Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School is almost over....but I have less time than I have all year!

My list of things to do is lengthy--there is not doubt about that--but where has my time gone?!?

To say the least, sorry, I'm a week +/- behind writing this  blog.  More than anything I'm apologizing to myself.  To explore the saints and my faith was my Lenten promise to myself.  This is something I truly want to do, and I think I set pretty lax goals.  Exploring 3 saints every week is not difficult.  But then came the end of the school year.  Between field days, awards days, mommy breakfasts, PTA meetings, pep rallies, (the list is inexhaustible) the past few weeks feel like a whirlwind of kids and school and somewhere in there I pass my hubby at dinner and collapse into bed for a not-so-restful few hours of sleep.  I'm officially giving myself a break.  I will not be posting any of the saints for last week or this week.  I am going to attempt to slow the clock by just a bit, if only for a few days.

Honestly, at this point I feel quite a bit like the story of Martha and Mary.  I'm definitely not choosing wisely.
Here is the story, if you need a refresher.  I sure did.  This came from bible gateway.

Luke 10:38-42

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with [a]all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 10:40 Lit much service
So, enjoy yourself this week.  Seek the Lord in everything and honor him and the gifts he has given you. Remember to be more like Mary and less like Martha, even with your children, because essentially the only things that matter are your faith and your family. Everything else will survive without you.

Blessings!
Genevieve

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

Happy feast of Nereus & Achilleus!

5/12/14

These 2 martyrs were members of the roman army.  They took part in the persecution of Christians during the reign of Trajan.  They were members of the elite Praetorian Guard and we're baptized by St. Peter after a "miracle of faith" converted them.  For their crime of impiety, they were excited from Rome with St. Flavian Domitilla and eventually beheaded.

This brings to mind the conversion of St. Paul in my mind.  The brutal Roman soldier out to follow orders and carry out his military career to the best of his ability, struck by the hand of God and made to see the error of their ways and light of The Lord.  Again, I wonder if my faith would be so strong? Thank you Lord for showing us the magnitude of your forgiveness.  Thank you for the example of your saints.

St. Pachomius

Happy feast of St. Pachomius!

5/9/14 (also listed as 5/14/14)

St. Pachomius was the founder of of Christian monasticism.  He was born a pagan in Egypt and even served in the Roman Legion in North Africa.  He converted to Christianity in 313 and quit his military career.  He withdrew into the desert and came under the deciles hip of Palaemon, a famed hermit.  After a while Pachomius founded a community of monks. His contribution to formative monasticism ranks him with other great innovators of the church.

Ok, that's cool.  This is the person who first gathered up men, drew up a rule, and created a place for those who wished to lead a consecrated life.  Before his death, there were 10 other communities (men & women) comprising of around 3000 people.  He literally gathered them out of the desert and brought them together.  Before that, there were hermits living in solitude in the caves of the desert.  We owe a lot to St. Pachomius!
image from catholic.org
 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

St. John of Beverley

Happy feast of St. John of Beverley!

5/7/2014

St. John was a Benedictine bishop in England. He was trained at Canterbury under Sts. Adrian & Thodore.  He succeeded St. Boas as Bishop of York.  There he ordained St. Bede to the priesthood. He was praised by St. Bede in his Ecclesiastical History.  He founded Beverley Abbey.

This is one of those saints again that takes a little more looking to find what is truly great about them.  Like so many others, when you read the blurb in a book he seems rather small in the saintly world, but you know there must be something, after all he is a saint.  St. John Beverley has many  miracles and headings associated with him.  He was celebrated for his scholarship and virtue.  Still, comparably, there is very little to go on.  As for me, I will look on St. John of Beverley as an example of virtue.  His life and sainthood will be the example that leading a virtuous life can lead to great things.

Monday, May 5, 2014

St. Maximus of Jerusalem

Happy Feast of St. Maximus of Jerusalem!

Maximus was bishop of Jerusalem around 335.  He lost one eye and had one foot burned and was condemned to forced labor during the tortures of the Diocletian persecutions earlier in his life.  As a priest in Jerusalem, his sufferings and character endeared him to the people, which made him the people's choice, so to speek, for bishop of Jerusalem.  He opposed St. Athanasius originally at the Council of Tyre, but realized his error and became a dedicated enemy of the Arian heresy and a firm supporter of the Nicene creed.  He was not favored during this controversy although he repented of his mistake.  While bishop of Jerusalem, he dedicated the newly built basilica of the Church of the Holy Seplechre.

Now, this is a priest that you can really understand.  My son said it best the other day, "it's hard to understand the saints when they always seem to be perfect."  This one was tortured, a priest, a bishop, and made a HUGE mistake on who to trust.  But, what can we get from him--even when we mess up, even when it's really bad like denying the true being of Jesus (Arainism asserted that the Son of God was subordinate to God the Father, he was not "consubstantial with the father") if we accept and confess our mistake and come back into accordance with the church's teachings we can be forgiven and we can even still become saints.  I am so glad that our God is a forgiving and loving God!

St. Zoe

Happy Feast of St. Zoe!

