Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 15 January – St Arnold Janssen SVD (1837-1909)

Saint of the Day – 15 January – St Arnold Janssen SVD (1837-1909) Priest, Founder, Missionary, Teacher, advocate of the Sacred Heart, Director of the Apostleship of Prayer,  He founded the Society of the Divine Word, a Catholic missionary religious congregation, also known as the Divine Word Missionaries, as well as two congregations for women  . In 1889 he founded in Steyl, Netherlands, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, SSpS and in 1896 at the same place the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, SSpSAP.   He is the Patron of all of the Orders which he founded.st arnold janssen CanonizJanssenNEW4.JPG

Arnold Janssen was born on 5 November 1837 in Goch, a small city in lower Rhineland (Germany).   The second of ten children, his parents instilled in him a deep devotion to religion.   He was Ordained a Priest on 15 August 1861 for the diocese of Muenster and was assigned to teach natural sciences and mathematics in a secondary school in Bocholt.  There he was known for being a strict but just teacher.   Due to his profound devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he was named Diocesan Director for the Apostleship of Prayer.   This apostolate encouraged Arnold to open himself to Christians of other denominations.

Little by little, he became more aware of the spiritual needs of people beyond the limits of his own Diocese, developing a deep concern for the universal mission of the church. He decided to dedicate his life to awaking in the German church its missionary responsibility.   With this in mind, in 1873 he resigned from his teaching post and soon after founded The Little Messenger of the Sacred Heart.   This popular monthly magazine presented news of missionary activities and it encouraged German-speaking Catholics to do more to help the missions.st arnold janssen middle aged

These were difficult times for the Catholic Church in Germany.   Bismark unleashed the “Kulturkampf» with a series of anti-Catholic laws, which led to the expulsion of Priests and Religious and to the imprisonment of many Bishops.   In this chaotic situation, Arnold Janssen proposed that some of the expelled priests could go to the foreign missions or at least help in the preparation of missionaries.   Slowly but surely and with a little prodding from the Apostolic Vicar of Hong Kong, Arnold discovered that God was calling him to undertake this difficult task.   Many people said that he was not the right man for the job, or that the times were not right for such a project.   Arnold’s answer was, “The Lord challenges our faith to do something new, precisely when so many things are collapsing in the Church.”st arnold janssen artwork.jpg

With the support of a number of Bishops, Arnold inaugurated the mission house on 8 September 1875 in Steyl, Holland and thus began the Divine Word Missionaries.   Already on 2 March 1879 the first two missionaries set out for China.   One of these was Joseph Freinademetz (1852-1908) – he would be Canonised on the same day as St Arnold.

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Sts Arnold and Joseph

Aware of the importance of publications for attracting vocations and funding, Arnold started a printing press just four months after the inauguration of the house.   Thousands of generous lay persons, contributed their time and effort to mission animation in German-speaking countries, by helping to distribute the magazines from Steyl.   From the beginning the new congregation developed as a community of both Priests and Brothers.

The volunteers at the mission house included women as well as men.   From practically the very beginning, a group of women, including Blessed Maria Helena Stollenwerk, served the community.   But their wish was to serve the mission as Religious Sisters.   The faithful, selfless service they freely offered and a recognition of the important role women could play in missionary outreach, urged Arnold to found the mission congregation of the “Servants of the Holy Spirit,” SSpS, on 8 December 1889.   The first Sisters left for Argentina in 1895.st arnold janssen.jpg

In 1896 Fr Arnold selected some of the Sisters to form a cloistered branch, to be known as “Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration,” SSpSAP.   Their service to mission would be to maintain an uninterrupted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying day and night for the church and especially for the other two active missionary congregations.st arnold janssen sml.jpg

Arnold died on 15 January 1909.   His life was filled with a constant search for God’s will, a great confidence in divine providence and hard work.   That his work has been blessed is evident in the subsequent growth of the communities he founded – more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are active in 63 countries, more than 3,800 missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit and more than 400 Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration. … Vatican.va

St Arnold was Canonised on 5 October 2003, by St Pope John Paul II, together with St Joseph Freinademetz and St Daniel Camboni, Apostle of Africa.st arnold janssen statue 2st arnold janssen statue bust

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 5 January – Saint Genoveva Torres Morales (1870-1956)

