Author Archives: joandarc

St. Peter, the Rock

~Jesus saves Peter from drowning~

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles

Everything that I have learned about St. Peter, who was previously known as Simon, reveals a very genuine and passionate individual — rough, blunt and outspoken, energetic and full of enthusiasm. More importantly, Peter was flawed and weak, just as you and I are flawed and weak. But Peter’s saving grace is that, despite all his very human flaws, he loved Our Lord, Jesus, with his whole being.

Born Simon, St. Peter was born in Bethsaida. He was married and lived in Capernaum with his mother-in-law in his home (Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38). He was a fisherman in Lake Genesareth with his brother, Andrew (the first Apostle), and owned a boat.

One day, Andrew told Simon that they had found the Messiah and brought him to meet Jesus. Simon remained with Jesus for some time, accompanying Him to Galilee, Judaea and Jerusalem, and through Samaria back to Galilee (John 2-4). In Galilee, Simon and Andrew resumed their occupation as fishermen, until Jesus formally called the two brothers, as well as the sons of Zebedee, James and John, to be “fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). Thereafter, Simon remained with Jesus and heard the Sermon on the Mount and was present (the legal term is “percipient witness“!) during miracles that Jesus performed.

As we discussed in another post, “Do This In Remembrance of Me,” after Jesus spoke of the mystery of receiving His Body and Blood (John 6), many of Jesus’ disciples left Him, and so, Jesus asked his Apostles if they too were going to leave Him and Simon said straight away, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus gave a special place to Simon among the Apostles. Along with James and John, Simon was with Jesus during certain important events — the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:28) and the Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33). Jesus entered Simon’s boat on Lake Genesareth to preach to the multitude on the shore (Luke 5:3), and when Jesus was miraculously walking upon the waters, Jesus called Simon to come to Him across the waters (Matthew 14:28).

While Jesus was journeying with his apostles, Jesus asked his apostles, “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?

The apostles answered, “Some John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus then made his question specific for His apostles, “But whom do you say that I am?

Simon answered, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus said to him, Blessed are thou, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter (Kipha, a rock), and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Then Jesus commanded his apostles that they should not tell anyone that he was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21).

Jesus made Peter the head of the community of believers, and that through this foundation of Peter, the Kingdom of Christ could not be conquered, that the spiritual guidance of the faithful was placed in the hands of Peter as the special representative of Jesus Christ. The words, “bind and loose” are not metaphors, but Jewish juridical terms. The position of Peter among the other Apostles and in the Christian community was the basis for the Church of Christ. Therefore, Jesus personally installed Peter as Head of the Apostles and of His Church. The language that is used by Jesus clearly communicates that this foundation created for the Church by Jesus could not disappear with the person of Peter, but was intended to continue and did continue, as history shows, in the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and its bishops, apostolic succession.

During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles but Peter did not want Our Lord to do so as he opined it would be beneath Jesus. But Jesus said that if He did not wash his feet, he would have no part with Him when Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:1-10).

At the same time, however, Peter was not clear about the mission and work of Jesus our Savior, especially His Passion and suffering, as he opined that this could not be happening to the Messiah. So Jesus rebuked him, telling Peter that Satan had desired him that he might sift him as wheat. But Jesus prayed for him that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:31-32). Peter very enthusiastically said that he was ready to accompany his Master to prison and to death, only to be told he would deny Jesus three times: “’Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all the disciples spoke likewise.(Matthew 26:30-35; Mark 14-26-32; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:33-38).

After the agony in the garden, Jesus’ Passion began. He was taken by the Roman soldiers. Frightened by what was happening, the apostles fled, except Peter who stealthily followed his Master to the courtyard of the High Priest. There, overcome by fear and weakness, Peter indeed denied Jesus three times, swearing that he did not know Him (Matthew 26:58-75; Mark 14:54-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27). At the sound of the cock crowing a third time, Peter realized what he had done remembering Jesus’ prediction, and was distraught with sorrow and remorse for his actions.

How hurtful Peter’s denial must have been for our Lord! — to have a friend and follower deny that he knew Him. Peter’s denial perhaps was even more hurtful than Judas Iscariot’s betrayal….

