Author Archives: Joan

St. Francis of Assisi

This is a re-publishing of Joan’s 2014 post.

Today, October 4, is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).

St. Francis is an unusual saint in that he is known and admired by even non-Catholics and non-Christians. Lamentably, most of his admirers know only one facet of St. Francis — his endearing closeness with birds and animals. But there is so much more to this saint.

Did you know that St. Francis was called by Jesus Christ our Lord to reform and repair the Catholic Church, which had fallen to a corrupt and heretical clergy?

History repeats itself, and we find a Church similarly in disrepair in our own time. May St. Francis be a reminder and role model for all faithful clergy and laity as we are called, as he was, to repair and reform a Church in disarray.

See also “St. Francis of Assisi’s end times prophecy and the two popes“.

~Eowyn


I cannot tell you how much St. Francis has helped me in my life with all of the wonderful creatures that Our Dear Lord has entrusted to me, protecting and healing them.  St. Francis is one of my favorite saints, and I love him very much, a “giant” of holiness.  Today, the Universal Church celebrates his Feast Day.

Dante Alighieri, the famous poet, the author of the Divine Comedy, said of St. Francis, “A sun was born into the world.”  Francis was born at the end of 1181 or the beginning of 1182, to a rich family, his father being a successful cloth merchant and being raised by an adoring French mother.  He lived a carefree life, most interested in chivalrous ideals and chivalrous dreams of greatness and nobility.  Francis, age 20, participated in a military campaign, was taken prisoner and later released because he was so very ill.  This illness caused Francis to search his soul and look inward to his purpose in life, to determine and define what was important in life.  He had abandoned his worldly lifestyle and began to notice the beauty, purpose and virtues of God’s creatures, whom he loved and how they lived in simplicity.

One day, Francis rode the plain of Assisi and noticed a disfigured and horrible looking leper man.  Francis got off his horse, wherein the leper outstretched his hands to receive alms.  But Francis did more than give him money, he kissed the leper because he saw Jesus in Him, he saw “Jesus in disguise,” as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say – an event that changed Francis’ life.

After his exchange with the leper, Francis visited hospitals, served the sick and the forgotten, gave clothes and money to those who needed it.  On a particular day in or about 1205, Francis was praying at the Church of St. Damian outside the walls of Assisi when he heard a voice, an interior instruction that he took to heart, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.”  Francis thought that Our Lord meant to repair that specific Church, when indeed and in fact Our Lord was referring Francis to renew and repair His Church.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “…that at that moment, St. Francis was called to repair the small church, but the ruinous state of the building was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself.  At that time, the Church had a superficial faith which did not shape or transform life, a scarcely religious clergy, and a chilling of love.  It was an interior destruction of the Church which also brought a decomposition of unity, with the birth of heretical movements.  Yet, there at the centre of the Church in ruins was the Crucified Lord, and he spoke:  He called for renewal, He called Francis to the manual labour of repairing the small Church of St. Damian, the symbol of a much deeper call to Renew Christ’s own Church, with her radicality of faith and her loving enthusiasm for Christ.”

Francis took clothes and supplies from his father’s storage house, selling these items, as well as selling his father’s horse.  He brought these monies to the priest at St. Damian, but the priest would not take the money, Francis leaving the money on a window sill.  Francis’ father learned what had happened and demanded that Francis return everything that he had taken from him, reporting the matter to Bishop Guido of Assisi.  The Bishop told Francis to return these monies to his father, “He (God) does not wish His Church to profit by goods which may have been gotten unjustly.”  Francis responded, “The clothes I wear are also his.  I’ll give them back.”  He stripped off his clothes and gave them to his father saying, “Hitherto I have called you father on earth; but now I say, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven. “ Clothes of a laborer were found and given to Francis, wherein Francis made a cross upon the cloth with some chalk and left.

Pope Benedict tells us about another event that comes to mind , of the dream of Pope Innocent III in 1207.  “…he saw the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother of all churches, collapsing and one small and insignificant brother, whom the Pope recognized as Francis , when Francis later visited him.”  Pope Benedict goes on to say, “…it is important to note that St. Francis does not renew the Church without or in opposition to the Pope, but only in communion with him.  The two realities go together:  the Successor of Peter, the Bishops, the Church founded on the succession of the Apostles and the new charism that the Holy Spirit brought to life at that time for the Church’s renewal.  Authentic renewal grew from these together.”

In 1208, Francis lived as a hermit, but then had another internal transformation, affected by the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ discourse to the apostles whom he sent out to evangelize and teach the nations.  Accordingly, Francis went out just as the apostles did to teach by example, living in poverty and preaching the Gospel.  He had other brothers, companions who followed his way of life.  On one particular day, Francis told the brothers they were going to preach.  Francis and his band of brothers walked through a town but said nothing.  One of the brothers asked Francis why they didn’t preach.  Francis told him that they did preach saying, “Preach the Gospel constantly, and when necessary, use words.”  It was, therefore, Francis’ incredible example of holiness, and that of the brother companions, that taught the people of God.

In 1209 Francis and his brother companions travelled to Rome to propose to Pope Innocent III the plan for a new kind of Christian life.  The Pope welcomed Francis and of course, recognized Francis from the dream that he had.  The Pope welcomed Francis and encouraged him.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us that “St. Francis really did have an extremely intimate relationship with Jesus and with the word of God, that he wanted to pursue …: just as it is, in all its radicality and truth.  It is also true that initially he did not intend to create an Order with the necessary canonical forms.  Rather, he simply wanted, through the word of God and the presence of the Lord, to renew the People of God, to call them back to listening to the Word and to literal obedience to Christ.  Furthermore, he knew that Christ was never “mine” but is always “ours”, that “I” cannot possess Christ that “I” cannot rebuild in opposition to the Church, her will and her teaching.  Instead, it is only in communion with the Church built on the Apostolic succession that obedience too, to the Word of God can be renewed.”  And Pope Benedict goes on to say that “Francis knew that the centre of the Church is the Eucharist, where the Body of Christ and His Blood are made present through the priesthood, the Eucharist and the communion of the Church.  Wherever the priesthood and the Eucharist and the Church come together, it is there alone that the world of God also dwells.  The real historical Francis was the Francis of the Church, and precisely in this way he continues to speak to non-believers and believers of other confessions and religions as well.”  Indeed and in fact, in St. Francis’ “First Admonition,” he says very passionately:

“Wherefore, O you sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart (Ps. 4,3)?  Why do you not recognize the truth and believe in the Son of God (John 9, 35)?  Behold:  daily he humbles himself (Phil 2,8) as when from heaven’s royal throne (Wisd 18, 15) he came down into the womb of the Virgin.  Daily He Himself comes to us with like humility; daily he descends from the bosom of the Father (John 1, 18; 6, 38) upon the altar in the hands of the priest.  And as he appeared to the Apostles in true flesh, so now also he shows himself to us in the sacred bread.  And as they by their bodily sight saw only His flesh, yet contemplating Him with the eyes of the spirit believed Him to be very God, so we also, as we see our bodily eyes the bread and wine, are to see and firmly believe that it is His most holy body and blood living and true.  And in this way, the Lord is always with His faithful, as he Himself says:  “Behold, I am with you until the end of the world (Mt 28, 20).”

And in the writings of St. Francis, (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, Editrici Francescane, Padova 2002, 401), Pope Benedict reminds us of the love that Francis had for Jesus in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, “Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult, when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest.  Oh stupendous dignity!  O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation He hides himself under an ordinary piece of bread.”

Francis and his friars became numerous and established themselves at the Portiuncula, or the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the center of Franciscan spirituality.  Clare, a young woman of Assisi from a noble and wealthy family loved Franciscan spirituality, and established the Order of Poor Clares, the second Franciscan order.

Pope Innocent III’s Successor, Pope Honorius III, in 1218, issued a “Bull” which is a formal document, a pronouncement, which supported Francis and his development of the first Friars Minor, who began to spread the Gospel to other European countries, and even in Morocco.  In 1220, Francis visited the Holy Land, sowed the seed which is evident in today’s world, making this place the Site for the Order, showing today the great merits of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.  After Francis returned to Italy from his missions, he developed his “Rule” which was approved by the Pope.

Francis also had great communication skills with God’s creatures and control of them, a gift given to Him by God.  “His love for and power over the lower animals were noted and often referred to by those who knew him:  his rebuke to the swallows while he was preaching at Alvian, “My sisters the swallows, it is now my turn to speak.  You have been talking enough all this time;” the birds that perched around him while he told them to praise their Creator; the rabbit that would not leave him at Lake Trasimene; and the tamed wolf at Gubbio…”  Francis even had a pet falcon that he loved very much, who accompanied him where he went.

In 1224, Francis saw a vision of Jesus crucified in the form of a seraph, and after that vision, received the stigmata from the Seraph Crucifix, becoming one with the Crucified Jesus.  Francis, thus, suffered with the wounds of Christ.  Francis died humbly, on the earthen floor, on October 3, 1226, in the Portiuncula with his brother friars.

Pope Benedict XVI I believe summarizes St. Francis beautifully.  He said:  “It has been said that Francis represents an alter Christus, that he was truly a living icon of Christ…Indeed, this was his ideal: to be like Jesus, to contemplate Christ in the Gospel, to love him intensely and to imitate his virtues.  In particular, he wished to ascribe interior and exterior poverty with a fundamental value, which he also taught to his spiritual sons.  The first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3) found a luminous fulfilment in the life and words of St. Francis.  Truly, dear friends, the saints are the best interpreters of the Bible.  As they incarnate the word of God in their own lives, they make it more captivating then ever, so that it really speaks to us.  The witness of Francis, who loved poverty as a means to follow Christ with dedication and total freedom, continues to be for us too an invitation to cultivate interior poverty in order to grow in our trust of God, also by adopting a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods…”

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI  says, “Dear friends, Francis was a great Saint and a joyful man.  His simplicity, his humility, his faith, his love for Christ, his goodness towards every man and every woman, brought him gladness in every circumstance.  Indeed, there subsists an intimate and indissoluble relationship between holiness and joy.  A French writer once wrote that there is only one sorrow in the world:  not to be saints, that is, not to be near to God.  Looking at the testimony of St. Francis, we understand that this is the secret of true happiness:  to become saints, close to God!”

