Monday, October 20, 2014

Who was St. Paul of the Cross?

Today is the feast day of St. Paul of the Cross, priest, mystic, and founder of the Passionist Congregation.

Paul was born in Ovada, in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei in 1694, the second oldest of sixteen children, eleven of whom died in infancy. His father was from a noble family that had been reduced to poverty over the years. His parents were devout Catholics and their strong faith provided the grace they needed to accept their trials. Paul’s mother had a deep and lively faith, which she shared with her son. She often read to him, sharing the writings of the desert fathers.  Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious youth, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and visited the Blessed Sacrament, without neglecting his duties. He had a great love and devotion for Christ Crucified.

As a young man, Paul enlisted in the Army, desiring to serve Christ in the Crusades; however, he abandoned soldiering to spend his life in solitary prayer. At the age of 19, Paul had a vivid experience of the depth of God's love which changed his life. As a result of this vision, he experienced a deep interior conversion and aspired to live a life of perfection. While still a layman, he left everything behind, including the offer of a good marriage as well as an inheritance left to him by an uncle who was a priest, to found the Passionists.

In 1727, Paul and his brother, John, were ordained as priests by Pope Benedict XII and they founded the first Passionist monastery in the mountains above Genoa. While contemplation and prayer were at the very heart of Paul's life and the life of his new institute, Paul himself soon became a prominent preacher, spiritual guide, as well as a writer and mystic. For Paul, the Passion of Christ was the most vivid witness to God's love for us and he continually called upon his followers to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

It took from 1720 to 1741—twenty-one years of humble service as a hospital chaplain and traveling preacher combined with quiet perseverance in the face of official Church rejection—for Paul to receive his first papal authority to found his religious order, “The Congregation of the Passion.”

For over 40 years, Paul and his “like-minded companions,” the Passionists, preached the loving memory of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Paul would challenge his hearers to die a mystical death with Christ so as to rise up with Christ to a life of faith and love. The sick and the poor remained special recipients of Paul’s care, but he would also preach to the clergy and remind them of their obligations to serve the neglected.

During his lifetime Paul founded thirteen monasteries of Priests and Brothers throughout Italy as well as a monastery of Passionist Nuns. Today the Passionists live and serve in 59 countries of the world and are enhanced by other religious and lay groups who find inspiration in the Charism of St. Paul of the Cross.

Paul died in Rome on October 18, 1775. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.

Quotes from St. Paul of the Cross

“[Christ crucified] is the pattern of all that is gentle and attractive…. Bury yourselves, therefore, in the heart of Jesus crucified, desiring nothing else but to lead all men to follow his will in all things.”
"The Mass is the most favorable occasion to speak with the eternal Father, because then we offer Him His only Son as a victim for our salvation. Before celebrating, reflect on the sufferings of your Redeemer, commune peaceably with Him, even in the midst of dryness; carry to the altar the needs of the entire world."

"When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings."

"Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him."

"It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it. "

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Novena to St. Jude begins today

St. Jude, also called Thaddeus or "Courageous", is the author of the short epistle in the New Testament. He was the apostle who asked the Lord at the Last Supper why he had manifested himself only to the disciples and not to the whole world (John 14:22). He was the son of Cleophas and the woman named Mary who stood with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross as Our Lord was redeeming the world. He is remembered as a Healer.

St. Jude is the patron saint of lost or impossible causes and his novena is often prayed in desperate cases. Below are: (1) a novena for any intention, followed by (2) novena prayers for someone who is critically ill. Both are prayed for nine days.

Novena Prayers

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus,  the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult  cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.

Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is  almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive  the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and  sufferings, particularly - (make your request here)- and that I may praise  God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be  ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as  my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the  tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen.

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.
(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary).

Novena Prayer for the Seriously Ill

Dear Apostle and Martyr for Christ, you left us an Epistle in the New Testament. With good reason many invoke you when illness is at a desperate stage. We now recommend to your kindness
{name of patient}
who is in a critical condition. May the cure of this patient increase his/her faith and love for the Lord of Life, for the glory of our merciful God. Amen.

Day 7: Blog Tour for Seven Saints for Seven Virtues: Spiritual Woman

Today, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur at Spiritual Woman is our hostess for the blog tour. You can read her review of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues HERE.

