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

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Venerable Mary Potter

The 19 century was a life changing century in that it gave birth to the industrial revolution, which rather than liberating the poor, it simply reinforced their abject poverty. For many who had lived in rural villages within England, now sought life in the industrial towns in the hope of making new lives for themselves and providing more opportunities for their families.

This was not the case and for many years, people lived in impoverished conditions with overcrowding and unsanitary conditions which brought on epidemics such as cholera, dysentery and many other diseases. And though the owners of mills, coal mines and other industrial plants grew in prosperity the ordinary man and woman in the streets did not.

Things would improve overtime with the founding of Unions in order to give the workers some say as to the conditions in which they worked under. But this came at a cost as the owners of the workplaces fought such an organisation which threatened their profits; this was to cause much bitterness between employee and employer!

Into this century was born one, Mary Potter in the year 1847. Mary was born into a loving family and was the only daughter of William and Mary Anne Potter, unfortunately Mary's father left the family and immigrated to Australia leaving his wife and children behind.

Being the only daughter Mary was to become a little spoiled by both her mother and brothers, but Mary Anne made sure that she provided her daughter with a strong Faith and a care for those less fortunate than themselves. Her Mother made the difficult decision to send Mary to a Catholic boarding school, this grieved Mary Anne considerably as she was devoted to her children but most especially her daughter, Mary.

Mary did well at the school though the education of girls basically consisted of cooking, sewing and running a household. Upon leaving school Mary returned home to her Mother and brothers in Portsmouth, where she was to live an ordinary life, socialising and helping her Mother take care of the home duties.

Though Mary was an extrovert by nature and much admired by both family and friends with her winning personality and charm still there was much spiritual depth ness and a restlessness within her spirit as to her calling in life. But Mary put this restlessness aside and became engaged to Godfrey King, but Godfrey personality was not compatible with Mary's more vivacious spirit and it soon became evident to them both that their union would not work. And much to her Mother chagrin Mary broke off her engagement to Godfrey.

But through Godfrey’s deep understanding of the Faith this was to move Mary even more into developing a longing to become closer to her Lord, by serving Him by helping the poor. Mary took to prayer as her heart was confused with which path she should take.

She tried to enter the Sisters of Mercy Order but find this was not to her benefit and feeling low and ill, she prayed even harder as to what to do. Till one day upon being given a book written by St. Louis de Montfort, this book was to change Mary's life forever, and she consecrated her life to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And through this Consecration Mary began to see a clear path for her life, she began against her Mothers wishes to visit the poor and to try to alleviate their suffering and with the help of her Mother Mary also tried to start a school for the children of the poor. Though Mary did all this it was not a disciplined life and it was this longing for some sort of Rule that Mary once again sought Jesus in prayer.

God answered her prayer and in 1874, Mary knew within her own heart of hearts that our Lord was calling her into a Religious life, where she could work amongst the poor. Mary was deeply drawn to the suffering Christ and longed to comfort Him in by providing assistance to the poorest of the poor within her community.

She could observe first hand how the industrial revolution was having an adverse affect on the poor families, who though they worked long and arduous hours, still they remained impoverished and unable to provide for their families. These conditions took a heavy toll on the family unit and many were unable to look after their own children let alone their elderly parents.

Mary founded the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary in 1877, to try and help the sufferings of the poor and most especially the more vulnerable in society. So despite Mary's own ill health she persevered in defining her Order to assist the impoverished and alleviate their sufferings. Mary was to concentrate on all avenues to assist those in need which also included the spiritual, by listening to those who were suffering and affording them the dignity which they deserved.

Though she did not know it then, Mary was to found the hospice movement where if possible the sick could be given the assistance they needed within their own homes. But she also provided a place for the sick and dying within her own Mission. Mary's connection with the suffering Christ, helped all to share the vision which she encapsulated to serve the poor as if one were serving Christ Himself.

The Order which Mary founded 'The Little Company of Mary' still exists and thrives to this very day.

Mary Potter died in 1913.

Mary Potter was proclaimed Venerable Mary Potter by Pope John Paul ll in 1988.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Saint Solange- Virgin and Martyr

Saint Solange- Virgin and Martyr

Patronage: Patroness of Berry France, drought relief, rape victims, shepherdesses

Born in Villemont, near Bourges, France to poor but very devout parents. She was very religious and at the age of seven she took a vow of chastity. She was also blessed with the power to heal the sick and cured many.

