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, March 30, 2006

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Caterina de Pazzi was born into the nobility in the year 1566, her parents were deeply devout and passed this on to their beloved daughter.
From an early age Caterina loved Jesus and displayed this by her longing to receive Him in the Eucharist, she would often approach others and beseech them to tell her what it was like to receive our Lord in Communion, her devotion was outstanding when one considers how very young she was.
Caterina though born wealthy was drawn to lead an ascetic life from an early age she also practiced acts of mortification which was common in that era for those who had a great longing to become closer to God. Even though she practiced these mortifications she was not a dour person and was known for her charm and simplicity of manner which draw admiration from all who met her.
This young girl also had a great love of prayer and of a love for the poor, in whom she tried to help by practicing the corporal works of mercy but her greatest love was reserved for Jesus especially in the Blessed Sacrament upon which she would spend hours contemplating this deep mystery and love. Finally at the age of 10 years her dream came true as she made her first Communion, this so touched her heart that she near wept for joy to be so closely connected to her Lord and Savior in the Eucharist, it was around this time that she vowed herself to God and God alone!
Upon reaching 14 years of age, Caterina was sent to school at the Convent of Cavalaresse, where her obvious holiness, humility and penances impressed the Sisters who were instructing her, many of whom noted that if the young Caterina continued to live in this way she would become a Saint, they would prove to be correct!
It was while she was living and learning at the Convent that Caterina decided she too would enter the Religious life, in order to spend her life entirely centered on her beloved Lord, most especially in the Blessed Sacrament. Caterina was blessed in that both her parents were truly devout people and after a little persuasion Caterina managed to convince her parents that this is where God wished her to be, serving Him through her Religious Community.
Caterina's dream came true in 1582 when she entered the Carmelite Convent of Santa Maria degl Angeli, what drew Caterina to this particular Order was its austere penances and lifestyle, this suited Caterina's own manner of living. Another factor was its ability to receive daily Communion a fact which pleased Caterina greatly and was the deciding factor.
Once Caterina entered the Order as so happens with many Religious who are Graced with extraordinary experiences, Caterina's soul entered the 'dark night' her physical condition also decorated, so she took her Vows as she lay seriously ill, as her religious name she chose Sister Mary Magdalen.
Though Sister Mary Magdalen suffered greatly she also began to experience the Mystical events which would continue throughout the rest of her life and though in ill health she also undertook her duties as a Sister within her community faultlessly.
During this period though Sister Mary Magdalen would be constantly plagued by the temptations and other forms of attack as God brought her closer to Himself and Satan was left to fume in impotent rage at Sister Mary Magdalena's obvious holiness. Through all her mystical experiences, this did not make the other Sisters jealous of her, for many of them had come to love Sister Mary Magdalen's personable character and her deep sense of humility.
It was also due to the fact that in herself Sister Mary Magdalen was always common sensical and not given to hysteria or whimsy, as she with great consideration fulfilled her daily obligations within the Religious community. This most holy Sister also never complained of the great aridity of soul nor of her sufferings as she lived her daily life, content in the knowledge that God loved her and had not abandoned her, for Sister Mary Magdalena did not rely on her feelings but on God's Promise.
Through all her hardships Sister Mary Magdalen was also privileged by God to be the recipient of miraculous gifts and events, some of which she would speak out loud while continuing her work, through this many Sisters in her Community noted down Sister Mary Magdalen's words which were kept for prosperity. She also had the Gift of reading peoples hearts within and outside of her community which brought in many visitors who sought her wisdom. One of the miracles attributed to this most holy Sister was that she kept up a correspondence with Catherine de Ricci who would become another great Saint of the Church. Though both these Sisters corresponded they never met, but Sister Mary Magdalen did see as in a vision, that holy Sister Catherine de Ricci answer one of her letters.
Sister Mary Magdalen's great legacy to all who read about her, is her great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, may we also develop such a high love for our God of Love, Divine.
Sister Mary Magdalen of Pazzi died in 1607.
Saint Mary Magedalen was canonized in 1669 by Pope Clement IX.
Some Quotes.
"Come Holy Spirit Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasures are contained."
"Come! As you descended upon Mary that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace."
"Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity."
"Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you."
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sister Consolata Betrone-Victim Soul

Pierina Betrone was born in the year 1903 in Italy to a family of bakers who also ran a restaurant, nothing in her attitude or background could foretell that this young girl would become one of Jesus beloved victim souls.

The Lord first moved within the soul of this young and studious girl when she was only 13 years old. It was as she was busy running errands for her hectic parents that Pierina first felt our Lord touched her heart which filled the young girl with such fervour that she exclaimed "My God, I love you!"The young Pierina also held a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and made a personal vow to promise herself to the service of our Lord and our Lady.

