Author Archives: joandarc

Holy Thursday: The Last Supper-Institution of the Holy Eucharist; Institution of 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. Bernadette Soubirous (1844 – 1879)

Our-Lady-of-LourdesToday, April 16th, the universal Church celebrates a most important saint, Bernadette Soubirous, the beautiful young lady whom Our Blessed Mother appeared to, which ultimately is the famous Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bernadette was born in Lourdes, a town in Southern France, to a miller and homemaker, Her family lived in a run-down basement in an old building, experiencing great poverty. Bernadette suffered throughout her life from respiratory problems, from asthma. She was holy and virtuous and was a very bright lady, even though she found it difficult to be a student.

On one blessed day, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Our Lady visited Bernadette on 18 occasions, with the final appearance occurring on July 16th. Bernadette said that the lady was 16 or 17 years of age, who wore a white robe with a blue sash, with yellow roses covering her feet, and a large rosary hung on her right arm. In the March 25th vision, she told Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette indicated that the “Lady” instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot, and that the people were to come and wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette was instructed to dig.

These visions underwent tremendous and thorough investigations and scrutiny, not only by the Catholic Church, but by doctors and scientists and other secular individuals. The Catholic Church confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862, further setting forth that this event was worthy of faith. Indeed and in fact, Lourdes is one of the most popular Marian shrines in our world, with millions of individuals visiting this holy place. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring, and approximately 64 of these miracles have been carefully and completely reviewed by doctors and scientists, confirming that there was no scientific or medical explanation for the cures. Nevertheless, there have been numerous cures attributed to the shrine but not investigated, physical and spiritual cures.

Bernadette continued to suffer from her respiratory health problems, and ultimately, she journeyed from Lourdes to Nevers and entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Sadly, within four months of her arrival at the convent, she received the last rites of the Church and she was allowed to profess her final vows. However, she recovered to a point, that allowed her to serve as infirmarian and sacristan. Yet, her chronic health issues continued, and she died on April 16, 1879, 35 years of age.

Mother Josephine Forrestier began Bernadette’s cause for canonization. As part of this process, Bernadette’s coffin was opened after 30 years in the grave. Bernadette’s rosary rusted, her habit was frayed, but Bernadette was perfectly and most astoundingly, incorrupt. It looked like she had been sleeping.

On December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius X declared Bernadette Soubirous a Saint of the Catholic Church. Her actual feast day is February 18th, the day the Blessed Mother promised to make her happy, not in this life, but in the next. Yet, the Faithful have given her two more feast days – April 16th, the date of her death, and February 11th, the first time Our Lady appeared to her.

I have always loved St. Bernadette from my childhood up through the present day. Our Lady chose to appear to her so that people would come to love her Son, Jesus, and offering people cures of their health problems and other problems as well, through the power of Our Lord. Bernadette went through hell and back with the intense investigation and inquiries, and she answered truthfully and boldly, keeping in mind that she was sickly and fragile. I hope they are having a big party in heaven today for this most beautiful young lady, St. Bernadette. We love you and honor you today! Please pray for us, Bernadette, and help us to fight the terrible evils in the world. We thank God for you most lovely Bernadette! May we all follow your example of persistence in the Truth and your love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources: Franciscan Media; EWTN; Vatican website

See also “Our Lady of Lourdes,” Feb. 11, 2014.

Blessed Peter Gonzalez

Blessed Peter GonzalezToday, April 14th, the universal Church celebrates Blessed Peter Gonzalez, a phenomenal preacher and patron of sailors.

Peter was born in Astorga, Spain in 1190, having been educated by his uncle, the Bishop of Astorga. He was given a position as a canon whilst still very young. He went through a dramatic conversion experience, somewhat similar to St. Paul’s conversion experience on his road to Damascus. Peter was on his way to the cathedral to take up this important post, but the horse he was riding stumbled and fell, wherein Peter fell, landing in mud. People laughed at him and it occurred to Peter that there must have been a reason for this event. Accordingly, he analyzed why he was taking this position, which motivated him to take a new path in his vocation. He entered the Dominican Order and became a priest.

