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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prayer for St. Franics' Stigmata


Father God, what a gift You gave us in the person of St. Francis of Assisi! He renewed, in the hearts of many who lived in the past and even for people today, the freshness, the beauty and goodness of the Gospel. He did this not with wise and profound words, great and subtle thoughts or a voice melodious, pleasant to the ear. He did this with a life totally dedicated to You and to the fulfillment of Your will. He did this by walking faithfully (nearly perfectly!) in the footsteps of Your Son, Jesus Christ. He did this by embracing Your love with His whole being and by sharing that same love with the world. Give me strength, Your own goodness, that I might prove as faithful in following Jesus, my Lord, and in pleasing You in all I do and say, think and feel. Amen.

(from "Michael Sanchez", a Facebook page)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Message on Lenten Practices


"Everything is given to me on loan from God..." St. Francis


“The better we become, the less conscious we are of our goodness. If anyone admits to being a saint, he is close to being a devil. Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that of all men, he was the most perfect, but he had so many cracks in his soul that he abandoned his children after their birth. The more saintly we become, the less conscious we are of being holy. A child is cute so long as he does not know he is cute. As soon as he thinks he is, he turns into a brat. True goodness is unconscious.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Jesus said, in regards to having the right perspective/attitude about giving Alms . . . ‘Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing!’ Thus, giving should be so reasonable, so natural, done so often that we, in a way, do it without thinking. We recognize the need, respond to the need by trying to meet it and never stop to think, ‘Wow! I’m pretty good!’ St. Francis, if this thought occurred to him, would rebuke it with, ‘Everything is given to me on loan from God – who owns all things – until I meet someone needier than myself. It is the poorer person’s by right and to hold it back from that person is the sin of theft!’

"From Worldly Princess to the Foot of the Cross: The Life and Writings of St Camilla Battista Varano"


Life and writings of Saint Camilla Battista Varano, Poor Clare Franciscan nun by Bret Thoman, OSF. The author conducts pilgrimages to Assisi and various environments in Italy and the Holy Land and is quite familiar with Saint Camilla and the nuns living at her monastery. This biography contains many quotes and spiritual instructions from the saint as well as her locutions and other mystical experiences. A marvelous look into conversion, medieval convent life, and the spiritual life lived in the love of Christ. Copyright 2012 by Tau Publishing.

St. Camilla Battista da Varano, Poor Clare

St. Camilla Battista da Varano (April 9, 1458to May 31, 1524)
 
"Two angels came to me, dressed in resplendent white garments which I have seen only worn by Jesus. They had wings of gold. One of them took my soul from the right side, the other from the left side, and they elevated it in the air, laying it down near the crucified feet of the Son of God made Man."
- Camilla Battista da Varano, 1491
Nearly 500 years after her death, St. Camilla Battista da Varano, a princess, a member of the Poor Clares, and a prolific writer, was canonized a saint on Oct. 17, 2010. It's an exciting contrast to St. Andre Bessette, also canonized that day, who lived in the 20th century.
St. Camilla Battista da Varano was born in Camerino, Macerata, Italy, on the Adriatic coast on April 9, 1458. Her father wanted her to have a husband, but she chose to enter the Poor Clares convent in Urbano at age 23.
The order was founded by St. Clare of Assisi who I first learned about at age 7, when I was taken against my will to see the Franco Zeffirelli film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." Twenty years later, as a curious skeptic, I visited Assisi, Italy because of the movie and the experience of seeing the robe, sandals, and pillow (rock) of St. Francis, changed my life.
At age 25, St. Camilla Battista da Varano relocated to the monastery of Santa Maria Nuova in Camerino. Her father and brothers were killed under the persecution of Cesare Borgia in 1502.
Among her many writings was an autobiography written in 1491 and cited in the quote above. She died in Macerata on May 31, 1524 and her feast day is May 31.

 (The image of St. Camilla Battista da Varano is from Frati Minori di Puglia e Molise)

St. Clare Quote


St. Francis Quote


THE MIRROR OF ST. CLARE OF ASSISI

ST.  CLARE'S FEAST DAY: AUGUST 11

FRANCIS met the Lord when he embraced the leper and when he begged for stones and food; and he would never be detoured from that way, because he had found the Lord there. Saint Clare finds God in the poverty of contemplation, and she in turn never swerves from her way to the end of her life. For Clare poverty and contemplation are so intimately intertwined that contemplation presupposes poverty, because the Lord promises and gives the Kingdom of Heaven only to the poor. 

As she writes in one of her letters, What a praiseworthy exchange: to leave temporal things for those that are eternal, to choose heavenly things for earthly goods, to receive a hundredfold instead of one, and to possess a life, blessed and eternal. 

As with Francis, Clare’s poverty is not for its own sake but because it makes present the Kingdom and because of an ardent desire for the Poor Crucified. 
Since the great and good Lord, on entering the Virgin’s womb, chose to look despised, needy, and poor in this world, so that people in dire poverty and deprivation and in absolute need of heavenly nourishment might become rich in Him by possessing the Kingdom of Heaven, then you who have chosen poverty should rejoice and be glad! 

Always it is the Poor Christ whom Clare is determined to gaze upon, consider and contemplate, because He is the image of God, the Mirror we are to contemplate.
This image of the mirror is central to Saint Clare’s spirituality. As Francis was the mirror of Christ and Christ of the Father, so the life of the contemplative is to look into the mirror that is Christ and see there oneself, thereby learning who you are. By looking into the mirror who is Christ and recognizing yourself, you become a mirror of Him whom you contemplate, and you in turn mirror, through Christ to the Father, all the creation. You see yourself both in a mirror and as a mirror.

