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.

Beata-Gaetana-Sterni-e-compagne
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

Posted in CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, DIVINE MERCY, GOD is LOVE, HYMNS, MINI SERIES, PAPAL HOMILIES, POETRY, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, St JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN!, The HOLY TRINITY, The WORD, VATICAN Resources

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

Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, St JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN!, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 13 October – Praise to the Holiest in the Height! for our Beloved Saint John Henry

Thought for the Day – 13 October – Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and today, John Henry Newman will be Canonised

Today, at 10.30 Roman time, John Henry Newman and 4 others will be Canonised by Pope Francis.   They are:

– English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Founder of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England

– Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Adelaide Agata), Founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus

– Indian Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family

– Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (born Maria Rita) of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God

– Marguerite Bays of Switzerland, Virgin of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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13 oct 2019 - today we call you st john henry newman praise to the holiest.jpg

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Beatification Homily
Birmingham, Sunday, 19 September 2010

newman and benedict

Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God.   He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness.   As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualising and elevating the soul.   A man is no longer what he was before, gradually … he has imbibed a new set of ideas and become imbued with fresh principles   (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231).   Today’s Gospel tells us that no-one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13) and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10).   Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives – he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a “definite service”, committed uniquely to every single person:   “I have my mission”, he wrote, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.   He has not created me for naught.   I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling” (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).

The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”.   His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilised societ, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.   I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today.   Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together.   The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University, holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity – “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it”  (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390).   On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us.

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls.   The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons:  “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathised with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels – the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3).   He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison.   No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here.   One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls.   What better way to express the joy of this moment than by turning to our heavenly Father in heartfelt thanksgiving, praying in the words that Blessed John Henry Newman placed on the lips of the choirs of angels in heaven:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise.
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius)Praise to the Holiest in the Height - bl john henry newman - 9 oct 2018.jpgJOHN HENRY CANONISATION TAPESTRY NEWMAN 13 OCT 2019

Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 12 October – Blessed Jan Beyzym SJ (1850–1912) “The Apostle of the Lepers of Madagascar”

Saint of the Day – 12 October – Blessed Jan Beyzym SJ (1850–1912) Priest, Professed Jesuit,Missionary, Teacher, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, of the Blessed Virgin, of Prayer – Patronages – Missionaries, Against leprosy, Teacher.

Bl John (Jan) Beyzym was born in what is now Ukraine, at Beyzymy Wielkie on 15 May 1850 and died on 2 October 1912, in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, “The Apostle of the Lepers of Madagascar.”

Fr Beyzym was the first priest to live among the victims of Hansen’s disease in the entire history of the mission of Madagascar.BL 1210-beyzym_1

Teaching apostolate:
After his secondary school studies, he entered the Jesuit novitiate on 10 December 1872 at Stara Wies.   On 26 July 1881 he was ordained in Kraków.

For 17 years, Fr Beyzym worked as an educator among young people in the Jesuit Colleges at Tarnopol and Chyrów.    During this time he was also discerning the second call he received from God which was to serve in the difficult mission among the lepers in Madagascar.   In 1898, when he was 48, he left for Madagascar to begin the apostolate.   “I know very well” he wrote to the Fr General Louis Martin in Rome in 1897, “what leprosy is and what I must expect but all this does not frighten me, on the contrary, it attracts me.”O. Beyzym z tredowatymi.jpg

Mission among the lepers in Madagascar:
On arriving in the Red Island (Madagascar) he was posted to the leprosarium of Ambahivoraka near Antananarivo, where 150 sick people lived in almost total abandonment in the desert, far from healthy people.    They lived in crumbling shacks which were divided into small windowless rooms without flooring or furniture.   They received no medication and lived, day by day, without any help.   They often died of hunger rather than of sickness.O. Beyzym karmi tredowatego.jpg

After two weeks in the hospice, Fr Beyzym wrote in 1899 to Rodolphe de Scorraille, Head of the Province of Champagne and its missions, a letter to present the indescribable conditions he found, admitting that he asked the Good Lord to help him bring relief to this misery and that he wept in private at the sufferings of these unhappy people.

However, he did not shrink from the reality.   He devoted all his   strength, his talents as an organiser and, above all, his heart to the sick.   He lived among them to bear witness to the fact that they were human beings and that they must be saved.

He collected money and tried helping them in any way he could. At the time there was no effective medication for Hansen’s disease.   However, Fr Beyzym noticed that healthy food and adequate hygiene limited the contagion and that these two conditions together prevented the disease from progressing.

