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

Monday, November 28, 2005

Blessed Pedro Calungsod

The Philippine Islands were discovered by Spain by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. But it was in 1570 that Miguel de Legazpi that a Spanish settlement was built and the capital became Manila.

Through the influences of the Spanish Religious, many of the Filipino people were baptised into the Catholic Faith. The Philippines remained under Spanish control until the year 1815.

It was in 1655 that a young man was born, Pedro Calungsod, he lived for a time in the Visayas region, and it was here that the Jesuits touched this young man's heart.

And it was with the Jesuit Priests that the young Pedro learnt the Faith that he embraced with all his soul. He grew to love the Jesuit teachers and also reached out to his community as the more he learnt the more he wished to share with others.

Where Pedro lived could also prove to be very inhospitable, to those who wished to evangelise the region. They had to go through jungles and traverse huge cliffs as well as rivers and always with the threat of typhoons.

The Missions were doing well in teaching the Catholic Faith and baptising whole families into the Catholic Church, but wherever God's work is being done, there would be those who would try and disrupt this Mission and to try and destroy the Catholic Missionaries. One was a Chinese trouble maker, who planted stories among the villagers that the water used for Baptism was poisonous. This brought great fear to the village people as infant mortality was high due to unsanitary living conditions.

This lie would herald in a period of persecution to the Missions and those who supported the Catholic missionaries, such as the young Pedro, who truly loved and lived his Faith with great devotion towards our Blessed Mother.

But the persecutions were still thriving in the hearts of those who embraced the idea that the Catholics were to blame for anything that went wrong in their villagers and also if any sickness befell families. These erroneous ideas were able to gain a foothold due to the remaining superstitions that remained within many Filipino villagers.

Into this hotbed, the young Pedro who was about 17 years old and a Priest Diego De San Vitores travelled to the village of Tomhom on the island of Guam. And it was here upon hearing that a young baby was near death, both Pedro and Fr. Vitores requested that the baby be baptized this unfortunately began a sequence of events that would lead to a tragedy.

For the baby's father, Matapang had become an apostate and now denied the religion he had once embraced. And while Matapang tried to enlist other villagers to kill the Priest and his helper the young Pedro, it was during this absence that Fr. Vitores decided to baptize the young baby without the permission of Matapang.

Upon his return, Matapang was enraged that his wife had permitted the Baptism of his child, and took out his rage on Fr. Vitores and the young Pedro by hurling spears at them both. Pedro being so young was able to avoid getting hit by the spears but he refused to run and leave Fr Vitores behind. It was then that one of spears struck Pedro and he fell to the ground, where upon Pedro was hacked to death. Father Vitores as one of his last acts gave Pedro Absolution before he too was murdered.

Upon the death of these two holy men, both their bodies were mutilated and the Cross they wore was also desecrated by the enraged Matapang!

Pedro Calungsod died in 1672.

Blessed Pedro Calungsod was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Saint Pius X, Pope

In the 17th century onwards Italy and its Provinces became a cesspool of insurrection and internal bickering as the quest for power took hold of many powerful families and politicians within Italy.

Including a young man named Giuseppe Garibaldi who with the help of his friend Giuseppe Mazzini tried to start a revolution. After its failure and upon sentence of death both men fled Italy and lived in exile. Garibaldi went on to take his revolutionary zeal to other lands whilst Mazzini plotted in the relative safety of London for the downfall of the power structure in Italy.

In order to try and bring some stability to the warring factions which were tearing the country apart, many Italians supported two idea's of a new governing body. Some supported the idea of installing the reigning Pope as Head of all Italy, whilst others preferred a Monarch who would unite the warring factions.

But an uprising in Sicily has both Mazzini and Garibaldi making a quick return to Italy to bolster their revolutionary ideals for an Italian Republic. They were helped in that many neighbouring countries were also at war with each other, so few countries felt inclined to help Italy and its internal infighting.

Even the Pope was not spared from the insurrection as he fled to Gaeta as the different factions fought it out. A Republic was proclaimed in 1849, and both Mazzini and Garibaldi were key players in this revolution. But it was not to be, as Pope Pius IX requests the help of the French forces and they defeated the Republican movement within Italy for a time.