Saint Clare writes to her sisters: For the Lord Himself has not only placed us as example and mirror for others, but also for our own sisters whom the Lord has called to our way of life, so that they in their turn will be mirror and example to those living in the world. 

This complex imagery shows Saint Clare’s profound acquaintance with Sacred Scripture, with the literature of the Fathers of the Church, and with the lyrics of the troubadours, all of which are replete with mirror imagery.

There is, for example, a famous twelfth-century version of Ovid’s tale of Narcissus in which the troubadour has his Narcissus recognize that he is different from his image in the water, thereby discovering his own separate identity. For a contemplative like Saint Clare, however, the birth of self-consciousness through recognition is not enough. She finds her true identity by looking upon Christ and seeing there herself as an image of the Divine; and the more perfectly she mirrors the image of Christ, the more real she becomes. She says in a letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague: Because the vision of Christ is the splendor of eternal glory, the radiance of eternal light and the mirror without stain, look upon that mirror each day, O queen and spouse of Jesus Christ, and continually study your countenance within it, so that you may clothe yourself inside and out with beautiful robes and cover yourself with the flowers and garments of all the virtues, as becomes the daughter and most chaste bride of the Most High King. Indeed blessed poverty, holy humility, and ineffable charity are reflected in that mirror, and, with the grace of God, you can contemplate them throughout the entire mirror. 
She then expands her imagery to include the whole mirror. Look at the edges of this mirror, and see the poverty of Him who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then looking at the surface of the mirror, dwell on the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labors and burdens which He endured for the redemption of all humankind. Then, in the deep center of the mirror, contemplate the ineffable charity which led Him to suffer on the wood of the Cross, dying on it the most shameful kind of death. Therefore, that mirror hanging on the wood of the Cross urged those who passed by to consider, saying: “All you who pass by the way, look and see if there is any suffering like My suffering!” 

The most striking reality that this imagery confronts us with is the poverty of God. The Poor Christ is the image of the Godhead! God is poor, God is self-emptying; and in our poverty, our resemblance to the poor, crucified Christ, we become mirrors of God Himself. Poverty, then, is not an end in itself, but a way of becoming transformed into an image of the Trinity by contemplating the Mirror of the Trinity, Jesus Christ Himself. As a mirror is material, yet holds an immaterial image, so the Poor Christ is human and visible, yet is an image of the invisible God, who is poor in Triune self-emptying that is simultaneously a filling up.

It is no wonder then that Saint Clare holds so tenaciously to contemplation and poverty as a way of life: The two are one: the contemplation of poverty becoming the poverty of contemplation.

Source: Murray Bodo OFM, THE WAY OF ST. FRANCIS – The Challenge of Franciscan Spirituality for Everyone, Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press,  1995, pages 29-31.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Latin Mass: Latin is a Sacred Language


Homily on the beauty of the Traditional Mass in the use of the Latin language. Why Latin? Did you know that the Latin the Church uses is not the classical version? Why does the priest face the tabernacle? Why so much silence? For more please go to http://www.audiosancto.com

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Please Your Heavenly Mother

"The Blessed Virgin, like a good Mother, seeing danger threatening Her children, hurries to their rescue. Do you want to please your Heavenly Mother!? Practice the virtue dearest to Her – chastity."
- Don Bosco, a Secular Franciscan

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Today Begins the Great Fast

(ALL below taken from a great traditional Catholic blog: http://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/today-begins-the-great-fast/).

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"Most everything below taken from the very helpful Ars Orandi site.  What is presented below is a rundown on traditional Catholic fasting during Lent - from prior to the most recent Council.

As we prepare for Lent in this Septuagesmima season, it is good to review the  IN_ICT~1
nature and requirements of the traditional Lenten Fast. The Current Code of Canon Law requires that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday be days of abstinence and fast, and all Fridays of Lent (like all other Fridays of the year) are days of abstinence. However, this modern Lenten observance is laughable in its laxity, and only goes to show how far removed the modern, novus ordo establishment has removed itself from all things authentically Catholic. One might as well not even observe the season Lent at all!

However, the observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is the traditional method of observing the Lenten fast, and is strongly recommended for all traditional Catholics. It is also our hope that the more ancient and spiritually efficacious traditional Lenten Fast will be soon restored to universal practice, for the good of the Church, and the greater glory of God.

According to the traditional Lenten Fast:

*all days of Lent are days of fast and partial abstinence, except:

*Ash Wednesday and the Wednesday in the Lenten Embertide, which are days of fast and abstinence;

*Fridays and Saturdays, which are fast and abstinence;

*Sundays, which are neither fast nor abstinence.

Abstinence: In the Latin Church, abstinence means refraining from eating flesh meat, or in other words, meat from mammals or fowl. This includes soup or gravy made from these kinds of meats. Meat from cold blooded animals is allowed, however, such as fish. This is why Fridays are known as “Fish Fridays.” Traditionally, the laws of abstinence apply to all aged 7 and over, but the new Code of Canon Law applies it to all who have completed their 14th year.

Partial abstinence: Flesh meat, and soup or gravy made from flesh meat, may FINIS_~1
 be eaten only once during the course of the day, at the principle meal.

Fasting:  Eating only one full meal (which may include meat) and two smaller, meatless meals that don’t equal the large one meal. No eating is allowed between meals, but various beverages such as water, milk, tea, coffee, and juices can be consumed. Meat can be eaten, usually for the principle meal, but only if the day is not a day of abstinence as well as a fast day. Traditionally, everyone over 21 years of age and under 59 years of age is bound to observe the law of fast; but the present Code of Canon Law sets the ages of 18 and 59 as the limits.