It was after she received Communion that Pierina would hear an interior voice request of her, "Do you want to be mine?" Pierina was awestruck that our Lord would speak with someone as unimportant as she, so she replied with her heart full of tender love and reverence, "Jesus, yes". Though the young Pierina gave her consent, it would still be many years before she could fulfill it.

During this time of waiting, Pierina also struggled an intense battle within her soul as doubts filled her mind and soul as she tried to live a holy and dedicated life. Finally after many trials, temptations and spiritual dryness, Pierina entered the Order of the Poor Clares taking as her name, Sister Consolata. This humble Nun lived a humble life of prayer, her duties and mortifications, done to console her Beloved for the souls of unrepentant sinners, for as our Lord confided to Sister Consolata, "Do not make me a harsh God while I am no less than the God of love!".

Though Sister Consolata was Graced with the Presence of God within her soul, still she felt small and saw herself as the smaller one which Saint Therese of Lisieux had referred to in her diary. This certainty that Consolata felt within her soul was confirmed by our Lord in these words, "well, I have found that still weaker soul who has abandoned herself with complete faith to My infinite mercy: it is you, Consolata, and through you I will perform marvels which will far exceed your fondest desires." When our Lord chooses a soul He with infinite wisdom and tenderness chooses those who though they be weak within themselves only further His Power to move within and transform that weak soul into a living reflection of Himself.

As always though the chosen souls go through many area's of the spiritual life including aridity of soul and temptations of the evil one, but as our Lord consoled Sister Consolata with these words to her vocation in life, "Since I am the Most Holy it is my thirst to communicate it to souls ... You only love. You are too small to climb to the summit: I will carry you on my shoulders". In her diary Sister Consolata wrote an impassioned plea to those who would one day come to read this source of spiritual enlightenment, "Jesus reveals to me the intimate sufferings of His Heart caused by the faithlessness of souls consecrated to Him".

Our Lord also inspired Sister Consolata with this universal prayer, " Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!" Sister Consolata would repeat this one prayer during all her waking hours and in every form of work as she went about her daily tasks. Sister Consolata lived a holy and humble life and did as our Lord requested of her as He revealed her mission in life with these words, "Among the youngest members of Catholic action there are the Little Ones, and among the Little souls there are the Littlest Ones. You belong to these; and to them will belong all those souls who will follow you in offering Me the unceasing act of love."

There was also this interior inspiration which she noted in her diary, "For many days my soul has halted on this divine phrase - 'Sacrificial victim for sacrificial victim'". So it was to be for Sister Consolata became gravelly ill with no chance for recovery.

Sister Consolata Betrone died in 1946.

Here are some of the revelations given to her by Jesus.

"You must think only of loving Me! I will think of everything else, even to the smallest details!"

"You see, Consolata, sanctity means self-forgetfulness in everything, in thoughts, desires, words....Allow Me to do it all! I will do everything; but you should, at every moment, give Me what I ask for with much love!"

"I delight to work in a soul. You see, I love to do everything Myself; and from this soul I ask only that she love Me."

"You see, even in good thoughts which creep in, there is always a bit of self-love, of complacency; and it is easy to see how they will spoil the act of love. But if you will complete trust in Me, that I am attending to everything and will continue to do so, and if you will not permit even one other thought to enter, then your act of love will possess a virginal purity."

"Consolata, place no limits on your confidence in Me, then I will place no limits on My graces for you!"

"Trust always in Jesus! If you only knew how much pleasure that gives Me! Grant Me this solace to trust in Me even in the shadow of death."

"If you are in Me and we are one then you will bring forth much fruit and will become strong, for you will disappear like a drop of water in the ocean; My silence will pass into you, and My humility, My purity, My charity, My gentleness, My patience, My thirst for suffering, and My zeal for souls whom I wish to save at all costs!"

Sister Consolata's cause for Beatification is before Rome.

Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saint Monica-Prayer Warrior

Monica of Hippo did not have an easy life, she was married to a much older man who was known for his abusive treatment of any who displeased him. Though Monica's marriage was not a match made in Heaven in that she was not in love with her husband as her marriage was an arranged one, still though she embraced the role of both wife and mother with great care and diligence.

Things were not made easier for her in that Monica also lived with her temperamental and taciturn mother in law who seemed to gain pleasure by making Monica's life as intolerable as she could. Throughout this ordeal Monica never lost her Faith indeed these trials and ordeals merely strengthened Monica's faith.