St. Zoe and her husband Exsuperius (also known as Hesperus) were both Christians and slaves during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in Asia Minor.  Both of them had been raised Christian and had raised both of their sons (Cyriacus and Theodulus) as Christians.  They had all remained true to their faith and had never taken of food offered to idols as their pagan masters did.  The boys hoped to run away from their master, but their mother refused to bless this endeavor.  They asked their mother if they could instead confess to their master, Catullus, their faith.  This she did allow.  Their master did not send them to torture at this point, but instead sent the family away on business, hoping the family would persuade the boys to deny their faith. Instead, while there, they prepared themselves for the possibility of martyrdom.  All of the slaves returned to the master's home for the birthday of Catullus' son.  A feast was prepared at the house in honor of the pagan goddess Fortuna.  Food and wine, including the meat and wine that had been sacrificed to the idol was sent to the slaves, Zoe and her family refused to partake.  When Catullus learned of this, he gave the orders to have the family tortured.  The boys were stripped down and tortured before their parents, who counselled the children to persevere to the end.  Next, the parents were tortured terribly.  Finally, they were all thrown into a furnace and burned.  There they surrendered their souls to the Lord.  Their bodies were preserved in the fire unharmed and angelic singing was heard glorifying the confessors of the Lord.

What an amazing family!  The strength of a mother to encourage her children to follow God even when life is truly at stake, is amazing.  I love learning about the lives of the martyrs.  I don't know what draws me to their stories, but if their is an option, I will always want to read their story first.  As you go through your day, remember St. Zoe.  Think about the incredibly tough decisions she was forced to make and her similarities to Our Lady in watching her sons suffer.  Make the commitment today to find one way (in addition to what you are currently doing) to lead your children to the Lord.  I am beginning Theology of the Body for Middle Schoolers with by older children today.  I have been intending to do this for quite a while, but have allowed life to get in the way.  I received my awakening, when I received the notice that my 6th grader is going through a 2 week "Worth the Wait" sex-ed program at school.  I know this in no way compares to St. Zoe and her decisions, but it does deal with the moral decisions that our children will face and what we face as parents.  If my child is called to learn the secular program (which thank God, is not too explicit) they will also learn the church's model.  Thank you St. JP II for this program!




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

St. Pius V, Pope

Happy Feast of St. Pius V, Pope!

Pope Pius V was head of the Catholic Church from 1566-1572 and a leader of the Catholic Reformation.  He was born to a poor Italian family and was a shepherd until he joined the Dominicans at he age of 14.  He taught theology and philosophy for 16 years before becoming master of novices and prior for several Dominican houses.  He was named inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, but fulfilled his position so well, he was named commissary general of the Inquisition  in 1551.  He quickly rose to bishop of Nepi and Sutri in 1556, cardinal in 1557, grand inquisitor in 1558, and on January 7, 1566 elected Pope.  As Pope, he saw him main objective as continuing to reform the church, specifically full implementation of the Council of Trent. He published the Roman Catechism, the revised Roman Breviary, and the Roman Missal (I think we are ALL grateful for these!).  He declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church, commanded a new edition of the works of Thomas Aquinas, ans created a commission to revise the Vulgate.  The decrees of Trent were published throughout all Catholic lands and the Pope insisted on strict adherence.  In 1571, Pius created the Congregation of the Index (what the index iswhat is on itliberal view of what is on it) to give help with the Church's resistance to Protestant and heretical writings and used the Inquisition to keep Protestant ideas from spreading in Italy.  There was a threat beyond the Protestants, the Ottoman Turks were advancing steadily across the Mediterranean.  Pius V organized an alliance between Benice and Spain, culminating in the Battle of Lepanto, which was a complete triumph over the Turks--the Feast Day for Our Lady of Victory was established on this day to recognizer Our Lady's intercession in answer to the Rosary being said all over Catholic Europe.  Pius led reforms of the Church by example.  For example, he wore his coarse Dominican robed, even underneath his papal vestments and devoted himself wholeheartedly to the religious life.  Only the Inquisition's oppression was left as a blemish on his papacy, often Jews of Rome were brutally treated; and the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

I am so happy to be learning about a pope and a saint today, just a few days after 2 popes were canonized as saints.  How amazing is our church?  To have a succession of leaders that you can follow all of the way to Jesus' instillation of Peter.  I think that is one of the most amazing things about the Catholic Church.  Maybe I should insert here the reasons I converted to Catholicism, it really has nothing to do with St. Pius V, or maybe it has everything to do with him and his Reformation of the Church.  I was raised Methodist, by a mom who has a long, long line of Methodists in her family.  My dad was Catholic, but disliked the Latin (and later Spanish) that was spoken in his church (from what I understand that was his main grump about the church).  I was blessed to have Catholic God Parents.  They were amazing!  I loved to spend the night at their house, where a small shrine was in their bedroom and we prayed at night.  That moment in the evening felt like home to me.  They were a wonderful example of marriage and family, but also a wonderful example of Christ's light given to others.  Their faith was amazing and I always wanted more of it.  Going to mass with them or with my grandpa (Dad's Dad) was always a highlight.  Granted their mass was still in Spanish, but I was drawn in by the consistency of the service, I didn't know what they said, but when I went often I could follow along and it was comfortable.  You could always feel the Holy Spirit in the room--ALWAYS--even when I was young, it just felt different than church services at my church.  Then I met a Catholic man, and honestly, I was hoping beyond anything he would insist that I become Catholic before our marriage, but he didn't and we were married Methodist and did the church shuffle the first several years of our marriage.  It wasn't until and wonderful Catholic Priest came into our lives, and started praying for us, that everything changed and I converted.  I don't know that I would have wanted it any other way though.  The Holy Spirit was able to come into both of our lives at one time and change our whole family (children included, there were 2 before I converted).  So, thank you Pope Pius V, thank you to all of the Popes before and after who have led and guided our church through both good and bad times.  And thank you to all of the priests, and religious, who guide and have guided the flock constantly and consistently throughout the years.
(note:  I borrowed the images.  The top one is from another blog, source listed under it (the quote and picture together say it all!) and the image of the tomb is from Wikipedia (what can I say, I'm have not been blessed enough to go visit yet....one day!)

