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999."

(From Saint of the Day, American Catholic.org)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pope Benedict on Saint Monica

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 30, 2009 / 11:14 am (CNA).- At Sunday’s Angelus prayer in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the previous week’s liturgical memorial of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo and model and patron of Christian mothers.

“Much is recounted about her in her son’s autobiography ‘The Confessions,’ a masterpiece among the most read works of all time,” Pope Benedict said. “There, we understand that St. Augustine imbibed the name of Jesus with maternal milk and was educated in the Christian religion by his mother, the principles of which remained impressed on him even in the years of spiritual and moral wavering.”

Monica, Benedict XVI explained, never stopped praying for her son and his conversion and she had the consolation of seeing him return to the faith and receiving baptism. The Pope added, “God heard the prayers of this holy mother, to whom the Bishop of Tagaste said: ‘It is impossible that a child of so many tears should go lost.’ In truth, St. Augustine does not only convert, but decides to embrace the monastic life and back in Africa, and himself establishes a community of monks.”

“The final spiritual conversations between him and his mother in the quiet of a house in Ostia, in anticipation of departure for Africa, are moving and edifying,” the Holy Father explained. “By then St. Monica had become for this her child ‘more than a mother, the source of his Christianity.’ Her lone desire had been for years the conversion of Augustine, who then was positively oriented toward a life of consecration to God’s service.”

She could only die content, the Pontiff said, on August 27, 387, 56 years old, after having asked her children to not worry about her burial, but to remember her, where ever they were, at the altar of the Lord. St. Augustine repeated that his mother had “twice given birth” to him.

Pope Benedict continued: “The history of Christendom has numerous examples of holy parents and authentic Christian families, who accompanied the life of generous priests and pastors of the Church.”
He recounted Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianen, who both came from families of saints, and spouses Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, who lived from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century and were beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2001 on the twentieth anniversary of his Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris consortio.”

“This document,” the Pope expounded, “in addition to illustrating the value of marriage and the responsibilities of the family, calls spouses to a particular task on the way of holiness that, drawing grace and strength from the Sacrament of Matrimony, they follow their entire life.”

“When spouses dedicate themselves generously to the education of children, guiding them and orienting them to discover the design of God’s love, they prepare that fertile spiritual terrain where vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life spring and mature.

Pope Benedict concluded his Angelus message by asking the faithful to seek the intercession of St. John Mary Vianney and the Blessed Virgin Mary in this Year for Priests.
Addressing English-speaking pilgrims and visitors after the Angelus, he singled out the first year seminarians from the Pontifical North American College.
“May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your integral understanding of our faith and strengthen in you the desire to be consistent in word and deed, following the heart and mind of our Lord. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessing of peace and joy!”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saint Mary Magdalene


"Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.
Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication, at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or, possibly, severe illness.

Father W.J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not...the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses that might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given."

From "A Saint A Day" AmericanSaint.Org

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blessed Kateri Tekawitha


"The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Br├ębeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Indians, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York. She was to be the first person born in North America to be beatified.
Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She foun d a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980." (From Catholic Saint. org, Saint A Day)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pope John Paul II's beatification is drawing near


Rome, Italy, Jun 5, 2009 / 04:18 am (CNA).- Two requirements necessary to beatify Pope John Paul II could be met this year, a former Vatican spokesman has said.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints must approve a decree recognizing the late pontiff’s “heroic virtues” and certify a miracle attributed to him before he can be declared a blessed. Joaquin Navarro Valls, who was the Vatican spokesman under John Paul II, stated in an interview with “Sole 24 Ore” on Thursday that once the requirements are met, Pope Benedict “at any moment” can set the date to proclaim his beatification.

Navarro-Valls also denied reports that the beatification process had been slowed by Polish psychiatrist Wanda Poltawska’s failure to hand over personal correspondence with John Paul II.

Daniel Ols, the spokesman for John Paul II's cause, did not confirm or deny to ANSA that the beatification could occur in April 2010 on the fifth anniversary of the Pope’s death.

Pope Benedict XVI had waived a requirement of a five-year wait before beginning an investigation into his predecessor’s beatification. New reports of miracles attributed to John Paul II’s intervention are said to arrive in Rome every week.

Monday, June 1, 2009

St. Justin


Today is St. Justin's feast day.