Monica and her husband had three children, two boys, Augustine and Navigius and a daughter Perpetua to complete Monica's joy. Though Monica maintained a strong prayer life and attended Mass as often as possible she also with great patience prayed and shared her faith with her volatile husband and his equally vocal mother, the patient endurance displayed by Monica eventually worked a miracle in her husband, Patricius who did convert to the Catholic Faith, followed by his mother. This brought true joy to Monica and also much relief when her husband died a year later, the knowledge of his conversion brought much comfort to this holy wife and mother.

The troubles in Monica's life did not stop as she tried her hardest to persuade her dissolute son, Augustine to embrace the Faith as had the rest of his family. This difficult and intelligent son of hers was to share his fathers obstinacy as he continued to live a worldly life, though I am sure the words his mother spoke to him would have touched a chord within the heart of Augustine.

Two of Monica's children entered the Religious life which greatly pleased Monica as she prayed for their continued strengthening, but much of her prayer life was devoted to her stubborn son Augustine who refused to listen to his mothers pleadings. This led Monica to approach many Priests to pray for the conversion of her much loved son, many of whom would become impatient at what they thought was a lost cause the conversion of Augustine. Though many may have washed their hands of the problem of Augustine, Monica was not one of them as she continued to spend a life of prayer and mortification for the conversion of this very intellectual and worldly son of hers.

Through all her trials Monica maintained her spirit of gentleness which was greatly respected by all her children who had been witness to some of their fathers violent excesses. This is why though Augustine refused to listen to his mothers entreaties he did not abandon her in that he not only loved his mother but respected her obvious devoutness.

This great woman of prayer was also very disciplined when it came to morals and Faith and she could no longer bear to see her beloved but dashing son throw his soul away so in another attempt to rouse Augustine's conscience Monica refused at times to allow her son to visit her, which caused much pain and anguish to Monica as she wept for her son.

It was during one of these enforced absences that Monica received a vision of a man who asked why she was weeping? When Monica explained her sons condition the man in the vision replied "Your son is with you." This strengthened Monica and gave her renewed hope, upon seeing her son, she conveyed this vision to Augustine who dismissed it immediately but upon his mothers quick retort as she said, "He did not say I was with you: he said that you were with me."Augustine was to remember his mothers words as he continued on with his studies and his loose lifestyle.

At the age of 29 years Augustine decided to go to Rome with his mistress and their child. Monica was distraught fearing that her son would never be able to embrace the Faith once he was so far out of her reach and her entreaties. It was here that Monica decided that she too would travel to Rome which she did, passing through the violent sea's with great serenity which calmed the other passengers of her ship. When Monica arrived in Rome she found that her son, had traveled onwards towards Milan, hence Monica also set out for Milan to once again plead with her son. One has to wonder if Augustine's stubbornness was an inherent trait shared by both mother and son.

It was in Milan that both Augustine and Monica met Bishop Ambrose, who would have a great impact on both their lives. While she settled in Milan, Monica also practiced the corporal works of mercy with the other ladies of the region which greatly impressed Bishop Ambrose. As both mother and son befriended this eminent Bishop both were to be touched in different ways, Monica was to relinquish many superstitions which she had brought with her from her home in North Africa, under the wise counsel of Bishop Ambrose. While Augustine would be challenged intellectually by this greatly wise Bishop of the Church, as he discussed different elements of the Catholic Faith with Augustine as both debated major issues.

The meetings and discussions with Bishop Ambrose would be the deciding factor in the conversion of Augustine, no greater joy could be felt when Augustine finally embraced the Catholic Faith, his mother wept not from sorrow but with sheer joy that this errant son of hers had now come home to her beloved Church.

Monica's life is a testament to the strength of persevering prayer and of never giving up hope no matter who difficult the road may seem. Monica loved her children and the Church her joy was complete to see all her children live their Faith for God had answered the prayers of this woman of immense fortitude and patience. Her joy had truly reached its completion.

Monica died in 387.

Saint Monica was canonized by the Catholic Church though the date is not known.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Faith of the Fathers Blogs. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Saint Claude De La Colombiere

When our thoughts turn to the devotion to The Sacred Heart of Jesus, two names spring forth, Saint Margaret Mary Alocque and Bl. Claude De La Colombiere, for it was through these two holy souls that our Lord wished to proclaim this August devotion.

Claude was born in the year 1641 in France to parents who were wealthy and held a high position in society, during his young years Claude was noted as being of a serious nature and took to studying philosophy at Lyon where he excelled. Claude also mixed well with his friends and took part in an active social life as he was a gifted student of rhetoric with a curious mind and longing to learn about life.