Solange had the task of looking after the family sheep and she had an affinity for and power over animals. One day while tending her flock, Bernard a son of the Count of Poitiers, approached her and made advances at her. She resisted and this infuriated Bernard. Solange struggled when he tried to set her on his horse and was seriously injured when she fell off the horse. Possessed by a demonic fury, Bernard thrust his sword into her killing her on the spot.

Saint Solange is an inspiration to both young and old, standing firm to her beliefs, even to death.

Lord you showered heavenly gifts on St Solange. Help us to imitate her virtues during our earthly life. Amen

Monday, September 26, 2005

Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Martin de Porres
Feast Day: November 3

Patron Saint of: barbers, hairdressers, racial harmony

Saint Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579. He was the child of a Spaniard, Don Juan de Porres, a Spanish nobleman and adventurer, and Ana Velasquez, a freed African slave. Abandoned by Don Juan, Ana supported her two children. She though impoverished, had a kind and sensitive soul; she did not instill bitterness or selfishness in her children. Martin remained throughout his life sensitive to the plight of the poor, and especially the orphans to whom he would devote much of his time and resources.

As a child, Martin gave scarce family resources to the beggars whom he saw as less fortunate than himself. He often heard of himself referred to as a “half-breed” yet in his profound humility, he saw himself only in the magnanimity of God amid the inadequacy of his origins. Don Juan, his father, returned to Ana and claimed his two mulatto children in spite of shame and gossip. He provided a good education for his children.

As a young boy, Martin began an apprenticeship with Marcel de Rivero, a barber/surgeon and proved extremely skilful at this trade. Martin could exercise his charity to his neighbor while earning a living. At this tender age, he was already spending hours in prayer at night, a practice that increased as he grew older.

Martin joined the Dominican Order of Preachers as a donado (lay helper or tertiary). The donados were the lowest-ranking Dominicans, performing the heaviest chores in the Order. He was eventually elevated to brother but never did become a full priest. He was assigned to the infirmary where he remained till his death. He lived a life of deep prayer, austerity and charity. He took care of the sick brothers with great affection and efficiency, all while remaining very humble. Martin often challenged his brother Dominicans on their racial attitudes. He is a great example of humility and a sign of hope for all those who are discriminated because of ethnic or racial intolerance.

He was endowed with many graces and wondrous gifts including bilocation. This lay Brother had always wanted to be a missionary, but never left his native city; but during his lifetime he was seen elsewhere, in regions as far distant as Africa, China, Algeria, and Japan. An African slave who had been in chains said he had known Martin when he came to relieve and console many like himself, telling them of heaven. When later the same slave saw him in Peru, he was very happy to meet him again and asked him if he had had a good voyage; only later did he learn that Saint Martin had never left Lima. A merchant from Lima was in Mexico and fell ill; he said aloud: “Oh, Brother Martin, if only you were here to care for me!” and immediately saw him enter his room. And again, this man did not know until later that he had never been in Mexico.

He extended his healing gifts to everyone, visiting people in their quarters and treating their ailments. Martin's spiritual practices were rather harsh: he fasted for extensive periods on bread and water. There were all-night vigils in which he prayed in the position of the crucified, and sometimes kneeling a foot or more off the floor. He scourged himself with chains--three times a day: for the souls in Purgatory, for unrepentant sinners, and for his own soul.

Martin’s love was all-embracing for all of creation. Martin fed, sheltered and doctored hundreds of families. In addition he established the Orphanage and School of the Holy Cross that took in boys and girls of all classes and taught them trades or homemaking skills. He insisted that the workers of the orphanage be well paid and respected for their service. St. Martin predicted his own death, falling sick with a fever. With his Dominican Brothers around his bed chanting the Salve Regina and the Creed. Martin died on November 3, 1639.

Saint Rose of Lima was a friend and confidant of Saint Martin de Porres. Pope John XXIII canonized Saint Martin on May 6th, 1962.

He is an inspiration for all those who commit themselves to protect creation and promote life in all its forms.

