Friday, June 8, 2018

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus.

 Born in France in 1647, Margaret Mary Alacoque was crippled by a disease at age 8.  After promising to give her life to Jesus’ service, she was miraculously healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 23, she entered the Visitation Order of Nuns.

Sister Margaret Mary loved our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament—the consecrated Body of Christ from Holy Communion, which is kept in the tabernacles of Catholic churches—very much. The world had grown cold and unresponsive to God and His offer of salvation through the grace His Son won for us all on the Cross. Over the course of a few years, Jesus appeared to Margaret, revealing to her His Sacred Heart.

The flames coming forth from Jesus’ Heart remind us of His burning love for us and His desire that we love Him in return. The crown of thorns around His Heart reminds us of His sacrifice for us and His invitation that we offer our sufferings to Him, as Saint Paul teaches us: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

Jesus made at least twelve promises to Sister Margaret Mary, revealing the abundance of His love and telling her how He would help those who honor His Sacred Heart. He said, “Behold this Heart which has loved men and women so much, and yet they do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth.” He further promised, “I will bless every home in which an image of My Heart will be honored.”

Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690, and was canonized a saint in 1920.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker!

    "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets,
Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth."
–John 1:45

For decades, May Day was the occasion for Communist countries to parade their military power. On this day in 1955, Pope Pius XII inaugurated the celebration of Saint Joseph the Worker.  It seemed comical, even absurd, to raise up Joseph to challenge the Communist military machine on its May Day march, but look at what happened! The collapse of Communism is often attributed to God working through the prayers of His people, and especially in response to the apparitions of Mother Mary at Fatima in 1917, urging all to pray and do penance for the conversion of Russia. 

It is also true that the Lord has transformed the world through Joseph and through simple, common, obscure workers like him—and us! As Saint Paul exhorts us, "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord rather than for men. ... Be servants of Christ the Lord" (Colossians 3:23-24

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord

Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
All from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
–Isaiah 60:6

At this time there were Wise Men, called Magi, who traveled a long distance to come to Jerusalem. They went to the king, named Herod, and said to him, “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the sky, and have come to worship him.”

Herod did not want to hear of any king but himself. He therefore called together the learned men in Jerusalem and asked them, “Where is the Messiah, called Christ, to be born?” They answered, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus wrote the prophet: ‘You, Bethlehem, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Herod then said to the Magi in secret, “Go to Bethlehem and find the child. When you have found him, let me know, that I too may go and worship him.” The Magi then set out, following the star until it stopped over the place where Jesus was.
The Magi entered the house and found Jesus with his mother Mary. They worshiped the child, and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After this, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and so they left by another way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

When the Spanish conquistadors came to Mexico in the 1500’s, they found primarily indigenous peoples who worshiped their own gods, even to the extent of human sacrifice. The Franciscan and Dominican missionaries had great difficulty winning souls to Jesus, partially because of the poor example of the Spanish soldiers.

Juan Diego was an Aztec Catholic living near Mexico City. Juan’s birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin-the Talking Eagle. As he walked the seven miles to Mass on the morning of December 9th, he heard a voice calling to him. He looked up to see a beautiful young maiden dressed as an Aztec Princess appearing in a golden beam of light. The beautiful lady said she was the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. She requested Juan to have the bishop build a church on the hill of Tepeyac, so God could show His compassion through her to His people.

Juan related the request to Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. Somewhat skeptical, the bishop asked for a sign. The next morning, Juan took a different route, trying to avoid the lady until he could get a priest to administer the last rites to his dying uncle. Suddenly the Virgin Mary appeared, asking him, “Juanito, why are you walking this strange way?”

With tears streaming down his face, Juan told the beautiful lady of his dying uncle. She smiled at him and tenderly told him he had nothing to fear, as God would cure him. She then directed Juan to pick lovely red Castilian roses which miraculously bloomed that cold December day on the hillside. Amazed, Juan picked the roses. The beautiful lady then kindly arranged them in his tilma, and told him to show them to no one but Bishop Zumárraga.

The Bishop’s staff tried to discourage Juan Diego from his mission, even attempting to see what he guarded so carefully in his tilma. However, Juan courageously stood his ground and insisted he must see the bishop. Finally the bishop himself came out to see what was the matter. When he saw the bishop, Juan knelt humbly before him.

