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Litany of Our Lady of Pro Sanctity
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
God, our Father in heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Divine Redeemer, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Mary, all Beautiful, Pray for us.
Mary, all Immaculate, Pray for us.
Mary, all holy, Pray for us.
Mary, full of grace, Pray for us.
Mary, contemplated by the Archangel Gabriel, Pray for us.
Mary, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, Pray for us.
Mary, who bore Christ, Pray for us.
Mary, who followed Christ, Pray for us.
Mary, who learned from Christ, Pray for us.
Mary, who stayed with Christ, Pray for us.
Mary, proclaimed mother of John, Pray for us.
Mary, who waited with the apostles, Pray for us.
Mary, crowned Queen of Saints, Pray for us.
Mother Mary, Pray for us.
Mother of God, Pray for us.
Mother of holiness, Pray for us.
Mother of Christ, Pray for us.
Mother of the Church, Pray for us.
Mother of priests, Pray for us.
Mother of us all who are not yet holy, Pray for us.
Loving Mother, Pray for us.
Sorrowful Mother, Pray for us.
Mother of trust, Pray for us.
Immaculate Heart, Pray for us.
Immaculate Virgin, Pray for us.
Virgin of Nazareth, Pray for us.
Virgin of Trust, Pray for us.
Lady of Trust, Pray for us.
Model of holiness, Pray for us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.
Let us pray:
O God of love, You love us infinitely and have revealed Yourself to us through the face of Jesus. Through the Spirit You give us the strength to respond to Your love. Look upon Your many children who have gone astray or who are immersed in mediocrity. Create in all the faithful a burning desire to become holy and be animators and apostles of Your love to all people. With the help of Mary, Your mother, give them trust to create a world of saints, a world of brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, true model of every holiness, give us trust to become saints.
Week of 2003-10-17 ... Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa 2003
By Teresa Monaghen, AO
I have the joy and privilege to write a few words about Mother Teresa. I intend to write a “few” words because it would be so easy to write volumes, in fact volumes have already been written on her, and still there is so much more to say! In all honesty, I cannot add any new fact about her either because I am by no means a scholar of Mother Teresa and her work. No, I am just a fellow “Teresa” who for one reason or another, find myself following her tracks, seeing her shadow and admiring her from a distance over the years. I follow in her tracks because she, before me, took St. Therese of Lisieux as her model, mentor and for her religious name. I, too, took Therese as model and mentor, not because Teresa of Calcutta did it, but for the same reason she did: because of St. Therese’ s attractiveness and inspiration to me. Mother Teresa’ s shadow literally passed in front of me for years. It would be so frustrating to find out that I was in a place just a moment too late and missed meeting her or seeing her! This happened many times! I have had spiritual directors and friends who knew her well and told me many stories, but I never once saw her live and in person. I have admired her, too, from a distance as millions of others have, and her example, her love and joy, her dedication and drive, her straightforwardness and her “Christ-centeredness” have long been a source of inspiration to me. It is in this spirit, I now wish to share a few notes about her, that you too may reflect on your relationship with her and grow in love and appreciation of the Church that now lifts her up officially as a “blessed person” of our times.
First, I would like to look at Blessed Teresa’ s life in light of her family. She was born into a loving family on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia (Albanian heritage). Her mother’s name was Rose and her father Nicola. Their first child was Lazar, then Agnes (Teresa is her religious name) and finally the youngest was Agatha. Unexpectedly in Mother Teresa’ s eighth year her father died. Teresa never said much about his death but some, including her brother, think that he was poisoned by those who did not like his political ideas. His death threw the family into great poverty until her mother got back on her feet by starting a little embroidery and cloth business. (Amazing is the similarity with St. Therese whose mother died when she was 4 years old and she was a lace maker by profession). Her mother did very well in her new business and the family prospered. Teresa had a great love for Jesus and spoke lovingly of her First Communion. It was from that time that she knew the particular love Jesus had for her and she for him. Going to India was a dream she had even as a young person and the desire to help the poor was ingrained in her, too, through her mother who was always out helping others.
The seeds of her vocation were planted early in her family and Teresa said that she did not choose her vocation, because God had made the choice! At 18 years of age, she decided to join the Sisters of Loreto of Dublin, Ireland, because she knew that they worked with the poor in India. She had two months of training in Ireland and then in 1929 off she went to Calcutta, India, where she spent 17 years serving in St. Mary’s girls’ school. It should be noted that she never saw her family again! She was a geography teacher for many of those years and eventually in 1937 she became Principal of the school. The custom there was to call the principal “Mother” and from that time on was called, “Mother Teresa”. She was known by her fellow sisters and co-workers as a very good teacher, a good sister and a woman of great concern for people, but never would she have been described as heroic! Besides anything else, she was rather frail and was sometimes teased by the others abouthow she almost dropped the brass candlesticks in a procession once. God did not seem to care how strong or weak she was because on September 10, 1946 she was traveling on a train to the location of her annual retreat and she received what she coined her “inspiration day”, her call within the call to quench the love of Jesus for souls and to labor for the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor. What a crazy inspiration for someone so inexperienced and inept in this field! When she told her Spiritual Directors, Superiors and eventually her Bishop about her crazy dream they told her to pray about it. She always submitted immediately to any advice they gave her. If the Bishop had said one word about her not going out to help the poorest of the poor, she would have ceased all planning. She assured him that his word would be obeyed immediately and that she would never bring up the idea again. But her Bishop, along with her Spiritual Directors, did agree and she was given permission to go out and try it. The story tells itself now, because we all know that she left her beloved Loreto Sisters and all the consolation and security that they represented to her into the unknown world of the poor and destitute of India. Maybe some people do not know how much she argued and tried to reason with the Lord about why she should NOT go, but the Lord kept asking her, “Would you deny me this?” She would not. She had promised to do for him ANYTHING He asked her and even though she felt so weak and had so little in the way of resources she let go and trusted in His providence. After a short period of medical training she went out into the streets and one by one, she reached out to the dying, sick, leprous, poverty stricken persons and one by one she strove to see Jesus in them and be Jesus for them. Soon others followed, homes where establishedcountries were conquered. On October 7, 1950, the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary, the Missionaries of Charity were officially founded.
Today, this little geography teacher has members and followers in every geographic region of the world. Today, it is a rare person who does not know who the face of the tiny wrinkled lady was, and as I write today on the eve of her beatification by Pope John Paul II everyone will know even her secrets of her interior life. Mother Teresa was and is a saint for others and as our Holy Fathers says, “She was filled with Christ and thus looked at everyone with the eyes and heart of Christ…In Mother Teresa’ s smile, words and deeds, Jesus again walked the streets of the world as the Good Samaritan.”
Thank you, Mother Teresa!
You no longer are just a good witness, a fascinating story or a wonderful role model; you are now my personal friend. In the communion of saints, I can go to you personally. You speak to my heart today of your love for Jesus and you inspire me to love Him with all my being as you did. You tell me not to count the cost, to refuse Him nothing and in the spirit of Mary, do whatever He tells me. The Church is calling you “Blessed” and this assures me that our friendship is real and alive. Dear Mother Teresa, along with St. Therese of Lisieux, I ask you to guide my journey and help me to be as holy as I know I am called to be, and with you, win all souls to Jesus! Instruct me in how to let go of my self-absorption and put on your Christ-centeredness. I am so pleased to have finally met you! I thank the Lord for this opportunity and I pray that in these next days many may come to know you, love you and follow the Lord as unconditionally as you did. Amen!
The Church will formally declare Mother Teresa among the "blessed" on October 19, 2003.
Week of 2003-09-19 ... Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548)
A saint chosen by Mary!
By Msgr. Andrew Vaccari
Juan Diego was born "Cuauhtlatoztzin" (the name means "talking eagle" in his native language) in 1474, about 12 miles from what now is Mexico City, Mexico. He belonged to the Chichimeca people, and was an educated man, a farmer, landowner and a weaver. He was married but he and his wife, Maria Lucia, who died in 1529, had no children. He was already 50 years old when he was baptized by a Franciscan missionary priest. He would leave before dawn and walk barefoot for three hours to go to church and to religious instruction.
