Author Archives: Joan

All Souls' Day – November 2nd; We Pray for the Faithful Departed

Yesterday, in my Church History post on All Hallows’ Eve/Halloween and All Saints Day, I indicated I would set forth the importance of the next day attached to the three important days, November 2nd, All Souls’ Day.
On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven (October 31st – All Hallows’ Eve/Halloween, preparation for All Saints’ Day and November 1st, All Saints Day) strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.”  Roman Martyrology
The Church, after celebrating All Hallows’ Eve/Halloween, October 31st, the preparation for All Saints Day, and All Saints Day, November 1st, today prays for all those who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will be joined to the company of saints in the Church Triumphant.  A union exists between the Church Triumphant, those saints in heaven, the Church Militant, those of us on earth and the Church Suffering, those souls experiencing the cleansing of purgatory so that they will be ready to go into heaven.  These branches, the Church Triumphant, the Church Militant and the Church Suffering compose the Mystical Body of Christ.
We celebrate the Mass for All Souls’ Day in commemoration of all of the Faithful Departed.
“The writer of 2 Maccabees praises the offering of prayers and sacrifices for the dead (see 12:38-46).  Why do the departed need such assistance from us?  So that their sins “might be fully blotted out” (12:42).
The final destiny of the redeemed is to live in heaven eternally with God, where “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2).  Since God is holy, to be like Him we, too, must be  holy (see Mt. 5:48).  Without that holiness, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14), for “nothing unclean will enter” the glory of heaven” (Rv 21:27).
Nevertheless, few people, even among devout Christians, are fully cleansed of sin and its effects when they die.  And God will not reject any penitent sinner, even one who has been notoriously wicked yet repents at the last moment before death (see Lk 23:39-43).  How, then, can we enter heaven immediately at death if we aren’t yet perfected in holiness?
St. John tells us that everyone who hopes to be holy as God is holy, and to see Him face-to-face, “makes himself pure, as he is pure” (1 Jn 3:3).  That process of purification begins in this life as we submit in faith to the dealings of God that help to make us whole.  “Purgatory” is simply the name given to that process of purification as it continues after death.  (Like “the Holy Trinity”, “purgatory” is a term not occurring in Scripture; but the reality it refers to is implied by scriptural truths.)
God doesn’t purify us instantly in this life by waving a magic wand, bypassing the cooperation of our free will.  So we shouldn’t expect Him to do so at our death, either.  And since His work to heal us of the effects of sin is usually painful now – just as surgery for our bodily health is painful – the purgatorial process will likely be painful as well.
The traditional image of cleansing purgatorial fire comes from such Biblical passages as 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, which speaks of those who “will be saved, but through fire” (3:15).  The Bible also speaks of God’s holiness in this regard as “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).  Yet just as the physician’s cauterizing fire burns in order to heal, so does any pain we might experience in purgatory.  In the end it is a work of God’s mercy.”
Why do we pray for the Dead?
One day as the Jewish general Judas Maccabeus and his men were burying comrades fallen in battle, they discovered that the slain soldiers had been secretly practicing idolatry (see 2 Mc 12:39-40).  “Turning to supplication”, Scripture says, “they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out” (12:42).  Then Judas took up a collection for an expiatory sacrifice for them in the temple.”  In doing this, he acted in a very excellent and noble way ….Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (12:43, 46).
Why did the ancient Jews pray for the dead?  For the same reason they prayed for the living:  It was an act of fraternal charity.  They recognized that the departed needed their help to be cleansed of their sins.  And they were confident that such spiritual works would benefit those who had died, just as it would have benefited someone who was still living.
The first Christians, who were Jews, maintained this “excellent and noble” practice.  For example, St. Paul prayed for a friend named Onesiphorus, who was apparently deceased (see 2 Tm 1:16-18). . .
Not surprisingly, then, many inscriptions on ancient Christian tombs ask the living to intercede for those buried within.  Clearly, from earliest times, the Church has offered prayers and sacrifices for the faithful departed – especially the most valuable of all, Holy Mass.
Some Christians object to praying for the dead.  For those who are in heaven, they insist, our prayers are unnecessary.  And for those who are in hell, our prayers are useless.
But there are faulty assumptions here.  First, most people who go to heaven still require purification after they die before they are ready to live with God forever.  Our prayers can help in that process.  Second, we don’t know for sure who is in hell, so we should still pray in hope for even the worst of sinners.
In short, charity demands that we should pray for the dead.  And humility demands that we should ask others to pray for us when our day comes to depart this life.”
Let us pray today for all of the Souls of the Faithful Departed with earnest faith, hope and love.  In fact, in the Universal Catholic Church, we pray especially for all the Souls of the Faithful Departed for the entire month of November.
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.
O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O God, the creator and redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of your departed servants the remission of all their sins that through our prayers they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired.  Amen.”
Joan
Sources:  The New Catholic Answer Bible;
https://www.catholicculture.org