God, You led St. Martin by the way of humility to heavenly glory. Help us to follow his example of holiness. Amen

Saturday, September 24, 2005

St Thomas More

Martyr for the Faith

The years 1500 and onwards in England would be difficult and tumultuous ones as Henry Vlll ascended the Throne of England as King in 1509, and alongside Henry his wife Catherine of Aragon would become his Queen. But King Henry the Vlll was an immature 17 year old lad who was full of self importance and lacking in wisdom.

For Henry the Vlll was a man of volatile and tumultuous temperament who could also be vindictive as well as garrulous, a very combustible personality. One of his first acts as King was to abolish the heavy taxes which his father before him had imposed; his way of ending this tax was to execute the officials who helped impose it! To work for King Henry Vlll could be very perilous indeed, as many were to find out, including his friend, Thomas More.

Thomas More was born into a prosperous family in 1478, due to his wealth Thomas was to enjoy the benefits of a good education, provided by the wealth of his father Judge John More. His early education was at St. Anthony's school before moving onto the much respected university at Oxford. This provided Thomas an avenue to express his love of literature, it also helped Thomas to make long and enduring friendships, for Thomas personality was pleasing, polite and humorous.

The young Thomas did not take himself too seriously, which made him very popular amongst his contemporaries, and which would hold him in good stead in his future.

Though Thomas loved literature due to pressure from his father, he too decided to study the law and to earn his living in a field which needed much skill and enterprise. But Thomas maintained a curious mind in all things and was an avid reader and scholar.

But beneath the surface of Thomas amiable personality lay a very deep and abiding love of God and the Faith, which soon consumed him so much so that he gave up his practice and tried to enter a Monastery. He stayed with the Carthusians for a time and became a great admirer of monastic living and its spirit of discipline. But Thomas's personality was of a man for the people, he wished to serve his fellow man and with his witty but gentle persona, he decided to leave the Carthusians and enter politics.

Upon entering the political arena it did not take Thomas long before he fell foul of King Henry the Vll, who when Thomas opposed a bill which would grant the King more money, King Henry the Vll then imprisoned Sir John More in retribution!

Thomas decided upon the release of his father, to instead concentrate on his interest in literature and to wait out the Kings wrath, for one of the abiding gifts that Thomas had was a spirit of perseverance. Thomas also concentrated on his family and his lovely new wife whom he had married in 1505. This was a happy time for the family as they enjoyed the social season and took part in visiting plays and other social activities.

But in 1510 Thomas More was appointed as an under-sheriff in the city of London, it was during this time that Thomas was to meet many people who were not as fortunate as he, and Thomas tried his best to be fair to all he encountered. But London was not a very sanitary place to live and unfortunately Thomas More wife died whilst trying to give birth.

But Thomas did not like life alone so he remarried for a second time to his new wife, Alice. It was during this period that King Henry the Vlll, came to meet Thomas and due to Thomas humour and wit the King and Thomas were to become good friends. Thomas also helped King Henry Vlll to counter Luthers Reformation, when he wrote 'Defence of the Seven Sacraments', unbeknownst to both that the King too would soon turn against the Church in Rome!

Thomas More and King Henry Vlll complimented one another in that both were witty, intelligent with a love for the arts, they also shared a love of literature and many other activities. But the King lacked Thomas's more human and compassionate nature, for Thomas though witty was not a sardonic man, nor was he selfish. In many ways and in various area's it was Thomas who would outshine the King by his very deep and abiding love for his Faith and his genuine concern and love for the people.

What would start out as a friendship among equals soon turned to jealousy on the Kings part as he became aware that Thomas was the more genuine and sincere man of the people, for Thomas had done the unforgivable he had outclassed the King in intellect, humour and principles! But even though the Kings friendship with Thomas was to become tricky, still he appointed Thomas More as Lord Chancellor in 1529, this was indeed a great honour for the More family but it would come at a terrible price!

For the King was determined to bring forth a son so as to inherit the throne and unfortunately Katherine of Aragon had born him a daughter, Mary. The King was disgruntled that in their years of marriage no further children were added, this was to lead to resentment and petulance as the King blamed his wife, Katherine for her inability to produce a male heir.

