Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Saint Vincent de Paul

Vincent came from a poor family of farmers, as was the case of many families in his area of Pouy in Gascony. His father tried very hard to provide for his growing family in a time where social welfare benefits did not exist.

Vincent was born in the year 1580 where he joined his other brothers and sisters. From an early age Vincent made known his wish to become a Priest and his devout father encouraged him in this ideal.

Though Vincent’s father only wished the best for his son by hoping that he would be a good and Holy Priest, Vincent’s own thoughts of entering the Priesthood may not have been so idealistic.

For Vincent like many youths born into impoverished families wished to escape the poverty cycle, and to gain for himself various distinctions and honours. Vincent was to succeed in his quest and became a Priest at the early age of only 20 years old! There were times when Vincent’s father would visit this son whom he loved, but Vincent was embarrassed that his father came from such humble stock, and he tried to hide this fact from his father.

Vincent made a few journeys to Rome upon becoming a Priest but his wish of early advancement did not materialise. Though Vincent struggled with pride he overcame this when he was kidnapped by renegades and taken as a prisoner and slave in Tunis from whence he escaped two years later.

This experience was to light a fire in Vincent’s heart for the poor and destitute in his native France. It was whilst serving as a tutor for a wealthy family that he took a new interest in the poor and suffering people in his own area. And also became concerned over the lack of religious zeal amongst the peoples both wealthy and poor.

This was enough to inspire Vincent upon his goal to be of help to the poor in a common sense approach, for he went to his wealthier Catholic community in order to gather donations for his mission, to help the poor help themselves.

This holy Priest's charity and humility grew as he saw the desperate poverty of many families and also of prisoners, Vincent became determined to do all he could to not only alleviate their conditions but to help them become self sufficient.

It was whilst he was Parish Priest in Bresse that another parishioner brought news of a family who were starving and had no means of support. In his Homily Vincent appealed to his congregation to give generously to this family, the parishioners who had a great respect for this Holy Priest did not disappoint him. It was from this occasion that Vincent was able to organise a more practical way of helping the poor, by drawing up a Rule which then became known as the Confraternity of charity, he then requested that the women take it in turns to visit the poor and homeless in their area.

Vincent had come far in his spiritual progress he was no longer proud nor was he longing for worldly positions, but he had a deep and abiding love for the poor and the imprisoned. He truly was a humble and loving Priest, just as his father and mother had wished and hoped for.

This was to become Vincent’s mission in life to help and serve the poor not as a person of importance but of being a servant to the poor, he embodied what True charity is!

His love for Jesus also became more intimate as he embraced Jesus love for the poor and longed to follow in His Lords footsteps, for he had come to recognise the face of Christ amidst the poor.

It was in 1625 that the Congregation of the Mission to serve the poor began in its infancy The Archbishop of the area approved of this new Mission and supplied a motherhouse for its members.

It was as he went about ministering to the poor that a young woman came to his attention who had a deep compassion for the poor, Louise de Marillac. Vincent approached Louise to help him serve the poor and so began the Daughters of Charity.

Vincent continued with the help of Louise and the Sisters to try and help the poor find dignity and to assist those to rise above their humble beginnings.

Vincent truly was an apostle of the poor and it is to them he gave his love through serving them as Jesus would have him do. Vincent became the servant of the poor, which was to inspire another who would also embrace this love and devotion to the needy.

St. Vincent de Paul died in 1660.

He was canonized by Pope Clement Xll in 1737

Monday, August 29, 2005

Blessed Mary MacKillop

Australia's First Saint

Mary MacKillop was born in the year 1842 on January 15th. Both her parents were from Scotland, and she was the eldest of what would be a large family of 8 siblings.

Mary was fortunate in that her father was literate and taught his children the fundamentals of their Faith, in that he had once studied for the Priesthood before marrying his wife, Flora. Alexander MacKillop though well taught in matters of Faith and other learned topics, was not as well learnt when it came to business enterprises, which was to bring great discomfort and trouble upon his growing family.

His wife Flora was also rather temperamental in the way she handled adversity, which was to bring their marriage under strain, though both Mary's parents loved each other deeply. But through many failed business enterprises Alexander was to land his family in some financial difficulties, and so both he and Flora were dependent upon the other members of the families and friends to help them out. This was to cause a deep embarrassment to Mary and her other brothers and sisters, in that they were dependent upon others for their livelihood and a roof over their heads.

So, it was at the age of 16 years, that Mary took it upon herself to help her parents and family by becoming employed as a governess, then a clerk as well as schooling the young boys and girls around her. This brought in much needed income to her floundering family.

Mary was born with an exceptional degree of common sense, in that neither parent possessed this much needed virtue!

It was while she was employed as a governess that she first met the charismatic priest, Father Julian Tennison Woods, whose vision of providing schools for the poor and destitute, was the driving force of his life. Mary too was to embrace and share this vision of providing an education to the poor youth who could then rise above their poverty and become self supportive.

But Australia was a very large and inhospitable land with few roads and even less modern transport, but neither Fr. Woods nor Mary would allow this to inhibit what they envisioned for the young people of their area. Both were filled with much hope and zeal for their mission!

But Mary was to be torn in two for a while, in that her Fathers inability to provide for their family left Mary in the position of having to provide financial support for both parents and her siblings. But Mary was resolute in heart, and so in 1866 she opened her first school naming it after St. Joseph, in the small town of Penola, when a disused stable became available. This was to be the start of something so big that neither Fr. Wood nor Mary could have imagined!

Young women soon came to hear of what Fr. Woods and Mary had started and began to join their mission, which led to the founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, for Mary had a deep devotion to this Great Saint.

But Mary’s life was to be peppered with extreme joy and also anguish, in that many misunderstood her strong and abiding belief in her Order and to provide the best possible education for the poor. In 1867, Mary started a school in Adelaide upon the request of the local Bishop. This work filled Mary's heart with great joy and she worked hard as did her fellow sisters in not only providing an education for the poor but in helping the destitute families in her area, including prostitutes and those released from prison.

This was to bring much heartache to Mary as some were opposed to her good works whilst others became jealous. Her once strong supporter Fr. Tennison Woods was to turn against Mary as he became increasingly unstable and tended to follow after those who pertained to having 'visions', rather than support her continued and valuable work amongst the poor.

This was to bring Mother Mary great distress and also upset her fellow sisters, when through misunderstanding, Mother Mary, by order of the Archbishop was excommunicated. This was repealed at a later date but through it all, Mary never once complained, nor did she become embittered though she suffered much!

