Wednesday, September 17, 2014

St. Joseph of Cupertino: A "Stupid" Man or a Spiritually Gifted Saint?

September 18 is the feast day of St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663),  If you have watched the film "The Reluctant Saint", you know just how endearing this sweet Franciscan saint was and what strong humility he had.

Joseph’s father was a poor carpenter who died prior to his birth. His mother, Francesca Panara, was unable to pay the debts, so the creditors evicted her from her home. She gave birth to Joseph in a stable at Cupertino, Italy.

When Joseph was eight years old, he began receiving ecstatic visions that left him staring into space with his mouth wide open. Children made fun of him and called him "the gaper."  He was poorly educated and could scarcely read or write, which led others to think of him as stupid. In addition, his continual ecstasies made it difficult for him to concentrate on any task.  When he was seventeen, he decided he wanted to become a monk or friar.

Joseph applied for admission to the Friars Minor Conventuals, but was rejected due to his lack of education. He applied to the Capuchins and was accepted as a lay-brother.  However, he continually disrupted others in the community with his gift of levitation and with his sudden, unexpected ecstasies. Consequently, he was dismissed.

Finally, a Franciscan monastery near Cupertino accepted him as an Oblate.  He was given the responsibility of caring for the animals in the stable and excelled in his work. He prayed and fasted and performed all his tasks to perfection.  Ultimately, he was accepted into the community.  At the age of 22, he became a cleric.

He was initially rejected for the priesthood due to his limited learning skills. Although he could recall little of what he learned, Divine Providence made his priestly vocation become a reality. The examiner questioned him on the one subject he had mastered and he passed the exam. At the age of 25, he was ordained to the priesthood.

While Joseph possessed little worldly knowledge, the Holy Spirit had gifted him with a divine knowledge that enabled him to understand profound theological mysteries. A model of purity, humility, and obedience, he had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and showed great charity toward the poor.

During the last thirty-five years of his life, Joseph was unable to celebrate Mass because of his incessant ecstasies which were easily triggered. However, he was later allowed to celebrate Mass in his private chapel.

Joseph died on September 18, 1663 and was canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.  He is the patron saint of air travelers, students, and test takers.

Joseph was very spiritually gifted, but it's difficult to imagine someone like this in a monastery today, although he certainly would be entertaining! Whenever I think of him, I chuckle, because the learned and wise around him considered him stupid. They were confused and baffled by his strange behavior, yet he abandoned himself to God and accepted with total surrender all that God asked of him and miracles were accomplished through him. He was the one in the community who performed the menial tasks, yet he was the one who was the most spiritually gifted. He never considered himself above the others, but always maintained his humility. The smaller and more insignificant we are, the closer we are to God and the more powerfully He can work through us.

~ © 2014 Jean M. Heimann

“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29)

Patronage: St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of aviators, air travelers, and students.

"Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession."

~Saint Joseph of Cupertino, from the reading for his feast in the Franciscan breviary

Prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino For Success in Examinations

O humble St. Joseph of Cupertino, singularly favored by God in overcoming the difficulties of study and the worries of examinations, implore the Holy Spirit to enlighten my mind and strengthen my memory in the search of His truth and wisdom. Help me especially in the decisive moments of this examination, protecting me from that forgetfulness and disturbing anxiety which often affect me. May I succeed in offering God my finest work and may I grow in knowledge, understanding, humility and charity. May everything that I attempt to learn in life be offered in faithful service to God, from whom flows that wisdom which leads to eternal life. Amen St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for me, Our Lady of Good Studies pray for me, Holy Spirit enlighten me!

Prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino for Aviators

Dear ecstatic Conventual Saint who patiently bore calumnies, your secret was Christ the crucified Savior who said: "When I will be lifted up I will draw all peoples to myself." You were always spiritually lifted up. Give aviators courage and protection, and may they always keep in mind your greatly uplifting example. Amen.