But, unlike Judas who also belatedly realized the magnitude of his deed, Peter was remorseful and sought forgiveness. And so though Peter’s “sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow….” (Isaiah 1:18)

How absolutely incredible and indescribable it must have been when the Resurrected Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). The time that the transfigured Christ spent with Peter and the remaining ten apostles must have been wonderful beyond all imagination and expectation!

Most importantly is when the Resurrected Christ appeared at the the Sea of Tiberias and asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter becoming frustrated with this question told Jesus each time that He knew that he loved Him. Jesus then instructed Peter to feed and defend His flock as he said to Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

And then, Jesus prophetically tells Peter how the apostle would die for Him:

“Amen, amen, I say to thee, when thou wast younger thou didst gird thyself and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And this, He said signifying by what death Peter should glorify God” (John 21:20-23).

After Jesus ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet, Peter and the apostles returned to Jerusalem to await the receipt of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised. Peter, as Christ’s designated leader, appointed Matthias to replace the fallen Judas. (Acts 1:15-26) This was the first appointment to the Apostolic College. And, after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles, Peter delivered the first public sermon, proclaiming the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Our Lord, and won large numbers of converts to the early Church (Acts 2:14-41).

Peter continued to lead the Apostles and the Church, preached the Gospel, performed miracles by the power he had received from God, communicated with the far-flung early Church communities, worked with St. Paul who recognized Peter as the authorized head of the nascent Christian Church. We learn about Peter in the New Testament‘s Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of St. Paul, and in the first and second Letters of Peter. The First Council of Jerusalem set forth a definitive decision concerning the obligations of converted pagans, and between Peter and Paul there was no dogmatic difference in their conception of salvation for both Jewish and Gentile Christians, that these converts were Christian brothers and sisters on an equal footing, that Jewish and Gentile Christians formed a single Kingdom of Christ.

Peter worked and labored in Rome during the last part of his life. He was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68). Tertullian said Peter was crucified. Eusebius the historian cited the authority of Origen that Peter was crucified upside down.

Peter had requested it, as he thought himself not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his beloved Jesus the Christ.

And so, we end this with a prayer:

O God, who hast given unto Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and the power to bind and loose; grant that we may be delivered, through the help of this intercession, from the slavery of our sins. Amen.


  • The New American Bible-New Testament
  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press
  • Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, St. Peter’s Basilica, June 29, 2005

To my husband whose patron saint is St. Peter: “Happy Feast Day!”


In 1968, Pope Paul VI made an announcement that the bones of St. Peter had been discovered below the Vatican, something that had already been known to a few for over two decades. Read the fascinating account of the discovery in The Bones of St. Peter: The First Full Account of the Discovery of the Apostle’s Tomb, by John Evangelist Walsh.


Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

Yesterday, June 23rd, was the Feast Day of St. John Fisher. The day before that, June 22nd, was the Feast Day of St. Thomas More. More and Fisher were two very brave men who died for the Truth, for their Faith, and for Christ.

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

St. Thomas More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. John Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

St. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc2Today, May 30th, is the Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc, my favorite saint.

St. Jeanne La Pucelle was born in Domremy, a small village of Champagne, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1412, to Jacques d’Arc, her father, a peasant farmer who was a leader in his community, and to Isabelle, her devout mother.  Isabelle taught Joan her Catholic Faith and her prayers.  Joan was a pious young person, who loved to pray and receive the Sacraments, Penance and the Holy Eucharist.  She was very kind, having cared for individuals who were sick and helping people who were wanderers, offering them her bed so that they might rest.  She enjoyed her childhood and was most proficient with the household chores, wherein she loved to sew and spin.  Joan said, “I fear no woman in Rouen at sewing and spinning.”

Joan lived in the throes of the Hundred Years War.  King Henry V of England invaded France, took over Normandy and claimed the crown of Charles VI of France.  To make matters worse, there was also a civil war between the Duke of Burgundy and his allies and Orleans.  The Duke was murdered and thereafter, the Burgundians allied themselves with the English.  France was literally falling apart, with town after town falling to the English and/or the Burgundians.  In the meantime, the new individual who should be king, was Charles VII, known as the Dauphin; he did little to help France’s dire situation.