Monday, April 28, 2014

St. Peter Chanel

Happy Feast of St. Peter Chanel!

St. Peter Chanel was both a priest and martyr of the Catholic Church.  (More specifically, he is a protomartyr of the South Seas.  Which is the first Christian martyr in a country of among a group, like a religious order.  St. Stephen was the original "Protomartyr," since he was the first martyr and St. Thecla, as the first female martyr.)  He was intelligent and possessed a simple piety.  His local priest taught him in elementary school and after he entered the seminary.  Both professors and other students had great respect and admiration for him.  His first assignment after becoming a priest was to a rundown country parish, which he revitalized in the short time he was there.  He soon jointed the Marists or Society of Mary to be put to work where his heart truly was, missionary work.  This group worked both at home and abroad.  Although this was his desire, he was assigned to teach as a seminary.  His dream would come true in 1836, when he was sent to the New Hebrides in the Pacific and he was appointed Superior of a band of missionaries sent there.  The brothers disbanded among the islands to better reach the inhabitants.  St. Peter and an English layman Thomas Boog went to Futuna to preach to a group who had only recently given up cannibalism (think this would have been my exiting point!)  The king and people received them well, until the kings jealousy was brought on by the missionaries learning of the language and gaining the people's confidence.  The king realized that Christianity would lead to the end of his reign as both high priest and king, which evidently had its perks.  The king's son wished to be baptized, which was the end of the king's patience with the missionaries.  He sent a group of warriors out to kill the missionary.  They clubbed him to death, which he took without complaint.  Within 5 month of his death, the entire island was converted to Christianity.

While we are always told, God does his work in his way I wonder if St. Peter Chanel would have signed up if he would have known the outcome.  I'm sure like all of the saints we have read about, he would have gladly taken this opportunity to serve the Lord in whatever manner he was called.  What do we take from St. Peter Chanel's story?  How can we bring his life into our own?  I believe he is calling us to live out our faith and spread the faith through all means necessary.  We may not be called to die for our faith, but we are called to evangelize regardless of what others may say or do in response.  While preparing for my son's first communion this past weekend, I ran across St. Paul Street Evangelization and wanted to share it with you. They are a group of Catholics who spread the Church everywhere, to anyone.  I WANT TO BE LIKE THEM.  Honestly, I don't feel like I have the knowledge to do it, but I am looking into this program.  How wonderful to be called to spread the church that Jesus instilled to all!  Consider this or in what way you can live out your faith and spread the Church.  Remember, we are all called to evangelize!

Here is a link to the Marist Fathers Novena for Vocations to the Society of Mary.  Remember to pray for vocations.

Friday, April 25, 2014

St. Mark

Happy Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist!

St. Mark was the writer of the second Gospel in the New Testament (sometimes called John Mark, which just confuses me).  He is the son of Mary of Jerusalem, who was also highly esteemed in the early church and who's house served as a meeting place for Christians.  Mark was a cousin of St. Barnabas and accompanied he and St. Paul on their missionary journeys through Antioch and Cypress.  Tradition states that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt and is possibly the "John Mark" in Acts 12:25.  He is sometimes called "the Interpreter of Peter" by those of his time.  He wrote his Gospel in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity.  Tradition states that Mark was asked by the Romans to put St. Peter's accounts of the life of Christ into a Gospel, which is why his Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus seen through the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles.  It's a record of what he heard from Peter.  He died as a martyr in Alexandria, Egypt and his relics were sent to Venice, Italy, where they were enshrined in a cathedral dedicated to his honor.  Side note: according to Venetian tradition, when St. Mark was traveling through Europe, he arrived at a lagoon in Venice, where an angel appeared to him and said "May peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist.  Here your body will rest." This was used as an excuse by those who stole his remains from Alexandria and moved them to Venice.His symbol is the winged lion.

Why the winged lion, not because it's important, but just because I want to know?  The winged lion was the symbol of the city of Venice (formerly the Republic of Venice).  The lion also symbolizes the power of Mark's word, but also majesty.  The wings symbolize spiritual elevation.  The halo is traditional of holiness or religious piety.  The book expresses wisdom and peace.

What does St. Mark tell us?  What is his example that we can use today?  Honestly, I had to do some more looking.  He's the writer of a Gospel--read it if you haven't, if you have...well, read it again.  The Gospel according to St. Mark is a wonderful account of the life of Jesus.  But beyond being a teacher of the faith, which we should all aspire to be, what else is there.  Finally I found it.  Every other account I read glossed over it, but his martyrdom is what I feel I should look at.  It tells of his favor with Christ and his strength of faith.  As I have said numerous times before, I don't know if I could be that strong in the same circumstances.  I pray that I would be.  But honestly, my first thought in reading the horrid things that have been done to our Christian martyrs (which I know in some areas of the world are still going on), is how could they withstand that torture and still come out with their faith in tact?  Below is a quick account of what happened.  I'm sure it doesn't do honor to his life as it should, but it does tell the story:

On Easter in 68 A.D., while acting as the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, he was taken while saying the Mass.  They tied a rope around his neck and dragged him through the city as an animal to slaughter.  The rocky road cut through his body and blood stained the road.  An Angel of the Lord consoled him in prison and even Our Lord came to him and said: "Peace be with you, O Mark, My Disciple and My Evangelist.  Fear nothing because I am near you."  The following day the pagan priests once again tied a rope around his neck and drug him through the streets.  This time he died saying "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."    Thunder and lightening erupted through the sky and the air was turbulent.  Those who had killed him planned on burning his body, but fled at this, which is why his remains were able to be collected.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

St. George

Happy Feast of St. George (patron saint of my sweet almost birthday boy)!