“Here is the sign you requested,” Juan said, letting the roses fall from his tilma.

But the bishop and his shocked attendants looked beyond the roses. To their surprise and wonder, the image of a beautiful Aztec Lady was imprinted on the tilma! Falling to his knees, Bishop Zumárraga accepted the sign and fulfilled Mary’s wish by building a church in her honor, where her image was enshrined.  

In the next decade, eight million Indians converted to Jesus because of this lovely lady who looked like them. They realized that God, who is not a respecter of persons, loved them as much as the European Spaniards, and that His Son had died for them as well. And from then on Our Lady of Guadalupe, “La Alma de la Gente”, took her rightful place in the souls of her children.

In 2002 at the canonization of Saint Juan Diego, Pope John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the Patroness of both continents of the one America.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Miracle of the Sun

Today, October 13th, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Here is the story:

On May 13th, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three little shepherds in the village of Fatima, Portugal. Seven-year old Jacinta, her nine-year-old brother Francisco, and their ten-year-old cousin Lucia were tending their sheep in a field called the Cova da Iria. Suddenly they saw a bright flash of light. A beautiful Lady, dressed in white and gold, appeared on a cloud over a small oak tree. A golden cord hung around her neck. Her hands were joined in prayer and she held a pearl rosary.

Mary told the children that she had been sent by God with a message for every man, woman and child in our century. Coming at a time when civilization was torn asunder by the untold violence of World War I, Mary promised that Heaven would grant peace to the entire world if her requests for prayer, reparation, and consecration were heard and obeyed.

Our Lady of Fatima repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying daily, especially the Rosary, of wearing the Brown Scapular, and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice. She also promised a sign on October 13th as proof of her messages.

A heavy rain fell all night and into the morning as a great crowd of more than 70,000 people gathered at the Cova on October 13th, 1917.  The Lady appeared to the children for the last time, more radiant than ever. “Her face was brighter than the sun,” said Francisco. “I am the Lady of the Rosary,” the Virgin Mary said. “I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not continue to offend Our Lord, who has been so deeply offended. They must pray, especially the rosary.” She said that if people amended their lives, the war would end soon. She then left the children, raising her hands toward the sky.

Someone cried, “Look at the sun!” The children looked up and saw Mother Mary with Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus. They saw Jesus blessing the people. Meanwhile, the people were able to look at the sun without hurting their eyes. It appeared as a silver disc, and began spinning in the sky. As it danced, it cast off great shafts of colored light which flashed and fell upon the sky and the rain-soaked earth. Men and women fell to their knees and prayed as brilliant colors fell on the trees and stones. Suddenly, the sun began to zigzag! It started to fall like a wheel of fire upon the people. They cried out in fear and asked Jesus and Mary to save them. After a few moments, the sun returned to its place. The ground was completely dry, as was everyone’s clothing. The people rejoiced and praised God for the “Miracle of the Sun.” Even the secular, anti-Catholic newspapers reported the event, as did today’s Washington Post:

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot in the chest and in the abdomen at point blank range in St. Peter’s Square. He credited his miraculous escape from death to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima. One year later he traveled to Fatima, and placed the bullet in the crown resting upon the statue of Mary there. He said, “One finger fired the bullet, but another guided its path.”

Less than 7 years later, the Berlin Wall fell without a bullet being fired, and Communism collapsed across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

Angels are pure spirits, holy beings whom God created to have direct contact with Himself. The word angel comes from the Greek word angelos, which means messenger. These messengers of God are invisible, immortal, and extremely intelligent. They worship God in His presence at all times. The Scripture teaches that God sends angels from heaven to earth to deliver help, warnings, or exciting news as they assist the Lord in His mission to save all people.

In the Bible angels appear in different ways. Sometimes they appear in brilliant glory, which is how the angels appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem the night that Jesus was born.

Saint Michael the Archangel is God’s most trusted angel, and he carries out heaven’s commands. His name, Michael, means who is like God. A fierce warrior, protector, and comforting guardian, Saint Michael is heaven’s most powerful archangel.

