Author Archives: joandarc

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,

Joan

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

All Saints Day

Yesterday, October 31, was All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween, that is, the evening before the holy ones.

As explained in “Reclaim Halloween as the holy All Hallows’ Eve!,” the word “hallow” is “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate,” while the word “e’en” means “evening.”

The word “saint” means holy. Halloween, therefore, means Holy Evening or the Evening of the Hallowed or Holy Ones, i.e., the Evening of the Saints.

In other words, Halloween is the evening before All Saints Day, which is today!

saints in Heaven1

Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God.  He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”  I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites.” Rev. 7:2-4 

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.  They cried out in a loud voice:  “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”  All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures.  They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen.  Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”  I said to him, “My Lord, you are the one who knows.”  He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Rev. 7:9-14.

“For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple.  The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.  They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.  For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Rev. 7:15-17.

saints in Heaven

Through the “communion of saints,” a doctrine proclaimed in the Apostle’s Creed, the blessed in heaven assist those of us on earth; we pray with the saints so that they may intercede on our behalf before Our Lord.  Remember, these incredible, courageous and wonderful individuals see God face to face!  How cool is that?

Indeed, they are the ultimate role models, heroes and heroines-people who chose to do extraordinary things and behaved always with serving Our Lord as their first priority in their lives, no matter what the cost.  They were no different as human beings than we are, with faults, talents, proclivities towards temptation and bearing all qualities incident to human beings.  What made them different were their choices, to serve God first above anything and everything.  To put it more eloquently were the words of St. Thomas More on the day he was beheaded, wherein he stated, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

saints in Heaven2

In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home and those of us who are still pilgrims on earth.”  (CCC 1475)

St. Thomas More said this about the saints.  “We venerate the saints as God’s servants, as we would on earth welcome the servants of a great man we esteemed.  If the goodness we bestow upon our poor brethren is considered by Christ as bestowed upon Himself, as He tells us (Mt 25:40), and if those, as He says, who welcome His apostles and disciples welcome Him (Mt. 10:40), assuredly those who honor the saints are likewise honoring Christ.  Our Lord Himself showed that He would have His saints partake in His glory when He promised the apostles that they would be seated at His side on the final Day of Judgment (Mt. 19:28).  Moreover, He promised that Martha’s sister Mary (whom More identified as Mary Magdalen) would be honored throughout the world for her deed of anointing Him with ointment (Mt. 26:13).”

As to honoring the saints, and our desire to request their advocacy and intercession on our behalf, as to whether or not the saints can either hear us or help us, St. Thomas More provided, “Yet how can we doubt whether they hear us?  Their souls are not dead, and therefore as living souls the love and charity toward their fellowman that characterized them to this world cannot have diminished in the next.  The closer one draws to heaven, the greater is his solicitude toward his brethren here on earth, as was the case with the martyr Saint Stephen, who after seeing heaven opened, prayed for his enemies who were stoning him (Acts 7:55-60).  In view of this, is it conceivable that Saint Stephen would not pray for those who honor him on earth, now that he is in heaven?”  And the question is further posed, how can the saints in heaven help us?  More reasoned that since “the saints were certainly able to assist others while on earth where their human nature was as weak as ours, surely they can do so in heaven.”

More further reasoned that even while Our Lord lived on this earth, He permitted people to come to His apostles rather than directly to Himself for help and allowed the Twelve to work miracles in His stead.  Indeed, on some occasions the apostles assumed the role of intercessors with Christ, presenting the petitions of others to their Master.  “If this was the case when the apostles were with Christ on earth, it must surely be so now that they dwell with Him in heaven.  God is pleased to have us honor and call upon His saints, His especial beloved friends, for it becometh us and well behoveth us to make friends of such as he hath in favour.”