Crowds came to listen to Peter preach and numerous individuals converted as a result of his effective, holy and amazing presentation of the message of the Gospel. He served also as the court chaplain, attempting to spiritually guide the members of the court. King Ferdinand III and his army defeated the Muslim Moors at Cordoba, wherein Peter was successful in his message of treating the Moors with compassion, and persuading the King and his soldiers not to pillage and destroy.

Peter retired from the court, wherein he devoted the rest of his life by preaching the Gospel in northwest Spain, having effected a distinct mission to help Spanish and Portuguese seamen, wherein he instructed them and helped to convert them.

Blessed Peer died in 1246 at Tuy, and was beatified in 1254 by Innocent IV, which was confirmed in 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV.

We thank Blessed Peter for using his incredible talents to spread the Gospel among all classes of people, the rich, noble, poor, ignorant and uneducated. I take from his example to be good and compassionate to everyone we meet, even our enemies and those who give us difficulties and trouble. Also, I find his conversion experience most important, wherein his example tells us that we must go through our daily examination of ourselves and thus, effect daily conversion of ourselves, becoming closer and closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ as we become who Our Lord created in spirit and in truth.

Dear Blessed Peter, pray and intercede for us before the Triune God! We honor you today and will remember your example!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources: Franciscan Media; Catholic Encyclopedia; Vatican website

St. John Baptist de la Salle, Educator, Founder and Confessor

St John Baptist de la Salle

Today, the universal church celebrates a very great man, St. John Baptist de la Salle, patron of teachers and founder of the Christian Brothers.

John was born as the eldest son to a well-to-do aristocratic family on April 30, 1651, in Rheims, France.  He received the rank and wealth of his family, setting him apart from the extensive poor people who resided in France.  When he was 16 years of age, he pursued studying the classics at the College des Bons Enfants, becoming the canon of Rheims.  He had planned a career in the Church, studying also at Saint Sulpice and the Sorbonne to become a priest, being ordained as one at the age of 27.

He was asked to help start some “charity” schools in Rheims, wherein he had to supervise the teachers, bring them into his home and educate them.  John finally realized that everything he was doing was coming from God, from “Providence,” to begin a recognized mode of Christian education for the poor, those individuals who could not afford to pay for an education.  His goal was to do the Will of God and he thus understood this purpose for the long-term.

Accordingly, John gave away his wealth and his rank as canon, so that he would be also poor, like the people he served.  In 1684, he founded a religious group called the “Brothers of the Christian Schools,” comprised of the schoolteachers he trained, otherwise known as the “Christian Brothers” or the “De La Salle Brothers.”  This order thrived, continuing on through the present time all around the world.  The order’s purpose is solely to teach.  Hence, the rule was and still is, that no brother might become a priest and no priest might join the order.

John and the brothers lived in great hardship, but did so cheerfully with their fiery purpose of teaching the poor ever before them.  John made as his priority, the religious and professional training of his brothers.  However, he surmised because of the demand for his teachers, that he had to form secular schoolmasters also.  Thus, in 1687, he started a training college for approximately 40 young people, which was the first such institution in the history of education.

He opened schools in other neighboring towns around Rheims and in 1683, he went to Paris to direct a school in the parish of St. Sulpice, where he established his headquarters.  The brothers were now teaching 1,100 individuals.  In Paris, he founded yet another charitable school for youths who were also employed.

Of course, where there is success, there is also jealousy and envy.  Lawsuits were filed against him by teachers of other schools whose pupils were paying students.  His charitable schools were pillaged and he was precluded to open any other training colleges or charitable schools anywhere else in Paris.   Some of his brothers defected and he received opposition from secular schoolmasters who resented his methods and techniques of teaching.  But, thank God his brothers were well-established in other areas of France, in Marseilles, Calais, Boulogne, Mende, Grenoble, Troyes and other places.  He also received intense opposition from the Jansenists, wherein John had no use for their moral rigidity or pessimistic outlook of humanity; he had to oppose these people the rest of his life.