Joan of Arc1

When Joan was 13 years of age, Joan saw St. Michael the Archangel, who comforted her and told her not to be afraid.  She then saw Sts. Catherine and Margaret, telling her about her mission from the King of Heaven, to save France advising her that she must lead the army of France.  Joan stated in testimony:

“When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me to govern myself. The first time, I was terrified. The voice came to me about noon: it was summer, and I was in my father’s garden. I had not fasted the day before. I heard the voice on my right hand, towards the church. There was a great light all about.

I vowed then to keep my virginity for as long as it should please God.

I saw it many times before I knew that it was Saint Michael. Afterwards, he taught me and showed me such things that I knew that it was he.

He was not alone, but duly attended by heavenly angels. I saw them with the eyes of my body as well as I see you. And when they left me, I wept,and I wished that they might have taken me with them. And I kissed the ground where they had stood, to do them reverence.

Above all, St. Michael told me that I must be a good child, and that God would help me.  He taught me to behave rightly and to go often to church.  He said that I would have to go into France.

He told me that St. Catherine and St. Margaret would come to me, and that I must follow their counsel; that they were appointed to guide and counsel me in what I had to do, and that I must believe what they would tell me, for it was at Our Lord’s command.

He told me the pitiful state of the Kingdom of France.  And he told me that I must go to succour the King of France.

St. Catherine and St. Margaret had rich crowns on their heads.  They spoke well and fairly, and their voices are beautiful-sweet and soft.

The name by which they often named me was Jehanne the Maid, child of God.

They told me that my King would be restored to his Kingdom, despite his enemies.  They promised to lead me to Paradise, for that was what I asked of them.

Twice and thrice a week the voice told met hat I must depart and go into France.

And the voice said that I would raise the siege before Orleans.  And it told me to go to Vaucouleurs, to Robert de Baudricourt, captain of the town, who would give me men to go with me.

And I answered the voice that I was a poor girl who knew nothing of riding and warfare.”

Joan went three times to speak to Robert de Baudricourt about the instructions she received from the King of Heaven.  On the third occasion, Baudricourt listened to Joan, as a previous prediction she had made to him regarding a defeat for the French army came true.  Accordingly, Baudricourt gave Joan an escort of three soldiers to protect her, to present herself to Charles VII.  Joan travelled wearing the clothing of men and reached Chinon on March 6, 1429.  The Dauphin disguised himself to see if Joan would be able to point him out amongst the other individuals in his Court.  Of course, Joan identified the real Dauphin.  She spoke with him in private and gave him a secret message told to her by her heavenly messengers, which convinced Chales that what Joan said was true.  He gave her soldiers so that she could lead them towards the relief of Orleans.  However, this decision came with opposition from some of the members of Charle’s court.  Therefore, she was sent to Poitiers to be examined by a learned body of theologians.  After extensive questions and a thorough investigation, these theologians found Joan to be pure and true, finding no fault with her.  Indeed, they advised Charles to use this pure human being for the good of France.

After Joan returned to Chinon from Poitiers, she was equipped with an expeditionary force, and she was provided with white armor and other supplies, with a banner or standard which was Joan’s favorite possession.  Upon the banner was a representation of God the Father to whom two kneeling angels were presenting a fleur-de-lis, with the writing upon it, “Jesus:Maria”.

Joan of Arc3On April 27, the army left Blois with Joan in her white armor and banner, leading the French army.  They entered Orleans on April 29th, and Joan’s presence in the city gave hope to the people.  And by May 8th, the English forts which surrounded Orleans were captured and the siege raised.

Joan the Maid was then allowed to lead the French army in yet another campaign on the Loire with the Duc d’ Alencon, one of her dearest friends.  This campaign was successful, and she ended with another victory at Patay in which the English forces suffered yet another defeat.

On July 17, 1429, Charles VII, the Dauphin, was crowned with Joan beside him holding her treasured banner.  Joan was successful in this important campaign.  Nevertheless, troubles ensued and she went to the relief of Compiegne which was holding out against the Burgundians.  On May 23, 1430, because of some miscalculation, the drawbridge over which her company was retiring was raised too soon, leaving Joan and some of her men outside at the mercy of the Burgundians.  She was taken by the enemy and remained the prisoner of the Duke of Burgundy.  Charles, the Dauphin, did not come to Joan’s aid during the entire time of her imprisonment.  Clearly, he betrayed her.  On  November 21st she was sold to the English.  They knew that they could not condemn her for her defeat of them in war, but contrived that they could harm her if she was tried as a sorceress and a heretic.