St. George was a soldier in the Roman army of Emperor Diocletian.  He was one of the Emperor's favorite soldiers, but he held a secret that none knew, he was a Christian!  As you may know, Diocletian had it out for the Early Christians.  He led the greatest persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.  He had edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they follow traditional Roman religious practices. Other edicts targeted clergy and demanded universal sacrifice to Roman gods.  One day he read an edict where he was stationed and knew it would be his job to round up Christians and to possibly even kill them himself.  He fearlessly went to the Emperor and informed him of his Christian beliefs and scolded him for his cruelty.  George then gave up his position in the Roman army.  He was tortured horribly and finally beheaded, never denying his faith.  George's brave declaration of his faith gave courage to other Christians.  Many songs and poems were written about his martyrdom, spreading the story.  For George the dragon signified evil and the lady whom he is saving is God's holy truth, but we all have dragons hiding in our lives:  greed, laziness, pride, fear, etc.  With George's intercession and guidance, we can all fight our "dragons" with God's help.

My sweet middle child has his birthday this weekend and will also celebrate his first communion--yes, all in the same day!  What a blessing this is for him.  Many years ago, he chose St. George as HIS Saint.  He told me he just felt close to him (and being a boy, loved the dragon and the soldier imagery).  Little did I know how appropriate George would be for him.  He suffers with asthma, which has always been a huge obstacle for him.  This being pollen season, he is constantly feeling terrible and having issues, but calls on St. George to help him fight the grouchiness and irritability that plague him while on his medicines.  Then came the issue of dyslexia.  Wow--kick a kid when he's down!  We realized he was having a hard time learning to read and write.  He was constantly frustrated and feeling inadequate.  Yet again he has turned to George.  His frustrations are immense, but he has taught me that no matter what you face, you can always turn to God for help and that our saints in heaven are always there to be a support.  Happy Feast of St. George and may you find the strength to turn to your dragons and fight them today!

Monday, April 21, 2014

St. Anselm

Happy Feast of St. Anselm!

http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2012/09/
a-colourful-canterbury-tomb.html
We will just start out by saying he is "one among the noblest worthies in the British Isles."  Holy Cow...and I didn't even know...but let me tell you, I will try to condense what I read, there is a ton of information on him! He was born in Italy and had a strong faith from an early age (which probably had to do with his mother's piety and instruction).  He desired a vocation from an early age, but his father opposed.  His dad treated him harshly, and when he died, Anselm left home (his mom had died by this point).  During this lapse in time, Anselm neglected his calling to the vocation and lived a rather worldly life.  (I have heard of many a priest and monk who felt a calling to a life in Christ, but either due to a lack of support or a personal fear, rebelled against it.  I have even spoken to one who lived a life of drugs, alcohol and theft.  Even landing in jail before realizing his calling was to the Church.  I guess the point here is, if your child has a calling toward a vocation, don't deny them, you will only cause your own heartaches!)  He finally landed in France at a Benedictine abbey.  There he became a monk there and in 1073 became abbot of Caen and later abbot of Bec.  He would visit Canterbury, England as part of his duties.  His kindness won him many English followers.  During 3 years of the reign of William the Red, the see of Canterbury remained empty, during which Anselm did not visit.  In 1902 he finally returned to conduct business.  Upon trying to leave and return to France, he was restrained and appointed archbishop of Canterbury.  Anselm wrote Monologum (Monologue), Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Man), and Proslogium (Addition).  He also spoke for the abolition of the slave trade and the importance of celibacy of priests.  There are traditions saying the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and that many miracles are attributed to him.  Naturally, King Henry VIII had his shrine in Canterbury destroyed.
believed in the supremacy of the Pope in all matters, which we all know is a terrible blow to the secular leader of a nation, so Anselm met with great resistance when he tried to go to Rome to receive the pallium from Pope Urban II.  The compromise was the king sending a legate to pick-it-up for him.  Naturally, Anselm didn't want it when it came.  They made it all work, had a ceremony, placed the pallium upon the altar and it was accepted.  Finally, 4 years later he was allowed to visit Rome and meet with the Pope, here he was able to finish some work and even be an adviser to Pope Urban for a time.  King William died tragically and Anselm returned to England to console Henry I, the heir to the throne.  Another squabble ensued over the supremacy of the king-vs-that of the Pope.  Eventually, Henry I agreed to granting the Church freedom from politics of the king.  This reinforced papal authority.  Anslem returned to England to serve the Church and king.  He served as regent of England while Henry was in Normandy.  He earned the title of "Father of Scholasticism."  Among his writings were

