Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saint Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua
Feast Day: January 17
Doctor of the Church

St. Anthony of Padua was always seen in public squares and market places preaching and defending the truths of the Catholic Faith.  His preachings were simple yet it resounded and touched the hearts of so many that crowds of people including the heretics returned to the Church. For this reason, he is called the “hammer of the Heretics”.

Though most of his work was in Italy, Anthony was born in 1195 at Lisbon, of a noble Portuguese family. His father was a captain in the royal army.  At the age of fifteen he joined the canons regular of St. Augustine where for a period of eight years, he devoted himself to study and prayer.

One day, a group of missionaries on their way to preach the Gospel of Christ to the inhabitants of Morocco passed by their monastery.  These missionaries namely St. Bernard, St. Peter, St. Otho, St. Accursius, and St. Adjutus were massacred by the Moors and became the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order.  When the remains were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was so moved by their martyrdom that he repeatedly begged his superiors to be given the permission to join the Franciscan Order and go to Morocco to evangelize. He was 26 years old when this earnest wish was fulfilled.

On his way to Africa, he was stricken with severe illness and so resigning to the will of God, he boarded a ship back to Portugal.  As the ship was driven out of its course by storm winds, St. Anthony found safety in the harbour at Messina, Sicily. From there, he made his way to Assisi.  St. Anthony was greeted by the Franciscans and remained there for nine months as chaplain to the Friars. When he was not praying, he was serving them by doing the lowliest duties in the convent.

In 1222, a ceremony of ordination attended by a number of Dominicans and Franciscans was held at Forli. The scheduled speaker failed to appear, so the provincial asked if someone else can give a sermon. All declined the invitation, until finally, St. Anthony was asked to give it.  St Anthony so impressed them that he was thereafter constantly invited to evagelize, preach, and teach theology throughout Italy and France. A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went and St Anthony's devotion to the Sacred Scriptures and to Mary were evident in his teachings.

Saint Anthony was only 36 years old when he died. Upon receiving the last sacrament he gazed
up and smiled. When asked what he saw, he answered: "I see my Lord."

The following year after his death, Saint Anthony was canonized  by Pope Gregory IX and was
proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Reflection:

Prayer is St Anthony's expression of his dependence on God.

Saint Anthony earnestly sought God through prayer and diligent study of the Scriptures,
meditating constantly on the Divine. It is this deep relationship with God that made his
heart burn within him to share and proclaim Christ to all people.  By this relationship, St.
Anthony lived more faithfully as Jesus' disciple, evangelizing, reconciling sinners with God
and sharing Jesus love with others.

Another fruit that St Anthony manifested was humility. Humility is accepting ourselves as we
truly are before God and realizing that our confidence and our greatness lies
in Christ.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saint Barbara

Feast Day: December 4

Barbara lived in the 4th century in the city of Heliopolis.  She was the daughter of
Dioscorus, a wealthy nobleman and a pagan.  In his zeal to protect his young daughter,
Barbara was kept shut up in a tower and forbade her to have friends or speak to anyone
without his permission.

By way of a basket on a rope, she got her food and other things she needed.  It was in this
way too that she got the bible from a stranger.  One day, Barbara got ill and her father
sent for a doctor. Unknown to Dioscorus, a priest name Origen was sent instead and it was
through this that Barbara received baptism. In her solitude, she gave herself to prayer and
studied the Christian faith. 

Dioscorus, before going on a journey, instructed that a bath-house with 2 windows be built
for her daughter.  During his absence, Barbara had three windows put in instead of two, as a
symbol of the Holy Trinity and on the marble wall placed a large cross.  She, then
acknowledged herself to be a Christian.

His father was enraged by her conversion and dragged her before the civil tribunal.  She was
cruelly tortured but Barbara stood firm in her faith and would not deny Christ. Finally, she
was condemned to death by beheading and her father himself carried out the death sentence. 
On his way home, Dioscorus was struck by lightning that consumed his body.

St. Barbara is often depicted in art as standing in a tower with three windows and carrying
the palm of a martyr in her hand or she is seen holding a chalice and sacramental wafer.

Many pilgrims who came to her grave were healed or received aid and consolation. Before the
ninth century, Saint Barbara was publicly venerated  and became the patron saint in time of
danger from thunder-storms and fire as well as protector of artillerymen and miners.
Saint Barbara was proclaimed martyr on December 4, 306.


Reflection:

In her solitude, Barbara encountered God.  Her mind, heart and soul were opened by the grace of God to feel His presence and because of this she was convinced of the existence of God and was able to endure the terrible torture.