 The Old Testament prophet Daniel calls Michael “one of the chief Princes.” Saint Michael is the guardian of the Israel, a champion of goodness and justice who fights evil at every chance. When one of God’s angels, Lucifer, started a war in heaven, Michael fought and defeated the rebels and threw them out of heaven. Hence Michael is known as the “warrior angel” and is often painted wearing a full suit of armor (as seen in our own holy cards).

The Archangel Gabriel, mentioned several times in the Bible, was always a messenger of important news. His name, Gabriel, means, the Hero of God, or God is my strength and courage. He appeared to the prophet Daniel, and to Zechariah, the father of Saint John the Baptist. He is best known as the angel who appeared to the Virgin Mary and announced to her the breathtaking news that she would conceive and bear the Son of God.

The Archangel Raphael’s name means God heals. In the Bible, the book of Tobit tells the story about Raphael and a man named Tobit, who lived long before Jesus was born. Tobit was a good man who helped the poor, but one night he suddenly lost his sight. His blindness was a great burden to him, and in desperation he prayed for death. God heard his prayers and sent the archangel Raphael to help.  Tobit sent his son, Tobiah, to collect some savings from a place called Media. Raphael appeared to Tobiah in human form, explained that he was a distant relative, and went with him on the journey. One day Tobiah caught a fish. Raphael told him to remove its insides and to rub the fish on his father’s eyes. Miraculously, Tobit’s blindness was cured! Then Raphael revealed his true identity: “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord” (Tobit 12:15). The angel told Tobit and Tobiah to praise and thank God, and then he vanished, returning to heaven.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Feast of Saint Padre Pio September 23

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, Italy, on May 25,1887, and named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.  The devout Francesco at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood, and became a Capuchin novice at the age of sixteen. Ordained a priest in 1910, he became known as Padre Pio.  During this time he suffered much, both physically and spiritually, all of which he accepted with praise and thanks to God, trusting that if God allowed it, God could use it for the good of others.
On September 20, 1918, while kneeling in front of a large crucifix, Padre Pio received the visible marks of the crucifixion, with wounds in his hands, feet, and side, making him the first priest to receive the stigmata in the history of the Church. On the day he died in 1968, at the age of 81, the wounds disappeared, a miracle Padre Pio had predicted 50 years earlier.
Padre Pio was blessed with many mystical gifts. The blood from the wounds of Jesus in his body carried a beautiful perfumed aroma. He had the gift of bilocation, or being in two places at the same time. He had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him during his long hours of hearing confessions. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; giving just the right word of counsel or encouragement to all.
Thousands went to his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo suffering from all sorts of illness, including cancer, tuberculosis, blindness, etc. Many received healing through his intercession. Padre Pio had a great love for Our Blessed Mother Mary, St. Michael the Archangel, and his Guardian angel, and received much help from them. He also had a great love and prayed much for the Souls in Purgatory.
In 1948, a young Polish priest heard about Padre Pio and visited him for Confession and spiritual direction. Though we do not what they shared, the young priest, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, was deeply moved by the encounter. Almost two decades later, in November 1962, now a bishop, Karol Wojtyla returned to Rome for the second Vatican Council. He sent a note asking Padre Pio to pray for his friend, Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp and mother of four, who had been diagnosed with a very serious and aggressive intestinal tumor. Padre Pio replied, “To this one, it is impossible to say no.” He prayed all night for the doctor. When Bishop Wojtyla called home two weeks later to hear how the operation went, he learned that the tumor had disappeared!
In May 1967, Dr. Poltawska herself was able to leave Communist Poland briefly for a trip to Italy. She journeyed to San Giovanni Rotondo, where she attended a Mass celebrated by Padre Pio. At the Mass, Poltawska could see Padre Pio’s own agony, the stains of blood from his wounds, the sweat running down his face. Afterward, she waited to greet him. He passed by her, walking slowly on his pierced feet. He stopped, then gazed at her, smiled, and said, “Now you are all right?” The doctor was stunned. She had never met Padre Pio, yet she knew he recognized her. He had suffered for her, because he could not refuse the request of the young Polish Bishop. And, as Providence would have it, Dr. Poltawska was there, in Rome, on June 16, 2002, when her old friend, who had become the first Polish pope, John Paul II, canonized the gentle Padre as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina!