Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 22 March – “The Lion of Munster”

Thought for the Day – 22 March – Friday of the Second week of Lent, Year C and the Memorial of Blessed Clemens August Count von Galen (1878-1946) “The Lion of Munster”



Vatican Basilica
Sunday, 9 October 2005

The tomb of the Supreme Pontiff Hadrian VI, well known for many centuries as the last non-Italian Pope, is located in the Church of Santa Maria dell’Anima, the national church of Germany in Rome. The following epitaph is engraved on his sepulchral monument: “Unfortunately, the conditions of the times strongly dissipate the effectiveness of the virtues of even the best of men”.

This epitaph is a negative reference to the conditions of the times in which Hadrian VI lived, but it also contains a very positive appreciation of the outstanding virtues that he practised precisely in the adverse conditions of his time.

Indeed, a characteristic feature of the famous Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Münster, whose beatification today fills our hearts with joy, is that he eminently and heroically practised the virtues of a Christian and a Pastor in a period so fraught with difficulties for the Church and for the German Nation.

Germany was then dominated by National Socialism.   The Diocese of Münster can boast of having had as Bishop, on the Chair of St Ludger, a Pastor who boldly opposed the ideology that despised humanity and the death mechanism of the National Socialist State.   This earned him the well-deserved nickname, “Lion of Münster”.

Bishop Clemens August Count von Galen, was one of the best known champions of the Church’s resistance to the unjust National Socialist regime.   If we wonder where he found his daring to reprimand the Nazis publicly and with very clear arguments, since they were violating fundamental human rights and how he managed to persevere in this denunciation, we must turn to three important factors that built up his strong personality as a man, a believer, first and subsequently, Bishop.

These were:  Family, Faith, and Politics.   However, we must never lose sight of the fact that the Blessed’s attitude stemmed from his deeply-rooted Christian virtues.

Clemens August came from a family bound by a long tradition both to the Church and to public life.   His father was involved in public affairs and his mother kept the family united – these factors gave Clemens August and his siblings a sense of security and a basis for life that later and rather unexpectedly enabled him to surpass himself and the tradition of the milieu into which he was born.

Traditionally, the life of the von Galen family was strongly oriented to a sense of public responsibility with regard to all the people in the Church and in society.   At the family table in Dinklage Castle, in addition to family conversation and the prayer of the Rosary, the father’s position as a deputy of the Reichstag in Berlin often gave rise to political topics.

Without any doubt he was able to do what he did only thanks to a deep but at the same time very simple spirituality, founded both on the Eucharist and on devotion to the Mother of God.

He countered the deafening martial music and the empty phrases blaring from the amplifiers of the speakers’ platforms with the veneration of the Blessed Eucharist, the silence of contemplative adoration of the Lord who made himself Bread.   Before the Lord present in the Sacrament of the Eucharistic Bread, apparently defenceless and thus not easy to recognise, he found the strength and nourishment that alone could permanently satisfy the human desire for life.

The unifying force of the new Blessed’s spiritual life was his profound and dynamic faith, enlivened by his active charity towards everyone, especially the suffering.   Von Galen’s spirituality, inspired by the Gospel, allowed him to be transparent in his public role.   All his actions and virtues flowed from his lived faith.

At the very outset of his pastoral work in Münster, Bishop von Galen unmasked the ideology of National Socialism and its contempt for human beings.   In the middle of the war in the summer of 1941, he criticised it even more harshly in the three homilies he gave in the months of July and August that year, which have become famous.

In them he targeted the obligatory closure of convents and the arrest of Religious.   He spoke vigorously against the deportation and destruction of those human lives that the regime deemed unworthy to be lived, that is, the mentally disabled.   The Bishop’s fiery words dealt fatal blows to the Nazi’s systematic extermination policy.

His clear arguments infuriated the Nazi leaders who were at a loss as to what to do next, because they did not have the nerve to arrest or kill him due to Bishop von Galen’s extraordinary authority.

It was neither innate courage nor excessive temerity.   Only a deep sense of responsibility and a clear vision of what was right and what was wrong could have induced Bishop Clemens August to speak these words.   They invite us to reflect on the brilliance of his witness to faith, in times that may seem less threatening but are just as problematic with regard to human life, they invite us to imitate his example.

Thus, in March 1946, reflecting on what happened at that time, Cardinal von Galen summarised all this.   He said:  “The good Lord gave me a position that obliged me to call what was black, black, and what was white, white, as outlined in episcopal ordination.   I knew that I could speak on behalf of thousands of people who, like me, were convinced, that only on the basis of Christianity, could our German People truly be united and attain a blessed future”.

Dear German pilgrims, we can look full of gratitude at this great personality from your Homeland.   Bl. Bishop Clemens August realised who our God is and placed all his hope in Him (cf. Is 25: 9).   When he was first a parish priest and later a Bishop, he spared no efforts in his pastoral ministry, he had learned how to do without (cf. Phil 4: 12) and was prepared to give his life in the service of human beings.   Indeed, he was fully aware of his responsibility to God.

Therefore, the Lord has made him worthy of his magnificent riches (cf. Phil 4: 19), of which St Paul spoke in his Letter to the Philippians that we have just heard.   In faith, we are convinced that he was called, that he was chosen to take part in the wedding banquet in the perfection of divine glory – the wonderful parable of Jesus, presented to us by the Gospel of today’s liturgy, prompts us to meditate on this wedding banquet (cf. Mt 22: 1-14).

I would like to congratulate the Diocese of Münster on the fact that precisely in the year in which its establishment, at least 12 centuries ago, is being commemorated, it can celebrate with joy and pride this Beatification here at the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, as if to strengthen its own apostolic roots, anchoring them even more firmly to the Magisterium of the Vicar of Christ who today, through God’s grace, is Benedict XVI.   May the new Blessed be an encouragement to the Diocese of Münster to keep its rich and ever-timely heritage constantly alive, making it fruitful for the people of our times.

May the Lord, through the intercession of the new Blessed, bless the beloved and venerable Diocese of Münster and the entire Church in Germany…Vatican.vabl clemens von galen the lion of munster pray for us 22 march 2019.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 20 March – St Jósef Bilczewski (1860-1923)

Saint of the Day – 20 March – St Jósef Bilczewski (1860-1923) Aged 62 – Archbishop of Lviv, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, Marian devotion, the poor, the homeless, the needy, refugees, Social Reformer and Evangelist, Apostle of Catechesis both of the laity and of priests, Peace-maker. Patronages – Archdiocese of Lviv, Teachers, Wilamowice, Beggars, Homeless people.jozef archbishop bilczewski.jpg

Archbishop JOSEPH BILCZEWSKI was born on 26 April 1860 in Wilamowice near Kęty, in the present day Diocese of Bielsko Żywiec, then part of the Diocese of Krakow.   Having finished elementary school at Wilamowic and Kęty, he attended high school at Wadowice receiving his diploma in 1880.

On 6 July 1884 he was ordained a priest in Krakow by Cardinal Albino Dunajewski.   In 1886 he received a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Vienna.   Following advanced studies in Rome and Paris he passed the qualifying exam at the Jaghellonic University of Krakow.   The following year he became professor of Dogmatic Theology at the John Casimir University of Leopoli.   He also served as Dean of Theology for a period of time prior to becoming Rector of the University.   During his tenure at the University, he was appreciated as a professor by his students and also enjoyed the friendship and respect of his colleagues.   He arduously dedicated himself to scientific work and, despite his young age, acquired a reputation as a learned man.

His extraordinary intellectual and relational abilities were recognised by Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, who presented Monsignor Joseph to the Holy Father as a candidate for the vacant Metropolitan See of Leopoli.   The Holy Father, Leo XIII responded positively to the Emperor’s proposal and on 17 December 1900 he named the forty year old Monsignor Joseph Bilczewski, Archbishop of Leopoli of the Latin Rite.

Given the complex social, economic, ethnic and religious situation, care for the large diocese required of the Bishop a deep commitment and called for great moral commitment, strong confidence in God and a faith enlivened by a continual contact in prayer with God.

Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski became known for his abundant goodness of heart, understanding, humility, piety, commitment to hard work and pastoral zeal which sprung from his immense love for God and neighbour.Józef_Bilczewski

Upon taking possession of the Archdiocese of Leopoli he spelled out very clearly his pastoral plan which can be summed up in his motto “totally sacrifice oneself for the Holy Church”.   Among other things he pointed out the need for the development of devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and frequent reception of Holy Communion.

A particular form of pastoral action of Archbishop Bilczewski were the pastoral letters and appeals addressed to the priests and the faithful of the Archdiocese.   In them he spoke of the problems of faith and morals of the time as well as of the most pressing issues of the social sphere.   He also explained devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart in them and the importance of religious and moral formation of children and youth in the family and in school.   Above all, he took great care to cultivate many holy priestly vocations.   He saw the priest as first and foremost a teacher of faith and an instrument of Christ, a father for the rich as well as for the poor.   Taking the place of Christ on Earth, the priest was to be the minister of the Sacraments and for this reason his whole heart had to be dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist, in order to be able to nourish the people of God with the body of Christ.

He often exhorted the priests to adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament.   In his pastoral letter devoted to the Eucharist he invited the priests to participate in the priestly associations – The Association for Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Association of Aid to Poor Catholic Churches, whose goal was to rejuvenate the zeal of the priests themselves.   He also dedicated a great deal of care to the preparation of children and to full participation in the Mass, desiring that every Catechesis would lead children and youth to the Eucharist.jozef with the holy eucharist

Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski promoted the construction of churches and chapels, schools and day-care centres.  He developed teaching to help enable the growth in the instruction of the faithful.   He materially and spiritually helped the more important works which were springing up in his Archdiocese.   His holy life, filled with prayer, work and works of mercy, led to his meriting great appreciation and respect on the part of those of various faiths, rites and nationalities present in the Archdiocese.   No religious or nationalistic conflicts arose during the tenure of his pastoral work.   He was a proponent of unity, harmony and peace.   On social issues he always stood on the side of the people and of the poor.   He taught that the base of social life had to be justice made perfect by Christian love.

During the First World War, when souls were overtaken with hate and a lack of appreciation of the other, he pointed out to the people the infinite love of God, capable of forgiving every type of sin and offence.   He reminded them of the need to observe the commandments of God and particularly that of brotherly love.   Sensitive to the social questions regarding the family and youth, he courageously proposed solutions to problems based on the love of God and of neighbour.  During his 23 years of pastoral service he changed the face of the Archdiocese of Leopoli   Only his death, on 20 March 1923 could end his vast and far-sighted pastoral action.jozef older.jpg

He was prepared for death and accepted it with peace and submission as a sign of God’s will, which he always considered sacred.

He left this world having enjoyed a universal recognition of holiness.   Wanting to rest among those for whom he was always father and protector, in accord with his desires, he was buried in Leopoli in the cemetery of Janów, known as the cemetery of the poor.  buriel place 1024px-Lwów-cmJanowski-GrobJozefaBilczewskiego.jpgThanks to the efforts of the Archdiocese of Leopoli the process for his beatification and canonisation was initiated.   The first step was concluded on 17 December 1997 with the declaration of the life of heroic virtue of Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski by The Holy Father, St Pope John Paul II.   In June 2001, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognised as miraculous the fact of the rapid lasting and unexplainable “quo ad modum” healing through the intercession of Archbishop Bilczewski of the third degree burns of Marcin Gawlik, a nine year old boy, thus opening the way for his beatification. The Beatification took place in the Diocese of Leopoli on 26 June 2001 during St Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Visit to the Ukraine…

One final miracle was required for sainthood.   St John Paul II approved a second healing on 20 December 2004.   Cardinal Angelo Sodano formalised the date on 24 February 2005 at a consistory, representing the then very ill St John Paul II who died a month later.   The new Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Canonisation in Saint Peter’s Square on 23 October 2005.

jozef - statue - Bilczewski-KatedraLacinska-Lwow
Statue in Lviv Cathedral


Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 17 March – Blessed Juan Nepomuceno Zegri y Moreno (1831-1905)

Saint of the Day – 17 March – Blessed Juan Nepomuceno Zegri y Moreno (1831-1905) – Priest, Founder of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno was born on 11 October 1831 in Granada, Spain.  His father, Antonio Zegrí Martín and his mother, Josefa Moreno Escudero, were most vigilant in educating their son and in helping to form his personality according to evangelical values.   The young boy had a great love for Jesus and Mary and was particularly sensitive to the needs of the poor.img-Blessed-Juan-Nepomuceno-Zegrí-y-Moreno.jpg

Binding wounds, healing hearts:
As a youth, Juan felt called to serve the Lord in society’s poor and wanted to become a priest.   He entered St Dionysius Seminary of Granada and on 2 June 1855 was ordained in the Cathedral of Granada.   He served in the parishes of Huétor Santillán and of San Gabriel de Loja in Granada.
His vocation, as he once proclaimed in a homily, was to be “like a good shepherd, going after the lost sheep;   like a doctor, healing sick hearts wounded by faults and binding them with hope;   like a father, who visibly provides for all of those who, suffering from abandonment, must drink from the bitter chalice and receive nourishment from the bread of tears”.

Fr Zegrí’s priestly life was characterised by a profound experience of God and a deep love for Jesus the Redeemer and Mary, Mother and Protectress.   His sermons encouraged listeners to live the Christian life radically and responsibly.

He always served with great humility in the positions he was asked to assume as a priest – synodal judge, canon of the cathedral of Malaga, visitor of the religious orders, formator of the seminarians and preacher of and royal chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Isabel II.

Founder inspired by Mary:
It was with a profound interest in resolving social problems and in meeting the needs of the poor and neglected that Fr Zegrí felt called to found a religious congregation that would serve the most needy.   On 16 March 1878 in Malaga, under the protection and inspiration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, he began the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

The Congregation’s main charism was to practice all of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy for the benefit of the poor.   He asked the Religious to do all “for the good of humanity, in God, for God, towards God”.   In only a few years, the Congregation was established in many Dioceses throughout Spain, all due to the dynamism of Fr Zegrí’s charismatic inspiration – heal wounds, repair evils, comfort sorrows, dry tears, do not, if possible, leave even one person in the world abandoned, afflicted, unprotected, without religious education and assistance.

He firmly believed that “charity is the only answer to all social problems”.   In this light the key points of the spirituality of the Founder were: redemptive charity, love and configuration with Jesus the Redeemer, love for Mary, Our Lady of Mercy.

Testing and vindication:
God permitted Fr Zegrí to be severely tested and misunderstood after he founded the Congregation and his own Religious “daughters” falsely accused him.   With a Pontifical Decree dated 7 July 1888 he was sent away from the Order that he himself had founded.

After years of silent suffering, his innocence was recognised with another Decree dated 15 July 1894.   Although he was permitted to re-enter the Congregation, he was not accepted.   He voluntarily kept himself at a distance in order to preserve communion with the Church and his “daughters”, so that they would not openly disobey Church authority.

On 17 March 1905 in Malaga, Fr Zegrí died just as he had desired: like Jesus, alone and abandoned.   He offered himself for the good of humanity and forgave “his own” who had accused him.

After many years, the Congregation once again recognised him as Founder, all due to the fact that there were Sisters who had kept alive his memory and witness of holiness.  In 1925 Fr Zegrí was officially declared as Founder of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy…

He was Beatified on 9 November 2003 by St Pope John Paul II.BEATIFICATION - BL JUAN.JPG

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 10 March – St Marie Eugénie de Jésus (1817-1898)

Saint of the Day – 10 March – St Marie Eugénie de Jésus (1817-1898) aged 80 – Foundress of the Religious of the Assumption – Religious, – born 26 August 1817 at Metz, Moselle, France as Eugenie Milleret de Brou (de Bron) and died on 10 March 1898 at Auteuil, Hauts-de-Seine, France of natural causes.   Patronages – the Religious of the Assumption and Students.   St Marie Eugénie is also known as Anne-Eugénie Milleret de Brou, Eugénie Milleret de Brou, Eugénie Milleret de Bron, Marie Eugénie Milleret de Brou, Mere Marie Eugénie.   She was Beatified on 9 February 1975 by St Pope Paul VI and Canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on 3 June 2007.marie-de-jesus-milleret-oung.1.2.jpg

Anne Marie Eugenie was born in 1817 in Metz after Napoleon’s complete defeat and the restoration of the Monarchy.   She belonged to a non-believing and financially comfortable family and it seemed unlikely that she would trace a new spiritual path across the Church of France.

Her father, follower of Voltaire and a liberal, was making his fortune in the banking world and in politics.   Eugenie’s mother provided the sensitive Eugenie with an education, which strengthened her character and gave her a strong sense of duty.   Family life developed her intellectual curiosity and a romantic spirit, an interest in social questions and a broad world view.

Like her contemporary, George Sand, Anne Eugenie went to Mass on feast days and received the Sacraments of initiation, as was the custom but without any real commitment.   However, her First Communion was a great mystical experience that foretold the secret of her future.   She did not grasp its prophetic meaning until much later when she recognised it as her path towards total belonging to Jesus Christ and the Church.

Her youth was happy but not without suffering.   She was affected when still a child by the death of an elder brother and a baby sister.   Her health was delicate and a fall from a horse left serious consequences.   Eugenie was mature for her age and learnt how to hide her feelings and to face up to events.   Later, after a prosperous period for her father, she experienced the failure of his banks, the misunderstanding and eventual separation of her parents and the loss of all security.   She had to leave her family home and go to Paris while Louis, closest to her in age and faithful companion went to live with their father.   Eugenie went to Paris with the mother she adored, only to see her die from cholera after a few hours of illness, leaving her alone at the age of fifteen in a society that was worldly and superficial.   Searching in anguish and almost desperate for the truth, she arrived at her conversion thirsty for the Absolute and open to the Transcendent.

When she was nineteen, Anne Eugenie attended the Lenten Conferences at Notre Dame in Paris, preached by the young Abbe Lacordaire (1802–1861), already well-known for his talent as orator.   Lacordaire was a former disciple of Lamennais ­– haunted by the vision of a renewed Church with a special place in the world.   He understood his time and wanted to change it.   He understood young people, their questions and their desires, their idealism and their ignorance of both Christ and the Church.   His words touched Eugenie’s heart, answered her many questions and aroused her generosity.

Fr Lacordaire preaching his Lenten Conferences from the elevated pulpit at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, 1845.
Fr Henri-Dominique Lacordaire OP, at the convent of Sainte-Sabine in Rome, by Théodore Chassériau (1840)

Eugenie envisaged Christ as the universal liberator and His kingdom on earth established as a peaceful and just society.   “I was truly converted, she wrote, and I was seized by a longing to devote all my strength or rather all my weakness to the Church which, from that moment, I saw as alone holding the key to the knowledge and achievement of all that is good.”

