Author Archives: joandarc

The “Little Flower” – St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Today is the feast day of one of my most favorite saints: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, better known as St. Thérèse of the Little Flower. FOTM, therefore, is re-publishing Joan’s post from last year in honor of this lovely soul.


St. Thérèse of Lisieux at age 24

My first introduction to the Saints came from my beautiful mother, Mary Agnes, when I was a five-year-old girl.  She took my hand and asked me to sit on the chrome kitchen stool that had red vinyl on the top of it.  She brought over to me a book called, “The Treasure Book.”  She said that she wanted to teach me about the Saints in heaven, and especially about one lady whom she admired and loved.  We looked at the book together and she came to the page that she wanted, as I awaited with excitement.  My mother paged to “The Little Flower,” whose Feast Day we celebrate today, October 1st.  I looked at all of the lovely pictures.  My mother then read to me the Little Flower’s life story and told me something that I will always remember, and have remembered, all of my life.  My mother said to never forget St. Therese’s “Little Way,” to do all things, no matter how small, with great love, and your actions will rise to heaven to Jesus, making Him very happy.  My mother served as a wonderful example to me of the “Little Way” as I have been trying to model my life after it.

St. Therese was born on January 2, 1873, the youngest of five children, to Louis Martin, a watchmaker of Alencon and Azelie-Marie Guerin, a maker of point d’Alencon (lace and fabric).  She enjoyed a very happy childhood, was highly intelligent and full of enthusiastic love of life.  She enjoyed her sisters and loved to be in plays, thoroughly enjoying acting as Joan of Arc, whom she admired very much.

In 1877, Therese’s mother died and her father sold her business at Alencon and went to live at Lisieux, so that his daughters’ aunt, Madame Guerin, could help him with his children from time to time, even though Marie, Therese’s older sister, ran the household and Pauline, the eldest sister, made herself responsible for the religious upbringing of her sisters.

Pauline entered the Carmel at Lisieux and Therese began to be drawn to that same vocation.  Therese went to the school run by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre.  When Therese was nearly fourteen, Marie joined Pauline in the Carmel.  On Christmas Eve of that same year, Therese underwent an experience that she later referred to as her “conversion.”  She said, “On that blessed night the sweet child Jesus, scarcely an hour old, filled the darkness of my soul with floods of light.  By becoming weak and little, for love of me, He made me strong and brave; He put His own weapons into my hands so that I went on from strength to strength, beginning, if I may say so, ‘to run as a giant.’ “

During the next year, Therese told her father that she also wanted to enter Carmel, but because she was 14, the Carmelites and the Bishop of Bayeux refused to hear of her desires because she was too young.  A few months later, being in Rome with her father, Therese visited with Pope Leo XIII, saying to the Pope, “In honor of your jubilee, allow me to enter Carmel at fifteen.”  Pope Leo was impressed with Therese, but upheld her superiors’ decision and told her, “You shall enter if it be God’s will,” dismissing her with kindness.  But at the end of the year, Biship Hugonin gave his permission to Therese, and she entered the Carmel at Lisieux, professing on September 8, 1890.  A few days before she professed, she wrote this to Pauline, known as Mother Agnes-of-Jesus:

“Before setting out my Betrothed asked me which way and through what country I would travel.  I replied that I had only one wish: to reach the height of the mountain of Love….Then our Savior took me by the hand and led me into a subterranean way, where it is neither hot nor cold, where the sun never shines, where neither rain nor wind find entrance: a tunnel where I see nothing but a half-veiled light, the brightness shining from the eyes of Jesus looking down….I wish at all costs to win the palm of St. Agnes.  If it cannot be by blood it must be by love….”

One of the principal duties of a Carmelite nun is to pray for priests, which St. Therese did with great fervor and devotion, carrying out also the austere lifestyle of the Carmelite Order.  In 1893, Therese, now 20, served to assist the novice mistress and was in fact the mistress in all but not in name.  And in that capacity, she said:

“From afar it seems easy to do good to souls, to make them love God more, to mold them according to our own ideas and views.  But coming closer we find, on the contrary, that to do good without God’s help is as impossible as to make the sun shine at night….What costs me most is being obliged to observe every fault and smallest imperfection and wage deadly war against them.”  During this time with the novices under her care, inspired by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the center of everything, she discovered the “Little Way” of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices.