An eyewitness, Fr P Sau, wrote of Fr Beyzym that during his life, “painfully surprised at the sight of the extreme poverty of Ambahivoraka, he called on the charity of his Polish compatriots and soon was able to increase his children’s ration of rice.   The improvement of the diet reduced the number of burials from 57 a week to 5 a year”   (La Mission de Madagascar a vol d’oiseau, pp. 62-63).Przy umierajacym

Another eye witness, Fr A Niobey, wrote about Fr Beyzym’s devotion to the body and soul of the sick:   “His devotion to his lepers was unequalled.   He possessed nothing but he gave the little he could dispose of unhestitatingly.   His answer to every objection was always:   “What you do for the least of my creatures, that you do unto me.   We must be like the merchants of this earth, we must always aim at a greater gain'” (Letter, 3 June 1913).

He answered the provincial who asked him about working conditions among the sick – “One must be in constant union with God and pray without respite.   One must get used little by little to the stench, for here we don’t breathe the scent of flowers but the putrefaction of bodies generated by leprosy.”    (Letter, 18 April 1901)bl jan beyzym art

However, this “ease” did not come at once.   Fr Beyzym admitted that at first he felt repulsion at the sight of the victims.   Several times he even fainted.

His burning goal was to build a hospital where the lepers would be taken care of and protected from the moral permissiveness that prevailed in the state-run hospices.   In 1903 he left Ambahivoraka to go to build a hospital at Marana near Fianarantsoa. Speaking of the inauguration of the hospital on 16 August 1911, Fr J Lielet, a medical doctor, said “Fr Beyzym’s leposarium had finally been opened…. The construction and equipping of this vast hospital in a country where everything is lacking was a colossal undertaking but he completed the task.    Arriving there penniless, he found ways of collecting thousands of francs in Europe (principally in Poland, Austria and Germany) for such a distant project, his trust in God’s help was unshakeable.   Providence has almost performed miracles for him” (Chine, Ceylan, Madagascar, 1912, p. 94).   He hoped that it would provide more human conditions of life for the victims of Hansen’s disease.

The hospital still exists today and radiates love, hope and justice – the virtues which made its construction possible.   Since 1964 new little houses very close to the hospital have been built for the families of the sick people.

Inner life, soul of his apostolate:
Fr Beyzym’s inner life was marked by a profound bond with Christ and the Eucharist. The Mass was the centre of his life, he deplored the fact that the little church near the mission did not even have a permanent Tabernacle and that during the rainy season the water dripped down onto the altar during Mass.   He was greatly devoted to Mary and attributed his successes to Mary seeing himself as her instrument.   He was a man of action and an untiring worker but also a man of prayer – He attributed to prayer an essential role in the apostolic life, underlining its importance to achieve sanctity.    Fr Beyzym was a contemplative in action in the style of St Ignatius.   He had daily problems and battled against a thousand worries and sufferings but was above all a man of prayer. Prayer was the source of his strength.   Not having much time for quiet prayer, he prayed everywhere all the time.   He often repeated that his prayer was not worth much and that he had trouble praying.    This was why he asked the Carmelite nuns to pray for him. … Vatican.vaoltarzyk-bl

Beyzym died on 2 October 1912, his health had declined and he suffered both arteriosclerosis and sores which confined him to bed. His remains were exhumed and relocated back to his native Poland on 8 December 1993 at a Jesuit church.bl jan body - O. Beyzym po smierci

Posted in CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, Our MORNING Offering, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, The HOLY SPIRIT, VATICAN II - Documents, VATICAN Resources

Our Morning Offering – 8 October – Holy Spirit, Enlighten our Hearts

Our Morning Offering – 8 October – Tuesday of the Twenty Seventh week in Ordinary Time, Year C

Holy Spirit, Enlighten our Hearts
Prayer recited before the Sessions
of the Second Vatican Council

Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts.
Give us light and strength to know Your will,
to make it our own
and to live it in our lives.
Guide us by Your wisdom,
supports us by Your power.
You desire justice for all,
enable us to uphold the rights of others,
do not allow us to be misled
by ignorance or corrupted by favour.
Unite us to Yourself in the bond of love
and keep us faithful to all that is true.
Help us to temper justice with love,
so that all our decisions
may be pleasing to You
and bring us the inheritance,
promised to good and faithful servants.
Amenprayer of the second vatican council - holy spirit enlighten our hearts 8 oct 2019.jpg