"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.
St. Mark, the Evangelist, the author of the second Gospel, is commonly identified as “John Mark” in the Acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 15:37) Born a Jew, he was baptized and instructed in the faith by St. Peter the Apostle and traveled with him to Rome. He had a close relationship with St. Peter, who referred to him as “my son Mark” (1 Peter 5:13).
Mark traveled with his cousin St. Barnabas and with St. Paul on their first missionary journey in Cyprus (Acts 13:5). Mark is also said to have evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt and founded the Church there.
Like Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. Some scholars believe him to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52). He is also considered to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.
According to Eusebius, the Christian historian, Mark died at Alexandria and was martyred for his faith. In the 9th century, Mark’s body was brought to Venice, where he is patron saint of the city.
Mark’s gospel reads with the immediacy of an eyewitness account. It is the oldest and shortest Gospel in the Bible. It was written in Rome around 65-70 AD for a Gentile audience. The winged Lion is his symbol. This symbol originates from St. Mark's description of John the Baptist's voice "crying out in the wilderness" upon hearing the Word of God (Mark 1:3). His voice is said to have sounded like that of a roaring lion. In addition, the lion signifies the power of the Evangelist's word and the wings signify spiritual elevation. This lion imagery also appears in a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, in which four winged creatures represent the four evangelists (Ezekiel 1:10). Matthew is depicted as a human, Mark as a lion, Luke as a bull, and John as an eagle.
St. Mark is the patron of: attorneys, notaries, prisoners, and stained glass workers.
Lesson: St. Mark achieved in his life what every Catholic is called to do by virtue of their Baptism: proclaim to the whole world the Good News that is the source of our salvation. There are many ways we can evangelize today – through our writing, as Mark did, or through other gifts that we have been given by God: our preaching, prayers, artistry, etc. Each one of us has the ability and the grace to evangelize.
"Go out into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." -- Mark 16:15
Collect: O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
I. The Flowers, which represent new life and beauty in the spring.
The Iris symbolizes eloquence. Purple iris is symbolic of wisdom and compliments. Blue iris symbolizes faith and hope. Yellow iris symbolizes passion while white iris symbolizes purity.
The Daffodil symbolizes regard and chivalry. The daffodil is indicative of rebirth, new beginnings and eternal life. It also symbolizes unrequited love.
The Hyacinth symbolizes playfulness. It also denotes constancy. Blue hyacinth stands for constancy, purple for sorrow, red or pink for play, and white for loveliness.
The Lilac symbolizes youthful innocence and confidence. White lilac symbolizes humility and innocence, field lilac symbolizes charity while purple lilac symbolizes first love.
The Tulip signifies a declaration of love. It also symbolizes perfect love. II. The Easter Season - The Resurrection of Christ and the Promise of Eternal Life - which we celebrate for 50 days! III. Dark Chocolate Easter Bunnies
IV. Planting a Vegetable Garden
We have planted beets, peas, a variety of lettuces, and radishes. The radishes are popping up already!!! V. The sweet songs of the birds...
which Andre Rieu combines with the music of the peaceful "Toselli's Serenade" in this video:
The saint of the day for April 24 is St. Fidelis of Sigmarengen, model of faith and evangelization. Known as Mark Rey and the "Poor Man's Lawyer," Fidelis was born in 1577 at Sigmaringen, Prussia. His studies took him to the University of Freiburg and eventually to the position of tutor for Wilhelm von Stotzingen. Fidelis traveled with Wilhelm extensively throughout France and Italy before returning to Freiburg and earning a doctorate in canon and civil law. He became a prominent lawyer. However, he felt that this career endangered the salvation of his soul and he abandoned law.
Mark joined the Capuchin Friars Minor, changed his name to Fidelis (meaning Faithful) and gave away his worldly wealth to the poor. As a Franciscan priest, he served his friary as guardian, and worked in epidemics, especially healing soldiers. He had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Trusting in her intercession, he often begged God for the grace of sacrificing his life in vindication of the Catholic faith.