Novena to St. Joseph of Cupertino

Pope paves way for canonization of Sri Lanka's 1st saint

Pope Francis has cleared that way for the canonization of Sri Lanka's first saint.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints stated that the Pope had approved a vote by the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops in favor of canonizing Blessed Joseph Vaz.

For the second time in his papacy, Pope Francis bypassed the second miracle required by candidates for canonization. The only other time the Pope has done this was for the canonization of Pope St. John XXIII.

Blessed Joseph Vaz was born in Goa, India in 1651. He spent most of his life as a missionary in Sri Lanka, ministering to the faithful during the Calvinist persecution.

He was beatified on January 21st, 1995 by St. John Paul II during his Apostolic visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Pope Francis is expected to declare Blessed Vaz a saint during his visit to Sri Lanka in January.

St. Robert Bellarmine: Theologian, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church

Today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Italian cardinal and theologian. One of the great saints of the Jesuit order, he has also been declared a Doctor of the Church and the patron of catechists.

Robert Bellarmine was born on October 4, 1542 in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. He was the third of ten children born to Vincenzo Bellarmine, a nobleman, and Cinthia Cervini, sister of Pope Marcellus II.

As a young man, Robert was educated by the Jesuits and in 1560; he entered the Jesuit order himself. He studied philosophy for three years in Rome, then taught humanities at Florence and Mondovi until 1567, when he began a study of theology at Louvain that lasted until 1569.

In 1570, Robert was ordained to the priesthood in Belgium, where his sermons attracted crowds of both Catholics and Protestants. In 1576, he returned to Italy and took up an academic position addressing theological controversies.

As a member of the Society of Jesus, he ranks among its greatest men, renowned for his illustrious intellect and learning as well as for his great sanctity, humility, and simplicity of heart. He defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets of James I of England. His most famous work is The Controversies, a collection of the lectures he delivered at the Roman College. In it, he set out the teaching of the Fathers, the Councils and the Church Law to victoriously defend the dogmas of the Church which were being attacked by heretics.

Near the end of the 1580s, the eminent theologian became “Spiritual Father” to the Roman College. He served as a spiritual director to St. Aloysius Gonzaga near the end of his life, helped Saint Francis de Sales to obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and assisted in creating the authoritative Latin text of the Bible called for by the recent Council of Trent.

At the end of the century, Robert became an advisor to Pope Clement VIII. The Pope named him a cardinal in 1599, proclaiming him to be the most educated man in the Church. Robert played a part in a debate between Dominicans and Jesuits regarding grace, though the Pope later decided to appoint and consecrate him as the Archbishop of Capua.

In the early years of the 17th century, the cardinal took a public stand for the Church's freedom when it came under attack in Venice and England. He also attempted, though not successfully, to negotiate peace between the Vatican and his personal friend Galileo Galilei, over the scientist's insistence that not only the earth, but the entire universe, revolved around the sun.

He was very pastoral and dedicated to providing for the needs of the poor. His cardinal’s ring was frequently in pawn in order to provide funds for the needy. He also donated the expensive drapes in his apartment to the poor, explaining, “Walls cannot catch cold.”

In 1621, Cardinal Bellarmine retired due to health problems. Two years before, he had set out his thoughts on the end of earthly life in a book entitled The Art of Dying Well. In that book, he explained that preparing for death was life's most important business, since the state of one's soul at death would determine the person's eternal destiny.

St. Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1930, and declared him to be a Doctor of the Church in 1931.


"Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved." ~ Saint Robert Bellarmine

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Archbishop Chaput is 'hopeful' that Pope Francis will go to Philadelphia

"It's a very big undertaking. Philadelphia has deep religious roots. And Pope Francis is very well loved both within and outside the Catholic Church in the United States.”

Also present at the conference was the Riley family from Philadelphia who are involved in the preparations for the World Meeting of Families. They noted that the city is an appropriate meeting point for people of different cultures.

