Sunday, July 05, 2015

St. Maria Goretti: Model of Mercy and Purity



July 6 marks the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young virgin and martyr, who is a model of purity and mercy for all. Maria Goretti was a peasant girl who was stabbed fourteen times, while fighting off a rapist. She died forgiving her killer.

Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890, in Coranaldo in the province of Ancona in Italy, the third of seven children of Assunta and Luigi Goretti. When Maria was six, her father, realizing he could not support his growing family on the barren countryside, took them south, toward Rome, to a village near Anzio, believing that in the rich, warm farmlands of the Mediterranean he would find a more prosperous living and a make a better life for his family. In order to make ends meet, Maria’s father entered into partnership with a man called Serenelli, and shared a house with him and his two sons, one of whom was called Alessandro. Luigi was a hard worker, but suffering from malaria, typhus, meningitis and pneumonia, he died in 1900, leaving his family peniless. Maria, now a child of ten, was doing the work of a grown woman, while suffering from hunger and mortification daily.

Maria impressed everyone with her radiant purity. She was naturally pious, kind, and helpful. She was also outstandingly beautiful – and Alessandro Serenelli was a very passionate and undisciplined man. She resisted his attentions, which only made her all the more desirable, and narrowly managed to escape a serious sexual assault, which he made her promise to keep secret by threats of murder.

A month later Alessandro arranged things so that he would be alone in the house with Maria; and he had a dagger. She tried to resist, begging him to be careful to save his immortal soul, but he thrust a handkerchief into her mouth to prevent her from crying out, tied her up, and threatened her with the dagger. She continued to resist. Enraged, Alessandro ripped her body fourteen times with a sharp blade and left her bleeding and unconscious. She did not die, though her entrails were hanging out from one of her abdominal wounds. She was taken to hospital, seven miles of rough road in a horse-drawn ambulance, and was operated on for more than two hours. She lived for twenty hours more, became a Child of Mary, received the Last Sacraments, and specifically forgave her murderer. She died in the afternoon of 6 July 1902, at the age of eleven years, eight months, and twenty days.

Alessandro narrowly escaped being lynched, and was tried and sentenced to thirty years’ in prison with hard labor. For the first seven years or so he maintained a cynical and defiant attitude, but he repented, and dreams of Maria herself were largely responsible for his repentance and conversion.

In 1908, six years after her death, Maria came to Alessandro in a dream or a vision, so real, it was for him reality. His prison cell was transformed into a beautiful garden filled with fragrant flowers and surprising masses of lilies. A figure in white was gathering the lilies. She turned to him and he cried out: "Maria! Oh, Mariettina!" and she came to him, carrying an armful of white lilies, which she handed to him, one by one, each representing a wound he had inflicted don her. And she repeated her dying wish that one day his soul would reach her in Heaven.

Maria was beatified in 1927. Alessandro was released in 1928; and he and Maria’s mother received Communion side by side on Christmas Day 1937, and they spent Christmas together. Maria was canonized in 1950. Her mother was present at the ceremony, the first time this has ever happened. Some people say that Alessandro was present, too. Eventually, he found peace as a gardener in a Capuchin monastery and as a lay brother of the Secular Third Order. His favorite flower was the lily. He died in 1970.

St. Maria Goretti is a beautiful model of purity, chastity, love and mercy for those in our society today -- both young and old. Rather than commit a mortal sin, she refused to submit to her attacker. Instead, she received the strength to die as a martyr for purity through her frequent reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. She forgave the man who murdered her and helped him repent and turn back to his faith. Impossible, you say? How could anyone forgive someone who commited such a heinous crime? Nothing is impossible with God.

St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of: children, girls, martyrs, rape victims, and youth.

Official Prayer to St. Maria Goretti   

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Prayer to the Blessed Mother for the Healing of our Country



O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.

Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.

Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people. Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.

Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Happy Independence Day! God bless America!


