Friday, August 29, 2014

Virtual Carmelite Choir celebrates the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila's birth

This choir is singing with a purpose! The order of the Discalced Carmelites are singing to honor 500 years since the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.

It's part of a so-called "virtual choir”composed of Carmelite friars and nuns from all over the world. They are accompanied by the Teresian Orchestra of the Cathedral of St. James in Seattle, Washington.

To bring these voices together in one choir, they all recorded themselves singing.

"Nada te turbe”, which translates to "Let nothing disturb you” is the choir's first song. It's based on a poem written by Saint Teresa of Avila.

The second song is a version of the Salve Regina. Sr. Claire Sokol composed both melodies for the occasion.

The videos have received thousands of hits on YouTube since it was first posted.

Related: “Let Nothing Disturb You”: A Virtual Choir of Carmelites

7 Quick Takes: Our Lady, Saints, Snowbirds, and Labor Day

This week has been a busy one for me - filled with appointments and new projects. It has also been a week in which I celebrated the historical feast of  Our Lady of Czestochowa: The Black Madonna, as well as the feasts of some of my favorite saints.

1.  We celebrated St. Augustine's feast day yesterday, August 28th. He has long been a saint after my own heart -- a theologian, great Doctor of the Church, and one of the most prolific writers of his time.  His conversion story is beautiful and one that I can relate to in my own life as a revert to the Catholic faith, but what is most amazing about his life is the fact that he remained faithful and grew in holiness and virtue, becoming a saint. I added some wonderful quotes to this post, which reveal the beauty of his love for the Lord.

2.  On Wednesday, I wrote about St. Monica: Model of Evangelization, who reminds me of my own mother in that like Monica, she, too, prayed with persistence, patience, and tenacity for her child to turn away from sin and return to the one true faith. Similar to St. Monica, she also joyfully experienced the fruit of her prayers -- the conversion of her child after many long years of prayer.

3.  On Tuesday, we celebrated the 104th birthday anniversary of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I share some brand new links and some pity quotes there. One of my all-time favorite quotes is: "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." Now that is powerful!

4.  On Monday, I blogged about two marvelous saints in my posts, St. Joseph Calasanz, patron of Catholic schools, and  Five Favorite Quotes from St. Louis IX.

5. Today, I posted on St. John the Baptist, the only saint who occupies two feast days on the liturgical calendar. He is also the only saint who has a feast day on his birthday; most other saints' feast days are on the day of their death. On June 24,  we celebrate The Nativity of St. John the Baptist and on August 29,  we commemorate The Beheading of St. John the Baptist.  The Roman Missal tells us that after the Feasts of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the angels, the next most important is the Feast of St. John the Baptist.

6. Fun Friday pop quiz: What is the last song you listened to? Snowbird sung by Ann Murray Check out some interesting song facts about Snowbird.

7. Happy Labor Day weekend to all! Since I worked all summer without taking a vacation, I am looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend! Have a good one!

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

On June 24, we celebrated the birthday of St. John the Baptist; today we honor the anniversary of his martyrdom.

Shortly after he had baptized Jesus, John the Baptist began to denounce Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Herod had divorced his own wife and taken Herodias, the wife of his half- brother Philip and also his own niece. John the Baptist declared, "It is not lawful for you to have her," so Herod threw him into prison.

Not only did Herod fear John and his disciples, he also knew him to be a righteous man, so he did not kill him. Herodias was determined to bring about John's death. From prison John followed Jesus's ministry, and sent messengers to question him (Luke 7:19-29). One day Herod gave an eloquent banquet to celebrate his birthday. His entire court was present as well as other powerful and influential Palestinians. Herodias's daughter Salome so pleased Herod when she danced to entertain the company that he promised her whatever she would ask--even half of his kingdom. Salome asked her mother for counsel and was told to request the head of the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).

Because of his pride Herod, though deeply sorry, could not decline the request; as St. Augustine said, "an oath rashly taken was criminally kept." He sent a soldier of the guard to behead John in prison. Thus, the "voice crying in the wilderness" was silenced. The head was placed on a platter and taken to Salome, who gave it to her mother.