Saint of the Day – 5 January – Saint Genoveva Torres Morales (1870-1956) – Nun and Foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels (The Angélicas) of which Order she is the Patron, known as the “Angel of Solitude,” Apostle of the Holy Eucharist and of the Blessed Virgin Mary.st genoveva-torres-morales.jpg

Genoveva Torres Morales was born on 3 January 1870 in Almenara, Castille, Spain, the youngest of six children.   By the age of eight, both her parents and four of her siblings had died, leaving Genoveva to care for the home and her brother, José.   Although he treated her with respect, José was very demanding and taciturn.   Being deprived of affection and companionship from her early years, Genoveva became accustomed to solitude.

When she was 10, she took a special interest in reading spiritual books.   Through this pursuit she came to understand that true happiness is doing God’s will and it was for this reason that each one of us is created.   This became her rule of life.

At the age of 13, Genoveva’s left leg had to be amputated in order to stop the gangrene that was spreading there.   The amputation was done in her home and since the anaesthesia was not sufficient, the pain was excruciating.   Throughout her life her leg caused her pain and sickness and she was forced to use crutches.

From 1885 to 1894 she lived at the Mercy Home run by the Carmelites of Charity.   In the nine years she lived with the sisters and with other children, the young Genoveva deepened her life of piety and perfected her sewing skills.   It was also in these years that Fr Carlos Ferrís, a diocesan priest and future Jesuit and founder of a leprosarium in Fontilles, would guide the “beginnings” of her spiritual and apostolic life.

God also gave Genoveva the gift of “spiritual liberty” and this was something she would endeavour to practise throughout her life.   Reflecting on this period at the Mercy Home, she later would write:  “I loved freedom of heart very much and worked and am working to achieve it fully…. It does the soul so much good that every effort is nothing compared with this free condition of the heart.”st genoveva torres morales v lg.jpg

Genoveva intended to join the Carmelites of Charity but it seems she was not accepted due to her physical condition.   She longed to be consecrated to God and, being of a decided and resolute nature, she continued to be open to His guidance.

In 1894 Genoveva left the Carmelites of Charity’s home and went to live briefly with two women who supported themselves by their own work.   Together they “shared” the solitude and poverty.

In 1911, Canon Barbarrós suggested that Genoveva begin a new religious community, pointing out that there were many poor women who could not afford to live on their own and thus suffered much hardship.   For years, Genoveva had thought of starting a religious congregation that would be solely concerned with meeting the needs of such women, since she knew of no one engaged in this work.

With the help of Canon Barbarrós and Fr Martín Sánchez, SJ, the first community was established in Valencia.   Shortly thereafter, other women arrived, wanting to share the same apostolic and spiritual life.   It was not long before more communities were established in other parts of Spain, despite many problems and obstacles.st genoveva-torres-morales-.jpg

A constant source of suffering for Mother Genoveva was her involvement in external activity and the new foundations.   She desired to return to her characteristic interior solitude and remain alone with the Lord but she accepted her calling as God’s will and did not let her physical or interior suffering stop her.

She would say:  “Even if I must suffer greatly, thanks be to God’s mercy, I will not lack courage.”

She was known for her kindness and openness to all and for her good sense of humour – she would even joke about her physical ailments.

In 1953, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels received Pontifical approval.   Mother Genoveva died on 5 January 1956.   She was Beatified by St Pope John Paul II on 29 January 1995 at St Peter’s and Canonised by him on 4 May 2003 in Spain. … Vatican.va

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St Genoveva’s Shrine and Tomb
Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 24 December – Saint Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865)

Saint of the Day – 24 December – Saint Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865) Widow, Founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family, the male branch – the Religious of the Holy Family, of which orders she is the Patron, Apostle of Charity – born Costanza Cerioli on 28 January 1816 at Soncino, Cremona, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Italy and died on 24 December 1865 aged 49, at Bergamo, Italy.

Costanza Cerioli was born on 28 January 1816 in Soncino, Italy, the last of 16 children born into the noble family of Francesco Cerioli and Francesca Corniani.   She was a frail child plagued by a heart condition throughout her life.Santa-Paola-Elisabetta-Ceriol-c.png

Comfort found in God alone:
Costanza lived at home until she was 11 years old, when she was sent off to school in Bergamo;  here she remained for five years, suffering terribly from the loneliness of being away from home.   But this experience helped her grow to depend on God, finding her comfort in Him alone.