Mary's inherent humility came to the fore. Therefore she was able to accept rejection, slander and calumny, whilst waiting upon the Good God to set things right, in humble submission to the Church authorities of that time. Mother Mary was to be completely exonerated at a later date from all adverse comments made against her.

But in 1872 Mother Mary MacKillop left the shores of Australia for Rome to have her Order of St Joseph officially approved by the Pope. Mary upon gaining the needed approval for her Order of Religious after the Pope made a few alterations, returned to Australia in 1875. Her trip was a great success and along with Mary came several women from Ireland who also embraced the ideal of providing an education for the poor youth in Australia as well as several priests!

Mother Mary even though she was Mother General of her Order still suffered persecutions and ridicule from those in power, most especially from several priests and bishops. But though she was disappointed, Mother Mary never allowed this to disturb her peace of heart, nor her vision for the Order.

Mary MacKillop truly lived the Spirit of St. Joseph in her humble submission to those in authority even if they are wrong. Mary never once criticized them nor did she lose her hope in God. Indeed the adversity which she faced merely strengthened her Faith and dependence upon God and her obedience to Holy Mother Church!

Despite several attempts by some Bishops to destroy her Order they never succeeded and there are still many Schools of St Joseph, which provide a good education for all of Australia to this day!

Mother Mary MacKillop died on 8 August 1909.

Mary was beatified by Pope John Paul on 19 January 1995.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saint Catherine of Siena

Doctor of the Church and Mystic

Catherine is one of the Churches greatest Saints and is also a Doctor of the Church, an amazing feet for someone who was nearly illiterate, let us take a closer look at Catherine’s life.

Catherine was born into an incredibly large family of 25 siblings later another would be born into this family of wool dye merchants. They were considered for those times to be lower middle class and therefore prosperous though not wealthy, so Catherine’s Father, Giacomo Siena was able to provide a decent upbringing in the year of Catherine’s birth, 1347.

But it was during this very year 1347 that the whole of Europe would be struck down with the Black Plague, which attacked all the peoples irrespective of position or wealth, for disease is no respecter of Class distinction!

This dreaded disease destroyed an estimated third of Europe’s population, and was to change society structures both, Government and also Religion. Many people due to lack of education blamed the Church for failing to cure the peoples of this disease, the Black Plague, which left many feeling disgruntled at the Church Hierarchy. The Church was not helped in that many of the Priests, Monks and Nuns whilst trying to help those who had been struck down with this disease, ended up by being infected with it themselves, which led to a decline in the Priesthood and Religious life, as many died of it.

So Catherine’s birth was fortuitous and very timely during this period of great upheaval for the Catholic Church. And God touched Catherine’s heart and soul at a very young age, for she was to experience Mystical events from her youth right through to adulthood. This began for her at the tender age of 6 where she would see and converse with her Angels, who taught the young Catherine to love prayer and solitude.

Catherine’s Mother, Monna Lapa was not so overjoyed at these mystical experiences, and wished for her daughter to live a normal life, which included the prospect of marriage. For though Giacomo provided for his family it was Monna Lapa who ruled her family with an iron glove, and who provided the discipline needed to look after her family of 26 children.

In the end both parents united in trying to discourage Catherine from a religious life by insisting that she do most of the household chores and the responsibility of looking after her brothers and sisters, alongside her Mother. But their efforts were to be in vein, for Catherine was determined as she had already Consecrated her virginity to her beloved Jesus, so though her parents planned a marriage their obstinate daughter refused to accept this and after many wrangles the parents of Catherine were able to acquiesce to their daughters wish.

It was around this time that Catherine’s Father allowed her to join the Third Order Dominicans, and his daughter then spent approx 3 years in her room which she described as her 'desert', where she embraced a spirit of solitude, and began practicing austerities. It was during this time when Catherine removed herself from the company of her family that she experienced a vision of Jesus who then betrothed her to Himself in a Mystical Marriage.

Upon this event Catherine left her room of solitude and began visiting and nursing the poor in her area, and due to her loving and compassionate personality and also her great wisdom she attracted many friends of like mind, to join her in this service of the poor.

The years that Catherine spent in her room also prepared her to face much opposition from those in authority in the Church, and Catherine began having discourses with the Nobility and the Church Hierarchy about the factions which were tearing the Catholic Church apart. Even though Catherine was known for her passionate love of the Church she also exhibited a spirit of great Joy and compassion which gained her many followers and also just as many complaints and rumours.

But Catherine was undeterred and displayed a fearless and determined stand to unite the Schism which was threatening to destroy the Church. She was known to write very forthright letters too many Cardinals irrespective of their power which criticized their handling of Church affairs.

This was a tumultuous time in Church history and with the aid of her good friend Raymond of Capua, Catherine wrote to Pope Gregory Xl and convinced him with strong language to return the Papacy to Rome instead of remaining at Avignon. Being fearless herself, Catherine had no understanding of timidity and therefore she spoke plainly to the Pope, "Be not a timorous child, but manly . . .", even though Catherine was direct she was also respectful of the Holy Fathers Position and peppered her letters with endearments. It was also at this time that Catherine was encouraged to personally visit the Holy Father in Avignon and plead for his return to Papal authority. Pope Gregory Xl then departed Avignon to take his rightful place in the Seat of Peter as the legitimate Pontiff, in Rome!

But the troubles did not cease and Pope Gregory Xl was to die the same year as his return to Rome in 1378, which led to further upheavals within the Church and to the Papacy itself. Upon the death of Pope Gregory Xl the Cardinals decided to elect an Italian as Pope in the hope that the Papacy would be strengthened within Rome, therefore Pope Urban Vl became the Supreme Pontiff. But this new Pope was to prove to be problematic in that Pope Urban Vl was deeply suspicious of everyone and anything fearing conspiracies in every hidden corner. His temper and inconsistencies then led the very same Cardinals to try and oppose him by electing a new Pope which was Pope Clement Vll.

It was during these Church intrigues and upheavals that the firm and steadfast spirit of Catherine was greatly needed, for she was to support the claim of Pope Urban Vl as the rightful Pontiff and not Clement Vll. So upon a request from Pope Urban Vl to help him unite the troubled Church, Catherine spent days and nights pleading his cause to all Cardinals and those in positions of authority.

But this was to take a heavy toll on Catherine’s health, and through her practice of austere disciplines including not eating food but subsisting on the Eucharist alone, Catherine’s health became very frail, it was also at this time that she dictated her 'dialogue' to her friend Raymond of Capua.