Her love for God made Barbara stood firm as she held to her faith in Jesus in the face of death.  She fearlessly bore witness to Jesus by suffering death rather than recanting her faith.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Saint John Bosco

Feast Day : January 31

Don Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 in a village called Becchi north of Italy. John’s father died when he was two years old and was brought up by his mother, Margaret. At the age of nine, John Bosco had been having dreams that revealed God's will in his life. He was in a field with an unruly crowd of children and John was asked to lead them. “Not with blows, but with kindness and love you must win over these your friends. I shall give you a Teacher under whose guidance you will become wise”. This vision became a guiding force that inspired him to become a priest and led him to minister to the poor and neglected boys.

While attending college and seminary, he did myriads of work such as a shoemaker, tailor, carpenter, baker and John Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals to learn how to juggle and do magicians tricks in order to relate to the boys that he was teaching.   His aim was to provide fun and games with teaching and praying so as to catch the attention of the children.  After this entertainment, he would talk about God and teach them.

John Bosco was ordained in 1841, just short of his 26th birthday. In Italy, priests are called Don, so John Bosco was also known as Don Bosco. He continued to teach catechism to orphans and with loving guidance led the young people to a useful, fulfilled lives. Don Bosco saw education as the key to helping the boys. He built technical schools to teach them skilled jobs like printing, bookbinding and mechanics. In those days, these were the skills that were needed to provide a better future for these young generation.

Soon enough, others were inspired to follow him in responding to the needs of the youth. Thus, he started the Salesian Missions in South America and founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859. He also founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and Union of Cooperator Salesians three years after. 

Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888 and was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Reflection:

Saint John Bosco became the bearer of God's love to these young boys.  With John's gift of friendship, joy, love of life...he dedicated his life to service and reached out to these children to provide for them both their material and spiritual needs.

May we continue to walk with others in the spirit of St. John Bosco and fulfill every human longing for love, joy and meaning.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saint Clare of Assisi

Saint Clare of Assisi
Feast Day: August 11


Chiara Offreduccio more known as St. Clare of Assisi was born on July 16, 1194. She was the
eldest daughter of Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and Ortolana also belonging to a
noble family.  Her father owned a large palace in Assisi being a wealthy representative of
an ancient Roman family. 

As a child,  Chiara was most devoted to prayer.  When she turned eighteen, she had a chance
to hear St.Francis of Assisi preached.  This kindled a flame in her heart and desired to
imitate Francis and live a poor humble life for Jesus.

Clare decided to lay aside her privileged life and sought to imitate Francis' virtues and the Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ. One evening, she ran away from home, proceeded to the humble chapel of the Porziuncula and gave herself to God. She became the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi.

She was temporarily placed by St. Francis in San Paolo with the Benedictine nuns then transferred to another monastery of the Benedictine nuns at Sant' Angelo in Panzo, then finally to the poor chapel of San Damiano, which Francis himself had rebuilt. Other women joined and thus the first community of the Order of Poor Ladies (Order of San Damiano) was founded.  This is a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan  tradition, and their lives consisted of manual labour and prayer. St Claire led it for 40 years.  Following
her death, the order was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare also known as the
Poor Clares.

St Claire died at the age of 59, two days after the pope confirmed the Rule of Life (the rule written by Claire for her community and is considered the first monastic rule written by a woman) to serve as the governing rule for St. Clare's Order.


Reflection:

St Claire determined to live the gospel in a radical way and she desired to own nothing in
this world except her divine spouse, depending entirely on the providence of the Almighty.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saint Blaise

Feast  Day: February 3
Patron of Throat Illnesses

Only a few facts are known about Saint Blaise.

Saint Blaise was born in to a noble and affluent family who raised him to be a man of God. He spent time studying philosophy and later medicine.

Saint Blaise became the bishop of Sebastea in Armenia during the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century, when a series of persecution began again.  In one of his prayers, he got a message to set off to the mountains so as to escape persecution. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus but as soon as people found out where he was, they came flocking to him from nearby countries and provinces for the cure of their ailments both spiritual and physical.

He was discovered by the huntsmen when they saw the myriads of people waiting outside the cave while Blaise was praying.  He was arrested, put in prison and was martyred. While in prison, a boy was brought to him who had a fishbone stuck in his throat -this led to the blessing of throats on February 3- Saint Blaise’s feast day.