From "Saint of the day":

"Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies.
As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.

Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.

Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate.

For his staunch adherence to the Christian religion, Justin was beheaded in Rome in 165."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

St. Bernadette


"Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.

There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.

According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.

Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.

During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journ ey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her a rrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.
She was canonized in 1933." (From A Saint a Day)

I have St. Bernadette in my book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book (OSV, 2008).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!


Have a wonderful feast of St. Joseph! I love him, he's awesome! Of course, he's included in my book, "Catholic Saints Prayer Book" (OSV, 2008).

Here's a prayer from the Roman Missal:

Father, you entrusted our Savior to the care of St. Joseph. By the help of his prayers may your Church continue to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen."

Here's an excerpt from my book:

Dear St. Joseph, you were an ordinary man, a humble carpenter. But you were a prayerful, holy soul, the foster father of Jesus, a model for us all. Please guide me in my own journey through life, and help me be aware of God's specific call to me. Help me to see that in my own life God is calling me to greater things for His glory. Please pray to the Blessed Trinity for me to be granted the graces that I need most. I pray that I can be faithful to my state of life, totally trusting in God's divine providence for me. St. Joseph, pray for all who invoke your aid. If it is in God's holy will, please grant me (here mention your request). Amen.

Have a very BLESSED feast day!

Donna-Marie

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

"Christ shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."~St. Patrick

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

St Thomas Aquinas

"Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue."

St. Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, January 24, 2009

St Francis de Sales


Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor (1567 - 1622)

"Our business is to love what God would have done. He wills our vocation as it is. Let us love that and not trifle away our time hankering after other people's vocations."

St. Francis de Sales

He also said:

"God is in all things and all places. There is no place or thing in this world where he is not truly present. Just as wherever birds fly they always encounter the air, so also wherever we go or wherever we are we find God present. Everyone knows this truth but everyone does not try to bring it home to himself. Blind men do not see a prince who is present among them, and therefore do not show him the respect they do after being told of his presence. However, because they do not actually see him they easily forget his presence, and having forgotten it, they still more easily lose the respect and reverence owed to him. Unfortunately, Philothes, we do not see God who is present with us. Although faith assures us of his presence, yet because we do not see him with our eyes we often forget about him and behave as if God were far distant from us. We really know tht he is present in all things, but because we do not reflect on that fact we act as if we did not know it. This is why before praying we must always arouse our souls to explicit thought and consideration of God's presence."


-- ST. Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pope Benedict moves ten deceased closer to sainthood

Vatican City, January 19 (CNA).-On Saturday, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to announce the approval of the miracles and heroic virtues of several Servants of God.

In order for Servants of God to move onto beatification, the next "step" toward sainthood, the congregation must recognize their heroic virtue and certify that one posthumous miracle took place through the Servant of God's intercession.

Canonization, the next "step" requires an additional miracle unless waived by the Pope.

Those who were recognized with a miracle are:

- Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Spanish cardinal archbishop of Toledo, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha (1833-1909).

- Servant of God Carlo Gnocchi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the "Pro Juventute" Foundation (1902-1956).

- Servant of God Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, Spanish professed priest of the Company of Jesus (1711-1735).

- Servant of God Raphael Rafiringa (ne Louis), Madagascan professed religious of the Institute of Brothers of Christian Schools (1856-1919).

- Servant of God Eustachio Kugler, (ne Joseph), German professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1867-1946).

Those Servants of God acknowledged as having heroic virtue are:

- Servant of God Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Spanish bishop of Osma (1600-1659).

- Servant of God Robert Spiske, diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Hedwig (1821-1888).

- Servant of God Carolina Beltrami, Italian foundress of the Institute of "Immaculatine" Sisters of Alessandria (1869-1932).

- Servant of God Mary of the Immaculate e Conception Salvat y Romerio (nee Maria Isabella), Spanish superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross (1926-1998).

- Servant of God Liberata Ferrarons y Vives, Spanish laywoman of the Third Order of Carmelites (1803-1842).

Additionally, during a private audience on December 22, 2008, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the heroic virtues of Servant of God Jose Tous y Soler, a Spanish priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins and founder of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd (1811-1871).


(From the Catholic News Agency)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

St Anthony

"Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books."
St. Athanasius about St. Anthony


(more soon)