It was this urgency to produce a male heir that drove King Henry Vlll to contemplate divorce, which was anathema to Thomas More a man of great integrity and principles. But Henry was a man of ruthless ambition, and he met his match in ruthlessness upon meeting one of his wife’s ladies in waiting, the very striking Anne Boleyn, the King fell madly in love and the course was set for further conflict.

Thomas More could not accept the Kings decision to try and divorce Queen Katherine, so he resigned his position as Lord Chancellor in 1532, for he strongly disapproved of the Kings attempts to divorce his wife of many years standing. Even when Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen in 1533 Thomas had refused to attend her coronation, this infuriated the tempestuous Anne and the volatile Henry, Thomas Mores days were now numbered!

In 1534 Thomas More also refused to swear allegiance to the King in the Act of Succession nor would he swear an oath to acknowledge King Henry's ascendency over Rome! This was too much for King Henry Vlll and in his fury he had Thomas arrested and thrown into the Tower of London.

But unlike the King Thomas More bore no malice in his heart, nor would he deny The Church of Rome's authority to save his life by swearing an allegiance to the King and thereby acknowledge the illegitimate Queen Anne Boleyn.

For Thomas More was a man of God first and also an obedient son of the Church in Rome, he therefore stood by his principles even unto death, for though Henry was King, it was Thomas who had the heart and courage of a Lion!

Whilst waiting on the scaffold his final words were, "The King's good servant, but God's First"!

Thomas More was beheaded in 1535.

Thomas More was canonized by Pope Pius Xl in 1935.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Nuns of Compiegne

Saints and Martyrs

As we have seen the French revolution was to lead to untold inhumanity against man, but also it was a direct attack on the Church itself and it struck at the heart of the Church in our Priests and Religious, in which many suffered Martyrdom.

Instead of a revolution that freed the poor from the oppression of poverty it instead, was a tyrannical and obscene political movement. For if one is either rich or poor we are all children of God, and murder is never acceptable to solving social problems!

As the people reeled from one disaster to the next in this blood thirsty landscape where no amount of blood shed could quench the lust of the murderers, for in their blood lust these killers spared no one! The persecution of the Catholic Church in France is almost unequalled, in the annals of history.

But no matter the political turmoil or the unrest of the people, the Church stands Strong and firm, including both Priests and Religious!

So when the 'new' law of France was declared that of liberty it was to be in a perverted sense, in that many stormed the Monasteries and Convents to 'release' the 'imprisoned' in order to 'enlighten' these Holy men and women to this amazing freedom, which was simply a form of enchainment to the State! And when they in turn informed the officials that they were already free in their Love for Christ, many officials took this as a provocation to their 'new world order' in their 'enlightened age'.

So we come to the Carmelite Sisters of Compeigne, who had fled persecution in England only to find it arriving on their doorstep once they arrived in France. In themselves these holy Sisters were quite ordinary souls they lived their religious vocation as devoutly and as humbly as they could, and prayed for peace in France. They tried to obey the civil authorities, despite the obnoxious way their Rule of Life was treated!

These most Holy Nuns also kept prayer vigils for all those suffering under this terrible persecution and offered themselves as victim souls in expiation against the terrible sins being committed against the Church, God and their fellow man.

Perhaps this was too much for these 'brave' men of the revolution who when hearing of the Nuns devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had the Nuns of Compiegne arrested! Obviously by their very pious and humble prayers they were considered 'provocateurs'!

And in this bloody thirsty generation it seemed their blood lust was still not appeased and so these innocent and Holy Nuns were arrested on trumped up charges. What was their crime? The officials found portraits of Jesus of the Sacred Heart, these Nuns were then deemed enemies of the peoples, and they faced their trial which was a kangaroo court of mere thugs and degenerates!

The Nuns of Compiegne were accused of being 'parasites' and of being 'deluded' in that they these revolutionaries were more enlightened than to actually believe that God existed, for these degenerates God NO longer existed but their perverse Law did!

But these Holy Nuns were not silent against such a gross injustice, and it would be Mother Henriette who upon handing these officials her written statement they then read it aloud, "How false are the judgments that the world makes of us! Its profound ignorance disapproves of our promises; all that it adorns itself with is but pure vanity. Its only reality is the sorrow that devours it. I despise its pride, I consider its hatred an honour; and I prefer my chains to its spurious freedom. O day of eternal celebration, O day forever holy, when, vowing myself to Carmel I won the heart of God. O beloved and precious bonds I strengthen you each day; all that the earth can offer me is worthless in my eyes; your sarcasm, worldlings, compared to my joy is a dead giveaway: that joy outweighs all the cares to which your soul is prey."

