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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Blessed Didacus Joseph of Cadiz

Blessed Didacus Joseph was born on March 29, 1743, in Cadiz, Spain. He was baptized Joseph Francis. His parents loved their faith and practiced it. He was brought up devoutly by his parents and his baptismal innocence remained with him throughout his life.

When he was old enough, Joseph learned how to serve Mass at the Capuchin Franciscan church just down the street. Joseph learned to love the Mass. He used to get up early enough to be at the church each morning to wait for the doors to be unlocked. He never missed a day.

One of the Capuchin priests or brothers gave Joseph a book about the lives of the Capuchin saints. He read it and read it again. Joseph learned every story. He grew to love the holy men who were poor and humble like Jesus.

The day came when he asked to join the order. At first he was refused entry because of poor education gaining entry only after a great deal of persistence. Although difficulties in studies remained with him during his years as a student, in time he was raised to the priesthood and then sent out to preach.

He was sent out to preach to the people the Good News of Jesus. He loved doing this. He had wonderful gifts for preaching the Word of God and it soon became evident. He travelled throughout Spain teaching and preaching in remote villages and crowded towns. His homilies were so clear and kind that people listened.

Everyone marvelled at the singular power and sweetness of his words, which swayed his audiences and left marked impressions on their lives. They even brought friends to listen. Soon an ordinary church was too small for the crowds. When Father Didacus was preaching, the talks were held outdoors, usually in the town square or in the streets.

Father Didacus loved to preach about the Blessed Trinity. He was always available to hear confessions, too. He was happy when people came to the sacrament of Reconciliation. He was capable of touching the heart of those who came to him for confession. Whenever he had some free time, he visited prisons and hospitals. He also would pay calls at the homes of shut-ins. Most of his nights were spent in prayer.

It was undoubtedly the Holy Spirit who because of Didacus' humility and virtue, converted this unlearned man into the most celebrated preacher in Spain. No doubt the Holy Spirit listened to his long and ardent prayers for guidance during the time that he spoke. On occasions Father Didacus was raised supernaturally into the air so that he required assistance to regain the floor of the pulpit.

Father Didacus died in 1801 and was declared "blessed" by Pope Leo XIII in 1894.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds

Anna Maria Rosa was born in Naples in 1715 and was christened Mary Frances. The family belonged to the middle class of society. Her mother was a devout and gentle woman, who had much to contend with from her hot-tempered husband. She was very worried before the birth of this child. Saint John Joseph of the Cross, lived in Naples at that time, calmed her and recommended special care of the child, as it was destined to attain to great holiness.

Mary Frances was scarcely 4 years old when she began to spend hours in prayer. She sometimes even arose at night to pray. She had such a desire to know the truths of the Catholic Faith that an angel appeared to her and instructed her regularly. Before she was seven, she desired to receive Holy Communion. The priest was astonished at her knowledge of the Faith, as well as her ardent desire for the Bread of Angels, and felt that he could not deny her the privilege.

As she grew, Mary would help her parents in their work. Her father was a weaver of gold lace and was anxious to have his children help as early as possible. He found that Mary Frances was not only the most willing but also the most skilled in the work.

When she was only sixteen years old, a rich young man asked her father for her hand in marriage. Rejoicing at the favorable prospect, her father at once gave his consent.

Mary’s father was shocked at Mary’s defiance when she was told of the plans for her marriage. She refused and would only espouse her Heavenly Bridegroom. Mary asked her father’s permission to become a Franciscan Tertiary. He became so enraged that he seized a rope and whipped the delicate girl unmercifully, until her mother intervened. He then locked her in a room, where she received only bread and water, and no one was permitted to speak to her.

Mary considered herself fortunate to be able to offer her divine bridegroom this early proof of her fidelity. She saw this as a pre-nuptial celebration. The earnest plea of a priest made her father, who after all was a believing Christian, realize that he had done wrong. He gave his blessing for Mary to take the Tertiary habit and serve God as a consecrated virgin at home, as was customary in those days.

Joy, joy, holy joy! Mary received the habit and with it the surname "of the Five Wounds." This name was prophetic of her ensuing years. At home she had much to endure. Her father never quite got over Mary not marrying the wealthy young man.

When God favored her with unusual graces, she was sometimes granted ecstasies at prayer and suffered our Lord's agony with Him, her own brothers and sisters insulted her as an imposter. Even her confessor felt obliged to deal harshly with her. For a long time she could find consolation nowhere but in the wounds of Christ.

Her confessor believed at last that it was God who was doing these things in her. Mary’s mother had died and he saw to it that she found a home with a fellow Tertiary. There one day, as she herself lay ill, she learned that her father was near death. She asked Almighty God to let her suffer her father's death agony and his purgatory. Both requests were granted.

Mary suffered continuously but our Lord also gave her great graces and consolations. She received the marks of the wounds of Christ and was granted the gift of prophesy and of miracles. When Pius VI was crowned pope in 1775, she saw him in a vision wearing a crown of thorns. Pope Pius died 24 years later as a prisoner of the French Revolution at Valence.

Mary Frances also prophesied the tragic events of the French Revolution. She asked that she be taken from this world before they would happen and her request was granted. She died on October 6, 1791, kissing the feet of her crucifix. God glorified her by many miracles. She was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI, and canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Nuns of Compiegne-Saints & 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.

Copyright © 2007 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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