As in all things, we need to practice the virtue of prudence. All situations should be weighed in the light of Christ’s love. Traditional Catholics fast in order to share in the sacrifice of Christ and to discipline the body. Our bodily discipline should be directed toward the cultivation of virtue, not an indulgence in austerities for the sake of show or false pretences.

If our fasting doesn’t help us to cultivate virtue, bring us to distrust the self, and, most importantly, help us love God and become completely dependent upon Him in all aspects of our lives, then our fasting and abstaining is a futile exercise that will lead us farther from God. Indeed, it would have been better if we hadn’t fasted at all. Bodily mortification gains us nothing if we allow vices to go unchecked, and virtues remain stagnant. The first fast, the primary abstinence, must be the fasting and abstinence from sins and all occasions and causes for these sins.
One needs to be careful that fasting doesn’t bring one to spiritual pride, one of the most cunning traps of our adversary.

Our fasting can be an occasion of scandal if we bang a gong or blow a horn. Once again, we should use prudence to discern all the various, and sometimes uncomfortable, situations in which we might find ourselves during this Lenten season. We need to remember that not everyone with whom we come into contact at work or at social events are Catholic, and we need to weigh between giving offense or giving scandal, between our station and civil obligations, and Art-Painting-Mythology-Hell-probably-Italian
our obligations to Christ and His Church.  We should also consider various health needs that differ from individual to individual. Those who must engage in strenuous physical activity throughout their workday have different nutritional needs than someone who works in an office or classroom. Pregnant mothers and those suffering from illnesses have nutritional needs that mitigate a portion or all of the fasting and abstinence requirements of the Church. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask a pastor or spiritual director for guidance.

Lastly, we should all strive equally, if not harder, to cultivate the virtues during this Lenten Fast by increased prayer and mediation, lectio divina, spiritual reading, and acts of charity. Cultivating a new devotion, praying the 30 days prayer, or drawing closer to Our Blessed Lord’s Sacred Heart and Precious Blood, and Our Sorrowful Mother, are exercises that greatly benefit our spiritual lives. Helping to build our various Latin Mass communities, by making and hanging fliers, inviting friends and family to the Traditional Latin Mass, donating a little extra for new vestments or altar furniture, volunteering for the choir, or lending your talents to the parish would all be great ways to contribute to your Lenten Fast."

Ash Wednesday Reflections on Fasting


"St. Francis was the most austere when fasting. Sometimes he would go for 40 days without food or water, following the example of Jesus. He spoke about being fed "manna from heaven" at these times. Many of the earlier followers did a "hard fast" in that they would go for several days without food or water. Within his lifetime, Francis saw some of his followers fall away from this practice, just as many did their vows of poverty. This greatly troubled Francis.

Very seldom did the Brothers eat meat. Meat was not condemned by Francis, for he instructed the Brothers to eat what was placed before them when it was offered to them in an alms. He especially encouraged the eating of meat when a Brother was ill and in need of nourishment to become well again."

~ Fra Chris, Franciscan Lay Apostolate

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Solitude


In solitude there is nothing to hide behind. You are naked before God, alone with the Alone. You are monos. You are a monk. The illusions fall away. Suddenly it... is the simple things that ring true and become most profound. The simple prayers and Scriptures are often the ones that speak to us the most. The Divine Office has come to have a whole new life and is a great springboard for contemplation. In this state one becomes a kind of walking repentance. F.L.A. (Franciscan Lay Apostolate)

St. Francis of Assisi Quote

"We must all be on our guard against pride and empty boasting and beware of worldly wisdom. A worldly spirit loves to talk a lot but do nothing, striving for the exterior signs of holiness that people can see, with no desire for true piety and interior holiness." 

~ Saint Francis of Assisi

St. Pio on Modernizing Religious Orders After Vatican II

Saint Padre Pio's reactions to the aggiornamento (literally "bringing up to date" or "Modernizing" it) the religious orders concocted in the wake of Vatican II:

In 1966, the Father General [of the Franciscans] came to Rome prior to the special Chapter on the Constitutions in order to ask Padre Pio for his prayers and benedictions. He met Padre Pio in the cloister. "Padre, I came to recommend to your prayers the special chapter for the new Constitutions..." He had scarcely gotten the words "special Chapter"..."new Constitutions" out of his mouth when Padre Pio made a violent gesture and cried out: "That is all nothing but destructive nonsense." "But Padre, after all, there is the younger generation to take into account... the youth evolve after their own fashion... there are new demands..." "The only thing missing is mind and heart, that’s all, understanding and love." Then he proceeded to his cell, did a half-turn, and pointed his finger, saying: "We must not denature ourselves, we must not denature ourselves! At the Lord’s judgment, St. Francis will not recognize us as his sons!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Franciscan Friar's Rock!


Today is the Feast of St. Colette - Her Chaplet



The Chaplet of St. Colette

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
God and Man was born.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
by whom he was conceived.
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
of whom the Incarnate Word was born.
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
and in memory
of that most sacred hour
in which the Incarnate Word was born,
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases,
As God wills.
(repeat ten times)

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!

(You may choose to precede the Chaplet with a reading from scripture or I may take one of the Lord's self revealing proclamations:)

I am the Way.
I am the Truth.
I am the Life.
I am the Resurrection.
I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the Gate of the Sheepfold.
I am the Light of the world.
I am the Alpha and the Omega.
I am the First and the last.
I Live.

THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES

The first coming of the Lord

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
God and Man was born.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
by whom he was conceived.
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
of whom the Incarnate Word was born.
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
and in memory
of that most sacred hour
in which the Incarnate Word was born,
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases,
As God wills. (repeat ten times)

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!  

THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES


The second coming of the Lord

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ
is our Passover
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
given to us from the Cross
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
on whom the Incarnate Word bestows the Church
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
and in memory
of that most sacred hour
in which we receive the Passover of Christ.
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases,
As God wills.
(repeat ten times)

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!

THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES

The last coming of the Lord

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
King and Judge will come
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
who prepares our hearts for his reign
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
with whom the Incarnate Word will come again.
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
in memory of that most sacred hour
in which heaven shall be opened to our eyes.
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases,
As God wills. (repeat ten times)

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!
 

Here is the video of the Poor Clare Colettines of Ty Mam Duw monastery in Wales, UK singing The Chaplet of St. Colette:

 

A Few Miracles in the Early Life of St. Colette

There are many wonderful stories surrounding St. Colette - that happened to her and many others she did for others: cured a Dominican nun that was a leper, raised the dead, etc.   Below are just two of these stories, shortened.   

Forget the "Mary had a little lamb story", children should be told of how St. Colette had a lamb that followed her around and prayed with her!:

Birds flew about her, and a lark drank from her cup, while a lamb trotted after her and stood quiet in her oratory while she prayed.

                                     (St. Colette and her little lamb.)



Colette's "tiny no more" story:

Colette was nearly grown up, but at sixteen she was no taller than she had been at ten or eleven.

"You are so small that you will never be able to keep the house clean when your mother dies," remarked her father one day, seeing Colette in vain trying to lift something from a shelf that was out of her reach, and though the words hurt her the girl knew that they were true. What would become of them when her mother died? and she was nearly sixty now. Night and day the thought [281] troubled her, and at length she resolved to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of a saint not very far from Corbie to ask for help, as many of her friends had done before her.

"Let me become tall and strong," she prayed, and tall and strong she became, to her great joy, so that when her mother died she was able to take her place and do all that was required of her. St. Colette was small on the day of her departure to this pilgrimage shrine and on the day she returned, she was much taller!  God granted her prayers.

(A Franciscan friar listening to tiny Colette preach - before her miraculous growth spurt!  Her little friends helped raise her up.)

Today is the Feast of St. Colette of Corbie!

Today is the Feast of St. Colette of Corbie, the second Holy Mother of the Poor Clare Colettines.  The Poor Clare Colettines celebrate her feast on February 7th but her feast day is noted as to be on March 6th in the Roman Calendar and the regular Divine Office Proper of Saints.

“We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen.”

Today, March 6, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Colette (1381-1447), virgin, reformer of the Franciscan Order of Poor Clares, and unifier of the Church. Saint Colette is remembered for her holiness, but also for her initial resistance to the will of God, offered to her in visions. Upon overcoming her fear and reservations, and accepting the Lord’s calling, Saint Colette went on to accomplish great things in the name of God.

Born Nicolette Boellet, but called Colette, her parents were well-advanced in age. Her father, known throughout the region of France, was a well-known carpenter, having constructed monasteries and abbeys in the region. Her mother, over 60 years old, had conceived late in life, following devout prayer to Saint Nicholas, the patron of children.

Colette was orphaned at age 17, and promptly gave her inheritance to the poor of the region. She sought to enter the religious life, but had difficulty finding an order which matched her strict observances. She unsuccessfully entered the Bequines, the Benedictines, and the Urbanist Poor Clares, leaving each due to her perception of their relaxed rules on poverty and obedience. Colette subsequently became a hermitess for three years, living in a small hut adjacent to the church at Corbie, and at age 21, became an anchoress, having herself walled into a cell with only a small window which opened into the church. There she lived for some time in complete solitude, in prayer, fasting, and poverty.

It was while she was secluded that she experienced the great visions which would move her to action. In her first vision, Colette witnessed the moral destruction of the world, a vision which left her frightened and moved. Later, had another vision in which she saw Saint Francis of Assisi come before the Lord, and kneeling down, he begged, “Lord, give me this woman for the reform of my Order” (as the Franciscan Order had been part of Colette's vision of a destroyed world). In the vision, the Lord bowed His head, giving ascent for her mission.


But Colette refused. She was both frightened and unsure of what she had seen. So Lord showed her another vision, this one of a great golden tree from which sprung other trees. Colette understood the vision as she being the first tree, and the nurslings representing the houses she was to found. And yet, in her heart, she continued to refuse. Given that she refused to listen to the Lord, she was struck deaf and dumb for three days, and her inability to see Him, left her blind for another three days. Understanding her physical manifestations as confirmation from God that this was her path, Colette allowed her heart to be changed, and willingly served the Lord.

Gaining permission to leave her cell, Colette walked barefooted, clad in rags, to an audience with the French-recognized Pope Benedict XIII, Pedro de Luna (at that time, there was a great schism in the Church, with three popes claiming authority. Colette would work with Saint Vincent Ferrer to reconcile the Church to itself later in her life). Benedict recognized her sanctity and bestowed upon her the black veil of the Poor Clares, charging her to reformation, and granting her the authority of Mistress over any community which she built or reformed.