Joan was in prison in the castle of Rouen.  On February 21, 1431, she appeared before Peter Cauchon, who was Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that through English influence he could become the Archbishop of Rouen. This Tribunal consisted of Cauchon, dignitaries and doctors carefully selected by Cauchon, as well as of the ordinary officials of an ecclesiastical court.  During the course of her sessions, Joan was examined and cross-examined as to her visions and her voices, her assumption of male attire, her faith and her willingness to submit to the Church.  Joan answered their questions boldly.  Her answers were not only cogent, but logical and embarrassing for her inquisitors.  For example, when Joan was asked whether she would refer herself to the determination of the Church, she stated:

“I refer myself to Our Lord who sent me, to Our Lady, and to all the blessed saints in Paradise.  It seems to me that Our Lord and the Church are one and the same, and that no one shold make difficulties about that.  Why do you make difficulties about its not being one and the same?”   

Joan further reiterated this comment stating her allegiance to the Church and also stating, “Our Lord first served!”

This alleged unfair tribunal summed up her answers as revelations from the devil wherein these misrepresentations were submitted to the judges and then to the University of Paris.  Joan was denounced.

The tribunal decided that she must be handed over to the secular arm as a heretic if she refused to retract.    In a final attempt  to obtain her admission and retraction, Joan was threatened with torture.  She, out of extreme fear, made a retraction of her testimony.  She was taken back to prison.  Joan knew that her retraction was wrong, and again put on the male attire that she wore as a soldier for France even though she was expected to discard this dress.  Cauchon and his assistants visited Joan in her cell and saw what she had done, noticing that she had recovered from her previous weakness.  Therefore, Joan again declared that she was sent by the King of Heaven and that the voices of the saints she heard came from Heaven also.

On May 29, 1431, the judges heard Cauchon’s report, condemning Joan as a relapsed heretic to be delivered over to the secular arm.

On May 30, 1431, the 19-year-0ld Joan was fastened to a stake being prepared to be burned upon it.  A Dominican friar at her request held up a cross in front of her eyes, and as the flames lept upon her, she cried, “Jesus, Jesus”.  Some of the people cried that they had burned a saint.  Her ashes were hurled into the Seine.

Twenty-three years later, Joan’s mother and her two brothers appealed to Pope Callistus II to have her case reviewed.  The Pope granted this request and appointed a commission to review what happened, to examine the witnesses and review the written testimony.  On July 7, 1456, the trial was declared biased and unfair, quashing the trial and its verdict, completely exonerating dear Joan.

Four-hundred and fifty years later, on May 16, 1920, Joan was canonized as a saint with all solemnity, by the Catholic Church.  She is the Patron Saint of France, soldiers, military personnel and prisoners.  And finally, St. Joan is also the Patron Saint of individuals who are ridiculed for their Faith.

St. Joan is very dear to me as she has helped me so much in my life.  It is my hope that I will also live my life with kindness, courage, bravery and loyalty, and putting my Faith first above all things, loving Our Triune God with great passion and zeal.  She is an example of a pure young lady, full of love for God, for His Church and for his people.  Yes, dear brave Joan, may Our Lord always be first served! 

With love, reverence and respect for St. Joan,



Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Edited by Michael Walsh

One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press AOL Time Warner Book Group

Joan of Arc In Her Own Words, Compiled and Translated by Willard Trask; Afterword by Sir Edward S. Creasy

St. Joan of Arc:  Maid for God, EWTN, May 30, 2013

Do This in Remembrance of Me

“He is mediator of a new convenant”

-Hebrews 9:15

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

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi.

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

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

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

Jesus says in John 6:48-58:

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

John continues in 6:60-69:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Joan & Eowyn

St. Valentine

St Valentine

Did you know that there is indeed a history to the celebration of Valentine’s Day?  From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website (

“Today is the feast day of St. Valentine.  Did you know St. Valentine was a real person?  Well, actually there are at least 2 St. Valentines in the ancient martyrology of the Church.  While very little is known about Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, we do know that Pope Gelasius declared February 14th his feast day in 496.  He is the patron saint of happy marriages, engaged couples and young people….

It is believed that Valentine was a priest arrested by the Emperor Claudius for marrying Christian couples secretly during a time of persecution in the Church.  Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, “From Your Valentine.”