But it is in 1835 that Italy would produce one of its greatest sons, who would also become a 'Pope for the people'.

Though the birth of Giuseppe Sarto was certainly humble enough, his parents were of humble stock, his father, Giambattista Sarto worked as a postman, shoemaker and janitor and his mother Margarita, worked as a seamstress as both parents tried to provide the best for their children.

From an early age Giuseppe showed a strong talent for learning and a hunger to utilize the Gifts that he had been given. Despite his impoverished circumstances, Giuseppe did not let this deter him for he was very strong willed. It was also during this period that Giuseppe would show a strong love for his Faith and his longing to be a Priest.

He was taught Latin by his village Priest, before continuing his studies at Castelfranco. Through heat and driving rain nothing would stop Giuseppe from achieving his dream as he continued to walk to school daily.

Through his intellectual curiously, he earned a Scholarship at the Diocese seminary in Padua in 1850. This was a great achievement for the young Giuseppe but he allowed none of it to interfere with his love of God and his great common sense, which kept his feet firmly on the ground. Sadly though Giuseppe's father died in 1852, this left his mother to support the rest of her family alone.

Giuseppe's dream came true in 1858 when he was ordained a Priest, and though his mother struggled to support herself she was very proud of her son and helped him as much as she could.

Father Giuseppe worked as a parish Priest for nine years in the region of Tombolo, and though he was a good shepherd to his people Fr. Giuseppe also continued his studies in theology, despite his heavy workload on behalf of his parish.

But even though Fr Giuseppe worked hard and studied much he never lost sight of his roots and he endeavoured as much as he could to alleviate the suffering of the poor by providing education and everyday needs to the people in order for them not only to survive but to rise above their origins. For Giuseppe was proof that no matter how humble one is born their is opportunity for all if they work hard enough.

Father Giuseppe understood the poor, and with his enormous energy and generosity he never patronised those born into poverty but instead he gave them the dignity that all men deserve irrespective of their financial troubles. As arch Priest for the area of Salzano Father Giuseppe helped to keep the hospital there functioning in order to provide health care for the poor in the area, as well as providing education for instruction of the Faith.

From the very beginning Giuseppe had a great love for people, and was able to connect with them on a one to one basis making all he met feel important. This did not spring from 'charm' but from a deep love and reverence for God's children both rich and poor equally.

In 1884 Father Giuseppe was named Bishop of Mantua, he was for many years to teach theology to the seminarians. He particularly was drawn to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and in order to help his seminarians he was known to give away free copies of St. Thomas work the 'Summa Theologica'.

And in 1893 Pope Leo XIII would create Father Giuseppe a Cardinal, this was a great honour and his Mother Margarita was especially proud of this son of hers, but saddened that his father had not lived to see this auspicious occasion.

But even though Italy would struggle with political turmoils this did not disturb Cardinal Sarto from keeping his tremendous intellect from grasping one of the bigger issues that would confront the Church all through its history, the theory of rationalism and the rise of socialism.

Greatness was to touch this humble son of Italy and in 1903 Cardinal Sarto was elected Pope and took the name Pope Pius X, and chose as his motto, "Restore all things to Christ".

Pope Pius X would put his stamp on his Papacy very early on by encouraging children upon reaching the age of reason to be able to partake of the Eucharist. He also held a Eucharistic Congress in 1905 in Rome and encouraged sacred music most especially Gregorian chants to further give praise and Glory to God.

The Pope was a man of the people but he was also to be a great son of the Church in that he fostered correct Liturgical practices and believed strongly in discipline to the Magisterium, rather than secular independence that many priests longed for.

Through all his Pontificate Pope Pius X would be a great denouncer of all things secular including the subtle appearance of modernism, which he saw as a great threat to the Church.

Pope Pius X would eventually write an Encyclical titled, "Pascendi" which condemns the heresy that is modernism, as the Pope says, "We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man."

And he then followed this encyclical with a decree titled 'Lamentabilis', for the Pope was determined to rid the Church of this great menace. He also instructed an oath from every Priest against this heresy which is modernism!