It us unknown when Claude first felt the calling to enter the Priesthood for he was not a man to confide his innermost thoughts, and tended instead to turn to the Lord in prayer in order to find his vocation. It is known that he struggled internally with the call to enter the Priesthood as it meant leaving his old life behind and embracing a more difficult and rigorous lifestyle.

In the end Claude obeyed the calling he felt within and entered the Jesuit Order at only 17 years of age, this was a big step for the young man to make, but Claude was never one to be moved by emotionalism, and instead relied on his common sense and his deep feelings towards the Church and where he felt God was calling him.

Claude completed his studies and was Ordained a Priest into the Society of Jesus in 1675, he then became superior at Paray-le-Monial, and it was here that he met Sister Margaret Mary, this meeting would change their lives forever as Claude became her spiritual director. It would be both Sister Margaret Mary and Father Claude who would spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as our Lord described Claude as His, "faithful and perfect friend." This devotion to our Lords Sacred Heart continues to this day.

Father Claude's life would take a dramatic turn when he was sent to England at the request of the Duchess of York, who was impressed by this Priest knowledge and Gift of wisdom. When Claude arrived in England things seemed to go smoothly enough and through his dedication and gift of rhetoric he quickly made friends and impressed many more with his obvious talents and holiness. Though not all were impressed with Father Claude, as some within the Court of St. James heard that Father Claude was drawing converts to the Catholic Faith, this threatened the power of the Church of England which had broken with Rome!

The tension and rumour mongering would take its toll on Father Claude's health until finally the English arrested this charismatic Priest, and held him in detention. This was not good for Father Claude's health as he was already having heart problems before his imprisonment. Though he spent only 3 weeks in a notoriously cruel prison the cold and wet conditions would have a detrimental affect on Father Claude's health which suffered greatly.

Fortunately through the intervention of King Louis XIV, Father Claude was released and banished to France, this almost broke the stout heart of this most devoted disciple of Jesus Sacred Heart. Is it not the kiss of Christ that a holy Priest such as Claude should have his own heart rent asunder at the calumny of others, for upon his return to France, Father Claude's health was in serious decline.

Though Claude struggled on it was not long before his health took a turn for the worse and this promoter of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, breathed his last.

Claude de la Colombiere died in 1682.

Saint Claude de la Colombiere was canonized in 1991 by Pope John Paul II

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

St Paul Of The Cross

Paul Danei was born literally into his family business, as he came into the world above his fathers tobacco shop, in the year 1694. The Danei family eventually had 16 children but not all of them lived to enjoy long lives as the infant mortality rate in that era was high.
Through observing the deaths of his siblings this was able to give Paul an insight into the pain of bereavement but also how fragile life can be, the shadow of the Cross was already manifested in his life. This would lead Paul from an early age to embrace prayer and to live life as if it were his last day on earth. The whole Daneii family were known for their piety and Paul's parents, Luke and Anna Maria tried to attend daily Mass and also to instill a deep love of God and Church.
The young Paul already felt drawn to the Crucified Christ, as he contemplated the mystery of Jesus Passion. This devotion to the Passion of Christ did not lead to morbidity but instead led Paul to greater love and reverence for this Majestic God who would send His beloved Son to die in our place. Each day Paul would try and spend many hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as well as attending school and his home chores.
It was plain to see that God was moving within the heart of this holy young man, for he had decided against marriage and upon the death of his Uncle who happened to be a Priest Paul was left a substantial amount of money which he declined to accept , but he did keep his uncles breviary. Already in his heart was the idea of starting a new Religious Order to honour Christ's Passion, for this was at the heart of Paul's spirituality.
Paul's obvious piety and holiness impressed many around him and soon Priests and Bishops would ask Paul to lead retreats for the people in his parish. Through this he was able to establish prayer groups and to evangelise the Faith to the poor, lonely and dispossessed, but already within Paul's mind lay the rule which he was already formulating in his heart of hearts. To live lives completely devoted to prayer, spreading the Faith, and to honour the Passion of Our Lord in particular.
With his burning zeal Paul attempted to begin this Order, which would allow men to spread the Faith but also to return to the Monastery and spend many hours contemplating the Lords Passion. The way was not always easy for Paul as he struggled to maintain the Rule of the Order as he felt God Willed it to be, for as he said to his Confessor, "I began, "to write this holy rule on the! second of December in the year 1720, and I finished it on the seventh of the same month. And be it known that when I was writing, I went on as quickly as if somebody in a professor's chair were there dictating to me. I felt the words come from my heart"
So it was that Paul began to collect a small community to spread devotion among the faithful to our Lords Passion where Jesus suffered for the salvation of sinners. This holy man was also sensitive to the needs of the people he would be dealing with and so spoke to each person with respect and dignity. Paul would speak as he found people, for those who spoke and lived simply Paul was able to reach out to them on an equal basis, and for those who were perhaps more learned Paul was able to go into greater depth about the sufferings endured by the Son of God.
Even though Paul felt this deep devotion to the Crucified Christ, he was not in himself a dour or long-faced individual but instead radiated the love of Christ to all he met, in a practical manner, without the sentimentality of emotionalism. The Mission that Paul was developing was not to make people sad but instead to challenge them to love God for who He is, and to live in a spirit of deep gratitude and awe towards God.
After living in a small community of men, Paul eventually won the approval to formulate this Order in 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII this was followed by Paul's Ordination into the Priesthood in the year 1727. Father Paul would be joined in his mission to spread the devotion to Christ's Passion by his brother, John Baptist who also joined him in the Priesthood.
Father Paul and his brother were able to establish what would become known as the Passionist Order, where they dedicated their lives to spreading the Gospel message, the devotion to Christ's Passion and retreats where people could gather in order to reflect more deeply on their spiritual path. The centre of Passionist Order was their deep sense of community and living as the early disciples did when Jesus was amongst them.
The Passionist Order would also receive the approval of their Rule in 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV, and in 1769 Pope Clement XIV confirmed the Rule which placed this particular Order among the greatest.
Father Paul himself was a man of simple needs, who led a deep prayer life and devoted himself to spreading the love of Christ to all he met. Though Father Paul began this Order he had no wish to become its Superior and instead wished to serve his fellow Priests and community as a humble servant. But because of his obvious holiness and his sense of practicalities Paul was chosen to become the Superior General which he retained for the rest of his life.
This remarkable man who began this Order which still thrives to this day was an excellent example of how to live a holy life and speak about it without patronising those he spoke with even though he was well learned.
Father Paul Danei died in the year 1775.
Saint Paul of the Cross was canonized in 1852 by Pope Pius IX.
Some Quotes
"It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it."
"Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will."
""Oh, what beautiful virtues can be practiced in sickness, especially a total love for one’s own abjection, gratitude and gentleness of heart to those who attend you, and blind obedience to the doctor and the infirmarian, always with a happy face."