That's a lot of information for me.  What can I say, I'm more of a short and sweet kind of person and less of a biography person.  Secretly, I wish there were sports hi-lights for saints, but there aren't.  So what are we to gain from St. Anselm and his extremely long story?  Well, I suppose the long and short, for me, is St. Anselm's inability to settle on the big issue.  Who should regulate and make decisions for the Church--naturally, the Church!  Kings and secular governments have no authority to make decisions over the leaders of the Church, no more than the Pope should choose the next president of the United States.  (Ok, maybe that could help some.....but still, NO).  While the 10 commandments should rule over our every decision, church and state need some degree of separation.  I know that is not coming out as it should, let me clarify--we SHOULD be allowed to pray publicly, in church, in school, on the corner of Main St., at the city council meetings, anywhere; we SHOULD be allowed to display and teach the 10 commandments, they are moral laws that should govern us; we SHOULD be allowed to speak of God and his greatness anywhere at any time without fear of ridicule; the BIBLE is a great work of literature, even if you do not believe in it, the Bible should be taught and read in school (I know I crossed someone's line here, but it is a great work of literature and it does have wonderful moral teachings that would help society as a whole-admit it, even if you don't believe in God-murder, adultery and theft are wrong).  Then how should we be separated?  My priest should not choose the next mayor of my town.  While a citizen, my priest should not be on city council.  There are just places he should not serve.  He should shepherd his flock, lead the church, teach what the Church teaches, and if all of these things are done, it is up to me and my fellow parishioners to follow God's teachings and lead our city and government.

St. Apollonius the Apologists

Happy feast of S. Apollonius the Apologist!

St. Apollonius was a martyr who wrote Apologia, or defense of the faith, which is a priceless document of the early church.  He was a Roman senator and Christian, which as we all know, was a major no-no of the time.  One of his slaves gave him up and Apollonius was arrested (just so you know, his slave was put to death for being an informer at this time).  Perennial, the Roman Praetorian prefect, demanded Apollonius denounce his faith.  Apollonius refused and the case was forwarded to the Roman senate.  At this time a debate took place between Apollonius and Perennis in which Apolonius was able to lay out the beauty and value of Christianity.  Although his defense was amazing, he was found guilty and beheaded.

These seem to be your best bet for reading an account of what happened to Apollonius Early Christian Writings and his Apologia Internet Archive.  I think my favorite thing I read about him was when he was asked if he just wanted to die.  He replied no, he enjoyed life, but he would rather die in defense of his faith than of some ordinary cause or disease.  How wise was he!?!  Due to his social standing and his position as a senator in Rome, he was able to influence many with his eloquence and explanations.  Not only did his speaking focus on Christianity and it's virtue, but on the old testament and the prophesies by Scripture and Plato.  Due to his example and life Christianity made more strides into the hearts and minds of the Roman people.

How far does a little evangelization go and how much would it benefit our church today if Catholics everywhere started standing up in defense of our faith?  The one thing that saddens me about our faith is our lack of evangelization.  There are so many misconceptions out there about the Catholic Church, that we begin to shy away from spreading our faith.  I feel like I am on the defense every time I speak of my church and my faith, but if we don't start to evangelize our church as well as the 'bible churches' or Protestants, we will allow the True Church of Christ to sink into antiquated oblivion.  I am so happy to have Pope Francis steering the ship today.  Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with Pope Benedict.  He was an eloquent writer and theologian, but the world beyond Catholics were not listening to him.  Pope Francis has made the world take notice of the church again.  They may not accurately hear the message, but they do hear the message and they see the Church again.  Let's help the Pope today and every day and spread the word and works of our Lord!  Here is one location to help you start on your way http://streetevangelization.com/


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Lydwine

Happy Feast of St. Lydwine (Lidwine)!

 St. Lydwine is the patron saint sickness, chronically ill and ice skaters (yes, ice skaters...this seems odd to me, but mainly because I live in a place where ice skating is not an issue).  She was one of nine children of a working man.  Early in life, Lydwine was drawn to prayer and to the Mother of God (especially Our Lady of Schiedam).  During the winter of 1395, she was ice skating and fell.  This cause a broken rib, which did not heal properly (this sounds minor, but it even caused gangrene to form and spread throughout her body).  This was the beginning of her martyrdom.  (I find this odd, I'm learning, but until I started looking into saints I had no idea that you could be a martyr for personal suffering which did not include being burned at the stake or killed for your faith in some other way).  Lydwine was filled with pain, that only seemed to increase, causing some to think she was under the influence of an evil spirit (some of these sufferings included headaches, vomiting, fever, thirst, bedsores, toothaches, muscle spasms, blindness, neuritis and the stigmata).  Her pastor even brought her an unconsecrated host, which she was able to identify immediately.  God rewarded her through her pain.  She was given a wonderful gift of prayer and with visions.  Many miracles took place at her bedside.  She received an vision telling her that her suffering would end when she saw a rose bush in full bloom.  On Easter day 1433, she died while having a vision of Christ coming towards her to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Ok, so honestly, if I would have known her I wonder what I would have thought.  Would I have felt sympathy for her, condemned her for her sufferings or questioned her?  Honestly I don't know.  I had never heard of St. Lydwine until today.  To tell the truth, sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to strive to be a saint, this story of suffering is one that makes me feel that way!  I will say that I will pray to her for my son who has been suffering with migraine headaches for the past year.  I don't know of anyone else who can possibly help him, maybe this will be his saving grace.  Saint Lydwine pray for my sweet boy!