Just at this time, another preacher, also a former disciple of Lamennais, appeared on the scene.   In the confessional, Father Combalot recognised that he had encountered a chosen soul who was designated to be the foundress of the Congregation he had dreamt of for a long time.   He persuaded Eugenie to undertake his work by insisting that this Congregation was willed by God who had chosen her to establish it.   He convinced her that only by education could she evangelise minds, make families truly Christian and thus transform the society of her time.   Anne Eugenie accepted the project as God’s will for her and allowed herself to be guided by the Abbe Combalot.

At twenty-two, Marie Eugenie became foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, dedicated to consecrate their whole life and strength to extending the Kingdom of Christ in themselves and in the world.   In 1839, Mademoiselle Eugenie Milleret, with two other young women, began a life of prayer and study in a flat at rue Ferou near the church of St Sulpice in Paris.   In 1841, under the patronage of Madame de Chateaubriand, Lacordaire, Montalembert and their friends, the sisters opened their first school.   In a relatively short time there were sixteen sisters of four nationalities in the community.MME_middle age.jpg

Marie Eugenie and the first sisters wanted to link the ancient and the new – to unite the past treasures of the Church’s spirituality and wisdom with a type of religious life and education able to satisfy the demands of modern minds.   It was a matter of respecting the values of the period and at the same time, making the Gospel values penetrate the rising culture of a new industrial and scientific era.   The spirituality of the Congregation, centred on Christ and the Incarnation, was both deeply contemplative and dedicated to apostolic action.   It was a life given to the search for God and the love and service of others.

Marie Eugenie’s long life covered almost the whole of the 19th century.   She loved her times passionately and took an active part in their history.   Progressively, she channelled all her energy and gifts in tending and extending the Congregation, which became her life work.   God gave her sisters and many friends.   One of the first sisters was Irish, a mystic and her intimate friend whom she called at the end of her life, “half of myself.” Kate O’Neill, called Mother Therese Emmanuel in religion, is considered as a co-foundress.   Father Emmanuel d’Alzon, became Marie Eugenie’s spiritual director soon after the foundation, was a father, brother or friend according to the seasons.   In 1845, he founded the Augustinians of the Assumption and the two founders helped each other in a multitude of ways over a period of forty years.   Both had a gift for friendship and they inspired many lay people to work with them and the Church.   Together, as they followed Christ and laboured with Him, the religious and laity traced the path of the Assumption and took their place in the great cloud of witnesses.Marie-Eugénie âgée noir et blanc-old.JPG

In the last years of her life, Mother Marie Eugenie experienced a progressive physical weakening, which she lived in silence and humility – a life totally centred on Christ.   She received the Eucharist for the last time on 9 March 1898 and on the 10th, she gently passed to the Lord.   She was beatified by Pope Paul VI on 9 February 1975 in Rome.

Today, the Religious of the Assumption are present in 34 countries – 8 in Europe, 5 in Asia, 10 in America and 11 in Africa. Almost 1,200 sisters form 170 communities throughout the world.

The Lay Assumption – Assumption Together – made up of Friends of the Assumption and Communities or Fraternities of the Assumption, are numerous – thousands of Friends and hundreds of Lay Assumption committed to live according to the Way of Life…

Posted in DIVINE MERCY, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 15 February – Blessed Father Michał Sopoćko (1888-1975) Priest, Apostle of Divine Mercy

Saint of the Day – 15 February – Blessed Father Michał Sopoćko (1888-1975) Priest, Apostle of Divine Mercy, Professor of Pastoral Theology at Vilnius University, Founder of Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus, Chaplain during WWII.   He is best known as the Spiritual Director of Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938).   Patronage – Białystok.sopocko.jpg

Michał Sopoćko was born on 1 November 1888 in Nowosady (Juszewszczyzna), then under Imperial Russia.   The Czarist authority persecuted the Catholic Church as well as both the Polish and Lithuanian people within in its territories.   In the Sopoćko family, of noble lineage, the Polish and Catholic traditions were conserved and developed.   The young Michal matured in this religious and patriotic atmosphere.   Motivated by a desire for unconditional service to God, the Church and humanity, he entered the Major Seminary in Vilnius.   On 15 June 1914, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Franciszek Karewicz.Sopoćko.jpg

For four years (1914-1918) he worked as a parochial vicar in Taboryszki, where he opened two mission churches at Miedniki and at Onżadòw, as well as various schools.

As informed by someone that the German authorities may arrest him, he left the parish and went to Warsaw.   There he became a military chaplain for the Polish army.   While dedicated to his ministry as chaplain, he enrolled as a student in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Warsaw and from which he obtained a doctoral degree.   At the same time, he graduated from the National Pedagogical Institute.   In 1924, he became a co-ordinator of the regional military chaplaincies, based in Vilnius.

In 1927, Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski entrusted to him the responsibility of being Spiritual Director for the Major Seminary.   During this same period he taught for the faculty of Theology at Stefan Batory University, also in Vilnius.   He eventually requested the Archbishop to release him from both the military pastoral care and from the seminary duties.   His desire was to dedicate himself entirely to theological pursuits.   In 1934, he received the title of ‘docent’ in pastoral theology.   While teaching, he never forgot the importance of pastoral service.   He was rector of St Michael Church and also served as confessor for Religious Sisters.

One of the most significant events of Fr Sopoćko’s life occurred in 1933, when he became the Spiritual Director of Sr (now Saint) Faustina Kowalska of the Congregation of Sisters of Mary Mother of Mercy.  He continued to assist the Saint after his transfer to Łagiewniki and where she died on 5 October 1938.   As her confessor, he undertook a thorough evaluation of Sr Faustina’s mystical experiences concerning devotion to the Divine Mercy.   Following his advice, she wrote of these in her “Diary.”   To this day this remains a spiritual classic.BlSopockoStFaustina

The Divine Mercy devotion became a life-giving inspiration for Fr Sopoćko.   Due to his assistance and under the direction of Sister Faustina, the artist Eugeniusz Kazimirowski painted the first portrait of Jesus as the Divine Mercy. PRC-116-Blessed-Sopocko1-fr

Fr Sopoćko wrote extensively on the subject of the Divine Mercy and, in 1938, he established a committee charged with building the Divine Mercy Church in Vilnius. However, this attempt had to be halted due to the onset of World War II.   But despite the war and German occupation, Fr Sopoćko persisted in his efforts to promote the devotion to the Divine Mercy. sopockodivinemercy1

Filled with zeal, he constantly helped those who were oppressed and threatened with extermination, for example, numerous Jewish people.  Fortunately, he managed to avoid arrest and imprisonment.   In 1942, along with his fellow seminary professors and students, he was forced to go into hiding near Vilnius.   He remained concealed for two years.   Yet it was during that very time when Fr Sopoćko played a major role in establishing a new Religious Congregation.   According to the revelations of Sr Faustina, this Congregation was to promote love for the Divine Mercy.   After the War, he wrote the Congregation’s constitution.  And he became actively engaged in the growth and development of what we know as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine michal sopocko art.jpg

In 1947, Archbishop Jałbrzykowski, for two years at Białystok with his diocesan Curia, sought that Fr Sopoćko come to the same city.   He accepted a position as professor in the Archdiocesan Major Seminary.   There he taught pedagogy, catechetics, homiletics, pastoral theology and spirituality.   Additionally, he continued to further the apostolate of the Divine Mercy.   He also made serious efforts to obtain official approval for the Divine Mercy devotion from the Church authorities.   Fr Sopoćko worked tirelessly on the biblical, theological and pastoral bases by which to explain the doctrinal truth concerning the Divine Mercy devotion.   His publications were translated into numerous languages including: Latin, English, French, Italian and michal

Fr Michal Sopoćko died on 15 February 1975, in his apartment on Poleska Street.   He was popularly acclaimed for his sanctity.   He was buried in the parish cemetery in Białystok. Following the inauguration of the process for his Beatification, his body was moved to the Church of the Divine Mercy (30 November 1988)…

Fr Michal’s cause for beatification was started at the Vatican in 1987.   In 2004, St Pope John Paul II issued a decree on the virtues of Father Sopoćko.   In December 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved of a miracle through his intercession.   His solemn beatification took place on Sunday 28 September 2008, at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Białystok.ksiadz-Sopocko.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 29 January – Bl Bronislaw Markiewicz SDB (1842-1912)

Saint of the Day – 29 January – Bl Bronislaw Markiewicz SDB (1842-1912) Religious Priest and Founder of the Orders of St Michael the Archangel with both priests and sisters – born on 13 July 1842 at Pruchnik, archdiocese of Przemysl dei Latini, Poland and died on 29 January 1912 at Miejsce Piastowe, Poland of complications related to bronislaw artwork

“Bronislaw Markiewicz, the sixth of the eleven children of John Markiewicz, City Mayor, and Marianna Gryziecka, was born on the 13th of July 1842 in Pruchnik, Poland, in the present day Archdiocese of Przemysl dei Latini.   In his family home, he received a solid religious formation.   Nonetheless, during his secondary studies in Przemysl he experienced a certain wavering in the faith due, in large part, to the strong anti-religious atmosphere which dominated the school.   However, he succeeded in overcoming this in a relatively short period, once again finding peace and serenity.

Feeling a call from God to the priesthood, the young Bronislao entered the major seminary of Przemysl in 1863 after having received the Maturity diploma.   Upon completion of the regular course of study he was ordained to the priesthood on 15 September 1867.   Following six years of pastoral wok as a parochial vicar in the Parish of Harta and the Cathedral of Przemysl, seeking to become better equipped to work with youth, he studied pedagogy, philosophy and history for two years in the Universities of Leopoli and Cracow.   In 1875 he was named pastor at Gac and in 1877 pastor at Blazowa. In 1882 he was entrusted a teaching position in pastoral theology and the Major Seminary of Przemysl.bronisaw-markiewicz-45d7f012-45b4-48c6-855c-1af1e92b539-resize-750.jpg

Hearing a call to the religious life, he left for Italy in the month of November 1885 and joined the Salesians where he had the joy of meeting Saint John Bosco (1815-1888) before whom he professed religious vows on March 25, 1887.

As a Salesian he carried out the various tasks assigned to him by his superiors, which he sought to accomplish with dedication and zeal.   Due to the austerity of the lifestyle and the change of climate, Fr Bronislao fell gravely ill with consumption in 1889, to the point of having been considered close to death.   Having recovered from his illness, he convalesced in Italy until 23 March 1892 when, with the permission of his Superiors, he returned to Poland where he assumed the assignment of Pastor at Miejsce Piastowe, in Przemysl his native Diocese.

In addition to his ordinary pastoral activity, Father dedicated himself, in the Spirit of St John Bosco, to the formation of poor and orphaned youth.   He opened an institute in which he offered his students both material and spiritual support preparing them for life with a professional formation in the schools around the institute itself.   To carry on his work, he decided in 1897 to found two new religious congregations based on the spirituality of St John Bosco, adapting his rules to reflect their own Charism.   Once again received among the clergy of the Diocese of Przemysl, Father Markiewicz continued his work as Pastor and Director of the Society (erected in 1898) which he named Temperance and Work, seeking to obtain its approbation as a religious institute.   The approbation was granted a few years after his death: in 1921 for the male branch and in 1928 for the female branch.

With the approval and blessing of his bishop Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Fr Bronislao continued his activity forming youth and abandoned and orphaned children.   He was assisted by collaborators to whose preparation and formation he himself always contributed.   Already at Miejce Piastowe he had offered a home and formation to hundreds of children giving of himself totally for them.   Always desiring to do more for them, in the month of August of 1903, Fr Markiewicz opened a new house in Pawlikowice, near Cracow, where over 400 orphans found a house and the possibility for spiritual and professional bronislaw markiewicz.jpg

His total dedication to children, his heroic self-denial and the enormous work he accomplished, quickly exhausted the strength of Fr Markiewicz,. undermining his health, which was already greatly compromised from his illness in Italy.   All of this led rather rapidly to the end of his earthly pilgrimage which came on 29 January 1912.markiewicz-01-428w

Both before and after his death he was considered an extraordinary man.   As the fame of the sanctity of Bronislao Markiewicz continued to constantly increase, the Superiors of both religious institutes of St Michael the Archangel, founded by him, asked the Bishop of Przemysl to initiate the process of beatification of their founder, which began in 1958. Having completed the procedure for the Cause, on 2 July 1994 in the presence of his Holiness John Paul II, the decree of heroic virtue was promulgated and ten years later on 20 December 2004 the decree of the Miracle performed by God through the intercession of Fr Bronislao was promulgated, thus opening the way for his beatification….Vatican.vabl bronislaw

Blessed Bronislaw was Beatified on 19 June 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.   The recognition was celebrated by Cardinal Jozef Glemp in Pilsudski Square, Warsaw, bronislaw plague.JPG

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

Saint of the Day – 8 January – Blessed Eurosia Fabris (1866-1932) “Mamma Rosa”

Saint of the Day – 8 January – Blessed Eurosia Fabris (1866-1932) “Mamma Rosa”Laywoman, Wife and Mother, Secular Franciscan, Apostle of Charity, Marian devotee, Apostle of Prayer and of the Holy Eucharist – born on 27 September 1866 in Quinto Vicentino, Italy and died on 8 January 1932 at Marola di Torri, Vicenza, Italy of natural eurosia fabris 1855-1932.jpg

Eurosia Fabris was born in Quinto Vicentino, an agricultural area, some kilometers from Vicenza in Italy, on 27 of September 1866.   Her parents, Luigi and Maria Fabris, were farmers.   In 1870, at the age of four, Eurosia moved with her family to Marola, a village in the municipality of Torri di Quartesolo (Vicenza).   She lived there for the rest of her life.   She attended only the first two years of elementary school between 1872 and 1874 because even at such a young age, she was forced to help her parents with farm work and her mother in particular with the household chores.   It was enough, however, for her to learn to read and write with the help of the Holy Scriptures or religious books such as the Catechism, Church history, the Philothea and the Eternal Maxims of St Alfonso Liguori.

Besides her domestic tasks, she helped her mother in her work as a dressmaker, a practice which Eurosia would also take on later.   Even as a child, she was rich in virtue and spirituality, always very careful in providing for the needs of her family.

She was twelve years old when she made her First Holy Communion.   From then on, she received Holy Eucharist on all religious feasts, since at that time daily communion was not the practice.   It was not until 1905 that daily communion was permitted by a Decree of Pope St Pius X.

Eurosia joined the Association of the Daughters of Mary in the parish church of Marola, and was faithful in participating in their devotions.   She diligently observed the practices of the group which helped increase in her a love for Mary.   In Marola, she lived within sight of the shrine of the Madonna of Monte Berico.

Her favourite devotions were to the Holy Spirit, the infant Jesus, the Cross of Christ, the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary and the souls in the Purgatory.   She was an apostle of good will in her family, among her friends and in her parish, where she taught catechism to the children and sewing to the girls who came to her home.

At the age of eighteen, Eurosia was a dedicated, pious and hardworking young lady. These virtues, along with her pleasant personality, did not go unobserved and several young men proposed marriage to her, though she did not feel called to accept.

In 1885, Rosina, as she was called by her family, was affected by a tragic event.   A young married woman near her home died leaving three very young daughters.   The first of them died shortly after her mother.   The other two girls, Chiara Angela and Italia were only 20 months old and 2 months old, respectively.   The father of these girls was away, living with his uncle and a grandfather who suffered from a chronic disease.   They were three very different men, always quarrelling among themselves.

For six months, every morning, Rosina would go to care for the children and take care of their home.   Later, following the advice of her relatives and that of the parish priest and after praying about this turn of events, she decided to marry.   Rosina was joined in marriage to a man named Carlo Barban, well aware of the sacrifices that married life would hold for her in the future.   She accepted this fact as the will of God who she now felt was calling her through these two babies to embrace a new mission.   The parish priest would often comment:  “This was a true act of heroic charity towards others.”

The marriage was celebrated on the fifth of May 1886 and, in addition to the two orphaned babies, was blessed with nine other children.   Her home was always opened to other children as well.   Among them were Mansueto Mazzuco, who became a member of the Order of Friars Minor, taking the name, Brother Giorgio.   To all these children, “Mamma Rosa”, as she was called since her marriage, offered affection and care, sacrificing her own needs to provide for them a solid Christian formation.  Between 1918-1921, three of her sons were ordained priests, two for the Diocesan clergy and one as a Franciscan (Fr Bernardino), who would become her first biographer.

Once married, she embraced her marital obligations, always showing the greatest love and respect for her husband and becoming his confidante and adviser.   She had a tender love for all her children.   She was a hard worker and a person who could be counted on to fulfil her duties.

Mamma Rosa lived an intense life of prayer, which was evident by her great devotion to God love’s, to the Holy Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.   Like the strong woman in Sacred Scripture, she became a real treasure to her family.   She knew how to balance the family budget and at the same time exercised great charity towards the poor, sharing her daily bread also with them.   She cared for the sick and gave them continuous assistance, showing heroic strength during the final illness of her husband Carlo, who died in 1930.

Mamma Rosa became a member of the Franciscan Third Order, known today as the Secular Franciscans.   She faithfully attended all their meetings but above all tried to live the true Franciscan spirit of poverty and joy in her home, in the midst of her daily work and prayer.   She had a gentle manner with everyone and praised God as the Creator and source of all good and the giver of all hope.

Mama Rosa’s family home was an ideal Christian community where her children were taught to pray, to obey, to respect the will of God and to practice Christian virtues.   In her vocation as a Christian mother, Mamma Rosa sacrificed and consumed herself day by day like a lamp burning brightly on the altar of charity.   She died on 8 January 1932 and was buried, with the hope of final resurrection, in the church of Marola.

The canonical process of beatification and canonisation was initiated on 3 February 2005 at the Diocesan curia of Padova, after getting passed several difficulties and misunderstandings among the different juridical persons trying to promote the Cause.

Mamma Rosa was a model of holiness in what should be the daily life of a Catholic family.   Her three sons who became priests were encouraged in their vocation by her example of holiness.   She was proclaimed Venerable on the 7th of July, 2003, by St Pope John Paul II who recognised the testimony of her heroic and singular virtues.   It was the wish of Venerable Pope Pius XII that the life of this marvellous woman be known among all Christian families of our day…

Blessed Eurosia was Beatified on 6 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI
the recognition was celebrated by Cardinal Saraiva Martins at Vincenza, Italy.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 5 January – St Charles of Mount Argus C.P. (1821-1893)

Saint of the Day – 5 January – St Charles of Mount Argus C.P. (1821-1893) – Religious Passionist Priest, Apostle of Charity, Spiritual guide, Miracle-worker – born Joannes Andreas Houben on 11 December 1821 in the village of Munstergeleen in the Province of Limburg in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and died on 5 January 1893 at Mount Argus, Ireland from an infected leg wound received in a carriage accident.saint_charles_argus

Fr Charles of St Andrew, known in secular life as John Andrew Houben, was born on 11 December 1821 in Munstergeleen, in the diocese of Ruremond (Holland), the fourth of eleven children.   He was baptised the same day with the name John Andrew.   He received his First Communion on 26 April 1835 and the sacrament of Confirmation on 28 June in the same year.   He began his formal education in Sittard and then in Broeksittard.   In 1840 he had to interrupt his studies to enter the military.   It was during this latter period that he first heard about the Congregation of the Passion.   At the end of his military service he completed his studies and requested to be admitted to the Congregation.   He was received by Blessed Dominic Barberi (1792-1849), Passionist and he entered the novitiate in the Belgium city of Ere, near Tournai on 5 November 1845. In December of that same year he was vested with the Passionist religious Habit and was given the name of Charles of St Andrew.   Having completed the canonical year of novitiate he professed First Vows on 10 December 1850.   At the conclusion of his studies he was ordained a priest by Bishop Labis, the ordinary of Tournai.houben

Immediately he was sent to England where the Passionists had founded three monasteries and it was here that, for a period of time, he undertook the ministry of vice-master of novices in the monastery of Broadway.   He also did parochial ministry in the parish of St Wilfred and neighbouring areas until 1856 when he was transferred to the newly established monastery of Mount Argus, on the outskirts of Dublin.