This declaration of their love for God and many other devout nuns praising God were enough for the 'Judge' to pass judgement and that was death by guillotine!

Many of these Holy Nuns went to the guillotine singing songs of Praises to God on High but also for mercy to those who were to martyr them. These heroic Nuns truly had their prayers heard and died for the expiation of many who were committing horrendous and barbarous acts in the name of 'liberty'!

These Holy Nuns of Compiegne died in 1794.

They were beatified in 1906 by Pope Pius X.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blessed Jeanne Jugan

France could be termed the nation of tears, for from the French Revolution onwards, the French people suffered terribly. Whilst the Catholic Church was persecuted, the monarchy was replaced with anarchy!

This brought untold misery to many French people, and most especially those who were devout Catholics, as even the Holy Father was threatened by this ungodly event. As Church's were ransacked and many were destroyed, Holy relics were discarded and the Clergy were spat upon, and many were martyred in the name of 'liberation'!

Through this great catastrophe the Church held firm, even though its Powers were limited by the French authorities and its position diminished. These were tremendously difficult years for the Catholic Church and for the people of France, as wars only make a few people wealthy and many more into misery and poverty!

But this also brought out the best in people, as we have seen in many of our Saints, and such is the case of another heroic Frenchwoman by the name of Jeanne Jugan.

Jeanne was born into a very poor fishing family. She did not get to know her father well as he sadly died when Jeanne was young. So it was to her Mother that Jeanne was dependent upon, as her Mother, Marie, struggled to provide for her family.

But even though the Church was suffering under repression, Marie Jugan did her best to raise Jeanne to be a faithful and devout Catholic. Jeanne proved herself to be an apt pupil, in learning of her Faith at the knees of her Mother.

Jeanne began earning her own living at 16 years when she began to work as a maid to a more prosperous family. This family also helped the poor in their area and Jeanne would accompany her employer in works of mercy.

It was during this time that Jeanne refused several, marriage proposals in that she felt a calling to help the poor and destitute. Coming from a poor background herself, she longed to alleviate the sufferings of the many elderly people she would see.

So in her mid 20's Jeanne began working in a hospital, in order for her to fulfil her particular calling and it was whilst she was working at the hospitals that other women too, joined Jeanne in her mission to help the poor.

But the heavy work was taking a toll on Jeanne's health and therefore she accepted an offer from a lady to live as her companion, which she did until her friend’s death. It was then that Jeanne was told she had been left some money in her benefactress will.

But it was in the year 1839 that proved to be pivotal ones for Jeanne, as she came across an elderly woman too poor and infirm to take care of herself. Jeanne offered the poor woman a home in her small apartment. Once this news spread there were many elderly who threw themselves upon the mercy of Jeanne.

But Jeanne was not alone in her work and other women of the area soon rallied around to help her, serve the poorest of the poor, the elderly and infirm. They moved to a larger home where they were able to take care of more elderly, as the need was great due to the political uncertainty and many were left to die hungry and alone in the streets.

In order to gain more money to help the infirm, Jeanne and her friends began begging in the streets and going from home to home so they could support the elderly who were reliant upon them. This was not always pleasant work and Jeanne found herself under verbal and physical abuse, but her Faith in God was strong and she bore all ill will with humility.

It was in 1844 that Jeanne founded her Order and named it 'Sisters of the Poor', Jeanne then took the name Sister Mary of the Cross, her and her companions then made the usual vows of charity, chastity, poverty and obedience. Whilst the Charism of their Order was in the spirit of hospitality, so the Sisters were not enclosed but lived to serve the poor throughout France.

Sister Jeanne worked for many years tramping the streets seeking aid for her beloved elderly and soon many other houses would be founded. But Sister Jeanne paid little attention to any compliments for she lived to serve the Lord and it was to Him that all praise be given.

During her entire life, Jeanne led a deep and rich prayer life, which gave her the strength to endure and also to remain unaware of the beauty of her own spirit as she only Honoured God in her heart.