"I go to Catholic school in Philadelphia and I think that everyone would love to come and visit and see all the different cultural differences there in comparison to Rome.”

The theme of the World Meeting of Families, "Love is our mission: the family fully alive”,  will be at the center of several initiatives that will help prepare for the event. Among them is a catechesis on the family as well as the commissioning of a painting of the Holy Family.

Archbishop of Philadelphia (USA)
"It's exciting. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many people. Not just in Philadelphia but in the whole world and we want to make sure that we do all we can to prepare so this event will be a transformative event in the lives of all who participate and those who watch from a distance.”

The Archbishop of Philadelphia said that they are  also offering scholarships to poor and low income families in order to attend the meeting.

An estimated 15,000 people are expected to attend the World Meeting of Families, which will take place from September 22-27th, 2015.

Although it is not confirmed whether the Pope will attend, Archbishop Chaput believes his presence will draw even greater numbers to Philadelphia.

Archbishop of Philadelphia
"His presence has a twofold effect: one is that it draws people, and then he has the opportunity to directly impact the lives of many, hundreds of thousands of people. Certainly it will be a great celebration even if the Pope doesn't attend, but if he attends it'll be an extraordinary moment.”

Among the issues affecting families, particularly in the United States, is immigration. It's an issue that Archbishop Chaput says will not only be addressed at the World Meeting of Families, but that organizers are currently dealing with in arranging visas for families wishing to attend.

The Miraculous Power of the Eucharist and Prayer in our Fight Against Evil

Ongoing Miracle of the Eucharist in SnnBtarem

By Guest Blogger Janet Moore

Thoughts of the mighty and miraculous power of God kept coming into my prayer yesterday, while begging God to stop the black mass scheduled to take place in Oklahoma City September 21st.  Particularly, thoughts of the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem that occurred in 1255, whose miraculous Presence continues to this day.  It is a true story of a woman who obtained a consecrated Host in order for it to be used for evil purposes. The Host started bleeding profusely as the woman was taking the Host to a sorceress. People on the streets thought something terrible had happened to her as blood poured forth from the veil in which she was concealing the Sacred Host. Scared, she went home and hid the Host in the bottom of a trunk.  That night, a brilliant light began to emanate from the trunk -- the light was so dazzling that it awakened the woman and her husband. The woman then proceeded to tell her husband what had happened and they stayed up all night kneeling in adoration in front of the glorious light.  At dawn, a priest was called to their home. He, too, witnessed the miracle and processed the Host back to the Church.  All those who had the Host in their possession (and untold numbers who have seen or heard of the miracle in the centuries since) were converted -- recognizing the power and glory of the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist!  I don’t know if God will preform a miracle like this in Oklahoma City, but I know He can!  I know that He will do whatever is best in this situation to convert as many hearts as possible. He alone knows if this will convert the person who is in possession of the consecrated Host.  He alone knows what will bring the greatest glory to Him.

Blessed Bartolo Longo - Former Satanic Priest

Another thought kept coming to me, which is in conjunction with the last.  It is another true story of a man who drifted so far away from God and his religious upbringing that he became a satanic priest. His name is Bartolo Longo and he was born in Naples in 1841.  When satanic forces were tormenting him, his family, who had never stopped praying for him, convinced him to make a good confession.  He did and was helped by a priest who encouraged him to become devoted to the rosary.  In 1870, he became a third order Dominican and chose to live a life of penance in reparation for all the sins he committed as a satanic priest. One day, nearing succumbing to despair for all the sins he had committed, he was inspired to remember Mary’s promise to help all those who encouraged others to pray the rosary.  So began his mission to promote the rosary and to restore the ruined chapel of Pompeii.  Many conversions and miraculous cures took place as people became devoted to the rosary and pledged to build a new shrine in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.  In 1980, Pope John Paul II beatified Bartolo Longo calling him “the man of the Madonna” and the “Apostle of the Rosary.”