Saint Colette set out across France, Belgium, and Spain, reforming and establishing more than 18 Poor Clare communities under the original Rule of Saint Clare. (These communities, for political reasons during the rule of Pope Urban IV, had been forced to adopt less austere ways of life). During her travels, Colette counseled peace between warring countries, miraculously crossing battlefields unharmed. It is said that every person who met her was changed for the better.

Within the communities of the Poor Clares, however, her road was much more difficult. She was treated with unkindness, ostracism, greeted with slander, and accused of sorcery and heresy. Saint Colette received these insults with humility and kindness, eventually meeting with success in her mission. The reformed rule returned the order to extreme poverty, the sisters going barefoot, and observing constant fasting and abstinence. The Poor Clares, some of which are still referred to as Colettines, grew in numbers and devotion under her leadership. They can still be found today in Belgium, England, Spain, Germany, and the United States.

Saint Colette, remembering the vision of the Lord depicting the moral decline of society and the Church, never ceased praying for the sanctity of the Church and it’s leaders. In response, she was continuously plagued by the Devil, who visited upon her torture and temptation. She was frequently surrounded by stinging insects, who swarmed around her, stinging her repeatedly. Decomposing corpses of criminals and heretics would miraculously appear in her cell, even while she was walled in. Saint Colette further would further undergo physical torture and the hands of demons, leaving her bruised, broken, and exhausted. Holy legend tells us that Saint Colette once complained to Our Lord that these demons and trials were keeping her from her prayers. The Devil is said to have responded to her, “Cease, then, your prayers to the great Master of the Church, and we will cease to torment you. For you torment us more by your prayers than we do you.”

And yet, Colette did not complain outwardly. In her own words, she viewed the days in which she suffered no insult for the Lord as the least happy of her life. Saint Colette was renowned for her sanctity and ecstatic visions of the Passion. She would fast every Friday, prayerfully contemplating the Passion, and following reception of the Holy Eucharist would enter ecstatic visions of Christ, lasting hours into the evening. Like Saint Francis, she had an affinity for animals, and demonstrated care for all of God’s creatures. She foretold her own death in her convent at Ghent, Belgium, on March 6, 1447.

Saint Colette serves as a reminder for us that times of struggle and suffering can lead to redemption and conversion. In her words, "If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured." These words, modeled after the life of Jesus Christ, His suffering for us, call us to patience in this world, and life everlasting in the next.


"If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured."


 God, our Father,
You set Saint Colette as an example and leader of evangelical perfection for many virgins.
Grant that the spirit of Saint Francis which she wisely taught and wondrously confirmed by her holy example may ever abide in us.
Amen.







Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

Reflections of St. Padre Pio

"A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament." 


"Run to the feet of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your
needs to Him, along with those of others."

  ”Stay with me, Lord, because I need to have Thee present so as not to forget Thee. Thou knowest how easily I abandon Thee; Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak, and I need Thy strength so as not to fall so often; Stay with me, Lord, because Thou art my life, and without Thee I am without fervor; Stay with me, Lord, because Thou art my light, and without Thee, I am in darkness; Stay with me, Lord, to show me Thy will; Stay with me, Lord, so that I can hear Thy voice, and follow Thee; Stay with me, Lord, because I desire to love Thee  ever more and to be always in Thy company;  Stay with me, Lord, if Thou doth want me to be always faithful to Thee; Stay with me, Lord, because my soul is so  poor that it desires to be for Thee a site of consolation, an abode of love.”   
 
"In the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, in this Sacrament of love, we have true life, a blessed life, and true happiness."



Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Prayer

Virgin Immaculate, perfect lover of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we ask thee to obtain for us the graces we need to become true adorers of our Eucharistic God. Grant us, we beg of thee, to know Him better, to love Him more, and to center our lives around the Eucharist, that is, to make our whole life a constant prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Amen.
 
"Pray for us, O Virgin Immaculate, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. That the Eucharistic Kingdom of Jesus Christ may come among us!"

 (St. Peter Julian Eymard)   

St. Padre Pio Story


Mrs. Maria, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, said that one evening her brother was praying when suddenly he fell asleep. He was immediately awoken by a slap on his right check. He realized that the hand which hit him was covered with a half glove. He suddenly thought of Padre Pio. The next day he asked Padre Pio if he had slapped him. Padre Pio answered; “THAT is the way to cast away sleeping while praying!!” With a slap Padre Pio had “awakened” the attention of the praying man.

Sometimes we literally need to slap ourselves to stay awake, re-focus and carry on the work of Faith and love, in prayer! We need to be tough with ourselves! We WILL have to give an account someday. Take Jesus’ word to heart, ‘What I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake!’

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Few Miracles of St. Anthony

 THE NEWBORN WHO SPEAKS

Titian, The miracle of the new-born who talks, 1511This woman was saved from death. Another, in Ferrara, was saved from an dreadful suspicion. In fact, the Saint reconciled the wife with the husband, a renowned person among the influential people of the city. And greater still, and indeed a true miracle, he made the baby, who had recently been born a few days earlier, talk; and the infant answered the questions posed by the man of God.

This man was being tortured by a jealous suspicion about his wife, and didn't even want to touch the baby, born a few days earlier, convinced that he was the child of adultery. St. Anthony thus took the baby into his arms and said to him: "I implore you in the name of Jesus Christ, God and Man, born of the Virgin Mary, to clearly tell me, so that everyone can hear, who your father is."
And the child, without mumbling as little ones do, but with a clearly understandable voice as if he were a child of 10 years, fixed his eyes on his parent, because he couldn't move his arms which were wrapped in swaddling clothes, and said: "Here he is, this is my father!" Turning to the man, the Saint added: "Take your son, and love your wife, who has been blameless and who deserves all of your gratitude" (SICCO POLENTONE, Life of St. Anthony, n. 37).