Indeed, in Rouen, he founded a boarding school for the sons of the rich and noble, a fee-paying establishment.  These individuals desired to receive an excellent education superior to the primary school, but also being educated in the practical aspects of life, instead of just the classics.  He also formed in Rouen a reform school for young delinquents which thrived, being a model for modern schools of a similar purpose.

John spent the rest of his life in Rouen, writing the Rules for his brothers and writing Meditations.  He was afflicted with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, dying on Good Friday in 1719 at the age of 68.  He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on May 24, 1900, and in 1950, Pope Pius XII named him the patron saint of schoolteachers.

Clearly, St. John lived the standard: do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, and in the manner it is supposed to be done.  He knew he was doing God’s will and he carried out his mission with enthusiasm, intensity and courage, helping students, both poor and rich, providing them with a superior education, and teaching his brothers successful methods in educational endeavors.  He fought the Jansenists fiercely and defended and upheld the Gospel message of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us remember St. John’s life and example of fierce holiness, desiring at all times to do the will of God, which is the supreme goal of any saint.  We wish you a Happy Feast Day dear St. John Baptist de la Salle!  Please pray for us and help us!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  Franciscan media; EWTN; Vatican website

St. Casimir of Poland (1484)

St-Casimir

Today, March 4th, the universal Church honors St. Casimir of Poland, “The Peace-maker.”

Our saint was born in Poland in 1458, the third of thirteen children to King Casimir IV, King of Poland, and Queen Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Albert II.

John Dlugosz, a great historian and a man of incredible learning and holiness, taught Casimir, wherein Casimir learned from John’s example and wonderful scholarship.  From childhood, Casimir was devout and faithful, having a substantial prayer life accompanied by penance.  He wore plain clothes, sometimes a hair shirt to do penance, but he was cheerful and full of joy to everyone.

He loved the poor and gave them his possessions.  He loved the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, wherein he sang the hymn, “Daily, Daily Sing To Mary,” which is also called the “Hymn of St. Casimir,” even though this hymn was actually composed by Bernard of Cluny in the 12th century.

The Hungarian nobles were unhappy with King Matthias Corvinus, and in 1471, requested the King of Poland, Casimir’s father, to allow Casimir to serve as their king.  Casimir was only 15 years old at this time, but at their request, was made their king, heading up an army and going to the frontier since the former King Matthias established an army to overthrow King Casimir, but many in his army deserted because they were not paid by King Matthias.  Nevertheless, the conflict continued and was not solved which angered Casimir’s father.  He ordered his son to return to Cracow where he was relegated to remain in a castle.  At this point, the young Casimir decided he wanted no further part of politics and war.  He would never again take up arms, even though his father urged him to do so as well as the Hungarian nobles.

Casimir returned to his studies and his devotions.  On one occasion he served as the viceroy in Poland during one of his father’s absences.  He imposed celibacy upon himself, and chose to live an austere life.

Our saint experienced health problems involving his respiratory system, wherein he died at the young age of 23 in 1484.  His relics rest in the church of St. Stanislaus.  People reported that miracles occurred at his tomb.  He was canonized in 1521.

From the very beginning of his life, St. Casimir prioritized the Triune God in his life, disengaging from the materialism and politics of his world.  He had the wisdom to do this, even in spite of all of the opportunities presented to him by his kingly status.  He rather served “The King of Heaven,” as opposed to serving politics and being involved in continuing conflicts.  He lived an uncomplicated life, desiring to live in simplicity.  He opined that the conflicts in question were more political in nature only, not worthy of his priorities, a sort of war of nobles v. nobles so to speak.  Let us remember his example of simplicity and love of God, rejecting superfluous demands of society.

St. Casimir, pray for us!

Respectfully,

Joan

SourceButler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh

St. Katharine Drexel, a Great American Saint (1858-1955)

St. Katherine Drexel

Today, March 3rd, the universal Church celebrates a great American saint, who was an heiress, philanthropist, educator, Catholic sister and foundress.