                                                                         catholic.org





St. Genna Galgani

Happy Feast of St. Gemma Galgani!


Due to my mistake with technology, this is 5 days late and....well....that is just where we are.  Perhaps, my technical deficiency is showing.  So I am fixing the (unsaved) issues and posting without comment.  Gemma speaks for herself, she's pretty amazing!  I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do.

St. Gemma was born in Italy in 1878 to poor parents.  She developed a strong love of prayer at a young age.  Although she was a good student and was loved, she was forced to leave school at a young age due to chronic illnesses.  (I loved reading that she had a smile for everyone at school, I try to instill this in myself and my children.  You never know who just needs to see a smile that day.)  She received many special graces throughout her life, which were often misunderstood, causing her much ridicule.  She, naturally, gave it up to the Lord, because he had been ridiculed much during his life.  Gemma's father died when she was 19, leaving her as the parent of her 7 younger brothers and sisters.  She accepted this with all of the grace with which she accepted everything.  Once there were some siblings who came of age and could share in this duty on, she went to spend some time in silence and prayer.  She was proposed to several times, but refused wanting to speak only to God and to spend time with Him in prayer.  Upon returning home, she became very ill with meningitis.  Her regret during this time being the burden she was placing on those taking care of her.  She felt tempted by the devil, so she went to the Vererable Passionist Gabriel Possenti in prayer.  Through his intercession Gemma was miraculously cured.

She greatly desired to become a nun, but her health would not allow for this to happen.  She offered this disappointment to God as a sacrifice.  On June 8, 1899, she had a warning that an unusual grace would be given to her.  This occurred with a stigmata (she would fall into rapture and her hands and feet and would feel pain from which blood would emit).  This would last from Thursday to Friday or Saturday weekly.  Upon its disappearance white marks would appear.  This lasted until near the end of her life.

Another remarkable grace she was given was her guardian angel.  I know, we all have them, but she could see and talk to hers, often sending him on errands to deliver messages to her confessor.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

St. Mary Cleophas

Happy Feast of St. Mary Cleophas!

This is another one of those posts that will show my ignorance, but also show my desire to know more.  What can I say, 2000+ years is a lot to catch up with!  St. Mary Cleophas was is the mother of St. James the Lesser and Joseph.  Right there....you'd think I'd know who she was, but yes, she actually is more than just the mother of important people.  She is also one of the "Three Marys" who served Jesus and was present at his crucifixion.  So how did I miss that?!?  I'm guessing it is because in the bible she is known as Mary of James or the other Mary or Mary the mother of James and Joseph....good grief, no wonder I couldn't sort this out.  There are entirely too many names for the same person!  She may have also been one of the women who found Jesus missing from the tomb.  After all of this it is reported that she went to Hispania (Spain) and was a missionary.

I don't know what I can really say about her.  I still just don't understand how I did even know she was there.  She was obviously an integral part of the picture.  She was one of the women who followed Jesus.  From what I read, in this image she is the one in the back waving her arms.  If that is true, maybe I just glazed over her, because she is a "girly-girl" as my children would call it, and I'm not.  I am more of the "get-it-done" kind of girl.  The one in there, working to get things done so life can move on.  So if the bible or tradition, paints her as the girl who grieves excessively or needs a lot, regrettably, I would have glazed over that section.  Sorry.  I know that everything that is said is important, but I guess human nature takes over at that point.  I really will have to try and find more out about her.  Here is a little off the wall insert.  Someone composed a Gospel According to the Other Mary I can't say that this is changing my thoughts any, but interesting none the less.  I suppose the most information comes from EWTN, I encourage you to read this http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/MARYCLEO.htm.

When it comes down to it, we all need to aim for giving our lives more to Our Lord in everything, and Mary Cleophas is the example for us.


Monday, April 7, 2014

St. John Baptist de la Salle


Happy Feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle!


Today I'm going to start a little differently.  I want to recommend G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries to you.  My eldest has been doing writing projects on books for school and honestly, I needed short stories he could analyze.  In comes The Father Brown Reader, which is adaptations for younger readers.  I must say, these are fun (and short).  If you are in a crunch, as I was, or if you just need a fun read with Catholic morality, try it.  We have ALL been enjoying these stories about a quaint little Catholic priest who seems to always end up in the middle of some crazy mystery or problem.  It is also quite fun when your children get the realization of what our sweet priests sometimes hear.  When that light goes on that their confession over not cleaning their room and disobeying their parents is not the worst the priest has ever heard, I must say....the facial expression is priceless!

St. John de la Salle was an Educator and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  He was born in France to a noble family and was the eldest of 10!  (Wow, and my kids think they have to fight for attention.)  At the age of 11, he dedicated himself to the religious life and was ordained at the age of 27.  He founded 2 schools in Reims, his hometown, and became increasingly concerned with the children of poor families.  He was convinced the spiritual life should be cultivated first among teachers, so he gathered a community of men dedicated to teaching.  As with all great plans, he met some failure, but kept trying and in 1683, he gave away all of his fortune, resigned his canonry, and dedicated himself to the training of the men in his service.  This was the founding of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  He actually forbade priests from joining his order.  (I need to know why...)  His methods of teaching were revolutionary, using vernacular instead of Latin and classroom instead of individual teaching.  King James II actually asked him to come to England and teach boys in the royal court.  In 1698, he opened a college for Irish teachers.  There was some opposition, which led to him being deposed (forcibly removed from office), but his congregation saved him by their support.  He retired in 1717 and died in 1719.  Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1900.  He is the patron saint of teachers.  His congregation remains the largest religious institute of lay brothers.

