"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
O good father Joseph! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows and joys, to obtain for me what I ask.
(Here name your petition).
Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers, everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Be near to me in my last moments, that I may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Amen.
During World War II, more than 400,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime in Hungary. Back then, the Vatican's nuncio was Angelo Rotta. He along with his secretary, Gennaro Verolino, helped saved roughly 15,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Author 'The Righteous of Budapest'
"They processed passports and left them blank, so that if someone needed to flee, they could do so. They also rented a series of building in Budapest. I think there were about 25 units. They created fictitious offices and they displayed the Vatican flag as if it was part of the nunciature. There they allowed Jews to hide.”
Back in Rome, the Vatican knew exactly what they were doing, and in fact, those two diplomats weren't the only ones. Back when he was a Vatican diplomat, John XXIII also helped Jews flee from the Nazis when he served as nuncio in Istanbul.
Author 'The Righteous of Budapest'
"Verolino's letters clearly state this. He describes that the Pope was well aware of all these actions and all these delicate situations.”
LUMSA University (Rome)
"You can't just rent out 25 homes without informing the Holy See. Msgr. Verolino was directly in contact with other Eastern European nuncios, including Msgr. Roncalli, who later became John XXIII. They prepared passports so that Jews could flee to Palestine. The Holy See knew about this. So they weren't your typical rebels, but rather they were part of a much more strategic and complicated strategy.”
The work carried out by these diplomats has been openly recognized by the Jews. They even honored nuncio Angelo Rotta, by giving him the title 'Righteous Among the Nations,' which acknowledges people from other faiths, who helped Jews during the Holocaust.
Today, the universal Church celebrates the life of Saint John Ogilvie, a former Calvinist who was martyred in Scotland during the Protestant Reformation.
St. John Ogilvie was born of a noble Scottish family in 1579 and was raised a Calvinist. John converted to Catholicism at the age of 17 at the Scots College in Louvain, Belgium. He attended several Catholic schools and soon discovered a call to join the Jesuits. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Bohemia in 1599 and was ordained in Paris in 1610, the year before the last two Jesuits working in Scotland were obliged to leave as persecution intensified. He returned to Scotland in 1614 with a fellow Jesuit and they made converts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
John was betrayed by a potential convert, imprisoned, interrogated, then tortured for the names of active Catholics. He gave no information. “Your threats cheer me; I mind them no more than the cackling of geese,” he told his captors. Asked if he feared to die Father John replied, “No more than you do to dine.”
After a long imprisonment in which he was repeatedly tortured, St. John was tried on the charges of treason and was convicted after three trials. He continued to refuse to name names. The saint was martyred in 1615 at the age of 36 after he was sentenced to death by hanging. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976.
Today is the optional memorial of St. John of God, Founder of the Order of the Brothers Hospitalers, which bears his name.
St. John of God was born on March 8, 1495 in a small village in the south of Portugal called Montemor-o-Novo. At the age of eight, he left home and was raised by a Spanish family in Oropesa. John spent most of his life as a wanderer, working as a shepherd, soldier, a religious bookseller and laborer, traveling in Europe and North Africa.
When St. John of God settled in Granada around the age of forty he was so deeply moved by a homily of Blessed John of Avila, that he gave away all his worldly possessions to the poor and went about the city beating his breast, begging for God’s mercy. His conversion experience was so dramatic in its intensity that he was locked up in a lunatic asylum, where he was flogged and placed in solitary confinement.
His brief experience of this kind of treatment made him feel very compassionate toward the poor, the sick and the suffering; thus, he devoted the rest of his life to caring for those in need. John's work was motivated by his great love of God and Our Blessed Mother. "Whatsoever you do to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to Me." This was the yardstick John used to measure his service to others. John was a warm, loving person who created a warm, caring environment in his hospital.
People were impressed by John's sincerity, his deep love for others, and his service to them. He was able, therefore, to tap their generosity and involve them in his work. They donated food and money and many volunteered to help him with his work. They called him John of God. Because he believed that everyone was equal in the sight of God, John moved effortlessly across the social classes. He was as much at ease in the presence of royalty as he was with the sick and poor in his hospital. He created a family of St. John of God, which consisted of the nobility, the middle-class, the poor, his volunteers and his paid staff, all with the sole purpose of serving God by serving those in need.
St. John is the founder of the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitaliers of St. John of God. He is the patron of: booksellers, printers, publishers; heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, the dying, alcoholics (because a Dublin hospital for alcoholics was named after him.); Tultepec Mexico and firefighters.
His symbols include a Crown of thorns (brought to him by the Blessed Mother), an alms box, a crucifix, a rosary, holding a pomegranate. Favorite Quotes from St. John of God
"If we look forward to receiving God's mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive according to his promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin."