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sister Josefa Menendez-Victim Soul

Josefa Mendendez was born in Madrid Spain in the year 1890, neither her birth nor her death brought much notice or acclaim. Yet God was to touch this Sisters heart with a very important message for the world.

From a very early age Josefa was blessed with inner locutions from our Lord, at the age of 11 as she was preparing to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time, Josefa pledged her heart to her beloved Lord. It was as she was making this promise that our Lord said to her, "Yes, little one, I want you to be all mine." Unfortunately for Josefa it would be a long wait till she was able to join a Religious Community, but she was a patient and joyful child who would grow into a deeply devout young woman of great Faith, fortitude and that inner sparkle that was Josefa.

Finally at the age of 29 she entered the Order of The Sacred Heart of Jesus in France, though Josefa was happy to finally join her beloved Jesus she was also saddened to leave her family and homeland, but any sacrifice was good if it brought her closer to her beloved Lord. As in many cases of souls who have been especially chosen by our Merciful God, Josefa came under severe trials by the devil who tempted her to doubt her calling, but as with many of these souls, our Lord strengthened Josefa to withstand the snares of the evil one.

Also though Josefa was to be touched by God in a special way yet those closest to Sister Josefa never knew this by her conduct which drew no attention to herself as Josefa was the recipient of Divine Messages for the world. Yet her daily life within the Convent was very ordinary as she carried out her tasks and chores with grace and humility. Her fellow Sisters also did not know of the inner struggle Josefa was undergoing as the devil tempted her to doubt God's voice and her Religious calling, but through it all Josefa maintained a strong prayer life which aided her in resisting listening to the voice of the evil one.

Sister Josefa was at this time receiving extraordinary visions of our Lord, our Lady, St. John the Apostle and the founder of her Order, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the only people who knew of these unusual occurrences within the soul of Sister Josefa were her superiors and her Confessor, all of whom admired her humility, detachment and her deep spirit of simplicity which simply confirmed to them that these extraordinary happenings within the life of this Sister were to be believed.

Because Sister Josefa was the recipient of these Divine revelations from our Lord, her Superiors requested that she write down everything that was told to her or revealed through visions. With due respect Sister Josefa obeyed her Superiors with her usual inner perfection while revealing nothing to the other Sisters in her Convent. At times Josefa would quail within at what our Lord was requesting of her and she would confide this to her diary and also to her Confessor for our Lord was requesting that Josefa become a willing victim soul for the sake of sinners. Though Josefa trembled at what may lay ahead of her, still with all her heart she consented to what our Lord requested for through all things her love of God came first.