Let us remind ourselves: We have the power of God with us and within us and our prayers will not go unheard.  We have to hold fast to the knowledge that God is truly present in the Eucharist and He is infinitely more powerful than Satan and all the forces of evil in the world.  He sometimes allows terrible things to happen, just as He allowed His only Son to die on a cross to save us, but He allows it only if it will bring about infinitely more good to us than if it had never happened. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts of those who are instigating this black mass, for “God does not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live!” (cf. Ez 18: 23).

Tens of thousands united in prayer and fasting against this abomination is itself a miracle of faith and a beautiful manifestation of the power and glory of God. We have untold strength in our unity!  So, as we remain united and continue in prayer and fasting, let us call to mind these miracles of the past (and hundreds of others) and rejoice that God’s power will be made manifest and many hearts will be converted.  Let us not get discouraged when we are faced with such evil forces, “For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome” (Deut 10:17), who gives us strong and mighty weapons at our disposal!

Let us also recall the faith and steadfastness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to King Nebuchadnezzar when confronted with certain death in the fiery furnace, and echo their words: “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up” (Dn 3: 16-18).

For more information about the Eucharistic miracle see:

Janet Moore is a Catholic wife and mother with an M.A. in Theology, who has recently started blogging at Entering into the Mystery.

Pope: World War III underway

Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, Martyrs

Today is the memorial of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian. These two contemporaries, martyred in 253 and 258 respectively, were linked by one particular issue: what to do with those Christians who lapsed through fear in time of persecution, and then wished to return? An influential Roman priest, Novatian, maintained that they could not be forgiven (along with murderers, adulterers and those in second marriages). Cornelius and Cyprian strongly took the opposite view.

A Roman priest, Cornelius was elected Pope in 251 to succeed Fabian, at the time of the persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Decius. Novatian denied the Church’s authority to forgive serious sins, such as abandoning the faith during a time of danger. Novatian even had himself consecrated as a rival bishop of Rome, thereby becoming an anti-pope. Pope Cornelius, backed by St. Cyprian and Saint Dionysius, upheld the Church’s teaching, and allowed sinners to do penance and return to the Church. In 253, St. Cornelius was exiled by the authorities, and died shortly afterwards of ill-treatment. Because of this, was considered a martyr. A document from Cornelius shows the size of the Church in his papacy 46 priests, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, and approximately 50,000 Christians.

Cyprian, a brilliant thinker and speaker, was a native of Carthage in North Africa. At the age of 46, he was converted to Christianity and three years later was unanimously elected Bishop by the local Christian clergy and people. He was an energetic shepherd of souls and a prolific writer. He defended the unity of the Church against schismatic movements in Africa and Italy, and greatly influenced the shaping of Church discipline relative to reinstating Christians who had apostatized. He fled during the Decian persecution but guided the Church by means of letters. During the Valerian persecution (258) he was beheaded.

Together Cornelius and Cyprian share a feast day to remind us of the unity that the Church should always practice and celebrate. This unity is a mark of the presence of Jesus who is at the Center.

Cornelius is the patron saint against ear ache; against epilepsy; fever; cattle; domestic animals. Cyprian is the patron saint of Algeria and North Africa.

Collect: God our Father, in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian you have given your people an inspiring example of dedication to the pastoral ministry and constant witness to Christ in their suffering. May their prayers and faith give us courage to work for the unity of your Church. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pope presides over marriage ceremony of 20 couples

One by one, the brides walked alongside their fathers, into St. Peter's the grooms waited for their soon to be wives.

A total of 20 couples, all of them from Rome, were married by Pope Francis.


"It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life!”

It's the first time in 14 years that a Pope has celebrated a public wedding ceremony in the Basilica. He said that even though there will be challenges, marriage is a gift and the foundation of society.

"He reminded me of so many things that you tend to forget after being married for so long. It's a way to renew the enthusiasm and energy.”

"It was beautiful ceremony!”

Gaetano di Sangi is one of hundreds of guests, who made their way to Rome, to celebrate the big day with the newlyweds. His nephew was married and family flew in from New York.