In the end Catherine’s health could not endure the extreme measures of her austere life, and she suffered what was the first stroke, she only partially recovered before she endured another stroke, which she never recovered from. During these fateful months Catherine suffered many agonies and also battled with demonic forces, until her strength was entirely spent.

Catherine died on April 29th, 1380; she was only 33 years of age.

St. Catherine she was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461.

St. Catherine of Siena was proclaimed a Doctor of The Church on the 4th October 1970.

Some Quotes:

"They do not sit in judgement on my servants or anyone else, but rejoice in every situation and every way of living they see. . . . Even when they see something that is clearly sinful, they do not pass judgement, but rather feel a holy and genuine compassion, praying for the sinner." – Saint Catherine of Siena.

"Whenever you think God has shown you other people's faults, take care: your own judgment may well be at fault. Say nothing. And if you do attribute any vice to another person, immediately and humbly look for it in yourself also. Should the other person really possess that vice, he will correct himself so much the better when he sees how gently you understand him, and he will say to himself whatever you would have told him." – Saint Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

St Mary Mazzarello

Mary Mazzarello, like many of those we have read, was born into a poor family of country peasants, she was the eldest child born to parents Joseph and Maddalena in the year 1837 on the 9th of May.
Mary lived with her family in the small village of of Mornese where her family lived on a small farm not far from Genoa, Italy. Like many families of that time Mary's family were devout Catholics who worked hard on the land in order to provide for their growing family.
So coming from such hardy stock Mary grew strong and resilient and would often walk long miles to attend Mass. It was then that Mary heard about and joined the sodality of Mary as she had a very great love for our Blessed Mother. Mary also tried to do charitable works when she had finished her daily duties at home. For like many poor families Mary's parents relied on her to help out on the farm, and to provide a good example for her other siblings, Mary did not disappoint them.
It was whilst she was administering to her charitable work that Mary caught the dreaded disease typhoid and nearly died. This was to have long term affects on her health and when she recovered from this dreaded illness she was no longer the robust Mary of old. This had consequences for her family in that she could no longer do the arduous work that farm life entailed, so Mary in an attempt to help her family financially and to also provide a private income for herself decided to take up dressmaking.
In order to prosper at this venture Mary went into partnership with a friend, and as the orders flowed they then decided to employ young girls of the region to work for them in their dress making business.
Mary was also aware of the works of the Priest Don Bosco and tired to emulate his charism by employing young girls of dubious background and tried to instil in these girls virtue through hard work and self respect.
Don Bosco himself encouraged Mary in this venture, and it was then that they both collaborated in forming 'The Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians' in the year 1872. Don Bosco himself wrote out the rule for this new order and of course placed Mary as its first Superior, he also donated to them find their first home for girls.
This was to cause some disturbance in the nearby villages who were against such an idea, fearing that the young girls and boys would be unruly and would bring trouble to their village. The villagers at times showed great discourtesy to Mary and her Sisters, none of which stopped the Sisters from their vocation.
But Mary would not allow these petty annoyances to interfere in her and Don Bosco's vision of providing a better life for those young boys and girls who were born impoverished. Their ideal was to inculcate these young people with a love for God, Church and also of self respect and a respect for others, this took time and patience and a lot of hard work.
They were fortunate in that Mary was never afraid of hard work, in that she too was born into a peasant family, so she understood some of the problems the young girls who were in her care may have encountered. This is why Mary tried to teach her girls the virtues and also a sense of decorum in their lifestyles as well as providing them with an education with the assistance of her fellow Sisters and Don Bosco himself.
Mother Mary and Don Bosco succeeded in this venture beyond their imaginings during her own life time she was to see the opening of 13 more convents which provided help for the poor youth in the area and also became a training ground for her Sisters in their aspirations to join the Missions world wide.
But Mary who had become weakened and never fully recovered from her bout with typhoid many years earlier, became frail as time went on. It was while on a business trip that she fell seriously ill and a Priest was called to administer the Last Rites. As she lay dying Mother Mary was heard quietly singing hymns to her beloved Blessed Mother!
Mother Mary Mazzarelllo died in 1881 at only 44 years of age.
She was canonized in 1951 by Pope PiusXll.
Mother Mary Mazzerello and Don Bosco lived the true meaning of Charity of spirit and both are buried beside each other. Their Mission continues to this very day!
Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 22, 2005

St John Bosco

John Bosco was born into an impoverished family in the year 1815 in a small house around the Piedmont area of Italy. Both his parents tried their hardest to provide for their family, but, when John was only 2 years old his father died, leaving his mother, Margaret to be the sole provider. To help support his Mother and family, John was hired out as a shepherd to the local farmers of the region. This was hard for the young John as he was an extrovert by nature and he possessed an avid curiosity to learn as much as he could.

The young John would sometimes go to circuses, and then to the amusement of his friends he would play act the performances he saw, and also some of the tricks that were used, but this was not enough to satisfy the longing John had in his wish to enter the Priesthood. He confided this longing to his Mother who allowed him to attend school for part of the year in order to gain an education to enter the Seminary. Though times were hard, like many mothers, Margaret wanted the best for her children, so she made no objections upon hearing of John's desire to enter the Priesthood at such a young age.

Finally the day came when John could fulfill his deepest desire and enter the Seminary to become a Priest. In order for him to attend college and the Seminary John worked at many jobs as a shoemaker, baker and carpenter, whilst studying diligently at the same time. Johns Gift in being able to retain facts would be of great benefit to him, as his curious mind grasped the deepest mysteries of our Faith.

But being exuberant in nature, Johns love of people shone forth and his compassion for young and troubled boys soon became evident to those around him. Johns sense of humour also made him accessible to these troubled young lads. Finally the day came when he entered the Priesthood his Mother, Margaret who was overcome with joy at the Faith John displayed begged him to always be a good role model and Priest, John indeed was to keep his word!

But it was as he worked in these different jobs that John Bosco came to see and recognise the plight of the poor young boys of his country and soon realised that if help was not given to them then they would probably enter into the criminal underworld. But though Don Bosco knew the plight of the boys he also knew that it would take more than handouts to help them gain self respect and also to maintain their Faith in God and the Church.

Hence from this Don Bosco was to begin his fledgling vocation, to save the boys from a fate worse than death, he wanted to help save their souls before they were lost to the criminal elements surrounding them. Coming from a poor background himself enabled Don Bosco to connect with the youth in his area and to gain their trust and respect.

In order to teach the boys the Faith of the Catholic Church, Don Bosco chose to weave familiar parables and also short analogues in order for the boys to understand that God never changes but that He could change them for the better. Don Bosco in order to provide a home for these boys bought a derelict farm almost uninhabitable, but with the help of these very same boys he taught them how to do carpentry and other necessities, it was not long before the farm was up and running.