It was only after Sister Josefa's death at the young age of 33 years that the world would come to know the miraculous events in this young Nun's life and the message she brought to the world. As is written in the diary of this young Sister, . "She always followed common life and seemed in no way different from her sisters and yet she bore on her soul the weight of the most extraordinary and momentous graces of Divine predilection which at one moment delivered her over to the onsets of excruciating physical pain, and again held her captive under the Hand of God. There was a twofold current of love between Him and her; Love Divine, which like the eagle precipitates itself upon its prey, and whose velocity none can stay, and a love frail yet ardent--that of Josefa--whose constant endeavor was to hold herself ever ready to accept all the urgent requirements of God's plan."

The opening paragraphs of Josefa's diary states what exactly is required of a victim soul specially chosen by our Lord in these words, "To be a victim necessarily implies immolation, and as a rule atonement for another. Although strictly speaking one can offer oneself as a victim to give God joy and glory by voluntary sacrifice, yet for the most part God leads souls by that path only when He intends them to act as mediators: they have to suffer and expiate for those for whom their immolation will be profitable; either by drawing down graces of forgiveness on them, or by acting as a cloak to cover their sins in the face of divine justice. It stands to reason that no one will on his own initiative take such a role on himself. Divine consent is required before a soul dares to intervene between God and His creature. There would be no value in such an offering if God refused to hear the prayer." If, then, Jesus Christ wishes to associate other victims with Himself, they must be closely united to Him, and share His feelings, in order to enter fully into His sacrifice; hence they can only be human beings, endowed with intelligence and will." He Himself chooses these persons, and because they are free He asks them for their voluntary co-operation. Those who accept put themselves at His mercy, and He then makes use of them as by sovereign right."

Now to reveal some of the messages which were given to this most humble and obedient servant, Sister Josefa Menendez, through her diary which is now known as 'The Way of Divine Love'.

Extracts from the book of our Lords words to Sister Josefa;

"We are going to speak of My Passion, that your soul may constantly feed on the remembrance of it, and that My souls may find in it food for their hunger and drink for their thirst."

"And now, Josefa, I will begin by disclosing to you the thoughts that filled My Heart, while I was washing the feet of My disciples."

"Mark how the whole twelve were gathered together, none excepted:John the beloved was there, and Judas who was so soon to deliver Me to My enemies. I will tell you why I willed to have them all assembled together and why I began by washing their feet."

"I gathered them altogether because the moment had come for My Church to be manifested to the world, and for all the sheep to have but one shepherd."

"It was My intention also, to show souls that I never refuse grace even to those who are guilty of grave sin; nor do I separate them from the good whom I Love with predilection. I keep them all in My Heart, that all may receive the help required by their state of soul...."

"Come all of you to Me and fear not, for I Love you all... I will wash you in My Blood and you shall be made whiter than snow. All of your offences will be submerged in the waters in which I myself shall wash you, nor shall anything whatsoever be able to tear from My Heart its Love for you."

"My Heart is never wounded unless it be by My chosen souls."

"If their infidelities wound Me deeply, their love consoles and delights My Heart to such a degree that I, so to speak, forget the sins of many others on their account."

"I make little account of all that (miseries and weakness), provided souls come to Me with confidence and love, I Myself make up for all their frailty."

"Weakness and worthlessness are of small account; what I want is their trust. These are the souls who draw down on the world mercy and peace."

"I can refuse nothing to one who relies entirely on Me. Souls are too little conscious of how much I want to help them and how much I am glorified by their trust."

"The obstinacy of a guilty soul wounds My Heart deeply, but the tender affection of one who loves Me not only heals the wound, but turns away the effects of My Father's Justice."

"My justice will be restrained as long as I find victims who will make reparation."

"One faithful soul an repair and obtain mercy for many ungrateful ones."

"Alas! The world offends Me, but it will be saved by the reparation of My chosen souls."

"A little act of generosity, of patience, of poverty...may become a treasure that will win a great number of souls to My Heart."

"I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done."

"I want you to be holy, very holy, and you will only become so by the path of humility and obedience..."

Sister Josefa's Cause for Beatification is before Rome.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Blessed Nikolaus Gross-Martyr

The life of Nikolaus Gross epitomises, the virtues of family life through the example he not only left his children but what he teaches us to this day. In order to provide for his family he not only met their physical needs but also helped in developing their character in going against the trend if that trend is evil. For as a father Nikolaus wished to be able to leave a legacy where good does overcome evil and the vanquished will become the victors, but also that life itself need not be a hellish experience.