Fidelis was tireless in his efforts to convert heretics and wrote several pamphlets against Calvinism and Zwinglianism. He was eventually appointed to undertake a mission in the country of the Grisons and to bring that district back to the Catholic faith. He met with terrible opposition, including many cries of, "Death to the Capuchins!" Despite this opposition however, he was extremely successful in bringing many people back to the Catholic faith. It was for this reason that he was bludgeoned to death while saying Mass at Sevins. His body was carried outside the Church where the heretics offered to save his life, if only he would renounce his religious beliefs. He replied, "I came to extirpate heresy, not embrace it." He died on April 24, 1622 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746.
Saint Fidelis Quotes
"It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future."
"Woe to me if I should prove myself but a half-hearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain."
Lesson: If we desire to please God and give Him the gifts he truly desires, we will bring souls to Him, like St. Fidelis. We can do this through prayer, preaching, penance, and living out our daily lives as good Catholics. We must seek to save souls who but for us would otherwise be lost. By offering God these souls, we offer God the jewels of paradise. "And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:15)
The saint of the day for April 23 is St. George, a soldier of the Roman army who was tortured and beheaded for his Christian faith in the year 303, in Palestine (Lydda). He was most likely born in Cappadocia, of Christian parents.
After his father was martyred for his faith, George moved to Palestine with his mother where he joined the military and served as a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He demonstrated great courage, rising to the rank of military tribune of the imperial guards. When he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, he was tortured and beheaded at Nicomedia, a town of Asia Minor on an inlet of the Sea of Marmora. Some say that Saint George was the young Christian who, as Eusebius relates, tore down the Imperial edict of persecution. However, there is no proof of this.
St. George is usually depicted in Christian art as a soldier on horseback killing a dragon with a lance. This image is a representation of a popular legend of St. George which first appears in 1265 in a romance titled "The Golden Legend," in which he saved a town terrorized by a dragon with one blow of his lance. The image is a strong symbol of the victory of Christian faith over evil (sometimes understood in the early Church as “paganism”), embodied by the devil who is symbolized by the dragon according to the imagery in Revelations.
The cult of St. George, while universal, remains strongest in the Eastern Church where he is venerated as “The Great Martyr.” Accounts of early pilgrims identify the seat of the cult of St. George at his burial site in Palestine (Lydda). The cult has been in existence since the 4th century, soon after his death.
Saint George is the patron of England, the Order of the Garter, Boy Scouts, the Italian Calvary (which had a devotion to the holy knight), chivalry, Istanbul, Aragon, Portugal, Germany, Genoa, and Venice. In the East, he is the patron of soldiers. He is also invoked against the plague, leprosy, syphilis, and herpes. He is one of fourteen holy helpers.
Today we honor Blessed Maria Gabriella (1914-1939), an Italian Trappist nun, who died at the age young age of 25, and was renowned for her gift to heal divisions and unify the Church through her redemptive sufferings. She is the patron saint of sick people.
Sr. Maria Gabriella was beatified on January 25th, 1983 in the Basilica of St. Paul's outside the Walls. It was the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, and also the last day of the Church Unity Octave. In his homily, Pope John Paul II stated: "I am happy to note, and to point out particularly to the young who are so fond of athletics and sport, that the young Trappist whom we are honoring today for the first time with the title "Blessed", was able to make her own the Apostles exhortation to the faithful of Corinth (1 Cor. 9:25), to "run as to win".
She succeeded in the span of a few years to set a number of records in the stadium of sanctity that would make the most qualified champions envious. In fact she is historically the first Blessed to come from the ranks of "Girls of Catholic Action"; she is the first among the youth of Sardinia; the first among the Trappist monks and nuns; the first among those who work for Christian Unity. Four records set in the arena of that "school of divine service" proposed by the great Patriarch St. Benedict, which evidently is still valid even today after fifteen centuries, if it has been able to produce such examples of virtue in one who accepted it and put into practice "with the mind of love".
Blessed Maria Gabriella is a young girl from Sardinia, in Italy, who died in 1939 at the Trappist monastery of Grottaferrata on the outskirts of Rome, at the age of 25. Like many another young man or woman she had accepted the gentle but compelling call of God to give her youth and life to Him. She entered a poor and hidden monastery and after three and a half years of prayer and penance died of the tuberculosis which had sapped her strong constitution. The only thing she had at her command was her life and this she offered as a holocaust to heal divisions and make all Christians visibly "one" in Christ. Her brief but total gift of herself was lived without any self-pity or regret. Outwardly, her life was insignificant, but through a series of events hard to explain in human terms, God used her to make known the beginning of the ecumenical movement in Italy and then, in the late 30's, the universal call to Christian Unity. In his encyclical "Ut unum sint" John Paul II pointed to her as an outstanding example of spiritual ecumenism.