But Don Bosco also knew that young boys also needed time to play and fool around in a jocular manner and he encouraged their play time, in that it allowed them all to exert their energies into a wholesome way of having plain simple good fun. So the daily life of the boys soon fell into a daily routine of building, growing vegetables and generally working the farm to help make it self productive.

Though the boys worked hard and played hard Don Bosco did not neglect their spiritual needs and instructed them in the Faith, and what God expects from each of them, for this Priest embraced the work ethic alongside their spiritual development. So from his example the boys tried to live in order to please God through their work and their lives.

From these early beginnings began Don Bosco's Order the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, which would become known as 'The Salesians', but it was not all plain sailing for this affable Priest. In trying to secure a better future for his beloved boys, also brought criticism from those around him and many complaints were lodged against Don Bosco and his venture to help the poor youth in his area. But Don Bosco was resolute in nature and nothing would deter him from this vocation, in providing a sustainable livelihood for the boys that entered his home, so that their future could also be guaranteed!

Things were to become so difficult for Don Bosco that he was joined by his Mother, Margaret to help provide the boys with a security and a love which only a mother figure could provide. So, Margaret Bosco was soon to become the 'mother' of hundreds of boys. In order to help her son in his mission, Margaret sold everything she possessed in the world for she knew within her own heart that these boys would be lost if help was not provided, therefore she gave all she had, including herself.

Don Bosco was the sole provider and also the only hope for these boys, for this Holy Priest knew that in order for the boys to respect others they must first start with themselves. He knew the vices which could lead any of these young boys astray and so through love, acceptance, compassion and discipline he taught these troubled youths, self control and self discipline not by the rod but by love.

This Holy Priest tried to instill in these boys a sense of self worth, by giving them hope for their futures that there was a way out of the poverty cycle. Don Bosco also instructed the boys in the virtues and to strive with all their might to embrace these virtues and to ward off sin in all its forms. He instructed the boys in all elements of the Faith and encouraged strongly the frequent use of the Sacraments, most especially that of Penance.

From his own youth the young John Bosco was the recipient of many visions, which helped guide him to helping his precious boys to the Light of Jesus and a firm foundation in the Tenets of the Church, he never wavered from the mission that God and our Lady asked of him. Later Don Bosco would be joined in his mission by Mary Mazzarello who would also follow his rule in providing a good and wholesome place to help the troubled young girls of her area. Both Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello would become Saints.

Saint John Bosco died at the age of seventy-two in 1888 and was canonized in 1934, by Pope Pius XI.

Quotes from St. John Bosco

My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.

Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.

This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God's mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.

Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saint John Bosco

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Saint Andrew- Apostle and Martyr

Name Meaning: strong, manly

Patronage: Achaia; Amalfi Italy; anglers; Berchtesgaden, Germany; Burgundy; diocese of Constantinople; diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; fish dealers; fish mongers; fishermen; gout; Greece; Lampertheim, Germany; maidens; old maids; Patras Greece; Russia; Scotland; singers; sore throats; spinsters; University of Patras; unmarried women; women who wish to become mothers

Representation: fish; fishing net; man bound to a cross; man preaching from a cross; preacher holding some fish; Saint Andrew's cross; saltire (x-shaped) cross

Died: circa 60 AD (during the time of Nero's persecutions)

Saint Andrew was the first disciple to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Born near Bethsaida in Galilee, he was a fisherman along with his brother, Saint Peter.

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, until John proclaimed Jesus as greater than he, “Behold, the Lamb of God”. Then Andrew, along with another disciple of John the Baptist, Saint John the Apostle, began to follow Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following Him, he asked what they were looking for and their reply was that they wanted to see where He was staying. So, He had them accompany Him to where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. Andrew then went and found Simon Peter and said to him, “we have found the Messiah”, then Andrew took Peter to Jesus. Thus, it is rightfully said, that Andrew led people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion, and I might add, that he was the FIRST disciple to lead another to Jesus, as he led his brother Simon Peter to the Messiah.

Andrew and Peter returned to their business of fishing and their everyday lives, and Jesus came to them, and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fisher's of men”, and from that day, they left their former lives behind and began following Jesus Christ.

It was Andrew who at the feeding of the multitude, pointed out the boy with the loaves and fishes in John 6:5-9: When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to try him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes. But what are these among so many?

Andrew was among those whom the Lord appeared to after His resurrection, and also was present at His Ascension into The Heavenly Kingdom. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Andrew preached in many places according to the writings of The Early Church Fathers, among them: Cappadocia, Galatia, Bithynia, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia. There is also a tradition (which some say is unfounded) that when he preached in Russia, he reached as far as Kiev in the Ukraine, and possibly Poland. There is also a tradition that he preached in Ethiopia as well.

Nevertheless, Andrew soon went to Patras, a city of Achaia, where he was violently persecuted and pressed by the proconsul Aegeas to offer sacrifice to the gods and idols. Andrew's answer to him was as follows: "I daily offer sacrifice to God; not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of rams, but an unspotted Lamb; and although all the faithful may have partaken of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains as before He was offered, alive and undivided." Aegeas was enraged, and threw Andrew into prison, the next day had him scourged, and once again tried to force him into sacrificing to the gods and idols, and once again, Andrew refused. The proconsul Aegeas then condemned Andrew to be put to death by crucifixion. Upon seeing the cross, Andrew's reaction was one of joy, and he embraced it saying: "O good cross, that was adorned with the limbs of Christ, thee have I long desired; thee have I fervently loved; thee have I continually sought. Now thou art made ready for me, according to the wish of my heart. Take me away from men, and restore me again to my Master, that through thee I may come to Him Who through thee has redeemed me."

The cross used to crucify Andrew was a saltire or decussate cross (an X shaped cross), now known as Saint Andrew's cross. Andrew was not nailed to the cross, but was tied to it in order to increase and prolong his suffering. Andrew preached from this cross for two days to 20,000 people before being restored to his Master. His Feast Day in both the Latin and the Greek Churches is November 30. He is the Patron of both Scotland and Russia.

From a homily on the Gospel of John by Saint John Chrysostom:

After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother Peter. Notice what Andrew said to him: "We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ." Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. Andrew's words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, loving kinship and sincere affection.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth Catez was born on July 18th 1880, her family on both sides had military backgrounds, being that her father at her time of birth was serving in the French Military and her mother's family had also served in the military. So Elizabeth was raised in an atmosphere of service, duty, honour, courage and integrity, which suited her robust nature. For one could never describe the infant Elizabeth as a placid child, she was more of a holy terror than an angel.