Though Nikolaus was born in the 19th century in his homeland of Germany, his life was spent trying to improve the working conditions of the lower to middle class citizens of Germany. In this effort he joined the Christian Miner's Union and in 1919 he also joined the St. Anthony Miners Trade Union, perhaps Nikolaus recognised from the beginning that one of the sins that cry out to Heaven is to give a man his rightful wage. To fight for the rights of the honourable working labourer does not make one a 'communist' but it does ennoble the workers rights in the eyes of God, Nikolaus Gross understood this perfectly.

At the young age of 22 years he worked on the paper 'The Miner' as assistant editor this work took him all over Germany and it was in Essen that Nikolaus decided to settle down and it was here that he married his wife, Elizabeth Koch. This loving couple were to be blessed with 7 children, even though Nikolaus did not let up in his efforts to provide better conditions for the working man, he didnt neglect his duties as a loving husband or a loving father of which he was both. Indeed both Nikolaus and Elizabeth instilled into all their children a deep devotion to the Catholic Church and filial obedience to God and also a love for the poor and sick.

It was in 1927 that Nikolaus became editor in chief of the West German Workers Newspaper an affiliate of the St. Anthony Miners Association. It was also during this period that Nikolaus understood that though a man must be given his rightful wage and better working conditions still this was not enough to make one truly happy, as this could only be achieved through faith based principles. During all his activities Nikolaus found strong support in his wife, Elizabeth as both provided a stable and faithfilled family life.

What set Nikolaus apart from many others was his understanding and grasp of the threat that National Socialism could wreak on the German people, he recognised the inherent evil within the Nazi philosophy. Where others at first embraced the Nazi's Nikolaus sounded a cautious note as he discerned the implications of a dictatorial state run by a group of fascists with no leanings towards God or respect towards man. Indeed in one of his editorials Nikolaus Gross wrote this towards those who wished to embrace this new philosophy, "As Catholic workers we reject Nazism not only for political and economic reasons, but decisively also, resolutely and clearly, on account of our religious and cultural attitude".

This earned a reprimand once the Nazi's gained power and set Nikolaus on a course of a non compromising position so though Nikolaus worded his editorials differently the message maintained its integrity to the truth. This did not appease the Minister for Labour Roberty Ley who had the paper banned. It was here that the conviction grew within Nikolaus heart that he could not be a bystander when such evil presented itself in the form of the Nazi party.

Both Nikolaus and Elizabeth knew that one cannot afford apathy if they wished to provide a wholesome future for their children. Nikolaus made the decision to join the underground resistance within Germany a very dangerous activity indeed! At the heart of all that moved this heroic man was his love of God and Church and he knew that to live on his knees was not the course that God would choose for him, rather he would stand his ground and fight this evil threat not only to the German people but to the whole world.

For above all things Nikolaus followed God and did not seek to appease man at the price of his principles. This decision must have proved very difficult for both Elizabeth and Nikolaus as they sought to protect their children, but not at all costs for what is a world devoid of love and ruled by brute force!

During this time, though no great writer or orator Nikolaus Gross wrote two pieces which condemned the Nazi regime, unfortunately these two written pieces fell into the hands of the dreaded Gestapo. From this time on Nikolaus's days were numbered as he and his family endured interrogations and house searches, through this terror the Gross family held strong in full knowledge that at times Principles must come before safety.

The courage shown by Nikolaus Gross was truly admirable as he faced down the Nazi terror without flinching. There were many who admired this man of great strength of character and principle including Priests and Monsignors as Monsignor Schulte said to Nikolaus, "Mr. Gross, remember that you have seven children. I have no family for which I am responsible. It's a matter of your life'. To which Gross made a really great statement to me: "If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?'' Though Nikolaus displayed true heroic virtue still he was not a superman and at times what lay ahead of him if he continued terrified him but it did not paralyse him as he overcame his fear and lived on principle alone, he did this not only for himself but for the future of his wife and children.

After the assassination of Hitler Nikolaus Gross was thought to be a member of those that had planned this, but the Nazi intelligence was wrong for though Nikolaus opposed Hitler and all that he stood for he did not take part in the assassination plot. This did not stop the Nazi's arresting this difficult and outspoken nuisance so in 1944 Nikolaus was arrested and sent to the notorious concentration camp of Ravensbruck, where he suffered deprivation and torture before being transferred to a penitentiary in Berlin, where the torture continued as evidence of this was seen by his beloved and devoted wife Elizabeth.