April 21 is the optional memorial of St. Anselm, bishop and doctor of the Church.
St. Anselm (1033-1109) was born in Aosta, Italy, and died in Canterbury, England. St. Anselm's contributions to the Church consist of the following: First, as Archbishop of Canterbury he protected the rights and freedoms of the Church against the violations of the English kings, who looted the Church's lands, obstructed the Archbishop's communications with the Holy See, and claimed the right to invest prelates with ring and crosier, symbols of the Church's spiritual authority. Second, as a philosopher and theologian he developed a method of cognition which prepared the way for the great thinkers of the Middle Ages. Third, he had a great devotion to Our Lady and was the first to establish the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the West.
"O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope. "
"From the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb."
"The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us."
"No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God."
"I have written the little work that follows... in the role of one who strives to raise his mind to the contemplation of God and one who seeks to understand what he believes."
"I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that you have created your image in me, so that I may remember you, think of you, love you. But this image is so obliterated and worn away by wickedness, it is so obscured by the smoke of sins, that it cannot do what it was created to do, unless you renew and reform it. I am not attempting, O Lord, to penetrate your loftiness, for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it, but I desire in some measure to understand your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that "unless I believe, I shall not understand." (Isaiah 7:9)
- From the Preface to the Proslogium, in St. Anselm: Basic Writings (La Salle: Open Court Publishing, 1962) A Prayer Of Anselm
My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life let me go steadily onto the day when I come to that fullness ...Let me receive That which you promised through your truth, that my joy may be full. A Song Of Anselm
Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you: you are gentle with us as a mother with her children; Often you weep over our sins and our pride: tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds: in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us. Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life: by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness: through your gentleness we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives life to the dead:your touch makes sinners righteous. Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us: in your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness: for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us. Prayer
Almighty God, who raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
I am honored to be a part of the virtual blog tour for Eve's Apple by Marie Therese Kceif. This is a book that I can hardly wait to read! I enjoy reading personal spiritual memoirs and learning how God's grace and great mercy frees souls and heals them. We are all sinners and we are all broken. It is only by the grace of God and our surrender to His will that we can be made whole again.
A Witness of God's Faithfulness: Marie struggles to grow in grace and guidance from the Lord while slowly recognizing her own rebellion. She intimately shows us the highs of her aviation, military and automotive careers and the suffering lows of abuse, bankruptcy, and divorce. Her relationship with God grows through it all. Eve's Apple is a witness of how God gently guides one of His Eves into a slow freeing surrender of a Mary's trusting yes. This is a journey of hope, faith, and real relationship! Reviews for Eve’s Apple Joseph A. Marsigla, COL, MS, Commander, US Army: "Some words that come to mind are warm, introspective, wonderment, I could go on and on. The talent God has given her has allowed me to look at my life, to look at things I have not thought of in some time. I see many parallels and similar struggles. This book is one of those rare jewels that can change lives."
Father David Harvey, Senior Catholic Priest: "An able storyteller and an adept communicator. She speaks with conviction and grace."
Jill Savage, Hearts at Home founder and CEO: "She has a story to tell, and she tells it well. She's honest and open about the less-than-charming part of her story. Most important, however, she is candid and sincere about the work God has done in her life. Our moms were touched by her story, and I know you will be, too."
The author is giving away a free e-book code to a lucky winner each day of the Virtual Book Tour. The drawing will take place on April 26. Go HERE to enter.
Also, theFIRST PERSON TO COMMENT ON THIS BLOGPOST WINS A FREE E-COPY OF EVE'S APPLE.
From farm life in Wisconsin, Marie Therese Kceif went on to have a varied full life. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics. Marie became an active duty US Army Capt. and pilot, automotive manager, bible study leader, RCIA guide, lector, speaker, writer, mom and wife. She now lives with her husband in Fenton, Michigan.