"We need the Pope to do these things in this period of moral and social decay.”

Interestingly, the couples reflected different social realities the Church is grappling with. One of the brides had a child out of wedlock when she was younger. A groom had a previous marriage annulled. Some of the couples were living together before the wedding. More than a ceremony, many believe the Pope is sending a message of mercy to those who are willing to move beyond their past and renew their lives with the Church.

"The love of Christ can restore to spouses the joy of journeying together. This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together.”

Of course, there was also some practical advice along the way that struck not only the newlyweds, but couples who have been married for years.

"He said that the husband must be willing to help his wife and the wife must be willing to do the same.”

"Never end the day without making amends.”

The last time a Pontiff presided over a public wedding was back in the year 2000, when John Paul II married eight couples. Interestingly, Pope Francis agreed to preside over the wedding, just weeks before the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, where bishops from all over the world will go to Rome, precisely to discuss the modern day challenges faced by the family.

Our Lady of Sorrows: Feast Day and Devotions

September 15 is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. This feast is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, and her union with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redemptrix, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance.

The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows commemorates the seven great sorrows which Mary lived in relation to her Son, as they are recorded in the Gospels or through tradition. The Seven Sorrows are:
  • The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  • The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  • Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50) 
  • Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  • Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  • The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  • The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by saying seven Hail Mary's and meditating on her tears and dolors (sorrows).

The Seven Graces of this Devotion

  1. I will grant peace to their families.
  2.They will be enlightened about the Divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. I have obtained this Grace from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross

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

Question of the week:With which ministries/activities within your parish are you involved?

Answer: In my parish, I am currently serving as: an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, an EWTN media missionary, a member of the parish newspaper staff, and as a prayer intercessor. I am also a member of the Respect Life committee.

Here are my best posts from this past week:

St. John Chrysostom, Early Father, Doctor, and Bishop of the Church

Fr. Robert Barron: "The Giver" and Recovering Our Christian Memory

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary

St. John Gabriel Perboyre, Missionary and Martyr

St. Nicholas of Tolentino: Patron of Babies, the Dying, and the Poor Souls

Papal Quote of the Day: Pope Francis on Love

St. Peter Claver, "slave of the slaves"

Movie Review: The Song

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: The Saints speak on Suffering and the Cross

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast is also called the Triumph of the Cross, Elevation of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, Holy Rood Day, or Roodmas.

The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -- the same day that two churches built at the site of Calvary by Constantine were dedicated.

In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, after Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople recaptured the cross of Christ from the Persians and returned it to Jerusalem.

On this feast day, we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. We revere the instrument by which Jesus Christ, Our Lord, saved us. Once an object of scorn, the cross has become our “glory."

We, too, embrace the cross which He gives to us, because, as Christians, we are given the honor to share in His sufferings. If we stand up for Him in our beliefs, we can expect to be mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted.  But, we can also expect that Jesus Christ will be there with us, in the midst our sufferings, giving us the graces we need.

The Cross contains in itself the mystery of salvation, because, in the Cross, Love is lifted up. This is the lifting up of Love to the supreme point in the history of the world: in the Cross Love is lifted up and the Cross is at the same time lifted up through Love. And from the height of the Cross, love comes down to us. Yes: "The Cross is the most profound condescension of God to man . . . The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s existence" (Pope St. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia,8)

The Saints on Suffering and the Cross:

"Life is only a dream: soon, we shall awaken. And what joy! The greater our sufferings, the more limitless our glory. Oh! do not let us waste the trial that Jesus sends."
~ St. Therese of Lisieux

"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."
~ St. Gemma Galgani

If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.
~ St. Ignatius Loyola

Suffering is like a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way. Because of this love He wants to associate them in the work of the redemption.

~ St. Bonaventure

"Let us strive to face suffering with Christian courage. Then all difficulties will vanish and pain itself will become transformed into joy."