Through this difficult period Nikolaus courage and determination in the face of death was admired by all he met. What gave Nikolaus such courage to face what seemed an inevitable death and a torturous one at that? The key to Nikolaus Gross was his strong prayer life which he had maintained throughout and the knowledge that what he was going through had a greater meaning than the mere temporal. During this time his wife and children prayed with fervour for the safety of their father but more importantly that God would strengthen him for the ordeals that lay ahead of this great man. One's heart goes out to Elizabeth and their children as they knew what their father was doing was right but still they loved him and wanted him home, but God had other plans. Through the prayers of his family and friends Nikolaus embraced his death as one meeting his great love, his Heavenly Father. Till the end Nikolaus displayed no fear.

Nikolaus Gross was executed in 1945.

Blessed Nikolaus Gross was beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Some Quotes.

"that one must obey God more than men". "If something is demanded of us that goes against God or the Faith, then not only may we, but we must, refuse obedience (towards men)"

"If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?'"

"Sometimes, my heart becomes heavy and the task appears insoluble if I measure my own human imperfection and inadequacy against the greatness of the obligation and the weight of the responsibility. If a generation must pay the highest price, death, for its short life, we look for the answer in ourselves in vain. We find it only in Him in whose hand we are safe in life and in death. We never know what problems are waiting to test the power and strength of our souls.... Man's ways lie in obscurity. But even darkness is not without light. Hope and faith, which always hasten ahead of us, already have a presentiment of the breaking of a new dawn. If we know that the best thing in us, the soul, is immortal, then we also know that we shall meet each other again".

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saint Clare of Montefalco

Clare Vengente was born in the year 1268 in the region of Montefalco, Italy. Her parents were prosperous so money was not a critical issue both Clare's parents instilled in their children a great devotion towards their Faith, which Clare took very much to heart as she grew in devotion towards God and the Church.

One of Clare's greatest examples was her sister Joan who practiced mortifications and penances as was common to this particular Era in time. Both Joan and Clare in their zealousness and love for God practiced denying their physical needs as in limiting their eating and other forms of bodily penances. As both Clare and her sister had an abhorrence and dread of even the slightest sin that may offend their beloved Jesus and the Blessed Mother.

The parents of both Joan and Clare, Damiano and Iacopa Vengente encouraged their daughters in this zealous love for God and provided them with their own hermitage which their father built for his daughters not far from the family home. This enabled both of their daughters the ability to withdraw from recreations and spend days and weeks in prayer and the practice of penances at times very severe penances.

Even though Clare loved God with a passionate love, this did not stop her suffering a severe sense of abandonment, this trial lasted 11 long years as Clare suffered the loss of 'feelings' as our Lord guided her towards a more mature love of Himself. During this ordeal Clare did not lose her Faith even though she suffered much. At times God calls all the souls who are particularly devoted to Him along the path of thorns rather than rose petals, though Clare did not doubt Gods Power she did have doubts about her own worthiness which plagued her for many years.

It was in 1290 that Joan and Clare's hermitage which had been built by their father became a monastery, the Bishop decided that the Monastery would be run by the Rule of St. Augustine. When the Bishop sent his envoy to Montefalco in order to vote for an Abbess the election outcome was that Clare was voted in by a majority. This did not appeal to Clare who merely wanted to serve her community and not be in charge of it, after pleading to her fellow Sisters who refused to hear them, Clare accepted the position of Abbess reluctantly.

Clare was to prove herself to be a worthy Abbess as she nurtured her community and helped them to keep a joyful interior as they did their daily round of chores and a life of prayer and penances. Her diplomacy in being able to guide this small group of women with no rancour was indeed meritorious as she wisely governed the Convent not with an iron hand but with the hand of a mother.

Though Clare continued her practice of mortification this did not lead her to become an unhappy or dour personality, indeed many came to love Clare for the happiness that sprung from her very nature and the wisdom and compassion she showed to her fellow Sisters and in the service of the poor in the community. Many came to not only love Clare but also to respect the obvious holy content of her very essence and many paid visits to her monastery in order to gain advice and to simply lift their spirits in the company of one so full of love and compassion.

Clare's particular devotion was for the Crucified Lord and she spent many hours in compassioning prayer for the suffering our Lord endured for the salvation of sinners. Her whole life revolved around pleasing her Lord and offering up her own sufferings for the sake of poor sinners. This focus on Christ's Passion was not done from a sense of morbidity but one of deep devotion and also Mystical experiences of what our Lord suffered as He endured the pain of the Crucifixion.

Through the years of practicing severe penances took a heavy toll on Clare's own health and so it was that she suffered through her last illness once again offering up her pains for the forgiveness of sins committed against God.

Clare Vengente died in 1308.

St. Clare of Montefalco was Canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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