On December 9, 1531, while on his way to morning Mass, he heard birds singing on the hill and his name being called. There, on Tepeyac Hill, the Blessed Mother appeared to him. She called to him, “Juanito, Juan Dieguito,” a term of endearment. She had a request: go to the Bishop and ask that a shrine be built to her in her name at Tepeyac. She promised many graces to those who prayed to her there. He hesitated and told her that he was a nobody, "a small rope." Still, he did as she asked.
The Bishop did not believe him. Instead, he asked for some sign to show that the apparition was real. A few days later, on December 12, our Blessed Mother appeared again to Juan Diego and said that he should pick the flowers that were in bloom on the hill. Although it was winter, again he obeyed and looked for the flowers. Much to his surprise, he found roses in bloom. He took them to her and then, upon arriving at the house of the Bishop, he showed the flowers which fell out of his cloak. On the cloak there remained the miraculous image of the Blessed Mother as she appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac.
The Bishop was finally convinced and arranged for a chapel to be built. In the next seven years, 8 million native Mexicans were baptized. Juan Diego lived the remaining 17 years of his life as a hermit near the chapel where the image of the Blessed Mother remained, open for people to come to pray before it. From then on, he was dedicated to prayer and caring for others. By special permission of the Bishop he was able to receive Holy Communion three times a week, which was most unusual in those days. And, he also took care of the image of our Lady, which some have likened to St. Joseph taking care of Mary herself. When he died on May 30, 1548, he was 74 years of age. He was beatified on May 6, 1990, when Pope John Paul II visited Mexico City. On July 31, 2002, on another trip to Mexico, Pope John Paul II declared Juan Diego to be a saint.
Our Lady appeared to him looking like one of the native women of the area, in both facial features and her dress. On her waist is a black band, which symbolizes that she is pregnant. He was a poor widower, at 57 considered an old man for his time, who was chosen to be the instrument and the bearer of the message. She did not appear to the Bishop directly but to this lay man who had such a great love for God and our Lady. She appeared to someone who was poor, and she has always been close to the poor. Let us pray to our Blessed Mother, especially under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. She is our spiritual mother who brings together people of many nations and languages.
A Reflective Rosary
Being born within the hard rock walls of a grotto certainly was a difficulty for Mary and for Jesus. Just think of his hidden life in Nazareth, of those thirty years of obscurity for a personality like Christ! Our “micro-personalities” want at some point to be expressed at any cost, and suffer if they meet uncertainties or difficulties.
O poverty source of riches, Jesus, Son of God, born in Bethlehem.
1 John 4:9
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
Reflection: God became poor for us that we might gain the richness of eternal life. We are children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus and heirs of the Kingdom. We lack nothing. We are not poor; we are rich!
Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?
Reflection: Christ was hidden for thirty years. He lived poverty through the consummation of his public life: Christ carried on ministry by paying with his very life, not simply with words, but with poverty and sacrifice.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.
Reflection: When Christ spoke to us of poverty, He did not allude to the eternal world nor did He propose it as an impossible reality, but as an aim toward which we must strive. G. Giaquinta
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Reflection: The vow of poverty works within us a total transformation into Jesus and particularly into the crucified Jesus. It might be said that the vow of poverty is to us what the nails were to the crucified Jesus; they detach us from the world and firmly unite us to him. Based on P.O.S.L.
One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. A man's riches serve as ransom for his life, but the poor man heeds no rebuke.
Reflection: If Christ has made us sharers in His divine nature, members of the Church, sons and daughters of the Father, his brothers and sisters, friends to one another, how can we not place Him at the core of our own life? With Christ we have everything!
Week of 2003-08-25 ... Blessed Bartolo Longo
Pope John Paul II in his October 2002 Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, called Blessed Bartolo Longo a true apostle of the Rosary. Pope John Paul II cites him more then seven times in this document, more than any other saint by the Pontiff. As often as he came up, you would think that the Holy Father’s veneration of this blessed lover of Mary and the Rosary would have been my inspiration. It was not. I just happened to stumble upon him among the stories of one of my favorite hagiographers, Ann Ball. His ruddy handsome face and his startling background of being a “satanist priest” before his conversion fascinated me. How did he change from worshipping Satin to his incredible influence in spreading devotion to the Rosary, and eventually beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980? Here is his story.
Bartolo was born February 11, 1841, in Laziano, near Brindisi in southern Italy. He was well educated and raised in a very devout catholic family. They often said the rosary together, but when he went off to college he fell into a climate that was extremely anti-clerical and unchristian. Bad friends and evil atmosphere led him to the worship of Satin and to his becoming something like a priest to his followers. What saved Bartolo was that he had not cut himself off completely from his former friends and one professor friend, Vincenzo Pepe, intervened, drew him out and found him help. The experience had left Bartolo physically as well as psychologically broken, but Fr. Alberto Radente, who was helping him, encouraged him to recite the rosary again. Bartolo attributes the daily rosary to his recovery. He returned to his family and began to discern his vocation, “Was it priesthood or marriage?” He did not know, but what he did know was that he wanted to give himself to our Lord and to our Lady. Jean Frisk, a friend of mine from the International Marian Research Institute writes this,
“When Bartolo was baptized, he chose the second name Maria, to be his baptismal name. He saw Mary as a “Refuge of Sinners,” and attributed his miraculous conversion to her. She was the “Refuge” who would lead him to Christ. After his conversation, Bartolo Maria Longo wanted to do penance for his past life and serve the Church he had so viciously slandered. He made a promise to work for the poor ad the destitute” (from www.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/pompei.html).
Bartolo began to promote and teach the Rosary to anyone he could and he also committed himself to helping the poor and destitute. One day, he had some business to take care of do in the great Roman city of Pompeii that had been destroyed by a volcano in 79 AD. Right outside of town there had been a Catholic church that in Bartolo’s day and been abandoned and left to ruin. The people were as bad off as the church. They were poor and completely lacking in any religion. Bartolo saw these conditions and took up the challenge! He began to promote the rosary and tried to teach it to the people. They were not interested, he was not a success, even though he knocked on every door and gave away rosary after rosary. It took over three years before the hearts of the people were changed. He persevered, and in fact, at the end it was suggested to him to build a large Church, so that the Rosary could be honored there. He undertook the challenge. He had the help of a very good and kind widow, whom he eventually married. They worked together to build the Church and promote the rosary. When the Church was almost completed he knew that they needed a particular image of Mary to enshrine there, and begin looking for a picture of Our Lady of the Rosary. In those days only sacred images on oils, canvas or wood could be allowed in a Church. Eventually he found one, but it was as is reported by Jean Frisk “worm-eaten, the face of the Madonna was that of a course, rough country woman…a piece of canvas was missing…. It was in ugly shape but he took it, had it cleaned and placed it in the Church.” The people came and many conversions immediately took place and healings began to happen. Pope Paul VI commented on this picture during a homily in 1965, “Just as the image of the Virgin has been repaired and decorated.., so may the image of Mary that all Christians must have within themselves be restored, renovated, and enriched.”
The story goes on about Bartolo. It was not easy after his conversion or after he began so many good works. He did everything he could to promote the Rosary and charity and charitable organizations sprung up along side his spiritual works, but he often encountered hardships, rejections and even in the end misunderstandings. He had to resign from his post in the beautiful Basilica of Pompeii that he had built and lived his last years as a simple custodian of the place. Nothing, however took away his peace. He had the confidence of our Lady. Before he died at age 85 he said, “Reawaken your trust in the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary…You must have the faith of Job!…Adored Holy Mother, I place in you every affliction of mine, all hope and all confidence” (Holbock, page 57)!
In conclusion, this simple, humble man who changed history with his desire to make the Rosary known and loved gives to us the incentive and the imperative to pick up the rosary and pray it again like we have never prayed it before! Pope John Paul II says in his Letter that Bartolo Longo saw the very beads of the rosary as a “chain” which links us to God. “A chain yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father.” Bartolo lived in a difficult time where God and Church were offended and distrusted, not much different from our own. In addressing a group of criminologists about his schools he exclaimed, “You, what have you done by taking Christ out of the schools? You have produced enemies of social order, subversives….” Yes, society was not that much different from our own. Bartolo’s last will and testament was this - he today says this to us too - “Awaken your confidence in the Most Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. Venerable Holy Mother, in You I rest all my troubles, all my trust and all my hope!” (Quoted by Pope John Paul II in his homily during the beatification ceremony for Blessed Bartolo).
