Wednesday, March 04, 2015

St. John Joseph of the Cross: Model of Charity and Humility



The saint of the day for March 5 is St. John Joseph of the Cross, a Franciscan priest who practiced self-denial in order to grow in the virtue of charity.

Saint John Joseph of the Cross was born on the feast of the Assumption in 1654 on the Island of Ischia in Southern Italy. He was a pious and virtuous child. Even as a child, he devoted himself to poverty and fasting. He wore the clothes of the poor, despite the fact that he was a noble. At the age of sixteen, he entered the Franciscan Order of the Reform of Saint Peter of Alcantara, at Naples.

St. John Joseph was a quiet man of contemplation. He practiced self-denial in the form of strict penances: he fasted constantly, never drank wine, and slept only three hours each night. In 1674, he was sent to found a friary at Afila, in Piedmont and helped to build the friary with his own hands. Afterwards, he was elevated to the priesthood and became the master of novices, becoming an excellent model and mentor to them which he evidenced by his gentleness, attentiveness to their needs, and even temperament. As superior, he demonstrated charity and humility, always insisting on performing the lowliest tasks in the community. For example, he insisted on working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars.

In 1702, he was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Alcantarine Reform Order in Italy. He was blessed with the gift of miracles and people with every form of illness were brought to him for healing. He was also blessed with the supernatural gift of prophecy.  He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and encouraged others to cultivate this devotion.

When his term as Vicar Provincial expired, St. John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification. He died on March 5, 1739, was beatified in 1789, and canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.  St. John Joseph of the Cross is the patron saint of Ischilia, Italy, the place where he was born.

Saint John Joseph of the Cross Quotes

"God is a tender father, who loves and succors all.”

"Were there neither heaven nor hell, still would I ever wish to love God, who is a father so deserving of our love."

"Doubt not. Trust in God. He will provide."

"Let us hope in God, and doubtless we shall be comforted.”

Prayer

Father, You raised Your servant Saint John Joseph of the Cross through the rugged way of poverty, humility and patience to heavenly glory. Grant us the grace to follow his example so as to share in eternal joy.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

St. Casimir, Prince of Poland and "Father of the Poor"



The saint of the day for March 4 is St. Casimir of Poland, a prince whose life of service to God has made him a patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and young people. He is also the patron saint of bachelors and is represented by a crown and a lily (which symbolizes purity.)

Casimir was born on October 3, 1458, the third of thirteen children of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Albert II of Habsburg. He and several of his brothers studied with the priest and historian John Dlugosz, whose deep piety and political expertise influenced Casimir in his upbringing. The young prince displayed holiness at an early age. In contrast to the other members of the royal court, he was a shining example of faith, piety, humility, and chastity. He had a great love for the Eucharist and for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hungarian nobles prevailed upon Casimir's father to send his 13-year-old son to be their king; Casimir obeyed, taking the crown, but refusing to exercise power. His army was outnumbered, his troops deserting because they were not paid. Casimir returned home, and was a conscientious objector from that time on.

Casimir foretold the hour of his death, and chose to die a virgin, refusing the advice of physicians who told him to marry, suggesting that this would improve his health and possibly prolong his life.

St. Casimir was a charismatic person who was noted for his strong sense of justice and for his charity. In an atmosphere of luxury and magnificence the young prince fasted, wore a hair-shirt, slept upon the bare earth, prayed by night, and watched for the opening of the church doors at dawn.

His charity to the poor and afflicted knew no bounds. The young prince consoled the poor with his gracious words, and frequently helped with generous alms. He was known to visit the sick and served them in their needs counting it an honor as he saw in the afflicted one the person of Christ Himself. Thus he earned the title, "Father of the poor."



He expressed his deep love for our Blessed Lady by frequently singing a beautiful hymn in her honor. He was buried with this favorite song to Our Lady -- a Latin hymn to Mary called "Omni die dic Mariae" which we know as "Daily, Daily Sing to Mary."

Casimir died at the age of 26 on March 4, 1484, a victim of tuberculosis. Buried at Vilnius, Lithuania, his tomb became famed for many miracles. He was canonized in 1522 by Pope Adrian VI.