"So many poor people come here that I very often wonder how we can care for them all, but Jesus Christ provides all things and nourishes everyone. Many of them come to the house of God, because the city of Granada is large and very cold, especially now in winter. More than a hundred and ten are now living here, sick and healthy, servants and pilgrims. Since this house is open to everyone, it receives the sick of every type and condition: the crippled, the disabled, lepers, mutes, the insane, paralytics, those suffering from scurvy and those bearing the afflictions of old age, many children, and above all countless pilgrims and travelers, who come here, and for whom we furnish the fire, water, and salt, as well as the utensils to cook their food. And for all of this no payment is requested, yet Christ provides."
"I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, who knows my heart. And so I say, "Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ."
A seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the survival of a child delivered stillborn and whose heart did not start beating until 61 minutes after his birth.
The survival of the child, James Fulton Engstrom of Goodfield, now 3 years old and developing normally, was credited by his parents to a miracle attributable to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a Peoria diocesan priest who gained fame for his 1950s television show "Life Is Worth Living" and his 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
The medical experts' report was announced March 6 in Peoria by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, of which Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, is president.
"Today is a significant step in the cause for the beatification and canonization of our beloved Fulton Sheen, a priest of Peoria and a Son of the Heartland who went on to change the world," Bishop Jenky said in a statement, available in full here. "There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice."
The case will next be reviewed by a board of theologians. With their approval, the case could move on to the cardinals and bishops who advise the pope on these matters. Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis, who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might take place.
If the Engstrom case is authenticated as a miracle, Archbishop Sheen would be beatified, elevating him from "venerable" to "blessed." A beatification ceremony could conceivably take place in Peoria, according to the foundation, which promotes his sainthood cause. In general, a second miracle would need to be authenticated for canonization.
The saints of the day for March 7 are Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. Perpetua was a convert to Christianity who was born to a noble pagan family. She was martyred along with her maid and friend, Felicity, in Carthage in 203 A.D.
The two women were arrested and imprisoned, along with three other Christians. Perpetua was 22-years-old, with a son a few months old; Felicity was pregnant at the time of the arrest. Their only crime was converting to Christianity.
The account of their martyrdom and courage, The Suffering of Perpetua and Felicity, is one of the earliest historical accounts of Christianity. It is one of the great treasures of martyr literature, an authentic document preserved for us in the actual words of the martyrs and their friends. Perpetua wrote a vivid account of what happened.
"While I was still with my companions, and my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and so weaken my faith, 'Father,' said I, 'do you see this vessel—water pot or whatever it may be? . . . Can it be called by any other name than what it is?" No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am—a Christian.' Then my father, provoked by the word 'Christian,' threw himself on me as if he would pluck out my eyes, but he only shook me, and in fact was vanquished.... Then I thanked God for the relief of being, for a few days, parted from my father . . . and during those few days we were baptized. The Holy Spirit bade me after the holy rite to pray for nothing but bodily endurance.”
While she was imprisoned, Felicity gave birth to a girl, who was taken and raised by one of her sisters. Perpetua wrote regarding her, "She rejoiced in the health of the child, for now she was free to be martyred: from blood to blood, that is, from motherhood to single combat, for after the birth she would be washed by a second baptism, that is to say, in her own blood.
"The prisoners turned their last meal into an agape, a love feast, and spoke of the joy of their own sufferings thereby astonishing most witnesses, and converting some.
On the day of Games, Perpetua and Felicity went to the amphitheater "joyfully as though they were on their way to heaven," as Perpetua sang a psalm of triumph. When the guards attempted to force the captives to wear robes consecrated to Roman gods, Perpetua challenged them: "We came to die out of our own free will so we wouldn't lose our freedom to worship our God. We gave you our lives so that we wouldn't have to worship your gods.
"The three male martyrs threatened the crowd, including the procurator who had condemned them, with the judgment of God, thereby enraging the crowd.
The men were attacked and killed by bears, leopards, and wild boars. A wild heifer was sent against the women. The heifer tossed Perpetua, who got up, straightened her hair, and helped Felicity regain her feet. Absorbed in ecstasy, Perpetua was unaware that she had been thrown, and did not believe it until Felicity showed her the marks on her body. Having survived the animals, the women were to be executed. They exchanged a final kiss of peace. A nervous gladiator tried to kill Perpetua, but failed to finish the job until she guided the knife to her throat.
Patronage Perpetua — Cattle, death of children, martyrs. Felicity — Death of children; martyrs; sterility; to have male children; widows.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, watch over all mothers and children who are separated from each other. Help all of us to follow your example of faith and courage. Amen.
Traditional Catholic theology has distinguished the “Four Last Things” : Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. We are admonished to meditate upon these things frequently. We WILL die, be judged, and spend eternity either in Hell, or in Heaven (likely after some time in purgatory).
Beginning with the end, or starting with the last things, is paradoxically, a good place for Lent to commence. Continue reading.
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. (Joel 2: 12-13)
It's that time of year again -- the time of both internal and external recollection that we are setting out on a journey. On Ash Wednesday, the ashes placed on our forehead invite us to begin a new journey of repentance. They invite us to turn back to God and to receive new life. Once again, we are called to let God penetrate deeper into our lives, for indeed, turning back to Him with our whole hearts is a submission to His holy will.
Lent is a time when we permit God to purify our hearts allow Him to unite our wills with His. Lent is a time of interior spring cleaning and obtaining new strength and great graces from God. This is the time of year to take a good look inside of ourselves and take inventory. What bad habit or sin can I work on permanently eliminating in my life? What sin am I really attached to that I can work on removing – not just during this Lenten season, but permanently? Is this sin really that necessary for my survival in this world? What virtue can I replace it with to ensure my survival in the next life?
This Lent, as in all past seasons of Lent, let us permit God to change at least one of our vices into a virtue. Today, let us pray for discernment, that God will help us work on that area of our lives that He wants us to change and ask for His help as we enter into these 40 days of desert with Him.
Heavenly Father, as I begin this journey into the desert with You, send Your Holy Spirit to enlighten me and to give me wisdom as to what it is You desire to change within me. Help me turn away from sin and come to back to You with all my heart through daily prayer and penance. Grant me the grace to persevere on the journey and the willingness to submit and surrender my heart to You. Amen.
Lent is a season of spiritual renewal, a time of quiet contemplation on the Passion and death of Jesus Christ, a period of 40 days in which we enter into the desert to give our lives to the Lord to be transformed, just as He gave His own for us. Lent at Ephesus, the latest album by the monastic Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, certainly does inspire me to open up my heart to receive all the graces of this holy season.
The heavenly voices of the Sisters and the words of their poignant chants and inspiring hymns of glory and redemption lift up the soul, promoting contemplation, as well as the peace and joy that accompany it. The 23-tract CD contains both English and Latin chants and hymns. My favorites include: “Jesus, My Love,” composed by Richard Rolle, a 14th century hermit; “God of Mercy and Compassion,” composed by Fr. Edmund Vaughn, a 19th century Redemptorist missionary, “Divine Physician,” a hymn written in 2012 by the Benedictines of Mary, and “Mother of Sorrow,” an original piece written in 2007 with lyrics adapted from the closing poem of St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s “Victories of the Martyrs.”
If you are unfamiliar with the music of the Benedictines of Mary, now is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with it. In 2012 they released Advent at Ephesus and in 2013 Angels and Saints at Ephesus. Both of these albums skyrocketed to the top of Billboard magazine’s Classical Traditional Music charts. Lent at Ephesus has already debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Classical Overall Music Chart and Classical Traditional Music.
This stunning one hour, fourteen minute sound-track is both soothing and soul-stirring. It is a CD that I plan to listen to throughout this Lenten season and for many to come.
•Jesus, My Love
•Christus factus est
•God of Mercy and Compassion
•Hosanna to the Son of David
•Jesu dulcis amor meus
•Jesu salvator mundi
•On the Way of the Cross
•Sacred Head Surrounded
•Adoramus te Christe
•Mother of Sorrows
•Vere languores nostros
•Tenebrae factae sunt
•Come and Mourn
•Adoramus te Christe
•All Glory, Laud and Honor
•Ave Regina caelorum
I have 2 Lent at Ephesus CD's to give away, courtesy of Carmel Communications!
To qualify for the drawing, just send me an email with your full name and mailing address at jean.heimann(at)gmail(dot)com and you are entered! The giveaway ends on Friday, March 7, 2014, so don't delay - enter now!
The saint of the day for March 4 is St. Casimir Jagiellon, 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 had fasted, worn 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.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family’s fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and American Indian populations of the United States.
Katharine, the second daughter of Francis Anthony and Hannah Drexel, was born in Philadelphia in 1858. 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 the Indians as well as those of the African Americans.
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.
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 African Americans 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, including, Xavier University, the only predominately black Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States.
In 1935, Katharine suffered a severe heart attack and spent the next twenty years of her life in prayer until her death on March 3, 1955. She was canonized on October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Quotes from St. Katharine Drexel:
“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."
“And here is the passive way – to be filled unto the fullness of God. The passive way – I abandon myself to it, not in a multiplicity of trials, extraordinary penances accomplished, practices of great works – but in peaceful abandonment to the tenderness of Jesus, which I must try to imitate, and by being in constant union with his meek and humble heart.
What likeness is there between me and my Mother? Do I try to be like her, in her love for Jesus? In her devotion for the cause for which he died – the salvation of souls – in her absolute submission to the will of God, in her patient suffering? Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, too, let me stand at the foot of the cross with you, to learn its lesson and to learn to be like the Mother of Sorrows. Amen. Photos of St. Katharine Drexel