Blessed Charles Houben lived almost the remainder of his life in this retreat and was greatly loved by the Irish people to point that they referred to him,­ a native of Holland, ­ as Father Charles of Mount Argus.   He was a particularly pious priest.   He was outstanding in exercising obedience, in the practice of poverty, humility and simplicity and to an even greater degree, to devotion to the Passion of the Lord.

Due to his poor mastery of the English language, he was never a formal preacher and he never preached missions.   Rather, he very successfully dedicated himself to spiritual direction, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

The fame of his virtue was such that great crowds of people would gather at the monastery to seek his blessing.   There are also numerous testimonies to the outstanding miraculous cures that he worked to the extent, that even during his lifetime, he was known as a miracle worker.

Precisely because of this fame that extended throughout all of Great Britain as well as in America and Australia that in 1866, in order to afford him some rest, he was transferred to England where he lived for a time in the communities at Broadway, Sutton and London.   There he ministered as usual and there too, inside and outside the monastery, he was sought by the faithful, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

He returned to Dublin in 1874 where he remained until his death that took place at dawn on 5 January 1893.

During his very solemn funeral that was attended by people from all of Ireland there was definite proof of the popular devotion that had surrounded him throughout his life.   In a newspaper of the time we read: “Never before has the memory of any man sparked an explosion of religious sentiment and profound veneration as that which we observed in the presence of the mortal remains of Father Charles.”   The Superior of the monastery wrote to his family:  “The people have already declared him a saint.”charlesmtargus

The cause of his Beatification and Canonisation was introduced on 13 November 1935, and on 16 October 1988, His Holiness John Paul II proceeded with the Beatification of the one whom everyone called the saint of Mount Argus.

The miracle that led to his Canonisation was obtained through his intercession on behalf of Mr Adolf Dormans of Munstergeleen, the birthplace of the Blessed.   The diocesan inquiry super miro was also undertaken in the diocese of Roermond (Holland) from 6 November 2002 until 19 February 2003 at which time the validity of the miracle was recognised by a Decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 7 November 2003.

The medical consulta was convoked on 24 November 2005 and following the investigation of the matter, the members unanimously expressed that the cure of Mr. Dormans of “perforated, gangrenous appendicitis with generalised peritonitis that was multi-organically compromising and included extenuating and prolonged agony” was “not scientifically explainable”.

The theologian consultors, in the particular Congress of 21 February 2006 and the Ordinary Congregation of Cardinals and Bishops of 12 December 2006 also gave their unanimous approval of the supernatural aspect of the said healing.   The Decree concerning the miracle was given in the presence of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI on 21 December 2006…and he was Canonised on 3 June 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy…

During the last years of his life he had many trials.   He was also in failing health, was anxious about death.   His family in Holland were dying.   Old injuries returned to plague him.   Towards the end of 1892, it was obvious that the life of Fr Charles was coming to an end.   He said his last Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 1892.   Word of his illness spread through the city, crowds gathered to enquire about him.   Just after Christmas he couldn’t eat, lost his sight and was like a living skeleton.   At 5.30 in the morning of the 5th January 1893 he passed peacefully to his Maker.

His body was brought to the Church and lay in state for five days.   Despite heavy snow, thousands filed past his coffin with the police keeping order.   His funeral was said to have been bigger than Parnell’s two years before.   Finally his remains were laid to rest in the cemetery beside Mount Argus Church.   His grave became a place of pilgrimage where people came daily to pray.   When in 1949 his remains were moved inside the Church the Shrine became the place of prayer.   Today people come twice each day to be blest with the Relic of Blessed Charles.SONY DSC

canonisation st charles of mount argusst charles passionists-argus


The 52nd World Day of Prayer for Peace – 1 January 2019

The 52nd World Day of Prayer for Peace – 1 January 2019

Excerpt from St Pope Paul VI’s First Message to the World on 1 January 1968 for the First World Day of Prayer for Peace1st world day of prayer of peace - st popepaul VI 1 jan 1968 1 jan2019

“We address Ourself to all men of good will to exhort them to celebrate “The Day of Peace”, throughout the world, on the first day of the year, 1 January 1968.   It is Our desire that then, every year, this commemoration be repeated as a hope and as a promise, at the beginning of the calendar which measures and outlines the path of human life in time, that Peace with its just and beneficent equilibrium may dominate the development of events to come.

We think that this proposal interprets the aspirations of peoples, of their governments, of international organisms which strive to preserve Peace in the world, of those religious institutions so interested in the promotion of Peace, of cultural, political and social movements which make Peace their ideal;  of youth, whose perspicacity regarding the new paths of civilisation, dutifully oriented toward its peaceful developments is more lively;  of wise men who see how much, today, Peace is both necessary and threatened. The proposal to dedicate to Peace the first day of the new year is not intended, therefore, as exclusively ours, religious, that is, Catholic.   It would hope to have the adherence of all the true friends of Peace, as if it were their own initiative, to be expressed in a free manner, congenial to the particular character of those who are aware of how beautiful and how important is the harmony of all voices in the world for the exaltation of this primary good, which is Peace, in the varied concert of modern humanity.

The Catholic Church, with the intention of service and of example, simply wishes to “launch the idea”, in the hope that it may not only receive the widest consent of the civilised world but that such an idea may find everywhere numerous promoters, able and capable of impressing on the “Day of Peace”, to be celebrated on the first day of every new year, that sincere and strong character of conscious humanity, redeemed from its sad and fatal bellicose conflicts, which will give to the history of the world a more happy, ordered and civilised development.”the 52nd world day of prayer for peace - pope francis 1 jan 2019


1 JANUARY 2019

Good politics is at the service of peace

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.  The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated. It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalisation and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”.

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues:  the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”. This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.

Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.

Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.

Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.

Blessed be the politician who works for unity.

Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.

Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.

Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.

4. Political vices

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.

5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others

When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”.

Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalised world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

6. No to war and to the strategy of fear

A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.

Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

– peace with others:  family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, 8 December 2018




Saint of the Day – 27 December – Blessed Sára Salkaházi S.S.S. (1899–1944) Martyr – A Catholic Gem

Saint of the Day – 27 December – Blessed Sára Salkaházi S.S.S. (1899–1944) Martyr, Religious Sister of The Sisters of Social Service, Teacher, bookbinder, milliner, journalist – born as Schalkház Sarolta Klotild on 11 May 1899 in Kassa, Hungary (modern Košice, Slovakia) and died by being shot on 27 December 1944.   Sára was a Hungarian Catholic religious sister who saved the lives of Jews during World War II.   Denounced and summarily executed by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party, Blessed Sara was Beatified on 17 September 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.   Recognition of the Beatification was celebrated at Budapest, Hungary by Cardinal Peter Erdo.   Blessed Sára was the first non-aristocrat Hungarian to be sarabeatification bl sara

Teacher, bookbinder, milliner, journalist – this was the resume of Sára Salkaházi when she applied to join the Sisters of Social Service, a Hungarian religious society that today is also active in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines.   The Sisters of that new congregation, founded in 1923 by Margit Slachta and devoted to charitable, social and women’s causes, were reluctant to accept this chain-smoking, successful woman journalist and she was at first turned away from their Motherhouse in Budapest. But 16 years later, she became the Society’s first Martyr, at the hands of the Nazis.

Fun-loving and intelligent, Sára was born into a well-to-do family at Kassa-Kosice, Upper Hungary, now Slovak territory, on 11 May 1899.   She studied to become a teacher.   In the classroom, she learned through her students about the social problems of the poor, which she publicised via newspaper articles.   To widen her horizon and experience first-hand what discrimination meant, Sára became a bookbinder’s apprentice, where she was given the hardest and dirtiest work.   She learned that trade, then went to work in a millinery shop, all the while continuing to write articles for newspapers.   She became a member of the Christian Socialist Party and then worked as editor of that party’s newspaper, focusing on women’s social problems.sara-salkahazi

After she had come into contact with the Sisters of Social Service, Sára felt a strong call to join them.   Following her initial rebuff, she quit smoking – with great difficulty – and was admitted to the Society at age 30, in 1929.   She chose as her motto Isaiah’s “Here I am! Send me!” (Is 6: 8b).   Her first assignment was to her native Kassa (which at the end of World War I had been incorporated into Czechoslovakia) to organise the work of Catholic Charities;  subsequently, she was sent to Komarom, for the same task  . In addition, she wrote, edited and published a Catholic women’s journal, managed a religious bookstore, supervised a shelter for the poor and taught.   The Bishops of Slovakia then entrusted her with the organization of the National Girls’ Movement.   She thus began giving leadership courses and publishing manuals.

In one year alone, she received 15 different assignments, from cooking to teaching at the Social Training Centre, all of which exhausted her physically and spiritually.   When several novices left the Society, Sára also considered leaving, especially since her superiors would not allow her to renew her temporary vows (she was deemed “unworthy”), nor permit her to wear the habit for a year.   These decisions hurt her deeply.   But Sára accepted these hardships and made up her mind to remain faithful to her calling for the sake of the One who called her.   Her faithfulness paid off as she received permission to renew her vows some time later.Sara_Salkahazi

She wanted to go to the missions, to China or Brazil but the outbreak of World War II made it impossible to leave the country.   She worked instead as a social lecturer and administrator in Upper Hungary and Sub-Carpathia (which had also been part of Hungary until the end of World War l) and took her final vows in 1940.

As national director of the Catholic Working Girls’ Movement, Sister Sára built the first Hungarian college for working women, near Lake Balaton.   In Budapest, she opened Homes for working girls and organised training courses.   To protest the rising Nazi ideology Sister Sára changed her last name to the more Hungarian-sounding “Salkaházi”. As the Hungarian Nazi Party gained strength and also began to persecute the Jews, the Sisters of Social Service provided safe havens.   Sister Sára opened the Working Girls’ Homes to them where, even in the most stressful situations, she managed to cheer up the anxious and discouraged.

As if her days were not busy enough, she managed to write a play on the life of St Margaret of Hungary, canonised on 19 November 1943.   The first performance, in March 1944, was also the last, since German troops occupied Hungary that very day and immediately suppressed this religious production.

The life of St Margaret may have provided the inspiration for Sister Sára to offer herself as a victim-soul for the safety and protection of her fellow-Sisters of Social Service.   For this, she needed the permission of her superiors, which was eventually granted.   At the time, they alone knew about her self-offering.

Meanwhile, she kept hiding additional groups of refugees in the various Girls’ Homes, under increasingly dangerous circumstances.   Providing them with food and supplies became more and more complicated every day, given the system of ration cards and the frequent air raids.   Nevertheless, Sister Sára herself is credited with the saving of 100 Jewish lives and her Community, with saving 1,000.

The Russian siege of Budapest began on Christmas 1944.   On the morning of 27 December, Sister Sára still delivered a meditation to her fellow-Sisters.   Her topic? Martyrdom!   For her, it would become a reality that very day.   Before noon, Sister Sára and another Sister were returning on foot from a visit to another Girls’ Home.   They could already see in the distance, armed Nazis standing in front of the house.   Sister Sára had time to get away but she decided that, being the director, her place was at this Home.   Upon entering the house, she too was accompanied down into the air raid shelter where the Nazis were already checking the papers of the 150 residents.   About 10 of them were refugees with false papers.   Some were declared suspicious and were to be taken to the ghetto, while those in charge would have to “give statements at Nazi headquarters before being released”.   As she was led out, Sister Sára managed to step into the chapel and quickly genuflected before the altar but her captors dragged her away.   One of the Nazis suggested, “Why don’t we finish them off here in the yard?”. But another gestured, “No”.

That night, a group of people was driven by agents of the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime to the Danube Embankment.   Sister Sára was among them.   As they were lined up, she knelt and made the Sign of the Cross before a bullet mowed her down.   Her stripped corpse and those of her companions were thrown into the sara profile

The other Sisters anxiously awaited Sister Sára’s return.   A youngster from the neighbourhood brought them news of the shooting the following day.   It seems that the Lord had accepted Sister Sára’s sacrifice, because none of the other Sisters of her Community was harmed.

Every year, on 27 December, the anniversary of her martyrdom, the Sisters of Social Service hold a candlelight memorial service on the Danube Embankment for Sister Sára Salkaházi.   The voluntary offering of their first martyr saved not only many persecuted Jews but also her Religious Community…

Speaking at the Beatification Mass, Rabbi József Schweitzer said of Sister Sára, “I know from personal experience … how dangerous and heroic it was in those times to help Jews and save them from death.   Originating in her faith, she kept the commandment of love until death.”

Peter Cardinal Erdo, the Archbishop of Budapest, read a proclamation from Pope Benedict XVI beatifying Sister Sara.

The proclamation said, “She was willing to assume risks for the persecuted…in days of great fear. Her martyrdom is still topical… and presents the foundations for our humanity.”

For the Lord, all things are possible.   Trust Him to the end!

“Here I am!   Send me!” (Is 6: 8b)



8 December – The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today, 8 December, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. I wish you all a Blessed and Holy Feast Day!

Murillo 1678

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 8 December 2012

“I would like to emphasise that Mary is Immaculate through a freely given gift of God’s grace, which, however, found perfect willingness and cooperation in her.   It is in this sense that she is “blessed” because “she believed” (Lk 1:45) and because she had steadfast faith in God.   Mary represents that “remnant of Israel”, that holy root which the Prophets proclaimed.   The promises of the Old Covenant find a ready welcome in her.   In Mary, the Word of God is met with listening, acceptance and a response, He encounters that “yes” which enables Him to take flesh and to come and dwell among us.


In Mary, humanity and history are truly opened to God, they welcome His grace and are prepared to do His will.   Mary is a genuine expression of Grace.   She represents the new Israel, which the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. And St Paul takes up this language in his Letter to the Ephesians where he speaks of marriage and says “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (5:25-27).   The Fathers of the Church developed this image and thus the Doctrine of the Immaculate Virgin first came into being with reference to the Church virgin-mother and, subsequently, to Mary.   Thus Ephraim the Syrian writes poetically:  “Just as [it was] because these bodies themselves have sinned and are themselves dying, that the earth, their mother was also accursed (cf. Gen 3:7-19), because of this body which is the incorruptible Church, her land was blessed from the outset.   This land is the body of Mary, a temple in which a seed was sown” (Diatessaron 4, 15: sc 121, 102).

Francesco de Mura imm conception
Francesco de Mura

The light that shines from the figure of Mary, also helps us to understand the true meaning of original sin.   Indeed that relationship with God which sin truncates is fully alive and active in Mary.   In her there is no opposition between God and her being, there is full communion, full understanding.   There is a reciprocal “yes” – God to her and her to God.   Mary is free from sin because she belongs entirely to God, she empties herself totally for Him.   She is full of His Grace and of His Love.

To conclude, the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that God’s promises have been fulfilled and that His Covenant does not fail but has produced a holy root from which came forth the blessed Fruit of the whole universe, Jesus the Saviour.   The Immaculate Virgin shows that Grace can give rise to a response, that God’s fidelity can bring forth a true and good faith.”

Imm Conception Jusepe de Ribera (1637) tumblr_mcpufmupix1rpq8j1o1_540
Jusepe de Ribera (1637)

Room of the Immaculate Conception

Following the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX, which took place on 8 December 1854, the pontiff decide to celebrate the event with a cycle of frescoes.
The large room adjacent to the Raphael Rooms was chosen and the task was assigned to Francis Podesti (1800-1895), a painter originally from Ancona but rooted in the Roman artistic and academic panorama.   The artist, along with his team of workers, worked on the commission from 1856 to 1865, planning it and following its execution in all its aspects –  the wooden doors and window frames and the inlaid marble work, as well as the installation of the Roman mosaic from Ostia Antica, purchased specifically for this space.
The pictorial decoration proceeds from the ceiling, with allegorical scenes alluding to the virtues of the Virgin;  it continues along the northern wall with the homage of the continents to the Church enthroned;  it continues on the west wall, devoted to the Discussion of dogma in St Peter’s Basilica and concludes on the east wall, with the Coronation of the Image of Mary, an event following the Proclamation, which took place in St Peter’s.   Podesti, who was present, included a self-portrait here.ROOM OF THE IMM CONCEPTION.png

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 13 November – St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni S.D.C. (1864-1894)

Saint of the Day – 13 November – St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni S.D.C. (1864-1894) – virgin, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Jeanne Antide Thouret, medical nursing sister – Born Livia Pietrantoni on 27 March 1864 at Pozzaglia Sabina, Rieti, Italy as Livia Petrantoni and died by being stabbed to death on 13 November 1894 in Rome, Italy by Giuseppe Romanelli.   Patronages – abuse victims, against impoverishment and poverty, martyrs, people ridiculed for their
“Once there was and there still is but with a new face now, a village named Pozzaglia.   In the Sabina hills… and there was a blessed house, a cosy little nest filled with childrens’ voices, amongst which that of Olivia who was later called Livia and was to take the name of Agostina in the religious life.”

Birthplace of St Agostina

The very short life of Sister Agostina, which inspired St Paul VI, the Pope who beatified her, to relate it in extraordinarily poetical terms, began and unfolded itself:  “simple, transparent, pure, loving…but ended sorrowfully and tragically… or rather symbolically.”ST_agostina_livia_pietrantoni

27th March 1864:   Livia was born and baptised in the little village of Pozzaglia Sabina, at an altitude of 800 meters in the beautiful area which is bordered geographically by Rieti, Orvinio, Tivoli.   She was the second of 11 children!   Her parents, Francesco Pietrantoni and Caterina Costantini, were farmers and worked their small plot of land along with a few added plots which they leased.   Livia’s childhood and youth were imbued with the values of an honest, hard-working and religious family, in the blessed house in which “all were careful to do good and where they often prayed”.    This period was marked especially by the wisdom of Uncle Domenico who was a real patriarch.