The three founders of the monastery at Citeaux: from left to right, Stephen Harding, Saint Robert of Molesme, and Saint Alberic.
The saint of the day for April 17 is St. Stephen Harding (1060-1134), an English-born monk and abbot, who was one of the founders of the Cistercian Order in what is now France.
Stephen Harding, son of an English noble, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England in 1060. He consecrated himself to the monastic life in the Abbey of Sherbonne in Dorsetshire, where he received his early education. He later studied in Paris and Rome, where he pursued a brilliant course in humanities, philosophy and theology.
After studying in Paris and Rome, he visited the monastery of Molesmes. Impressed by its leaders, Robert of Molesmes and Alberic (who were later canonized), Stephen joined the community.
After a few years, the three men, along with another 20 monks, established a more austere monastery in Citeaux. Eventually, Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Alberic died (1110), and Stephen was elected abbot.
Stephen Harding is credited with writing the famous Carta Caritatis (Charter of Charity - often referred to as the Charter of Love). It was a six page constitution which laid out the relationship between the Cistercian houses and their abbots, set out the obligations and duties inherent in these, and ensured the accountability of all the abbots and houses to the underlying themes of charity and living according to the rule of Benedict.
Since the monastery received very few novices, he began to have doubts that the new institution was pleasing to God. He prayed for enlightenment and received a response that encouraged him and his small community. From Bourgogne a noble youth arrived with 30 companions, asking to be admitted to the abbey. This noble was the future St. Bernard. In 1115 St. Stephen built the abbey of Clairvaux, and installed St. Bernard as its Abbot. From it 800 abbeys were born.
In 1133, Stephen resigned as the head of the order, due to age and disability, and died the following year. He was canonized in 1623 by Pope Urban VIII. Image Source
Today, April 14, is the feast of St. Bernadette Soubirous, a mystic and visionary at Lourdes, France. St. Bernadette is the patron of: Lourdes, the poor, the sick, and people ridiculed for their piety.
Born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, Bernadette was the first child of Francois and Louise Soubirous, a poor peasant family. A severe asthma sufferer, Bernadette was such a poor student that she was unable to make her First Holy Communion until she was 14. She had many trials to contend with as a child -- poverty, health problems, which caused her to be behind in school, many responsibilities as the oldest child of six siblings, moving from one poor place to another, and a father who escaped from his financial problems by drowning them in alcohol.
She was educated by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction - a teaching and nursing order whose mother-house is at Nevers, in central France. The Sisters soon discovered that although Bernadette had a quiet, modest demeanor, she also had a lively sense of humor and a pleasing personality.
It was to this simple 14-year-old girl that Our Lady chose to appear in what is known as the apparitions at Lourdes. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette 18 times in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes, called “de Massabielle”.
On March 25, the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1858, she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Because the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been officially proclaimed less than four years earlier, and Bernadette could not have even known of its existence, when Bernadette repeated the words, it gave credibility to her apparitions. It was confirmation from heaven that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was indeed true.
At age 22, Bernadette entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers. Although she had many trials there, she happily performed the menial tasks assigned to her, working initially in the kitchen, then later as an assistant in the infirmary. In September, 1878, at the age of 34, Bernadette made her perpetual vows. After suffering heroically and secretly for several years from tuberculosis of the bone in the right knee, which caused her excrucixiating pain, she died a holy death on April 15, 1879 at the age of 35. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
"Whatever trials the Lord sends you, whatever sacrifices He asks of you, whatever duties He imposes on you, always have this response of love and faithfulness on your lips and in your heart: 'Here is your servant, O my God, ready to undertake all, to give all, to sacrifice all, as long as Your will may be accomplished in me and on all the the earth'."
~ St. Bernadette Soubirous, From the private notes of St. Bernadette of Lourdes, A Holy Life, by Patricia A. McEachern, Ph.D.
Prayer by St. Bernadette in Times of Affliction
O my God, I beg You, by Your loneliness, not that You may spare me affliction, but that You may not abandon me in it. When I encounter affliction, teach me to see You in it as my sole Comforter. Let affliction strengthen my faith, fortify my hope, and purify my love. Grant me the grace to see Your Hand in my affliction, and to desire no other comforter but You. Amen.