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The "Little Flower" – St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus

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

St. Thérèse of Lisieux at age 24

My first introduction to the Saints came from my beautiful mother, Mary Agnes, when I was a five-year-old girl.  She took my hand and asked me to sit on the chrome kitchen stool that had red vinyl on the top of it.  She brought over to me a book called, “The Treasure Book.”  She said that she wanted to teach me about the Saints in heaven, and especially about one lady whom she admired and loved.  We looked at the book together and she came to the page that she wanted, as I awaited with excitement.  My mother paged to “The Little Flower,” whose Feast Day we celebrate today, October 1st.  I looked at all of the lovely pictures.  My mother then read to me the Little Flower’s life story and told me something that I will always remember, and have remembered, all of my life.  My mother said to never forget St. Therese’s “Little Way,” to do all things, no matter how small, with great love, and your actions will rise to heaven to Jesus, making Him very happy.  My mother served as a wonderful example to me of the “Little Way” as I have been trying to model my life after it.
St. Therese was born on January 2, 1873, the youngest of five children, to Louis Martin, a watchmaker of Alencon and Azelie-Marie Guerin, a maker of point d’Alencon (lace and fabric).  She enjoyed a very happy childhood, was highly intelligent and full of enthusiastic love of life.  She enjoyed her sisters and loved to be in plays, thoroughly enjoying acting as Joan of Arc, whom she admired very much.
In 1877, Therese’s mother died and her father sold her business at Alencon and went to live at Lisieux, so that his daughters’ aunt, Madame Guerin, could help him with his children from time to time, even though Marie, Therese’s older sister, ran the household and Pauline, the eldest sister, made herself responsible for the religious upbringing of her sisters.
Pauline entered the Carmel at Lisieux and Therese began to be drawn to that same vocation.  Therese went to the school run by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre.  When Therese was nearly fourteen, Marie joined Pauline in the Carmel.  On Christmas Eve of that same year, Therese underwent an experience that she later referred to as her “conversion.”  She said, “On that blessed night the sweet child Jesus, scarcely an hour old, filled the darkness of my soul with floods of light.  By becoming weak and little, for love of me, He made me strong and brave; He put His own weapons into my hands so that I went on from strength to strength, beginning, if I may say so, ‘to run as a giant.’ “
During the next year, Therese told her father that she also wanted to enter Carmel, but because she was 14, the Carmelites and the Bishop of Bayeux refused to hear of her desires because she was too young.  A few months later, being in Rome with her father, Therese visited with Pope Leo XIII, saying to the Pope, “In honor of your jubilee, allow me to enter Carmel at fifteen.”  Pope Leo was impressed with Therese, but upheld her superiors’ decision and told her, “You shall enter if it be God’s will,” dismissing her with kindness.  But at the end of the year, Biship Hugonin gave his permission to Therese, and she entered the Carmel at Lisieux, professing on September 8, 1890.  A few days before she professed, she wrote this to Pauline, known as Mother Agnes-of-Jesus:
“Before setting out my Betrothed asked me which way and through what country I would travel.  I replied that I had only one wish: to reach the height of the mountain of Love….Then our Savior took me by the hand and led me into a subterranean way, where it is neither hot nor cold, where the sun never shines, where neither rain nor wind find entrance: a tunnel where I see nothing but a half-veiled light, the brightness shining from the eyes of Jesus looking down….I wish at all costs to win the palm of St. Agnes.  If it cannot be by blood it must be by love….”
One of the principal duties of a Carmelite nun is to pray for priests, which St. Therese did with great fervor and devotion, carrying out also the austere lifestyle of the Carmelite Order.  In 1893, Therese, now 20, served to assist the novice mistress and was in fact the mistress in all but not in name.  And in that capacity, she said:
“From afar it seems easy to do good to souls, to make them love God more, to mold them according to our own ideas and views.  But coming closer we find, on the contrary, that to do good without God’s help is as impossible as to make the sun shine at night….What costs me most is being obliged to observe every fault and smallest imperfection and wage deadly war against them.”  During this time with the novices under her care, inspired by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the center of everything, she discovered the “Little Way” of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices.
Therese’s sister, Celine, cared for their Father who died in 1894.  Thereafter, Celine also entered Carmel.  In 1895, Therese wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on January 21, 1896.  Several months later, Therese experienced a hemorrhage at the mouth.  This happened at the same time Therese had planned to respond to help the Carmelites at Hanoi.  But the last eighteen months of her life was a time of great trial, a time of horrible suffering and spiritual darkness.  Therese said, “I have never given the good God aught but love, and it is with love that He will repay.  After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.  I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.  My ‘Little Way’ is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender.”  While she was suffering, she continued to write another manuscript.  Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings.
On September 30, 1897, she said, “I am not dying, I am entering life….My God…, I love you!”  At the age of 24, Therese died.
Her teaching and example of holiness was received by not only the Catholic Church and Catholics, but by other Christians and non-Christians.  She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925, having proclaimed Therese Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside St. Francis Xavier, on December 14, 1927.
“On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997.” 
Accordingly, this Little Flower serves as a Doctor of the Church with her “Little Way” to teach all men and women to love Our Lord and to give Him everything we have, to serve Him in our vocation, whatever it may be, and to do all things, no matter how small, with great love.
Sources:
The Life of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Vatican website “Holy See”
One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press, Compilation Copyright @ 1993 By Little, Brown and Company, Inc.

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St. (Padre) Pio's Prayer to Jesus

Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:46:49 +0000

joandarc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

last supper
Today, Holy Thursday, April 17,2014, the universal Church celebrates Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, when Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood.
St. Paul tells us in Corinthians 11:23-26:
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Jesus loved us so much, that he gave us this Sacrament of Love. We partake of Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity, when we partake in this most Blessed Sacrament, the true presence of Our Lord, in the Sacrifice of the Mass. As St. Athanasius said, “God has made Himself accessible to us.”
We also celebrate the institution of the Priesthood, the Servants of the Servants of God. St. John tells us in today’s Gospel, 13:1-15:
Before the Feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to Him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to Him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered Him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to Him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, He said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
In this manner Jesus illustrated that his Priests are the Servants of the Servants of God, that they must take care of His flock, and are charged with the absolute ministry of service, the action of true love.
I look forward to attending this beautiful Mass tonight and I will pray that everyone in the world comes to Our Lord Jesus, who is Love and Mercy itself.

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St. Stephen of Mar Saba (725-794)

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

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

It was in this environment for the next 14 years of his life, that Stephen received his education and formation, wherein he was ordained a priest.  On one occasion when he was celebrating Mass, a brilliant light emanated from him, wherein he received the mystical favor that whatever specific intention he prayed for during the Eucharistic liturgy, that intention was granted.
Stephen was a talented individual who served the community earnestly, which included being a guest master.  He knew how to serve others and how to be hospitable.  He was also a valuable counselor.  At or about the age of 24, receiving a calling to prayer, silence and meditation, he requested of the abbot to live a hermit’s life.  The abbot granted his request, but qualified it requiring Stephen on the weekends to continue serving as a counselor, because he had invaluable “people” skills, a real social sense.  Stephen put this note, an actual “do not disturb sign,” on the door of his cell, “Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays.” 
He, like St. Francis of Assisi, loved God’s creation, especially the animals.  The birds came to him as he fed them out of his hands, such as doves and starlings, and he fed the deer similarly.  Most noteworthy is the fact that he even had empathy and love for the black worms that crawled through his hermitage which motivated him to gather the worms into a spot where they would not be stepped on, so that they would be safe.
It is important and noteworthy that at the end of Stephen’s life, he reported that various cities, such as Gaza, were laid waste by the Saracens, which is another term used to describe the Muslim Caliphate under the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.  Accordingly, many monks met their death/martyrdom.
A biographer wrote about Stephen, “Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave.  He received and honored all with the same kindness.  He possessed nothing and lacked nothing.  In total poverty he possessed all things.”
With respect and love,
Joan
Sources:  Franciscan Media; Catholic Online

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St. Catherine of Bologna, 15th century saint