Even though she suffered many difficulties even from within her community of Sisters, Rome recognised and sanctioned her Order in the year 1878. Through all the stresses and strains Jeanne simply continued on whilst praying continually.

Jeanne Jugan died peacefully in 1879.

Blessed Jeanne Jugan was beatified by Pope John Paul 2 in 1982.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Blessed Miguel Pro

Saint and Martyr

Like many countries Mexico too had its problems, an evolving democracy supported by Benito Juarez soon gave way to his growing greed for power at any cost. Therefore among his causalities was the Catholic Church as government repression tried to suppress the Church's unique place in the culture of Mexico.

Though Mexico suffered through wars most especially with France as Napoleon had designs on Mexico, the Juarez government fled and in its place for a short period of time was Archduke Maximilian of Austria, but still the people were restless.

Juarez would return to Mexico and once again resume power, but this time all pretences of democracy were abandoned in favour of outright dictatorship! And through the policies of Juarez the Mexican people suffered great poverty and hardship as the rich grew richer and the poor became poorer.

But Juraez was once again to flee his country when he was forced to resign in 1911. This followed many toppling governments and regimes, and ushered in the government of Calles when he took the Presidency. This was a time of even further turmoil for the Catholic Church under the restrictive government of Calles, as persecution became the order of the day.

But before these persecutions took effect was born one Miguel Pro, who was lovingly welcomed into his large Mexican family of very devout Catholics, in the year 1891. Miguel from early in his age showed himself to be a prankster who loved jokes, and making people laugh, even if it meant making a spectacle of himself. He brought much joy into the Pro family although at times his parents had to gently discipline their prankster son.

But through Miguel’s humour it helped the family cope with the increasing persecutions of the Mexican Regime, and this young man was to become greatly loved by all who met him.

And though for a while Miguel drifted from his Faith, it was due to the influence of his loving but faith filled parents that Miguel did not stray far, he soon returned to his Faith, much to his parents joy!

Miguel along with two other members of his family felt a calling to the Religious life, and so in 1911 he entered the Order of the Jesuits. But his Religious life did not evolve smoothly due to the persecutions being waged in Mexico. His superiors decided to smuggle Miguel out of Mexico and so the poor lad took refuge in Texas before travelling on to Belgium, where he took his Holy Vows, in 1925.

But Fr. Miguel loved his native land and he returned to Mexico in 1926. But he also returned to a country that was living under tyranny as many Catholics were persecuted, and Priests were ordered not to take part in any public worship.

This did not deter Fr. Miguel one bit as he with great cunning outwitted the authorities and welcomed many to Mass which was held in the greatest secrecy. At times when the officials were getting too close Fr. Miguel would pretend to be a mechanic, or he would pretend to be on dates with young ladies, who would protect him as they helped him administer the Sacraments to the people.

The people loved Fr. Miguel who despite such subterfuges, kept the Faith alive and strong in his parishioners, as well as a humorous jokes and simple fun to help alleviate everyone’s fear. He also with great risk to himself help carry food and other needed necessities to the poor in his area.

But time was running out for Fr. Miguel and upon an assassination attempt on the President, the authorities arrested both Fr. Miguel and his brothers.

Fr. Miguel with his brothers were led to a firing squad and as one of the soldiers approached and begged the forgiveness of Fr. Miguel which he freely gave with these words, "You have not only my forgiveness but my thanks". And when facing the firing squad he told all the soldiers gathered for this dreadful deed, "May God forgive you all". And with these words ringing in the air "Viva Cristo Rey"! The firing squad opened fire and though Fr. Miguel was wounded as none of the soldiers had the heart to be the ones who killed a Holy Priest, hence the general walked over and fired the shot that killed Fr. Miguel.

Father Miguel died by execution in 1927.

Blessed Father Miguel Pro was beatified in 1988 by Pope John Paul ll.

Father Miguel had once told a friend if ever he were caught and was killed upon reaching Heaven he would perform a Mexican hat dance, in case he met any long faced Saints. Indeed Blessed Miguel Pro was one of a kind, and beloved by ALL.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

St Gemma Galgani

Just as France was in political turmiol, Italy did not fair much better, for they too were placed in a difficult position by the Franco/Prussian war. But it was in the year 1870 that France withdrew its garrison from Rome, which left the Holy city exposed and Pope Pius IX in an invidious position, where he described himself a prisoner in the Vatican. This difficulty with the Holy See would not be resolved until the concordant of 1929.