“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” -- Psalm 33:12


 "Be free people! What do I mean? Perhaps it is thought that freedom means doing everything one likes, or seeing how far one can go.... This is not freedom. Freedom means being able to think about what we do, being able to assess what is good and what is bad, these are the types of conduct that lead to development; it means always opting for the good. Let us be free for goodness. And in this do not be afraid to go against the tide, even if it is not easy! Always being free to choose goodness is demanding, but it will make you into people with a backbone who can face life, people with courage and patience.... Be men and women with others and for others: true champions at the service of others." 

- Pope Francis


Happy 4th of July!

Fr. Barron on the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling (video)


In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, a not inconsiderable number of Catholics feel beleaguered and more than a little afraid. So what do we do? 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle



July 3rd is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint against doubt. He is also the patron of  architects, blind people, builders, construction workers, geometricians, masons, stone masons, stone workers, surveyors, theologians, India, and Pakistan.

St. Thomas is known for three episodes in John's gospel, in which he appears as an individual. In the first, "Thomas who is called the twin, said, 'Let us also go [to Lazarus' house] that we may die with him'." (11:16)

In the second, at the Last Supper, Thomas said to [Jesus], 'Lord, we do not know where we are going. How can we know the way?' "Jesus replied that He is the way, the truth, and the life (14: 5-6).

In the third, one of the best known episodes in the gospels, "doubting Thomas", hiding with the other disciples in a locked house, one of the twelve" was not with them [when Jesus came to show them His wounds and thus convince them of the truth of the resurrection.] So, the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But, he said to them, 'Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands, and put my finger in His side, I will not believe.' A week later His disciples were shut again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and ... said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.' Thomas answered Him, 'My Lord and my God.' " (20: 24a - 8)

Thomas cried out and recognized Jesus as God and he believed and experienced great joy. He sought the truth and found it in Jesus Christ. The disciple who questions and then doubts without the evidence of his senses becomes the only one to make a full confession of faith in Christ's divinity.

The church historian Eusebius supports the idea that St. Thomas went to preach to the Parthians, one of those many nations whose people heard and understood the disciples in what is now Iran. The most persistent tradition is that he went to southern India to preach. Around 72 a.d., he was stabbed with a spear and died a martyr's death near Madras, India.

Prayer
O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe He had risen unless you actually saw Him and touched His wounds. But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for Him. Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ's sufferings. Help us to give ourselves in His service and so earn the title of "blessed" which Jesus applied to those who would believe in Him without seeing Him. Amen.

Mother Teresa's poem "Life"




LIFE

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is bliss, taste it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is costly, care for it.

Life is wealth, keep it.

Life is love, enjoy it.

Life is mystery, know it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

Why Redefining Marriage is Not the New Civil Rights Movement



Can you compare the redefinition of marriage movement to the civil rights movement? Black Catholics United for Life’s Gloria Purvis gives us her take.



Related:

My Answers To Questions About Gay “Marriage”

Did SCOTUS gay marriage decision put Catholics in the closet?

Ben Carson: Gay marriage not a civil rights issue

Huckabee: Comparing gay marriage to civil rights movement 'an insult' to blacks

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

St. Bernardino Realino, Model of Charity and Kindness



On July 2, we comemorate St. Bernardino Realino, "the Apostle of Leece",  who was known for his great charity and kindness to the people of that city.

Bernardino was born in 1530 in Capri, Italy, a city located in the northern part of Italy, to noble parents. He studied law and medicine in Bologna and initially became an attorney, followed by a political career, in which he served as judge, tax collector, Superintendent of the fiefs of the marquis of Naples, and mayor of three different cities in Italy.

While in Naples, Bernardino, now 34 years old, he met some priests of the Society of Jesus and made an eight-day retreat with them. During this retreat, he felt a strong call to the religious life and asked the Jesuits for admittance into their Society. He was accepted and ordained a priest in 1567. For ten years he served in Naples, preaching, teaching catechism, visiting the sick, the poor, and those in prison. He also served as the novice master there. Then he was transferred to Lecce, a small city in southern Italy, where he was sent to found a college. He remained in Leece for the last forty-two years of his life.