THE MULE

G. Tessari, The miracle of the mule, 1515In the region of Tolosa blessed Anthony, having vehemently argued with a hardened heretic about the redeeming sacrament of the Eucharist, had nearly convinced and attracted him to the Catholic faith, except that, after many arguments in which he tried to back out, he added these words:

"Let's cut the chat and come to the facts. If you, Anthony, can prove with a miracle that in the Eucharist of believers there is, however hidden it may be, the true body of Christ, I will renounce every heresy and submit myself to the Catholic faith".

The Lord's servant replied with great faith: "I trust in my saviour Jesus Christ that, for your conversion and for that of others, thanks to His mercy I will obtain what you ask". The heretic stood up and, asking for silence with a gesture of his hand, said: "I'll keep my beast of burden locked up for three days and I will starve him. After three days, in the presence of other people, I'll let him out and I'll show him some prepared fodder. You, on the other hand will show him what you believe to be the body of Christ. If the starving animal, ignoring the fodder, rushes to adore his God, I will sincerely believe in the faith of the Church". The saint agreed straight away. The heretic then exclaimed: "Listen well, everyone!".

Why delay with many words? The day of the challenge arrived. people arrived from far and wide and filled up the square. Christ's servant, Anthony, was present surrounded by a crowd of faithful. The heretic too, with a number of his accomplices. God's servant entered a nearby chapel, to perform the rites of the Mass with great devotion. Once finished, he exited where the people were waiting, carrying reverently the body of the Lord. The hungry mule was led out of the stall, and shown appetising food.

Finally, asking for silence the man of God said to the animal with great faith: "In the name of virtue and the Creator, who I, although unworthy, am carrying in my hands, I ask you, o beast, and I order to come closer quickly and with humility and to show just veneration, so that the malevolent heretics will learn from this gesture that every creature is subject to the Lord, as held in the hands with priestly dignity on the altar". God's servant had hardly finished speaking, when the animal, ignoring the fodder, knelt down and lowered his head to the floor, thus genuflecting before the living sacrament of the body of Christ.

The faithful were filled with uncontrollable joy, the heretics and non-believers were filled with sadness and humiliation. God was praised and blessed, the Catholic faith was honoured and exalted; heretical depravity was shamed and condemned with everlasting insults. The heretic, renounced the his doctrine in front of all present, and from then on was obedient to the precepts of the holy Church (Benignitas 16,6-17).


PREACHING TO THE FISH

P. Annigoni, St. Anthony preaching to the fish, 1981If intellectual men sometimes ignored his preaching, God intervened to show that was worthy of respect, giving signs through dumb animals. In the area near Padua, there was once a group of heretics who criticised and ridiculed his preaching; the Saint went to the edge of a river, looked in the distance, and said to the heretics so that everyone would hear:

"From the moment in which you proved yourselves to be unworthy of the Word of the Lord, look, I turn to the fish, to further confound your disbelief".

And filled with the Lord's spirit, he began to preach to the fish, elaborating on their gifts given by God: how God had created them, how He was responsible for the purity of the water and how much freedom He had given them, and how they were able to eat without working.
The fish began to gather together to listen to this speech, lifting their heads above the water and looking at him attentively, with their mouths open. As long as it pleased the Saint to talk to them, they stayed there listening attentively, as if they could reason. Nor did their leave their place, until they had received his blessing.
He who had made the birds listen to the preaching of the most Holy Father Francis, gathered the fish together to listen to the preaching of his son, Anthony. (Rigaldina 9,24-28).


THE RE-ATTCHED FOOT

Titian, The miracle of the re-attached foot, 1511A great miracle was caused by a confession. A man from Padua called Leonardo, once told the man of God that, among his other sins, he'd kicked his mother, and with such violence that she fell heavily to the ground.
The blessed Father Anthony, who strongly detested all wrong-doing, in the fervour of the spirit said deploringly: "the foot which kicks a mother or father, should be cut off straight away".

This simpleton, having misunderstood the sense of this phrase, and out of remorse for his ill deed and the cruel words of the Saint, rushed home and cut off his foot. The news of such a cruel punishment spread through the city, and reached God's servant. He went to the man's house straight away after an apprehensive, devout prayer, joined the cut off foot to the leg, making the sign of the cross.

A miracle! As soon as the Saint had attached the foot to the leg, tracing out the sign of the Crucifix, passing his sacred hands gently over the leg, the foot became attached to the leg so quickly, that the man stood up happily, and began to run and jump, praising God and giving infinite thanks to the blessed Anthony, who had made him sound again in such a miraculous way. (Benignitas 17,36-40).


THE CONVERSION OF EZZELLINO


Trevisan, St. Anthony meeting Ezzelino da RomanoDuring his tyranny, that wicked, arrogant despot, the cruel tyrant Ezzelino da Romano, had massacred an enormous number of men in Verona.
The intrepid father, as soon as he heard of this event, took the risk of meeting him in person, at his residence in the city. 

He reproached him with these words:
"O enemy of God, merciless tyrant, rabid dog, how much longer will you continue to shed the blood of innocent Christians? Look, the Lord's punishment is hanging over you and it is terrible and severe!"
He said many other harsh, vehement expressions to his face. The guards were waiting for Ezzelino, as usual, to give the order to kill him. But something else happened instead, thanks to the Lord.