Pope John Paul II, concluded his Apostolic Letter with Blessed Bartolo’s Prayer (Supplication) to the Queen of the Holy Rosary, and so we will conclude with these prayers also ...
“O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven”.
Reflection by Msgr. Andrew Vaccari
One of the scenes in the life of Blessed Bartolo Longo that speak loudly of hope is the cleansing of the image of the Madonna that was placed in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Pompei. So often we come to our Lady feeling worn out, our spirits eroded by the worries and problems of life. We may feel faded and washed out. The power of the Rosary and the power of prayer shine in these moments. The Rosary is a beautiful instrument of healing and of grace. As we stay near our Lady and our Lord in the mysteries and scenes of their lives, we come close to their love and mercy. The repetition of the prayers and the contemplation of our Savior and his Mother renew us and lift our spirits. Jesus has overcome all of the sorrows and sufferings of this world, and Mary was near him as he suffered on the cross. Christ is our hope and Mary is our mother. When we place ourselves in their presence, especially in the Rosary, we have new hope to face our struggles with uplifted hearts.
Week of 2003-08-01 ... St. Luke
How blessed we are that St Luke has painted such a revealing portrait of Jesus' mother.
We might not think of St. Luke as being a Marian saint, but in fact, there is more about the Blessed Mother in his writings than in all the other books of the New Testament combined!
We don't know very much about St. Luke as an individual person. From what we know of him from Scripture and tradition, he was from the city of Antioch, in Syria, which was the third largest city of the Roman Empire at the time. He was a physician and was associated with St. Paul. He also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, which tell us a great deal about the activities of the early Church in the first generations after the Ascension of Jesus. St. Luke teaches us much about prayer and love for the poor. He also held women in a very high place.
When we study and pray with his Gospel, we see the Blessed Mother has a very important role, particularly in the first two chapters. It is from St. Luke that we learn about the Annunciation (1:26-38) and the Visitation (1:39-56). St. Luke describes for us the Presentation (2:22-38) in the Temple where Simeon predicted that Mary would be close to Jesus in his sufferings. He told her that a sword would pierce her heart. From St. Luke we also receive the magnificent and lovely prayer in the mouth of Mary, the Magnificat (1:46-55). When the Church prays Mary's song of prayer each evening, we join a choir of two thousand years of voices echoing the beautiful thanksgiving of our Blessed Mother for all the wonders God has done.
St. Luke was a poet who did not shy away from the sorrows of life. He shows us Mary who wished for nothing more than to do the Father's will. "May it be done to me according to your word!" (1:39) She brought Jesus to our world, and St. Luke, and the rest of us, have never been the same!
Let us take the time to read slowly and prayerfully all that St. Luke has to say about her.
The Rosary is a treasure to be re-discovered. St. Luke has given us tremendous insight into its mysteries!
Week of 2003-06-27 ...
Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro
Heroic Mexican Martyr – Man of the Eucharist
Born: January 13, 1891 Died: 1927
Beatified by Pope John Paul II on Sept. 25, 1988
By Teresa Monaghen
My study of the saints led me to discover the Mexican martyrs of the 1920’s. I knew nothing of this persecution of the Church in Mexico until recently. I was horrified to hear of the persecution, especially of the clergy. The Churches were closed and the religious and priests had to go underground. No one was allowed to go out in public dressed as a priest or a nun. One priest dared to do different, now Blessed Fr. Miguel Pro, S.J., the man I wish to share with you this time.
Miguel Pro was born January 13, 1891 in Zacatecas, Mexico. He was a fun loving as a child and always getting into trouble. His faith initially was rather mediocre but the witness of two of his sisters who became cloistered nuns inspired him. At age 20 he joined the Jesuits and started formation in Mexico until the persecution broke out. He was sent to a variety of places, including the USA and finally to Belgium where he was ordained. Miguel loved his homeland and worried much about his family and his people. He had poor health already and the worry only aggravated his condition, so his superiors sent him back home. Providence would have it that Fr. Miguel was the right person at the right time. His fun and creative ways helped him to find a multitude of methods of bringing the Gospel message and the life-giving sacraments to his people. He put on disguises and found ways to get into people’s homes unnoticed in order to bring them the Eucharistic Jesus and the healing balm of the sacrament of reconciliation. Eventually he was caught and until the end he bravely gave his life for the sake of his faith and the love for his people. The two things that sustained him most were his great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and his deep love for the Eucharist. I was shocked and edified at the same time, when I saw real pictures of him kneeling and saying the rosary before his execution. Another photo showed him standing with arms stretched out like a cross. His last words before being shot were, “I forgive you” to his executioners and his last breath was, “Long live Christ the King!”
What was his source of courage? The Eucharist! The bread of life gave him the strength to give his life to bring the food of eternal life to his brothers and sisters even at the cost of his own life. It is recounted that he loved Mexican sweet bread called “Colcol” and from childhood was called by this bread as a nick-name. Later, during his underground priestly duties, he often signed his letters by calling himself “Colcol.” Even in hiding he wanted to remind people that the most delicious treat and the source of his hope was in the Eucharist. Fr. Miguel died in 1927, martyred by a firing squad. A few days before his arrest he shared with a Sister friend, “I offered my life for the saving of Mexico some time ago, Sister, and this morning at Mass I felt that He (God) had accepted it.” Miguel’s life ended, offered on the altar of God for the sanctification of his brothers and sisters.
The Eucharist was the source of eternal life for Fr. Miguel. Living a deeply Eucharistic life, offering ourselves daily in union with Jesus, to the Father, for our brothers and sisters will give us life, too! The Eucharist fills us with the sweet taste of God that comes to us in the form of bread and wine. It is the food that sustains us on our journey and strengthens us to stand tall in the face of all adversity, even to the point of death!
Dear Fr. Miguel, intercede for us that we may know always more deeply the great gift we have in the Eucharist. May a day never pass that we deny ourselves this “sweet treat,” either in actual communion or when that is impossible, in spiritual communion. Pray for us Fr. Miguel. Amen.
Reflection by Monsignor Vaccari on Fr. Miguel Pro
As Jesus sacrificed his life for us, so Fr. Miguel sacrificed his life for his people. In a life poured out in the land of Mexico, he was a shining example of the love that Jesus has for all of us. It is a love that does not think first of itself, but is a love that gives itself for others. Dangers did not stop him from living his life in holiness and heroic witness. We are so fortunate to be able to go to Mass freely and frequently in our country.
· Do we show our appreciation and love for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist by going to daily Mass as often as possible,
· by taking time to visit him in the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible?
May the example of Blessed Miguel Pro inspire us to remain close to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Week of 2003-06-13 ... St. Peter Emyard
St. Peter Julian Emyard
By Msgr. Andrew Vaccari
St. Peter Julian
Eymard was born on
While on a pilgrimage to a shrine in honor of our Blessed Mother, he was inspired to found a new religious order, one dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. He was struck by the idea that although there was a religious order to honor the various mysteries of the life of Christ, there was no religious institute devoted to the mystery of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In 1857, he and one other priest began a community of priest-adorers of the Eucharist, the Society of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The following year, with Marguerite Guillote, he established a religious community called the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, sisters devoted to perpetual adoration. These two communities keep the Eucharist as the center of their life and spirituality, and work to spread to all love for the Eucharist. He also started the Priests’ Eucharistic League, aimed at deepening the love priests have for Jesus in the holy sacrament of the altar. He spent much time in prayer and adoration before the Eucharist, as well as preaching about the real presence of Christ and his love for us in the Eucharist.
He had a great
love for the poor and spent enormous amounts of time and energy being a friend
and spiritual guide to the outcast. He
visited and served prisoners and laborers, and worked to help young uneducated
workers learn their Catechism and prepare for First Holy Communion. In an era when the reception of Holy
Communion was not frequent,
He died in 1868, worn out from his apostolate of promoting devotion to the Eucharist. In 1962, at the opening session of the Second Vatican Council, he was canonized by Pope John XXIII who said: “Follow his example, place at the center of your thoughts, your affections, your zeal, this incomparable source of all graces - the Mystery of Faith, which hides under its veils the very author of graces - Jesus the Incarnate Word."
The heart of St. Peter Eymard overflowed with love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He teaches us and reaffirms for us the strong connection between the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. During this year of 2003 in which we have been blessed by a beautiful and moving encyclical letter from Pope John Paul II, we have an opportunity to renew our own devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us be more attentive at Mass, thinking more of the love Jesus shows us by giving his life for us on the cross and by giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Let us spend more time with the Real Presence of Jesus by praying before the tabernacle in our churches and chapels. May we never pass by an open church without stopping in to spend at least a few moments with Christ, our Savior and our friend!
Reflection Response by Teresa Monaghen
I believe that in our reflection on holiness and community that we must re-look and rediscover the meaning of our faith and especially those areas that we most take for granted, like the Eucharist.
"Up to now I have been preoccupied with the intellectual aspect of the Eucharist, with the study of the Eucharist, with the exterior means of success, but I have not yet penetrated to the marrow, to the heart of that divine love. That is why I have been so restless. But, O my soul, you must live from within your heart in the goodness of Jesus Eucharistic. Yours must be a nobly passionate love which takes up everything in one scoop, which surrenders everything in one act of giving."
Week of 2003-05-09 ... Venerable Louis and Zelie Martin
By Teresa Monaghen on Mother’s Day 2003
It seems appropriate to write these reflections about a very special couple on Mother’s Day. I begin my meditation by reflecting on the goodness of my own parents, both mother and father, and thank the Lord for the gift that they are in my life and in the life of their family. I often think of them as “saints”. When I take time to ponder their example, I know how much they give me in love, holiness, faith, support, prayer…. St. Therese wrote often of her parents and it was obvious that she loved them very much. She was aware of how much they gave her and how even from heaven, after they both passed away, that they were close to her and interceding for her. They were instrumental in her journey of holiness. When our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II repeated what several popes before him have said, “Therese is the greatest saint of modern times,” he might as well as said, “Thanks to her holy parents!” He did essentially say this when he declared them "Venerable" on March 26, 1994 and extolled their heroic virtues as Catholic parents. He said, "The Martins, by example, encourage others who marry to imitate their godliness, loving practice of faith, and commitment to vocations. They exemplify spouses who demonstrate the values of family and sacramental life. This devout 19th century couple proves that any Catholic family, who intense love, devotion, and effort, can also achieve the high degree of perfection to which all Christians should aspire."
Both Louis and Zelie thought initially that God was calling them to religious life and priesthood, but in prayer and good direction they embraced their vocation to marriage. Through God’s providence they met and raised a family. Zelie knew too that besides her vocation as wife she says, "I was born to have children". Here is a little review of their style of parenting that we can learn from:
Louis and Zelie Martin had 9 children and five of them survived. If you read their stories you will find out that all five of them were intent on doing God’s will. None of them were perfect, they all had to strive, but they all were intent on doing God’s will and living fully their call to holiness. This is the encouragement that their parents gave them. At 40 years old – Zelie still wanted another baby. Just before her 42nd birthday, January 2, 1873, after a half hour of labor. This last child from her middle years of life is known to history as “The Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, Patron of the Mission, Patron of young people. I would like to conclude by saying that perhaps an even greater title for St. Therese would be, "St. Therese, proud daughter of the holy Martin Family." May the Martin family be an example for all families and may they intercede for the many needs that parents have today.
Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!
Week of 2003-05-02 ... Saint Joseph Moscati, M.D.
By Monsignor Andrew Vaccari, of the Diocese of Brooklyn
In an era when many people think there is a huge gap between religion and science, it is a great blessing to encounter a saint who shows us by his life and his actions how both religion and science can be united in harmony. We meet such a great saint, one from the 20th century, in Doctor Joseph Moscati. He united science and religion because he learned a profound mystery: that human truth and divine truth have the same source, God, who is endless truth.
Saint Joseph Moscati was born in Benevento, in southern Italy, on July 25, 1880, the 7th of 9 children. His family moved to Naples in 1884, where he remained until his death in 1927. After graduating medical school in 1903, “summa cum laude”, he devoted his life, his skill and his compassion to teaching and healing. He directed hospitals, medical societies, served the military men during the First World War, and helped the poor, even at times without requesting any payment from them. Once, he visited a young, poor woman with tuberculosis. He wrote a prescription, and not only did he not take any money from her, to her great surprise, she later found some money he gave her without saying anything.
Daily Mass and the Rosary were part of his spiritual life. They were powerful tools which helped him to hold on to his vision of eternal life, even in the face of physical death. He said: "Life doesn’t have an end with death, it continues in a better way. It has been promised to everyone, after the world’s redemption, the day that will join us again to our beloved dead and that will bring us again to the Supreme Love!"
In 1906, when the volcano of Mt. Vesuvius, near Naples, erupted, Dr. Joseph went immediately to the town of Torre del Greco, a few miles away. The hospital he worked at in Naples, the Riuniti Hospital, had a house there for elderly, paralytic and sick patients. Moscati helped them to evacuate, and when the roof collapsed a short time afterwards, there were no casualties.
In his regular hospital work, he attracted young doctors who followed him from bed to bed during his rounds, to learn his wisdom and his art of healing. It was said of him: “He devotes all himself, mind and heart, to his patients and to the education of young doctors. The hospital becomes his house, his love and his shrine.”
From 1903, when he received his medical degree, until 1916, he produced 27 scientific publications. He was a foreign correspondent for a Medical Journal, since he spoke not only Italian, but English and German as well.
He understood well the important connection between body and soul. He cared for the whole person, and today would be what we call a practitioner of the wholistic approach, taking into account the entire person, rather than just treating an illness.
He knew how important it was to know yourself and to believe in your own values. He said: “Love the truth, show yourself as you are, without pretences and fears and without ceremonies. And if the truth causes you persecution, accept it, and if it causes you some torment, bear it. And if for the truth sake you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice."
On April 12, 1927, the Tuesday of Holy Week, Dr. Moscati, after following his daily routine of Mass and Holy Communion, spent the morning at the Hospital and then came back home. He had a light meal and examined his patients as usual. At about three pm he didn't feel well; he sat down in an armchair, after a while crossed his arms and died quietly. He was 46 years and 8 months old.
The news of his death spread immediately, and everybody's sorrow was unanimous. The poor especially cried for him; they had lost their benefactor. In the register of signatures at his wake, there was this sentence: "You didn't want flowers or tears: but we cry, as the world has lost a Saint, Naples an example of virtue, the poor patients have lost all they had!"
After miracles of healing were recognized, Pope Paul VI beatified him on November 16, 1975 and Pope John Paul II canonized him on October 25, 1987. In his homily, Pope John Paul II said he was “an example even to those people who don’t share his faith.” His feast day is celebrated on November 16
St. Joseph Moscati teaches us to do well and with all our heart the good things that God gives us to do. He was a man of many outstanding skills and talents, and he used them for the good of others. While he never married, he accepted the poor and the sick as though they were his family, embracing with selfless devotion and love, taking care of them not only with his hands, but with the faith of his heart. He kept in mind that the people who were before him had great human dignity. In an era in which some with scientific training have used their skills and advances to weaken the dignity of the human person, St. Joseph Moscati reminds us of the origin we have and of the destiny we have as human beings. He reminds us that we are made by God and we are called to return to God one day!
He drew his spiritual strength from the Mass, and from the Rosary, both of which were a daily part of his life. Here was a man who would have been seen by others to be busy, as he cared for the poor, the soldiers during the war, the patients who came to him; here was a many that did much scientific research and published in journals of great quality. Still, his spiritual center was the Eucharist. How much we can learn from his example to find the Lord in the Eucharist each day. We may have genuine responsibilities that keep us from coming to daily Mass, but perhaps there are some among us who could make a little sacrifice, or make an adjustment in their schedule to come to the great banquet of love that Christ has for us in the Eucharist. In any event, we ask his intercession so that the Lord may heal whatever ails us in mind, body and in spirit.