Bernardino was well-known and loved for his work in Leece. He was a model confessor, a powerful preacher, a diligent catechist to the youth, as well as a Rector of the Jesuit college and Superior of the Community there. His charity to the poor and the sick knew no bounds and his kindness brought about the end of vendettas and public scandals. One of the miracles attributed to him involved his small pitcher of wine, which was never empty until everyone present had had enough.

He was loved so much and venerated that, as he lay on his death bed in 1616, the city's leaders requested that he take the city under his protection. Unable to speak, St. Bernardino bowed his head. He died with the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips.

St. Bernardino was canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII. He is the patron saint of Leece, Italy.

What helped to make St. Bernardino even more famous are the events that followed his death. Six years prior to his death, he fell and sustained two wounds that refused to heal. While he was in his last illness, those closest to him, who had witnessed his holiness, collected the blood discharged from these wounds in several small vials.

This blood acted strangely. In some of the vials, it retained its liquid consistency for over a century. In others it foamed or frothed, particularly on the anniversary of the saint's death. Several witnesses testified to these phenomena during the investigation before his beatification. When his tomb was opened in 1711, some of his fleshy tissue remained incorrupt, floating in a dark red liquid. This too, proved to be human blood, and it gave off a sweet perfume. In 1713 it was also found to be frothing or bubbling, as it was again in 1804 and 1852. In 1985, however, none of the blood preserved showed any of these tendencies.

Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for July



The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for July is: “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity”.

His intention for evangelization is: “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society”.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blessed Junipero Serra, Priest and Missionary



On July 1, we honor Blessed Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest and missionary, who converted thousands of native Americans.

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca (Spain), on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero in honor of Saint Juniper, who had also been a Franciscan and a companion of Saint Francis of Assisi. In 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained seven years later. A brilliant man who had earned his doctorate in theology, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua for two years.At the age of thirty-seven, he arrived in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life converting the people of the New World.

When Father Junipero Serra founded California's first mission in 1769, he was 56 years old and asthmatic, with a chronic sore on his leg that troubled him for the rest of his life, and he suffered frequently from other illnesses, as well. He stood just 5 feet, 2 inches, and, as a journalist later wrote, "He certainly didn't look like the man who would one day be known as the Apostle of California." Yet he endured the hardships of the frontier and pressed forward with remarkable determination to fulfill his purpose: to convert the Native Americans of California to Christianity.

In pursuit of that goal, Father Serra walked thousands of miles between San Diego and Monterey and even Mexico City. He traveled the seas, also; and by the time he died August 28, 1784, in Carmel he had founded nine missions, introduced agriculture and irrigation techniques, and the Spanish language. He had battled governors, bureaucrats and military commanders to secure a system of laws to protect the California Indians from at least some of the injustices inflicted by the Spanish soldiers whose practices often were in conflict with Father Serra's.

Father Serra had been a philosophy professor and distinguished preacher at the Convent of San Francisco in Mallorca, the Spanish island where he was born in 1713. He was 36 years old when he reached the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico, on December 8, 1749, and walked to Mexico City. ( It was during that journey of 24 days that an insect bite caused the sore on his leg that sometimes became so painful he had difficulty walking. )

He spent 17 years in missionary work in the Sierra Gorda in the present area of North-Central Mexico. In 1767 he became president of the 14 missions in Baja California, originally founded by the Jesuits, then turned over to the Franciscans.

At that time, faced with the threat of Russian colonization from the north, Spain had committed itself to pushing northward into what is now the American state of California. Russian America (Alaska) was only 800 miles away. Spain feared that Russia would push south and gain a firm foothold in Alta California. The Spanish military launched an expedition into California in 1769 under the leadership of Gaspar de Portola. Father Serra set out with them to establish missions.

Serra's blessing of the site of Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769, marked the beginning of the European settlement of California.

Between the years of 1796 and 1784, Father Serra made six voyages by sea totaling 5,400 miles. He traveled by land the distance between Monterey and San Francisco eight times, Monterey and San Antonio 11 times, His longest journey by land was from Monterey to Mexico City. In total, he traveled well over 5,500 miles by land.