The blessing of St. Blaise is done by consecrating two candles which are then held in a crossed position by a priest and pressed against the throat or over the head as the following blessing is said: "May God at the intercession of St. Blasius preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Saint Maria Goretti

Feast Day: July 6


Maria Teresa Goretti was born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890. She was the third out of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. By the time she turned six, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm and moved to the Serenelli farm to survive. His father, a farmworker died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children. Her mother, sisters and brother worked in the fields while Maria stayed home to clean the house, sew and cook.


While alone in the house, sewing, Alessandro (Alexander) Serenelli came in and tried to rape her. Maria Goretti was 11. Not submitting to her assailant, she was stabbed several times with a knife.
As Maria Goretti lay in the hospital for two days, she prayed and forgave her attacker and died holding a crucifix and looking at the picture of the Blessed Virgin.

Alexander was captured and since he was a minor the sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden and Maria was there giving him lilies. This vision led to his conversion and later became a laybrother at the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin) where he worked as a receptionist and gardener.

Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 and Assunta attended the canonization of her child. Alexander too witnessed St. Maria Goretti's canonization.

Maria Goretti, one of the youngest canonized saints is represented as a young girl with a bouquet of lilies in her hands.


Reflection:

St. Maria Goretti prayed for Alexander - the first step and act in forgiveness as this let's you focus on God instead of the offender.

To forgive and be forgiven are two powerful, grace-filled experiences.

St Maria Goretti had extended to Alexander the love and forgiveness that God has extended to all of us through Our Lord Jesus Christ's crucifixion. Because of this St Maria Goretti was able to see her assailant as Jesus sees him. She loved as God loves.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saint Arnold Janssen

Feast Day: January 15

Arnold Janssen was born in Goch, Germany on November 5, 1837. At a young age, he manifested an inclination for the priesthood. He took up philosophy at the Academy of Munster and then studied at the University of Bonn and was ordained a Catholic priest on August 15, 1861.  He is best known for founding 3 congregations.  One is the Society of the Divine Word also known as the Divine Word Missionaries. This society  was designed to provide priests and lay brothers for the missions. The first missionaries were sent out in the mid 1890's and rapidly spread around the world. The 2 other congregations are for women in recognition of the important role women played in the missionary outreach. "Servants of the Holy Spirit served as educators especially for young girls while the "Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration" are contemplative nuns who devote themselves to praying for the success of the missions. 

Father Arnold Janssen died in Steyl on January 5, 1909, and was beatified in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. He was canonized on October 5, 2003 by Pope John Paul II after the miraculous healing of a Filipino teenager.

Reflections:

Saint Arnold Janssen demonstrated how it is to be a true servant of God.  He was in constant search for God's will and he let God use him for His purposes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saint Vincent Ferrer


Feast Day: April 5

Saint Vincent Ferrer was born at Valencia, Spain on January 23, 1357.

In 1374, he entered the Order of St. Dominic and on the following year was sent to the house of studies at Barcelona. He received his doctorate at Catalonia and devoted most of his time to preaching. For twenty years, St. Vincent Ferrer evangelized nearly every province of his country and had tread through Western Europe preaching in France, Italy, Germany, the Alpine Region, Flanders, England, Ireland and Scotland.  People flocked as he preached in marketplaces and squares and though St Vincent Ferrer could only speak the language of Valencia, multitudes were won over by his preaching and numerous conversions were made.   For this, he was known as the missionary of the fourteenth century.

Saint Vincent labored zealously among the people.  He not only preached but he lived them.  He arose at two in the morning for prayer and meditation. Celebrated the daily Mass at six, preached, visited the sick and made himself available for spiritual counseling.  At eight in the evening, St. Vincent Ferrer would prepare his sermon for the next day.  He lived simply and refused all ecclesiastical dignities, including the opportunity to be a cardinal.  

 St Vincent Ferrer lived in an era when the Church was divided by the great schism. During his last days, St Vincent lived to see the Council of Constance ending the Western Schism and electing Martin V as pope.


Because of his work in uniting and building the church in brotherly love, St. Vincent Ferrer became the patron saint of builders.

Reflection:

St. Vincent Ferrer’s zeal is remarkable. He worked for the salvation of souls and for unity in the Church.  He also showed great humility and patience in bearing all things for the love of Christ and for the work of the Church.

For someone who had constantly preached about brotherly love and unity, the schism must have been a constant source of misery to St. Vincent Ferrer.  And what amazes me is that God in His goodness, relieved St Vincent of this burden by letting him witness the end of the great schism.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saint Josephine Bakhita

Feast Day: February 8

Bakhita was not the name given to her by her parents at birth. The trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name and Bakhita, an Arabic name which means “lucky” or “fortunate”, was given to her by her captors.