Elizabeth would be quite the handful for her mother, Marie, who tried her best to instill all the virtues of meekness, humility and obedience. All these qualities did not come easy to the infant Elizabeth, much to her mothers embarrassment! For Elizabeth was born with an iron will and an exuberant nature, which could also be volatile. When she felt thwarted in anyway, she would often burst out in fits of rage. Elizabeth was indeed a handful for her mother to raise.

But Elizabeth was also raised in a devout Catholic family, and in a contradiction contrary to her nature, she came to embrace prayer, which helped to temper her more erratic emotional tantrums. This allowed her Mother a rest from having to deal with her very strong willed child.

The years 1883 to 1887 were to be marked with great joy and also great sorrow, for in 1883 Marie gave birth to her second daughter whom the parents named Marguerite. She was to become a beloved sister to the temperamental Elizabeth. But the family were also to be marked with tragedies when in January 1887 Elizabeth’s Maternal Grandfather died, which was soon followed by the death of her beloved Papa Joseph, in October of the same year, from a heart attack at the young age of only fifty five years.

Accordingly Marie Catez was distraught at having lost both her Father and husband, whilst being left to raise two daughters on her own. Marie, due to some financial difficulties, then moved from their loved home into an apartment in Dijon, not far from the Carmelite Convent which was close in proximity, and was to later play an important part in all their lives.

Due to the deaths of her beloved Grandfather and Papa, Elizabeth temper tantrums grew worse, leaving her Mother at her wits end as to how to cope with this most rumbustious child. So Marie turned to their Faith for help and it was during the preparation for Elizabeth’s first Communion, that a change was to occur within the inner life of this most exceptional child, which was Elizabeth.

It was upon experiencing the Sacrament of Penance which drove home to Elizabeth the importance of self control, and also a longing to please God. It was then that Elizabeth started to strive to do better, though it would take still more years before she fully conquered her volatile temper.

But it was in receiving her first Holy Communion that Elizabeth finally conquered her strong will and also that God touched this child with a deep and abiding love for the Triune Spirit, which was to change Elizabeth forever. Marie was at first delighted with the change that was occurring within her daughter, as the family of three were devoted to each other, and Elizabeth finally became the dutiful and loving daughter that Marie had prayed for, these many years.

But God was to touch Elizabeth’s heart in a way that her Mother did not welcome, for she loved both her daughters, Elizabeth and Marguerite with intensity due to having sole responsibility for raising them on her own. Marie was a devoted and also possessive Mother of her two devoted and loving daughters, therefore when Elizabeth first confided her longing to join Carmel at only 14 years of age her mother was very much opposed!

But the longing that was in Elizabeth’s heart could not be thwarted, and at the age of 19 Elizabeth once again approached her mother, and Marie with a very real sorrow agreed with her daughter that she could enter Carmel upon her 21st Birthday. During this intermediary time of waiting, Elizabeth read 'The Story of a Soul', the autobiography of Therese of Lisieux, which was to have a profound affect upon the young Elizabeth, who also wished to embrace this 'Little Way'.

During this time, God was also working within the soul of this extraordinary young girl with a profound love and desire for the Holy Trinity, and her awareness of the Presence of the Triune Spirit indwelling within Elizabeth. So though Elizabeth waited with great patience to enter her Beloved Carmel, she also took an active part in her local Catholic community alongside her beloved sister Marguerite, who helped instruct the poorer children their area.

But Elizabeth would not be thwarted again and so in the year 1901 she was to finally enter her beloved Convent of Carmel, upon which she was given the name Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. During this time Sister Elizabeth was also to embrace the teachings of John of the Cross and she developed a love for the Letters of Paul, which echoed what she was feeling within the depth of her innermost being most especially this Scripture, when Paul expands on his love for Christ, "loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Sister Elizabeth’s love and also her crystal clear vision of the Holy Trinity would consume her soul and the touch of the Mystical entered her heart in a most profound and exceptional way, for she was to love the Holy Trinity with a passion reserved for the pure in heart. It was whilst she pondered the Letters of Paul that Sister Elizabeth developed the theme to her life, which was to live as a ' Praise of Glory' to her Beloved Spouse.

But even as Sister Elizabeth was growing in Holiness, the shadow of the 'dark night' would enter her soul, and cloud the vision of The Triune Spirit, from within her. But this did not deter Elizabeth who loved what she could not see nor glimpse, so while her soul was immersed in the abyss of complete darkness and aridity of soul, still Elizabeth chose love, not to seek consolation for herself but to console her Beloved and Divine Spouse.

But ill health was also to shadow Elizabeth’s joy and also her agony of finding herself in this impenetrable darkness, which engulfed her whole being and her very soul. Elizabeth loved God not for herself but because God is totally Lovable, she sought to give to God rather than to receive, for her heart was God's alone.

But the shadow of death did not elude Elizabeth for long and she as a loving spouse embraced her coming death as her dearest wish to be one united with her Beloved Triune Spirit for eternity. Elizabeth was diagnosed with Addison’s disease which ravaged this young girl’s body with a ferociousness that defies description; suffice to say her own 'passion' echoed that of her Divine Spouse. As her body withered under the onslaught of this dreaded illness, her suffering was immense.

Sister Elizabeth lived the meaning of her name 'house of God' as her body was ravaged and her spirit grew strong in Holiness, in the last hours of her life, her fellow sisters surrounded her bed, the last words Elizabeth uttered were..."I am going to Light, to Love, to Life." Elizabeth died on November 9, 1906.

Pope John Paul II beatified Elizabeth of the Trinity on November 25, 1984.

Quotes from Blessed Elizabeth

"The soul that wants to serve God day and night must be resolved to share fully in its Master's passion. It is one of the redeemed who in its turn must redeem other souls."

"All three persons dwell in the soul that loves them in truth."

"The contemplative is constantly covering the world with her co-redeeming prayer. This is what Our Lady did."

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Saint Teresa of the Andes

St Teresa of the Andes

Patronage: bodily ills, illness, sick people, sickness, young people in general

Before entering Carmel in 1918, a young eighteen year old Chilean girl, attracted by Christ, explained thus to her hurt and scandalized brother the reasons for her vocation: "There is, in the soul, an unquenchable thirst for happiness. I want to love something infinite, and I do not want the one I love to change or be a plaything of its passions, circumstances of time and life. Love, yes, but love the immutable Being, God, who has loved me infinitely from all eternity." The natural desire for happiness is of divine origin; God put it in man's heart in order to draw him to Himself who alone can fulfill it.

On March 21, 1993, at the canonization of Saint Teresa of the Andes, Pope John Paul II declared: "To a secularized society which lives with its back turned to God, I have the joy to present, as a model of the everlasting youth of the Gospel, this Chilean Carmelite. She brings to men of today the limpid witness of a life which proclaims that it is in the love, adoration and service of God that grandeur and joy, freedom and the full realization of the human creature are found. The life of Blessed Teresa cries out softly from the cloister: God alone suffices!"
Juana Fernandez Solar was born on July 13, 1900 in a well-to-do family of Santiago, Chile (Latin America). From her childhood she manifested an ardent personality, full of heart and intelligence and animated with a great desire for God.

In spite of these good dispositions, Juana did not lack defects. She was stubborn, vain and egoistic, given to pouting and whims. "I sometimes went into a ferocious rage," she would later say. With the help of her family (she had five brothers and sisters) and especially by the grace of her Baptism, she led a tough battle against her inclinations, especially against her hot and emotional temper, which was influenced by her fragile health. One day, her sister Rebecca was so taken away with Juana that she hit her with all her strength. Juana wanted to strike back with the same vigor but instead she kissed her. Victorious over her anger, Juana went meekly away.

Since then, my Jesus speaks to me. I did everything with Jesus and for Jesus."
On December 8, 1915, with the permission of her confessor, Juana consecrated herself to God by the vow of chastity. In 1916, Juana made her first retreat according to the method of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. After meditating on the "Call of Christ the King," she wrote: "Be disposed to follow Jesus wherever He wants. He chose poverty, humiliations, the cross. In spite of her trials and illnesses, Juana remained a joyful and friendly young girl.

Juana heard God's call: "How happy I am, my dear little sister!" she wrote Rebecca on April 15, 1916. "Each day I long to go to Carmel to be occupied with Jesus alone, to be merged into Him and no longer live but on His life: to love and suffer to save souls. Yes, I thirst for souls because I know that is what my Jesus loves most. The demands of conversion concern all the children of the Church. By the vow of poverty, they forsake the personal possession of earthly goods; by the vow of chastity, they renounce marriage; by the vow of obedience, they surrender legitimate autonomy in the direction of their life. This absolute love is a valuable example for all Christians.

In September 1917, Juana wrote to the Prioress of the Carmelite Convent of Los Andes, situated at the foot of the mountain range of the same name, 70 km from Santiago, and expressed her desire to enter the convent. "The life of a Carmelite is suffering, love and prayer, and such is my ideal. My Reverend Mother, my Jesus has taught me these three things ever since my childhood."

In the spring of 1918, she offered herself as a victim of love and expiation, in answer to an inspiration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Shortly afterwards, her soul was shrouded in darkness. She confided to a priest her state of interior suffering, adding: "I am not surprised, my Reverend Father, because I have asked Christ to deprive me of all consolation, so that other souls whom I love may find peace and joy in the sacraments and prayer."

The redemptive Passion of Christ has conferred a new meaning upon suffering which is a consequence of original sin: it can now be a share in the salvific work of Jesus. There is a constant bond of love and an abundant exchange of all goods among the faithful-those in Heaven, in Purgatory and on the earth-which is called the communion of saints. On January 11, 1919, Juana and her mother visited the Carmelite Convent of Los Andes, chosen because it was the poorest in Chile.

Mrs. Fernandez had been observing the action of grace in her daughter's soul. In the spring of 1919, Juana, wrote to her father in order to obtain his consent. Going against the natural instincts of his heart, he answered, "My child, if such is the will of God, I am not opposed." Filled with joy, Juana exclaimed: "Saint Joseph has done the miracle!"

On May 7, 1919, the doors of the Carmel of Los Andes closed behind the postulant who would be called Sister Teresa of Jesus, Teresa of the Andes. "Blessed be God," she wrote to her mother the following day. "I am in my little convent. I am taking great care to walk in wooden shoes. In every religious community, poverty is in honor. Without denying the worth of created goods, voluntary poverty places them in their true, contingent perspective. Its first meaning is to bear witness to God who is the true wealth of the human heart, out of imitation of Christ in poverty: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5: 3). In a materialistic world so often eager to possess, oblivious to the needs and sufferings of the weakest, evangelical poverty forcefully exposes the idolatry of money.

On October 14, 1919, Sister Teresa received the Carmelite habit, in the presence of her family and a number of friends. At the beginning of March 1920, Sister Teresa affirmed that she would die in a month. On the 12th, after just eleven months of Carmelite life, Sister Teresa of Jesus entered into the joy of Heaven.

The influence of Saint Teresa of the Andes is surprising for a young girl who died at the age of twenty. Her life, inconspicuous for a society impressed with temporal success, is nevertheless proposed by the Church as an example of human achievement. The secret of Chile's saint is found in her deep union with Christ and in the practice of true love, poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us (Rm 5: 5). This Love, unlike the false love which seeks egoistic pleasure, is identified with the gift of self without counting; it procures true happiness for man.

When I love, it’s forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls she has loved in the world' (August 1919). Teresa's burning love moved her to long to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus. `We are co-redeemers of the world, and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without the cross'

Pope John Paul II declared at her canonization: "God made the light of His Son Jesus Christ shine in her in a wonderful fashion, so that she might be a beacon and a guide for a blind world which is incapable of discerning divine splendor To youths who are continually being attracted by the messages and suggestions of an erotic culture, to a society which confuses authentic love which is the gift of self, with the hedonistic use (for one's own pleasure) of others, this young virgin of the Andes proclaims the beauty and the happiness which flows from pure hearts.

Some thoughts of St Teresa of Los Andes

"Who can make me happier than God? I find all things in Him.

"Always look for God. In Him is the source of all bliss. Apart from Him, happiness is impossible. God alone suffices... Men's hearts love one day and on the next they are indifferent. God alone never changes.

I shall take great pains to work for the happiness of others... My resolution: to sacrifice myself for others.... I must strive to be more loving.

A believing soul possesses all things because it possesses God... Everything changes when you look at this divine Sun... With faith, sufferings are transformed.

When you are in love, everything is a joy; the cross is no burden and you are unaffected by martyrdom; you live in heaven rather than on earth.

How your life would be transformed if you went to Jesus often as to your intimate friend!

Let us take notice of our neighbour and serve him, even though we find it repugnant to do so. In this way we will find that the throne of our heart will be occupied by its Owner, by God.