PRAYER

All-powerful God,
to serve you is to reign:
by the prayers of Saint Casimir,
help us to serve you in holiness and justice.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Monday, March 02, 2015

St. Katharine Drexel: Woman of Charity, Fortitude, and Justice


                     Katharine Drexel at 16                                        Mother Drexel 

On March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, an American heiress and socialite who shocked the world when at age 31, she abandoned her family’s fortune to become a Roman Catholic nun and to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished Blacks and American Indian populations of the United States. Using her inheritance of $7 million, she spent the next 60 years and an estimated $20 million building missions, schools and churches for Native Americans and Blacks.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858, Katharine Drexel was the second daughter of Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Hannah died about a month after Katherine's birth.

A few years later, Katharine’s father, a wealthy and prominent banker and philanthropist, married Emma Bouvier – a distant aunt to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis. Emma was a deeply religious woman. Three years later, Emma gave birth to her own child, a third daughter whom they named Louise. The deeply religious couple taught their children that wealth was meant to be shared with others, particularly the poor.

The three siblings – Elizabeth, Katharine and Louise -- were inseparable. They traveled out west together where they encountered native American Indians who lived on reservations and learned of their plight. These travels instilled within Katharine the desire to alleviate the sufferings of poor Indians and Blacks.

When she visited Pope Leo XIII in Rome, Katharine asked him to send missionaries to the Indian missions that she as a lay person was financing. He surprised by responding, “Why don’t you go? Why don’t you become one?”

As a teenager, Katharine had considered convent life, but in a letter to Bishop James O’Connor, stated that: she couldn’t bear separation from her family, she hated community life and the thought of living with “old-maidish” dispositions, did not like to be alone, and could not part with luxuries. At that time, the Bishop discouraged her from entering the convent.

As a young and wealthy woman, Katharine Drexel made her social debut in 1879. However, after she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, Katharine began to realize that all the money her family had could not purchase protection from suffering or death. It was then that her life changed dramatically.

As time passed, Katharine became more and more convinced that she should become a religious. She once again wrote the Bishop, stating that she wanted to give herself completely to the Lord, adding, “The world cannot give me peace.” Thus, Katharine made the decision to give herself totally to God by her service to Blacks and Native Indian Americans. On February 12, 1891, Katharine took vows as a religious, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Katharine established many ministries, founding schools for African Americans and native Indian Americans, Between 1891 and 1935 she led her order in the founding and maintenance of almost 60 schools and missions, located primarily in the American West and Southwest. Her most important achivement was the founding of New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically Black Catholic college in the U.S.

At age 77, Katharine suffered a severe heart attack and spent the next twenty years of her life in prayer  and contemplation until her death at 96 on March 3, 1955. She was canonized on October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

Katharine left a four-fold dynamic legacy to her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who continue her apostolate today:

– her love for the Eucharist, her spirit of prayer, and her Eucharistic perspective on the unity of all peoples;

– her undaunted spirit of courageous initiative in addressing social iniquities among minorities — one hundred years before such concern aroused public interest in the United States;

– her belief in the importance of quality education for all, and her efforts to achieve it;

– her total giving of self, of her inheritance and all material goods in selfless service of the victims of injustice.

Quotes from St. Katharine Drexel:

“Union with God alone gives us life and abundance of life. We are not sufficient in ourselves.”

“The patient and humble endurance of the cross – whatever nature it may be – is the highest work we have to do.”

"If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well,we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them."

"Often in my desire to work for others I find my hands tied, something hinders my charitable designs, some hostile influence renders me powerless. My prayers seem to avail nothing, my kind acts are rejected, I seem to do wrong things when I am trying to do my best. In such cases I must not grieve. I am only treading in my Master's steps."

“O Mary, make me endeavor, by all the means in my power, to extend the kingdom of your Divine Son and offer incessantly my prayers for the conversion of those who are yet in darkness or estranged from His fold.”

Prayer

Ever Loving God, You called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to Black and Native American peoples. By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed. Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of your Church that we may be one in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival


St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Wichita, Kansas

Welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival! We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. Be sure to visit RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing to check out the great posts from other bloggers participating in Sunday Snippets this week.