When John's disciples heard what had happened, they took away his body and laid it in a tomb, where he was venerated in the 4th century.

The Greatness of St. John the Baptist

John's holiness appears so great that the Jews come to ask him if he is the looked - for Christ. but he, forestalled as he is with divine favors, protests that he is but "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.

"The other prophets only saw the Messiah afar off; he points him out in person and in terms so clear that all sincere hearts understand them: "Behold the lamb of God," behold the one who is the object of all the desires of the human race, because he takes away the sins of the world; Ecce Agnus Dei. You do not yet know him, although he is in the midst of you: Medius vestrum stetit quem vos nescitis; he is greater than I, for he was before me; he is so great that I am not even worthy to loose the latchet of his shoe; so great that "I saw the Spirit coming down as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him...and I saw, and I gave testimony that this is the Son of God.

"What more has he yet to say? "He that comes from above, is above all. He who God has seen heard that he testified...he whom God has sent, speaks the words of God; for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The father loves the Son; and he has given all things into his hand. He that believed in the Son, has life everlasting; but he that not believes in the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

"These are the last words of the Precursor. By them he achieves his work of preparing souls to receive the Messiah. Indeed, when the Incarnate Word, who alone can speak the words from on high because he is ever in sinu Patris (in the bosom of the Father), begins his public mission as the Savior, John will disappear; he will no longer bear testimony to the Truth save with the shedding of his blood.

The Christ, whom he announced, has come at last; he is that Light unto which John bore testimony, and all those who believe in that Light have everlasting life. It is to Him alone that it must be said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

~ Blessed Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

Blessed Columba Marmion O.S.B. (1858-1923) was abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous, Belgium.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

St. Augustine of Hippo

By Jean M. Heimann

Today, August 28th, is the feast of St. Augustine, a Western Father of the Church whose conversion to Christianity is well-known as one of the most important events in the history of the Church. He was an illustrious theologian, a bishop, and a great doctor of the Church.

Augustine was born in Tagaste, Africa in 354 to Patricius, a pagan Roman official, and to Monica, a devout Christian. Monica raised Augustine in the Christian faith, but when he went to study law in Carthage, he turned away from his Christian beliefs and led a life of immorality and hedonism.

At age 15, he took a took a mistress who bore him a son, Adeodatus, which means “the gift of God,” and at age 18, he and his friend, Honoratus became members of the Manichaean heretical sect, which accepted the dual principle of good and evil.

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen explained his attraction to the heresy: “The conflict between flesh and spirit in him was resolved by the heresy of Manichæanism because it enabled him to pursue a voluptuous life without ever being held accountable for it. He could say that the evil principle within him was so strong, so deep, and intense that the good principle could not operate.”

Augustine turned away from his pursuit of law to literary endeavors and won poetic tournaments and made a name for himself in the world of philosophy. Augustine made plans to teach in Rome, but instead went to Milan.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen describes St. Augustine’s conversion so beautifully:

“Monica prayed that her son would never go to Italy because she feared that there would be more evil companionship there than in Northern Africa. Her prayers seemed to go unanswered, but at the same time, they were answered in a mysterious way.

In the year 384, Augustine told his mother to go to visit the Church of St. Cyprian the Martyr while he went to visit friends. He slipped away from Africa that night and went to Rome, against his mother's wishes. His reputation as an orator and rhetorician preceded him and he was recognized as one of the most learned men of his time.

When Augustine went to Milan, to plead for the restoration of paganism to the City, he heard of the scholarship and the oratorical powers of Ambrose, the Bishop. Many days he would sit under the pulpit in veneration of Ambrose. Later, he spent many hours in his company, discussing philosophy and he took manuscripts from Ambrose's library to read.

All the while, the chains of habit were strong in Augustine and his carnal nature was resisting his spiritual birth. In August, 386, he met Pontitianus who told Augustine the story of St. Anthony of the Desert. St. Anthony spent more than seventy years in the desert.

After hearing the story, Augustine said: "Manes is an impostor. The Almighty calls me. Christ is the only way and Paul is my guide.

"If Anthony has conquered the libido and sex, why could not he, Augustine asked himself.

Augustine eager to be alone went into the garden. There he underwent a conflict between the old ego and the new one that was being born.