Pro Sanctity Points to Ponder by TJM
“Not science but charity has transformed the world” (St. Joseph Moscati).
Bishop Giaquinta, founder of the Pro Sanctity Movement, said that saints are not born they are made. In other words, we have the graces to become saints but we must give a heroic response. This week we ponder the life of Dr. Moscati, Saint (1880-1927). His life of “lay holiness” was an intentional and discerned choice and he calls us to “consider our vocation.” Here are some points to ponder:
Week of 2003-04-25 ... Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilia Rodriguez Santiago
Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilia Rodriguez Santiago - 1918-1963 "Charlie" -Puerto Rico's first blessed! Who would have thought, opening one of my favorite saint books on the evening of Easter Sunday, I would stumble on a saint who lived for Easter, Carlos M. Rodriguez, of Puerto Rico. Author Ann Ball, says that the high point for this Servant of God was Easter and the Resurrection. Several other authors note that he had "lived for the Easter Vigil", and loved and promoted the Easter Triduum long before Vatican II. Blessed Carlos or "Charlie" as he was called, was second of five children born to Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago. One of his brothers was a Benedictine monk and one of his sisters was a Carmelite nun. His family was doing ok financially until their house burned down. At age six, life was hard and poverty was part of their life. A rabid dog from which he was trying to save his 1-year old cousin also attacked him. The dog caused him a condition that stayed with him his whole life. Eventually his wounds led to rectal cancer and for many years prior to his death from this disease he had to carry a colostomy bag. He suffered both pain and embarrassment from this weakness. He actually became too weak to go to school, even though he was an “A” student, so he and taught himself at home. He even taught himself to play piano and the organ. Carlos loved the liturgy and loved reading all the documents of the Church so that he could stay well informed on what the church teaches and help others. He wrote, catechized and promoted a love and understanding of the liturgy. He used the little salary he earned as a clerk to translate and write a magazine called Liturgy and Christian Culture. He was way ahead of his time in his love and understanding of the liturgy and encouraged people to know what they were celebrating. He often translated the then Latin liturgy into English so people could understand. Eventually cancer took him, but before he died he had one more offering to the Lord to make. He suffered a crisis of faith, a dark night of his soul. Even in this darkest moment he never stopped receiving the Eucharist, of which he had received as often as he could his entire life. Finally the fog of doubt and dark faith lifted and his brother heard him repeating often, "be my salvation" and "alleluia". Cancer claimed his life on July 13, 1963 and at his funeral they prayed Charlie's favorite canticle, the Exultet of the Easter Vigil. He "lived for the Easter Vigil" even now in heaven he is doing what he loved best, fully participating in the Mass and singing alleluia! A man like Carlos inspires me to love the Mass, to live the liturgy and to enter into the great mystery of the Risen Christ. Carlos used all his talents to teach and form others. He was indefatigable in his one plus one approach. He was no theologian, just self-taught, with a passion for the Risen Lord that motivated him to give his ALL. Carlos inspires me to follow in his footsteps. Cardinal Egan said at the beatification of "Charlie", "the beatification is, for Puerto Ricans and for the Church and for the entire world, a call to holiness...The Church of New York is delighted to celebrate today Blessed Carlos, who is a model of sanctity not only for the laity but also for the entire Church." Reflection by Msgr. Andrew Vaccari Thank you for your reflection on this new saint - an American saint - even a saint of the United States!!! I am moved by his having to live with the consequences of being bitten by the rabid dog in saving his one year old cousin. I wonder whether he felt sorry for himself, in paying a price for trying to do a good deed! How he might have given in to anger or self pity, but instead he lived with this cross for his life and became a saint. He knew the inner meaning of dying to oneself, to ones preferences and desires, and living with the painful fruits of his love and his willingness to give of himself. His pain takes the romantic notion that we sometimes associate with holiness and makes it so realistic and down to earth. May he inspire us to continue to try to grow in holiness, to try to reach out to help one another, even when we have to sacrifice much of our own desires. May he continue to help us grow in the Lord each day!
Week of 2003-04-18 ... Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora
Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora - submitted by Monsignor Andrew Vaccari
During the "Year of the Family", 1994, on April 24, 1999, Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora. She lived and died in Rome (1774 - 1825) and was an exemplary wife and mother. Born to a wealthy family, she developed early in her life a love for her religion and for her faith. Many people thought she had a vocation to religious life. Of her First Holy Communion, she said, "How contented, peaceful and full of joy my heart was, O my Jesus, my Bridegroom!"
In her teenage years, she took part in the gatherings of her social class, enjoying gala balls and fancy parties. She admitted that she allowed herself "to be captivated by the vanities of the world." She fell in love with a law student, Cristofero Mora, married him and enjoyed the delights of love, attention and affection that he gave her. Her husband, however, soon grew jealous of other friends and acquaintances Elizabeth had, and ordered her to limit her contacts with everyone, even with her own parents. Sadly, his jealousy turned to infidelity. He lived in immorality, gambling and "shady" business deals. Money that had been necessary for the maintaining of the family home, was going for other purposes, leaving them without enough funds to support her and her two daughters.
While this happened, Elizabeth maintained her fidelity and her trust in God's loving kindness toward her. She made a spiritual commitment of offering her life for her husband's salvation and conversion. When he became ill, she sold what little she had to help nurse him back to health. Although he was unfaithful, she remained faithful. She raised her two daughters, Marianna and Lucina, guiding them to follow the teachings of the Catholic faith and to develop a strong interior life. Marianna married, but died young, while Lucina entered the Oblate Sisters of St. Philip Neri. She encouraged them to forgive their father for neglecting his family. On her death bed, she urged them to pray for his conversion.
Elizabeth drew her spiritual strength from her attendance at daily Mass and a daily Holy Hour before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. She had a tremendous devotion to the Most Blessed Trinity and dedicated herself to serving the poor, the sick and prostitutes. She said that the "triune God pours out torrents of love for sinners." Many came to seek her spiritual wisdom, including bishops and priests. When she was ill at the end of her life, the Holy Father gave her permission to have Mass celebrated in her chapel at home. After her death, her husband experienced a deep conversion of heart and great remorse for his sins. He eventually became a Franciscan friar and priest, and died a holy death.
At her beatification, Pope John Paul II said that she "showed total fidelity to the commitment she had made in the sacrament of marriage, and to the responsibility stemming from it. Constant in prayer and in her heroic devotion to her family, she was able to rear her children as Christians and succeeded in converting her husband...[A] woman who is determined to be consistent with her principles often feels deeply alone." Alone in her love, which she cannot betray, and to which she must remain faithful."
from Married Saints and Blesseds Through the Centuries, by Ferdinand Holbock, (Ignatius Press2001), pp 380-385.
Blessed Elizabeth gives us an example of fidelity under very difficult circumstances of family life. While she was not a martyr per se, her life was one of sacrifice and painful existence, facing betrayal, dishonesty, the talk of gossiping tongues and failure. Nonetheless, her faith continued and kept her heart focused on the Lord. Only in the Lord was she able to persevere and grow in holiness in the face of what might have led others to despair. On these days of the Holy Triduum, we have an example of a saint whose devotion to the Eucharist strengthened her for turbulent times in her life. We have a model of how her own parents, who helped her to learn about and love the faith, gave her far more than they might ever have realized when they taught her to love the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
May we resolve to love Jesus more fervently in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us take every opportunity we have to participate in daily Mass, to make daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. There is our strength and our hope, there is the inner life of the soul which can bloom even when we are in the most arid desert to which life may lead us. In front of the Eucharist, her desire not to give up on her husband was nourished. As St. Monica prayed for the conversion of her son St. Augustine, so did Blessed Elizabeth pray, and taught her daughters to pray, for the unfaithful Cristofero. She truly mirrored God and his love for us, as he never gives up on us either!