~ St. Teresa of Avila

"It is loving the Cross that one finds one heart, for Divine Love cannot live without suffering."
~ St. Bernadette

"One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much, more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer."
~ St. Teresa of Avila

"Even if Jesus lays on us some part of the Cross, He is there to help us bear it with self, sacrifice and love."
~ St. John XXIII

"The cross is the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth. There is nothing so necessary, so beneficial, so sweet, or so glorious as to suffer something for Jesus. If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a precious yoke that Jesus will carry with you."
~ St. Louis de Montfort

"From here on earth, Love cannot live without suffering. It is through loving the cross that we discover His Heart, for divine Love never lives without suffering. I want my whole life to be inspired by love. He who loves, does all things easily, or, if he suffers, he suffers bravely. Why is suffering necessary? Because on earth, pure love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours!"
~ St. Bernadette Soubirous

"You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward."
~ St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

"Jesus said to me; 'How many times would you have abandoned Me, my son, if I had not crucified you. Beneath the cross, one learns love, and I do not give this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to Me."
 ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

"When we must do something we dislike, let us say to God, ' My God I offer You this in honor of the moment when You died for me.' "
~ St. John Vianney

"The cross will never oppress you; its weight might cause you to stagger, but its strength will sustain you." ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

"If you embrace all things in this life as coming from the hands of God, and even embrace death to fulfill His holy will, assuredly you will die a saint."
~ St. Alphonsus Liguori

"We are co-redeemers of the world. And souls are not redeemed without the cross."
~ St. Teresa of the Andes

The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.
~ St. John of the Cross

"Let us understand that God is a physician, and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not a punishment for damnation."
~ St. Augustine of Hippo

"When the cross is embraced it becomes a sign of love and of total self-giving. To carry it behind Christ means to be united with him in offering the greatest proof of love … the choice is between a full life and an empty existence, between truth and falsehood."
~ Pope St. John Paul II in Pope John Paul II's MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD, THE XVI WORLD YOUTH DAY, 14 February 2001.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

St. John Chrysostom, Early Father, Doctor, and Bishop of the Church

St. John Chrysostom, Almsgiver by Titian

Today, September 13, is the memorial of St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407), one of the most famous Fathers, Doctors, and bishops of the Catholic Church. Known to be among the most prominent orators of his time, St. Chrysostom suffered much for his stances as a Catholic bishop, from both secular authorities and from some within the Church.

Born in Antioch, he studied law as a young man, but then went off to the mountains and became a hermit for several years. In 381, he became a deacon and was later ordained as a priest and served in his native city of Antioch. It was there that his powerful and eloquent oratory earned him the title "Chrysostom" (golden-mouthed). His homilies ranged from the Gospels to personal conversion to the moral reformation of society. He delivered 88 sermons alone on the Gospel of St. John.

He was offered the position of Bishop of Constantinople (the imperial capital), which he initially declined, but finally accepted in 398.  John tried to avoid politics as he exercised his pastoral duties, but often became involved in controversy.  His initial popularity faded as his reforms troubled many priests, monastic leaders and secular leaders. His sermons were frequently critical of the rich and powerful, which made him numerous enemies. He also prevented the sale of clerical offices and called for fidelity in marriage, which further alienated the aristocracy.

In 403 John's enemies, led by the empress and the bishop of Alexandria, charged him with heresy and misdeeds. The emperor sent him into temporary exile, but soon recalled him.  Riots forced the authorities to bring him back; however, John was exiled permanently, first to Armenia, then to Spain, where he died on September 14, 407 while being forced to march in the hot sun. His last words were, "Glory to God for all things."

He is honored as a Doctor of the Eucharist for his eloquent witness to the Real Presence. With St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil, he forms the group of the four great Doctors of the Eastern Church.

My Favorite Quotes of St. John Chrysostom

'The rich man is not one who is in possession of much, but one who gives much."

"The highest point of philosophy is to be both wise and simple; this is the angelic life."