Happy Feast Day, dearest St. Francis!  I hope you are having a big party in heaven today with Our Lord, the Blessed Mother Mary whom you loved and honored, with the angels and the saints, along with all of God’s blessed creatures!  I love you!

-Joan

Sources:

  • General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, Paul VI Audience Hall, January 27, 2010, website of the Vatican, the “Holy See”.
  • “The Body of the Lord,” website of the Vatican, the “Holy See”.
  • One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press, AOL Time Warner Book Group.
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Edith Stein – now St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Sat, 09 Aug 2014 17:23:55 +0000  87887

joandarc

Edith SteinEdith Stein (l) became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (r).

First of all, I want to thank the Holy, Mighty and Eternal Triune God for allowing me to see so well now after my recent left-eye cataract surgery.  This process took my left eye several weeks to heal, whereupon new glasses were fitted and I picked them up Tuesday.  Just before my surgery, I mentioned to Dr. Eowyn that the post had to be done on Edith Stein, thinking that her Feast Day was in July, whereupon I discovered that it was actually on August 9th.  Therefore, I am able to draft this post myself now and am joyful to do so for such a brilliant and holy lady, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942).

Edith was born into a prominent and well-respected Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland.  She abandoned her Jewish faith whilst she was a teenager.  In fact, at the age of fourteen she was an atheist.  Edith, while a student at the University of Gottingen, became fascinated by phenomenology as an approach to the study of philosophy; indeed, her mentor was Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists.  In 1916, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy and served as a university professor until 1922, at which time she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer.  She was a lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich, but that position ended because of the influence and policies of the Nazis.

It was at this time in 1922, at or around October 15th, that Edith met Our Lord Jesus Christ by reading the autobiography of one of the great Doctors of the Catholic Church, also a mystic, St. Teresa of Avila.  This began her spiritual journey to being baptized a Catholic in 1922.  Twelve years later, she imitated St. Teresa of Avila by becoming a Carmelite nun, taking the name, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Sister Teresa then lived at the Cologne Carmel  (1934-1938), moving to reside in the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands, a country that was occupied by the Nazis.  The Dutch bishops publicly renounced Hitler and Nazism, which motivated revenge and retaliation, whereupon all Dutch Jews who had become Christians were arrested.  Thus, Sister Teresa and her sister Rosa, who also became a Catholic, were both executed in a gas chamber in the concentration camp in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.  Whilst she was at this camp, she was kind and encouraging to those who suffered there.  Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1987 and she was canonized as a saint twelve years later.  During the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II stated in his homily:

“Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholics and Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers.  Today we remember them all with deep respect.  A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue:  “Do not do it!  Why should I be spared?  Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my baptism?  If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.” 

The Pope then said to all present at this Mass, “Your life is not an endless series of open doors!  Listen to your heart!  Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things!  And when the time is right, have the courage to decide!  The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands.” 

I construe this as a directive to “Get to the Point” of your life by serving God and His people with true love and courage, standing up for Truth and for your Faith.  I say, everything else will then follow. . .

I have always admired this great lady because of her sincere search for Truth, and when she found it, she gave up everything for Him, for Our Dear Lord, for her Catholic Faith.  She used her brilliance to serve the Triune God and His people, with great love, bravery, kindness and passion.

St. Teresa was a prolific writer, and her writings fill seventeen volumes, many of which have been translated into English.  She sought truth in her life, finding that Truth was actually a Person, Jesus.  One of her findings included in part, “Truth Is Love, and Love Is Truth.”  I can only imagine that a great celebration is taking place in heaven with the members of the Church Triumphant over this most exemplary and amazing lady!

With deep respect and love,

Joan

Source:  Saint of the Day, Sixth Revised Edition, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

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Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

InfantJesus_JohnBaptistJohn the Baptist (right) with child Jesus, painting in the 1600s by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

Today, June 24th, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Martyr, and Forerunner Prophet to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is important to remember that John the Baptist was related to Our Lord Jesus. When the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary, Our Lady, that she would be the Mother of the Savior, he also told her that her cousin, Elizabeth, who was past child bearing age, would bear a son and that she must visit her, telling her that “nothing is impossible with God.” The child born to Elizabeth was John the Baptist. Mary did visit Elizabeth who greeted her with, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

If anyone “tells it like it is,” it is John the Baptist. He was not afraid to confront Herod and Herodias, reminding them that it was a sin for them to be together since Herodias’ husband was still alive. He shouted this fact to these self-proclaimed royals and the Jewish people knew that John was telling the truth. He warned them to repent for the coming of the Lord is near.

John lived the life of an ascetic in the desert, eating locusts and honey and whatever else the desert provided. John knew that his purpose in life was to prepare the way of the Lord. He encouraged those who came to listen to him to repent, to amend their lives and to be baptized. But John acknowledged to the people that One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, that he was not even worthy to carry his sandals. I think one of the most important communications from John is, that “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30) This is something we all must do; we must die to ourselves and let the Triune God increase, being a Light that shines to others of His presence.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to John to be baptized and John was utterly amazed saying, “I need to be baptized by you.” (Matthew 3:14). Nevertheless, Jesus insisted that he needed baptism from him saying, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) Jesus set this example to the Jewish people fulfilling what good Jews should do with their lives – repent and amend their lives.

John had many disciples coming from all over the area to be baptized. But John always deferred to the coming of the Messiah, and that it was the Lord whom they must follow. John lived an austere life in complete discipline and penance, for he knew that he must “Prepare the Way of the Lord,” and that no other trappings could have any import in his life or his purpose.

Although the Church honors St. Stephen as the first Christian martyr, I believe that St. John the Baptist was the first martyr for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Because St. John confronted Herod and Herodias with their sin, he was put in Herod’s prison to suffer. Herodias took her revenge upon St. John. Herodias’ daughter danced for Herod, wherein Herod told her before she danced that he would grant her any wish or privilege she desired if she danced for him, “unto the half of his kingdom.” After she danced, her request was to have the head of St. John the Baptist delivered to her on a platter. Accordingly, St. John was martyred, being the final Prophet preparing God’s people for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear St. John the Baptist, we face terrible “in your face evil” in the world at this time. Please help us to fight this evil and to be loving soldiers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to not be afraid to call evil, evil, and good, good as you did to Herod and Herodias. We ask that you help us to speak plainly and boldly, acknowledging Our Lord Jesus Christ both in word and in deed. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources: Holy Scriptures

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St. Barnabas, Patron Saint of Cyprus

St. Barnabas

Today, June 11th, the universal Church honors St. Barnabas, a great evangelizer and martyr.

St. Barnabas was a Jew of the Tribe of Levi, born in Cyprus. He was not one of the chosen twelve apostles, but because of his important apostolic works, the Early Church Fathers and St. Luke himself referred to him as an apostle because of the special commission he received from the Holy Spirit. His original name was Joseph. However, the apostles changed it to Barnabas which is interpreted, “man of encouragement.”

We find St. Barnabas first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, wherein there is an explanation how the converts at Jerusalem lived in common and that as many were landowners or homeowners, those properties were sold and the proceeds of those sales were given to the apostles for distribution. Hence, St. Barnabas’ property is therein mentioned.

Subsequently, the apostles thought that one of them should be sent by the Church in Jerusalem to Antioch, to instruct the Faith. They chose St. Barnabas who enlisted the assistance of St. Paul, who spent a year with him teaching the Gospel in Antioch. St. Barnabas and Paul were very successful and many converts were made.

Sometime later, the flourishing Christian Church in Antioch raised money to help their brethren in Judaea as the people there were suffering from a famine. This money was given to St. Paul and St. Barnabas and they returned to Judaea giving the members of the Church there this generous gift.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas received a commission to go on a missionary journey to Iconium, the capital of Lycaonia. They escaped this jurisdiction, having almost been stoned to death. However, a miraculous cure of a crippled individual occurred at Lystra through St. Paul, which inspired the people there to believe that actual “gods” were among them. Therefore, they referred to St. Paul as the god “Hermes,” and St. Barnabas as the god “Zeus” or “Jupiter.” Of course, both St. Paul and St. Barnabas set forth the real Truth and preached the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They then went to Derbe, making many Christian converts, retracing their steps wherein they went to those cities to confirm the converts and to ordain presbyters. They then returned to Antioch, being very pleased with what happened.

paulSt. Paul’s journeys (click map to enlarge)

It is most likely that St. Barnabas was still living and working in 56 A.D. or 57 A.D. pursuant to I Corinthians ix, 5 and 6. However, St. Paul’s invitation to John Mark to join him whilst he was a prisoner in Rome, infers that by on or about 60 or 61 A.D. St. Barnabas must have died. It is said that St. Barnabas was stoned to death at Salamis.

We thank you for your holy example of faith, hope and love, as well as your immense courage, to preach the Gospel to everyone who would listen, to bring Christ to everyone and to die for Jesus and His Church. We ask you to help us in this world, inasmuch as there is tremendous “in your face evil.” St. Barnabas, please pray for us that we may be the Light of Christ to everyone.

With love and respect,

Joan

Sources: Franciscan Media; One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press; Vatican website

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Blessed Daniel Brottier

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 18:36:26 +0000  joandarc

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

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St. Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 00:22:34 +0000  joandarc

The-Martyrdom-Of-St-Apollonia“The Martyrdom of St. Apollonia” by Francesco Granacci

Today, February 9th, the universal Church honors St. Apollonia, Virgin and Martyr, who gave her life for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Early Christians at this time were being persecuted by the heathen population of Alexandria in the last year of the reign of the Emperor Philip in 249 A.D.  Many of the Christians escaped, but Apollonia was seized.

Her persecutors beat her face and knocked out all of her teeth.  They then kindled a huge fire outside the city, threatening to cast her in the fire if she would not renounce her Faith and utter certain impious words.  She considered this proposal and miraculously, found herself free.  She leaped into the flames of her own accord.

St. Augustine set forth his thoughts on how she died, indicating that she died by a particular direction of the Holy Spirit.  This courageous woman is asked to intercede for those individuals with dental health issues and/or diseases.

It is remarkable to imagine once again, the absolute pain and horror this incredible woman experienced.  Even if you have a problem with one tooth, the pain is excruciating.  Her captors desired to throw her into the fire, and so, voluntarily, she did as they requested.  Her love for Our Lord Jesus Christ was so great, that Jesus was all that mattered to her.  We will remember your love and courage, dear St. Apollonia, especially when we have to suffer physically, or make important moral choices.  We hope to have that same brave spirit of immediately choosing the truth and the right, as you did.  Much love to you dear Saint!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press; catholic.org 

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St. Joan de Lestonnac (1556-1640)

Sun, 02 Feb 2014 19:52:16 +0000  joandarc

St. Joan de Lestonnac

Today, February 2nd, the universal Church honors St. Joan de Lestonnac, an incredible wife, mother and founder of the religious order of Notre Dame of Bordeaux.

Joan was born in 1556 in Bordeaux, France, of a well-to-do family.  Richard de Lestonnac, her father, was a member of Parliament and her mother, Jeanne Eyquem, was the sister of the humanist philosopher, Michael de Montaigne.  She was educated in the Renaissance atmosphere, receiving a wonderful education.

During this time, Calvinism spread through all of France, which adversely affected the unity of the country.  Joan’s mother chose Calvinism and tried to convince her daughter to also join the Reformation.  Nevertheless, Joan rejected her mother’s pleas, remaining true to her Catholic Faith, with the support of her father and her uncle.  Therefore, during this time of her adolescence, her Faith was tested.

Joan married Gaston de Montferrant when she was 17, having seven children.  Joan’s husband, her eldest son, her father and her uncle died, wherein Joan experienced great suffering and terrible sorrow.  One can only imagine the grief and tears she experienced.  Nevertheless, Joan saw to it that the rest of her children were properly raised and educated, as she had a resolute and strong spirituality.

After her children were raised, at the age of 46, she entered the Cistercian Monastery in Toulouse, with her name being changed to Jeanne of Saint Bernard.  She desired this life of prayer, finding great peace in it, experiencing  penance and also silence.

She spent six months at the Monastery, but her health could not bare the austerity of that lifestyle; hence, she left.  At this time, Joan experienced an inner vision advising her what to do next:  it was about a response to many young souls in danger of being lost.  Joan knew that Our Lady was also helping her.  She formed a group of women to perform acts of charity.  These brave women served those individuals suffering from the horrible plague.

Two Jesuit priests, Fathers de Bordes and Raymond, whilst they celebrated Mass, received an understanding that they should assist in founding an order to counteract the surrounding heresies and that Joan must be the first superior.  The rule and constitutions of the Order were founded on those of St. Ignatius and the first house was opened in the Holy Ghost priory at Bordeaux.

In 1608, Joan and her companions received the habit from Cardinal de Sourdis, Archbishop of Bordeaux, with Joan being elected the superior in 1610.  Ladies came quickly to join the order, with their aim of teaching young girls of any and all classes of society.  The schools prospered all over France, with the sisters living in poverty and peace.

But with great goodness also comes great evil. . .One of the sisters and one of the directors of one of the houses conspired against Joan, telling lies about her actions and her reputation.  Remarkably, the Cardinal believed them and Joan was no longer the superior of the order, with Blanche Herve, the accusatory party, being elected superior.  Joan was treated terribly by Blanche, who insulted Joan in every possible way, even being physically violent towards her.  However, Blanche’s heart was moved by Joan’s response and her incredible patience, wherein Blanche repented of her wrongdoing.  By this time, Joan was now an elderly woman and did not want to serve as the superior; hence, Mother de Badiffe was elected.

During the last few years of her life, Joan spent it in retirement, preparing for death.  She died right after her nuns had renewed their vows, on the Feast of the Presentation in 1640, which is February 2nd.  We also celebrate this Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord today, February 2, 2014.

Joan was canonized in 1949.  She is the patroness of widows, and those who have been physically abused.  I find her accomplishments remarkable, her busy role as a devoted mother of seven, the fact that her husband died when therefore, she had to serve as a single parent, educating and caring for her large family.  And even when she lost so many members of her family, she was brave and resolute to be productive and to serve God, that she became the great foundress of Our Lady of Bourdeaux.  Finally, her great love shown by her patient example even whilst she was being emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and physically abused, with her reputation being ruined as a result of lies and hatred, she still remained firm in her Faith and love of God, even converting the person who was so mean and cruel to her.  Let us remember the extraordinary example of this beautiful and incredible woman always!  St. Joan is a true feminist, true to her Faith, true to her abilities and never afraid to love, even her most vicious enemies!  God be praised for this magnificent lady!