St. Josephine Bakhita was born in the Darfur region of Sudan in 1869. At about 9 years old, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and resold in the markets of El Obeid and of Khartoum. She experienced a series of humiliations, was tortured, mutilated and was even left half dead.

Finally, Bakhita was bought by an Italian diplomat, Callisto Legnani. When the consul had to leave for Italy, Bakhita obtained permission to go with them. On arrival in Genoa, at the request of Michieli’s wife, Bakhita became the nanny to Michieli’s daughter, Mimmina. Josephine Bakhita was loved and treated well by the family.

When the Michieli’s moved to the Red Sea to manage their hotel business in Suakin, Bakhita and Mimmina were entrusted to the Institute of the Daughters of the Canossian Charity. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God. After several months, Bakhita was baptized into Catholic faith on January 9, 1890 and was given the name, Josephine.

When Mrs. Michieli came back to get her daughter and her nanny, Bakhita in her great desire to know and serve God, remained with the Canossian Sisters.



For another 50 years, Bakhita lived in the community in Schio doing various services. And because one her duties was attending to the door, she was in frequent contact with the local community. She is well-known for her smile, gentleness as well as charisma and everyone calls her “Mother Moretta (Our little brown mother).
Josephine Bakhita died on February 8, 1947 and on her death bed she uttered her last words with a smile saying “Our Lady! Our Lady!”


Reflection:


In her trials, Bakhita met Jesus. She didn’t know His name. Perhaps, she just called Him hope until she met this familiar face again whom the nuns in the Canossian Charity called Jesus. Bakhita’s hope is in the Lord and her trials led her into a deeper spiritual life that made Bakhita’s life fruitful.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is hope. It maybe difficult to see or feel it at the moment, but it is there for you.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11

Please feel free to share your reflections/input/insights in the comment box below.  Thank you and God bless

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Saint Joan of Arc

Saint Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc also known as Jeanne la Pucelle, the Maid)
Feast Day: May 30


A peasant girl, Joan of Arc was born on January 6, 1412 in the village of Domremy, at the time of the Hundred Years’ War when Henry V of England begun invading Normandy.   The English king along with the Duke of Burgundy, were gobbling up more and more French territory and regions were being lost to the English and the Burgundians. Domremy is a frontier village and during her childhood several local raids occurred there.  On one occasion, as her village was being burned by the Burgundians, Joan along with her parents and siblings fled eight miles distant to Neufchatel.

St. Joan of Arc experienced her first vision at the age of 12, when she heard voices as she was out alone in the fields.  These “voices” are from St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret who constantly spoke to her and which she afterward came to call her "counsel".  Gradually, the call of God was made known and the mission to take Charles to Rheims to be crowned, and to recover her homeland from English domination was revealed to her.  By May 1428, at the age of 16, the voices  insisted for Joan of Arc to see Robert Baudricourt who commanded for Charles VII in the neighboring town of Vaucouleurs and say that she was appointed to lead the Dauphin to his crowning. Baudricourt laughed and said that her father ought to give her a whipping.  His sarcastic response, however, did not deter Jeanne d’Arc to ask permission to visit the royal French court at Chinon.

In January 1429, Joan of Arc left Domremy to go again to Vaucouleurs where she made a notable prediction about a military reversal near Orléans. After a perilous journey through the territory of the Burgundians, Jeanne d'Arc reached Chinon on March 6.  Two days later, she was admitted into the presence of Charles VII.  On May 8, 1429, after overcoming opposition from prelates, courtiers and lawyers, the 17-year-old Joan was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans.

Jeanne la Pucelle, the Maid, carried a sacred sword that bore a white banner adorned with lilies, and a holy cross with the names of  "Jesus, Maria,". The siege of Orleans was raised on the 9th of May and a series of spectacular military victories followed that led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.  Joan stood proudly behind the King with her banner bearing the figure of God the Father with two kneeling angels and the words, "Jesus Maria" ; Jesus on the cross and a little girl offering to Our Lady a fleur-de-lis, the royal emblem of France.

During the fight, Joan was wounded in the shoulder by an arrow and in another incident was again injured and had to be dragged to safety.

After the winter truce, Jeanne d'Arc  hurried off to the aid of Compiegne where she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the Duke of Bedford. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by an ecclesiastical court and when she refused to retract the statement she had about her “counsel” who commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.  Joan of Arc was nineteen years old.

 Twenty-four years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and was declared a martyr.  She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.

St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France.


Reflection:

For Saint Joan of Arc to obey as she did, she must have had a deep relationship with God.  Because of this intimate relationship with Him, she is convinced of His existence and knows God’s nature and His “voice”.  This is shown in her ardent faith in God.   Someone who knows what God is like knows what his voice is like.  For this reason, she is able to obey despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

This brings to mind the responsorial psalm:  “I know my sheep and my sheep knows me”

John 10: 2-5 “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

We will not recognize God’s voice unless we know Him and if we want to follow God’s will, we must know how to discern His leadings.

Discernment is the art of knowing the “voice” of God.

To Jeanne la Pucelle, the idea might well seem too absurd, but because of her intimate relationship with the “Shepherd” she knew what she was doing.  Saint Joan of Arc acted boldly.  She remained simple and never became conceited or self-seeking.  To her obeying God and doing what pleases Him (no matter the outcome) is her mission, and this she accomplished triumphantly.


Please feel free to share your reflections and insights in the comment box below.  Thank you and God bless!
 


Joan of Arc

Friday, February 19, 2010

Saint Martin de Porres

Feast Day: November 3

The father of Martin de Porres was a Spanish knight & adventurer and his mother a colored freed-woman from Panama.  Martin de Porres was born on the 9th of December, 1579 in Lima, Peru.  Don Juan de Porres left Martin’s mother and just sent money every now and then.   Martin grew up in poverty and bore the stigma of having mixed blood and the shame of being an illegitimate child.  

When Martin turned 8, his father sent money for him and his sister to go to school. At age 12, he became an apprentice to a barber-surgeon where he learned to cut hair as well as to draw blood, prepare medicinal herbs, set broken bones and to properly care for the sick.  It was also during this time that he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory.  At fifteen, he was allowed to become a lay brother at the Dominican Friary and was placed in charge of the infirmary.

St. Martin de Porres spent much time in prayer and meditation and had a great devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist.  God endowed him with many supernatural graces and lights.  There are recorded instances when he was seen bi-locating or was inside the chapel levitating and so filled with love for Christ.  He went about curing the sick and giving alms to the poor; helped the farm laborers, Negroes and mulattoes.  He was good-natured and charitable and thus gained the name “Martin the charitable”.  He is also known as the first Black Saint from the Americas.

Reflection:

*What amazes me about Saint Martin de Porres is his profound humility.  He had suffered much and had experienced terrible humiliation yet instead of wallowing in self-pity  or  instead of redeeming himself by compensating or retaliating he continued to live in self- imposed poverty and reached out to the sick, the poor and the oppressed.  To me, this is a clear evidence that he was able to transcend the prejudice and humiliation he went through in his childhood.

 This reminds me of the quote from Mother Teresa about if you are humble nothing can hurt you.  Here's an  accurate quote on that one:

"Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience.  It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent.  If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.  If you are blamed you will not be discouraged.  If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal." 
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 'The Joy in Loving' page 363


 To Martin de Porres, only God suffices. His knowledge of the greatness of God, made him aware of his dignity as a child of God as well as his nothingness.  Though he is nothing, God loves him profoundly.  This experience of God’s love is all that mattered.  God’s love redeemed Martin and healed him of his pains.  To Saint Martin de Porres, God’s love was the source of all the love he generously shared to the poor, the sick and the unwanted and he looked on these poor people the way he looked at himself - a child of God.

* In God’s great wisdom, He chose Martin de Porres, an illegitimate, Negro to be a Saint to show that His love is universal.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Feast Day: November 13
Patron of immigrants

St. Frances was born in Lombardi, Italy on July 15, 1850. She was the thirteenth child of a farmer's family and was educated to be a school teacher.

In her teens, she desired to become a Nun, but poor health stood in her way. The idea however, never deserted her so she sought admission from one religious order to another only to be rejected over and over.  Finally, Monsignor Serrati, saw her potential and assigned her to a small orphanage which had been poorly managed and the funds squandered.  Despite this, Frances attracted other recruits to the community.  She made her vows  and took the religious habit in September 1877.   Eventually, at the request of her Bishop, St Frances Xavier Cabrini  founded the "Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart" to care for poor children in schools and hospitals.    Along with her are 6 other sisters from the orphanage.

St Frances Cabrini's time marked the period of great migrations to America.  In Italy, Bishop Scalabrini, spoke to her about the religious and social conditions of the Italian immigrants in the States and pleaded her to go there.