In fact, the tyrant, struck by the words of the man of God, lost all his ferocity and became gentle as a lamb. Then, hanging his belt around his neck, he prostrated himself before this man of God and humbly confessed his ill doings, giving the assurance that, with his consent, he would repair any wrong doing.

He added: "Fellow soldiers, do not be surprised by this. I am telling you in all honesty, that I have seen a type of divine splendour emanating from the face of this priest, which has frightened me so much, that faced with such a terrifying vision, I had the sensation I was falling straight into hell".

From that day on Ezzelino was always very devoted to the Saint, and for as long as he lived, he restrained from the many atrocities he would have wanted to perpetrate, this according to what the tyrant himself said (Benignitas 17,42-47).


THE VISION - my favorite!

M. Franceschini, St. Anthony with a lily and the baby Jesus, 17th centBlessed Anthony found himself in a city to preach and was put up by a local resident. He gave him a room set apart, so that he could study and contemplate undisturbed. While he prayed by himself, in the room, the landlord continued his bustling about the house.
While he was devotedly observing the room in which St. Anthony had immersed himself in prayer, peeping through the window, he saw a beautiful joyful baby appear in blessed Anthony's arms. The Saint hugged and kissed him, contemplating the face with unceasing attention. The landlord, awed and enraptured by the child's beauty, began to think of where such a graceful child might have come from.

That baby was the Lord Jesus. He revealed to the blessed Anthony that his host was watching. After a long time spent in prayer, the vision disappeared; the Saint called the landlord, and he forbade him from telling anyone whilst Anthony was still alive what he had seen. After the Saint passed away, the man told the tale crying, swearing on the Bible that he was telling the truth (Liber miraculorum 22,1-8).




THE MISER'S HEART

Titian, The miracle of the usurer, 1511
In Tuscany, the great region of Italy, the funereal rites of a very rich man were being celebrated with great solemnity as was common in these cases. At the funeral St. Anthony was present and, moved by a sudden inspiration, began shouting that this man should not be buried in a sacred place, but outside the city walls, like a dog.

And this was because his soul was damned to hell, and the corpse was without a heart, according to the saying of the Lord, reported by Saint Luke the Evangelist: Where your treasure is, there also is your heart.

Everyone was naturally shaken at this statement, and there was a long and heated exchange of opinions. Some surgeons were called who opened the deceased's chest. But they could not find his heart which, as the Saint predicted, was discovered in his safe with his money.

For this reason, the citizens praised the Lord and the Saint. The dead man was not buried in the prepared mausoleum, but dragged like a mule along the embankment and then buried there. (SICCO POLENTONE, Life of St. Anthony,n. 35).


THE RESURRECTED YOUNG MAN

G. Campagna, St. Anthony brings a young boy back to life, 1577In the city of Lisbon, of which St. Anthony was a native, whilst his relatives were still living, that is to say his father, his mother and his brothers, two citizens were enemies and they hated each other to death. It so happened that the son of one of them, a young boy, encountered the enemy of the family, who lived near blessed Anthony's parents.

This merciless man grabbed the boy, took him home and killed him without further ado. Then, in the deep of the night, having entered into the garden of the Saint's parents, he dug a ditch, buried the body and fled.

As the young boy was the son of a well known family, there was an inquest into his disappearance, and it was ascertained that the young boy had travelled through the enemy's part of town. The home and garden were therefore searched, but no clues were found. While carrying out an inspection of the garden of blessed Anthony's relatives, the boy was found, buried in the garden. For this reason, the king's executioner arrested Anthony's father and everyone else in the house, for the assassination of the boy.

Blessed Anthony, even though he was in Padua, came to know this fact through divine inspiration. That night, having obtained permission, he left the convent. While he walked during the night, he was transported miraculously to the city of Lisbon. Upon entering the city in the morning, he went to the executioner, and began to plead with him to acquit these innocent people of the accusation and set them free. But, as the man had no intention of doing such a thing, blessed Anthony ordered that the assassinated boy brought to him.

Once the body was placed before him, he ordered the boy to rise up and say whether his relatives had killed him. The boy awoke from death and affirmed that blessed Anthony's relatives were not involved. As a result, they were exonerated and released from prison. Blessed Anthony stayed with them all day. Then, in the evening, he left Lisbon and the following morning he found himself in Padua (Bartolomeo da Pisa 4,19-32).


+++++++++++++++++++++


These are the miracles befitting a travelling preacher, they reveal the burning desire to save souls. He exists exclusively as a living mediator between Christ and the children of God dispersed throughout history, he is a trait d'union between the Redeemer and the redeemed.

The Christians of his day, both in Italy and in France, were believers who were only very crudely introduced into the faith in terms of understanding its doctrine and ethics. Theirs was a traditional religion, which needs to be renewed and deepened in its terms of revelation, defending it against the snares of heresy and prevailing vices. This is the reason for the miracles which support the Christ's true presence in the Eucharist (miracle of the mule), or which underline the authority of his teaching, (for example: the poisoned food, preaching to the fish), or which renew his battle against usury (the macabre tale of the heartless usurer).

On other occasions we see St. Anthony concerned with providing relief to the material suffering of the people, and blocking the way to hateful abuse at the hands of governments (for example: the stormy meeting with Ezzelino, the tale of the twelve thieves, the pious woman of Provence). Notable artists have been inspired by other miraculous events, the new born who speaks, the jealous husband, the reattached foot, which portray Anthony as the defender of family harmony. The importance of the Sacrament of Confession is emphasised, and many miracles are linked to this theme, forming part of the Anthonian saga.