Therese’s sister, Celine, cared for their Father who died in 1894.  Thereafter, Celine also entered Carmel.  In 1895, Therese wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on January 21, 1896.  Several months later, Therese experienced a hemorrhage at the mouth.  This happened at the same time Therese had planned to respond to help the Carmelites at Hanoi.  But the last eighteen months of her life was a time of great trial, a time of horrible suffering and spiritual darkness.  Therese said, “I have never given the good God aught but love, and it is with love that He will repay.  After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.  I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.  My ‘Little Way’ is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender.”  While she was suffering, she continued to write another manuscript.  Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings.

On September 30, 1897, she said, “I am not dying, I am entering life….My God…, I love you!”  At the age of 24, Therese died.

Her teaching and example of holiness was received by not only the Catholic Church and Catholics, but by other Christians and non-Christians.  She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925, having proclaimed Therese Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside St. Francis Xavier, on December 14, 1927.

“On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997.” 

Accordingly, this Little Flower serves as a Doctor of the Church with her “Little Way” to teach all men and women to love Our Lord and to give Him everything we have, to serve Him in our vocation, whatever it may be, and to do all things, no matter how small, with great love.


The Life of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Vatican website “Holy See”

One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press, Compilation Copyright @ 1993 By Little, Brown and Company, Inc.

St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher

This is the first in FOTM’s new series on the Celestial Army. (Please see my post, “Calling on the Army of Angels and Saints,” for the reason for this series.)

Today, June 22nd, is the Feast Day of St. Thomas More and tomorrow, on June 23rd, is the Feast Day of St. John Fisher — two very brave men who died for the Truth, for their Faith, and for Christ.

Their joint feast day is a timely reminder to Christians in America that we, too, are called to defend our Faith against the Obama administration’s assault on Catholic institutions, under the guise of Obamacare’s contraceptives mandate. Today, it’s Catholics; tomorrow, it will be the Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Evangelicals….

St. Thomas More

Thomas was born in 1478 in England. His father, John, was a barrister and a judge and his mother was Agnes. He received his childhood education at St. Anthony’s school and, at age 13, was received into the household of Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury who was impressed with the lad. Thomas was then sent to Oxford, where he studied at Canterbury College.

Thomas thought he might have a calling to the priesthood and for four years he lived with the London Carthusian monks. However, he did not find a calling to the priesthood. Thomas then studied law and was called to the Bar in 1501 and in 1504 he entered Parliament. In 1505 he married Jane Colt and they had four children, Margaret, Elizabeth, Cecilia and John. Thomas was adamant that his daughters received a scholarly education just like his son. Many religious and learned people of London visited Thomas and his family in their home which was known as a congenial center of learning. In 1510 Jane died, but he later married Alice Middleton, a widow. In 1516, Thomas wrote Utopia, a work of fiction and political philosophy.

Thomas was brought to King Henry VIII’s court and in October of 1529, appointed Lord Chancellor of England, the highest office in England under the King. Thomas became a friend and confidant of Henry VIII, as the King had great respect for Thomas, admiring his intellect, wit, good judgment and holiness.

Henry VIII desired to obtain an annulment from the Pope to his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. Pope Clement VII refused to grant an annulment, finding no valid grounds. Henry was enraged at this denial and forced the English clergy to acknowledge him as “Protector and Supreme Head of the Church of England.”

At this, Thomas resigned as Chancellor; his property confiscated by the King. Thomas and his family became poverty stricken. For 18 months he lived in quiet austerity, engaging himself in writing and with the needs of the household. After King Henry married Anne Boleyn, Thomas refused to attend her coronation.

On March 30, 1534, the Act of Succession provided that the King’s subjects take an oath, which required all English subjects to agree to three clauses: that any heir or offspring of Henry and Anne was a legitimate heir to the throne; that the marriage between Henry and Catherine was null and void; and that the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, had no more authority or power in England than any other bishop. Anyone who refused to sign the oath was guilty of high treason punishable by death.

On April 13, 1534, Thomas and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, were given the oath to sign, but they both refused to sign it because of the latter two clauses. Consequently, on April 17, 1534, both Thomas and Fisher were imprisoned in the Tower of London. During this time, Thomas suffered greatly, separated from his family whom he loved so much. But it was also during his incarceration that Thomas began to write the Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, the best of his spiritual works, and The Sadness of Christ.

Toward the man who put him in prison, Thomas not only prayed daily for Henry, he thanked the King for his imprisonment, which Thomas called “the very greatest” of “all the great benefits” the king “has heaped so thickly upon me.” With prescience, Thomas wrote to his daughter Margaret that “no matter how bad it seems,” great good would come from his death.