At the age of 4 Livia received the Sacrament of Confirmation and around 1876 she received her first Holy Communion, certainly with an extraordinary awareness, judging by the life of prayer, generosity and sacrifice which followed it.   Very early on, in the large family in which everyone seemed to be a beneficiary to her time and help, she learned from her mother Caterina the thoughtfulness and maternal gestures which she showed with such gentleness towards her many younger brothers and sisters.   She worked in the fields and looked after the animals… Therefore, she barely experienced childrens’ games… or school which she attended very irregularly but from which she drew great benefit to the point of earning the title of “teacher” from her classmates.

At the age of 7, along with other children, she began “to work”, transporting by the thousand, sacks of stones and sand for constructing the road from Orvinio to Poggio Moiano.   At the age of 12 she left with other young “seasonal workers” who were going to Tivoli during the winter months for the olive harvest.   Precociously wise, Livia took on the moral and religious responsibility for her young companions.   She supported them in this tough work far from their families and proudly and courageously stood up to the arrogant and unscrupulous “bosses.”

Through her wisdom, her respect for others, her generosity, her beauty, Livia was a young attractive woman… and several young men in the village had their eyes on her. Their admiring looks did not escape mother Caterina’s notice and she dreamed of marrying her daughter well.   Yet what did Livia think?   What was the secret of her heart?   Why did she not make a choice?   Why did she not make up her mind?   “Make daring by the voice which spoke to her inwardly, the voice of her vocation, she surrendered;  it was Christ who would be her Beloved, Christ, her Spouse.”   To these in her family or in the village who attempted to dissuade her by saying she was running away from hard work, Livia replied:  “I wish to choose a Congregation in which there is work both day and night.”   Everyone was certain that these words were genuine.   A first trip to Rome in the company of her Uncle Fra Matteo ended in bitter disillusionment; they refused to accept her.   However, a few months later, the Mother General of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Jeanne-Antide Thouret, let her know that she was expecting her at the Generalate.   Livia understood that this time she was saying farewell for ever.   With emotion she took leave of the village people, all the loved corners of her land, her favourite prayer places, the parish and the Virgin of Rifolta;  she kissed her parents goodbye, received on her knees the blessing of Uncle Domenico, “kissed the door of her house, traced the sign of the cross on it and left hurriedly…”st-agostina-facebook-846x444

23rd March 1886:   Livia was 22 when she arrived in Rome at Via S. Maria in Cosmedin.   A few months as a postulant and novice were enough to prove that the young girl had the makings of a Sister of Charity, that is of a “servant of the poor”, in the tradition of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Jeanne-Antide.   Indeed, Livia brought to the Convent a particularly solid human potential inherited from her family which guaranteed its success.   When she received the religious habit and was given the name of Sister Agostina, she had the premonition that it fell to her to become the saint bearing this name.   For Indeed she had not heard of any Saint Agostina!ST AGOSTINA

Sister Agostina was sent to the Hospital of Santo Spirito where 700 years of glorious history had led it to be called “the school of Christian charity.”   In the wake of the saints who had preceded her, amongst whom were Charles Borromeo, Joseph Casalanz, John Bosco, Camillus de Lellis, Sister Agostina made her personal contribution and in this place of suffering gave expression to charity to the point of heroism.ST AGOSTINA SNIP

The atmosphere in the hospital was hostile to religion.   The Roman question poisoned peoples’ minds.   The Capuchin fathers were driven out, the Crucifix and all other religious signs were forbidden.   The hospital even wanted to send the sisters away but was afraid of becoming unpopular.   Instead their lives were made “impossible” and they were forbidden to speak of God.

But Sister Agostina did not need her mouth in order to “cry out for God” and no gag was able to prevent her life from proclaiming the Gospel!   First in the childrens’ ward and later in the tuberculosis ward, a place of despair and death, where she caught the mortal contagion of which she was miraculously healed, she showed a total dedication and an extraordinary concern for each sick person, above all for the most difficult, violent and obscene ones like “Romanelli.”

In secret, in a small hidden corner she had found for herself to reside, in the hospital, Sister Agostina commended them all to the Virgin and promised her many more vigils and greater sacrifices in order to obtain the grace of the conversion of the most stubborn ones.   How many times she offered Giuseppe Romanelli to Our Lady!   He was the worst of them all, the most vulgar and insolent, especially towards Sister Agostina, who was more and more attentive towards him and welcomed his blind mother with great kindness when she came to visit him.   He was capable of anything and everyone had had enough of him.   When, after the umpteenth provocation at the expense of the women working in the laundry, the Director expelled him, from the hospital, he sought a target for his fury and poor Agostina was the victim he picked.   ‘I will kill you with my own hands.” “Sister Agostina, you only have a month to live!,” were the threats which he had sent to her several times in little notes.  The male patient Giuseppe Romanelli began to harass her at this point – he even sent her death threats and on the evening of 12 November 1894 her religious asked her to take time off since the sisters worried for her; she refused.   Romanelli attacked and stabbed her to death in the morning on 13 November 1894.   Pietrantoni forgave her killer moments before she died;  Romanelli stabbed her in a dark corridor with three stabs at the shoulder and left arm and the jugular before a final stab in the chest.   Her final words were, “Mother of mine, help me“.   Professor Achille Ballori (d. 1914) – who had once warned her about Romanelli – inspected her remains and observed that “Sister Agostina has allowed herself to be slaughtered like a lamb” and noted there were no contractions of either her nerves or heart.

When Romanelli caught her unawares and struck her before she could escape, that 13th November 1894, her lips uttered nothing but invocations to the Virgin Mary and words of forgiveness.ST AGOSTINA SNIP 2

The late nun’s funeral blocked the streets of Rome (thousands lined the streets and knelt before the casket as it passed them) and a “Messaggero” report on 16 November stated that “never a more impressive spectacle was seen in Rome”.   Her remains were moved to the generalate on 3 February 1941 and then to her hometown on 14 November 2004.

The beatification process opened under Pope Pius XII on 14 December 1945 and Pietrantoni was titled as a Servant of God.   The confirmation of her life of heroic virtue on 19 September 1968 allowed for St Pope Paul VI to title her as Venerable that same pope presided over her Beatification on 12 November 1972 in Saint Peter’s Square upon the confirmation of two miracles attributed to her intercession.

The final miracle required for sainthood was investigated and then received validation from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 19 March 1996.   St Pope John Paul II approved this miracle on 6 April 1998 and later Canonised Pietrantoni as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on 18 April 1999.

Pietrantoni was named as the patron saint for nurses on 20 May 2003 after the Italian Episcopal Conference named her as such.

St Agostina’s Shrine and Tomb


Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 29 October – St Gaetano Errico (1791-1860)

Saint of the Day – 29 October – St Gaetano Errico (1791-1860) – Priest, Founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in 1836, Teacher, Confessor, Apostle of Charity, Eucharistic Adorer  – born on 19 October 1791 in Secondigliano, Naples, Italy and died at 10am on 29 October 1860 in Secondigliano, Naples, Italy of natural causes.
The Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, are a religious congregation of priests and brothers, dedicated to serving the needs of God’s family, while witnessing the great love present in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – St Gaetano is their Patron.gaetano-errico-cfbe2689-28ce-4f94-a597-12b6f7ace0a-resize-750

Gaetano Errico was born on 19 October 1791 in Secondigliano, a small village on the northern boundary of the City of Naples, Italy.   He was the second of nine children born to Pasquale and Marie (Marseglia) Errico.   His father managed a small pasta factory and his mother worked at the loom weaving plush.

As a child he was known in the small village as a good and obedient child, who helped his father in the pasta factory and eagerly shared his parent’s deep faith.   By age 14 Gaetano felt called to the priesthood and religious life.   Many congregations during this time did accept young men at an earlier age than is prevalent today.   However, Gaetano’s first choices, the Capuchins and the Redemptorists rejected his application because of his age.   At the age of 16 he proceeded to apply for the Archdiocesan Seminary of Naples and was accepted.   In January 1808, having received the habit of the Diocese, he began his studies.   His family’s meagre income did not allow him to reside at the seminary.   He therefore registered as a day student which required him to walk the eight kilometers to the seminary and back each day.

During his years of formation in the seminary, he did very well in his studies.   He was deeply faithful to his spiritual life never missing daily Mass and reception of the Eucharist.   While still living at home with his parents, he managed to help them as well. The villagers noted his diligence in filling his days with the studies for the priesthood, visiting the sick on Thursday and even on Sunday he walked through the town encouraging the children to attend their catechism classes.

On 23 September 1815, in the Chapel of St Restituta within the confines of the Cathedral of Naples, Gaetano was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Ruffo Scilla.   Soon after ordination he was appointed to a position as a teacher.   For the next twenty years, he taught his students with exemplary dedication.   Entrusted to his care, his students received both the elements of a good education and spiritual formation.   With great care and ambitious zeal, he imparted the tenets of Christian doctrine and moral values.

He also served with loving commitment in pastoral service at the Parish Church of Saint Cosmas and Damian.   His ministry was characterised by four principle concerns – Proclamation of the Word;  Ministry of Reconciliation;  material and spiritual assistance to the sick and selfless charity.   Each principle held for Gaetano the way to proclaim and make known to all men and women, that in God they have a Father, who loves them.

Every year, he travelled to Pagani (in Salerno), a Redemptorist house, for his annual retreat.   In the year 1818 while praying, an extraordinary event occurred – an event that would change his life forever.   St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) appeared to him in a vision and told him that God wanted him to found a new religious congregation.   Further, as a sign of this desire, he was to build a church in Secondigliano in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows.   With this vision of Our Lady in his mind, Gaetano was assured that he would succeed.   At first, the people of Secondigliano welcomed with joy the news that God wanted a church in honour of the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus in their little village.   However, human weakness being ever apparent, some were opposed.   Although their numbers were few, their jealousy and distrust made the task more difficult for Gaetano.   He never lost sight of the goal, however and against all odds, the Church was built as God wanted.   The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was blessed on 9 December 1830.

When the Church was nearly completed, Fr Gaetano began the construction of a house to serve as the first home of the future congregation.   A small house was built and Fr Errico resided there with a lay brother who maintained the Church.   From such humble beginnings, he proceeded to reach out, welcoming priests to come for retreat, hoping to inspire within their hearts a desire to commit themselves to the missions and religious gaetano errico snip

Upon completion of the Church and house, Fr Gaetano commissioned Francesco Verzella, a famous Neapolitan sculptor, to create an image of Our Lady of Sorrows.   It has been said that the sculptor had to redo the statue several times.   The vision of her face of sorrow was clear in Fr Errico’s mind.   Finally, the sculptor got it right and Fr Errico exclaimed, “It is so!”   The statue arrived in Secondigliano in May of 1835 and from then on drew an unending number of pilgrims.

The following year, again while Fr Errico was on retreat in Pagani, God revealed to him that the new congregation to be founded must be in honour of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.   Fr Errico already possessed within himself a most abiding devotion to the Sacred Hearts.   Now he became even more ardent in sharing this love through all his apostolic and missionary activity.   The love of the Sacred Hearts urged him to seek sinners and bring them back to God, to give of himself tirelessly.   With a burning drive within his heart, he especially searched out the most vulnerable, those in danger, the sick, the abandoned and shunned and the spiritually bereft.   He wanted everyone to feel the touch of a loving father who was ever ready to forgive and slow to anger.

He gained approval for the new congregation and its statutes on 14 March 1836 and in October of that year opened a novitiate with eight novices.   He sought papal approval in May 1838.   On 30 June the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars issued the decree.   In order to strengthen his Congregation, he sought royal approval which was granted on 13 May 1840.   In April 1846, he once again went to Rome to ask for final approval.   The Congregation by now had grown, the number of its members had increased and new houses had been opened in southern Italy.   On 7 August1846, Blessed Pius IX issued the Apostolic Brief of Approbation. Gaetano was unanimously elected Superior General.gaetano-errico-6bc4a81b-e80f-4a2e-83a9-8d05ea30c70-resize-750

Fr Gaetano was truly a man of God, a man with a mission, a man on fire with an unquenchable love of Jesus and Mary.   The first secret of his holiness was prayer.   Ever on his knees, his small room in the house in Secondigliano bears the indentations on the floor where, kneeling, he found refuge and strength.   Penance further sustained his holiness.   He fasted continuously, often only taking bread and water in order to give his share of food to the poor.   Self-flagellation was part of his penance, offered humbly for the many sins that wounded the Heart of Jesus.   He was never too tired to travel on, preaching, hearing confessions, encouraging the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ.   His comfort and caring presence reminded all of the love of God the Father… leading many in the small towns and villages to call him a saint.

Fr Errico died on 29 October 1860 at 10:00 AM at the age of 69.   His last testament to his missionaries was… “Love one another and be very observant of our Rules.”santino-RELIQUIA-RELIC-SGAETANO-ERRICO

“A saint is dead.,” the townspeople of Secondigliano affirmed upon hearing the news of his death.   It still echoes today. Gaetano Errico, affectionately known by all who knew him as “O Superiore” (The Superior), continues to be an example, a reference point, an intercessor, showing the way to God as lived out in the example of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

In December 1876, Pope Leo XIII declared him Venerable and Pope Paul VI declared the heroism of his virtues with an apostolic decree on 4 October 1974.   St Pope John Paul II on 24 April  2001, signed the Decree of Beatification after approving a miracle attributed to the sole intercession of Ven Gaetano Errico.   The process for the investigation of the miracle required for canonisation opened in Naples on 10 November 2004 and concluded its business on 10 October 2005 prior to it being validated in 2006.   It received the papal approval of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 in which he acknowledged the 2003 healing of Anna Russo.   On 12 October 2008 he was proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.canonisation


Thought for the Day – 13 October – The Memorial of the Sixth and Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima 1917

Thought for the Day – 13 October – The Memorial of the Sixth and Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima 1917

Excerpt from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith – 26 June 2000
The Message of Fatima (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)

“As the second millennium gives way to the third, Pope John Paul II has decided to publish the text of the third part of the “secret of Fatima”.

“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of Himself to the Father:   ‘For their sake’, He said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19).  We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this His consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, peoples and nations.   It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history.

How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ Himself!   For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church.

The present Year of the Redemption shows this – the special Jubilee of the whole Church.

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call!

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!

Mother of the Church!   Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope and love!   Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting.   Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart.

Immaculate Heart!   Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!

From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin – individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption – the power of merciful Love!   May it put a stop to evil   May it transform consciences!   May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”.

Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished (“Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984”:  “Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984”:   Letter of 8 November 1989).    Hence any further discussion or request is without basis… 

read the entire Message here:

Immaculate Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!our lady of fatima pray for us no 2 - 13 oct 2018

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 5 October – Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. (1819-1867)

Saint of the Day – 5 October – Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. (1819-1867) Priest, Religious, Missionary, Preacher, Catechist, Spiritual Director, Apostle of Charity – known as the “The Cheerful Ascetic” – born on Francesco Saverio Seelos on 11 January 1819 at Füssen, Bavaria, Germany and died on 4 October 1867 in New Orleans, Louisiana of yellow fever.   Patronage – against Cancer.header - POS-F490_Blessed-Francis-Xavier-Seelos___84782.1491928544

Francis Xavier Seelos, one of 12 children born to Mang and Frances Schwarzenbach Seelos, entered the world on 11 January 1819, in Füssen (Bavaria, Germany).   He was baptised on the same day in the parish church of Saint Mang where his father, after having been a textile merchant, would, in 1830, become the sacristan.

Having completed his primary education in 1831, he expressed a desire to become a priest and, with the encouragement of his Pastor, he attended middle school at the Institute of Saint Stephen in Augsburg.   Receiving his diploma in 1839, he went on to the University in Munich, Bavaria, where he completed his studies in Philosophy.
He then began to study theology in preparation to enter the seminary where he was admitted on 19 September francis xavier glass

It was during this time that through his acquaintance with the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he came to know both the charism of the Institute, founded to evangelise the most abandoned and its apostolic works, especially those among the immigrants in the United States of America.   Moved by a profound apostolic zeal and deeply touched by the letters published in the Catholic newspaper Sion, from the Redemptorist missionaries describing the lack of spiritual care for the thousands of German speaking immigrants, Seelos decided to enter the Congregation, asking to be allowed to work as a missionary in the United States.

Receiving the necessary approval on 22 November 1842, he sailed the following March  from the port of Le Havre, France, arriving in New York on 20 April 1843.
On 22 December 1844, after having completed his theological studies and novitiate, Seelos was ordained a Priest in the Redemptorist Church of St James in Baltimore, Maryland, francis xavier snip

A few months after his ordination, he was transferred to St Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he remained nine years.   His first six years there were spent as assistant pastor with St John Neumann (1811-1860), who was also the superior of the Redemptorist comm  unity. The remaining three years, Francis Seelos served as superior of that same community.   It was during these years that he was appointed Master of Novices for the Redemptorists.

In addition to his work as assistant pastor, Seelos, together with Neumann, dedicated himself to preaching missions.   Regarding his relationship with St John Neumann, Seelos said:  “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as spiritual director and confessor”.st john neumann and bl francis xavier seelos - 5 october 2018

His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director so much so that people came to him even from neighbouring towns.   In both Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Seelos made Confession become, rather than a torment, the locus of a life-giving experience of an encounter with Christ Patient and Merciful.   His confessional was open to all:  “I hear confessions in German, English, French, of Whites and of Blacks”.
The faithful described him as the missionary with the constant smile on his lips and a generous heart, especially towards the needy and the marginalised.
It is no coincidence that in Pittsburgh, after his death, the people began to attribute to his intercession many favours received.

Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practised a simple life style and a simple manner of expressing himself.   The themes of his preaching, rich in biblical content, were always heard and understood even by the simplest people.   A constant endeavour in his pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith.   He not only favoured this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the Parish.Beato_Francesco_Saverio_Seelos

In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to a number of cities in the state of Maryland:  Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry.   In Cumberland and Annapolis, he also served in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students.   Even in this post, he was true to his character remaining always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation.   Above all, he strove to instil in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.
In 1860, His Excellency Michael O’Connor, Bishop of Pittsburgh, upon leaving his diocese, recommended Father Seelos as the Priest most qualified to succeed him.   Francis Seelos wrote Pope Paul IX explaining his inadequacy to accept such a responsibility and asking “to be liberated from this calamity”.   He was overjoyed when another Priest was named Bishop of francis xavier seelos lg

Following the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, new laws were enacted in 1863 which required every able bodied male to make himself available for military duty. Seelos, as Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, travelled to Washington to meet with President Abraham Lincoln and ask him to exempt the Redemptorist seminarians from military service.   Lincoln, according to Seelos himself, was not only extremely receptive of the petition but promised to do everything in his power to bring it about. In fact, the students were exempted from going off to war.

Relieved from his office as Prefect of Students because, according to a zealous confrere, he was too obliging and not severe enough with the seminarians, from 1863 to 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana.   Here also, as pastor of the of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.   As in other cities, his prayers were considered very powerful in obtaining favours from francis xavier_sample

In God’s plan, however, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief.   In the month of September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of Yellow Fever, he contracted the dreaded disease.   After several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he passed on to eternal life on 4 October 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months….