At age 19, Costanza returned to Soncino where a planned marriage awaited her to the 59-year-old Gaetano Busecchi, widower of a countess, was set to be her husband.   Seeing it as God’s will, she accepted this proposal and was married on 30 April 1835.

Her marriage lasted 19 years and was marked by suffering on all sides, her husband’s difficult character and poor health weighed on her and three of the four children that Costanza gave birth to, died prematurely;  Carlo, her greatest “consolation”, lived to be 16.

Before his death due to serious illness in January 1854, Carlo spoke these prophetic words to his mother:  “Mama, do not cry… the Lord will give you other children”.   At the end of that same year, on 25 December, Gaetano also died.

This marked a dark period for Costanza, causing a profound existential crisis.   Never had she found herself so alone and abandoned, her life so seemingly senseless.   It was during this time that the words spoken by her son became a constant echo in her soul and sustained her, becoming her “guiding light”.

She sought spiritual direction and entrusted her tragedies and entire life into the hands of God, asking constantly for the grace to live her life with eyes of faith.ST PAOLA ELIZABETTA.jpg

Spiritual maternity:
Costanza continued to feel the need to express her “maternity” and to “give of herself” to others, as she had done with Carlo.   She was now 38 years old and, inspired by the Gospel, understood that charity was the only truly meaningful road.

She thus began to visit and assist the sick and share her belongings with the poor and orphans.   Looking into the searching and frightened eyes of the orphaned children who begged along the streets inspired her to make even more courageous decisions.

She began to give all her wealth and belongings to the poor and opened her home to welcome orphans.   Her family and neighbours would remark:  “The anguish that this devout woman passed through must have driven her crazy…  she does not realise what she is doing”.

The money she received once she sold her jewellery was used to purchase materials for the orphanage.   Even before giving away all her goods, she had made the most important decision – to give her entire self to God, making a perpetual vow of chastity on 25 December 1856.   And with her confessor’s approval, she made vows of poverty and obedience on 8 February 1857.

It was not long before other young women desired to join Costanza and “follow” in her works of charity.   God’s plan was unfolding before her eyes with greater clarity;,in silence, prayer and recollection she began to draw up the Rule for her “work.”st paola elisabetta cerioli.jpg

Sisters of the Holy Family:
On 8 December 1857, Costanza, “mother of many orphans”, founded the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family in Comonte, Italy.   She took the name “Sr Paola Elisabetta”, and summarised the charism of the Congregation in this way:

“The humility, simplicity, poverty and love of work found in the Holy Family of Nazareth is what makes up the specific spirituality of this Institute.   The Sisters that belong to it must strive to model themselves on this life, full of the recollection, hiddeness and with the same spirit of humble labour that Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in this blessed home”.

From that day, Mother Paola dedicated herself to the growth and development of the religious community.   On 4 November 1863, in Villacampagna, a male branch was also founded by her, the Religious of the Holy Family.ST PAOLA CERIOLI.JPG

Under the protection of St Joseph:
With the House of Nazareth as the model of both branches, Mother Paola entrusted her “work” to the special protection of St Joseph and willed that the orphans under their care be known as the “sons and daughters of St Joseph”.

She was very attentive to the education of these parentless children and to the problem of poverty.   Her motherly spirit was limitless and she understood the importance of carefully and properly forming her religious sons and daughters, so that they would be able to love and educate well the children God placed under their care, these “neglected and lost ones”.

Mother Paola Elisabetta died unexpectedly in her home in Comonte on 24 December 1865.   She was 49 years old.