Here are my posts from the past week:







Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seven Quick Takes




I. What I am currently reading for Lent:

1. Thirsting for Prayer -- Jacques Philippe

2. The Magnificat Lenten Companion

3. The Word Among Us

II. Best Catholic Books for Lent 2015

III. Best Catholic Films for Lent 2015

IV. Lenten Activities 2015

VI. St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent 

VII. Lenten Reflection -- Fr. James Kubicki



Have a wonderful weekend!

Jean

For more Quick Takes, go here. 
         


Conquered by Love


St. Paula Montal Fornés: A Saint to Emulate this Lent



Today is the feast of St. Paula Montal Fornés (1799 - 1889), foundress of the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of Pious Schools.

Paula was born in a small seaside village near Barcelona, Spain in 1799 to Ramon and Vicenta Fornes Montal. She was the oldest of five daughters and was only ten when her father died. To help support the family, Paula went to work as a seamstress and lace-maker and helped her mother raise her younger sisters. She also taught catechism in her parish and, in doing so, discovered her gift for teaching. Denied an education herself, Paula promised God that she would devote her life to the Christian education of girls and young women.

Paula believed that women needed an education to prepare them for life. Women in society at that time were treated as subordinate to men, which Paula and her followers perceived as a factor in the breakdown of the family unit and other social maladies. They were determined to advance women and their status in society through education -- a comprehensive Catholic education.

At the age of 30, Paula and her friend, Ines Busquets, opened a school in  Figueras (Gerona), a border city between Spain and France, which provided girls with a Catholic education to advance the role of women, to rescue families, and to transform society.

Paula founded a second school in her hometown of Arenys del Mar and opened a third school in Sabadell. After the third school was built, she founded  the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of Pious Schools, who were devoted to the Blessed Mother and to the education of young women. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, these sisters took a fourth vow -- that of teaching. When she made her vows, she took the name Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz, as she had been greatly influenced by Saint Joseph of Calasanz, and desired to live by the Calasanz spirituality and rules.

When the community gathered at the General Chapter meeting in 1847, Paula was not elected General Superior, or even Assistant General. This was quite unusual, as she was the foundress of the order.

From 1829 to 1859, she was intensely active, founding 7 schools. The last school she personally founded was in Olesa de Montserrat (Barcelona) in 1859. This was her favorite school, where she remained for thirty years, until her death in 1889.  Pope John Paul II beatified her in Rome in 1993 and canonized her in 2001. Today, her community is active on more than four continents.

The message of Saint Paula is one of love and service. We are put here on earth to love God and neighbor and reflecting on St. Paula's life, serving others through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy is one way that we can emulate her during this season of Lent.

~ Copyright Jean M. Heimann, February 2015

Prayer

Lord, strength of the humble,
You chose St. Paula Montal
To give testimony by her words and deeds
Of your saving love for the family and society.
Through the integral promotion of women
And the Christian education of children and youth,
Grant us through her intercession, the grace
To imitate her in following Christ the Master
And reaching the eternal happiness of Your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exploring Lenten Themes in Art


Dr. Jem Sullivan explores Lenten themes in sacred art:

Fr. Robert Barron: Thomas Merton, Spiritual Master


Thomas Merton was not perfect, and he might not have been a saint. But he was indeed a master of the spiritual life, and his life and work had a profound effect on me and an army of others around the world. Fr. Barron offers a tribute to him on the 100th anniversary of Merton's birth.




St. Walburga, Benedictine Nun and First Woman Author in England and Germany



Today is the feast of St. Walburga (710 - 777)  missionary, Benedictine nun, author, and abbess of Hiedenheim.

St. Walburga was born in Wessex, England, about 710, the daughter of St. Richard and Winna, the sister of St. Boniface. She had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. When St. Richard set out for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his sons, he entrusted 11-year-old Walburga to to the abbess of Wimborne. She was educated by the nuns at the monastery school at Wimborne, and became a nun there, remaining with the community for twenty-six years.