Although he abandoned his family of birth and he left the Augustinian Order, he was a loving son and brother, close to both his family and friends (transferred from Padua to Lisbon, his apparition to Abbot Thomas). Deeper still was his attachment to his minor confreres. He took on the burden of their troubles, he helped avoid possible disorder in the monastery and cloistered life, foiled diabolical turbulence which put meditation at risk, and took care of the nutritional needs of his monastery etc. (for example: the young Noviciate of Limoges, the diabolical phantasmagoria, bilocation in Montpellier, the maid who went to gather vegetables under the rain).

Thus, these episodes help to reconstruct the historical figure of Saint Anthony, they disclose his moral constitution, his feelings of evangelical solidarity, the worries of a teacher of the faith and a guarantor of the authenticity of consecrated life. The most touching miracle however, which analyses in depth the Saint's soul, is the apparition of the Baby Jesus. Saint Anthony glows here in ecstasy, absorbed in divine intimacy, by deep and sweetly emotional faith, with transports of joy and the features of someone who is deeply in love.

It is common to say that medical specialists at Lourdes, "declare" the truth of a certain miracle. This expression is not exact, and we need to be careful. The declaring of miracles does not form part of a doctor's job. His task is to declare that a recovery, according to the current state of medical research, is inexplicable. It is possible that in the future, medical science will be able to solve the mystery.

In so far as a miracle is concerned, only a believer can discern it, in a aura of faith. This is another very different type of knowledge, beyond experimental science. We must cultivate an attitude of adoring silence, which enable us to be transparent to that interior light, thanks to which we can discern a divine presence: "You have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants" (Lk 10,21).

St. Anthony continues to give two types of grace. Above all, through the clear signs of Providence, St. Anthony directs the religious thought of many people towards Christ, he supports wavering faith during the ups and downs of life, guiding us towards the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, surprising whoever is distant or disinterested in God with the interior fascination of conversion. For many Christians, St Anthony represents perhaps the only concrete point of reference, which can foster and develop a relationship with God in the midst of the turmoil of life.

Secondly, St. Anthony extends God's heart into the world, giving faith and hope. Family or work problems, the straying of children or illnesses: there are many occasions in life when men feel powerless. The Saint, so attentive in life to the needs of the family, continues to be God's concrete and favoured mediator in the Church.

"We children must ask our God for something. Everything that exists in this is nothing, compared to our love for God. We must therefore ask to love God, sustaining Him in His weakest and sickest members, feeding Him in the poor and needy. If we ask for Love, then, the same Father, who is Love, will give us what He is: Love!" (From the Sermones, vol. I, pp. 333-334).

(above from http://www.saintanthonyofpadua.net)

13 Day Novena to St. Anthony


Dear brothers and sisters, let us present our petitions to Jesus, so that through Saint Anthony's intercession, He may pour out His mercy on us.
               
1. O Lord, you have made Saint Anthony an apostle of the Gospel. Grant us, through his intercession, a strong and humble faith and make our lives coherent with the creed that we profess.

Glory be to the Father…

2. O God Almighty, you have made Saint Anthony a constructor of peace and fraternal charity. Look upon the victims of violence and war. Grant that in this confused world full of tensions, we may become courageous witnesses of non-violence, promoting human life and peace.

Glory be to the Father…

3. O God, you have granted Saint Anthony the gift of healing and performing miracles. Grant us health of soul and body. Grant serenity and solace to those who have asked for our prayers and make us always ready to serve the sick, the elderly and the distressed.

Glory be to the Father…


4. O Lord, you made Saint Anthony an untiring preacher of the Gospels along mankind's many paths. In your Fatherly mercy protect the homeless, refugees and emigrants; keep them safe from every danger and guide their steps along the path of peace.

Glory be to the Father…

5. O God Almighty, you granted Saint Anthony the power to reunite severed limbs. Reunite all Christians in your One and Holy Church, and grant that we may all live the mystery of unity, thus becoming one heart and one soul.

Glory be to the Father…

6. O Lord Jesus, you made Saint Anthony a great master of spiritual life. Grant us the ability to renew our lives according to the teachings of the Gospel and the beatitudes, and make us promoters of spiritual life for our brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…

7. O Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the incomparable grace of holding you as a child in his arms. Bless our children, and grant that they may grow in goodness and in health and that they may live their lives in the fear of God.

Glory be to the Father…


8. O Merciful Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the wisdom and gifts necessary to guide souls to holiness through his preaching and priestly ministry. Grant that we may approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the great gift of your love, with humility and faith.

Glory be to the Father…


9. O Holy Spirit, in Saint Anthony you gave the Church and the world a great master of holy doctrine. Grant that all those who work in the sphere of information may feel the great responsibility they have and serve truth in charity and with respect for others.

Glory be to the Father…


10. O Lord, you are the Lord of the harvest. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony send many worthy religious and priests into your field, fill them with zeal, generosity and your love.

Glory be to the Father…

11. O Jesus, you called the pope to be a universal pastor, high priest and messenger of truth and peace. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony sustain and console him in his mission.

Glory be to the Father…

12. O Holy Trinity, you granted Saint Anthony the grace to know, to love and to glorify the Virgin Mary, your Blessed Mother, and our Heavenly Mother, grant that we may grow ever closer to her motherly heart, to better serve, love and glorify you, who are love itself.

Glory be to the Father…

13. O Lord, you allowed Saint Anthony to meet sister death with a serene soul. Direct our lives towards you, assist the dying and grant eternal peace to the souls of our departed brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…