To help establish some form of stability, the government of the day decided to form a Monarchy once Italy had been unified, and recognised as a country in its own right. Hence in 1878 the throne went to King Umberto I.

And it was in the year 1878 that Gemma Galgani was born into a prosperous family in the Lucca area of Italy. The Galgani's Henry and Aurelia were noted as devout Catholics, and a loving family which consisted of eight children.

Both parents of Gemma made sure to instruct all their children as to the tenets of their faith, and it was Aurelia Galgani who especially revered and taught her children a deep love of Christ and Him Crucified.

Sadly Aurelia did not live a long life and died when Gemma was only 8 years old. As one can imagine, little Gemma was devastated to lose the Mother she so loved. But even from this early age, Gemma was experiencing Mystical moments with our Lord.

Henry Galgani decided to send his daughter to a boarding school, in the hope that they would teach her the fine arts of cooking and managing a home, but, also to instruct her in the Faith. Gemma did well in school and proved herself to be an apt pupil and it was because of her religious knowledge and devoutness that Gemma was given permission to receive her first Communion at the early age of 9 years.

But once again the shadow of death loomed over the Galgani family, and in 1897 Gemma's beloved father died, and it was then that the family discovered that due to some corrupt business men, the remaining Galgani children were left penniless.

Through this difficult time Gemma too became very ill, as abscesses formed and she became deaf, she was visited by a religious Sister, who took pity upon her and left her a prayer card. Gemma began praying to Brother Gabriel who had been in the Passionist Order, her prayers were answered and Gemma was miraculously healed.

During this illness, it was discovered that Gemma was receiving Divine help and intercession, she heard our Lord speaking to her and also, Brother Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her that she too would be his Sister in the same Order. Father Gabriel would later be Canonized by the Church.

But it was on the Feast of the Sacred Heart that Gemma had a most profound experience, and felt such a grief over her own sins this sadness pierced her very soul. It was then that our Lord and Lady appeared before Gemma, where our Lady placed her Mantle over Gemma, whilst our Lord opened the wounds he had suffered, whilst fire poured forth from each wound and Gemma then received the Stigmata.

Upon these occurrences Gemma spoke to Father Cajetan, he gave her permission to take private Vows, and arranged a better style of living arrangement for this very devout young lady. Gemma was to be welcomed in by the prominent Gianini family and it was while staying with the Gianini family that Gemma met Father Germano, a fortuitous meeting.

Father Germano was a well known Scholar of great repute when writing about Mystical theology, he was also at the time he met Gemma, working on the Beatification process of Brother Gabriel.

Gemma had always led a deep prayer life and was the recipient of many extraordinary events including the Stigmata; she also had many encounters with her Angels, Brother Gabriel, Our Lord and Lady. But this holy soul also battled with the demons and the devil himself, as he tried to destroy this Holy girl from spreading the love of Jesus.

The one thing that was truly exceptional about this holy soul was her devout love and obedience to our Lord and Saviour and the Catholic Church. Gemma was a humble soul, who when she was in prayer, requested that our Lord remove the visible stigmata in favour of the invisible, our Lord granted her request. This saved Gemma from being the centre of attention, when what she wanted to do, was for everyone to focus and stay focussed on our Lord and not herself, no wonder Satan fought bitterly with her!

Gemma was fearless when encountering the devil, and though he tried to torment her and discourage her, Gemma instead threw herself more and more and with great Confidence into the arms of our Lord and Lady. It was at this time that Gemma requested in prayer to our Lord to become a victim soul for the salvation of souls, once again Jesus accepted her request.

Gemma became very ill in the year 1902 and during this most distressing of times, her valour and courage was extraordinary. She fought off attacks by the devil as he tempted her to despair, but through all these attacks, through her immense pain and anguish Gemma never once lost nor even questioned her Faith, she simply trusted in our Lords Love, and prayed constantly.

Gemma Galgani died in the year 1903, she was only 25 years old.