Week of 2003-04-11 ... Maria de La Luz Camacho, Martyr for Catholic Action, and 25 Mexican Martyrs
Maria de La Luz Camacho, Martyr for Catholic Action, and 25 Mexican Martyrs
by Teresa Monaghen
"If you Continue in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-42
Once again I am aware of how sheltered I am and how little I know of those who have truly followed the Crucified Christ. This week, I met and am deeply moved by the 25 Martyrs of Mexico and Maria de La Luz Camacho, called Martyr for Catholic Action. She in particular has caught my attention and has invited me into her inner life. We are already friends, sisters in Christ, lovers of God. She is at the status of Servant of God and I have much to learn from her.
I must admit I am very ignorant of a terrible time of persecution in the history of the Church in Mexico, from 1924 to 1928 and then breaking out again later in the 30's. It was a violent ugly time known as the Cristero Rebellion (the Cristiada). During this time, under the dictatorship of Plutarco elias Calles, the Mexican government was bitterly anticlerical; Calles wanted to root out the Catholic Church and expel all foreign clergymen from the country and take all the Church related property and goods. He even made laws called, Ley Calles, that limited the number of priests and services allowed. No amount of negotiating seem to work or change the situation. Eventually some Catholics, concluding that they had no other choice took arms. I have read story after story of men and women who were tortured, abused and shot for their religious beliefs during this time, but in the midst of their trials, they were reported as saying things like what Luis Magana did when he offered himself to the federal soldiers so his brother could live,
"I am neither a Cristero nor a rebel. But if you accuse me of being a Christian, that I am You solders who are going to shoot me, I want to tell you that from this moment I pardon you and I promise you that on arriving in the presence of God, you are the first ones I will intercede for. Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Santa Maria de Guadalupe!"
Luis was one on of 25 "Cristero" martyrs that Pope John Paul canonized on June 28, 1999. There are others causes for canonization being followed and one of these is of Maria. She was a young woman, very pretty and vibrant. She loved to act and put on plays. She loved to work with children and taught religion through the organization of the Catholic Action that provided religious formation for young children. She was extremely dedicated and many came to learn from her. She loved the Eucharist and took advantage of any opportunity she could to receive and to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. In 1932 the persecutions began again in Mexico and churches were being set on fire in protest of people practicing their faith. Catholics lived in fear. One night Maria dreamt that she had to choose between dying for her faith and being happy. Her friends asked her, what was her response in the dream and she responded, "God would give the grace to be faithful to him and besides, if I had the misfortune to deny God, I should die of grief." Her dream came true, because not long after that there was word that her parish church, during a children's Mass, was going to be ransacked and burned. She dressed in her best dress that day and went and stood out in front of the Church, protecting it with her own body. Soon others joined her, seeing how brave she was. They all began to shout, "Long live Christ the King! Long lives the Virgin of Guadalupe!" But the Reds charged and shouted, 'Long live the Revolution!" and a bullet was shot through her breast. It was reported that she died with peace on her face on the steps of the Church she loved with her life.
Thousands of people came to her wake. She had been laid on a bed of flowers and the priest who had known her so well told the people not to cry and reminded them that she had entered heaven and was now interceding for them. She was a martyr. The archbishop of Mexico, His Excellency D. Pascal Diaz Barreto said at her funeral, "Hail to the first martyr of the Catholic action!" "Hail," the crowd repeated, "viva Cristo Rey!" Maria lived the motto of the Mexican Catholic Action to the fullest, "Apostolate, Eucharist, and Bravery."
Reflection on Maria de la Luz Camacho by Monsignor Andrew Vaccari
I am impressed by the life of Maria de la Luz Camacho. I am amazed that one so young would be able to embrace the Lord so fully and be willing to give up everything for him. Like the martyrs of old, her blood was the seed for new life in the Church in Mexico. She gives witness to the primacy of Jesus, of being true to his word. In being true to him, she learned her own true identity. We find ourselves only when we lose ourselves in him. She might have given in to the wave of revolution, when the attack on the Church was so strong. We think of the ancient persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire, but here, on our own continent, we had a strong attack on the Church as well. I am sure there is much we might learn from the brave martyrs and heroes of Mexico, those who put their life on the line rather than turn away from Christ. How much they have to teach us, who so easily take our faith for granted. We can worship and go to church with no difficulty; our constitution protects us. How would we respond if we were in a situation of persecution? Ultimately, the persecutions give new life and strength to the Church, as the Lord rose from the dead after his crucifixion. But in the short term, persecutions can cause great harm and damage to the Church and to individual souls.
Dear Lord, may we be faithful in our hearts and in our bodies, in our thoughts and in our actions. May we accept the little persecutions that come our way because we believe in Christ and want to follow him wholeheartedly. She spent whatever time she could before the Blessed Sacrament. May the example of Maria inspire us to give ourselves more to prayer before the Eucharist, to spreading the Gospel message by the witness of our lives, and to being more and more dedicated to the service of those around us.
Week of 2003-04-04 ... Gianna Beretta Molla
Gianna Beretta Molla - Martyr for the unborn Born October 4, 1922, the feast of St. Francis, in Magenta about 15 miles north of Milan, she was one of 13 children. She followed the fine religious example of her devout mother, who took her and her brothers and sisters to daily Mass. She received her first Holy Communion at the age of 5 and Confirmation at 7. Later, as a teenager, she made two resolutions during a retreat: "I would rather die than commit a mortal sin" and " I want to do everything for Jesus." When she was still 19 years of age, both of her parents died within a four month period in 1942. Gianna studied medicine in Pavia and became involved in Catholic Action, as well. She longed to bring the Catholic faith to others and felt a desire to become a medical missionary in Brazil, where her brother, a Capuchin priest, already served. She felt a conflict between this call and her desire to marry an engineer, Pietro Molla, who was 10 years older than she was. On a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1952, during which she accompanied a group of sick people, she discerned that God was calling her to marriage. After marrying Pietro, the two decided to consecrate their new home and family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and prayed the Rosary together daily. Between 1956 and 1959 three children were born to the couple. These were followed by two miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy. Doctors found a cyst on her uterus and told her that an operation was needed. She knew that the operation would be dangerous but when the doctors asked her before the surgery what they were to do if faced with the choice of saving the child or saving her, the mother. She said to the doctors before the operation: "First you must save the child and then, if possible, the mother. There are no two ways about it!" But a week or so after the operation, she died at home, on April 28, 1962. Her death was crushing to her husband Pietro as well as to the other children. They knew, however, that she was willing to have happen what might have happened. Pope John Paul II said that she "knew how to offer her life as a sacrifice so that the baby she bore in her womb might live." -Her story tells us many things. She was interested in communicating to her family that married life was a good and holy choice, as a way to serve God faithfully! -Her witness to the life of the unborn gives a powerful base from which to stand firm as she chose to keep the life of her baby, rather than anything else. She was ready and willing to die, which she did, in order to see that the baby would live. -She knew what it meant to suffer, especially since she lost both parents so quickly. She teaches us to bear willingly the sufferings we have received, to take them in the light of Jesus and the Cross. She gives us the example of wanting to do everything for Jesus! And so she does. Monsignor Andrew Vaccari Second Reflection: Gianna, is a female Maximilian Kolbe. She willing accepted the death chamber of her illness for the sake of her child. Reading her life, I realized that she had been making that sort of decision for a long time. She was already practiced in putting the other first, dying to her own inclinations, striving to be all she could for the other. Her prayer was: "Jesus, I promised You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms." Gianna witnesses to me that the little steps on the way to Calvary are as important as the final embrace of the Cross. She invites me to invite the Lord's holy will to invade my life and my desires. She found the strength in the daily Eucharist and in the grace of her vocation so fully and exuberantly embraced. She loved being married. She adored her children. Life was precious to her and she laid down her treasure, as Jesus did, for the greatest treasure, eternal life for herself and for all those for whom she offered her life. Dear Gianna, reading and meditating on your heroic "ordinary life", I am reminded of all the mothers, grandmothers and women who I have the privilege to serve in our Pro Sanctity apostolate. I ask you to intercede for them. I beg you to whisper in their ears words of encouragement, for some have such difficult situations. May they live their vocation as fully and heroically as you did yours. Married and family life needs saints. You gave us a great example, may many follow in your footsteps. I also ask you to intercede for all the young men and women we know who are discerning their vocation. Assist them with your prayers. You know the agony they go through in trying to make the right decision. Thank you Dr. Gianna Beretta Molla. It is a privilege to meet you. I pray to be your friend for a long time. Amen. Teresa Monaghen
Week of 2003-03-28 ... Saint Clelia Barbieri
Saint Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870)
A Heavenly Voice - research taken from "Faces of Holiness" by Ann Ball
When I first met this saint, I was not sure that she was one that I wanted to spend time with, but now that I have gotten to know her, I like her very much. At first glance Clelia might seem a little bit strange, but who of us is not in some way. She also has many things in common with the spirituality of the Pro Sanctity Movement and with my life as a consecrated person.