Matthew Bunson, an apologist at EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), tells us that not only was St. Valentine a Roman priest and martyr, executed on February 14th, but that he was also a physician, that he was probably flogged and/or beheaded and that he was buried on the Via Flaminia, with a basilica erected on the spot where he was buried in the year 350.  However, there is mention of another Valentine who was the bishop of Terni near Riome, although these two Valentines may be the same individual.

Going back to the tradition of sending missives, the Catholic Encyclopedia provides us with a history of this practice:

“The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.  Thus, in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read: ‘For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.’  For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens.  Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice.”

We know for sure that St. Valentine was a martyr and that he gave his life for Jesus with great love and loyalty.  Could we be that brave as to give our lives for our Faith, for Jesus?  I have asked myself that question and I believe that because I am such a determined and stubborn individual, and because I love Jesus so much, that I would be able to do so, although I would need unending help from Him.  Accordingly, it is most appropriate to concentrate on the Gospel today from St. Luke 9:22-25:

Jesus said to His disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

With love and respect,


Sources: (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops); (Eternal Word Television Network)

St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947)

St. Josephine Bakhita

Today, February 8th, the universal Church honors St. Josephine Bakhita, a former slave who found freedom and love in the Catholic Church, being introduced to the holy, mighty and eternal Triune God.

Bakhita was born in the Sudan in 1869.  Bakhita was not the name that she received from her parents when she was born; her captors gave her this name which means, “fortunate.”  Indeed and in fact, she was terrorized by her captors as a slave and her experiences were so horrible, that she forgot her birth name.  She bore the most terrible indignities, being sold and resold over and over again as a slave, experiencing severe physical abuse, as well as emotional, psychological and moral abuse.

Callisto Legnani, an Italian Consul, bought Bakhita whilst he was in the Capital city of Sudan.  Callisto treated Bakhita with dignity, kindness and cordiality, unlike the whip used by her former slave captors.  Now, Bakhita experienced joy, peace, warmth, dignity and goodness whilst she lived in the Consul’s home.

Political matters forced Callisto to leave for Italy, and Bakhita received permission to go with him and a friend of his, one Mr. Augusto Michieli.  When they arrived in Genoa, Mr. Michieli’s wife persuaded Callisto to leave Bakhita with them, wherein they settled in Zianigo near Mirano Veneto.  When Mrs. Michieli’s wife gave birth to a daughter,  Bakhita became her babysitter and friend.

Mr. Michieli acquired a large hotel in Suakin on the Red Sea, therefore requiring Mrs. Michieli to help him with this large endeavor.  Accordingly, on the advice of their administrator, Bakhita was entrusted with the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice.  It was there that Bakhita experienced our Lord, whom “she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was” during her childhood years.  Bakhita said, “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?  And I felt a great desire to see Him, to know Him and to pay Him homage. . .”

After a few months with the sisters, on January 9, 1890, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian Initiation and received the new name, “Josephine.”  She experienced complete love and joy and was seen on occasions kissing the Baptismal font saying, “Here, I became a daughter of God!”

When Mrs. Michieli came back to Italy from Africa to take Josephine back, Josephine expressed her desire to remain with the Sisters and to serve God there.  Josephine was of the age that she could make her own choices under the laws of Italy which insured her freedom.

Josephine stayed with the Sisters for a time and then heard a call from Our Lord to become a sister; hence, she gave herself to Our Lord at the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa.  On December 8, 1896, she joined that order being forever consecrated to God, whom she called her “Master.”  Josephine lived there for 50 years in the community of Schio, cooking, sewing, doing embroidery work and attending to the door.  Whilst she served her duty at the door, she laid her hands upon the school children who attended the Canossian schools daily, and she hugged and loved them.  She had a beautiful voice and the little children loved her; she also comforted the poor and those who suffered who came to the door, giving them strength, support and encouragement.

Josephine was known for her sweetness of nature, her large smile and her great goodness; she lived as a Light for Jesus.  She said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him.  What a great grace it is to know God!”

Josephine endured long, painful years of sickness as she became older, sometimes reliving her days as a slave.  On one occasion, she asked the nurse who was caring for her, “Please, loosen the chains. . .they are heavy!”  While suffering, she received visitors and they would ask her how she was; she would respond, “As the Master desires.”