"Chastity uplifts sex to its true nobility and dignity. It gives sex its true beauty and glory. Chastity enables us, through our sexuality, to give glory to Christ in our body."

"As water extinguishes fire, so prayer extinguishes the heat of the passions."

"Charity is the scope of all God's commands."

"Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead."

Riches are not forbidden . . . but the pride of them is.

"The desire to rule is the mother of heresies."

"Prayer should be the means by which I, at all times, receive all that I need, and, for this reason, be my daily refuge, my daily consolation, my daily joy, my source of rich and inexhaustible joy in life."

We should not bear it with bad grace if the answer to our prayer is long delayed. Rather let us because of this show great patience and resignation. For He delays for this reason: that we may offer Him a fitting occasion of honoring us through His divine providence. Whether, therefore, we receive what we ask for, or do not receive it, let us still continue steadfast in prayer. For to fail in obtaining the desires of our heart, when God so wills it, is not worse than to receive it ; for we know not as He does, what is profitable to us.

"In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all."

"It is not the same thing for one who is troubled in his heart by misfortune and distress not to help his neighbor, as for one who enjoys such happiness and continuous good fortune to neglect others who are wasting away with hunger, to lock up his heart, and not to be made more generous by his own joy. For you surely know this, that even if we are the most savage of men, we usually are made more gentle and kindly by good fortune."

"You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. ... When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity , nor provoked by injury , but out of foolish vanity and pride."

The grace of the Holy Spirit . . . has been poured out abundantly and has transformed the whole world into heaven; not by changing of natures, but by correcting of wills. For it found a tax gatherer and transformed him into an evangelist; it found a persecutor and made him into an apostle; it found a robber and conducted him to Paradise; it found a prostitute and rendered her equal to virgins; it found the learned and showed them the gospels. . . .' A prostitute--equal to virgins! That's me. That's me today. A miracle!"

"When an archer desires to shoot his arrows successfully, he first takes great pains over his posture and aligns himself accurately with his mark. It should be the same for you who are about to shoot the head of the wicked devil. Let us be concerned first for the good order of sensations and then for the good posture of inner thoughts."

"Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved."

"Let us accustom ourselves to eat only enough to live, not enough to be distracted and weighed down. For we were not born , we do not live, in order to eat and drink; but we eat in order to live. At the beginning life was not made for eating, but eating for life."

"Why do you beat the air and run in vain? Every occupation has a purpose, obviously. Tell me then, what is the purpose of all the activity of the world? Answer, I challenge you! It is vanity of vanity: all is vanity."

"You envy the opportunity of the woman who touched the vestments of Jesus, of the sinful woman who washed His feet with her tears, of the women of Galilee who had the happiness of following Him in His pilgrimages, of the Apostles and disciples who conversed with Him familiarly, of the people of the time who listened to the words of grace and salvation which came forth from His lips. You call happy those who saw Him...But, come to the alter and you will see Him, you will touch Him, you will give to Him holy kisses, you will wash Him with your tears, you will carry Him within you like Mary Most Holy."

~ St. John Chrysostom

Patron: preachers, speakers, epilepsy

Symbols: Beehive; chalice on Bible; white dove; scroll or book; pen and inkhorn; bishop's mitre.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pope Francis to marry 20 couples at the Vatican

On September 14th, Pope Francis will marry 20 couples from the diocese of Rome. It is a rare occasion at the Vatican. The last time that a wedding ceremony like this was celebrated was with John Paul II.

The future newlyweds will respond to several questions that will be asked during the rite. Shortly after, each couple will be married one by one by the Pope, who has had no shortage of advice for newly married couples.

October 4, 2013
"I always give this advice to newlyweds: argue about anything you want, if the plates fly, they fly. But never let the day end without making peace. Never!”

He also never forgets to give advice to newlyweds during his Wednesday General Audiences.

"Communication is the most important thing."

"Always forgive each other, trust, have patience."