Casting himself at the foot of a spreading fig tree, he cried hot and bitter tears, which overflowed and bathed his spirit. He cried aloud:

"When shall I achieve salvation, when shall I cast off my fetters? Tomorrow perhaps, or the day after? Why not this very hour?"

Suddenly he became aware of the voice of a child, a boy or girl, he knew not, speaking in a neighboring house.

"Take up and read," said the sweet voice.

He hurried back into the room. He found a copy of the epistles of St. Paul, which Pontitianus had been fingering. Seizing it, and opening it at random, his eyes fell upon the words of St. Paul to the Romans 13:13:

"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh."

In that one moment, the carnal passions, which had for sixteen years appeared invincible, were annihilated.

Augustine cries out in deep regret:

"Too late, O Ancient Beauty, have I loved Thee."

On Holy Thursday, which fell on April 22, 387 AD, he recited the Credo aloud in the presence of an assembled congregation. He fasted until Holy Saturday and in the evening he went to the Basilica, where Bishop Ambrose pronounced the last exorcisms over him, made the sign of the Cross upon his forehead and breast, and poured the baptismal waters.

Then, in accordance with the custom used only in the church in Milan, Ambrose got on his knees and washed the feet of Augustine. The two saints were united for perhaps the last time on earth. The elder humbled himself before the younger, the more famous before the more obscure.

Adeodatus, the carnal son of his sinning, received Baptism at the same time.

The nameless woman whom Augustine lived with, and mother of Adeodatus, returned to Carthage and spent her remaining days in penance.

One of the effects of Augustine's conversion was a return to joviality, and a deep sense of inner peace. There was also a great increase of literary productiveness. Between the years 380 and 386, before his conversion, he had not written a single page. Now, in a short space of time, he composed four brief books in succession.

In 397, or twelve years after his conversion, Augustine wrote his Confessions, the greatest spiritual autobiography ever written. It is the work of a teacher who explains, a philosopher who thinks, and a theologian who instructs. It is the work of a poet who achieves chaste beauty in the writing, and a mystic who pours out thanks for having found himself in peace.

"Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You. You have called to me, and have cried out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after You. I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst after You. You have touched me, and I have burned for Your peace" (Confessions 10,27).

None of the Freuds or Jungs or Adlers of our 20th century has ever pierced the conscious and the unconscious mind with a rapier as keen as Augustine's. No man can say he has ever understood himself if he has not read the 'Confessions' of Augustine.”

~ St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

St. Monica died in Ostia (modern Italy) and St. Augustine remained in Italy, for a time, praying, studying and writing, before returning to Tagaste, Africa, where he sold all his possessions and distributed the money to the poor. He was ordained as a priest in 391. He was later made bishop of Hippo at the age of 41 and became one of the four great founders of religious orders and a Doctor of the universal Church. He died on August 30, 430.

Quotes of St. Augustine

“Love God, and do what you will.” -Sermon on 1 John 7:8.

“Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.” -Sermons 358, 1. “Victoria veritatis est caritas.”

“Love is the beauty of the soul.” - Sermon on 1 John 4:19-21

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord". -Confessions

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” -Confessions

 “I was looking for you outside myself and I did not find the God of my own heart.” -Confessions

“The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed. The mind commands itself and meets resistance.” -Confessions

“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” -City of God

Patron: Theologians, brewers; diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; printers; city of Saint Augustine, Florida; diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida; sore eyes; diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; diocese of Tucson, Arizona.

Fr. Robert Barron: Woody Allen's Bleak Vision

St. Monica: Model of Evangelization

Today, August 27, is the feast of St. Monica, patron saint of mothers and married women. She is a saint I admire so much for her tenacity, patience, and perseverance in prayer for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine. A persistent prayer warrior, Monica never gave up on her son, Augustine, a great sinner, who later became so strongly drawn to the faith that he was eventually canonized, as one of the Church's greatest teachers and philosophers, and was designated a doctor of the Church.

St. Monica is a wonderful model for us to follow today. How many of us have family members who have left the Church? I would guess that most of us have at least one or more relatives who are no longer practicing their faith. A Pew Research Study reports that 10% of all Americans are ex-Catholics. How can we encourage these fallen-away Catholics to return to the faith of their childhood?