Last week I must say, I was not as pleased with my children's teachers as I should have been.  I was allowing myself to put the needs of my child first (which is good), but in doing so I forgot to look at what the teacher is going through as well.  I am so very happy to be looking at a saint for teachers today.  St. John Baptist de la Salle did so much for the way children are taught.  Take the language alone, this allowed all children to be taught.  The wealthy knew Latin, but not the common or poor children.  Then to move teaching from private to classroom, allowed for an even broader group to be taught.  Think of the exclusivity of education.  I know this didn't solve everything, but it did bring education--reading, writing, etc. to the masses.  Today I will thank a teacher, actually 15 in our case, and I urge you to as well.  It doesn't have to be much, just a note or an e-mail, letting them know that you appreciate their time and effort that they give to your child daily.  Remember, your children spend more of their awake time with their teachers than with you!


Friday, April 4, 2014

St. Benedict the Moor

Happy feast of St. Benedict the Moor (a.k.a. the African or the Black)!

Today is the feast of St. Benedict the Moor.  I don't think I have read about many ex-slave saints.  There is a movie about Bakhita, but I think this is an area in which I should expand my knowledge.  Saints of European lineage are somewhat commonplace, but those from beyond are not.

St. Benedict the Moor was born a black slave in Italy (Moor is from the word black in Italian).  He was freed because of his parent's loyalty and good work.  He became a hermit at Montepellegrino and became their superior. This group of recluses were disbanded by Pope Pius IV, so Benedict joined the Franciscans as a lay brother.  He was named  as superior of this monastery as well, this was huge, you must remember he was an ex-slave and illiterate.  He was known for his holiness and his miracles.  

Ok, so this wasn't enough for me, so I went looking deeper.  I looked into his miracles, and I had to share!  When he prayed he was often shining with a celestial light.  Even better than this, and I must admit, the part to which I wish I was blessed--he was employed as a cook in an abbey where it was noted that ANGELS, yes ANGELS were often witnessed helping him cook!  As a bonus to this, was the fact that the food never seemed to run out, it multiplied miraculously in his hands!  

I am so happy to have learned about St. Benedict the Moor.  He's pretty cool and a fun change to the saints I have been reading about.  He didn't grow up in a noble family, nope, he was ordinary and not just ordinary, but a slave.  He was a hermit (of which I know I would not be a success, I need people and conversation).  Then, I'm not sure why-but would love to know, his hermitage was disbanded.  Was this commonplace?
Was this across the board, all hermitages?  Then, how do you move on from that?  I, in my pride, would probably say-- Well, maybe this life isn't for me, the Pope thinks I'm not doing the right thing.  Done!  St. Benedict, I'm assuming in his saintly humility, just went on with life and found the next place in which he could serve God.  (I'm telling you, there are so many reasons God will not choose me to be among his saints.  Humility is one of them.)  He was then blessed with being superior of the monastery he moved to and blessed with these fun and amazing miracles.  I must say Lord, if you would like to bless me with angels in my kitchen to help with cooking or the multiplying of food, I will gladly take it!




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

St. Peter Regulatus

Happy Feast of St. Peter Regulatus!

St. Peter Regulatus was born in Spain to a noble family.  At the age of 13, he joined the local Franciscan Order.  After many years he moved to the monastery at Tribulos.  He he was known for his severe asceticism (an absence of worldly pleasures: restraints of body, speech, mind and wealth), as well as his abilities to levitate and enter into ecstasies (reduced external awareness & increased internal/spiritual awareness, often including visions).  He brought needed reforms to the monastery as abbot and promoted reforms in other Franciscian houses.  He was an extreme follower of the community rules (thus the name Regulatus).

Here we are again.  I guess there is truly a saint for everyone to relate to, but this one is not one I can relate to.  Don't get me wrong, I can respect him for his abilities that I don't possess, but I cannot relate.  I am not one of asceticism (hope you realize, I had to look that up, I had no clue!).  I give up at lent, I don't go to extreme, but I don't live off bread and water alone and I am certainly not the person who holds back my mind or my speech very often.  I simply am not that person.  I really do not understand the levitating or ecstasy thing.  Maybe if I spoke to someone who had experienced that or understood it better, but I cannot understand it at this time (it was not taught in the Methodist Church, nor was it covered in RCIA).  Then we come to his extreme following of the rules.  Wow....I'm really bombing on this one, but I do have a child who is an extreme follower of the rules.  It drives me a little batty to be honest.  I love him, but there is no wiggle room at all!

I finally looked for stories about Peter and found one which I can really appreciate.  Peter lived off of bread and water most of his life and gave most of what he had to the poor and needy.  It is said that he would hand out all of the bread he possessed, but the bread wouldn't run out as long as there was still a person in need waiting to be fed.  That is amazing!  That is what I will take from St. Peter Regulatus and try to implement.  I want to be more giving of what I have.  I want to help others in need, not just giving to the thrift store or donating to worthy causes, but being the hands and feet of Christ in our world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

St. Conon of Naso

Happy Feast of St. Conon of Naso!