"What touched me the most about the audience was that the Pope said that we all sin and that we should also forgive."

The family is one of the central themes for the Pope. The ceremony falls three weeks before the start of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops. It is the first synod convoked by Pope Francis and will reflect on the challenges of the family in the 21st century.

7 Quick Takes: Scott and Kimberly Hahn, K of C Picnic, Mary and Movies

1. This past Saturday, our diocese had a fundraiser for the Midwest Catholic Family Conference, featuring my favorite Catholic speaker, Scott Hahn, whom I have heard speak twice in Illinois and once in Kansas, and his wife, Kimberly, whom I met and heard speak for the first time. I was very impressed with Kimberly and wish I could have visited more with her. The fundraiser was held at Magdalen, which is a huge church, and it was packed. I helped out at the book and CD tables and I couldn't believe all the items sold. The books were flying off the tables like hot cakes! We were all so grateful to them for coming out and doing this. What a wonderful blessing they are!  I hope they will return soon.

2. On Sunday, we had a wonderful time at the Knights of Columbus family picnic! The weather was splendid, the food delicious, and the company delightful!

3. This week we celebrate two Marian feast days: On Monday, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on Friday, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

4, On Monday, I wrote a review of a beautiful movie that I had the privilege to preview -- The Song. The Song is a beautiful love story based upon the writings of Solomon in his Song of Songs, which consists of a mosaic of love poems. It is filled with music, romance, and uplifting biblical verses.

5. One movie I want to see is The Giver. I was happy to hear Fr. Robert Barron's commentary on it, which I posted on my blog. This makes me want to see it even more.

6. The fall weather has arrived early this year and I am so happy it has! I love fall -- the cooler weather energizes me and helps me sleep better at night. I love how the leaves change colors -- but it won't be doing that for another month or so. For now, I am satisfied with the long walks I enjoy taking outdoors.

7.  As a reminder, I want to encourage all my readers to Join in the International Week of Prayer and Fasting September 20-28.   With the current state of affairs with Christians abroad (ISIS brutally executing numerous Christians, including the most recent beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, and now is targeting Pope Francis), many Christians are left wondering, “What can we do to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their beliefs?” This event has a very real call to action which we all can join in on.  You can participate at home or in the festivities in Washington, D.C.  The week formally begins on September 20 with an All Day Prayer Vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Guest speakers for the kick-off event include Dr. Scott Hahn, popular speaker and teacher on a wide variety of topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith and Johnnette Benkovic, founder and president of Women of Grace and Living His Life Abundantly. Learn more about it.

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

For more quick takes, visit Jen at

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron: "The Giver" and Recovering Our Christian Memory

A popular new film, "The Giver," reveals the surprising key to the authentic renewal of society: the recovery of our lost memory of Christ.

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary

Today, September 12, the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us how useful and advantageous it is for us to invoke her holy name in our needs. The name Mary by which we honor the Most Blessed Virgin means "Star of the Sea". It is, says Saint Bernard, very well given to her, because she is indeed a star which enlightens, guides, and leads us to a harbor in the stormy sea of this world.

This feast day was first observed at Cuenca, Spain, 1513, then extended to the universal Church and assigned to its present place and rank by Innocent XI (1683) in thanksgiving to God and the Blessed Virgin for the liberation of Vienna and the signal victory over the Turks on September 12, 1683.

Pray the Litany of the Holy Name of Mary.

Saint Quotes:

"After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness."

~ St. Alphonsus Liguori

"The invocation of the sacred names of Jesus and Mary is a short prayer which is as sweet to the mind, and as powerful to protect those who use it against the enemies of their salvation, as it is easy to remember."

~ St. Thomas a Kempis

"In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave thy lips; let her not depart from thy heart."

~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

" However hardened and diffident a heart may be, the name of this most Blessed Virgin has such efficacy, that if it is only pronounced that heart will be wonderfully softened."

~ Blessed Raymond Jordano