St. Gemma Galgani was canonized in 1940 by Pope Pius Xll.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Blessed Frederick Ozanam

From the French Revolution onwards, France and its people were to endure much hardship and tragedy, the Catholic Church was also not exempt from this climatic time. For Napoleon was to drag the country almost to utter destruction, but the French people are resilient, and the Church strong and firm, they would both withstand Napoleon's machinations!

Napoleon was to lead France into a terrible abyss of misery and misfortune, because of his uncontrollable ego! From an unsuccessful attempt to invade Russia in 1812, to holding captive the Pope in 1814, this action was taken when Pope Pius Vll excommunicated Napoleon. But like all tyrants Napoleon met his end at Waterloo!

So France was in desperate need of a person of Frederick Ozanam's stature and character, let us examine this son of France.

Frederick was born in the city of Lyon to what would become a very large family in the year 1813, to very proud parents Jean and Marie Ozanam. The family would grow to encompass 14 children, which was not unusual for those times.

His father was a professional, so the family was not poor though they were not of the aristocracy either. But Frederick was blessed with a curious mind and longed to learn new things and be able to discuss these with his family and friends. He longed to study literature and the arts, but his father wished for him to study law, and though Jean was a doctor by trade, he wanted his son to expand the family’s connections in the wider community.

Frederick was an obedient son, so he did as his father wished, and studied law at the Sorbonne. These were difficult years for Frederick as he searched for some meaning in his life, and to ask questions about life and Faith, he had struggled in his teens to define what exactly Faith meant to the ordinary man in the street.

It was at a discussion group that Frederick found himself challenged by the very questions he had been asking deep within his own heart. When a fellow student asked Frederick what exactly Faith meant especially as there was so much poverty, and while many discussed the appalling conditions of the poor, was it all just mere talk and little action.

Frederick after this discussion decided to take a friend and go and visit the poor, to find out for himself who was helping the needy and destitute.

What Frederick saw compelled him to take action, as he visited the poor in their homes, hospitals and prisons, Fredericks soul was on fire with a longing to offer common sense help to these impoverished people.

It was when he was about 20 years old that he met an amazing Religious, Sister Rosalie Rendu, who belonged to 'The Daughters of Charity', founded by Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marrilac.

This humble nun was to provide the need and the knowledge to help the poor as Frederick wished to do, with common sense and a spirit of self reliance that the underprivileged so needed.

For Frederick did not wish to merely apply bandaids to a gaping wound, but, to help the people raise themselves above their humble births through education and trades. This would allow them the dignity to become self reliant and to support themselves and their families.

It was a grand scheme but Frederick, Sister Rosalie and many of their friends and supporters were more than ready to meet them. And with true zeal they set about their purpose of helping the poor become self sufficient, whilst at the same time, befriending them, in a spirit of mutual respect. So was the beginning of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

But love also came into Frederick’s life in the form of the lovely Amelie Soulacroix, whom he married in 1841. Upon marrying he returned to the academic life as a lecturer of great standing, and his students loved him and were often challenged by his way of thinking.

Whilst teaching at the Sorbonne, and also helping the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which had grown to approx 25 conferences, this was to take up much of Fredericks spare time. But true joy was to come into Frederick’s life with the birth of his only child, Marie in 1845, he was a very proud father and also a wonderful husband to Amelie, who grew concerned over Fredericks health.

So it was in 1846 that the Ozanam family decided to visit Italy in the hope of restoring Fredericks health, they stayed a year before returning to their beloved, France.

But Amelie was to remain concerned for Frederick and his enduring love of the poor, which took a heavy toll on his frail health. As the need grew for assistance so did the Society and Frederick was committed to helping the poor, help themselves.

As always the political turmoil in France was no help, as it underwent yet another revolution in the year 1848, but Frederick would find aid in neighbouring countries who also had started their own St. Vincent de Paul Societies.

But unfortunately Frederick paid a heavy price for his long work in aid of the needy and lonely and in setting up the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, in a spirit of charity and companionship. This led to many other countries beginning their own Vincentian Societies based on the Rule of Frederick Ozanam.

Frederick Ozanam died in 1853 at only 40 years of age.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul ll in 1997.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul still flourishes world wide to this day an enduring legacy of the love Frederick displayed towards the poor.

Peace of Christ to you ALL.

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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