The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is located in St Mary’s Assumption Church, the first German Catholic Church in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. The Shrine contains the official portrait of Father Seelos, which was used in Rome for his beatification, as well as photographs that depict Father Seelos and his life as a missionary.

St Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Francis in St Peter’s Square on 9 April 2000.   In the beatification homily, the pope stated:  “Today, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.   Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God’s people be encouraged and strengthened in their task.”blessed francis xavier

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, MYSTICS, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 1 October – St Thérèse of Lisieux O.C.D. (1873 – 1897) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 1 October – St Thérèse of Lisieux O.C.D. (1873 – 1897)  – also known as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face/The Little Flower/Sacred Keeper of the Gardens – Virgin, Religious Nun, Mystic, Writer – born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin on 2 January 1873 at Alcon, Normandy, France – died on 30 September 1897 at Lisieux, France of tuberculosis.   Patronages – Universal Patron of the Missions, African missions, sick people; against bodily ills, illness or sickness, AIDS patients, air crews or pilots; aviators, Australia, black missions, florists and flower growers, foreign missions (proclaimed on 14 December 1927 by Pope Pius XI), loss of parents, missionaries, parish missions, restoration of religious freedom in Russia, tuberculosis, World Youth Day 2013, France (1944 by Pope Pius XII), Russia, Anchorage, Alaska, archdiocese of, Cheyenne, Wyoming, diocese of, Churchill – Baie d’Hudson, Manitoba, diocese of, Fairbanks, Alaska, diocese of, Fresno, California, diocese of, Hamilton, Bermuda, diocese of, Juneau, Alaska, diocese of, Kisumu, Kenya, diocese of, Corner Brook and Labrador, Newfoundland, diocese of, Pueblo, Colorado, diocese of, Witbank, South Africa, diocese of, Apostleship of therese info

THÉRÈSE MARTIN was born at Alençon, France on 2 January 1873.   Two days later, she was baptised Marie Françoise Thérèse at Notre Dame Church.   Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin (now Saints, Canonised on 18 October 2015, Memorial 12 July).  After the death of her mother on 28 August 1877, Thérèse and her family moved to Lisieux.Thérèse_Martin-Histoire_d'une_âme-A02

Towards the end of 1879, she went to confession for the first time.   On the Feast of Pentecost 1883, she received the singular grace of being healed from a serious illness through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories.   Taught by the Benedictine Nuns of Lisieux and after an intense immediate preparation culminating in a vivid experience of intimate union with Christ, she received First Holy Communion on 8 May 1884.   Some weeks later, on 14 June of the same year, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, fully aware of accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit as a personal participation in the grace of Pentecost.

She wished to embrace the contemplative life, as her sisters Pauline and Marie had done in the Carmel of Lisieux but was prevented from doing so by her young age.   On a visit to Italy, after having visited the House of Loreto and the holy places of the Eternal City, during an audience granted by Pope Leo XIII to the pilgrims from Lisieux on 20 November 1887, she asked the Holy Father with childlike audacity to be able to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen.   On 9 April 1888 she entered the Carmel of Lisieux.   She received the habit on 10 January of the following year and made her religious profession on 8 September 1890 on the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.popeleo and st therese

In Carmel. she embraced the way of perfection outlined by the Foundress, Saint Teresa of Jesus, fulfilling with genuine fervour and fidelity the various community responsibilities entrusted to her.   Her faith was tested by the sickness of her beloved father, Louis Martin, who died on 29 July 1894.   Thérèse nevertheless grew in sanctity, enlightened by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the centre of everything.   In her autobiographical manuscripts she left us, not only her recollections of childhood and adolescence but also a portrait of her soul, the description of her most intimate experiences.  She discovered the little way of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices entrusted to her care.   She considered it a special gift to receive the charge of accompanying two “missionary brothers” with prayer and sacrifice.   Seized by the love of Christ, her only Spouse, she penetrated ever more deeply into the mystery of the Church and became increasingly aware of her apostolic and missionary vocation to draw everyone in her path.SaintTherese3

On 9 June 1895, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God.   At this time, she wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on 21 January 1896.

Several months later, on 3 April, in the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, she suffered a haemoptysis, the first sign of the illness which would lead to her death – she welcomed this event as a mysterious visitation of the Divine Spouse.   From this point forward, she entered a trial of faith which would last until her death; she gives overwhelming testimony to this in her writings.   In September, she completed Manuscript B;  this text gives striking evidence of the spiritual maturity which she had attained, particularly the discovery of her vocation in the heart of the Church.saint-therese-of-the-child-jesus-belita-william

While her health declined and the time of trial continued, she began work in the month of June on Manuscript C, dedicated to Mother Marie de Gonzague.   New graces led her to higher perfection and she discovered fresh insights for the diffusion of her message in the Church, for the benefit of souls who would follow her way.   She was transferred to the infirmary on 8 July.   Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings. Meanwhile her sufferings and trials intensified.   She accepted them with patience up to the moment of her death in the afternoon of 30 September 1897.   “I am not dying, I am entering life”, she wrote to her missionary spiritual brother, Father M Bellier.   Her final words, “My God…, I love you!”, seal a life which was extinguished on earth at the age of twenty-four;  thus began, as was her desire, a new phase of apostolic presence on behalf of souls in the Communion of Saints, in order to shower a rain of roses upon the world.

She was Canonised by Pope Pius XI on 17 May 1925.   The same Pope proclaimed her Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside Saint Francis Xavier, on 14 December 1927.

Her teaching and example of holiness has been received with great enthusiasm by all sectors of the faithful during this century, as well as by people outside the Catholic Church and outside Christianity.therese-painting

On the occasion of the centenary of her death, many Episcopal Conferences have asked the Pope to declare her a Doctor of the Church, in view of the soundness of her spiritual wisdom inspired by the Gospel, the originality of her theological intuitions filled with sublime teaching and the universal acceptance of her spiritual message, which has been welcomed throughout the world and spread by the translation of her works into over fifty languages.

Mindful of these requests, His Holiness St Pope John Paul II asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has competence in this area, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with regard to her exalted teaching, to study the suitability of proclaiming her a Doctor of the Church.

On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, St Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997…Vatican.vast-therese-of-lisieux-iii-sheila-diemert


Saint of the Day – 28 September – St Simón de Rojas O.SS. (1552-1624)   “Father Ave Maria”/”Apostle of the Ave Maria”

Saint of the Day – 28 September – St Simón de Rojas O.SS. (1552-1624)   “Father Ave Maria”/ “Apostle of the Ave Maria”, Religious Priest of the Trinitarian Order, Founder of the Lay Apostolate of the Congregation of the Slaves of the Sweet Name of Mary, Marian Devotee, Theologian, Philosopher, Spiritual Writer, Apostle of Charity, Apostolic Visitor – born on 28 October 1552 in Valladolid, Spain and died on 28 September 1624 in Madrid, Spain of natural causes.   He was Beatified on 19 March 1766 by Pope Clement XIII and Canonised on 3 July 1988 by St Pope John Paul simon de rojas full

ave maria - for the memorial of st simon de rojas - 28 sept 2018

Father SIMON DE ROJAS of the Trinitarian Order was born at Valladolid, Castilla, Spain, 28 October, 1552.   At twelve years of age, he entered the Trinitarian monastery of the city where he was born and there made his religious profession on 28 October 1572.   He studied at the University of Salamanca from 1573 to 1579 and was ordained a priest in 1577.   Thereafter, he taught philosophy and theology at Toledo from 1581 to 1587 and from 1588 until his death he fulfilled with much prudence the office of superior in various monasteries of his province and was sent as apostolic visitor twice to his own province of Castilla and once to that of Andalusia.

On 14 April 1612 he founded the Congregation of the Slaves of the Sweet Name of Mary and in  1619 he was named tutor to the royal princes of Spain and in 1621 he was elected Provincial of Castilla and the following year he was chosen confessor of Queen Isabel of Borbon.01-st-simon-de-rojas.2

His Canonisation during this Marian year (1988), worthily rewards him for his tender devotion to Mary.    He has been a compared to St Bernard of Clairvaux and to St Ildefonso of Toledo, for this immense understanding and devotion of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mother.

It was his mother, the virtuous Constanza, who instilled and helped grow in the soul of Simon the love of Mary.   The veneration that she and her husband Gregorio constantly gave to Mary, makes it easily understandable why the first words that Simon, who had been a slow learner and stuttered, said at the age of fourteen months, were “Ave, Maria”. He was only repeating the prayer so frequently recited by his parents.

His greatest joy was to visit Marian shrines, to pray to Mary and with Mary, to imitate her virtues, to sing her praises, to acknowledge her importance in the mystery of God and of the Church.   Through profound theological studies, he came to understand even better the mission of Mary in cooperation with the Trinity for the salvation of the human race and the sanctification of the Church.   He lived his religious vows in the imitation of Mary. He held that, for everyone to be completely of God, as Mary had been, it was necessary to become her slaves, or better, slaves of God in Mary;  for this reason he established the Congregation of the Slaves of Mary for the greater glory of the Trinity, in praise of the Virgin, in the service of the poor.   For him, to be a slave of Mary meant belonging totally to her:  “Totus tuus” in order to unite oneself more intimately to Christ and in Him through the Spirit, to the Father.

The Congregation founded by him was intended for the laity, persons of every social class could join.   The members, who included the King and his children, dedicated themselves to honour Mary by giving maternal help to her favourite children – the poor. This work still continues in Spain.   Fr Simon, who is held to be one of the greatest contemplatives of his time and who in his work, “The Greatness of Prayer” is clearly a great instructor of prayerful souls, wanted the contemplative dimension joined to the active through works of mercy.

Faithful to the Trinitarian charism, he promoted the ransom of captives, he helped relieve the many needs of the poor, he consoled the sick, the destitute and the left-out of every kind.   He accepted duties at the Court, only on the condition that he be able to continue his work with the poor, whom he helped in a thousand ways, always with a smile on his face and at any hour of the day or night.San_Simon_de_Rojas

The expressions of his love of Mary are manifold.   The painters who depicted him, put the greeting “Ave Maria” on his lips, words he uttered so frequently that he was familiarly called:  “Father Ave Maria”.

He had thousands of images of the Most Holy Virgin printed with the inscription:  “Ave Maria”, which he also sent abroad.   He had rosaries made with seventy-two blue beads on a white cord, symbols of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception and also a reminder that Mary, according to the belief of the time, lived to the age of 72 years.   He sent these rosaries everywhere, even to England.   Using his influence at Court, he had the angelic greeting so dear to him, “Ave Maria”, engraved in letters of gold on the facade of the royal palace in Madrid.   On June 5th, 1622, he petitioned the Holy See for the approval of his liturgical text composed in honour of the Sweet Name of Mary, which later, Pope Innocent XI extended to the universal Church.PWOL0815_ave_maria_gratia_mexico_front_l

After his death on 29 September 1624, the honours bestowed on him at his funeral, took on the aspect of an anticipated canonisation.   For twelve days, the most re-known preachers of Madrid exalted his virtues and his holiness.   Impressed with this unanimous veneration, on 8 October shortly after Fr Simon’s death, the Papal Nuncio ordered the beginning of the process leading to his glorification by the Church.   His heroic virtues were recognised by PopeClement XII on 25 March 1735 and he was beatified on 19 March 1766.   And today, 3 July, 1988, just before the close of the Marian Year, Pope John Paul II, enters the name of this great servant of Mary and Father of the poor on the list of the Saints.”…Vatican.vadeath of st simon de rojas

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 19 September – St Alonsus de Orozco Mena O.S.A. (1500 – 1591)

Saint of the Day – 19 September – St Alonso de Orozco Mena O.S.A. (1500 – 1591) Religious Priest, Preacher, Writer, Apostle of Charity, Spiritual Director, Marian Devotee, Ascetic – born on 17 October 1500 at Oropesa, Toledo, Spain and died on 19 September 1591 in the College of the Incarnation, Madrid, Spain of natural alonso de orozco 2 snip

Alphonsus de Orozco was born in Oropesa, Province of Toledo, Spain, on the 17th of October 1500, where his father was governor of the local castle.   He began his studies in the nearby Talavera de la Reina and for three years he was a choir boy in the Cathedral of Toledo, where he made progress in the study of music.   At the age of fourteen his parents sent him to the University of Salamanca, where an elder brother was already studying.

During the Lenten sermons preached by Thomas of Villanova in 1520, on the psalm “In exitu Israel de GYPTO”, his vocation to the religious life was brought to maturity and a little later, attracted by the religious atmosphere of the Friary of Saint Augustine, he entered that community and there made his profession of vows at the hands of Saint Thomas of Villanova (1486-1555).

When ordained a priest in 1527 his superiors detected in him such deep spirituality and a capacity for proclaiming the Word of God, that very soon they appointed him to the ministry of preaching.   From the age of thirty he held many offices but in spite of his own austere life, his style of governing always showed him to be full of understanding. Inspired by a desire for martyrdom, he set off for Mexico as a missionary in 1549 but on his way, in the Canary Islands, he suffered a severe bout of arthritis and the doctors, fearing for his life, forbade him to continue his journey.ALONSO

In 1554, when he was Prior of the Convent in Valladolid, a city which was for many decades the seat of the royal court, Alphonsus was appointed “royal preacher” to the court of the emperor Charles V.   When the court was moved to Madrid in 1561, Alphonsus also had to move to the new capital of the Kingdom and he took up his residence in the convent of Saint Philip the Royal.

In spite of the fact that he was now exercising an office which was outside the jurisdiction of his superiors and which also carried a stipend, he renounced all privileges and only wished to live as a humble friar in obedience to his superiors.   He lived in austere poverty.   He took only one daily meal at midday, he slept no more than three hours, because he said that was enough for the tasks of the new day.   A table was his bed;  cut vines his pillow.   His room had just one chair, a candle, a broom and some books.   By choice, the room was near the door so that he could better attend to the poor who used to come there to ask his help.   Without neglecting his daily attendance in choir for prayer, he used to visit the sick in hospitals, the prisoners in the goals and the poor in the streets and in their homes.   He spent the day in prayer, in writing his books and preparing his sermons.   He was very popular with members of every social class. Personages of society and culture were witnesses in his process for Canonisation, such as the Princess Isabel Clara Eugenia, the Dukes of Alba and of Lerma, the writer Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and González Dávila. Association with the upper classes did not divert him from his simple lifestyle.   His fame spread throughout Madrid.   The people who used to call him, much to his displeasure, the “saint of Saint Philip’s”, loved him for his gentle sensitivity in getting close to everyone without distinction.

He wrote many works, both in Latin as well as in Spanish.   The simplicity of the titles indicate that they were written with a view to pastoral ministry:   Rule for a Christian life (1542), Garden of prayer and the mount of contemplation (1544), Memorial of holy love (1576), Spiritual treasury (1551), The art of loving God and neighbour (1567), The book of the gentleness of God (1576), Tract on the crown of Our Lady (1588).   Like his own life, these writings sprung from a spirit of contemplation and a study of sacred scripture. Such was his great devotion to the Virgin Mary, that he was convinced that he was writing in obedience to her command.

He was also fervently attached to the love of his own religious Order, writing about its history and spirituality, in the hope of encouraging good men to imitate the Augustinian way of life.   Along these lines, led by a desire of internal reform, which would later develop into a movement of recollection in the Order, he was responsible for the foundation of Augustinian monasteries, both of friars and of contemplative nuns.

In August 1591, Friar Alphonsus fell ill of a fever but this did not prevent him from celebrating his daily Mass, as he never, in spite of any illness, failed to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, saying with a certain humour, “God does no harm to anybody”.   During his illness, he was visited by the king, Philip II, by the heir to the throne and Princess Isabel and by the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, Gaspar de Quiroga, who personally fed him and then asked for his blessing.

News of his death, which occurred on the 19 of September 1591 in the College of the Incarnation, which he had founded two years before and which today is the seat of the Spanish Senate, brought sadness to the whole city.   The people of Madrid, as testified by Quevedo, filed past the chapel of rest and rushed the doors of the church of the college, knocking down the doors seeking some relic, a splinter of the bed, or a fragment of his clothes, his shoes or of his hair shirt.   For many years the Cardinal Archbishop kept for himself the wooden cross which the “saint of Saint Philip’s” used to carry with him.

He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on the 15th January of 1882 and Canonised on 19 May 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed”

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed” – (c 347 at Antioch, Asia Minor – 407 of natural causes) Bishop, Father and Doctor, Preacher, Orator, Writer, Theologian, Confessor.

Listening to Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily,
General Audience, 19 September 2007

st john chryosotom info

“This year (2007) is the 16th centenary of St John Chrysostom’s death (407-2007).  It can be said that John of Antioch, nicknamed “Chrysostom”, that is, “golden-mouthed“, because of his eloquence, is also still alive today because of his works.   An anonymous copyist left in writing that “they cross the whole globe like flashes of lightening”.beautiful - SaintJohnChrysostom-790x480

Chrysostom’s writings also enable us, as they did the faithful of his time whom his frequent exiles deprived of his presence, to live with his books, despite his absence.   This is what he himself suggested in a letter when he was in exile (To Olympias, Letter 8, 45).

He was born in about the year 349 in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other – in 403 and 407.   Let us limit ourselves today to examining the years Chrysostom spent in Antioch.   He lost his father at a tender age and lived with Anthusa, his mother, who instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.   After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time.   At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek john chrysostom - engraving

He was baptised in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371.   This event marked Chrysostom’s official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus.   From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius.   He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an “old hermit”.   In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on “the laws of Christ”, the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul.   Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation.   In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7):  it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.   It was here that he reached the crucial turning point in the story of his vocation:  a full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation.   The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire.


Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city.   He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386 and became a famous preacher in his city’s churches.   He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.   The year 387 was John’s “heroic year”, that of the so-called “revolt of the statues”.   As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor’s statues.   It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor’s impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion.   This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).my snip - st john chrysostom 4

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers – 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant.   He was not a speculative theologian.   Nevertheless, he passed on the Church’s tradition and reliable doctrine in an age of theological controversies, sparked above all by Arianism or, in other words, the denial of Christ’s divinity.   He is, therefore, a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development achieved by the Church, from the fourth to the fifth centuries.

His is a perfectly pastoral theology in which there is constant concern for consistency between thought expressed via words and existential experience.   It is this in particular that forms the main theme of the splendid catecheses with which he prepared catechumens to receive Baptism.