Clelia was born Feb. 13, 1847 died 23 years of age in a little village called Le Budrie, in the suburbs of Bologna Italy. Her parents poor hemp workers. She had one younger sister, Ernestina was born in 1850. Their father died when Clelia was only 8 years old and this was a sad event, but also it caused the family to live in extreme poverty. Clelia from an early age worked hard along side her mother in the hemp factory. She contracted TB at an early age, of which she would suffer with the rest of her life. Her life was difficult but she had the joy of being brought up strong in the faith and steeped in devotion. After her father died, however, she had a very hard time, and life seem dark and without joy, but in her preparation for first communion she could not get over that God would come to her. She kept repeating, "A God for me. A God for a poor creature like me." Her joy came back after her first communion. She is a wonderful example of a young girl who took her confirmation seriously and allowed the spirit to work in her, because from the moment she received that sacrament, she began to pray with great devotion. She also got involved in a youth group at Church and lived a life of wholesome virtue and a ready smile. After a while the parish priest sent girls to her to learn their catechism.
The spiritual life of this young woman was a rich one. She lived an intense life of meditation and prayer. In searching for saints that fit the season of Lent and who in a very explicit way followed the Crucified Christ, I was moved to discover that her favorite topic for meditation was the Passion of Christ.
Clelia may sound like someone with her head in the clouds, but in reality she did not separate holiness from charity or her spiritual exercises from living in communion with her brothers and sisters. She was always helping the poor and seeking out to meet the needs of others. She is an example of how a true prayer life does not distract us from the needs and sufferings of others!
Clelia, was a beautiful young woman and many wanted to marry her. She refused. She wished to be totally the Lord's. The desired for consecrated life at first was contested, but then accepted. It was obvious that she was not going to change her mind. Soon after her confirmation she asked how she could be come a saint. In her heart, she knew the Lord was calling her to holiness and consecration. Her calling was not a just for herself, eventually she gathered a small group of girls who would devote themselves to living a virtuous life, converse with God, live in fraternity, and attempt to attract others to practice this way of life. Her initial idea was for a simple and uncomplicated life. In fact you can say it was something very similar to what today we might call a Secular Institute.
Life was not easy for Clelia when she was young and it was not easy for her later in life either. She suffered from "fretting" and worry, to the point that it made her sick. At age 20 everyone thought she was going to die, but instead she was quoted as saying, "The Lord is still expecting more from me." Seem strange for a person who loved God so much to worry? It was her cross and she carried it bravely knowing that she must move ahead even with the burden of concerns that she carried on her back like the cross that the Lord carried up Calvary.
Soon after this difficult moment in her life she started a little foundation of women who would live a semi-monastic life consecrated to prayer, contemplation and good works. Italy is a Catholic country, but during her time it was extremely anti clerical and religious at that time. The little group was almost shut down but because they lived as lay women without vows and juridical connections with the Church, they were left alone. May 1, 1868, moved into their first house. Is reported that they had single egg to share between four of them and a small helping of polenta (corn-based meal).
They were simple in their daily life of prayer and good works and gradually they grew and opened their house to helping others in small groups learn their catechism and receive the sacrament. They eventually formed an official community and called themselves Sisters of the Minime dell'Addolorata and place themselves under the patronage of Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Francis of Paola. (founder of the Order of the Minims). Clelia was known for her trust in providence (remember her worry issue) and even when there was nothing to eat or the things they needed for their new foundation were lacking, she entrusted her needs to the Lord. She communicated her boundless devotion to Jesus to the others and was known for her joy and serenity. She especially loved to pray and pray in community. TB eventually took its toll but before she died, she promised her sisters, "I will never abandon you." It is said that she can always be heard in prayer times, no matter where the sisters pray. Not everyone hears her voice, but those who do, and it is not the holiest ones either who hear her, but also the others, say it is clear and sweet. She prays right along with the sisters. Clelia died July 13, 1870 and was canonize April 9, 1989 by Pope John Paul II.
What do we learn from her? There are so many things to meditate upon in the life of this young, beautiful and lively woman:
This young saint teaches us much about continuing in perseverance, despite feeling uncomfortable, or being in pain or being misunderstood. She experienced much suffering in her short life, but used the years she had to dedicate and to give herself completely to God. What a marvelous example to follow when we want to cut things short, or when we feel inclined to be lazy or not focused on the Lord and on his word. How simple it seems that it would be to live a life of quiet solitude, but she teaches that a life of prayer does not keep us away from others but brings us into deeper communion and service towards others.
Dear St. Clelia, may many young people follow your example of tremendous love for Jesus. May they use their abundant energy to give themselves to him with their whole heart and mind and soul! May they be willing to sacrifice all for him, to the point of answering the call to priesthood or consecrated life! You know the great love the Lord has for them. Intercede for them so they will know it too and they will be more motivated to give all to him!
Week of 2003-03-21 ... Frederic Ozanam
Frederic Ozanam was born on April 23, 1813, in Milan, Italy, to French parents. He was raised in France, where his parents had a tremendous influence on his understanding of how to live the teaching of the Gospel to "love one another as I have loved you." His father was a physician who treated one-third of his patients free of charge because of their poverty. His mother cared for many of the sick people in the neighborhood. When he was twenty years of age, he founded what we would later call the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, after the great French model of works of charity, to help the poor. For his motto, Frederic Ozanam adopted the words from St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians: "Make love your aim." (1 Cor 14:1). Ozanam wrote: "Let us not talk so much about charity! Instead we ought to practice it and really help the poor." He began by dropping off firewood at the house of an elderly woman.
On June 23, 1841, he married Amelie Soulacroix, a devout woman who shared his love for God, the Church and for helping the poor. In honor of their marriage date, he gave her a bouquet of flowers on the 23rd of each month. After two miscarriages, one child, Marie, was born to them in 1845.
He became a professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne University, Paris, where he was a very popular and inspirational teacher. Students said of him that "Love of neighbor surrounded Ozanam like an aura." He traveled extensively through Europe where he founded many societies of St. Vincent de Paul. Though he died young at the age of 40, in 1853, his influence lives on in the approximately 800,000 members of St. Vincent de Paul Societies in 132 countries throughout the world. Charitable service is his legacy to all of us, and his holiness is an inspiration to help us "make love our aim" as well!
The life of Frederic Ozanam shows us the great influence of family, especially by the way he took after his parents' inspiration to take care of the poor and the needy in practical ways. He and his wife Amelie, give us an example of two Catholics whose marriage was not for themselves alone but to be a shining light in the Church by taking care of the poor. The two became one, not only in body and spirit, but in service to God's poor.
Week of 2003-03-14 ... Saint Joseph
St. Joseph – FEAST DAY: MARCH 19
Prayer to St. Joseph
O, St. Joseph, you whose life was spent in the perfect fulfillment of duty and whose manual labor sustained the Holy Family of Nazareth, protect us who trust in you and appeal to you. You know our aspirations, our anxieties and our hopes; we come to you because we know that in you we shall find a protector.
You too were subjected to trials, toil and weariness but your soul, filled with the deepest peace, exulted with joy in its closeness to the Son of God entrusted to you, and to Mary, His sweet Mother.
Help us to understand that we are not alone in our work, and to know how to discover Jesus beside us, to receive Him with grace, and to guard Him faithfully as you have done.
Please insure that everything in our family may be sanctified by charity, patience, justice, and the search for goodness. Amen.
The Guardian of the Mystery of God
Joseph, man of faith ... Pray for us.
Joseph, you who accepted Mary in faith
Joseph, who stepped forward in the fullness of time and said YES, Lord.
Joseph, faithful in marriage.