Have not you ever asked someone, “Please pray for my mother, she is very ill,” or “Please pray for me; I am about to make a very important decision that will affect my life.”  Indeed and in fact, we have set forth these petitions to others on FOTM.  Ergo, we pray with the Saints, inhabitants of the Church Triumphant, for their intercession, for their guidance that they receive from Our Lord Himself.  If we ask those we know on earth for their advocacy and prayers, all the more reason to ask the Church Triumphant to enter our lives, to give us direction and to ask through them the Grace from God necessary to live our lives according to the Will of God, to the fullest extent, using all of our talents and gifts given to us by God.  The Saints are with us; we are foolish not to have camaraderie with them and to enjoy intimate and meaningful relationships.

We end this post by honoring the particular Saints in our respective lives who have inspired and helped us:

We love you, we admire you, and we thank you!

May Our Lord Always Be First Served!

Christ with angels

For the Saint posts we’ve published, go to FOTM’s “Saints and Angels” page!

Sources:

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • James Monti, The King’s Good Servant but God’s First, The Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).
  • Sister Mary Raphael is Gone, But Not Forgotten!  Daily Catholic 2000, January 18, 2000, volume 11, no. 12.

~Joan & Eowyn

Reclaim Halloween as the holy All Hallows’ Eve!

holy pumpkinsHoly pumpkins for Halloween!

Today, October 31, is Halloween.

But do you actually know what that word means?

  • The word “hallow” comes from the Old English word “hālig.
  • To hallow is “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate.”
  • The word “e’en” means “evening.”
  • And so Halloween means Holy Evening! How cool is that?

Halloween is actually a holy day — All Hallows’ Eve, which is the Eve before All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. On this All Hallows’ Eve, we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the two holy days to come.

Insofar as what Satan has chosen to do with this important Eve, that is his business. (See “We have met the Halloween monsters, and they are us“)

We can give import and publicity to what the father of lies has done to this day, or we can give import to this Eve in preparation for All Saints Day.  I choose to do the latter.

Satan has a history of turning holy days into an abomination, which is his goal, to insult holiness and turn truth upside down.  For example, May 1st has been celebrated as Communist’s Day.  However, in our faith, it is Mary’s day, as is the  month of May.  The Holy Mass Satan celebrates as a black mass, desecrating Our Lord Jesus.  I like what Taylor Marshall, a Catholic writer and/or apologist, has said about Halloween in response to the premise that it is evil, to-wit:

“There are some Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass.  To be clear, it is the vigil of a Christian holy day:  All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve.  Has it been corrupted by our culture and the consumer market?  You bet.  However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture.  Does that mean that we’re going to hand over Christmas?  No way!  Same goes for Halloween.  The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back.”  

There is nothing new in what Satan tries to do; we can fall into his trap and emphasize what he has done, or we can observe Halloween as All Hallows’ Eve — a holy day.

Tomorrow, I will discuss All Saints Day. Click here!

~Joan (with revisions by Eowyn)

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza (1200-1271), Dominican Preacher

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza

Today, October 27th, the universal Church honors Blessed Bartholomew of Vinceza, a great preacher who denounced the heresies of his time.

At the age of 20, he entered the Dominican Order.  After he was ordained a priest, he served in various leadership positions.  He even founded a military order who kept the law, order and peace in areas throughout Italy.

In 1248, Bartholomew was appointed a bishop, but was sent to Cyprus, away from his home of Vicenza (Venice).  An “antipapal” group was involved, as they viewed this transfer as a form of isolation.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t long that he was transferred back to Vicenza.  Again, he strongly addressed the heresies as well as defending the papacy.  Thus, he rebuilt his Diocese and strengthened the Faith of the Congregation.

He was beatified in 1793.  Blessed Bartholomew, we admire your enthusiasm, loyalty, courage, faith, hope and love that you demonstrated by and through your preaching and how you lived your life.  You were not afraid to defend the truths of your Faith in spite of receiving the anger and envy of others.  We could use your love of Truth now, amidst a society of lukewarm cafeteria Catholics, both lay people and clergy.  Pray for us dear and wonderful Bartholomew!