Pope Pius X will be remembered in history as the voice against the modernist incursion which tried to infiltrate the Church at that time. But also as the Pope who expounded the need for daily Eucharist and encouraged the Faithful to partake of the Eucharist frequently.

But though Pope Pius X was a mountain when it came to all things Liturgical still he could not prevent the outbreak of war which he could sense would bring untold misery to millions. And though this great man of peace worked hard to prevent it, war turned out to be inevitable, and this would bring a great feeling of foreboding to the Pope.

The Pope did not live to see the devastation which would bring untold misery and death to many, which may have been a blessing to this Pope of Peace.

Pope Pius X died in 1914.

St. Pius X was canonised in 1954 by Pope Pius XII.

Some Quotes

"Let us be leaders; but not of the worldly type, who accomplish by forcing, urging and driving to get things done; rather leaders who lead as Christ did: "Come, follow me!"

"I accept with sincere belief the doctrine of faith as handed down to us from the Apostles by the orthodox Fathers, always in the same sense and with the same interpretation."

"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven."

"This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge."(In reference to the outbreak of World War I)

Let us remember the spirit of St. Pius X to unite the Church and not allow it to combust within. So may we always remain loyal to the Holy See and our reigning Pontiff.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saint Bridget of Sweden

Sweden started out as a Viking nation, which invaded and looted other lands and Nations, returning to their homeland with its collection of stolen treasures.

But it wasn’t until the eleventh century that Christianity would come to Swedish shores. This was also at a time when Finland was co-joined to Sweden who was also having border disputes with its neighbours, Norway and Denmark.

But it was in the year 1302 that a baby girl would be born to a noble family, the parents named her Bridget. Both her parents were overjoyed at the arrival of their beloved child. Bridget's father, Birger owned vast area's of property and her Mother, Ingeborg was related to the Swedish Royal family.

Both parents were very devout, which is just as well for their little Bridget would be the recipient of Divine revelations at a very young age. Unfortunately for Bridget, her Mother would die when she was still in her formative years. So upon Ingeborg's death in 1314, Bridget was sent to stay with her Aunt who helped raised this astonishing young lady.

For Bridget was no ordinary child and began seeing visions when aged only 8 years old, where upon she saw a vision of Our Lady who then placed a crown upon Bridget’s head. This would be followed with visions of Jesus suffering His Passion so that all men could be saved.

These visions would set Bridget’s heart ablaze with a zealous love of our Lord and The Church, and though Bridget longed to serve our Lord by joining a Religious Order, this was not meant to be, at such an impressionable age.

So going against her own wishes she married Ulf Gudmarsson, where upon they had four son's and four daughters, not all of her children though would make it to adulthood. But Bridget was a good mother who raised all her children to love and serve God, and through this sharing of her devout Faith, one of her daughters, Catherine would also be canonised in due course.

Coming from a noble lineage also allowed Bridget to be well read for her times and able to converse with both nobility and beggar alike. For Bridget treated all as if she were conversing with the Lord Himself, and showed no favouritism with a person's social position.

But sadly for Bridget her husband Ulf was suddenly taken ill and he died in 1344. Through his death Bridget felt free to pursue what her heart had been yearning for, to live as a Religious and embrace God through her love of the poor and also her love of prayer.

Thereby she went forward towards founding her own Order which would be called the 'Brigittines'. But in order to obtain recognition for her new Order Bridget travelled to see the reigning Pontiff Pope Urban V in Avignon. Whereby like Catherine of Siena, Bridget also inveigled the Pope to return to Rome and take his rightful position as Supreme Pontiff as was right and proper.

During this waiting time though Bridget also embarked on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as she knew it may be her last voyage to this great Land of the Savior’s birth. For Bridget needed to see for herself what had been revealed to her in her many mystical visions of our Lord and Lady.

For at the heart of Bridget lay a great compassion for the sufferings of Christ and the Gift that our Lord extended to this great daughter of the Church. For through her mystical visions, messages and prayers, the suffering of Christ would be revealed to all who would read Bridget’s Divine revelations.

The Pope finally recognised Bridget’s Order in 1370; this brought much joy to Bridget’s heart, as her own health began to fail.