You can follow the rest of the tour by visiting these blogs on their scheduled days:

Monday, Oct. 20 -- Cause of our Joy  Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 -- View from the Domestic Church Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 6: Blog Tour for Seven Saints for Seven Virtues: Seven angels, four kids, one family

Today, Jane Lebak at Seven Angels Four Kids One Family is our hostess for the blog tour. You can read her review of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues HERE.

Here is the blog tour schedule:

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Spiritual Woman  Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, Oct. 20 -- Cause of our Joy  Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 -- View from the Domestic Church Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore

Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. It is believed that St. Luke was born a Greek and a gentile. A physician at Antioch, and a painter, St. Luke became a convert of Saint Paul and afterwards his fellow-laborer. Luke was the writer of the Gospel and its "companion volume," the Acts of the Apostles and has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Saint Luke shared the shipwreck and perils of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome, and was with him in his last days. He later died a martyr's death in Achaia. After St. John, St. Luke's writings (both his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles) are my favorite part of the New Testament.

Although Luke was not an eye witness, he was a historian who carefully researched his material and obtained details from eye witnesses. As a physician, Luke emphasizes the miracles and the merciful love of Jesus, which heals his children and welcomes all into his arms -- especially the sinner, the outcast, the gentile. Luke shows us the compassion of Jesus, especially toward women and children. He gives prominence not only to the group of women who follow him from the beginning of his ministry, but he also  to Mary, from the Incarnation and the infancy narratives to his mention of her being present with the Apostles at Pentecost. His is the only Gospel to give an account of the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Luke's gospel is noted for its praise and thanksgiving and is a very poetic book. For example, Mary's song, 1:46-55. Song of Zacharias, 1:68-79, and The Song of the Angels, 2:8-14. Finally, Luke's is the gospel of Jesus praying, and his parables concerning prayer.

As a physician, St. Luke is the patron saint of the medical profession. He is also the patron of artists and painters, as tradition holds that he painted an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Luke is symbolized by the ox, The ox, recognized as the animal of sacrifice, was applied to St. Luke because his Gospel emphasizes the atonement made by Christ's sacrifice of himself on the Cross. (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 5: Seven Saints for Seven Virtues Blog Tour: Berger's Book Reviews

Today, Alice Berger at Berger's Book Reviews is our hostess for the blog tour. You can read her review of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues HERE.

Here is the blog tour schedule:

Saturday, Oct. 18 -- Seven Angels Four Kids One Family Jane Lebak

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Spiritual Woman  Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, Oct. 20 -- Cause of our Joy  Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 -- View from the Domestic Church Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore

Who was St. Ignatius of Antioch?

By Jean M. Heimann

St. Ignatius of Antioch ( c. 50 - c.107), whose feast we celebrate today, was an early Church Father, bishop, and martyr.  Tradition tells us that he was a convert and a disciple of the Apostle Saint John.

Ignatius was born in Syria during the 1st century and was surnamed Theophorus, which means “the God-Bearer.” When he became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed authority of a local church, which was first led by Saint Peter prior to his move to Rome. Antioch was known as “the place where the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians” (St. Alphonsus Liguori in “Martyrs of the First Ages”). Ignatius served as the third Bishop of Antioch, where he led his flock for nearly forty years.

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to declare his divinity by assuming the title “Lord and God.” Citizens who refused to pay him homage under this title were subject to punishment by death.  He protected his flock through preaching, prayer, and fasting. Thus, he modeled the virtue of fortitude and endeavored to encourage it in those entrusted to him.

Later, the Emperor Trajan convicted Ignatius for his Christian witness and sent him from Syria to Rome in chains to be put to death. A detailed description of the trip to Rome is given by Agathopus and a deacon named Philo, who were with him, and who also wrote down his dictation of the seven letters of instruction on the Church, marriage, the Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, and the Eucharist. The letters were directed to six local churches throughout the empire and to his fellow bishop Polycarp.

 Ignatius' letters emphasized: Church unity, the dangers of heresy, and the extraordinary value of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” These writings include the earliest surviving record of the Church described as “Catholic,” from the Greek word expressing both universality and fullness.