On approaching death, he wrote that the value of the human being lies in “exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” (Letter from Exile).   Both these things, knowledge of truth and rectitude of life, go hand in hand – knowledge has to be expressed in life.   All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of

John Chrysostom was anxious to accompany his writings with the person’s integral development in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions.   The various phases of his growth are compared to as many seas in an immense ocean:  “The first of these seas is childhood” (Homily, 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Indeed, “it is precisely at this early age that inclinations to vice or virtue are manifest”.   Thus, God’s law must be impressed upon the soul from the outset “as on a wax tablet” (Homily 3, 1 on John’s Gospel).   This is indeed the most important age.   We must bear in mind how fundamentally important it is that the great orientations which give man a proper outlook on life truly enter him in this first phase of life.   Chrysostom therefore recommended – “From the tenderest age, arm children with spiritual weapons and teach them to make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with their hand” (Homily, 12, 7 on First Corinthians).   Then come adolescence and yout –  “Following childhood is the sea of adolescence, where violent winds blow…, for concupiscence… grows within us” (Homily 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Lastly comes engagement and marriage – “Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature person who assumes family commitments – this is the time to seek a wife” (ibid.).

He recalls the aims of marriage, enriching them – referring to virtue and temperance – with a rich fabric of personal relationships.  Properly prepared spouses therefore bar the way to divorce, everything takes place with joy and children can be educated in virtue. Then when the first child is born, he is “like a bridge, the three become one flesh, because the child joins the two parts” (Homily 12, 5 on the Letter to the Colossians) and the three constitute “a family, a Church in miniature” (Homily 20, 6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).

snip st john chrysostom

Chrysostom’s preaching usually took place during the liturgy, the “place” where the community is built with the Word and the Eucharist.   The assembly gathered here expresses the one Church (Homily 8, 7 on the Letter to the Romans), the same word is addressed everywhere to all (Homily 24, 2 on First Corinthians), and Eucharistic Communion becomes an effective sign of unity (Homily 32, 7 on Matthew’s Gospel).

His pastoral project was incorporated into the Church’s life, in which the lay faithful assume the priestly, royal and prophetic office with Baptism.   To the lay faithful he said: “Baptism will also make you king, priest and prophet” (Homily 3, 5 on Second Corinthians).

From this stems the fundamental duty of the mission, because each one is to some extent responsible for the salvation of others:  “This is the principle of our social life… not to be solely concerned with ourselves!” (Homily 9, 2 on Genesis).   This all takes place between two poles – the great Church and the “Church in miniature”, the family, in a reciprocal relationship.

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, Chrysostom’s lesson on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is still more timely than ever today.   Let us pray to the Lord to make us docile to the teachings of this great Master of the faith.”

“I would like to end this writing with a final word of the great Doctor, in which he invites his faithful – and also us, of course – to reflect on the eternal values:

“For how long will we be nailed to the present reality?   How much longer will it be before we can meet with success?   How much longer will we neglect our salvation? ” 

Let us remember what Christ considered we deserved, let us thank Him, glorify Him, not only with our faith but also with our effective actions, in order to obtain future goods through the grace and loving tenderness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom and with whom glory be to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.  Amen”

(Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2007)


Posted in MORNING Prayers, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 5 September – The Memorial of St Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Thought for the Day – 5 September – The Memorial of St Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.   She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”.   She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity, she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created.   For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.   Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers, may she be your model of holiness!   I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her “Saint Teresa”, her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continual to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa”.

May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.   In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness…… Excerpt from the Homily of His Holiness, Pope Francis on the Canonisation of St Teresa of Calcutta, Sunday, 4 September 2016 (it was also the Jubilee of Workers of Mercy and Volunteers)

Virgin Mary, Queen of all the Saints, help us to be gentle and humble of heart like this fearless messenger of Love.   Help us to serve every person we meet with joy and a smile. Help us to be missionaries of Christ, our peace and our hope.   Amen!…mary regina angelorum - queen of the angels - pray for us - 11 may 2018

St Mother Teresa, Pray for Us!st mother teresa - pray for us.2

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 5 September – St Teresa of Calcutta M.C. (1910-1997)

Saint of the Day – 5 September – St Teresa of Calcutta M.C. (1910-1997) (born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) – Consecrated Religious Nun, Founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, Apostle of Charity, Missionary, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1978, Anti-Abortion Activist – (26 August 1910 in Skopje, Albania (modern Macedonia) – 5 September 1997 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India of natural causes).   She was Beatified on 19 October 2003 by St John Paul and Canonised on 4 September 2016 by Pope Francis.   Patronages – World Youth Day, Missionaries of Charity, co-Patron of the Archdiocese of Calcutta.larger - st mother teresa

“By blood, I am Albanian.   By citizenship, an Indian.   By faith, I am a Catholic nun.   As to my calling, I belong to the world.   As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor.   “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.”   She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire.

This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history.  The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916.   From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her.   Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits.   Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland.   There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St Thérèse of Lisieux.   In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St Mary’s School for girls.   On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.”   From that time on she was called Mother Teresa.   She continued teaching at St Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal.   A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness.   Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organisation, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.


On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.”   On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life.   Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.”   “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.”   He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor.   Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin.   On 17 August 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.Mother-Teresa-Picture-Drawing-1.header

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor.   On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums.   She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB.   She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta.   By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India.   The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela.   It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent.   Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.   Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love.   This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity.   In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit. Beata_Teresa_di_Calcutta-Agnes_Gonxha_Bojaxiu-AH
During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started.   Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities.   She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

nobel prize
Mother Teresa, with Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, John Sanness

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death.   Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love.   She called her inner experience, “the darkness.”    The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God.   Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love and she shared in the interior desolation of the mother teresa - header 2

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church.   By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world.   In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad.   After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters.   On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end.   She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity.   Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.   Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity.   Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world and a living witness to the thirsting love of mother teresa

Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa’s widespread reputation of holiness and the favours being reported, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonisation.   On 20 December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles.”…

Mother Teresa was Beatified on Sunday, 19 October 2003 by St Pope John Paul II and Canonised by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016.canonisation poster817px-Blessed_Mother_Teresa_of_Calcutta_Grotto_(Sorrowful_Mother_Shrine)_-_detailwp size_Mother-Theresa-resize-

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, FRUITS of the SPIRIT, MORNING Prayers, PAPAL HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on HUMILITY, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 3 September – The Memorial of St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Father & Doctor of the Church “Father of the Fathers” “Servant of the Servants”

Thought for the Day – 3 September – The Memorial of St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604)
Father & Doctor of the Church
“Father of the Fathers”
“Servant of the Servants”

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily – General Audience – 4 June 2009
St Pope Gregory the Great “Servant of the Servants” “Servus Servorum Dei”

“Probably the most systematic text of Gregory the Great is the Pastoral Rule, written in the first years of his Pontificate.   In it, Gregory proposed to treat the figure of the ideal Bishop, the teacher and guide of his flock.   To this end he illustrated the seriousness of the office of Pastor of the Church and its inherent duties.   Therefore, those who were not called to this office may not seek it with superficiality, instead those who assumed it without due reflection necessarily feel trepidation rise within their soul.   Taking up again a favourite theme, he affirmed that the Bishop is above all the “preacher” par excellence;  for this reason he must be above all an example for others, so that his behaviour may be a point of reference for all.   Efficacious pastoral action requires that he know his audience and adapt his words to the situation of each person – here Gregory paused to illustrate the various categories of the faithful with acute and precise annotations, which can justify the evaluation of those who have also seen in this work a treatise on psychology.   From this one understands that he really knew his flock and spoke of all things with the people of his time and his city.

Nevertheless, the great Pontiff insisted on the Pastor’s duty to recognise daily his own unworthiness in the eyes of the Supreme Judge, so that pride did not negate the good accomplished.   For this the final chapter of the Rule is dedicated to humility : “When one is pleased to have achieved many virtues, it is well to reflect on one’s own inadequacies and to humble oneself, instead of considering the good accomplished, it is necessary to consider what was neglected”.   All these precious indications demonstrate the lofty concept that St Gregory had for the care of souls, which he defined as the “ars artium”, the art of arts.   The Rule had such great and the rather rare, good fortune to have been quickly translated into Greek and Anglo-Saxon.

He wanted to be – and this is his expression – “Servus Servorum Dei”.   Coined by him, this phrase was not just a pious formula on his lips but a true manifestation of his way of living and acting.   He was intimately struck by the humility of God, who in Christ made Himself our servant.   He washed and washes our dirty feet.   Therefore, he was convinced that a Bishop, above all, should imitate this humility of God and follow Christ in this way.

His desire was to live truly as a monk, in permanent contact with the Word of God but for love of God he knew how to make himself the servant of all in a time full of tribulation and suffering.   He knew how to make himself the “servant of the servants”. Precisely because he was this, he is great and also shows us the measure of true greatness.”

St Pope Gregory the Great, “Servant of the Servants”, Pray for Us!st pope gregory the great servant of the servants - pray for us - 3 sept 2018

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 3 September – St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) – Father & Doctor of the Church – “Father of the Fathers”

Saint of the Day – 3 September – St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) – Father & Doctor of the Church – “Father of the Fathers” – Pope, Prefect of Rome, Monk, Abbot, Writer, Theologian, Teacher, Liturgist, Administrator, Diplomat, Political Negotiator, Apostle of Charity and Social Justice, Apostle of Pastoral Ministry, PeaceMaker.4 original latin fathes - jerome, gregory, ambrose, augustine -- done with snips 3 sept 2018

Pier Francesco Sacchi – Dottori della Chiesa c 1516
Four doctors of the Church represented with attributes of the Four Evangelists: St Augustine with an eagle, St Gregory the Great with a bull, St Hieronymus with an angel, St Ambrosius with a winged lion.


Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Pope Gregory the Great

Today I would like to present the figure of one of the greatest Fathers in the history of the Church, one of four Doctors of the West, Pope St Gregory, who was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604 and who earned the traditional title of Magnus/the Great.   Gregory was truly a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church!

He was born in Rome about 540 into a rich patrician family of the gens Anicia, who were distinguished not only for their noble blood but also for their adherence to the Christian faith and for their service to the Apostolic See.   Two Popes came from this family  : Felix III (483-492), the great-great grandfather of Gregory and Agapetus (535-536).   The house in which Gregory grew up stood on the Clivus Scauri, surrounded by majestic buildings that attested to the greatness of ancient Rome and the spiritual strength of Christianity. The example of his parents Gordian and Sylvia, both venerated as Saints and those of his father’s sisters, Aemiliana and Tharsilla, who lived in their own home as consecrated virgins following a path of prayer and self-denial, inspired lofty Christian sentiments in him.

In the footsteps of his father, Gregory entered early into an administrative career which reached its climax in 572 when he became Prefect of the city.   This office, complicated by the sorry times, allowed him to apply himself on a vast range to every type of administrative problem, drawing light for future duties from them.   In particular, he retained a deep sense of order and discipline: having become Pope, he advised Bishops to take as a model for the management of ecclesial affairs the diligence and respect for the law like civil functionaries .   Yet this life could not have satisfied him since shortly after, he decided to leave every civil assignment in order to withdraw to his home to begin the monastic life, transforming his family home into the monastery of St Andrew on the Coelian Hill.  This period of monastic life, the life of permanent dialogue with the Lord in listening to His word, constituted a perennial nostalgia which he referred to ever anew and ever more in his homilies.   In the midst of the pressure of pastoral worries, he often recalled it in his writings as a happy time of recollection in God, dedication to prayer and peaceful immersion in study.   Thus, he could acquire that deep understanding of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church that later served him in his work.


But the cloistered withdrawal of Gregory did not last long.   The precious experience that he gained in civil administration during a period marked by serious problems, the relationships he had had in this post with the Byzantines and the universal respect that he acquired induced Pope Pelagius to appoint him deacon and to send him to Constantinople as his “apocrisarius” – today one would say “Apostolic Nuncio” in order to help overcome the last traces of the Monophysite controversy and above all to obtain the Emperor’s support in the effort to check the Lombard invaders.   The stay at Constantinople, where he resumed monastic life with a group of monks, was very important for Gregory, since it permitted him to acquire direct experience of the Byzantine world, as well as to approach the problem of the Lombards, who would later put his ability and energy to the test during the years of his Pontificate.   After some years he was recalled to Rome by the Pope, who appointed him his secretary.   They were difficult years – the continual rain, flooding due to overflowing rivers, the famine that afflicted many regions of Italy as well as Rome.   Finally, even the plague broke out, which claimed numerous victims, among whom was also Pope Pelagius II.   The clergy, people and senate were unanimous in choosing Gregory as his successor to the See of Peter.   He tried to resist, even attempting to flee but to no avail, finally, he had to yield. The year was 590.


Recognising the will of God in what had happened, the new Pontiff immediately and enthusiastically set to work.   From the beginning he showed a singularly enlightened vision of realty with which he had to deal, an extraordinary capacity for work confronting both ecclesial and civil affairs, a constant and even balance in making decisions, at times with courage, imposed on him by his office.
Abundant documentation has been preserved from his governance thanks to the Register of his Letters (approximately 800), reflecting the complex questions that arrived on his desk on a daily basis.   They were questions that came from Bishops, Abbots, clergy and even from civil authorities of every order and rank.   Among the problems that afflicted Italy and Rome at that time was one of special importance both in the civil and ecclesial spheres –  the Lombard question.   The Pope dedicated every possible energy to it in view of a truly peaceful solution.   Contrary to the Byzantine Emperor who assumed that the Lombards were only uncouth individuals and predators to be defeated or exterminated, St Gregory saw this people with the eyes of a good pastor and was concerned with proclaiming the word of salvation to them, establishing fraternal relationships with them in view of a future peace founded on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence between Italians, Imperials and Lombards.   He was concerned with the conversion of the young people and the new civil structure of Europe – the Visigoths of Spain, the Franks, the Saxons, the immigrants in Britain and the Lombards, were the privileged recipients of his evangelising mission.   Yesterday we celebrated the liturgical memorial of St Augustine of Canterbury, the leader of a group of monks Gregory assigned to go to Britain to evangelise England.gregorius2

The Pope – who was a true peacemaker – deeply committed himself to establish an effective peace in Rome and in Italy by undertaking intense negotiations with Agilulf, the Lombard King.   This negotiation led to a period of truce that lasted for about three years (598-601), after which, in 603, it was possible to stipulate a more stable armistice.   This positive result was obtained also thanks to the parallel contacts that, meanwhile, the Pope undertook with Queen Theodolinda, a Bavarian princess who, unlike the leaders of other Germanic peoples, was Catholic deeply Catholic.   A series of Letters of Pope Gregory to this Queen has been preserved in which he reveals his respect and friendship for her. Theodolinda, little by little was able to guide the King to Catholicism, thus preparing the way to peace.   The Pope also was careful to send her relics for the Basilica of St John the Baptist which she had had built in Monza and did not fail to send his congratulations and precious gifts for the same Cathedral of Monza on the occasion of the birth and baptism of her son, Adaloald.   The series of events concerning this Queen constitutes a beautiful testimony to the importance of women in the history of the Church.   Gregory constantly focused on three basic objectives: to limit the Lombard expansion in Italy, to preserve Queen Theodolinda from the influence of schismatics and to strengthen the Catholic faith and to mediate between the Lombards and the Byzantines in view of an accord that guaranteed peace in the peninsula and at the same time permitted the evangelisation of the Lombards themselves.   Therefore, in the complex situation his scope was constantly twofold:  to promote understanding on the diplomatic-political level and to spread the proclamation of the true faith among the peoples.


Along with his purely spiritual and pastoral action, Pope Gregory also became an active protagonist in multifaceted social activities.   With the revenues from the Roman See’s substantial patrimony in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grain, assisted those in need, helped priests, monks and nuns who lived in poverty, paid the ransom for citizens held captive by the Lombards and purchased armistices and truces. Moreover, whether in Rome or other parts of Italy, he carefully carried out the administrative reorganisation, giving precise instructions so that the goods of the Church, useful for her sustenance and evangelising work in the world, were managed with absolute rectitude and according to the rules of justice and mercy.   He demanded that the tenants on Church territory be protected from dishonest agents and, in cases of fraud, were to be quickly compensated, so that the face of the Bride of Christ was not soiled with dishonest profits..pope gregory

Gregory carried out this intense activity notwithstanding his poor health, which often forced him to remain in bed for days on end.   The fasts practised during the years of monastic life had caused him serious digestive problems.   Furthermore, his voice was so feeble that he was often obliged to entrust the reading of his homilies to the deacon, so that the faithful present in the Roman Basilicas could hear him.   On feast days he did his best to celebrate the Missarum sollemnia, that is the solemn Mas, and then he met personally with the people of God, who were very fond of him, because they saw in him the authoritative reference from whom to draw security –  not by chance was the title Consul Dei quickly attributed to him.   Notwithstanding the very difficult conditions in which he had to work, he gained the faithful’s trust, thanks to his holiness of life and rich humanity, achieving truly magnificent results for his time and for the future.   He was a man immersed in God – his desire for God was always alive in the depths of his soul and precisely because of this he was always close to his neighbour, to the needy people of his time.   Indeed, during a desperate period of havoc, he was able to create peace and give hope.   This man of God shows us the true sources of peace, from which true hope comes. Thus, he becomes a guide also for us today.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday 28 May 2008

More about Gregory here: statue close-up

Prayer to Saint Gregory, Pope and Confessor
for the Universal Church and for Pope Francis

O invincible defender of Holy Church’s freedom,
Saint Gregory of great renown,
by that firmness you showed
in maintaining the Church’s rights
against all her enemies,
stretch forth from heaven your mighty arm,
we beseech you, to comfort her
and defend her in the fearful battle
she must ever wage with the powers of darkness.
May you, in a special manner,
give strength in this dread conflict,
to the venerable Pontiff Francis,
who has fallen heir not only to your throne
but likewise to the fearlessness of your mighty heart.
Obtain for him the joy of beholding
his holy endeavours crowned by the triumph of the Church
and the return of the lost sheep into the right path.
Grant, finally, that all may understand,
how vain it is to strive against that faith,
which has always conquered
and is destined always to conquer –
“this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.”
This is the prayer that we raise to you with one accord
and we are confident, that,
after you have heard our prayers on earth,
you will one day call us to stand with you in heaven,
before the eternal High Priest,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, world without end.

Posted in Catholic NEWS, VATICAN Resources

Vatican Pharmacy Launches Its First Collection of Perfumes

The Vatican Pharmacy launched its first range of perfumes produced by the apothecaries of the order of Saint John of God (Fatebenefratelli), who provide the service.   The new essences, inspired by the Bible, are called:  gold, incense, myrrh and mystical rose, reported L’Osservatore Romano on August 22, 2018.A general view is seen of Pope Francis leading the Easter mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican

The four bottles are sold in a case that bears the inscription 2018 in Roman numerals (MMXVIII), as the Director Thomas Binish Mulackal explains, 2018 is a particularly important year for the Vatican Pharmacy, which has launched a great restructuring project in order to receive better the thousands of daily clients (between 2,000 and 2,500 a day).