She was Beatified by Pope Pius XII on 19 March 1950, the Solemnity of St Joseph…. Vatican.va

Saint Paola was Canonised by St Pope John Paul II on 16 May 2004.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 26 November – Blessed Gaetana Sterni (1827-1889)

Saint of the Day – 26 November – Blessed Gaetana Sterni (1827-1889) Widow, Religious, Founder of the Sisters of Divine Will, of which Order she is the Patron.   Apostle of charity.   Born on 26 June 1827 at Cassola, Vicenza, Italy and died on 26 November 1889 of natural causes.  Gaetana’s life became marred due to the deaths of close relations including her husband and sole child which prompted her to look towards an apostolate to aid others and to ease others’ sufferings. The order she founded was dedicated to total consecration to Jesus Christ and to an active apostolate of charitable works to the lowliest of all.bl gaetana sterni

Gaetana Sterni lived her whole life in Bassano del Grappa, an ancient and cheerful city in the province of Vicenza (Italy).   She arrived with her family, at 8 years of age, from the nearby Cassola, where she was born on the 26th June 1827.   Her father Giovanni Battista Sterni, worked as administrator for the country property of the Mora, noble Venetians and lived comfortably in the Mora habitat with his wife Giovanna Chiuppani and their six children.   In 1835 he moved with his family to Bassano.   However, a series of unfortunate episodes were to change the conditions for the family of Gaetana, drastically.   At 18 years of age her elder sister, Margherita, died and shortly after, following a grave illness, her father too died.   In the meantime, her brother Francesco, with the aim of becoming an actor left the home and thus, left the family, in a dire financial situation.

These events left their mark on Gaetana, who was forced to grow up before her time, having to share with her mother, the many problems of day to day life.   Being blessed with a good intelligence she showed herself to be sensitive and mature but also full of life “ desiring to love and be loved”.

Her religious education was solid and guided by the teachings of her mother, her prayers and her frequenting the church.   She soon acquired in her environment, respect and appreciation for her radiant character, full of good sense and for her strong femininity. “Her delicate features and rare beauty” and her fascinating presence, soon attracted a young entrepreneur, Liberale Conte, a widower with three children who asked her to marry him.

After a deep analysis of her feelings and the responsibilities that she would have to assume and overcoming the opposition of her tutor, Gaetana accepted Liberale’s proposal.   The young bride, who still hadn’t reached her sixteenth birthday, entered into her new home filling it with her vitality, giving back to her husband joy and serenity and loving his three children as if they were her own.   When Gaetana discovered that she was expecting his child, the happiness of the couple was complete.

While she was praying, Gaetana was shaken by a premonition of the imminent death of her husband and felt as though she would “die of a broken heart” at the thought of losing he who was “more precious than life,” however, deep inside, she felt a strength that would keep her from despair and lead her to have faith in God with all her heart. Unfortunately, her premonition came true and Liberale, at the height of youth and health, after a brief illness, died.   The young bride now found herself in terrible anguish for the loss of her husband, whom she loved more than herself, for the children who once again found themselves to be orphans and for her unborn child, who would never know it’s own father.   She was completely destroyed by the pain but when she started coming back to her senses, she remembered the premonition that she had had and what she had felt.   She once again found faith in the Lord, entrusting her life to Him.   In Him she found the strength to live, to take care of the three children and to complete her pregnancy.

Unfortunately, even Gaetana’s child died just a few days after it’s birth.  Here began years of bitter widowhood.   The family of her husband did not appreciate the strong links that bound Gaetana to the orphans and many misunderstandings, suspicions and false rumours arose.   Eventually, she was separated from the children and distanced from the house.   At nineteen years of age she returned to the home of her mother.   In spite of this ordeal and not thinking of herself, she helped the children to accept the difficult separation.   Approachable but strong, she defended the rights of the children, forgave freely and obtained the full reconciliation and serenity of the two families.   The suffering didn’t make her bitter and, through her natural sensitivity, she grew in her capacity for compassion and solidarity.

She never thought of entering into a religious order and looking into her future, she prayed, that the Lord would help her to understand who was the husband that God had destined to be hers.   But it was through her prayers that she began to perceive clearly that God wanted to be “the only husband for her soul” and Gaetana was stunned.   She confided to her holy confessor who confirmed that it was an authentic call to God. Consequently, she asked to enter the convent of the Canosians of Bassano and was accepted as a postulate.   For five months she lived happily in the community but once again, in her prayers, she had a premonition that prepared her for the death of her mother, which then happened within a few days.   Consequently she was forced to leave the convent to assume the responsibility of looking after her younger brothers.   For years she faced difficulties, family illness, misfortunes and financial hardships.   In spite of everything, she managed to create a way of life that permitted a continued spiritual devotion.bl gaetana with jesus

She confronted her confessor and prayed intensely as to know what was God’s will for her.   Becoming more humble and prepared, she was ever more attentive to what He asked her in the depths of her heart and also through the happenings and needs of the poor of her city.