On February 1, 1535, the Act of Supremacy came into operation, giving the title of “only supreme head of the Church of England” to the king and made it treason to deny it. Thomas was asked while he was in the Tower his opinion of the Act, but he refused to give his opinion. On June 22nd, now-Cardinal John Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill. Nine days after, on July 1, 1535, Thomas was indicted and tried in Westminster Hall for opposing the Act of Supremacy, with false testimony from Richard Rich, the Solicitor General of Wales.

At the trial, Thomas broke his long silence and defended himself with competence, brilliance, and holiness, which intimidated his accusers and judges. He argued that, just as London lacked authority to annul an act of Parliament for the whole of England, so Parliament lacked authority to transfer governance of the Church to the king, since the Church had been entrusted by God to the bishops and the Pope. Thomas noted that this was codified in the Magna Carta 200 years earlier and affirmed in the king’s coronation oath.

Intimidated by King Henry, the jury convicted Thomas of treason. On July 6, 1535, Thomas was taken to be beheaded at Tower Hill. Weak and emaciated, he asked the Lord Lieutenant of the Tower to help him up the steps of the scaffold, but still managed wryly to quip, “As for my coming down, let me shift for myself.” A Paris newsletter published this description by an eye-witness:

“He spoke little before his execution. Only he asked that bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere.  He then begged them earnestly to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that he dies the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

The husband of Thomas’ daughter, Margaret, recorded that Thomas asked those present “to pray for him, and to bear witness with him that he should now there suffer death, in and for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church.”

400 years after his martyrdom, on May 19, 1935, the bells in St. Peter’s Basilica rang with joy as Thomas More was canonized a saint, along with St. John Fisher. In November of 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Thomas More the patron saint of politicians “for proclaiming the truth in season and out.”

St. John Fisher

John was born in 1469 in Beverly, Yorkshire, the eldest of four children of Robert and Agnes Fisher. Robert Fisher died when John was only 8; his mother remarried and had five more children. John attended Beverly grammar school and later, Cambridge University. He became Proctor of Cambridge in or about 1494, and was appointed Master Debator three years later. On July 5, 1501, he became a doctor of sacred theology; 10 days later, he was elected Vice Chancellor of the University. From 1505 to 1508, John served as the president of Queens’ College: He created scholarships, introduced Greek and Hebrew into the university curriculum, and brought in the world-famous Erasmus as Professor of Divinity and Greek. John was known as a great theologian through his writings in defense of the Sacraments, especially the priesthood and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In 1504, he became both Bishop of Rochester, the poorest diocese in England, as well as Chancellor of Cambridge. As Chancellor, he tutored then Prince Henry, who later became King Henry VIII. John loved his flock in Rochester as they also loved him, tending especially to the poor and the children.

From 1527 on forward, Bishop Fisher resolutely opposed Henry VIII’s divorce proceedings against Queen Catherine. Unlike all of the other bishops, John Fisher refused to take the Oath of Succession for the same reasons as Thomas More. Therefore, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in April of 1534. That very next year while he remained in prison, the Pope made him a Cardinal. Angered by this, Henry VIII retaliated by beheading Cardinal Fisher within a month.

A half hour before his execution on June 22, 1535, Cardinal Fisher opened his New Testament to this passage in the Gospel of John:

“Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ. I have given You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. Do you now, Father, give me glory at Your side.” 

Fisher then closed his New Testament and said, “There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life.”

William Rastell, Thomas More’s nephew, witnessed the martyrdom of Cardinal Fisher. He said that Fisher in a strong and very loud voice spoke to the large crowd, “Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ’s Catholic Church.” He asked for their prayers and prayed, “God save the king and the realm, and hold His holy hand over it, and send the king a good counsel.” He then knelt, said the hymn of praise, Te Deum, and some short prayers, laid his neck upon the block, and was executed.

On May 19, 1935, along with Thomas More, John Fisher was canonized a saint.

In his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, St. Thomas More urges us to have the courage and conviction to “die for the truth” with Christ.

We live in a time in America of a culture war against Christ and Christianity. The culture war is now a political war because of the Obama administration’s assault on religious autonomy and liberty. Against the tide of false political correctness and the threat of punishment and sanctions, will we stand firm and remain true to Christ and to our Faith?

St. Thomas and St. John so loved Jesus, they willingly died for Him. May we find inspiration in their examples as we live our faith with courage, integrity, honor and steadfastness.

We are not servants of Obama or any ruler. We are God’s servants, first and last!



Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh
The King’s Good Servant But God’s First, by James Monti
Catholic Insight
Catholic Online
Catholic Wisdom, edited by John A. Hardon, S.J.