The new perfumes aim to rediscover the role of fragrances in Christian life.   The researchers discovered ancient perfumes mentioned in the Holy Scriptures (the Magi offered incense and myrrh to Jesus) and they go back to their plants of origin, in the Mediterranean tradition and that of the Holy Land:  aloes, nard, galbanum, myrtle, saffron, roses, hyssop, sandalwood, aromatic reeds, cinnamon, geranium, bergamot.

It’s about “entrusting to perfume a message that refers to the meeting between the sacred and nature, between divinity and humanity, in order to transmit sensations that also invite to reflection”, incense, with its typical smell, refers to the presence of God, to purification  <and> to the sense of sacrifice.” Myrrh was used “as aroma and to preserve the mortal remains of the dead.” Both were also used as healing remedies. Gold is also “an effective method to combat certain pathologies, to the point that one speaks of gold therapy.”

There is “a long tradition that links the mystics to perfumes,” underscores L’Osservatore Romano “Beginning with the Virgin Mary, also called by the title “Mystical Rose,” to which the perfume of the same name makes reference. Suffice it to recall the ecstasies of dozens of women and men Saints, of whom the closest to us is Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.   The intense perfume that one perceived on certain occasions, according to the witnesses, was a mixture of emanations of flowers such as roses, violets and jasmine, to the point that one speaks of osmogenesie as the charism proper to his holiness.”


Posted in SAINT of the DAY, The MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 20 August – St Maria de Mattias A.S.C. (1805-1866)

Saint of the Day – 20 August – St Maria de Mattias A.S.C. (1805-1866) – Founder of the religious congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Mystic, Teacher, Preacher, Catechist – born on 4 February 1805 at Vallecorsa, Frosinone, Papal States (modern Italy) and died on 20 August 1866 in Rome, Italy of natural causes.header st maria de mattias

Maria De Mattias was born on 4 February 1805 at Vallecorsa, the southernmost town of the Papal States, in the geographical province of Frosinone.   Her family was not without wealth and learning—even if women were forbidden to study—nor did it lack a deep Christian faith.

Through dialogue with her father, Maria learned and internalised not only the truths of the faith but also and especially, episodes and persons of the Sacred Scriptures.   Her father read the Scriptures to her when she was still very young and she developed a great love for Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed for the salvation of humanity.   All of this happened while Vallecorsa and surrounding areas were experiencing the tragic period of banditry, 1810-1825.   In Maria’s soul, in fact, there was a comparison being made between the human blood poured out in hatred and revenge and the blood of Christ poured out for love, a Blood which saves.

Without formal education and without outside contacts, because of her social class, Maria spent her childhood and early adolescence withdrawn and focused on her beauty. But when she reached the age of sixteen or seventeen, she began to search for the meaning of her life, she felt a need for a boundless love.   Again, it was through dialogue with her father, to whom she revealed her interior darkness and through her having asked Our Lady to “give her light”, that God let her experience the beauty of His love in a “mystical” way.   It was manifested in its fullness in the Crucified Christ, in Christ who gives all His Blood.

20030518_de-mattias (1)

This experience was the source, the force, and the motivation that brought her to the roads of Italy “to make known to everyone the tender love of the Heavenly Father”, as she said, or “the Crucified Love Jesus”.   She was convinced that the reformation of society begins in the heart of the person and that a person becomes transformed when she/he comes to understand how precious each one is in God’s eyes, how much each person is loved…Jesus gave all this Blood to save the human race.maria

This had been Maria’s experience, therefore, she tried to lead all people, young and adult, to discover what had been revealed to her and changed her.   She had also experienced that this transformation is possible for everyone when, in 1822, when she was seventeen, Gaspar Del Bufalo (1786-1837-Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood) (now “Saint”) went to preach a mission at Vallecorsa.   She saw how the townspeople changed.   It was that occasion that generated the dream in her heart to do what Fr Gaspar was doing.

Under the guidance of one of St Gaspar’s companions, (now Venerable) Fr Giovanni Merlini, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Acuto (Frosinone) on 4 March 1834, at the age of twenty-nine.   She had been called by the Administrator of Anagni, Bishop Giuseppe Maria Lais, to teach the young girls—she had learned to read and write on her own.   Maria, however, who nurtured a dream to reform society and the world, did not limit her activity to the school.   She also gathered mothers and young boys to catechise them, to encourage them to love Jesus and to teach them to live Christian lives, according to their state.   The men, to whom she could not speak according to the customs of the time, went spontaneously to listen to her, even in hiding.   The shepherds, abandoned to their own resources, asked to be instructed by her, even after sundown.   People flocked to the religious functions to listen to the maria de mattias 2

Thus, Maria, from the timid and introverted girl that she was, had become a preacher who attracted little girls, adults, the simple and the learned, lay persons and priests.   It was because, when she spoke about Jesus and the mysteries of the faith, it was as though she had seen these realities, personally.   Her consuming desire was that “not even one drop of the Divine Blood would be lost”, that it would reach all sinners to purify them and so that, washed in that river of mercy, they would rediscover the right way to peace and union among people.   This zeal was caught by many young women and, through them, Maria De Mattias was able to open about seventy communities during her lifetime, three of which were in Germany and England.   Almost all were in small isolated towns of Central Italy, except for Rome, to which she was called by Pius IX for the San Luigi Hospice and for the school of Civitavecchia.

Maria De Mattias life was one lived with the one desire of “giving pleasure to Jesus” who had stolen her heart in her youth and in a joyful commitment to save “the dear neighbour” from ignorance regarding the mystery of God’s love for humanity.   All of this led her not to spare her energies, she did not give up when faced with disappointments or difficulties, she always worked in deep communion with the local and universal Church and for love of Her.

Maria De Mattias died at Rome on 20 August 1866 and was buried in Rome’s Verano Cemetery, according to the desire of Pope Pius IX, who chose a tomb for her and commissioned a bas-relief on it depicting the vision of Ezechiel:  “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”.

coffin - st maria

Her reputation for holiness remained alive after her death.   The process for her beatification began thirty years later, culminating in that blessed event 1 October 1950, when Pius XII pronounced her “Blessed.”   She was Canonised on 18 May 2003 by St Pope John Paul II at the Vatican Basilica.MDM-Guatemala


Quote/s of the Day – 17 August – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 19:3–12

Quote/s of the Day – 17 August – Friday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 19:3–12

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?   So they are no longer two but one flesh.   What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matthew 19:4-6

“Speaking of Marriage”

“By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself
and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation
and education of children and find in them their ultimate crown.”

Second Vatican Council
Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), 48by their very nature vat II gaudium et spes - 17 aug 2018 speaking of marriage

“The obvious effect
of frivolous divorce
will be frivolous marriage.
If people can be separated
for no reason,
they will feel it easier,
to be united for no reason.”

G K Chesterton (1874-1936)the obvious effect - g k chesterton - 17 aug 2018 speaking of marriage

“To defend his purity,
Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow,
Saint Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush
and Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond…
You – what have you done?”

St Josemaría Escrivá (1902-1975)to defend his purity - st josemaria - 17 aug 2018 speaking of marriage

“Do not forget,
that true love sets no conditions,
it does not calculate
or complain
but simply loves.”

St John Paul the Great (1920-2005)do not forget that true love sets no conditions - st pope john paul - 17 aug 2018 speaking of marriage

“No one justifies lying, cheating,
betraying, promise breaking,
devastating and harming strangers.
But we expect and we tolerate doing this,
to the one person in the world,
we promised most seriously,
to be faithful to forever –
we justify divorce.”

Peter Kreeftno one justifies lying - kreeft - 17 aug 2018 speaking of marriage

“Marriage is the real vocation crisis in the United States…
We have a vocation crisis to life-long,
life-giving, loving, faithful marriage.
If we take care of that one,
we’ll have all the priests and nuns
we’ll need for the Church.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolanmarriage is the real vocation crises - card t dolan - 17 aug 2017 - speaking of marriage

Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Jeanne Delanoue (1666-1736)

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Jeanne Delanoue (1666-1736) – Foundress of the Congregation of St Anne de la Providence, Apostle of Charity – born on 18 June 1666 at Samur, Anjou, France as Jeanne Delanoue and died on 17 August 1736 at Fencet, France of natural causes.

JEANNE DELANOUE was born in Saumur, in the valley of the Loire River, on 18 June 1666.   She was the youngest in a family of twelve.   Her parents owned a business near the sanctuary of Notre-Dame-des-Ardilliers.   Although but six years of age when her father died, she helped her mother run the store in order to maintain the family.   Her qualities were remarkable:  she was skillful, energetic and indefatigable, even to the point of keeping the store open on Sundays and holy days.

Orginal Family Shop– “the little Providence House”

The future was hers.   Her “business” was growing and prospering.   It was precisely within this context of success that, at the age of 27, shortly after the death of her mother, an elderly woman, a faithful pilgrim to the shrine of NotreDame-des-Ardilliers, invited Jeanne to consecrate herself to the many poor people of her jeanne delanoue

Despite the responsibilities she had accrued, in response to this call which she believed to have come from God, Jeanne turned toward the poor.   They assumed more of her time each day than did her clients until finally they became her full-time occupation. Within a short time no longer did the poor await her visits to them but they came to her. In 1700, she warmly welcomed a child into her home and soon after she took in the sick, the aged and the destitute.

With so many needing lodging, the only place for the poor were the grottos hollowed out in the tuff.   She made them as comfortable as she could, however it was necessary for her to seek help.   Within four years, in 1704, some young girls were interested in helping Jeanne and were even willing to wear a religious habit if she wished them to do so.   It was thus that the congregation of Sainte-Anne de la Providence was born.   Under this name the constitutions were approved in 1709.

Jeanne Delanoue’s tenacity, supported by the dedicated women who worked with her, brought about the foundation of Saumur’s first home for the poor (in 1715) – a home which King Louis XIV visted in 1672.

Very quickly her charity spread beyond the limits of Saumur and of her diocese.   More than that, already there were forty helpers who were under her direction and who had made the decision to follow her example of self-sacrifice, of prayer and of mortification.

At her death, August 17, 1736, Jeanne Delanoue left a dozen communities, as well as homes for the poor and schools.   “The saint is dead”, they said in Saumur.

Everyone could admire her zeal and the work she accomplished in the numerous visits she received and made, but only her closest friends knew about her mortification, her life of prayer and of union with God.   It is from this that her untiring charity proceeded. She was attracted toward all those who suffer but especially those who are poor and God knows they were many during those sad years of want, of cold, of famine and of war.

The Sisters of Jeanne Delanoue, as they simply call themselves today, number about 400 sisters in France, in Madagascar and in Sumatra, where they began in 1979.

On 5 November 1947 Venerable Pope Pius XII beatified Jeanne Delanoue. On 31  October 1982 St Pope John Paul 11 singled out for the people of God, yet another saint, Saint Jeanne Delanoue…

st jeanne delanoue statue


Saint of the Day – 9 August – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein (1891-1942)

Saint of the Day – 9 August – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein (1891-1942) Nun, Discalced Carmelite, Martyr.   Below is a lengthy biography from the Vatican, it’s worth reading.

“We bow down before the testimony of the life and death of Edith Stein, an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century.   It was the synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting … and also the synthesis of the full truth about man.   All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God.”   These were the words of Pope John Paul II when he beatified Edith Stein in Cologne on 1 May 1987.


Edith Stein was born in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11, as her family were celebrating Yom Kippur, that most important Jewish festival, the Feast of Atonement.   “More than anything else, this helped make the youngest child very precious to her mother.”   Being born on this day was like a foreshadowing to Edith, a future Carmelite nun.   Edith’s father, who ran a timber business, died when she had only just turned two.   Her mother, a very devout, hard-working, strong-willed and truly wonderful woman, now had to fend for herself and to look after the family and their large business.   However, she did not succeed in keeping up a living faith in her children.   Edith lost her faith in God. “I consciously decided, of my own volition, to give up praying,” she said.

In 1911 she passed her school-leaving exam with flying colours and enrolled at the University of Breslau to study German and history, though this was a mere “bread-and-butter” choice.   Her real interest was in philosophy and in women’s issues.   She became a member of the Prussian Society for Women’s Franchise.   “When I was at school and during my first years at university,” she wrote later, “I was a radical suffragette.   Then I lost interest in the whole issue.  Now I am looking for purely pragmatic solutions.”st teresa benedicta info

In 1913, Edith Stein transferred to Gottingen University, to study under the mentorship of Edmund Husserl.   She became his pupil and teaching assistant and he later tutored her for a doctorate.   At the time, anyone who was interested in philosophy was fascinated by Husserl’s new view of reality, whereby the world as we perceive it does not merely exist in a Kantian way, in our subjective perception.   His pupils saw his philosophy as a return to objects:  “back to things”.   Husserl’s phenomenology unwittingly led many of his pupils to the Christian faith.   In Gottingen Edith Stein also met the philosopher Max Scheler, who directed her attention to Roman Catholicism.   Nevertheless, she did not neglect her “bread-and-butter” studies and passed her degree with distinction in January 1915, though she did not follow it up with teacher training.

“I no longer have a life of my own,” she wrote at the beginning of the First World War, having done a nursing course and gone to serve in an Austrian field hospital.   This was a hard time for her, during which she looked after the sick in the typhus ward, worked in an operating theatre and saw young people die.   When the hospital was dissolved, in 1916, she followed Husserl as his assistant to the German city of Freiburg, where she passed her doctorate summa cum laude (with the utmost distinction) in 1917, after writing a thesis on “The Problem of Empathy.”

During this period she went to Frankfurt Cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer.   “This was something totally new to me.   In the synagogues and Protestant churches I had visited people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation.  It was something I never forgot.”   Towards the end of her dissertation she wrote:   “There have been people who believed that a sudden change had occurred within them and that this was a result of God’s grace.”   How could she come to such a conclusion?   Edith Stein had been good friends with Husserl’s Göttingen assistant, Adolf Reinach and his wife.   When Reinach fell in Flanders in November 1917, Edith went to Göttingen to visit his widow.   The Reinachs had converted to Protestantism.   Edith felt uneasy about meeting the young widow at first but was surprised when she actually met with a woman of faith.   “This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it … it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me – Christ in the mystery of the Cross.”

Later, she wrote:   “Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”

In Autumn 1918 Edith Stein gave up her job as Husserl’s teaching assistant.   She wanted to work independently.   It was not until 1930 that she saw Husserl again after her conversion and she shared with him about her faith, as she would have liked him to become a Christian, too.   Then she wrote down the amazing words: “Every time I feel my powerlessness and inability to influence people directly, I become more keenly aware of the necessity of my own holocaust.”

Edith Stein wanted to obtain a professorship, a goal that was impossible for a woman at the time.   Husserl wrote the following reference:  “Should academic careers be opened up to ladies, then I can recommend her whole-heartedly and as my first choice for admission to a professorship.”   Later, she was refused a professorship on account of her Jewishness.

Back in Breslau, Edith Stein began to write articles about the philosophical foundation of psychology.   However, she also read the New Testament, Kierkegaard and Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises.   She felt that one could not just read a book like that but had to put it into practice.   In the summer of 1921. she spent several weeks in Bergzabern (in the Palatinate) on the country estate of Hedwig Conrad-Martius, another pupil of Husserl’s.   Hedwig had converted to Protestantism with her husband.   One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St Teresa of Avila and read this book all night. “When I had finished the book, I said to myself: This is the truth.”   Later, looking back on her life, she wrote:  “My longing for truth was a single prayer.”young st teresa

On 1 January 1922 Edith Stein was baptised.   It was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, when Jesus entered into the covenant of Abraham.   Edith Stein stood by the baptismal font, wearing Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ white wedding cloak.   “I had given up practising my Jewish religion when I was a 14-year-old girl and did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God.”   From this moment on she was continually aware that she belonged to Christ not only spiritually but also through her blood.   At the Feast of the Purification of Mary – another day with an Old Testament reference – she was confirmed by the Bishop of Speyer in his private chapel.   After her conversion she went straight to Breslau:   “Mother,” she said, “I am a Catholic.”   The two women cried. Hedwig Conrad Martius wrote:  “Behold, two Israelites indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (cf. John 1:47).

Immediately after her conversion she wanted to join a Carmelite convent.   However, her spiritual mentors, Vicar-General Schwind of Speyer and Erich Przywara SJ, stopped her from doing so.   Until Easter 1931 she held a position teaching German and history at the Dominican Sisters’ school and teacher training college of St Magdalen’s Convent in Speyer.   At the same time she was encouraged by Arch-Abbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey to accept extensive speaking engagements, mainly on women’s issues.   “During the time immediately before and quite some time after my conversion I … thought that leading a religious life meant giving up all earthly things and having one’s mind fixed on divine things only.   Gradually, however, I learnt that other things are expected of us in this world…   I even believe that the deeper someone is drawn to God, the more He has to `get beyond himself’ in this sense, that is, go into the world and carry divine life into it.”

She worked enormously hard, translating the letters and diaries of Cardinal Newman from his pre-Catholic period as well as Thomas Aquinas’ Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate.   The latter was a very free translation, for the sake of dialogue with modern philosophy.   Erich Przywara also encouraged her to write her own philosophical works. She learnt that it was possible to “pursue scholarship as a service to God… It was not until I had understood this that I seriously began to approach academic work again.”   To gain strength for her life and work, she frequently went to the Benedictine Monastery of Beuron, to celebrate the great festivals of the Church year.

In 1931 Edith Stein left the convent school in Speyer and devoted herself to working for a professorship again, this time in Breslau and Freiburg, though her endeavours were in vain.   It was then that she wrote Potency and Act, a study of the central concepts developed by Thomas Aquinas.   Later, at the Carmelite Convent in Cologne, she rewrote this study to produce her main philosophical and theological oeuvre, Finite and Eternal Being.   By then, however, it was no longer possible to print the book.   In 1932 she accepted a lectureship position at the Roman Catholic division of the German Institute for Educational Studies at the University of Munster, where she developed her anthropology.   She successfully combined scholarship and faith in her work and her teaching, seeking to be a “tool of the Lord” in everything she taught. “If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.”

In 1933 darkness broke out over Germany.   “I had heard of severe measures against Jews before.   But now it dawned on me that God had laid his hand heavily on His people and that the destiny of these people would also be mine.”   The Aryan Law of the Nazis made it impossible for Edith Stein to continue teaching.   “If I can’t go on here, then there are no longer any opportunities for me in Germany,” she wrote; “I had become a stranger in the world.”   The Arch-Abbot of Beuron, Walzer, now no longer stopped her from entering a Carmelite convent.   While in Speyer, she had already taken a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.   In 1933 she met with the prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne.   “Human activities cannot help us but only the suffering of Christ.   It is my desire to share in it.”st teresa benedicta icon

Edith Stein went to Breslau for the last time, to say good-bye to her mother and her family.   Her last day at home was her birthday, 12 October, which was also the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.   Edith went to the synagogue with her mother.   It was a hard day for the two women.   “Why did you get to know it [Christianity]?” her mother asked, “I don’t want to say anything against Him.   He may have been a very good person.   But why did He make Himself God?” Edith’s mother cried.   The following day Edith was on the train to Cologne.   “I did not feel any passionate joy.   What I had just experienced was too terrible.   But I felt a profound peace – in the safe haven of God’s will.”   From now on she wrote to her mother every week, though she never received any replies.   Instead, her sister Rosa sent her news from Breslau.