Whilst she was still with the Canosians and had the premonition of her mother’s death, Gaetana had also sensed that He was preparing her “to employ there all of herself in the service of the poor and thus fulfil His will.”   She held this vocation hidden in her heart for a long time before finding the courage to talk about it with her confessor, because it seemed to her strange and terrible.

When at last she had told him, he seemed to give no weight to the idea.   However whenever Gaetana saw a poor person “recovered”, she re-felt that invitation “I want you among my poor”, and said “the idea of the Recovery follows me constantly”.   She was 26 years old when she was finally free from all obligations to her family and could at last do as she wished.   Upon conclusion of a serious and shared discernment, it was a Jesuit, Fr . Bedin that confirmed to her, saying “yes Gaetana, the Lord wants you in the Recovery.” In 1853, “only to do the will of God”, Gaetana entered into the hospice for beggars, known as the Recovery, which in miserable conditions, cared for 115 guests “the large part victims of unruliness and vice” in whom “disorders and abuses of almost every type”.

She remained there for 36 years until her death and employed in this ministry all of herself with untiring charity.   While watching over the beds of the dying and in the most humble service of the ill and the old, she treated all with the abnegation, the delicacy and gentleness of those who in recoveries serve the Lord.   She was driven by a great faith in God, from the desire to be His and to please Him in everything.  When she was 33 years old and with the consent of her confessor Don Simonetti, she took a vow of total devotion of herself to God, “ready to accept absolutely anything that the Lord might ask of her”.

With unlimited faith she gave herself into the hands of God, “weak instrument which He uses for His own purposes”.   She attributed to providence, the birth of the congregation, that came from the simplicity and humility, with the profession of the first two companions in 1865.

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First Daughters of the Divine Will

The name “Daughters of the Divine Will” suggested to the heart of Gaetana and the young women that followed her, indicated that which should define them “complete uniformity to the Divine Will through a total abandonment in God and a strong zeal for the well-being of one’s neighbour, ready to sacrifice anything in order to make them well.”

Like her, the first companions, driven by the same spirit, devoted themselves to the will of God, dedicating themselves to serve the poor in the Recovery and those in need, especially helping those who were ill at home and other acts of charity depending on the particular needs that arose.   The Bishop of Vicenza, Saint Giovanni Antonio Farina (1803–1888), approved the first rules of the congregation in 1875.

Gaetana died on the 26th of November 1889 lovingly assisted by her daughters and venerated by her fellow citizens.   Her mortal remains are venerated in the Mother House.   Since the beginning the communities have multiplied and today the congregation is diffused in Europe, America and Africa.

The path to holiness that Gaetana followed is, for it’s essential nature a proposable itinerary for all Christians – to achieve in everything and always, that which pleases the Lord, trusting oneself to Him in enlightened confidence, to change, with only the force of love, all evil into good, in the manner of Jesus. … Vatican.va

Blessed Gaetana was Beatified on 4 November 2001 by St Pope John Paul II, after approval of the first miracle.   At her Beatification St John Paul said:

“Blessed Gaetana Sterni, who learned that the will of God is always love, dedicated herself with untiring charity to the excluded and the suffering.   She always treated her brothers and sisters with the kindness and love of the one who serves Christ in the poor. She urged her spiritual daughters, the Sisters of the Divine Will, “to be disposed and content to put up with privations, fatigue and any sacrifice to help your neighbour in need in all that the Lord might want of them”.   The witness of evangelical charity that Blessed Sterni left us reminds each believer of the need to seek the will of God in confident abandonment to Him and in generous service to one’s brothers and sisters.”