The most effective ways to positively influence our family members to return to their faith are to pray for them and to live out our Catholic faith in our lives. Monica did both. She prayed for nearly twenty years for Augustine to return to his faith. He had been baptized, but once he went off to college, he began to live a corrupt and immoral lifestyle. He later lived with a concubine and had an illegitimate son. Monica wept and prayed for years on end. Does this sound familiar? Do you find yourself praying day after day and feel like perhaps God isn't really hearing your prayer? You are not alone in your frustration. Monica felt the same way. She cried out in her misery and a bishop named Ambrose consoled her with the words: "Don't worry; it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost."

As a revert to the Catholic faith, I can tell you that your prayers for your children or your relatives are never wasted. They are precious to God and He hears every one of them. Every tear that falls from your eyes is like a precious jewel to Him. God may be preparing their hearts to be receptive to Him. We need to remember that God gave each of us a free will, which He will not violate. It is up to the individual to make the decision as to whether or not he will accept the Truth. However, prior to accepting the Truth, he must be receptive to it.  What motivated me to being receptive to the Truth was seeing the light and love of God in action in my life. I witnessed God in my life through the actions of both my parents as well as other faithful Catholics who drew me into the faith. It was then that the floodgates of grace opened for me.

My mother prayed for my return to my Catholic faith for fifteen years. It was her prayers, as well as those of my father, that brought me back Home to Catholicism. It was also the way they lived out their faith in their lives that made me realize that they had something special that I was missing. They evidenced their faith in the way they handled trials and suffering. There was no anger, but a sense of peace and joy in the midst of suffering. They lived simple lives, which was centered on their love for God. The love between them was an unselfish, self-sacrificing love, focused on serving the needs of the other. Their relationships with others were similar. They put the needs of others before their own in their family, in their work outside the home, and in their service to the Church. Witnessing their deep love for God and devotion to the Blessed Mother and the saints made me focus on what was really important in life. It wasn't my “high status” job, my brand new red Honda Prelude, my education, or anything else. God had been absent from my life and I wanted Him back. The first time I saw Jesus in the Eucharist I could not stop crying –I craved Him so much and yet knew that I needed to go to Confession first to restore my soul to a state of grace. The first time I received Him was on Christmas – and what a glorious Christmas gift He was!

In order to effectively evangelize family members, there are three things we need to do. Like Monica, we need to be persistent and patient in prayer. Next, we need to live out our faith in our lives, by manifesting Christ’s love to others. Lastly, we need to remember that everything works out according to God’s timetable, not our own. Trust in God, for “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the one that seeks Him" (Lamentations 3:25).

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann August 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Michelangelo, Renaissance man, 450 years after his death

Thousands of tourists walk past Rome's Capitoline Hill each day. Its design comes from famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Within the historic square, the Capitoline Museum hosts an exhibit dedicated to him, to mark 450 years since his death.

Rome Superintendence of Cultural Heritage
"It wasn't possible to show Michelangelo's greatest works, like the Sistine Chapel, the Piety or the David. But, we sought to bring his works that had never been seen together. The exhibit shows Michelangelo through works that are not well known, but hold lots of significance.”

Among the highlights are the "Madonna of the Steps.” Michelangelo completed he relief sculpture at the age of 15.

Rome Superintendence of Cultural Heritage
"Within a very confined space, a thin slab of marble, it already expresses some of the fundamental characteristics of the great Florentine artist. Perspective, the great attention to the delineation of the bodies, and this capacity to create space within an extremely reduced marble structure.”

The exhibit also features the Christ the Redeemer statue from Bassano Romano. It was just recently attributed to Michelangelo.

Rome Superintendence of Cultural Heritage
"This sculpture, kept at the monastery at Bassano Romano, is almost certainly one of the works from his youth. But he abandoned it because of an imperfection in block of marble. We know how careful Michelangelo was in choosing the marble blocks he worked with.”

Michelangelo lived a long life, given the time period. In his 88-year lifespan, he worked for four Popes.

He excelled in sculpting and painting, as well as architecture. But this exhibit also showcases his talent for writing poetry, note-taking and sketching, all of which inspired and helped him become a universal artist.

~ Via Rome Reports.

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars

Today, August 26, is the feast day of St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars (also known as Saint Teresa de Gesu, Jornet y Ibars), the Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor.

Born in 1843 at Catalonia, Spain, she was raised on a farm and later became a teacher at Lérida. She had been preparing to take her final vows as a Poor Clare nun, when the government suppressed all convents and she was sent home. She struggled to understand why God would permit this to happen and for several years asked Him what she was to do with her life. Then, she met a priest/spiritual director who provided the answer. Along with Father Saturnino Lopez Novoa, she opened a shelter for the poor and the elderly. At the age 29, in Barbastro, Spain, Teresa founded the community known today as the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor. By the time of her death, at age 54, she had established more than 100 shelters in Spain and 58 congregation houses. Today the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Poor have more than 200 houses in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. She was beatified in 1958 and canonized in 1974 by Pope Paul VI.

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars is the patron saint of senior citizens and retired people.

"The Little Sisters have been and are the witnesses of the emptiness that often afflicts the old. They have been chosen to fill that emptiness with warmth and human affection. They have been chosen by God to reaffirm the sacredness of human life and to underline the truth that man is a child of God and can never be regarded only as a tool of cold utilitarianism."

~ Pope Paul VI

Our Lady of Czestochowa: The Black Madonna

Today is the historical feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna).

The Black Madonna was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist; and it was while painting the picture, Mary told him about the life of Jesus, which he later incorporated into his gospel. The next time we hear of the painting is in 326 A.D. when St. Helen found it in Jerusalem and gave it to her son and had a shrine built for it in Constantinople. During a battle, the picture was placed on the walls of the city, and the enemy army fled. Our Lady saved the city from destruction. The picture was owned by many other people until 1382, when invading Tartars attacked a Prince Ladislaus' fortress, where the painting was located. A Tartar's arrow lodged into through the throat of the Madonna. The Prince transferred the painting to a church in Czestochowa, Poland.

In 1430, the church was invaded and a looter struck the painting two times with his sword, but before he could strike it another time, he fell to the ground in agony and pain, and died. The sword cuts and the arrow wound are still visible on the painting. The miracles worked by Our Lady of Czestochowa seem to occur mainly on a public scale. During her stay in Constantinople, she is reported to have frightened the besieging Saracens away from the city. Similarly, in 1655 a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive off a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary. The following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by King Casimir.

When the Russians were at Warsaw's gates in 1920, thousands of people walked from Warsaw to Czestochowa to ask the Madonna for help. The Poles defeated the Russians at a battle along the Wisla (or Vistula) River. Today, every school child knows the victory as "The Miracle on the Wisla." During World War II under German occupation, the faithful made pilgrimages as a show of defiance. That spirit deepened during the atheistic years of Soviet-enforced communism. Government attempts to stop the pilgrimages failed.

In the early 1980s, Walesa didn't drape himself in the Polish flag when he was leading the outlawed Solidarity movement; he placed an Our Lady of Czestochowa lapel pin on his jacket. Poles knew it to be a subversive message. Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.

Why is She Black?

There have been reports for centuries of miraculous events such as spontaneous healings occurring to those who made a pilgrimage to the portrait. It is known as the 'Black Madonna" because of the soot residue that discolors the painting. The soot is the result of centuries of votive lights and candles burning in front of the painting. With the decline of Communism in Poland, pilgrimages to the Black Madonna have increased dramatically.

~ excerpted from the Mary Page 

Remembering Blessed Mother Teresa on her 104th Birthday

Today, August 26th, marks the 104th birthday of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Happy Birthday, Mother Teresa!

Mother Teresa: Saint of the Gutters (Beautiful tribute in pictures)

Remembering 104th Birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Official Novena to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta begins today

Best Pithy Quotes:

"When you look at the crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the sacred host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now."

"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."

"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set. Everyone can reach this love through meditation, spirit of prayer, and sacrifice, by an intense inner life."

"God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.”

"If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive."

"There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness, and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much."

"We should not serve the poor like they were Jesus. We should serve the poor because they are Jesus."

"Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart."

"Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing".

"Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child."

"A child is God's greatest gift to the family, to the nation, to the world. The child is a life from God, created in the image of God, created for great things, to love and to be loved."

“Mary my Mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so Immaculate, so full of love and humility, that I may be able to receive Jesus.”

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."

'We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."

"A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace."

"Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

Monday, August 25, 2014

St. Joseph Calasanz, patron of Catholic schools

Today we remember St. Joseph Calasanz, a diocesan priest who opened the first free public school in Rome, the patron of Catholic schools. Other men who joined Father Joseph in his work became members of a community he founded, the Piarist Order. Fr. James Kubicki shares more about this saint:

Five Favorite Quotes from St. Louis IX

Today, August 25, is the feast of St. Louis IX, King of France (1215-1270). A third order Franciscan, he was a just king, a devoted spouse, and the loving father of eleven children.

Here are five of my favorite quotes, excerpted from a letter he wrote to his son.

1. "Fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved."

2.  "Have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms."

3.  "Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back."

 3. "I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid."

4. "Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good."

5. "Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

Photo copyright Jean M. Heimann

Welcome to Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival, where a group of Catholic bloggers meet up at RAnn's blog to share their posts for the week and answer a question.

This week's question: Introduce yourself.

Answer: I am a freelance writer and author of three books, a retired school psychologist (who has worked with both children and adults, ages 2 - 82 in schools, social service agencies, and private practice settings), and a retired educator (elementary through college age). I have a Master of Science degree in School Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Theology. I am an oblate with the Community of St. John, a parish and diocesan presenter, and have served as a leader in adult education formation for twenty-three years. My areas of specialty include: saints, spirituality, sacraments, and moral theology. I am also a trained crisis pregnancy counselor, a trained sidewalk counselor, and a prayer intercessor who has served the pro-life movement in these positions in both Illinois and Kansas. I am the author of the award-wining weblog, Catholic Fire, for the past ten years and a contributor to an additional five Catholic weblogs. I have been married to my husband, William (Bill) for the past twenty-two years and have one adult stepson. We live in Wichita, Kansas.

This week's posts include the following:

St. Rose of Lima

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope St. Pius X, "Pope of the Eucharist"

Novena to St. Augustine begins today

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: A model of peace for these troubled times

Pope's relatives die in car crash. Pope calls for prayers

St. John Eudes: "Father, Doctor, and Apostle" of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Best images of Pope Francis' trip to South Korea

Saint Helena of Constantinople: Finder of the True Cross of Jesus Christ

Novena to St. Monica Begins Today

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann August 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

St. Rose of Lima

August 23 is the optional memorial of St. Rose of Lima, virgin.

Isabella Flores de Oliva was born April 20, 1586 to Spanish immigrants in Lima, Peru. At her confirmation, she took the name of Rose, because as an infant, her face had been seen transformed by a mystical rose.

She was pious from an early age. At age five, she built a small chapel for herself in the family garden. When she made her first Confession, she obtained permission from her confessor to make a vow of virginity.

Rose had a strong devotion for Jesus and His Holy Mother and spent long hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament. With St. Catherine of Siena as her model, Rose fasted three times a week, offered up severe penances, and when her vanity was attacked, she cut off her beautiful hair, and wore coarse clothing. She frequently deprived herself of food, water, and sleep. As a result of her exterior mortification, she had interior mystical experiences as well as long periods of darkness and desolation. For fifteen years, she went through the "dark night of the soul."

Rose worked hard to support her poor parents (by embroidering and gardening) and she humbly obeyed them, except when they tried to get her to marry. That she would not do. For ten years she fought them on this issue as she had secretly taken a vow of virginity with the permission of her confessor at the age of five. At the same time, she experienced great temptations which resulted in excruciating mental anguish and loneliness.

At age 20, Rose joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and and thereafter increased her penances as well as her good works. She moved into a small hut in her parents' garden and served the poor and the sick in a makeshift infirmary. Our Lord frequently manifested Himself to her, filling her heart with peace and joy, leaving her in ecstasy for hours. In her last long, painful sickness, this heroic young woman prayed: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."