Bridget of Sweden died in 1373.

St Bridget of Sweden was canonised in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX.

I would encourage all to read further on the revelations given to this great Saint including St. Bridget’s fifteen prayers.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saint Margaret of Scotland

Scotland has a robust history of feuds between different clans and also a vicarious relationship with its neighbour England.

In between the different feuding clans King Kenneth I of Scotland was able to keep the country united as an independent kingdom from 843 onwards.

Donald III became King of Scotland in 1093 upon the death of Malcolm III, he ruled the land with Edmund I who was his nephew. This was to bring forth a power struggle as the son of Malcolm III, Duncan II fought to take the throne for himself in his attempt to depose King Donald III and Edmund I.

This drive for power from Duncan II who was being helped by English troops would lead to his death as both Donald III and Edmund I rose up against him and the invading English troops abandoned Duncan II to his fate.

As both Donald III and Edmund I retook Scotland it was decided that Donald III would rule over the north of Scotland while Edmund l ruled over the south. This agreement lasted until 1097 when King Edgar deposed both leaders with the help of English troops.

But it was in 1043 that a young woman would be born to a noble family, her father being Prince Edward son of Edmund Ironside, and her mother Agatha who may have been related to Emperor Henry III.

Margaret was to begin her life in Hungary where she was taught the Faith and garnered a love and devotion towards God and Church. But it was at the age of twelve that Margaret with her family traveled to England to be at the side of her uncle Edward the Confessor.

But upon his death Margaret’s Mother, Agatha decided to take her children and return to Europe as the situation in England became destabilized.

It was during this journey, that a heavy storm shipwrecked them as they made it ashore in Scotland and sought out the protection of King Malcolm Canmore.

King Malcolm had spent many lonely years upon the death of his first wife, and upon seeing Margaret he fell in love with her great beauty but also her virtuous nature. As King Malcolm had spent many years protecting his kingdom and his throne this led to a roughening of his own nature.

Margaret would be a soothing presence to this garrulous natured man who also longed to live a virtuous and noble life. Margaret’s influence on her robust natured husband would be great, as she gentled his rough edges with her finesse and sensitive heart.

Though Malcolm was not as well educated as his loving wife, he admired her generous nature and loving spirit and tried his hardest to emulate this beautiful wife of his. Their love would produce eight children one of whom would be Edmund who would go onto rule Scotland as King Edmund I alongside Donald III.

The love shared between Margaret and Malcolm was more than just physical as Margaret led Malcolm to love God and country but to also practice good works to those less fortunate. As Margaret with the approval of her husband built and restored many Churches and took great care of the sacred relics found within. Both Margaret and Malcolm would visit the shrine of Saint Andrew, and they would also provide the less fortunate an opportunity to visit this sacred site offering them free accommodation.

Margaret’s influence upon her rather uncivilized husband was one of the greatest acts of love by a wife to her husband in that she never belittled him for his uncouthness. But rather she helped Malcolm to understand and to also embrace a love of God over and above everything. And upon witnessing for himself his wife’s deep humility and docility, Malcolm came to embrace the Faith as deeply as Margaret herself.

With King Malcolm’s help Margaret tried her best to reform the Church in Scotland so that it be in alignment with Rome, and helped to buy vestments, chalices and other items required to hold Mass. She also formed a deep friendship with Prior Turgot who was her confessor, through his influence Margaret led a life of deep prayer and of generous alms giving to the poor.

Her prayer life would pay many dividends and great Blessings as her husband converted to the Faith and her offspring would also go onto practice virtuous lives, most especially her daughter Maude, who would become known as 'Good Queen Maude'.

Unfortunately for Margaret both her beloved husband, Malcolm and their son Edward would be killed by the British in 1093. Upon hearing this dreadful news Margaret’s heart would break for she had loved her husband dearly and his loss was too great for her to bear, she died four days later.

Queen Margaret died in 1093.

Saint Margaret was canonized in 1251 by Pope Innocent IV.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka


Upon the implosion of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria like many nations were left to form independent countries. With the demise of the Holy Roman Empire the Habsburgs then gained control of Austria/Hungary and ruled it with a velvet glove.