Even with her frail condition, Frances Cabrini along with other six sisters traveled to New York City to work among the thousands of Italian immigrants.  Upon arriving, they were told that the house intended to be Cabrini’s first orphanage in the United States was not available. Cabrini was advised to return, but determined to establish the orphanage and believing that this was God’s will for her, she refused to leave.  St Frances Xavier Cabrini set up  orphanages and schools for the Scalabrini Fathers; organized schools and adult education classes for the immigrants as well as put up hospitals in New York and Chicago and a mission in New Orleans. She didn’t stop there but went all the way to Nicaragua, South America, England and Spain to set up schools and hospital.  At the time of her death, on December 22, 1917, at Chicago, Illinois.  Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini founded nearly seventy institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, abandoned, uneducated and the sick.  In these institutions, she was known to have an astute business sense and fine administrative abilities.

In 1946, she was elevated to sainthood by Pope Pius XII making Frances Xavier Cabrini the first American citizen to be canonized. One of the miracles attributed to her was the complete healing of the baby accidentally blinded at birth.


Reflection:

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is a woman of prayer and action.  Surely, she met disappointment and difficulties in executing these tasks but her deep trust in God gave her the strength to continue doing Christ's work.  She always accepted challenging moments in her life with patience and love. And because of her persistence and desire to give herself wholly to God she became a pioneer worker for the Italian immigrants and established orphanages, schools, and hospitals, in over eight countries in Europe, North, Central and South America.

Mother Cabrini is a source of inspiration to women of today.  She is consistent and uncompromising in her faith and values.  By balancing prayer and action whether in taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning the house or working or running an institution…..etc.  Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini proclaimed Christ not only by words, but by example and service as well.  

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights in the comment box below.  Thank you and God Bless!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz


Feast Day: September 28

Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila on November 28, 1594.  His father was Chinese and his mother Filipino.  During his youth, Lorenzo was educated by the Dominican Fathers and from them he learned the fundamentals of faith.  He became the errand boy of the friars and was an altar boy at Binondo convent.  As he grew older, he was employed as their "escribano" because of his skillful hand.

Lorenzo is a devout Catholic and was a great devotee of the Blessed Virgin.  He was blessed with two sons and a daughter and had a happy and harmonious married life.  Things changed, however, when he found himself being accused of a crime he did not commit after having an argument with a Spaniard. Fearing for his life, he sought to escape and when he learned that the Dominicans were preparing to embark on a mission to Japan, he joined the group.  He bade goodbye to his loved ones and left the Philippines with a heavy heart.

The expedition was a clandestine one for the Christians were hunted down, persecuted and put to death in Japan at that time.  His intention, at the start was to remain in Macau to earn a living for his family.  But St. Lorenzo Ruiz changed his plan and decided to be a missionary instead.  Not many days after their arrival in Okinawa, the missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison. Two years after, they were brought in a torture chamber in Nagasaki. There they suffered incredible torture as they were hung by their feet and were submerged in water which brought some of his companions to recant their faith. There were beaten and needles were inserted inside their finger nails while they were being questioned.

"If we grant you your life, are you willing to renounce your faith?"

To this St. Lorenzo Ruiz answered:

"I am a Christian and this I profess, and although I did not come to Japan to become a martyr, I am now willing to give up my life for God. You can do with me as you will please."

On September 1637, muzzled and hand tied the prisoners marched to the place of execution.  Saint Lorenzo Ruiz was hanged head down inside a small pit called a 'horca y hoya'.  Only his limbs were seen from above the ground.  To slow down the flow of blood, he was bound and his flesh slightly cut.  For three days, his torturer left him this way. Their bodies were burned and the ashes were thrown into the sea.

He and his companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II during the Papal visit to Manila on 18 February 1981.  He was canonized on October 18, 1987.

 He is recognized as the first Filipino Saint and Martyr.

Reflections:

Anyone can be a saint. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz or more known to Filipinos as San Lorenzo Ruiz is an ordinary man.  Just like us, he simply wants to have a happy, peaceful, harmonious life.  However, his circumstances changed and he was thrust into a situation so complicated.   Yet, even if he didn’t want what was happening in his life, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz faced it with unwavering courage and unyielding faith and trust in God.  In the end, he willingly gave his life to a God who is truly deserving of all Saint Lorenzo Ruiz can offer.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz encourages us to never lose faith and to always trust in God no matter what.  Surely, God was with him during those terrible last days and though his body was suffering, his soul found happiness, peace and assurance that his suffering was not in vain.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saint Vincenta Maria Lopez y Vicuña

Feast Day: December 26

Saint Vincenta Maria Lopez y Vicuña was born at Cascante, Spain in March 24, 1847. Vicenta had a happy childhood. She was a daughter of a famous lawyer, reared in a Catholic home and educated in Madrid. She may have had a good chance of living a comfortable life yet she chose the way of austerity and sacrifice. Vicenta’s uncle was a priest while her aunt was a nun who founded a home for domestic servants. This perhaps, fostered her attraction to religious life. At 23, she too became a nun and organized a group of ladies to protect and promote the welfare of the working girls- This was the beginning of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate. Along with this, Vicenta Maria founded several foundations, technical training schools, hostels, canteen, and provided these working girls boarding houses while they are away from home. She was a mother and homemaker to them, helping and teaching them in the ways of the Lord.

Her congregation spread throughout Spain and other parts of Europe as well as in Latin America. She endured many trials and difficulties which she faced with courage and faith. Saint Vicenta Maria died on December 26, 1890. Sixty years after her death and through numerous graces obtained through her intercession, she was canonized Saint.

Reflection:


What could have prompted Saint Vicenta Maria to abandon a life of comfort and live an austere life for others?
LOVE.
In her desire to give herself totally to God, she gave up all that she had and all that she might have been. She love God abundantly (a love that she first received from God) and that love overflowed to her neighbors.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Feast Day: January 28
Doctor of the Church (Angelicus Doctor), Prince of Scholastics
Patron of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools


Born at Rocca Secca in the Kingdom of Naples, the year of Thomas’ birth is not certain; either 1225 or 1227.

His father, Landulph, was Count of Aquino while his mother, Theodora, was Countess of Teano. His family was related to the Emperors Henry VI and Frederick II, and to the Kings of Aragon, Castile, and France.

At the age of five, as it was the custom of that time, he was sent to obtain his first training from the Benedictines of Monte Casino then to the University of Naples around 1236. At the age of seventeen, in spite of the opposition of his family, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in Naples.

At the request of their mother, the brothers of Thomas, who were soldiers under the Emperor Frederick, took him back forcibly and imprisoned him in the fortress of San Giovanni. He was detained nearly two years; they even went so far as to send a beautiful young lady into Thomas’ room for the purpose of alluring him. But as soon as the lady came inside, he drew a burning stick from the fire and drove her out from his room.

These long months of imprisonment were not put to waste, however, for Thomas spent his time reading the valuable books (Holy Scriptures, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard),which his kind sister obtained for him.

After eighteen months or so in confinement and with all their efforts put in vain, her mother relented and Thomas was set free.

He was ordained priest in 1250. Upon the advice of Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas then journeyed to Paris to continue his studies and to teach in their Study House. This may be regarded as the beginning of his public career, for his teaching soon attracted the attention of both the professors and the students. Subsequently, St. Thomas began teaching, lecturing and writing. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works.

The reputation of Saint Thomas as a Philosopher and theologian spread far and wide, and he was frequently invited to preach and give lectures.

In due time, Saint Thomas was admitted to the degree of Doctor in Theology. By the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.

On his way to the second Council of Lyons, he fell sick and died at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in 1274 leaving the "Summa Theologica" unfinished.

St. Thomas was one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. But despite that, he remained childlike. Once, there was this friar who made a ruse about a horse flying over the priory. The friars were laughing at Thomas as he ran to the window to look at the flying horse. Laughing at himself, he added, “I thought it was easier for a horse to fly than for a friar to utter a lie”.

Saint Thomas was canonized in 1323 and declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V.

Reflections:

Before he began his study, Saint Thomas always prays for God's assistance, for he acknowledged that not all truths are learned by human intellect alone but that some truths are known through revelation (God revealing the truth to us) and through experience (our own personal experience of God).

For Saint Thomas Aquinas, faith and reason are not in conflict.
The fullness of truth is found only in God.
Saint Thomas Aquinas' constant search for truth is essential in a life dedicated to the pursuit of sanctity and perfect charity.

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights to other readers of this blog. Thank you and God bless

Here's a video I saw in YouTube (Fr. Barron comments on St. Thomas Aquinas) that I'd like to share with you.
 




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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saint Genevieve

Feast Day: January 3 
Patroness of Paris

St. Genevieve was born at Nanterre near Paris around the year 422. She was seven years old when Bishop Germanus of Auxerre along with Bishop Lupus of Troyes, stopped at Nanterre, on their way to Great Britain to contest the heresy of Pelagius. Amidst the crowd, Genevieve eagerly listened as her father hoisted her up to his shoulder so that she could have a better view. Her fervor attracted the attention of Bishop Germanus that at the end of his sermon he gave Genevieve a medal engraved with a cross.

At age 15, Genevieve took her religious vows. During her lifetime she had visions and prophesied future events. But these special favors caused her so much suffering for her visions and prophecies were treated as frauds and deceits. Yet, in spite of it she continued to do the will of God.

In 449, the barbaric tribe of the Franks besieged the city of Paris. King Childeric planned on starving the people for them to surrender. Genevieve helped the soldiers procure grain for the starving citizens and though Paris came under enemy control, King Childeric of the Franks respected Genevieve, and at her request spared the lives of many citizens.

Then in the year 451, Attila the Hun went marching toward Rome; Paris lay in his path. The people were terrified and prepared to flee. But Genevieve gathered the people of Paris in prayer for God’s protection. “Do not run to fortified castles in the countryside, but run to your churches here in Paris. Do not rely on arms and armies, but put your trust in God.” She also urged them to do works of penance; and her exhortations prevailed. The barbarians, for no apparent reason, suddenly changed the route of the march, leaving Paris untouched.

The life of St. Genevieve was one of great asceticism and constant prayer and this is seen in her love for the people and her country.

Genevieve was eighty nine when she died.

Reflection:

*Genevieve believed in God and she followed God’s leadings. Despite the calumny she suffered she continued to do God‘s will, that’s how she trusted God. She would rather go through the shame of being maligned than risk being told “Oh, you of little faith!” To her pleasing God is all that matters.

*How people easily believe in rumors and yet remain skeptical in the word of God. Our egos and self-righteousness hinder us from hearing the message; we tend to see only the messenger, who is just like us, a sinner. “Why would God choose her or him over me? “ “What has she or he done to deserve God’s favor?” In our efforts to belittle others to look better ourselves, we misuse our energy and fail to see the loving God behind the messenger and the message.

*St. Genevieve showed us that it is indeed by the path of fidelity, and not by the path of feelings or reasoning that we will know God and begin to hear His voice.

I would be glad to read your reflections/inputs/insights or comments regarding this post. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you and God bless!

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Saint Francis de Sales

Feast Day: January 24
Patron Saint of Journalists, Writers

Francis de Sales was born to a wealthy family in France in 1567. His parents intended for him to become a lawyer, but Francis believed he is pre-destined to be a priest.

During the time of the Protestant reformation (1517-1648), Francis decided to go to Switzerland then a Calvinist territory, to convert around 60,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism. Everyone thought this to be an absurd plan that even his father refused to help him.  By the time he left, he only got one supporter - his cousin.

They trudged through the countryside enduring the bitter winter and patiently evangelizing from district to district.  Doors shut in their faces and rocks thrown at them.  After three years with not a single convert, his cousin left him alone.

Francis kept on praying and continually searched for ways to reach the people.  As no one would even open their doors to him, he wrote out his sermons, made several copies of it and slipped them under the doors. These tracts consist of the leading dogmas of the Church and the logical reasoning behind the teachings of the Church. This first recorded religious tracts were later collected and printed in a volume called Catholic Controversy: St. Francis De Sales Defense of the Faith

By the time Francis left to go back to France, he is said to have converted 40,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism.

In 1602, Francis was made bishop of the diocese of Geneva, another Calvinist territory.
 He believed that the foremost duty of a bishop was spiritual direction.  Francis gave spiritual direction to lay people and proved with his own life that people can grow in holiness even when they are not called for “religious life”.  To keep his flock strong in faith he wrote books such as Introduction to Devout Life, Treatise on the Devout Life and Treatise of the Love of God.   Francis advice to busy people is to "Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others and talk to God."

Through his zeal and kind preaching he brought encouragement and guidance to innumerable persons, one of whom was St. Jane Frances de Chantal.

Reflection:

St. Francis de Sales love for God enabled him to surpass all the obstacles, even conquering his own temper and impatience.  He was convinced of the existence of God and the teachings of the Church instituted by Christ that he defended God and His Church amidst all the difficulties and seemingly hopeless efforts.  He shared this love with others by patiently bringing people to God and accompanying them on their spiritual journey so that they too will experience and see for themselves this wonderful, awesome God.

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights in the comment box.  Thank you and God bless

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