Katharine was born to wealthy and devout Catholic parents on November 26, 1858, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wherein Frances, Katharine’s father, was an investment banker.  Because of wealth, Katharine was able to travel the world, receive a superior education and set forth her grand debut into high society.

In spite of the family wealth, the Drexel family opened their home to the poor three days each week, and Frances practiced a daily prayer life spending at least one-half an hour each evening in prayer.

Even though she was a high-status individual, for three years she nursed her stepmother through a terminal illness.  She understood then that money, although wonderfully helpful, could not provide any escape from “brother pain” and ultimately death.  This I will call her “final incident,” wherein she knew she was destined for a life of service.

Katharine read Helen Hunt Jackson’s, “A Century of Dishonor,” regarding the plight of the American Indians.  This book interested her in helping Native American Indians.  She met Pope Leo XIII whilst she was on a European tour, requesting that he send more missionaries to Wyoming to help Bishop James O’Connor, her friend.  The pope said to her, “Why don’t  you become a missionary?”  Obviously, the pope planted a seed into Katharine’s very being, thinking about his suggestion consistently.

Katherine decided to visit North and/or South Dakota, where she met “Red Cloud,” the Sioux Indian chief.  She continued to confide in Bishop O’Connor regarding her future, wherein she wrote in 1889: “The feast of St. Joseph (which is March 19th) brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.”  She made headlines in the newspapers: “GIVES UP SEVEN MILLION!”

She went into training for three and one-half years, finding an Order of nuns entitled, “Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored,” wherein she opened a boarding school in Santa Fe.  She set up various foundations.  Incredibly, she founded Catholic schools in 13 states for black people, 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools.  The American segregationists dishonored her work by burning one of her schools in Pennsylvania.  But their tactics and evil deeds did not deter her.  She established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.  And one of her most wonderful achievements was founding Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.

Mother Cabrini, another American Catholic saint, met with her about her Order, advising her how to get Rome to approve her Order.

At the age of 77, Katharine suffered a heart attack and had to retire from her busy life of service.  But little did she know that she would spend 20 years living in a small room which overlooked the sanctuary where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, praying intensely, where she wrote her thoughts on slips of paper.  Katharine said, “The patient and humble endurance of the cross–whatever nature it may be–is the highest work we have to do.  Oh, how far I am at 84 years of age from being an image of Jesus in his sacred life on earth!”  She died on March 3, 1955, and was canonized in 2000.

This wonderful Saint reminds me of what St. Paul said about money.  He said that the love of money was the root of all evil, not money itself.  Would you give away seven million dollars to help the less fortunate and poor?  She also used these monies to develop her productive foundations and missions, schools and even a Catholic university.  She was humble, innovative, compassionate and an incredible leader.  She was truly generous, not only with her tremendous monetary fortune, but generous with her entire life, giving it in service to her neighbor to those individuals who are “Jesus in disguise.”  May we  be reminded that such holiness can be lived even in today’s society, in current times, not just lived in early times in Jerusalem, Rome, Syria or Greece.  We, all, are called to be saints, called to be holy.

It is my hope that there is an extravagant party in heaven to match St. Katharine’s extravagant generosity, for this most inspirational lady and great American heroine and leader.  St. Katharine Drexel, pray for us!

With respect and love,

Joan

Source:  Franciscan Media

St. Agnes of Bohemia (1205-1282)

St. Agnes of Bohemia

Today, March 2nd, the universal Church celebrates St. Agnes of Bohemia.

She was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia.  At the innocent age of three, she was already engaged to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later.  She knew that she did not want to get  married, and that she desired to enter the religious life.

Agnes declined marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and King Henry III of England.  Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, proposed to her, wherein Agnes went to the Pope for help.  Ultimately, Frederick did not force the matter, acknowledging that Agnes had every right to choose the “King of Heaven” before himself.

Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a house for the friars, constructing a Poor Clare monastery in Prague.  Agnes and seven other noblewomen, in 1236, entered this monastery.  Even St. Clare, St. Francis’ colleague and great friend, sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them, writing Agnes four letters telling her of the beauty and grace of her vocation and her duties as abbess of the monastery.

Agnes was known for her dedication and discipline, through prayer, obedience and mortification.  Papal pressure insisted that she should receive the title, abbess, but she indicated she rather preferred another title, “senior sister”.  Indeed and in fact, she performed all of the chores necessary to serve her fellow sisters, which included cooking and mending clothes of lepers.  Her fellow sisters loved her, acknowledging that she was loving but strict in observing poverty.  Her brother offered Sister Agnes an endowment for the monastery, but she rejected that gift.

Sister Agnes died on March 6, 1282, having been canonized in 1989.

We must reflect upon the fact that St. Agnes lived a very tough and austere life, 45 years in the Poor Clare monastery that she established.  One can only imagine that St. Agnes might become bitter under the circumstances.  But she was not bitter; she pursued holiness at every avenue, and made it possible through poverty and austerity to prioritize God first in her life, and in the lives of her fellow sisters.  She never used her prior noble status to make her any different than her fellow sisters, working and serving as they did and being an excellent example of finding Jesus in disguise.

St. Agnes said:

“Have nothing to do with anyone who would stand in  your way and would seek to turn you aside from fulfilling the vows which you have made to the  Most High (Psalm 49:140) and from living in that perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you.” (Clare to Agnes of Bohemia, Letter II in Murray Bodo, O.F.M., Clare:  A Light in the Garden, p. 118).

With respect and love,

Joan

Source:  Franciscan Media

St. David of Wales

St. David of WalesStained glass of St. David at Castell Coch (the Red Castle), near Cardiff, Wales, UK

On Saturday, March 1st, the universal Church honored St. David of Wales.  He is the patron saint of Wales and is a very famous British saint.  Nevertheless, the sources indicate that we do not have much reliable and verifiable information on him.

However, we do know that David became a priest, engaging in missionary activities, finding monasteries with his main monastery being in southwestern Wales.  These monks served Our Lord through austerity and silence.  Their diet consisted of bread, vegetables and water.

In 550 A.D., Father David attended a synod.  His fellow monks gained great respect and confidence in him, because he spoke with earnestness and truthful eloquence.  Accordingly, they chose Father David to be the primate of the region, wherein the episcopal see was moved to Mynyw, the location of his monastery (now called St. David’s).  He governed his diocese until he was very old and his last words were: “Be joyful, brothers and sisters.  Keep your faith, and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me.”

In art, St. David is shown standing on a mound with a dove on his shoulder, indicating that once while he was preaching, a dove settled upon his shoulder and the earth rose lifting him high above the people so that his words could be heard high and low.

Before the Reformation, over 50 churches in South Wales were dedicated to him.

Clearly, St. David was a tough, disciplined, focused and wonderful leader.  He did not forget about the value of sacrifice, and in that process of sacrifice, to prioritize love of God first above all things.  He made sure that the monks and priests lived a life of austerity so that God would always be first in their lives.   And what is important is that he found joy in little things, and in all things that are holy, where God comes first, in work that is noble and the sharing of faith that is noble.

We admire you St. David!  Please pray for us.

With respect and love,

Joan

Source:  Franciscan Media

Blessed Daniel Brottier

Blessed Daniel Brottier

Today, February 28th, the universal Church honors Blessed Daniel Brottier, a devoted priest and decorated chaplain.

Daniel was born in France on September 7, 1876, the second son of the coachman for the Marquis Durfort, Jean-Baptiste Brottier, and his wife, Herminie.  Daniel desired to become a priest during his childhood.  His mother related the story that when she asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, that he replied: “I won’t be either a general or a pastry chef – I will be the Pope!”  Herminie reminded her son that he would first have to be ordained a priest to ever become a pope.  Daniel replied: “Well, then I’ll become a priest.” 

He received his First Holy Communion when he was ten, enrolling a year later in the minor seminary at Blois.  On October 22, 1899, he was ordained a priest, never faltering from his childhood representations and vocation call.  After his ordination, he taught at a secondary school in Pontlevoy, France.

Daniel did not find his niche as a teacher, as he was determined to serve as a missionary somewhere in the world.  With that desire as a goal, in 1902 he joined the Congregation of the Holy Spirit at Orly.  Upon completing his novitiate in the order in 1903, the congregation sent him to serve as a vicar in a  mission parish in Saint-Louis, Senegal.  However, Father Daniel remained disappointed at this assignment, as he wanted to serve in the rough country in Senegal.

In any event, Father Daniel enthusiastically worked hard at his position, instructing secondary school students, finding a center for child welfare and publishing a parish bulletin, “The Echo of St. Louis.”  Daniel suffered from the effects of the climate in Senegal, and went back to France in 1906 to recover from his health issues.  Unfortunately, in spite of his missionary zeal, in 1911 he returned to France permanently because of his ongoing health problems.

The Apostolic Vicar of Senegal, Bishop Hyacinthe Jalabert, requested that Father Daniel conduct a fund-raising effort to build a cathedral in Dakar, Senegal.  Even though Father Daniel resided in France, he conducted this campaign for seven years during two distinct periods of time, 1911-1914 and 1919-1923.  The five year difference in time was a result of the First World War.  Nevertheless, the “African Memorial Cathedral” was consecrated on February 2, 1936, just 26 days away from Father Daniel’s death.

With regard to the five-year interval period, Father Daniel volunteered to serve as a chaplain for France’s 121st Infantry Regiment during the First World War.  He served the soldiers with great love and courage, having been cited six times for bravery, and having been awarded the Croix de guerre and the Legion d’honneur.  Father Daniel indicated that it was through the intercession of St. Therese of the Little Flower that he was able to help the soldiers as he did, wherein he built a chapel for her at Auteuil when she was canonized a saint, which was the first church ever dedicated to the Little Flower.  After the war, Father Daniel founded the “National Union of Servicemen”, an organization for French veterans of various wars.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Louis-Ernest Dubois, requested that the Congregation of the Holy Spirit manage an orphanage in Paris, the “Orphan Apprentices of Auteuil.”  Of course, Father Daniel with his excellent and creative leadership skills, became completely involved in this project, and worked for 13 years from 1923 on forward, with the help of his associate chaplain, Yves Pichon, to expand the orphanage, working very hard for the care, best interests and welfare of the orphans that he served.  Father Daniel once again dedicated his efforts to the intercession of the Little Flower, and also, to serve the most poor and unfortunate.

Indeed and in fact, in 1933, Father Daniel started a program placing children in the households of Catholic individuals associated with the Orphan Apprentices.  His work gave much fruit, as he constructed workshops, a printing house, a cinema, even publishing magazines.  To show how effective Father Daniel was in his work, when he started with the orphanage, there were 140 orphans; when he died, there were more than 1400 orphans served.

Father Daniel was a remarkable fund-raiser, mastering the use of the camera, where he even taught film making to the children.  To show his love for the Little Flower and so that people would learn about her, he produced a film on the life of St. Therese.

Dear Father Daniel died on February 28, 1936, in the hospital of St. Joseph in Paris.  Approximately 15,000 people attended his funeral Mass.  He was buried in the Chapel of St. Therese in Auteuil on April 5, 1936, which is the chapel that he built.  On January 13, 1983, Pope John Paul II declared Father Daniel, “venerable,” and he was beautified on November 25, 1984.  Noteworthy was the fact that in 1962, his body was incorrupt as on the day of his burial; and, many  miracles were attributed to his intercession. 

I am so happy to meet Brother Daniel Brottier today.  He is such a dedicated hard worker, full of innovation and creativity.  He was a great leader, notwithstanding the fact that during his four years in the front during World War I, he ministered to the suffering and dying soldiers, risking his life constantly, to care for them.  I also am drawn to him because of his love for St. Therese of the Little Flower, who taught the “Little Way,” which means to do all things with great love.  There is no doubt in my mind that Blessed Daniel followed this maxim completely, and look at the improvements and successes that took place as a result of his efforts.  Clearly, the beautiful Little Flower was helping him in his vocation.  Let us remember the example of this great “mover and shaker” of God, asking for his intercession and guidance.

Blessed Daniel Brottier, pray for us!

With Love and Respect,

Joan

Sources:  Franciscan Media; Catholic Encyclopedia

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, February 27th, the universal Church honors St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, a young, devoted and holy man.

Our saint was born on March 1, 1838, the 11th of 13 children; his name was Francesco Possenti.  He was baptized at the same baptismal font where St. Francis of Assisi was baptized.  His mother, Agnes, and his father, Sante, resided in Assisi, Italy, where Sante worked for the local government.

Shortly after Francis was born, Sante was transferred to Montalta, and thereafter to Spoleto, where in 1841, he was appointed the legal assessor.  In 1841, the Possenti family suffered from the death of a baby girl Rosa, and in 1842, seven-year-old Adele died, and also Agnes, Francis’ mother died.  One can only imagine how much this family grieved and suffered at this particular time.

As a child and young man, Francis was known for his holiness and piety.  Yet, he took great care with his personal appearance when he went to parties, being involved in the social scene in Spoleto.  He was given the nickname, “the dancer”.  Francis also had a problem with bouts of anger.

He was educated by the Christian Brothers and then by the Jesuits in college, where he was an excellent student, especially in the language of Latin.

In 1851, Francis became very ill and promised Our Lord that he would enter the religious life if God healed him.  This promise was set aside, wherein yet on another occasion, Francis dodged a bullet in a hunting expedition, again, making the same promise to God.  Yet he still did not enter the religious life.  However, on a third occasion, he had a throat abscess, which he recovered from.  But this time, he actually started the process of entering the Jesuits, but for reasons unknown, he never proceeded to join the order.

After Francis’ sister died of cholera during the cholera epidemic, the priests of Spoleto organized a procession of the icon of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral.  Francis attended that procession and heard an inner voice asking him why he was still in this world.  After this spiritual event, Francis received advice from a priest and decided to enter the Passionist Congregation.  His father and members of his family discouraged Francis from entering, but this did not deter Francis.  On September 19, 1856, he entered the novitiate, received the habit of a Passionist, and was given the name, “Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.”  After one year passed, he pronounced his vows.

He thereafter studied for the priesthood.  Gabriel was an excellent student, also making great strides in his spiritual life.  He was faithful in little things, and his spirit of prayer, love for the poor, his thoughtfulness and kindness, and his exact observance of the Passionist Rule, created a wonderful example to the Passionist community.

But whilst he was studying to become a priest, he became very ill with tuberculosis.  He still was cheerful, enduring his suffering bravely and offering it to Our Lord.  Gabriel was especially devoted to Our Lady and the suffering that she went through as the Mother of God.

Before he was ordained a priest, Gabriel died on February 27, 1862, in the retreat at Gran Sasso.  Those individuals who were with Gabriel before he died, reported that at the moment of his death, he sat up in bed, with his face beaming, whilst he reached out to an invisible figure that was apparently entering the room or that was near him.  His superior, Father Norbert, opined that Gabriel had seen the Blessed Mother at that moment.

Gabriel was beatified on May 31, 1908 by Pope Pius X, and on May 13, 1920, he was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

Clearly, this wonderful young man ultimately found his holiness in the daily works of life, just like St. Therese of the Little Flower.  He did small things with great love and did what he was supposed to do, when he was supposed to do it, and in the manner it was supposed to be done.  St. Therese also saw the Blessed Mother.  Gabriel, like St. Therese, suffered terribly, in great agony, from tuberculosis.  But both saints offered their suffering to Our Lord as a great and powerful prayer.  Let us follow the example of this intelligent and loving saint, performing our daily works with love, extending daily kindnesses to others and most of all, offering our prayers, works and joys to the Triune God.

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

With respect and love,

Joan

Sources:  Vatican website; Franciscan media