St. Catharine of Bologna Today, March 28, 2015, the Universal Church celebrates St. Catherine of Bologna, artist, prioress and warrior.
She was born in Bologna, and was related to the nobility in Ferrara, wherein she received a classical and/or liberal education at court, which motivated her to exercise her talent in art, through painting. When she was 17, she joined a religious entity of women in Ferrara, wherein subsequently all of these same women joined the Poor Clares. Catherine served as the baker and portress before she was selected to an administrative role as the novice mistress.
On July 22, 1456, Catherine and 17 other sisters left Ferrara to establish a new Corpus Domini monastery in Bologna.  At this juncture in her life, Catherine was appointed the abbess. She was known by her great holiness, and because of her incredible Christ-like example, many other women joined the monastery and/or the Poor Clares Order. Catherine found her closeness to God through prayer, charity to her sisters and to her neighbors and doing penance. Her life was like that of the Little Flower, St. Therese, in that she lived her life not in public, but in the environment of a monastery, showing her great love of Our Lord in doing all things, especially little endeavors, with utmost love. Catherine remained abbess at this monastery until her death.
In 1438, Catherine wrote her Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare — a book on seven spiritual weapons which she suggested we use when the devil tempts us. Part of the book describes at length her visions both of God and of Satan. She said:

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

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

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

St. Catherine was canonized in 1712 and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of artists and against temptations. Madonna and Child, by St. Catherine of Bologna We should ask St. Catherine for her assistance in being spiritual warriors in our lives. God knows it is certainly relevant now, especially to the writers in the Fellowship and its leader, Dr. Eowyn. May all of us perform charity in our little ways, and by all means, trusting in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I hope that everyone has a beautiful day!
Respectfully, your servant, Joan
Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia; Franciscan Media

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Reclaim Halloween as the holy All Hallows' Eve!

holy pumpkinsHoly pumpkins for Halloween!

Today, October 31, is Halloween.
But do you actually know what that word means?

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

Halloween is actually a holy day — All Hallows’ Eve, which is the Eve before All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. On this All Hallows’ Eve, we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the two holy days to come.
Insofar as what Satan has chosen to do with this important Eve, that is his business. (See “We have met the Halloween monsters, and they are us“)
We can give import and publicity to what the father of lies has done to this day, or we can give import to this Eve in preparation for All Saints Day.  I choose to do the latter.
Satan has a history of turning holy days into an abomination, which is his goal, to insult holiness and turn truth upside down.  For example, May 1st has been celebrated as Communist’s Day.  However, in our faith, it is Mary’s day, as is the  month of May.  The Holy Mass Satan celebrates as a black mass, desecrating Our Lord Jesus.  I like what Taylor Marshall, a Catholic writer and/or apologist, has said about Halloween in response to the premise that it is evil, to-wit:
“There are some Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass.  To be clear, it is the vigil of a Christian holy day:  All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve.  Has it been corrupted by our culture and the consumer market?  You bet.  However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture.  Does that mean that we’re going to hand over Christmas?  No way!  Same goes for Halloween.  The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back.”  
There is nothing new in what Satan tries to do; we can fall into his trap and emphasize what he has done, or we can observe Halloween as All Hallows’ Eve — a holy day.
Tomorrow, I will discuss All Saints Day. Click here!
~Joan (with revisions by Eowyn)

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

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza
Today, October 27th, the universal Church honors Blessed Bartholomew of Vinceza, a great preacher who denounced the heresies of his time.
At the age of 20, he entered the Dominican Order.  After he was ordained a priest, he served in various leadership positions.  He even founded a military order who kept the law, order and peace in areas throughout Italy.
In 1248, Bartholomew was appointed a bishop, but was sent to Cyprus, away from his home of Vicenza (Venice).  An “antipapal” group was involved, as they viewed this transfer as a form of isolation.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t long that he was transferred back to Vicenza.  Again, he strongly addressed the heresies as well as defending the papacy.  Thus, he rebuilt his Diocese and strengthened the Faith of the Congregation.
He was beatified in 1793.  Blessed Bartholomew, we admire your enthusiasm, loyalty, courage, faith, hope and love that you demonstrated by and through your preaching and how you lived your life.  You were not afraid to defend the truths of your Faith in spite of receiving the anger and envy of others.  We could use your love of Truth now, amidst a society of lukewarm cafeteria Catholics, both lay people and clergy.  Pray for us dear and wonderful Bartholomew!

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St. Antonio of Saint Anne Galvao (1739-1822)

St. Antonio de SantAnna Galvao
Today, October 25th, the universal Church honors St. Antonio de SantAnna Galvao, Franciscan priest/friar, preacher, confessor and porter.
Antonio was born in Guarantingueta near Sao Paul, Brazil.  He initially began to study for the priesthood at a Jesuit seminary, but thereafter changed his mind and became an ordained Franciscan priest/friar in 1762 in Sao Paulo.
He performed all of his priestly duties, which included in part, preaching and serving as a confessor and porter.  Approximately four years into his priesthood, he was appointed as the confessor to an order of nuns called the Recollects of St. Teresa.  Father Antonio and Sister Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit founded a new community of sisters called the nuns of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence.  Sadly, Sister Helena died within a year of the founding of the order, which left Father Antonio to assist the order in the building of a convent and church, to suit the many ladies who joined.  He also founded the St. Clare Friary in Sorocaba and also helped establish the sisters’ order called the Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz.
He served as a Novice Master for the friars in Macacu and a guardian at the St. Francis  Friary in Sao Paulo.
He died when he was 83 years of age, was beatified in Rome on October 25, 1998 and canonized in 2007.  At his beatification, Pope John Paul II, now known as St. John Paul the Great, said this about Father Antonio:
“The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully,” (Timothy 4:17).  Antonio fulfilled his religious consecration by dedicating himself with love and devotion to the afflicted, the suffering and the slaves of his era in Brazil. . . His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbor, will be an encouragement to imitate this man of peace and charity.
Dear St. Antonio, help us to lead others to Our Lord Jesus Christ as you did, and to not be afraid to be true to our Faith and to serve the Mystical Body of Christ each day of our lives.  You worked very hard for Jesus because of your great love for him.  Please help us to work as hard as you did, with joy amidst suffering.

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St. Anthony Claret (1807-1870)

St. Anthony Claret
Today, October 24th, the universal Church celebrates St. Anthony Claret, Spanish Catholic priest, writer, publisher, missionary, founder, queen’s chaplain, archbishop and refugee.  It is incredible how talented this man was and what a hard worker for the people of God.
He worked as a weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, Spain, wherein he also learned the printing business and studied Latin.  When he was 28 years of age, he became a priest, and indeed, was one of Spain’s most phenomenal and popular preachers.
Father Anthony gave missions and retreats, wherein he expounded mostly upon the true presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and encouraging devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  It is reported that he kept Our Lady’s rosary always upon his person, as he knew it was one of his best weapons against evil.
When he was 42 years of age, he founded the religious order of the Claretians, who were missionaries.  And, he was also appointed to serve as the archbishop of Santiago in Cuba.  He instituted immediate reform by his constant hearing of confessions and constant preaching against sin, more particularly, his opposition to concubinage.  He also taught black slaves.
Because of his outspoken Catholicism, an assassin slashed his face and slit his wrists.  What is even more incredible is that Father John was the person who obtained freedom from imprisonment for this assassin.  And, it was also Father Anthony that changed this individual’s death sentence to life in prison.  In total, there were actually 14 attempts at his life.
Father Anthony helped Cubans own family-run farms, to support themselves and to bring food to market for people to buy.  Thus, he aroused the fury of those individuals who marketed working in a single cash crop, namely, sugar.
He was recalled to Spain to serve as chaplain for the queen.  But he made it very clear he would only serve in this capacity if  he did not live in the palace, that he would come to hear the queen’s confession and that he would also teach children, and that he would not attend court functions.
During the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen and her party to Paris, where he preached to Spanish colonies.  He was a prolific writer and was interested in Catholic publications.  He founded the Religious Publishing House, a publishing venture in Spain, wherein he published 200 books and pamphlets.
He attended Vatican I, where he defended the doctrine of papal infallibility.  Indeed and in fact, American Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore said of him, “There goes a true saint.”  He died in exile when he was 63 near the border of Spain.
Dear St. Anthony Claret, you showed by your life great courage, love and faith.  He is the very opposite of being “lukewarm,” the temperature that Our Lord finds so repulsive.  Please help us St. Anthony to stand for what is right and true, to stand for our Faith, no matter what the cost.  We live in a world with “in-your-face” evil from all sides.  We hope to learn from your example to serve God with passion and great love, the most important of all virtues.

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