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Posted in CARMELITES, MARIAN TITLES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources, YouTube VIDEOS

Feast of Our Lady of Divine Providence and Memorials of the Saints – 19 November

Our Lady of Divine Providence:  The title of “Mary, Mother of Divine Providence” is often traced to her intervention at the wedding in Cana.   Christ’s first public miracle was occasioned in part by the intercession of his mother.   She helped through her foresight and concern to avoid an embarrassing situation for the newlywed couple.   Our Lady of Providence is sometimes also identified as Queen of the Home.
Devotion to Our Lady of Divine Providence originated in Italy and spread to France and Spain.   The devotion was brought to Puerto Rico in the early 1850s by the Servite Fathers.   According to tradition, Philip Benizi (1233 – 1285) prayed to Mary for help in providing food for his friars and subsequently found several baskets of provisions left at the door of the convent.   Our Lady of Providence was declared the patroness of Puerto Rico by Pope Paul VI on 19 November 1969.  Her feast day is celebrated in many immigrant Puerto Rican communities.
Around 1580, the Italian painter Scipione Pulzone created a work titled “Mater Divinae Providentiae,” which depicted the Blessed Mother cradling the Infant Jesus.   Devotion to Mary, Mother of Divine Providence in the first house of the Congregation of the Clerics Regular of St Paul (Barnabites) in Rome at San Carlo ai Catinari church began around year 1611, when one of the clerics travelled to Loreto to pray for assistance in finding the financial resources to complete the Church of San Carlo.   Upon his return, they received the necessary assistance and the Barnabites began to promote devotion to Our Lady of Providence.our_lady_of_providence_pulzone.jpg
Pulzone’s painting was given to the Barnabites in 1663.   It was placed on the altar of a chapel on the first floor of the Saint Charles rectory behind the main altar.   In 1732, a copy of the painting was placed in a location adjacent to the main altar of the church of San Carlo ai Catinari in Rome, where it drew many faithful visitors.
In 1774, Pope Benedict XIV authorised the Confraternity of Our Lady of Providence, a lay organisation created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety.    Pope Gregory XVI elevated it to an Archconfraternity in 1839.   In 1888, Pope Leo XIII ordered the solemn crowning of the “Miraculous Lady” and approved the Mass and Office of Mary, Mother of Divine Providence.   On 5 August 1896, Superior General of the Barnabites, Father Benedict Nisser decreed that every Barnabite have a copy of the painting in their home.
Patronage:
Our Lady of Providence is the patroness of the Barnabite Order.
Our Lady of Providence is the patroness of Indiana and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. The chapel of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts is dedicated to Our Lady of Providence.
Our Lady of Divine Providence is the patroness of St Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas.
Our Lady of Divine Providence is also the patroness of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.

Bl Alexandre Planas Saurí
St Atto of Tordino
St Azas of Isauria
St Barlaam of Antioch
St Ebbe of Minster-of-Thanet
Bl Eliseo García y García
Bl James Benefatti
St James of Sasseau
St Maximus of Caesarea
St Maximus of Rome
St Matilda or Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)
St Medana
St Nerses the Great
Obadiah the Prophet
St Pope Pontian
St Raphael Kalinowski, OCD (1835-1907)
Biography:
https://anastpaul.com/2018/11/19/saint-of-the-day-19-november-st-raphael-of-st-joseph-kalinowski-o-c-d-1835-1907/
St Tuto

Martyrs of Heraclea

Martyrs of Vienne: – 3 saints
St Exuperius
St Felicianus
St Severinus

Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 15 November – Blessed Mary of the Passion (1839-1904)

Saint of the Day – 15 November – Blessed Mary of the Passion (1839-1904) Religious, Foundress of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Missionary – born as Hélène-Marie-Philippine de Chappotin de Neuville on 21 May 1839 in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France and died on 15 November 1904 in San Remo, Imperia, Italy of natural causes. Patron of the Order she founded.   The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were founded in British India in 1877 and is currently one of the largest religious institutes in the Church.bl marie passion-fundo2

Born on 21 May 1839 in Nantes, France, into a noble Christian family, Hélène Marie Philippine de Chappotin de Neuville, in religion Mary of the Passion, showed from childhood eminent natural gifts and a deep faith.

In April 1856, during a retreat, she first experienced a call from God to a life of total consecration.   The unforeseen death of her mother delayed its realisation.   In December 1860, with the consent of the Bishop of Nantes, she entered the Poor Clares whose ideal of the simplicity and poverty of Saint Francis attracted her.

On 23rd January 1861, while still a postulant, she had a profound experience of God who invited her to offer herself as a victim for the Church and the Pope.   This experience marked her for life.   A short time after, having become seriously ill, she had to leave the monastery.   When she was well again, her confessor directed her towards the Society of Marie Reparatrice.   She entered with them in 1864 and on the following 15 August, in Toulouse, she received the religious habit with the name of Mary of the Passion.bl mary of passion and jesus.jpg

In March 1865, while still a novice, she was sent to India, to the Apostolic Vicariate of Madurai, confided to the Society of Jesus.   The Reparatrice sisters there had the task of formation of sisters of an autonomous congregation as well as being involved in other apostolic activities  . It was there, that she pronounced her temporary vows on 3 May 1866.

Because of her gifts and virtues, she was nominated local superior and then, in July 1867, she was named provincial superior of the three convents of the Reparatrice.   Under her guidance, the works of the apostolate developed, peace which had been somewhat disturbed by tensions which were already existing in the mission, was re-established and fervour and regularity flourished again in the communities.

In 1874, a new house was founded in Ootacamund in the Vicariate of Coimbatore, confided to the Paris Foreign Mission Society.   However, in Madurai the dissensions became exacerbated to such an extent that, in 1876 some religious, among them Mary of the Passion, were driven to leave the Society of Marie Reparatrice, reuniting, at Ootacamund under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of Coimbatore, Monsignor Joseph Bardou MEP.

In November 1876, Mary of the Passion went to Rome to regularise the situation of the twenty separated sisters and, on 6 January 1877, obtained the authorisation from Pius IX to found a new Institute which was to be specifically missionary and was to be called the Missionaries of Mary.Mary.Passion-World.jpg

On the suggestion of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, Mary of the Passion opened a novitiate in Saint-Brieuc in France, where very soon numerous vocations came along.   In April 1880 and in June 1882, the Servant of God went to Rome to resolve the difficulties which were threatening to hinder the stability and growth of the young Institute.   This latter journey, on June 1882, marked an important stage in her life, in fact, she was authorised to open a house in Rome and, through providential circumstances, she rediscovered the Franciscan direction which God had indicated to her twenty-two years previously.   On 4 October 1882, in the Church of the Aracoeli, she was received into the Third Order of Saint Francis and thus began her relationship with the Servant of God, Fr Bernardin de Portogruaro, Minister General, who with paternal solicitude would support her in her trials.

In March 1883, due to latent opposition, Mary of the Passion was deposed from her office of Superior of the Institute.   However, after an inquiry ordered by Pope Leo XIII, her innocence was fully acknowledged and at the Chapter of July 1884 she was re-elected.

The Institute of the Missionaries of Mary then began to develop rapidly.   On 12 August 1885 the Laudatory Decree and that of affiliation to the Order of Friars Minor were issued.   The Constitutions were approved ad experimentum on 17 July 1890 and definitively on 11 May 1896.   Missionaries were sent regularly to the most perilous and distant places overcoming all obstacles and boundaries.

The zeal of the Foundress knew no bounds in responding to the calls of the poor and the abandoned.   She was particularly interested in the promotion of women and the social question – with intelligence and discretion, she offered collaboration to the pioneers who were working in these spheres, which they appreciated very much.bl Maria Passion .jpg

Her intense activity drew its dynamism from contemplation of the great mysteries of faith.   For Mary of the Passion, all led back to the Unity-Trinity of God Truth-Love, who communicates Himself to us through the paschal mystery of Christ.   It was in union with these mysteries that, in an ecclesial and missionary dimension, she lived her vocation of offering.   Jesus in the Eucharist was for her, “the great missionary” and Mary, in the responsibility of her role, traced out for her, the path of unconditional donation to the work of God.   Thus she opened her Institute to the horizons of universal mission, accomplished in Francis of Assisi’s evangelical spirit of simplicity, poverty and charity .

She took great care, not only of the external organisation of the works but above all of the spiritual formation of the religious.   Gifted with an extraordinary capacity for work, she found time to compose numerous writings on formation, whilst by frequent correspondence, she followed her missionaries dispersed throughout the world, relentlessly calling them to a life of holiness.   In 1900 her Institute received the seal of blood through the martyrdom of seven Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, who were Beatified in 1946 and Canonised during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000.   To be the spiritual mother of these missionaries who had known how to live to the shedding of their blood, the ideal proposed by her, was for Mary of the Passion, both a great sorrow, a great joy and a time of great emotion.mary-of-the-passion--750

Worn out by the fatigue of incessant journeys and daily labour, Mary of the Passion, after a brief illness, died peacefully in San Remo on 15 November 1904, leaving more than 2,000 religious and eighty-six houses scattered about the four continents.   Her mortal remains repose in a private oratory of the General House of the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Rome.bl mary of the passion shrine

bl mary of the passion shrine 2

In February 1918, in San Remo, the Informative Process was opened for the Cause of Beatification and Canonisation.   In 1941, the Decree on the writings was promulgated and, during the following years, numerous postulatory letters were addressed to the Holy See from all parts of the world in favour of the Cause of the Servant of God.   After the Consultors had voted unanimously in its favour, the Decree for the Introduction of the Cause was published on 19 January 1979, with the approbation of His Holiness St John Paul II.   On 28 June 1999 the Sovereign Pontiff St John Paul II solemnly promulgated the Decree on the heroicity of the virtues of Mother Mary of the Passion

On 5 March 2002, the healing of a religious, suffering from “pulmonary and vertebral TBC, Pott’s Disease”, was recognised as a miracle granted by God, through the intercession of the Venerable Mary of the Passion.   On 23 April 2002, in the presence of the Sovereign Pontiff St John Paul II, the Decree opening the path for the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God was promulgated. … Vatican.va

Bl Mary was Beatified 10 October 2002, Vatican City, by St Pope John Paul II.mary-of-the-passion-beatification750

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Thought for the Day – 29 October – How to speak about God?

Thought for the Day – 29 October – Tuesday of the Thirtieth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 13:18-21

Again he said, …”To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in
with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” Luke 13:20

Excerpt – Part One
Year of Faith – How to speak about God?

Pope Benedict XVI
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The important question we ask ourselves today is – how can we talk about God in our time?   How can we communicate the Gospel so as to open roads to His saving truth in our contemporaries’ hearts — that are all too often closed — and minds — that are at times distracted by the many dazzling lights of society? Jesus, the Evangelists tell us, asked Himself about this as He proclaimed the kingdom of God – “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?” (Mk 4:30).

How can we talk about God today?   The first answer is that we can talk about God because He has talked to us, so the first condition for speaking of God is listening to all that God Himself has said.   God has spoken to us!   God is therefore not a distant hypothesis concerning the world’s origin, He is not a mathematical intelligence far from us.   God takes an interest in us, He loves us, He has entered personally into the reality of our history, He has communicated Himself, even to the point of taking flesh.   Thus God is a reality of our life, He is so great that He has time for us too, He takes an interest in us. In Jesus of Nazareth we encounter the face of God, who came down from His heaven to immerse Himself in the human world, in our world, and to teach “the art of living”, the road to happiness, to set us free from sin and make us children of God (cf. Eph 1:5; Rom 8:14).   Jesus came to save us and to show us the good life of the Gospel.

Talking about God means first of all expressing clearly what God we must bring to the men and women of our time, not an abstract God, a hypothesis but a real God, a God who exists, who has entered history and is present in history, the God of Jesus Christ as an answer to the fundamental question of the meaning of life and of how we should live. Consequently speaking of God demands familiarity with Jesus and His Gospel, it implies that we have a real, personal knowledge of God and a strong passion for His plan of salvation without succumbing to the temptation of success but following God’s own method.   God’s method is that of humility — God makes Himself one of us — His method is brought about through the Incarnation in the simple house of Nazareth; through the Grotto of Bethlehem, through the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

We must not fear the humility of taking little steps but trust in the leaven that penetrates the dough and slowly causes it to rise (cf. Mt 13:33).   In talking about God, in the work of evangelisation, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must recover simplicity, we must return to the essence of the proclamation – the Good News of a God who is real and effective, a God who is concerned about us, a God-Love who makes Himself close to us in Jesus Christ, until the Cross and who, in the Resurrection, gives us hope and opens us to a life that has no end, eternal life, true life. – To be continued/…

Firmly I believe and truly
St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Firmly I believe and truly
God is three and God is On
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.
Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church, as His creation,
And her teachings, as His own.
And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here. 
Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.firmly i believe and truly st john henry newman 29 oct 2019.jpg