Father Serra arrived at Monterey aboard the sailing ship San Antonio on June 1, 1770. He celebrated the first Mass on June 3, 1770, on the shore of Monterey Bay, where we now find the city of Monterey.

He returned to San Diego to work on the mission there, then founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776, the year of the American Declaration of Independence.

When Father Serra died in 1784, he had established nine California missions and baptized 6,000 Indians, about 10 percent of the California Native American population. Those nine missions grew to 21. Today, more than 60 percent of the state's nearly 26 million people live in areas surrounding the missions, and El Camino Real, the road that Father Serra traveled on a tour of the missions shortly before this death, established a major artery running much of the length of the state.

He was beatified September 25, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

Quote

"All my life I have wanted to be a missionary. I have wanted to carry the gospel message to those who have never heard of God and the kingdom he has prepared for them."

~Bl. Junipero

Serran Prayer For Vocations

O God, Who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, grant we beseech You, through the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, Saint Joseph, her spouse, Blessed Junipero Sera and all the saints, an increase of laborers for your Church, fellow laborers with Christ to spend and consume themselves for souls, through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Catholics React to the Supreme Court's Decision on Gay Marriage; What We Do Now?


By Jean M. Heimann


"Harsh rhetoric (of those who oppose gay marriage) will continue because gay activists know the war on America is not over. Only this phase of the battle has been won. They are pushing on to create a new America. Bathing the White House in rainbow colors was just the initial re-branding of the nation. The next step will be changing the understanding of religious liberty. "
-- Al Kresta from his YouTube video (See bottom of the page.)

"Since same-sex marriage is now recognized as a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution, those who oppose it can only be characterized as bigots animated by an irrational prejudice. To be sure, Justice Kennedy and his colleagues assure us that those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage will be respected, but one wonders how such respect is congruent with the logic of the decision. Would one respect the owners of a business who refuse to hire black people as a matter of principle? Would not the government, in point of fact, be compelled to act against those owners? The proponents of gay marriage have rather brilliantly adopted the rhetoric of the civil rights movement, precisely so as to force this conclusion. And this is why my mentor, the late Francis Cardinal George, so often warned against the incursions of an increasingly aggressive secular state, which, he argued, will first force us off the public stage into privacy and then seek to criminalize those practices of ours that it deems." -- Father Robert Barron 

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on marriage is not a surprise. The surprise will come as ordinary people begin to experience, firsthand and painfully, the impact of today's action on everything they thought they knew about marriage, family life, our laws and our social institutions. The mistakes of the court change nothing about the nature of men and women, and the truth of God's Word. The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God, and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today's decision.
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

 "Today, five unelected judges decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input." --Rick Santorum, Former Senator

Official Statement from Courage:

For nearly 35 years, Courage International has provided authentic pastoral care to men and women who experience same-sex attraction and who have made a free choice to embrace the call of Jesus Christ to live chastely in harmony with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Some of our members follow this call in loving marriages to a person of the opposite sex, while many others live chaste celibate lives, accepting the many heroic sacrifices that this requires in a spirit of cheerful, generous self-giving. Our members are a daily inspiration to the chaplains who serve them, and to the whole Church.

Mindful of the guidance of Pope Francis, and the priorities set for the Church by the Synod on the Family, Courage remains committed to ministering to this underserved community and, through the EnCourage apostolate, to those who love them. We are daily inspired by their joyful embrace of chastity and of the freedom that it gives them to love authentically, and believe that their compelling stories are a powerful witness to others.


Here is the official response from the USCCB:

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

What do we do now?

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions. 


Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.


-- Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 

"So what do we do? We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. The Church has faced this sort of thing before—and we’re still standing." -- Father Robert Barron

My response: Pray for the conversion of our country! Continue to place our country in the hands of Mother Mary to be presented with our small sacrifices to Jesus. Love others and pray for them. Live lives of holiness that bear witness to the truth. Pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as often as possible. Christ's Church has survived 2000 years and will prevail over evil. We have the victory through Him!




Image Source