Do This in Remembrance of Me

“He is mediator of a new convenant”

-Hebrews 9:15

“This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” ~Luke 22:19

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Today is a day of joyous significance when we commemorate and celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which is the definitive meaning of the Jewish Passover.

The word “Eucharist” is an action of thanksgiving to Our Lord, from the Greek words, “eucharistein and eulogein.” (Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24; Mt 26:26; Mk. 14:22) As such, “Eucharist” recalls the Jewish tradition about the blessings that are announced particularly during a meal regarding God’s works of creation, redemption, and sanctification.

The following dialogue took place while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, which is set forth in John 6: 22-71. It is the occasion of the first announcement of the Holy Eucharist — Corpus Christi or the Body of Christ.

Jesus says in John 6:48-58:

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. The Jews quarreled amongst themselves saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

John continues in 6:60-69:

“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it.?” “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Accordingly, Jesus chose the time of the Passover, the eve of His Passion, to fulfill what he had announced previously when he was teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum – giving His Body and His Blood to His disciples.

In Luke 22:7-8, we are told, “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.”

With this command, the disciples did as Jesus had commanded and made the necessary preparations. Then it is revealed in Luke 22:14-20:

“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper saying,“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains in 1340-1344:

“By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the Kingdom.” 

And, “The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words “until he comes” does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.

From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord’s command.  Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . .Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.”( Acts 2:42, 46.)

It was above all on “the first day of the week,” Sunday, the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, that the Christians met “to break bread.” ( Acts 20:7.)  From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure.  It remains the center of the Church’s life.  Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes”, the pilgrim People of God advances, “following the narrow way of the cross,” toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.” 

Jesus came to make a new Covenant with not just Jews, but with all who believe in Him — Jew and Gentile. On this wonderful Feast of Corpus Christi, we are reminded that the manna given by God to the Israelites while they were trying to survive in the harsh desert is replaced by Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ.

“This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” ~Luke 22:19

The Holy Eucharist is our manna which the Lord Jesus has chosen to feed and nourish us, through which He gives Himself to us, during our remembrance of His sacrifice, in Mass.

~Joan & Eowyn

St. (Padre) Pio’s Prayer to Jesus

I found this most beautiful prayer that I am sharing with you:

O my Jesus, give me Your strength when my weak nature rebels against the distress and suffering of this life of exile, and enable me to accept everything with serenity and peace.

With my whole strength I cling to Your merits, Your sufferings, Your expiation, and Your tears, so that I may be able to cooperate with You in the work of salvation.

Give me strength to fly from sin, the only cause of Your agony, Your sweat of blood and Your death. Destroy in me all that displeases You and fill my heart with the fire of Your holy love and all Your sufferings.

Clasp me tenderly, firmly, close to You that I may never leave You alone in Your cruel passion.

I ask only for a place of rest in Your heart. My desire is to share in Your agony and be beside You in the garden.

May my soul be inebriated by Your love and nourished with the bread of Your sorrow. Amen.

Holy Thursday: The Last Supper and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood

last supper

Today, Holy Thursday, April 17,2014, the universal Church celebrates Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, when Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood.

St. Paul tells us in Corinthians 11:23-26:

Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Jesus loved us so much, that he gave us this Sacrament of Love. We partake of Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity, when we partake in this most Blessed Sacrament, the true presence of Our Lord, in the Sacrifice of the Mass. As St. Athanasius said, “God has made Himself accessible to us.”

We also celebrate the institution of the Priesthood, the Servants of the Servants of God. St. John tells us in today’s Gospel, 13:1-15:

Before the Feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to Him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to Him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered Him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to Him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, He said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

In this manner Jesus illustrated that his Priests are the Servants of the Servants of God, that they must take care of His flock, and are charged with the absolute ministry of service, the action of true love.

I look forward to attending this beautiful Mass tonight and I will pray that everyone in the world comes to Our Lord Jesus, who is Love and Mercy itself.

St. Stephen of Mar Saba (725-794)

St. Stephen of Mar Saba

Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of the great early Church Father, St. John Damascene, who was known in part for fighting the Iconoclast controversy that darkened the 8th century.  St. John introduced Stephen, when he was ten years of age, to the monastic life, wherein Stephen was taken to the monastery of Saint Sabas (Mar Saba) where he became a monk.

St. Stephen of Mar Saba Monastery, JerusalemThe St. Stephen of Mar Saba Monastery was established in the 5th century by St. Sabas (Mar Saba in Arabic), a monk from Turkey. The monastery hangs dramatically down the cliff edge of the Kidron Valley—the Valley that divides the Temple Mount and the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem, and runs toward the Dead Sea. 