Her last words were, “Our Lady!  Our Lady!”  She smiled and must have seen the beautiful Blessed Mother of God.  She died on February 8, 1947, surrounded by the Sisters of the Canossian Convent.

The knowledge of her holiness spread all over the world, wherein the first steps to beatify her began in 1959, being beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Dear St. Josephine, you draw tears to my eyes since you endured so much indignity and suffering of every kind.  Yet, you remained cheerful, with a big smile, loving, kind, sweet and noble.  Help us to remember your pure and indomitable spirit, but most especially, your Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is my hope that the Church Triumphant is having a big party for you in heaven today!  We love you!



Sources:  Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; Vatican website

St. Thomas Aquinas, the ‘dumb ox’

Today, Jan. 28, is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose nickname was “the dumb Sicilian ox,” because he was stout in body and slow in manner.

But the mind of St. Thomas was nothing but slow. Not only was he a superb theologian, but — without exaggeration — he one of the greatest minds in human history. Just read a piece of his writings, and you’ll see how he reasoned with unassailable logic.

That is why the Catholic Church not only honors him as a Doctor of the Church, but considers Thomas to be the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. I especially love St. Thomas because of his writings on angels. For that reason, he is also called “Doctor Angelicus” or the “Angelic doctor”.

FOTM, therefore, is re-publishing joandarc’s post on St. Thomas, but with this addition — a video of Fr. & Dr. Chad Ripperger on Thomas Aquinas (h/t FOTM‘s Sher):

Fr. Ripperger is the author of the tome, Introduction to the Science of Mental Health, which maintains that the science of modern psychology has not made any real progress in helping the mentally ill because it is fundamentally flawed in that “it has no true understanding of the immaterial, spiritual dimension” of human nature. Highly recommend!


St. Thomas Aquinas

Today, January 28th, we celebrate one of the most illustrious and influential Saints of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas is by far, the spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and divine revelation, being one of the greatest teachers of the Catholic Church, which is why he is named a Doctor of the Church and the Angelic Doctor.

Thomas was born in or about 1225, the youngest of four sons, in the castle of Rocca Secca, to Landulf, a knight, and to Theodora, his mother of Norman descent.  At the age of five, his parents took him to the Benedictine Monastery at Monte Cassino, hoping that he would join this Order and rise to the position of abbot.  In 1239, he went to the University of Naples in Italy, to study the arts and sciences, and it was through this experience that he became interested in Aristotle.

In or about 1243, Thomas joined the Dominicans, which was against his family’s desires.  In fact, his mother ordered that his brothers capture Thomas.  Accordingly, they did so and he actually remained at his home, wherein his family hoped to change his mind.  You might say that he was put under “house arrest” because of his defiance.  While he was imprisoned, he studied the Sentences of Peter Lombard and learned by heart a great portion of the Bible.

After two years, his family gave up and allowed Thomas to go back to his Order of the Dominicans.  Thomas then went to Cologne, finishing his studies under St. Albert the Great.  Thomas, being reserved and a humble man, was not very well liked by his colleagues.  He was a large man, receiving the nickname of “the dumb Sicilian ox.”  However, St. Albert, his professor, said this of Thomas, “We call Brother Thomas the ‘dumb ox’; but I tell you that he will yet make his lowing heard to the uttermost parts of the earth.”  Thomas’ brilliance was exceeded by his piety, and after he had been ordained a priest, he became so very close and united with God.

In or about 1252, St. Albert and Cardinal Hugh of Saint-Cher insisted that Thomas go to the University of Paris to teach.  Four years thereafter, he became a master and received his doctors chair.  His duties included lecturing and preaching.

In or about 1259 to 1268, he was made Preacher General in Italy and taught in the school of selected scholars attached to the papal court, teaching also in other towns and cities in Italy.

His writings created harmony between faith and reason, between divine revelation and natural human knowledge.  But Thomas was so in-depth a thinker and lover of God, that he was able to merge the two in his writings, seeing the whole natural order as coming from God, the Creator, and seeing reason as a gift from God to be used for His honor and glory.  He wrote the Summa contra Gentiles, a textbook for missionaries, a defense of natural theology against the Arabians, and the Summa theologiae, setting forth Catholic theology with faith and reason.  And he wrote about the Angels of God using logic, wisdom and the Bible, which is why he is called, “the Angelic Doctor.”