St. Ignatius of Antioch gave his final witness to Christ in the Roman Amphitheater, where he was devoured by lions.  Prior to his death, he stated: “I am the wheat of the Lord. I must be ground by the teeth of these beasts to be made the pure bread of Christ.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 4: Seven Saints for Seven Virtues Blog Tour: Can We Cana?

Need a break from all the Synod news? Karee Santos at Can We Cana? A Community to Support Catholic Marriages has written a brilliant review of my new book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, entitled  "How Sinner-Turned-Saint Augustine Can Teach You Temperance."

 Take a look and please share her post with your friends and followers. Thank you!

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: Witness to the World of God's Passionate Love for Us

By Jean M. Heimann

Today’s saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690), was selected by God to be a witness to the world of the passionate love He has for each one of us, as symbolized by the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through visions and private revelations, God used her, as His instrument, to spread His love throughout the world. 

Growing up in the town of Janots in the Burgundy region of France, Margaret Mary’s childhood was marked by sickness and family problems. Her father died of pneumonia when she was only eight years old and his death left the family in a state of poverty. Relatives took control of the family home, treating both Margaret Mary and her mother cruelly. She stated: “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering." 

Margaret Mary developed a painful rheumatic condition at 12 and was bedridden until she was 15. After considering marriage for a period of time, she decided to dedicate her life to God.

She entered the Order of Visitation nuns at the age of 24. The other sisters viewed her as naive, frail, and awkward, but she was humble and patient and was charitable toward everyone. She was regarded as a simple and ordinary member of the community. However, God desired to use Margaret in an extraordinary and miraculous way. On December 27, 1674, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Jesus asked her to take the place of St. John the Evangelist (the “Beloved Disciple”) at the Last Supper. He then appeared to her and showed her His Sacred Heart, a symbol of His Divine love. He asked her to promote devotion to His Sacred Heart through frequent Communion and an hour of prayer each Thursday night (in memory of His agony in Gethsemane). 

Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary on three more occasions over a period of eighteen months in which he instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and in the final revelation, the Lord asked that a feast of reparation be instituted for the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. While others questioned the authenticity of these visions, her Jesuit confessor, St. Claude de la Colombière, believed and encouraged her. 

St. Margaret Mary died of natural causes in 1690 and was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. The Sacred Heart devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy – five years after her death.

On the third centenary of the death of Saint Margaret Mary, Pope St. John Paul II stated: “She invites us to contemplate the Heart of Christ, that is, to recognize in the humanity of the Word incarnate, the infinite riches of his love for the Father and for all human beings. It is the love of Christ which makes a person worthy of being loved. Created in the image and likeness of God, the human person has received a heart eager for love and capable of loving. The love of the Redeemer, which heals it from the wound of sin, elevates it to its filial condition. With Saint Margaret Mary, united to the Savior also in his suffering offered for love, we shall ask for the grace of knowing the infinite value of every person" (Pope John Paul, Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 22, 1990, Vatican).

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Quotes

“The divine heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs… an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.” 

"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus love themselves too much to love God with all their heart."  

"Love keeps Him there [in the Blessed Sacrament] as a victim completely and perpetually delivered over to sacrifice for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. Unite yourself with Him, then, in all that you do. Refer everything to His glory. Set up your abode in this loving Heart of Jesus and you will there find lasting peace and the strength both to bring to fruition all the good desires He inspires in you, and to avoid every deliberate fault. Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love."

Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

“Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love me in return. Through you my divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth.”

"I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

2. I will establish peace in their homes.

3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.

4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.

5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall quickly move to high perfection.

9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.

12. I promise thee in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues: Book Blog Tour - Great Giveaways!

This is the third day of the Blog Tour for Seven Saints for Seven Sinners. Today, Barb Szyszkiewicz  at Franciscan Mom will be hosting the tour, where she will be reviewing the book and giving away a copy.

Here is a schedule for the rest of the tour:

Thursday, Oct. 16 -- Can we Cana? A Community to Support Catholic Marriages  Karee Santos

Friday, Oct. 17 --  Bergers Book Reviews  Alice Berger

Saturday, Oct. 18 -- Seven Angels Four Kids One Family Jane Lebak

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Spiritual Woman  Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, Oct. 20 -- Cause of our Joy  Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 -- View from the Domestic Church  Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore
Bookmark and Share

Top Twenty Quotes from St. Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, the first woman doctor of the Church. Here are her top twenty quotes:

1. “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, all things are passing: God never changes.     Patience obtains all things. He who possesses God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” 

2. “It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves.” 