With love and respect,

Joan

SourcesButler’s Lives of the Saints, Edited by Michael Walsh; www.lestonnac.org

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St. Augustine and St. Monica

https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2013/08/28/st-augustine-and-st-monica/  Wed, 28 Aug 2013 18:05:10 +0000  joandarc

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Monica and today is the feast day of her son, St. Augustine. In recognition and in celebration of these two great saints, FOTM is re-publishing Joan’s essay from last year.

~Eowyn

Saint_Augustine_and_Saint_MonicaSaint Augustine and Saint Monica (1846), by Ary Scheffer

I cannot write about St. Augustine, unless I write about his incredible mother, St. Monica, whose Feast day was celebrated yesterday, August 27th.  St. Monica was the mother of the great Doctor of the Church, theologian, philosopher and writer, St. Augustine of Hippo, whose Feast day we celebrate today, August 28th.  This incredible lady did everything she could for her children and with regard to her son, not only gave him birth into this world, but gave him his spiritual birth as he languished in sin and licentious living.

She was born in Tagaste, sixty miles from Carthage, North Africa, in 332 A.D. of Christian parents.  When she had reached the age of marriage, her parents gave her as a wife to a citizen of Tagaste, Patricius, a pagan who was generous, but who was also violent-tempered and dissolute.  Monica put up with this man, but yet, he admired her piety and respected her, Monica not being the recipient of his rage.  Apparently, her mother-in-law also lived with her, being described as “cantankerous”.  Due in part to Monica’s prayers and her example, both her husband and her mother-in-law became Christians, with Patricius dying in 371, a year after his baptism.

Monica and Patricius had three children, but their ambitions centered upon their eldest son, Augustine, who was born November 13, 354 in North Africa.  They gave him the best possible education as he was brilliant and clever.  Nevertheless, Augustine loved pleasure and led a wicked life, enjoying the physical pleasures of life, fathering a son out of wedlock, embracing the Manichaean heresy.  Yet, Augustine’s life was a passionate search for the truth  She endured difficulties with Augustine but she never ceased her efforts on his behalf.  She prayed for him, she asked members of the clergy to argue truth with him, wherein she was told, “The heart of the young  man is at present too stubborn, but God’s time will come,” was the reply of a wise bishop who had formerly been a Manichaean himself.  (According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Manichaeism was a radical offshoot of the Gnostic traditions of E. Persia.  It taught that the object of the practice of religion was to release the particles of light which Satan had stolen from the world of Light and imprisoned in man’s brain and that Jesus, Buddha, the Prophets, and Manes had been sent to help in this task. For the Manichaean believer, the whole physical universe was mobilized to create this release.)  Monica kept persisting, but this bishop said to her, “Go now, I beg of you:  it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” 

Augustine was 29 years old when he decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric, still a heretic and still living in a licentious manner.  Monica wanted to go with him and followed him to the port where they were to embark.  Nevertheless, Augustine had no intentions of his mother accompanying him to Rome.  Augustine told his mother that he was going to say good-bye to a friend.  In the meantime, she spent the night in prayer in the church of St. Cyprian.  Needless to say, Augustine left her there on the port, but she persistently followed after him.  One would have liked to have been a fly on the wall to see Monica confront her son!  Monica went to Rome but then discovered that Augustine had went to Milan instead.

Again, Monica tracked Augustine down to Milan and she discovered that Augustine had met the incredible and amazing St. Ambrose, the great bishop of Milan.  She discovered much to her joy that Augustine was no longer a Manichaean and that he was under the influence of this wonderful bishop who could teach Augustine, argue with Augustine and teach him Truth.

In August of 387, Augustine announced his complete acceptance of the Catholic Faith.  Augustine, his mother and friends went to a villa to prepare for Augustine’s baptism.  They engaged in philosophical and religious conversations, with Monica displaying excellent knowledge and judgment, being very well versed in Biblical Scriptures.  At Easter Vigil in 387, St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine, as well as his 15-year-old son, Adeodatus (who was to die not long afterwords) and his friend, Alipius.  Soon thereafter, Augustine returned to Africa.  They made it to Ostia, where they awaited a ship, but Monica was dying and she said, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight.  I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. . .God has granted me more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service.”  On the 9th day of her illness, she died, happily knowing that Augustine was now spiritually reborn and healthy.

While in Augustine’s African home in Tagaste where he lived three years, he served God by fasting, through prayer, doing good works, by meditating and instructing others through his discourses and his books.  In 391 he was ordained as an assistant to Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, wherein he had moved to Hippo in a house that adjoined the church.  He established a sort of monastery, living there with Alipius, Evodius, Possidius and others.  Because Bishop Valerius had a speech impediment, he appointed Augustine to preach to the people in his own presence.  We have almost 600 sermons drafted and/or taken down by others as he delivered his sermons.

In 395, he was consecrated bishop as coadjutor to Valerius and succeeded him in the see of Hippo.    According to One-Hundred Saints (Bulfinch Press), “Augustine established regular and common life in his residence, and required all the priests, deacons, and subdeacons that lived with him to renounce property and to follow the rule he established there; nor did he admit any to holy orders who did not bind themselves to a similar manner of life.  He also founded a community of religious women to whom he addressed a letter on the general ascetic principles of the religious life.  This letter, together with two sermons on the subject, constitutes the Rule of St. Augustine, which is the basis of the constitutions of many canons regular, friars and nuns.  St. Augustine employed the revenues of his church in relieving the poor, as he had before given his own patrimony. . .”

He served 35 years as the Bishop of Hippo.  In Pope Benedict’s “General Audience” recorded on August 25, 2010, Pope Benedict said, “As you know, I too am especially attached to certain Saints:  among them in addition to St. Joseph and St. Benedict, whose names I bear is St. Augustine whom I have had the great gift to know, so to speak, close at hand through study and prayer and who has become a good “travelling companion” in my life and my ministry.  I would like to stress once again an important aspect of his human and Christian experirence, which is also timely in our day, in which it seems, paradoxically, that relativism is “truth” which  must guide our thoughts, decisions and behaviour.”

Pope Benedict teaches us in his General Audience recorded February 20, 2008, that: “The list of Augustine’s works was drafted with the explicit intention of keeping their memory alive while the Vandal invasion was sweeping through all of Roman Africa, and it included at least 1,030 writings numbered by their Author, with others “that cannot be numbered because he did not give them any number. . .In the literary corpus of Augustine, more than 1,000 publications divided into philosophical, apologetic, doctrinal, moral, monastic, exegetic and anti-heretical writings in addition precisely to the letters and homilies – certain exceptional works of immense theological and philisophical breadth stand out.  First of all, it is essential to remember the Confessions…, written in 13 books between 397 and 400 in praise of God.  They are sort of an autobiography in the form of a dialogue with God.  This literary genre actually  mirrors St. Augustine’s life, which was not one closed in on itself, dispersed in many things, but was lived substantially as a dialogue with God, hence, a life with others. . .Thanks to the Confessiones, moreover, we can follow step by step the inner journey of this extraordinary and passionate man of God.”  Augustine lays open his entire self, the sins and errors that he committed, giving to God his complete contrition and trust.

Pope Benedict then tells us about Augustine’s great work, “Of the City of God,” written between 413 and 426 in 22 books.  Pope Benedict says that Of the City of God it “was an impressive work crucial to the development of Western political thought and the Christian theology of history.  The occasion was the sack of Rome by the Goths in 410.  Numerous pagans still alive and also many Christians said:  Rome has fallen; the Christian God and the Apostles can now no longer protect the city.  While the pagan divinities were present, Rome was the great capital, and no one could have imagined that it would fall into enemy hands.  Now, with the Christian God, this great city no longer seemed safe.  Therefore, the God of the Christians did not protect, he could not be the god to whom to entrust oneself.  St. Augustine answered this objection, which also touched Christian hearts profoundly, with this impressive work, explaining what we should and should not expect of God, and what the relationship is between the political sphere and the sphere of faith, of the Church.  This book is also today a source for defining clearly between true secularism and the Church’s competence, the great true hope that the faith gives to us.”  Clearly we could find this work so relevant today, given the corruption and evil going on in our country and in the world.

We also learn from Pope Benedict of the book authored by Augustine, “De Trinitate,”  a work in 15 books on the central core of the Christian faith, faith in the Trinitarian God. . .Here he reflects on the Face of God and seeks to understand this mystery of God who is unique, the one Creator of the world, of us all, and yet this one God is precisely Trinitarian, a circle of love.  He seeks to understand the unfathomable mystery:  the actual Trinitarian being, in three Persons, is the most real and profound unity of the one God.”

Augustine’s last years were full of turmoil, difficulties and sufferings, inasmuch as King Genseric of the Vandals invaded the African provinces.  Augustine’s friend, Possidius, described the absolute horror they incurred upon the cities, where people either were slain or had to flee.  In fact, Mass was offered up in private houses or not at all, as the bishops and clergy had to escape.  There were many churches in Africa, but now hardly three remaining in Carthage, Hippo and Cirta.  Nevertheless, the Vandals appeared in Hippo about the end of May in 430 with an ongoing 14 month siege.  Augustine endured a severe fever and died on August 28, 430, 76 years of age, spending forty of those years in the labor of his ministry.

Pope Benedict tells us that Augustine “remained the model of the jouney towards God, supreme Truth and supreme Good.”  In Augustine’s Confessions, he says, “Late have I loved you, beauty, ever ancient and ever new, late have I loved  you.  You were within me and I was outside of you, and it was there that I sought you…You were with me and I was not with you…You called, you cried out, you pierced my deafness.  You shone, you struck me down, and you healed my blindness.” 

May St. Monica and St.Augustine be models and examples for us in their sincere and profound encounters with Jesus.  May those people who are seeking the truth on the wrong paths and getting lost in the blind direction of relativism and self-love, be guided to Jesus, to the Truth, and may these wonderful saints help us fight for what is right and true and good, and help us to recognize what is evil.   We see in their lives the familial troubles, the anguishing love for those we love, the attempt to understand the meaning of our lives and what is going on around us, and most of all, the journey to the Truth, who is a Person.  “JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!”

With Faith, Hope and Love,

Joan

Sources:

Oxford Dictionary of the  Christian Church, Edited by F. L. Cross, Second Edition by F. L. Cross and E.A.Livingstone REVISED

 Vatican- Holy See:  The General Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI of February 20, 2008 and August 25, 2010

One Hundred Saints, Bulfrinch Press

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Prayer for the Salvation of the World

82139    https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2013/04/23/prayer-for-the-salvation-of-the-world/
Tue, 23 Apr 2013 20:00:58 +0000  joandarc

Angel8This photo, one of many, was taken in South Florida on March 13, 2013.

Yesterday, I was going through my box filled with Holy Cards and prayers, and I came across this most beautiful prayer written by the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Denver.  This prayer is so appropriate given the status of our world.

Father, hear our prayers for the salvation of the world.  Grant mercy to all souls that turned away from you.  Open their hearts and minds with your light.

Gather your children from the east and the west, from the north and the south.  Have mercy, O God, on those who do not know you.  Bring them out of darkness into your light.  You are our saving God who leads us in our salvation.  Protect us from evil.

Bless and praise you, O Lord.  Hear our prayers and answer us.  You, our Savior, are the hope of all the ends of the earth and the distant seas.  May your way be known upon earth; among all nations your salvation.

We put the world in your hands.  Fill us with your love and grant us peace through Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

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Arkansas: The Pro Life State – Another Pro-Life Victory!

https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2013/03/10/arkansas-the-pro-life-state-another-pro-life-victory/   Sun, 10 Mar 2013 18:55:35 +0000  joandarc

APersonsAPerson

Senator Jason Rapert, R-Conway, Arkansas, drafted the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, SB134, known now as Act 301 of 2013.  Senator Rapert’s legistlation requires a woman seeking an abortion 12 weeks or later into a pregnancy, to undergo an abdominal ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat.  If a heartbeat is detected, then the fetus is viable and the abortion is prohibited.  However, this legislation includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, medical emergencies and fetal anomalies that would prohibit the child to live after birth.  It also provides that if a doctor is found guilty of violating this law, that the doctor would lose his/her medical license.

The House voted 68-20 in favor of the bill and the Senate voted 26-8 in favor of the bill.  Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill stating in a letter that it “would blatantly violate the United States Constitution.”  In spite of his veto, last week the House and Senate overrode the gubernatorial veto.  This law takes effect 90 days after the end of this legislative session, either in late March or early April of 2013.  The Arkansas Legislature also overrode Governor Beebe’s veto on The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, HB1037, sponsored by Rep. Andy Mayberry of Hensley, Arkansas, which also became law in Arkansas on February 28, 2013.  This law precludes abortions at 20 weeks, the point at which a fetus is capable of feeling pain.

Has the Governor forgotten that the substance of the United States Constitution and its very purpose provides to protect the lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness of humankind?  Accordingly, since the fetus is a real child, a human being, that life is protected by this legislation.  How, then could it be unconstitutional?  The Governor’s interpretation of the Constitution lacks merit, since the object of the legislation is to protect life, especially for the unborn, the most vulnerable, who have no voice of their own.

Senator Rapert indicated that people are speaking to him about this legislation all across the country, that he has been flooded with e-mail communications and telephonic communications as well, in support of this law.  Nevertheless, he has also received disparaging communications, including threats.

The ACLU indicated that this law is the most restrictive law in the country, expecting and predicting that the law will be challenged in the courts.  Gov. Beebe is also concerned about the cost of defending these challenges, which concern also contributed to his decision to veto the bill.  I say that this is a very poor reason not to protect the life of a little baby, an innocent human being, who deserves to have his or her life protected.

In any event, congratulations to the Legislature of the State of Arkansas for its bold and courageous preservation of the unborn human being who deserves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!  We have seen how Republicans and Democrats can work together for goodness!  We thank Senator Jason Rapert for his bravery, determination and clarity; he is a true American hero, deserving of our admiration, continued support and prayers!

Thanks be to God!

~Joan

Update (May 17, 2013):

Susan Webber WrightToday, a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, granted a request to temporarily block enforcement of the new Arkansas law that bans most abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy. The request was a motion for preliminary injunction in a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights brought on behalf of two Little Rock abortion providers. (Source)

Wright first came to national attention when she dismissed the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones against President Bill Clinton in 1998. Wikipedia describes her as a “conservative Republican.”

~Eowyn

Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this update.  In the “Times Record” on Saturday, Judge Wright is quoted as follows:

“What we are doing is a balance between a due process right of a pregnant woman to have an abortion before her fetus is viable and the right of the state to protect the lives of the unborn.”  Judge Wright further stated that she does “not disagree with those of you who think abortions should be rare.”  She indicated that she did not think some provisions of the new law – requiring  a doctor to determine at 12 weeks whether the fetus has a heartbeat, informing the mother of that heartbeat and telling her of the statistical probability of carrying the fetus to full term  were unconstitutional.

Joan

 

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