In 1269, he went back to Paris, wherein St. Louis IX consulted him regularly with regard to important matters of state, as the king so respected Thomas.  But the university referred an issue to him, a question upon which they were divided, whether in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar the accidents remained really or only in appearance.  St. Thomas prayed fervently and with great love asked for direction from God.  He wrote a treatise and laid it upon the altar before he submitted his answer publicly.  Our Lord then appeared to St. Thomas saying to him, “Thou has written well of the Sacrament of My Body,” asking Thomas what He could give him as a reward.  Thomas said, “I want only You, Lord, only You.”  Oftentimes during Mass, especially during the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, Thomas would cry, sobbing, being so touched of his role as a priest, and of the precious love of Jesus, knowing that he was in the Real Presence of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

In or about 1272, Thomas was called back to Italy, being appointed regent of the study house at Naples.  On the Feast of St. Nicholas the following year, he was celebrating Holy Mass, wherein he received a revelation that affected him so, that he did not write or dictate anymore, leaving the magnificent work of the Summa theologiae, unfinished.  Thomas told Brother Reginald, “The end of my labors is come.  All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” 

Pope Gregory bid Thomas, although ill, to attend the general council at Lyons for the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches and to bring with him his work, “Against the Errors of the Greeks.”  He became worse during his journey and was consequently taken to the Cistercian abbey of Fossa Nuova.  He was lodged in the abbot’s room and the monks attended to him.  After Thomas made his last confession receiving the Holy Eucharist from the abbot, he stated these famous words:

“I am receiving thee, Price of my soul’s redemption:  all my studies, my vigils and my labors have been for love of thee.  I have taught much and written much of the most sacred body of Jesus Christ; I have taught and written in the faith of Jesus Christ and of the holy Roman Church, to whose judgment I offer and submit everything.”  Two days later, March 7, 1274, being about 50 years of age, he died.  St. Albert who was in Cologne, burst into tears in front of his community and said,  “Brother Thomas Aquinas, my son in Christ, the light of the Church, is dead.  God has revealed it to me.”

St. Thomas was canonized in 1323, wherein his body lies in the cathedral of Saint-Sernin.  St. Pius V conferred upon him the title of Doctor of the Church, and in 1880, Leo XIII declared him the patron saint of universities, colleges and schools.

Thomas’ theological and philosophical writings fill twenty thick volumes and he was the first to comment on Aristotle, whose teaching he utilized in order to build up a complete system of Christian philosophy.  Indeed, his most important work was the Summa theologiae, the most thorough and full exposition of theological teaching ever given to the world.  This work was one of the three reference works used at the Council of Trent, the other two being the Bible and Pontifical Decrees.

His achievements were not just attributed to his incredible writings.  When Pope Urban IV, influenced by the visions of Blessed Juliana of Liege, decided to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi, he deferred to St. Thomas to compose the liturgical office and the Mass for the day, wherein Thomas showed his remarkable expression, known for doctrinal accuracy as for their tenderness of thought.  Famous hymns, Pange lingua, O salutaris and Tantum ergo, written by Thomas, are regularly sung at Benediction.

In spite of his greatness, he thought the best of others, thinking they were better than him, being extremely modest whilst he stated his opinion.  He did not lose his temper in an argument and was extremely poised.

St. Thomas Aquinas has always been one of my favorite saints.  Whilst I was in high school studying philosophy, I would take books home containing his writings.  I was drawn to these books, so I did not go out with my friends because I would rather stay home with St. Thomas and read what he said in my cozy bedroom.  In fact, though they were kidding, my friends called me a “wallflower” because of my devotion to St. Thomas.  I would laugh and tell them that they did not know what they were missing, and that at some point, they might understand. . .

It is my childlike vision in my mind’s eye that sees a great celebration in Heaven today for our dear and great St. Thomas Aquinas!  We love and respect you! We hope to some day be with you in Our Lord’s heaven, and maybe you can teach us there too!  God be praised for this great and holy man!

With respect and love,



  • One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press.
  • Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Edited by F.L. Cross.
  • Read more about St. Thomas Aquinas on Wikipedia.