In the shadow of the Cross, all bitterness vanishes... Souls are shaped on the anvil of sorrows.

To lovingly offer ourselves to the Father in order to accomplish his adorable will. This I reckon is the plan of holiness.

God is thirsting for the love of His creatures. The same God is our beggar. Let us give ourselves to Him. Let us not be mean... Let us not look at what we are doing, but at the extent of our failure to correspond to His love.

Always take the Most Blessed Virgin as your model. Speak to her, heart to heart... Ask her to be your guide, to be your star, the lighthouse which shines in the midst of the darkness of your life.

Blessed Titus Brandsma-Martyr

Blessed Titus Brandsma

Not too many people have heard of the heroic Priest Titus Brandsma; let us take a more intimate look at this great man of Faith and courage, who lived the true meaning of living and dying for love of God and his fellow man.

Anno Brandsma was born in a little hamlet area of Friesland, Holland in the year 1881 on February 23; he was born into a very tight knit but loving family. His Mother was of an anxious nature and so was very protective of her family, as was his Father, Titus, who was also very proud of their Friesland heritage. Catholicism was not well embraced where the Brandsma family lived and so Titus as head of their home became involved in local politics as he tried hard to preserve their culture from modern intrusion.

But also apart from politics Titus, Anno's father made his living as a dairy farmer in that region of Holland, where he focused on producing milk and cheese to be sold. It was hard living with very few modern conviences, so all the children from early on were raised with a great work ethic as well as a strong Catholic Faith.

Anno attended the Franciscan school or 'gymnasium' at Megen, Holland, many of the students from this school like Anno would later enter the Priesthood. But Anno told others that he didn’t particularly like this school and preferred a more communal approach in living and studying their Faith and the schools other curricular activities.

Upon completion of his studies with the Franciscans, Anno Brandsma felt a calling to embrace the Carmelite Order; he entered the Carmelite Monastery in Boxmeer Holland in the year 1898, where he took his fathers name Titus as his religious name. From the beginning of entering the Carmelite Monastery, Titus showed an extraordinary gift for journalism and writing. Titus was ordained a Catholic Priest on June 17, 1905, and after further studies at the Roman Gregorian University, graduated on October 25, 1909 with a doctorate in philosophy.
Father Titus Brandsma spent his early Ministry in education where he joined the faculty of the newly founded Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1923. Because of Fr. Titus journalistic interests and gift of writing the Archbishop De Jong of Utrecht appointed Fr. Titus as spiritual advisor to the staff members of the more than thirty Catholic newspapers in Holland; this coincided with the more virulent and tyrannical presence of the Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler! It didn’t take long for Fr. Titus to begin criticizing the new German Leadership.
When the Germans invaded Holland in the year 1940 then began the persecution of the Jewish people, upon this the Dutch resistance rose up to counteract the Nazi oppression. Also the Catholic Hierarchy announced that the Sacraments would be refused to Catholics who supported the Nazi occupation and it’s Regime!
During this difficult and most dangerous of times Fr. Titus Brandsma also became more involved in the Dutch resistance, making little effort to conceal his activities from the Nazi's. And it was his refusal and the Church's refusal to print National Socialist propaganda which infuriated the Nazi's. Especially as Fr. Titus also felt compelled to personally deliver to each Catholic editor a letter from the bishops ordering them not to comply with a new law requiring them to print official Nazi publications.
This proved to be too much provocation for the Nazi's and they arrested Father Titus on January 19, 1942; he was interned at Scheveningen and Amersfoort in Holland before being sent to Dachau, where he arrived on June 19, 1942.
Father Titus Brandsma's health was always a little fragile and he suffered periodically with kidney infections throughout the 1930's. So the brutal conditions at Dachau quickly saw his health decline rapidly. Fr. Titus had many times to visit the camp 'hospital' due to his health problems, which then enabled the Nazi's to use this Holy Priest for biological experiments!
But even though Father Titus was imprisoned at Dachau, these were not empty years, as Fr. Titus kept up his prolific abilities to write with deep and mystical meaning upon suffering, and also other holy works.
But unfortunately this Holy Priest health could not stand up to the brutal beatings, forced labour and the vile experiments upon his emaciated figure. Father Titus Brandsma a man and a Priest of Holy and Courageous countenance was killed by the Nazi's with a lethal injection on July 26th in 1942!
This was a Priest who lived a joy filled life even amidst the greatest evil; he is a testament to the Spirit of Love for God and his fellow man. He is a modern mystic, though many of his writings were lost during the years of the war what remained is Mystical Theology based on his own sufferings and that of the Church. Though he did not seek martyrdom yet he bowed with humility when it embraced him as one who is called to atone for the many. With a Christ like love he forgave his enemies and is a shining example of love conquering evil!

Titus Brandsma, 0. Carm. was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul, II on November 1985.
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Saints Joachim and Anne

Saints Joachim and Anne- Parents of the Virgin Mary

Feast Day-July 26th

Saint Joachim

Husband of St. Anne and father of the Virgin Mary and grandfather of Jesus Christ. Joachim meaning “Yahweh prepares”.


Fathers, grandfathers, grandparents


Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Saint Anne

Mother of Our Lady. Grandmother of Jesus Christ. Wife of Saint Joachim. Anne meaning “grace” or “gracious one”


Against poverty, broom makers, cabinetmakers, Canada, carpenters, childless people, equestrians, France, grandmothers, grandparents, homemakers, horse men, housewives, lace makers, lace workers, lost articles, miners, mothers, diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, old-clothes dealers, poverty, pregnancy, pregnant women, Quebec, Santa Ana Indian Pueblo, riders, seamstresses, stablemen, sterility, Taos New Mexico, turners, women in labor.


Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin. Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; woman with a book in her hand.

It was in the home of Joachim and Ann where the Virgin Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Joachim belonged to the tribe of Judah and the house of David. Tradition tells us that he and his wife came from Galilee. They lived in Nazareth and there the Blessed Mother lived.

Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, having no children was seen as a curse from God in that time. They continued to pray and God answered their prayers when the Virgin Mary was born. She was dedicated to God at a very early age. This was their greatest honour, to be the parent's of Mary, the Mother of God and the Grandparents of Jesus.
It was in the womb of Saint Anne that Mary was immaculately conceived. From the first instant of her life, she was in a state of grace and free from all stain of Original Sin. It was her parents, Anne and Joachim that raised her to be faithful to God's word and remain free of sin. They taught her to love and follow God's word and to know and understand the Scriptures. Three very considerable proofs may be adduced of their ardent love for God: the sanctity of their manners and the purity of their life, which, says St. Jerome, was simple, innocent and upright before God, and irreproachable before men; their great charity for their neighbor which is the just measure of one's love for God, since if we have little for the one, we have little for the other. If charity for our neighbor dwells not in our heart, neither does love of God dwell there: "If any man say I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 Jn. 4:20). Finally, their love for God led them to deprive themselves of their well beloved Child, their sole glory, treasure, consolation, all their delight.