Exhausted from her many penances and austerities, Rose died of a fever and paralysis at age 31. She was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X and became the first American saint.

Rose stands out among Dominican saints in her understanding of the immeasurable value of redemptive suffering. Speaking of the power that directed her life, she wrote, “That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of Divine Grace.”

Patronage: the Americas; Central America; embroiderers; florists; gardeners; India; Latin America; needle workers; New World; people ridiculed for their piety; Peru; Philippines; diocese of Santa Rosa, California; South America; vanity; Villareal Samar, Phillipines; West Indies.


“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

“When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”

“Would that mortal men might know how wonderful is divine grace, how beautiful, how precious; what riches are hidden therein, what treasures, what joys, what delights. If they but knew, surely they would direct their energy with all care and diligence to procuring sufferings and afflictions for themselves. Instead of good fortune all men everywhere would seek out troubles, illness and suffering that they might obtain the inestimable treasure of grace. This is the final profit to be gained from patient endurance. No one would complain about the cross or about hardships coming seemingly by chance upon him, if he realized in what balance they are weighed before being distributed to men.”

-- St. Rose of Lima

“Affliction is always accompanied by Grace; Grace is proportionate to Suffering. The measure of My gifts is increased with the measure of trials.” – Jesus to St. Rose of Lima

"Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: ‘Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.’ ” – from the writings of St. Rose of Lima

Litany of St. Rose of Lima

Lord, have mercy on us.
 Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
 Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
 Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
 Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
 Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
 Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins,
 Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Dominic, glorious Patriarch,
St. Rose, prepared by the dew of heavenly grace,
One in whom the grace of God was not fruitless,
From infancy illustrious for holiness,
Foolish to the world but chosen by God to confound the wise,
Dear to the Virgin Mary while yet a child,
Consecrated to Christ by a vow of virginity,
Disdaining all things to gain Christ,
Shining example of an angelic life,
Lily among the thorns,
Nailed to the Cross of Christ,
Model of patience and mortification,
Refreshed by heavenly consolations,
Favored by appearances of the Mother of God,
Devoted to heavenly contemplation,
Inflamed with seraphic love of God,
Ardently zealous for the salvation of souls,
One whose charity was not extinguished by persecutions,
Dying in the love of Jesus and Mary,
Brought to Him whom she did love,
First flower of sanctity in America,
Ornament of Christian virgins,

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
 Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
 Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
 Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, St. Rose,
 That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray, Almighty God, the author and giver of all good things, who willed that St. Rose be prepared by the dew of grace from Heaven and bloom in America as a beauteous flower of virginity and patience. Grant to us your servants, to be drawn by the perfume of her virtue, that we may deserve to become a sweet fragrance of Christ, who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, we celebrate a beautiful Marian Feast -- the Queenship of Mary. This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter Ad Caeli Reginam. The Catholic Church made this proclamation based upon the fact that whether in time of peace or in time of war, the faithful have incessantly offered prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven.

Following the tremendous destruction that occurred during World War II and considering the reality that the threat of a similar catastrophe filled the faithful with a great anguish, the Church turned its eyes towards Mary, the Heavenly Queen, in the hope of her protection. Mary has never failed those who have sought her intercession in prayer, placing their total trust in her.

Mary’s queenship has its roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. (Luke 1:32 -33) At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “Mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43) As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.

In the fourth century, St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church Fathers and Doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The Saints on Mary's Queenship:

“When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.”
~ St. John Damascene

"No one has access to the Almighty as His mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us; for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen forever."

~  John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Just as Mary surpassed in grace all others on earth, so also in heaven is her glory unique. If eye has not seen or ear heard or the human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9), who can express what He has prepared for the woman who gave Him birth and who loved Him, as everyone knows, more than anyone else?"

~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

"She has surpassed the riches of the virgins, the confessors, the martyrs, the apostles, the prophets, the patriarchs, and the angels, for she herself is the first-fruit of the virgins, the mirror of confessors, the rose of martyrs, the ruler of apostles, the oracle of prophets, the daughter of patriarchs, the queen of angels."

~St. Bonaventure

Queenship of Mary in Scripture

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Litany of Loreto)