3. “It is love alone that gives worth to all things”

4. “Thank God for the things that I do not own.” 

5. “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” 

6. “From sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!” 

7. “Love turns work into rest.” 

8. “Be gentle to all, and stern with yourself.” 

9. “God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.” 

10. “The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.” 

11. “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”

12. "Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us."

13. "I would never want any prayer that would not make the virtues grow within me."

14. "Pain is never permanent." 

15. “Trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” 

16. “Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.” 

17. “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.” 

18. To God: “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies.”

19. “God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres.” 

20.  “The devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes, so that instead of putting our hands to what work we can do to serve our Lord, we may rest satisfied with wishing to perform impossibilities.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues: Book Blog Tour - Day 2

Today is the second day of the Blog Tour for Seven Saints for Seven Sinners. Today, Connie Rossini  at Contemplative Homeschool will be hosting the tour, where she will be reviewing the book and giving away two copies!

While you're there, be sure to check out her new book, Trusting God with St. Therese.

Here is a schedule for the rest of the tour:

Wednesday, Oct. 15 -- Franciscan Mom  Barb Szyszkiewicz

Thursday, Oct. 16 -- Can we Cana?  Karee Santos

Friday, Oct. 17 --  Bergers Book Reviews  Alice Berger

Saturday, Oct. 18 -- Seven Angels Four Kids One Family Jane Lebak

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Spiritual Woman  Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Monday, Oct. 20 -- Cause of our Joy  Leticia Velasquez

Tuesday, Oct. 21 -- View from the Domestic Church  Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle

Wednesday, Oct. 22 -- Entering into the Mystery Janet Moore

Novena to Pope St. John Paul II begins today

Pray this prayer for nine consecutive days.


O Blessed Trinity, we thank you
For having graced the Church with
Saint John Paul II and for allowing
The tenderness of your fatherly care,
The glory of the Cross of Christ
And the splendor of the Spirit of love
To shine through him.

Trusting fully in your infinite mercy
And in the maternal intercession of Mary,
He has given us a living image of
Jesus the Good Shepherd.

He has shown us that holiness
Is the necessary measure of ordinary
Christian life and is the way of
Achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession,
And according to your will,
The graces we implore,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you do not have a specific intention to pray for, please join in praying this prayer for Brittany, a 29-year-old newlywed  who has terminal brain cancer and plans to utilize the die with dignity” law in Oregon to end her life on November 1. I have been reading about this young woman and have been praying for her. It is a sad situation. Suffering is never easy and it is not pleasant. This young woman needs our prayers for the strength to cope with her sufferings and to unite  them to Our Lord and Savior's sufferings on the Cross, for noble purposes.  This is what our dear Pope St. John Paul II did. Let us pray that she, too, will surrender her suffering to God and let Him make the decision as to when she will enter the next life.

Learn more HERE.

A wise priest once said: "Suffering without Jesus just hurts. Suffering with Jesus redeems the world."

St. Callistus I: The Slave who became Pope

Callistus was once a young slave in Rome, who got into serious trouble. He was put in charge of his master’s account, but mishandled his money, and lost a large sum. Out of fear, he ran away, but was caught, put in chains, and was sentenced to do hard labor in the city.

Later on, he became involved in a riot in a local synagogue and was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When, at Pope Victor’s request, the emperor freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines, Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to improve for him.

Pope St. Zephrinus (119-217) came to know and trust the freed slave. The pope brought him to Rome, ordained him, and made him his administrator and advisor. He put him in charge of the cemetery and places of worship, which some wealthy people had made available to the Christians.

In 217, St. Callistus himself became pope. Some people complained because he showed too much mercy to sinners. However, the holy pope ruled that even murderers could be admitted to Communion after they had done penance for their sin. This great pope always defended the true doctrine of Jesus.

He was martyred and was buried at the 3rd mile on the Via Aurelia on October 14, 222.

The Catacombs of St Callistus is a complex network of underground chambers, which expands for miles. Take a virtual tour of the Catacombs of St. Callistus.