According to the words of the Son of God, humility is the measure of sanctity (Mt. 18:4). The very eminent sanctity of St. Joachim and St. Anne, then, is conclusive proof that their humility was profound. Moreover, God elevated them to the sublime dignity of father and mother of the Queen of Heaven, and grandparents of the sovereign Monarch of the universe. This is another infallible proof of their wonderful humility, since Divine Majesty exalts only the humble.
When the Angel Gabriel came to her at the Annunciation, Mary knew the prophecies of Jesus' life and death. She knew the full extent of the honour and pain she would experience when she gave her 'fiat.'

The way Mary dealt with crisis and how she cared for Elizabeth when she was pregnant give clues to the influence of her parents.

St. John Damascene, speaking of St. Joachim and St. Anne, writes :

O blessed couple, all the world is indebted to you, for it is by your means that it can offer to its Creator the most excellent gift possible, her who is worthy to be Mother of His only Son. O blessed Joachim, who hast merited to be father of the most holy Mother of God! O worthy womb of Ann, which formed, nourished and produced so holy and marvelous a fruit, which carried within it a living heaven more vast than all the heavens! O blessed breasts, which fed the nurse of Him Who nourishes the world! O miracle of miracles! O most prodigious of all marvels! O blessed Joachim and Ann, who, in living chastely and holily, have produced the treasure of virginity!

God of our fathers, you gave Saints Joachim and Anne the privilege of being the parents of Mary, the mother of your incarnate Son. May their prayers help us to attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Saint Peregrine Laziosi

Also known as: Peregrinus

Born: Forli, Italy 1265

Died: Forli, Italy May 1, 1345

Beatified: September 11, 1702 by Pope Clement XI

Canonized: December 27, 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII

Patronage: Cancer patients; against cancer; AIDS sufferers; breast cancer; open sores; sick people; skin diseases; Forli,Italy

Saint Peregrine was born wealthy, and spent a wild, worldly youth, and became involved in politics. He was initially strong anti-Catholic. At the time, Forli was governed by the Pope as part of the Papal States, and Peregrine's family was involved in the opposition to the Papal rule. The city was under the Church penalty of interdict which meant that Mass and the Sacraments could not be celebrated there. Saint Philip Benizi had gone to Forli to preach reconciliation, and the impetuous Peregrine struck him across the face, and Saint Philip Benizi, calmly turned the other cheek, prayed for Peregrine, and Peregrine converted.

Peregrine received a vision of Our Lady who told him to go to Siena, Italy and join the Servites. After training and ordination he was assigned to his home town. He lived and worked in silence and in solitude as much as possible, and without sitting down for 30 years as penance for his youthful life. When he did speak, he was an excellent orator, fervent preacher, and gentle confessor.

At the age of 60, as a result of his penance from all those years of standing, he developed varicose veins which deteriorated into an open, running sore on his leg, which was eventually diagnosed as cancer. The sore became so obvious, odorous, and painful, that Peregrine was scheduled to have the leg amputated. All night long the night before the operation, he prayed before the image of the crucified Christ. He received a vision of Christ coming down from the Cross and touching and healing his leg. Upon awakening, he found the sore healed, and his leg saved. He lived another 20 years before dying of natural causes at the age of 80. The people of Forli chose him as the Patron Saint of their city.
Copyright © 2005 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Saint Jude Thaddeus-Apostle and Martyr

Saint Jude Thaddeus

Memorial:28 October (Roman Church); 19 June (Eastern Church)

Patronage: desperate situations; forgotten causes; hospital workers; hospitals; impossible causes; lost causes diocese of Saint Petersburg, Florida

Representation: axe; bearded man holding an oar; boat; boat hook; book; club; square rule; sword; nearly every image depicts him wearing a medallion with a profile of Jesus, and usually with a small flame above his head; often carries a pen or sits at a writing location to make reference to the canonical Epistle.

Saint Jude Thaddeus was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was a a brother of Saint James the Lesser, nephew of Joseph and Mary, and a blood relative of Our Savior, and reputed to look a lot like him. He may have been a fisherman. He preached in Judea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with Saint Simon. He wrote an Epistle (letter) which is in the New Testament.

He is the patron of lost or desperate causes, and several reasons are given for this patronage. The first, is that early Christians often confused him with the traitor Judas, and as a result of the confusion between the names, never prayed to him, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause. The second comes from his Epistle where he stressed that the faithful should persevere in the harsh and desperate environment faced by Christians in those times.

Jude was the one who at the Last Supper, asked the Lord why He would not manifest Himself to the world after His resurrection. Not much more is known of his life. He was martyred in Armenia which was then controlled by the Persians. He was beaten to death with a club, then beheaded postmortem. His relics are at Saint Peter's, Rome, at Rheims, and at Toulouse, France .

Copyright © 2005 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi
Francis was born into a prosperous family of merchants, and like many Fathers Pietro Bernadone, wanted Francis to work for the family business. Pietro wanted so much for Francis to become involved in the cloth business that he was furious when upon returning from France he found out his wife had named their son Giovanni, so he renamed their son Francis after the country that he admired so much, France.

Francis was very popular with his own generation, and enjoyed the excesses which wealth and a position in society can give. Almost everyone loved Francis, for he could be wild and loved to revel in good times, he rarely allowed his thoughts to wonder to God or the Catholic Faith. But Francis was not meant to follow in his fathers footsteps, and after leading a fairly dissolute life, God touched Francis heart with a most tremendous impact.

He spent a year as a war prisoner during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia. There he got a message from God to leave this earthly life. He started to take his religion seriously then. So he gave up everything material that he had, dressed in rough clothes and even begged for his sustenance. He visited hospitals, took care of the sick and preached in the streets.

From 1209 he attracted followers and when he had the papal blessing he started the Franciscan order. In 1224, 2 years before he died, he received the Stigmata in his hands, feet and side. He died on October 4th 1226 in Italy.

This was a man who truly lived the Gospel and we can learn alot from this Saint. He loved all creatures and nature, he took care of the lepers. By doing that he followed Jesus in all that he said and did.

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