Joseph, united to Mary heart and soul.
Joseph, father to Mary's son
Joseph, man of purity and holiness
Joseph, guardian of Jesus
Joseph, man on a journey of faith
Joseph, together with Mary you bring Jesus into the world
Joseph, faithful to your fatherly duties
Joseph, you gave your son the name, "Jesus".
Joseph, who marveled at the work of his Son.
Joseph, guardian and cooperator in the providential mystery of God.
Joseph, who Mary entrusted her son Jesus
Joseph, to whom Jesus was obedient
Dear Joseph, We invoke your help in these special days in preparation for your feast day and ask you to intercede for the needs of the Holy Father and our world. Intercede for us Joseph. Our world needs peace, and only the Prince of Peace, Jesus can bring the true peace we all long for! Joseph, we pray also that you will watch over our families and guide them to holiness of life that you and Mary possessed. Amen
REFLECTION: A Just Man
Joseph, the just one, you tried with your whole heart to understand the mysteries you found yourself in, but how could anyone understand the plan of God? You wanted so much to give yourself to Mary as her husband and father to children God might bless you with, but when you learned she was carrying Jesus, you decided not to expose her to the law. Isn't it odd, in a way that it was by your NOT bringing the weight of the law upon her, that you gained your reputation for future generations as a just man. It is not that
the law was imperfect, although it was, or that you had no regard for the law, because you did. But you knew that God's plan of justice is far beyond our human understanding. You knew there was a goodness and holiness about Mary that meant she should not have to suffer the penalties the law prescribed. Even if you did not understand the full truth at the time, you knew there was a truth about Mary, her love for God and her love for you - a truth beyond the reach of the law.
You lived and died by God's standards, dear Joseph. Give us in our world today a renewed sense of justice, a hunger for justice that sees the true worth of each human person, regardless of his or her circumstances. Externals can mask the beauty of the person, but you, Joseph, ever faithful and ever true, you, Joseph, knew the inner and outer beauty of Mary and the child she was carrying. Pray for us that we may see through the externals, to the heart of each person, as you did. Be our teacher, and let us be your good pupils. Amen
Week of 2003-03-07 ... Saint Edmund Campion
St. Edmund Campion (1540-1581) - known early in life as a great orator, so much so that when Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford University in 1566, Edmund was chosen to give the welcoming speech. Though he had been born into the Catholic Church, he took the Oath of Supremacy, which acknowledged the Queen as head of the Church in England in 1564 and became an Anglican deacon. He grew increasingly doubtful about Protestantism and went to Dublin where he helped to found a university, which later would become Trinity College. Soon afterwards, he returned to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest. After spending a few years in Italy, he returned to England in 1580. There was, however, a persecution of Catholics after Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth, so Edmund Campion returned to England on a Jesuit mission, but arrived disguised as a jewel merchant. He stayed in England, preaching and staying one step ahead of the spies, where his life was threatened by those trying to root out Catholics and especially priests. One day he celebrated Mass and stayed at the house of a Mrs. Yate. Many people came to hear him preach. One among them was a man named Eliot who betrayed Campion. After receiving Holy Communion from him, Eliot brought a large number of men to search the house three times for the three priests who were thought to be present there. They found the priests huddled together behind a secret panel. On December 1 he was executed for high treason, and his body was tortured and quartered. Some of his blood fell on a young observer, who also later became a Jesuit and martyr, one of the 40 English martyrs of 16th century England.
Reflection: We look to the saints as examples and teachers for us. Today we look to St. Edmund Campion who worked to spread the Gospel even though he was only a few steps ahead of his captors and executioners. Fear of death did not stop him - he was eager and willing to risk all for the sake of the Gospel. He is one of the ones Christ spoke of who would receive thirty, sixty and a hundred fold in this life and eternal life in the life to come! We look to him as a man whose holiness made him willing to give all for Christ. And when his faithfulness to Christ required all, he was put to death. As the Master, so too the servant. Dear Lord, help us to use this Lent to learn to give more to you, to give our all to you and to continue to grow in holiness.
Week of 0000-00-00 ... St. Pascal Baylon
"Greatest" Saint of the Eucharist and Patron of Eucharistic Congresses.
By Teresa Monaghen
Recently, in the Archdiocese of Omaha we had a grand event, one that our area has not seen since the 1930's. It was the Second Eucharistic Congress in the Archdiocesan history and it was a tremendous experience. I have not participated in something so spectacular and deeply touching since I was in Rome in 1978, when Pope John Paul II became pope. Almost as soon as he started, he made the Eucharist central to his papacy by giving more attention to this all important presence of the Lord. He set aside a chapel for daily Eucharistic Adoration in the Basilica of St. Peter's and reinstated the practice at the Feast of Corpus Christi of processions through the streets of Rome. It shook the whole city the first time he did it, and coming back to our Eucharistic Congress, I think it shook us up too!
Little I did I know, that many years go in the time of Pope Leo XII a very special saint was designated to be the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses, Pascal Baylon. I look back and believe that he truly was watching over our Congress in Omaha, because the effects have been pervasive and a day does not go by that someone does not mention to me how moved they were by the experience and how it has drawn them back to a greater intimacy with the Eucharistic Jesus.
Who was Pascal? He was a shepherd boy born to Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera on May 24, 1540 in Aragon, Spain. Pascal was born on Pentecost and believe it or not, died on Pentecost of 1592! He was a simple, kind-hearted soul who loved the Lord above all things. In the fields he was often found on his knees praying. He had a great awareness of the Eucharistic Jesus and would face toward the local Church in town. He did not know how to read, but he pressed all those who passed by to stop and teach him a few letters. He wanted to be able to read the parts of Mass and spiritual books. Eventually he felt drawn to religious life and to commit himself to a life of prayer, adoration and penance. He joined the Franciscans and even though they wanted him to be a priest he preferred to stay a lay brother and took the jobs of doorkeeper and cook. He was known as the holy doorkeeper too! Many knew came to visit him. Uneducated as he was, he did everything he could to learn about God, read spiritual books and sacred scripture and write down all the little insights he had on the Eucharist. At a certain point he was even able to defend the real presence against a Calvinist Pastor, enduring beatings and rocks being thrown at him. He was almost killed by a Huguenot mob that was angry at his talk on the Eucharist.
In the most current encyclical of Pope John Paul II, on the Eucharist, the Holy Father invited us to contemplate the face of Jesus with the eyes of Mary. He said, "Mary will guide us, she has a profound relationship with the Eucharist" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia). Pascal many years prior had two great loves, the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Everyday he recited the rosary, wrote prayers to our Lady and grew in his love and understanding of the most Holy Sacrament.
Pascal died at 52 years of age, and poor and rich alike came to his funeral. They had been deeply touched by his holiness and his commitment to the Eucharistic Jesus. Pope Leo the XII, said that among the saints of the Eucharist, Pascal was the "greatest" and he made him the patron of Eucharistic congresses and Eucharistic organizations. He is also patron of cooks and doorkeepers. May 17 is his feast day.
What is the witness that Pascal gives us today?
1. He practiced the presence of God everywhere, in Church and out. Nature was the book where God revealed himself to Pascal and led him to adore the Eucharist.
2. He actively sought to learn everything he could about the real presence of Jesus and was able to even defend the teaching to very learned men!
3. His love for our Lady led him to Jesus in the Eucharist.
4. He nourished his spiritual life with constant spiritual reading and quiet acts of service.
St. Pascal, Saint of the Eucharist, pray for us!
Reflection by Msgr. Andrew Vaccari
St. Pascal Baylon inspires us to go forward from wherever we find ourselves in the spiritual life. He wanted to learn more, to learn how to read, to learn about the Eucharist, to be able to discuss the Eucharist, even with those who did not believe in the Real Presence or were opposed to this Catholic teaching. From his humble position as doorkeeper of the monastery, he teaches us to embrace the situation God puts us in our lives and to bring holiness to it. Just as the bread which becomes the Eucharist is humility changed into glory, so too is the humble doorkeeper of Aragon transformed into the glorious saint of the Eucharist. By his devotion and example, he opens the door for many of us to deeper love and adoration of Christ in the Eucharist.