Edith joined the Carmelite Convent of Cologne on 14 October and her investiture took place on 15 April, 1934.   The mass was celebrated by the Arch-Abbot of Beuron.   Edith Stein was now known as Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce – Teresa, Blessed of the Cross. In 1938 she wrote:  “I understood the cross as the destiny of God’s people, which was beginning to be apparent at the time (1933).   I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody’s beha  lf. Of course, I know better now what it means to be wedded to the Lord in the sign of the cross.   However, one can never comprehend it, because it is a mystery.”   On 21 April 1935 she took her temporary vows.   On 14 September 1936, the renewal of her vows coincided with her mother’s death in Breslau.   “My mother held on to her faith to the last moment.   But as her faith and her firm trust in her God … were the last thing that was still alive in the throes of her death, I am confident that she will have met a very merciful judge and that she is now my most faithful helper, so that I can reach the goal as well.”   When she made her eternal profession on 21 April 1938, she had the words of St John of the Cross printed on her devotional picture:   “Henceforth my only vocation is to love.”   Her final work was to be devoted to this author.St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross-lg

Edith Stein’s entry into the Carmelite Order was not escapism.   “Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone.”   In particular, she interceded to God for her people:   “I keep thinking of Queen Esther who was taken away from her people precisely because God wanted her to plead with the king on behalf of her nation.   I am a very poor and powerless little Esther but the King who has chosen me is infinitely great and merciful.   This is great comfort.” (31 October 1938)

On 9 November 1938 the anti-Semitism of the Nazis became apparent to the whole world.   Synagogues were burnt and the Jewish people were subjected to terror.   The prioress of the Carmelite Convent in Cologne did her utmost to take Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce abroad.   On New Year’s Eve 1938 she was smuggled across the border into the Netherlands, to the Carmelite Convent in Echt in the Province of Limburg.   This is where she wrote her will on 9 June 1939:  “Even now I accept the death that God has prepared for me in complete submission and with joy as being his most holy will for me. I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death … so that the Lord will be accepted by His people and that His Kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world.”st teresa benedicta artwork

While in the Cologne convent, Edith Stein had been given permission to start her academic studies again.   Among other things, she wrote about “The Life of a Jewish Family” (that is, her own family): “I simply want to report what I experienced as part of Jewish humanity,” she said, pointing out that “we who grew up in Judaism have a duty to bear witness … to the young generation who are brought up in racial hatred from early childhood.”

In Echt, Edith Stein hurriedly completed her study of “The Church’s Teacher of Mysticism and the Father of the Carmelites, John of the Cross, on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of His Birth, 1542-1942.”   In 1941 she wrote to a friend, who was also a member of her order:  “One can only gain a scientia crucis (knowledge of the cross) if one has thoroughly experienced the cross.   I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart:   ‘Ave, Crux, Spes unica’ (I welcome you, Cross, our only hope).”   Her study on S. John of the Cross is entitled: “Kreuzeswissenschaft” (The Science of the Cross).

Edith Stein was arrested by the Gestapo on 2 August 1942, while she was in the chapel with the other sisters.   She was to report within five minutes, together with her sister Rosa, who had also converted and was serving at the Echt Convent.   Her last words to be heard in Echt were addressed to Rosa:  “Come, we are going for our people.”   Together with many other Jewish Christians, the two women were taken to a transit camp in Amersfoort and then to Westerbork.   This was an act of retaliation against the letter of protest written by the Dutch Roman Catholic Bishops against the pogroms and deportations of Jews.   Edith commented, “I never knew that people could be like this, neither did I know that my brothers and sisters would have to suffer like this. … I pray for them every hour.   Will God hear my prayers?   He will certainly hear them in their distress.”   Prof. Jan Nota, who was greatly attached to her, wrote later:  “She is a witness to God’s presence in a world where God is absent.”st teresa benedicta art

On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz.  It was probably on 9 August that Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, her sister and many other of her people were gassed.
When Edith Stein was beatified in Cologne on 1 May 1987, the Church honoured “a daughter of Israel”, as Pope John Paul II put it, who, as a Catholic during Nazi persecution, remained faithful to the crucified Lord Jesus Christ and, as a Jew, to her people in loving faithfulness.”   St John Paul II canonised her in 1998 and proclaimed her a co-patroness of Europe the next year.Edith-Stein_0

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Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 13 July – Saint Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870) – Foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows

Saint of the Day – 13 July – Saint Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870) – Foundress of the Congregation of the “Suore Minime dell’Addolorata”  Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows, Catechist, Mystic – Born on 13 February 1847 in Le Budrie di Persiceto, Bologna, Papal States and died on 13 July 1870 (aged 23) in Le Budrie di Persiceto, Bologna, Kingdom of Italy.   Patronages – Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows, Catechists, People ridiculed for their piety.

Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870)

Clelia Barbieri was born to Giacinta Nannetti and Giuseppe Barbieri, on 13 February 1847 in a village called “Budrie” of St Giovanni in Persiceto in the outskirts of Bologna, Italy and in the Archdiocese of Bologna.

Her parents were of different origins:  Giuseppe Barbieri came from perhaps the poorest family of “Budrie” while Giacinta from the most important family in town: he worked as servant for Giacinta’s uncle, the district’s medical doctor, while she was the daughter of the well-to-do Pietro Nannetti.   After her much-contested wedding, the wealthy Giacinta accepted the poverty of a labourer’s life and moved from a comfortable home to the humble cottage of her father-in-law, Sante Barbieri;  nevertheless forming a family built on the rock of faith and a totally Christian life.

In line with her mother’s expressed wish, she was baptised Clelia Rachele Maria on the very day of her birth.   Her mother taught Clelia to love God early in her life placing in her heart the desire for sanctity.   One day Clelia asked her, “Mother, how can I become a saint?”   In the meantime Clelia also learned the art of sewing, spinning and weaving kemp which was the most important work of the district.

In 1855, during a cholera epidemic the then eight-year-old Clelia lost her father and through the generosity of her uncle, the doctor, she, her mother and younger sister Ernestina moved into a more comfortable house near the parish church.   For Clelia the days became more saintly and dedicated.   Anyone who wanted to see her could always find her either at home weaving and sewing or in church praying.   Although it was usual at that time to receive First Communion almost at adulthood, Clelia due to her unusual catechistic preparation and spirituality, made hers on 17 June 1858, at only eleven years of age.   This was a decisive day for Clelia’s future since it was then that she had her first mystic experience:  exceptional contrition and repentance for her own sins and those of the world.   She underwent anguish and suffering for the sins that crucified Christ and for the sorrows of Our Lady.   From the day of her First Communion, the crucifix and Our Lady of Sorrows inspired her saintly soul.

At the same time she had a first inspiration as to her future which she perceived as based on prayer and good works.

In adoration before the Holy Tabernacle she was motionless, rapt in prayer, while at home she was the companion and model for the other working girls.   Far more mature than her years, she found in her work the first contact with the girls of “Budrie” where working hemp fibers was the main occupation and where all were engaged in this hard work.      Clelia brought something particularly personal to her little world, she worked with joy and love, praying and thinking of God at all times and even speaking of Him to her companions.

While Clelia was not Martha, (completely devoted to the cares of the world), yet she dedicated herself lovingly to the service of those most loved by Our Lord, the very poor, to the extent that her delicate hands were marked early in her short life with the hard labours she undertook.     While Clelia was not Mary who abandoned, excluded and neglected everything to prostrate herself in love and devotion, yet Clelia had no other thought, no other love than that for Our Lord whom she carried in her heart and soul as she walked with Him through life as if already in His world.    She lived in charity, completely dedicated to loving her fellowmen without restraint.   She forgot and even ignored her body.   She was happy to belong to the Lord and her happiness rested, in fact, in thinking only of Him.   Something, however, compelled her to turn towards her fellowmen, the poorest and most tried, who often waited in vain for some small sign of love and brotherhood.    A fervent faith burned inside her and she felt that she “must go” to give herself to all of God’s poor.   She loved that solitude which would permit her to reach God more fully but she left the protection of her home and went forth inspired by her all-consuming love for mankind.clelia - liturgy

At this time in history, there existed in the Church a group called “The Christian Catechism Workers” who were mainly men whose aim it was to combat the prevalent religious negligence of the times.   At “Budrie” the group was led by an elderly schoolteacher.  Clelia became one of the Christian Catechism Workers.    Then, at “Budrie” with her acceptance, the catechism group was reborn and attracted others with her very same dedication and faith.   At first, Clelia was admitted as an assistant teacher and was the least important member but soon her surprising talents and preparation evidenced themselves, so that the senior members placed themselves under her leadership.

Having rejected several flattering marriage proposals, the group of young ladies which had sprung up from the Catechism group, elected Clelia as their leader and conceived the idea of a community devoted to an apostolic and contemplative way of life.   This was to be a life of service which would spring from the Eucharist with daily Holy Communion and would ennoble itself with the teaching of catechism to the farmers and labourers of the area.     The idea could not become a reality immediately due to the political situation at the time of Italy’s unification (1866-67).   However, it was finally realised on 1 May 1868 when with the bureaucratic and local problems solved, Clelia and her young friends moved into the so-called “teacher’s house” where the Workers for Christian Catechism had formerly met.   This was the humble beginning of Clelia Barbieri’s religious family which later was to be named the religious community of the “Suore Minime dell’Addolorata”, Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows.   “Minime” because of Clelia’s devotion to the saint, Minimo Romito di Paola, St Francesco, patron and provident protector of the young community;   “dell’Addolorata” because this title of Our Lady of Sorrows was the most loved of all of Our Lady’s titles by Clelia Barbieri.

After moving into “the teacher’s house”, a series of extraordinary events in the form of assistance to the young community occurred which were undoubtedly the work of Divine Providence and without which the group could never have survived.   The small group was inspired by Clelia’s physical and moral sufferings in her darkest hours and in the absurd humiliations she endured at the hands of those who should have been more understanding.    However, her faith and devotion in prayer were always extraordinary.  In the small “Budrie” community there was faith, a desire for God and a missionary zeal full of creativity and imagination by no means based on any external support which was virtually nonexistent.     Clelia was the moving spirit.     The small initial group grew as well as the number of poor, sick and young boys and girls needing catechism and religious instruction.

Slowly, the people began to see Clelia as a leader and teacher of the faith.   They started calling her “Mother” although she was only twenty-two years old.   They called her with this title until her death which came about very shortly.     The dormant tuberculosis she had always carried, suddenly flared up only two years after she had founded the order.

Clelia died prophesying to the sister at her bedside, “I’m leaving but I’ll never abandon you.   When in that alfalfa field next to the church there will be a new community house, I will no longer be with you … You will grow in number and you will expand over plains and mountains to work in the vineyard of the Lord.   The day will come when here at ‘Budrie’ many will arrive with carriages and horses …”    And she added, “I’m going to Heaven and all those who will die in our community will enjoy eternal life”.Santa Clélia Barbieri8

She died on 13 July 1870 with the happiness of one going to meet her Spouse and beloved Lord.   Clelia’s death prophecy has been fulfilled.

Her religious order has expanded and continues to grow.   It extends throughout Italy, in India and in Tanzania.   Today, the sisters following in Clelia’s footsteps, humbly continue their useful work of assistance to all in need and now number hundreds spread over thirty-five community houses.

Being only twenty three at the time of her death, Clelia Barbieri is the youngest founder of a religious community in the history of the Church.

She was Canonised at Rome on 9 April 1989 by St Pope John Paul II...vatican.vaSanta Clélia Barbieri6

Barbieri’s death soon resulted in an unusual and unexplained occurrence that has often been reported in the various parishes that she visited and in the houses in which her order is located at.   Her voice is often heard during scriptural readings and songs and this voice never speaks alone but is heard as part of a group.   People from various backgrounds have reported hearing the voice which is described to be unlike any they have ever heard.   The first reported occurrence happened in 1871 when the sisters of her congregation were in their usual evening meditation.











Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saints of the Day – 8 July – Priscilla and Aquila

Saints of the Day – 8 July – Priscilla and Aquila – Continuing his catechesis on the early witnesses of the Christian faith, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his 7 February 2007 General Audience Address to the Roman couple Priscilla and Aquila, who collaborated with St Paul in Corinth.aquila and priscilla - icon 2

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Taking a new step in this type of portrait gallery of the first witnesses of the Christian faith which we began some weeks ago, today we take into consideration a married couple.

The couple in question are Priscilla and Aquila, who take their place, as we already mentioned briefly last Wednesday, in the sphere of numerous collaborators who gravitated around the Apostle Paul.   Based on the information in our possession, this married couple played a very active role in the post-Paschal origins of the Church.

The names Aquila and Priscilla are Latin but the man and woman who bear them were of Hebrew origin.   At least Aquila, however, geographically came from the diaspora of northern Anatolia, which faces the Black Sea – in today’s Turkey – while Priscilla was probably a Jewish woman from Rome (cf. Acts 18: 2).Paul, priscilla and aquila - icon

However, it was from Rome that they reached Corinth, where Paul met them at the beginning of the 50s.   There he became associated with them, as Luke tells us, practising the same trade of making tents or large draperies for domestic use and he was even welcomed into their home (cf. Acts 18: 3).   The reason they came to Corinth was the decision taken by the Emperor Claudius to expel from Rome, the city’s Jewish residents. Concerning this event the Roman historian Suetonius tells us that the Hebrews were expelled because “they were rioting due to someone named Chrestus” (cf. “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Claudius”, n. 25).

One sees that he did not know the name well – instead of Christ he wrote “Chrestus” – and he had only a very confused idea of what had happened.   In any case, there were internal discords within the Jewish community about the question if whether Jesus was the Christ.   And for the Emperor, these problems were the reason to simply expel all Jews from Rome.

One can deduce that the couple had already embraced the Christian faith in the 40s and now they had found in Paul, someone who not only shared with them this faith – that Jesus is the Christ – but who was also an Apostle, personally called by the Risen Lord.  Therefore, their first encounter is at Corinth, where they welcomed him into their house and worked together making tents.

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In a second moment, they transferred to Ephesus in Asia Minor.   There they had a decisive role in completing the Christian formation of the Alexandrian Jew Apollo, who we spoke about last Wednesday.   Since he only knew the faith superficially, “Priscilla and Aquila… took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18: 26).  When Paul wrote the First Letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus, together with his own greeting, he explicitly sent those of “Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house” (16: 19).   Hence, we come to know the most important role that this couple played in the environment of the primitive Church:  that of welcoming in their own house the group of local Christians when they gathered to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist.   It is exactly this type of gathering that in Greek is called “ekklesìa” – the Latin word is “ecclesia”, the Italian “chiesa” – which means convocation, assembly, gathering.   In the house of Aquila and Priscilla, therefore, the Church gathered, the convocation of Christ, which celebrates here the Sacred Mysteries.

Thus, we can see the very birth of the reality of the Church in the homes of believers. Christians, in fact, from the first part of the third century did not have their own places of worship.   Initially it was the Jewish Synagogue, until the original symbiosis between the Old and New Testaments dissolved and the Church of the Gentiles was forced to give itself its own identity, always profoundly rooted in the Old Testament.   Then, after this “break”, they gathered in the homes of Christians that thus become “Church”.   And finally, in the third century, true and proper buildings for Christian worship were born.   But here, in the first half of the first century and in the second century, the homes of Christians become a true and proper “Church”.   As I said, together they read the Sacred Scripture and celebrate the Eucharist.

That was what used to happen, for example, at Corinth, where Paul mentioned a certain “Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church” (Rom 16: 23), or at Laodicea, where the community gathered in the home of a certain Nympha (cf. Col 4: 15), or at Colossae, where the meeting took place in the house of a certain Archippus (cf. Phlm 2).

Having returned subsequently to Rome, Aquila and Priscilla continue to carry out this precious function also in the capital of the Empire.   In fact, Paul, writing to the Romans, sends this precise greeting: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles, give thanks;  greet also the church in their house” (Rom 16: 3-5).

What extraordinary praise for these two married persons in these words!   And it is none other than Paul who extends it!   He explicitly recognises in them, two true and important collaborators of his apostolate.

The reference made to having risked their lives for him is probably linked to interventions in his favour during some prison stay, perhaps in the same Ephesus (cf. Acts 19: 23; I Cor 15: 32; II Cor 1: 8-9).   And to Paul’s own gratitude, even that of all the Churches of the Gentiles, is joined.   Although considering the expression perhaps somewhat hyperbolic, it lets one intuit how vast their ray of action was and therefore, their influence for the good of the Gospel.

Later hagiographic tradition has given a very singular importance to Priscilla, even if the problem of identifying her with the martyr Priscilla remains.   In any case, here in Rome we have a Church dedicated to St Prisca on the Aventine Hill, near the Catacombs of Priscilla on Via Salaria.   In this way, the memory of a woman who has certainly been an active person and of great value in the history of Roman Christianity is perpetuated. One thing is sure:  together with the gratitude of the early Church, of which St Paul speaks, we must also add our own, since thanks to the faith and apostolic commitment of the lay faithful, of families, of spouses like Priscilla and Aquila, Christianity has reached our generation.

It could grow not only thanks to the Apostles who announced it.   In order to take root in people’s land and develop actively, the commitment of these families, these spouses, these Christian communities, of these lay faithful was necessary in order to offer the “humus” for the growth of the faith.   As always, it is only in this way that the Church grows.

This couple in particular demonstrates how important the action of Christian spouses is. When they are supported by the faith and by a strong spirituality, their courageous commitment for the Church and in the Church becomes natural.   The daily sharing of their life prolongs and in some way is sublimated, in the assuming of a common responsibility, in favour of the Mystical Body of Christ, even if just a little part of it.   Thus it was in the first generation and thus it will often be.img-Saints-Aquila-and-Priscilla-the-Tent-Makersheader - aquila and priscilla

A further lesson we cannot neglect to draw from their example:  every home can transform itself in a little church.   Not only in the sense that in them must reign the typical Christian love made of altruism and of reciprocal care but still more in the sense that the whole of family life, based on faith, is called to revolve around the singular lordship of Jesus Christ.

Not by chance does Paul compare, in the Letter to the Ephesians, the matrimonial relationship to the spousal communion that happens between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5: 25-33).   Even more, we can maintain that the Apostle indirectly models the life of the entire Church on that of the family.   And the Church, in reality, is the family of God.

Therefore, we honour Aquila and Priscilla as models of conjugal life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community.   And we find in them the model of the Church, God’s family for all Pope Benedict XVI –
General Audience Address 7 February 2007

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From the Movie ‘St Paul” – St Luke with Priscilla and Aquila in Rome