It was in this environment for the next 14 years of his life, that Stephen received his education and formation, wherein he was ordained a priest.  On one occasion when he was celebrating Mass, a brilliant light emanated from him, wherein he received the mystical favor that whatever specific intention he prayed for during the Eucharistic liturgy, that intention was granted.

Stephen was a talented individual who served the community earnestly, which included being a guest master.  He knew how to serve others and how to be hospitable.  He was also a valuable counselor.  At or about the age of 24, receiving a calling to prayer, silence and meditation, he requested of the abbot to live a hermit’s life.  The abbot granted his request, but qualified it requiring Stephen on the weekends to continue serving as a counselor, because he had invaluable “people” skills, a real social sense.  Stephen put this note, an actual “do not disturb sign,” on the door of his cell, “Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays.” 

He, like St. Francis of Assisi, loved God’s creation, especially the animals.  The birds came to him as he fed them out of his hands, such as doves and starlings, and he fed the deer similarly.  Most noteworthy is the fact that he even had empathy and love for the black worms that crawled through his hermitage which motivated him to gather the worms into a spot where they would not be stepped on, so that they would be safe.

It is important and noteworthy that at the end of Stephen’s life, he reported that various cities, such as Gaza, were laid waste by the Saracens, which is another term used to describe the Muslim Caliphate under the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.  Accordingly, many monks met their death/martyrdom.

A biographer wrote about Stephen, “Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave.  He received and honored all with the same kindness.  He possessed nothing and lacked nothing.  In total poverty he possessed all things.”

With respect and love,


Sources:  Franciscan Media; Catholic Online

St. Catherine of Bologna, 15th century saint

St. Catharine of Bologna Today, March 28, 2015, the Universal Church celebrates St. Catherine of Bologna, artist, prioress and warrior.

She was born in Bologna, and was related to the nobility in Ferrara, wherein she received a classical and/or liberal education at court, which motivated her to exercise her talent in art, through painting. When she was 17, she joined a religious entity of women in Ferrara, wherein subsequently all of these same women joined the Poor Clares. Catherine served as the baker and portress before she was selected to an administrative role as the novice mistress.

On July 22, 1456, Catherine and 17 other sisters left Ferrara to establish a new Corpus Domini monastery in Bologna.  At this juncture in her life, Catherine was appointed the abbess. She was known by her great holiness, and because of her incredible Christ-like example, many other women joined the monastery and/or the Poor Clares Order. Catherine found her closeness to God through prayer, charity to her sisters and to her neighbors and doing penance. Her life was like that of the Little Flower, St. Therese, in that she lived her life not in public, but in the environment of a monastery, showing her great love of Our Lord in doing all things, especially little endeavors, with utmost love. Catherine remained abbess at this monastery until her death.

In 1438, Catherine wrote her Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare — a book on seven spiritual weapons which she suggested we use when the devil tempts us. Part of the book describes at length her visions both of God and of Satan. She said:

“Jesus Christ gave up his life that we might live. Therefore, whoever wishes to carry the cross for his sake must take up the proper weapons for the contest, especially those mentioned here. First, diligence; second, distrust of self; third, confidence in God; fourth, remembrance of the Passion; fifth, mindfulness of one’s own death; sixth, remembrance of God’s glory; and seventh, the injunctions of Sacred Scripture following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert.”

St. Catherine is one of the saints whose bodies remain incorrupt. From the website of the St. Catherine of Bologna parish in Ringwood, New Jersey:

Many miracles began immediately [after Catharine’s death], nuns and townsfolk were miraculously healed. Even after her own death a miracle happened: a sweet scent seemed to come from the monastery’s courtyard. Catharine’s body was exhumed 18 days later. The air filled with an intense and indescribable perfume. Her body was incorrupt…. Many miracles happened to those who invoked her intercession. So in 1475 the nuns placed her body in a chair in [the chapel of the Poor Clares in Bologna, next to the church of Corpus Domini] where she can still be seen today.

St. Catherine was canonized in 1712 and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of artists and against temptations. Madonna and Child, by St. Catherine of Bologna We should ask St. Catherine for her assistance in being spiritual warriors in our lives. God knows it is certainly relevant now, especially to the writers in the Fellowship and its leader, Dr. Eowyn. May all of us perform charity in our little ways, and by all means, trusting in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I hope that everyone has a beautiful day!

Respectfully, your servant, Joan

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia; Franciscan Media