It was in 1867 that both Austria and Hungary were co-joined under the leadership of Emperor Franz Joseph. But the unification of two diverse countries would hold complications as a Constitution evolved for the Austrian peoples.

When upon the death of Emperor Franz Joseph, his nephew Francis Ferdinand became Emperor in the year 1896, and it was during his leadership that the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina would have repercussions around the world and bring untold tragedy to many nations.

For in June 28 1914 both Emperor Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, which heralded in the First World War, which would impact the entire world with untold tragedy.

But it was in 1894 that the Kafka family would be blessed with another child as Helena joined her other five siblings. Though the family were not wealthy, still they managed well enough.

The Kafka family moved to Vienna when Helena was very young so she thought of herself as very much an Austrian and had the robust nature of a true patriot. Being that her family was not overly prosperous Helena found work in various occupations as a sales assistant before training as a nurse.

It would be her job as a nurse that would deeply move her for a love and compassion for the needy and infirm. And a longing in her heart to help assist and aid them in whatever way she could. For though Helena was a very practical and disciplined young lady, she had a growing love for our Lord and longed to serve Him through her prayer and her work.

Her parents did not share the same level of Faith as their daughter so when Helena informed her family that she was considering becoming a Religious her parents vehemently opposed it. But this did not stop the strong willed Helena, who though she loved and respected her parents, still her love for God was stronger and she could not neglect the calling she felt within her heart.

So in the year 1914 Helena joined the Franciscan Order of the Sisters of Charity, and took as her name Sister Restituta. Through her love of God Sister Restituta sought to ease His sufferings by serving the sick and ill in her vocation as a nurse. For by helping to heal and bring comfort to the sick, Sister Restitua knew that this was the most perfect way to love and serve her Lord.

And she served her Lord well for the next twenty years as a very competent nurse, for though Sister Restituta was not known for her charm, she was respected for her love of the poor and infirm.

But it was the Nazi Anschluss which overtook Austria that Sister Restituta showed an uncommon bravery, and vowed not to serve Hitler as she had been known to publicly call Hitler a 'mad man'. Sister Restituta was also puzzled in how much her beloved Austrians encouraged the Nazification of her beloved Austria, and unlike many of her fellow citizens she would not bend under the Nazi dictatorship!

She was openly defiant when it came to the Nazi's and wrote a poem mocking the 'German Dictator' as well as refusing to remove Crucifixes from the hospital rooms. If anything Sister Restituta placed even more Crucifixes in the hospital wards, which had been newly built.

This was too much for the Nazi's and when they ordered her to remove the Crucifixes Sister Restituta defiantly told them no! They would stay! The Nazi's were enraged and ordered her arrest, but still Sister Restituta stood firm.

The evil Nazi regime even tried to bribe Sister Restituta if she denied her religious calling and broke her Vows; they would then spare her life. Once again this most courageous of souls spurned the Nazi's offer as mere garbage from the sewer that was National Socialism.

The Nazi regime was incensed with this infuriating sister and ordered her death by beheading, upon hearing this order Sister Restituta remained resolute and stoic and said simply, "I have lived for Christ. I want to die for Christ".

Sister Restituta Kafka died by beheading in 1943.

Blessed Sister Restituta was beatified in 1998 by Pope John Paul ll.

To quote Pope John Paul II, "courageous witness to her conviction … The Church today does not need part-time Catholics but full-blooded Christians … Thank you Sister Restituta for swimming against the tide of the times!"

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

St. Philip Neri

Italy in the 14th and 15 centuries, were milestone years when it came to artistic pursuit in all fields, paintings, sculpture, architecture and writings. These were the decades when Niccolo Machiavelli, Francesco Guicciardini wrote their famous books. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raffael Santi, and Michaelangelo Buonarroti would reach their best on the finest art ever produced.

And though artistically Italy flourished, when it came to politics it was the reverse as divisions created conflicts amongst the differing powerful dynasties. The most powerful and commercially prosperous Provinces in Italy at that time were Venice, Milan, Florence and Naples.

Some Italian Province's also had an ongoing dispute which led to outright war with the French but under the new French king Francis I a peace agreement would be signed, but like many other peace treaties it would not last.

Into this arena of great artistic accomplishments and diverse political machinations, was born in the year 1515 a baby boy who was named Philip Romolo Neri.

Though Philips father, Francesco Nero was related to the nobility he himself was not wealthy and had to work hard to provide for his growing family. The young Philip would be joined later by two sisters, unfortunately for the Neri family, their mother died while her children were very young.

The young Philip would be noted for his joy of life and sense of humour and because of his happy disposition his family nicknamed him 'Pippo'. He was much loved by his family and brought them all much happiness for to spend any time in company with the young Pippo meant a good time for all.

But due to the families financial struggles Philip was sent to San Germano to help a relative run his business. Though Philip was now a young man of 18 years, he was not known for his seriousness, but all this would change when Philip was to experience a mystical event, this would change the course of his life.

It was at this time that Philip left San Germano and travelled to Rome. And though impoverished Philip retained his sunny disposition which would help him when he found shelter with the Caccia family in Rome.

In order to be able to eat and sustain himself Philip became a tutor to the two sons of Galeotto Caccia, though both flourished under the tutorship of Philip who was a gifted teacher and able to bring out the best in these two young boys, which pleased their parents.

But even though Philips good heartedness would win him much admiration, he preferred to spend his free time in prayer and lived an austere life in private. This intense need for prayer led him to study both philosophy and theology as he felt a calling from God.

But once again Philip would surprise many by abandoning his studies, selling his books and what little he had to embark on a mission to help the people in Rome. For he could see the effect of political insecurities and also the proliferation of works of art and literature were having on the people of Rome.

So into this cynical environment Philip Neri worked to once again re-awaken the peoples love for God and the Church. He did not approach this mission with hell fire and brimstone but with his natural talent of good humour and compassion, mixed with a non judgemental and warm hearted disposition.

Philip also did not forget the sick and infirm and visited the hospitals to share the good news of Christ's love for his children. Many would stop and listen to Philips love for God and began in themselves to once again embrace the Faith which they had walked away from.

But through all this activity at nights Philip would retreat to his bedroom and spend many hours in prayer. It was during one of his prayers that Philip would experience another mystical experience, when he saw before him what looked like a globe of fire which then entered his mouth and swept down to his heart. Philip was swept up in such an ecstasy of experience that he begged the Lord, "Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no more ".

Philip continued his work for the poor and with the help of Father Persiano Rossa, they began to gather around them laymen who would join them in their mission to help relieve the suffering of the poor, sick and elderly. A hospital would eventually be built called Santa Trinita, so that the poor and infirm had somewhere to go when sick.

The work that Philip Neri was doing truly impressed his confessor and upon being prompted Philip entered the Priesthood in 1551. Many were to be won over and through the Sacrament of Confession Father Philip's abundant kindness helped many to once again love Jesus and to trust their Lord and amend their lives.

Many who worked alongside Philip Neri also noted his immense humility and air of sincere sanctity which shone from Philips whole demeanour. For Philip though he practiced an austere life in private, kept up his natural talent to make others feel important and loved. He never lost his humour or to tease his friends and all he met in a kind and friendly manner.

The people of Rome came to love Fr. Philip Neri and many people both poor and noble sort his advice, Philip never turned anyone away. Through his love of God and his natural ability to make others feel appreciated, and with a good dose of good humour Philip achieved much more than the long faced ascetics ever could.

Philip was a long term friend of St. Ignatius and of Popes Gregory Xlll and Clement Vll who all visited Philip for advice and to converse with such a spiritual giant.

Philip Neri died in 1595.

St. Philip Neri was canonised in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Saint Marguerite d'Youville

The sixteenth century was a decisive one for Canada, in that the war between Britain and France, also affected many of the States within Canadian borders. As each State fought for its own equality amidst a vast landscape of natural beauty and splendour.

But before Canada became its own Sovereign Nation, it began as a fledgling group of Provinces with their own trade networks which were used by its neighbouring country America, the British and the French which made for a volatile cocktail, as many made much money and few of the native Canadians benefited.

But it was in the year 1763 after bitter contention between Nations that the Treaty of Paris was signed which gave most of the territories within Canada to be maintained by the British under the Monarchy. An agreement that did not suit all Canadian people most especially those Provinces dominated by the French.

But it is in the year 1701 that Canada would be blessed with the birth of Marguerite Lajemmerais, which brought much joy to her parents, Christophe and Marie Renee. Marguerite would be joined by a further 5 siblings but tragedy would strike the Lajemmerais family early when her father died, leaving the entire family in poverty and dependant upon kind relatives.

It was her Great Grandfather who helped the family financially and enabled the young Marguerite to attend Boarding School with the Ursulines. Unfortunately for Marguerite, she had to once again return home after only two years of schooling in order for her to help her mother, who found it difficult to cope.

And the young Marguerite was an invaluable help to her poor mother who tried her utmost to provide for her large family. Therefore Marguerite took it upon herself to teach her siblings what she herself had learnt under the Ursulines.

But Marguerite also longed for personal happiness and though she was a steadfast helper to her mother and also tried to instil into her brothers and sisters a deep love for God and the Church, love was to call Marguerite from her loving family.

Marguerite married Francois d'Youville in 1722, but though this lovely woman had married for love her husband was not as principled. It was not long before Marguerite would be disappointed in her husband and the pain of his many dalliances caused her much anguish which was not helped by her mother -in- laws interjections.

These were very difficult years for the young Marguerite who also shared her residence with her embittered mother-in-law. Though Marguerite was long suffering still her heart ached at her husbands duplicity most especially with his business associates and underhand business dealings with those of Indian heritage by selling them liquor.

But despite this sadness Marguerite would bear her husband six children, as she continued to pray for her husband and her Mother in Law. She also instructed her children with a deep love for the Faith and for God. But due to the times, four of her children never lived to be adults and had died at very young ages, this was heartbreaking for Marguerite especially as her husband failed to comfort her in her loss and grief!

Francois d'Youville died in 1730, during his illness his devoted wife, Marguerite cared for him till the end. Through all these ordeals which was thrust upon Marguerite she never lost her Faith but instead clung even more strongly to God and the Church. And even though she had suffered much at the hands of her husband and cruel mother-in-law, Marguerite continued to offer up prayers for them and also practiced the corporal works of mercy, which was a great and noble example to set for her surviving children.

Marguerite was a loving and earnest mother who taught her children the fundamentals of their Faith and encouraged them to also practice mercy and kind acts to all those they met. She was able to provide a good education for her children and two sons would eventually become Priests, which was a proud moment indeed for Marguerite.

During all the hardships of her life, Marguerite fostered a deep and abiding love for our Heavenly Father and sought to express this love by helping the poor find food to eat, clothes to wear and also to try and pay for the funerals of prisoners who died in jail.

Upon taking in a poor woman who was blind into her own home and still practicing charity to all those in need in her neighbouring streets, was to annoy some but also brought admiration from others. Marguerite would later also take in three other ladies who like herself wished to devote the rest of their lives to alleviating the sufferings of the poor. This would cause much consternation to her neighbours who did not wish to see the poor and dispossessed land on their door steps but it did not stop the erstwhile Marguerite, and her small group of ladies.

It was on a cold December day in 1737, that Marguerite along with her ladies made their Consecration to God and promised to help the poor in whatever capacity they could. This would be the humble beginnings of the 'Grey Nuns'. Through the struggles of life that Marguerite had endured surely tempered her patience and understanding of those who also had endured much suffering in their lives. This gave Marguerite a great respect and admiration for those who did wish to rise above their circumstances and also to comfort those who were near their end.

So through criticisms from her neighbours, deaths and fire Marguerites persevering spirit remained intact. For in all things whether good or bad Marguerite recognised the Hand of God and gave Him all honour and glory, she also encouraged her ladies to have this same confidence even when their hospital burnt down. Marguerite encouraged her fellow sisters to rebuild the hospital and to at all times maintain their confidence in a loving God.

But age was creeping up on Marguerite and though her spirit was strong still her body weakened under such a work load.

Marguerite d'Youville died in 1771.

Saint Marguerite d'Youville was canonized in 1990 by Pope John Paul ll.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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