When St. Boniface requested nuns to help him in the evangelization of pagan Germany, St. Walburga responded to that call. On the way to Germany, there was a terrible storm at sea. Walburga knelt on the deck of the ship and prayed. The sea immediately became calm. The sailors who witnessed this spread the word that she was a miracle worker, so she was received in Germany with great respect.
Initially, Walburga lived at Bischofsheim, under the rule of St. Lioba. Then she was made abbess at Heidenheim, close to where her brother, Winibald served as an abbot over a men's monastery. After his death, she ruled both monasteries. She worked many miracles in the course of her ministry. She wrote a biography of her brother, Winibald, and of Willibald's travels in Palestine, in Latin. She is referred to as the first woman author in both England and Germany.

On September 23, 776, she assisted Willibald in translating the uncorrupt relics of their brother, Winibald, to a new tomb in the church at Heidenheim. Shortly after this, she became ill. Willibald cared for her until she died on February 25, 777, and then placed her next to Winibald in the tomb.
After St. Willibald's death in 786, people gradually forgot St. Walburga and the church fell into disrepair. In 870, Bishop Oktar was having Heidenheim restored. Some workmen desecrated Walburga's grave. She appeared in a dream to the bishop, who then translated her relics to Eichstadt.

In 893, St. Walburga's body was found to be immersed in a mysterious sweet-smelling liquid. It was found to work miraculous healings. The liquid, called St. Walburga's oil, has flowed from her body, ever since, except for a brief period when the church was put under the interdict after robbers shed the blood of a bell-ringer in the church. Portions of St. Walburga's relics have taken to several other cities and her oil to all parts of the world.

St. Walburga is the patroness of Eichstätt and Weilburg, Germany; Oudenarde, Veurne, Antwerp, Belgium; and Zutphen the Netherlands. She is invoked as special patroness against hydrophobia, in storms, and also by sailors. She is also patroness against coughs, dog bites, and rabies.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco: The "Don Bosco of Southern Italy"



Today we commerate the feast of Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco, who was beatified in 2001 as a model of holiness for priests. He was dedicated to his priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and missions, teaching catechism to youth and organizing prayer evenings for young people and adults at the parish. Pope John Paul II referred to him as the "Don Bosco of Southern Italy" due to his heroic charity and concern for the plight of poor orphaned children. He had a deep devotion to the crucified Christ throughout his life and worked to build the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus among the faithful.

He was born December 1, 1831, in Pagani, Italy, the seventh of eight children. Orphaned by the age of 10, his uncle, a priest and a teacher, who took charge of his education.

Since 1839, the year of the canonization of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas Mary had dreamed of the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1847 and was ordained in 1855. In 1862 he opened a school of moral theology in his home to train priests for the ministry of confession. That same year he founded the priestly Society of the Catholic Apostolate for missions among the faithful.

In 1873, deeply moved by the plight of an orphaned street girl, Fr. Thomas Mary founded a religious order for women, the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood, a congregation devoted to the care of orphans. He was a traveling missionary in southern Italy and through his apostolic travels, many new houses and orphanages were built. This was a result of his heroic charity, which developed dramatically during the last twenty years of his life.

Fr. Thomas Maria died of liver disease Feb. 24, 1891 at the age of 59.

His life was directed to the highest devotion of Christian virtues by the priestly life, lived intensely in constant meditation on the mystery of the Father’s love, contemplated in the crucified Son whose Blood is “the expression, measure and pledge” of divine Charity and heroic charity to the poor and needy, in whom Fr Tommaso Maria saw the bleeding Face of Jesus.

His writings, preaching and popular missions marked his vast experience of faith and the light of Christian hope that shone from his vocation and actions. He had a vital, burning love for God; it enflamed his words and his apostolate, made fruitful by love for God and neighbour, by union with the crucified Jesus, by trust in Mary, Immaculate and Sorrowful, and above all by the Eucharist.

The cause for the beatification of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was initiated in 1955 and the decree of his heroic Christian virtues was published on April 24, 2001. The miraculous healing of Mrs Maria Battaglia on August 20, 1964 in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily, through the intercession of Fr Tommaso Maria Fusco was recognized on July 7, 2001.