St. Conon of Naso, like many other saints, was born into a noble family.  At the age of 15 he turned his back on his privileged life and became a Basilian monk.  He lived in a monastery for a while, then became a hermit and later called back to become abbot.  At some point during his life he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  While there he had a vision of a snake coiling itself around the throat of a fellow priest.  He went to that priest who confessed to hoarding monies.  After their talk, the priest gave all of the monies he had kept to the poor.  Upon the death of his parents, Conon received a large inheritance, which he gave to the poor.  Famine hit Naso, and a vision of Conon encouraged a ship of grain to go to a port near Naso, ending its famine.  Conon died at the age of 97.  Upon his death, all of the bells in the town started ringing miraculously.  Conon is known for his miracles and visions.

Conon's life is fairly sketchy.  There isn't much out there about his life, just these few facts, somewhat thrown at you.  What we do know about him is that:  He led by example.  He wanted God more than money and privilege
.  He put God first.  Because of this, Our Lord rewarded him.  He was given the gift of visions and the gift of being able to perform miracles.  He is a lesson in letting go and letting God.  He always provides, if only we give him the opportunity.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

St. Margaret Clitherow

Happy Feast of St. Margaret Clitherow!

Margaret Clitherow was a Protestant in Elizabethan England.  She married John Clitherow and had 3 children with him.  Three years after marriage, Margaret decided to convert to the Catholic faith.  Accounts say, she no longer found comfort, substance or truth in the "new" church.  Her husband remained Protestant, but supported her in her faith.  She was fervent in her faith: converting many, praying for 1 1/2 hours daily, and fasting 4 days of every week, regularly attending mass and confession.  When laws were passed against the Catholic faith, she was often imprisoned for not attending the Protestant service.  Then the laws came which forced priests out of England.  It was treason for a priest to remain and a felony to harbor or aid a priest, punishable by death.  Her love of her new faith led her to harbor fugitive priests.  This led to her imprisonment.  They tried, but failed, to force her by torture to deny her faith.  Eventually, she was condemned to death~by pressing.  She died at the age of 30.  More importantly, her children were so moved by her faith, all 3 chose the religious life (1 nun and 2 priests).

I don't know how Catholics in Elizabethan England were so strong and devoted.  I pray that in the same circumstances I would be as well, but the fear for the safety of your children must have been immense.  I read Autobiography
of a Hunted Priest last summer, and I must say, it was the most moving thing I have read...EVER.  To have a first hand account of life in that time was incredible.  I encourage you to read this autobiography.  It really will change your life, and make you look at your everyday decisions differently.  You will appreciate your freedom of religion and respect your ability to choose your faith.

I really don't know what else to say.  She is an example in her own rite.

I pray that my love of God and the Church can be so pure and so intense, that my children, simply by witnessing it, will feel the love of God.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Catherine of Genoa

Happy (not actually feast) of St. Catherine of Genoa!

Ok, so I'm not exactly sure why St. Catherine came up as the saint of the day, but she did.  I took out typing and thinking, and really enjoying her story....but then came the realization that today is not her feast day! No, St. Catherine of Genoa is celebrated September 15, only 6 months from now.  Ug!  But, I really like her story, and it speaks to me today.  I guess God put her there for a reason, so if you want today's saint, sorry, today you get St. Catherine of Genoa.

Catherine was born to a noble family in 1447, the youngest of 5 children. She wanted a religious life and at 13 tried to join a convent, but was turned down due to her age.  She then decided to marry Julian Adorno at the age of 16.  Julian was extravagant in his life, selfish and unfaithful.  For a time, Catherine numbed her pain by extravagance as well, but upon going to confession has a renewed sense of her sins and God's love for her.  This renewed love of God allowed her to reform her life and live as a good example to her husband, who eventually reformed his life as well, but only after ruining them financially.  At this point Catherine and Julian decided to move into a large hospital in Genoa to give themselves to helping others.  Catherine wrote Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body and Treatise on Purgatory.  In her writing on purgatory, she writes that purgatory begins on earth for souls that open themselves up to God and that heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God began on earth.

Catherine speaks to me on so many levels.  My husband IS NOT like Julian, so don't get me wrong on that point.  But we married young I think along with all of the blessings you receive when you do this, you also grow in many areas as you get older and live more of your life.  Sometimes this growing and adjusting causes growing pains, so to speak, and you have to find your way through those growing pains.  I love that Catherine didn't try to change her husband.  From what we are told, she didn't one day decide to be more religious, come home and say, "repent or else."  No she adjusted what she did.  Lived as a good example and prayed.  I think we can learn a lot from this.  Today, we are a society of instant change.  Fix or else.  Separations and divorce are far to common in our society.  Catherine would have every reason in today's society to leave her husband~he cheated and ruined them financially.  What judge wouldn't grant her a divorce!  I don't know if she would have wanted one, or if this option was available, but she turned her heart to God and allowed Him to fix her marriage and their lives.  Maybe we should also turn to confession more.  Maybe we should turn to God more.  And maybe we should actually LISTEN to what He has to say.

I also am very excited to read Catherine's writings on purgatory.  I must admit, this is one of those areas that stumps the convert in me.  I understand it to a point, but the Methodist in me still comes out when thinking about purgatory and the cleansing of my soul after death in preparation for heaven.  While on this topic, indulgences are also a sticking point for me.  I like the idea of somehow buying time off the not-so-pleasant purgatory experience, but I also question it.

Hug your spouse today, better yet, do something special for them.  I will pray for my husband.  I will thank him for all he does and I will try to find a way to make his day truly special, even if it is a small way.

Saint Enda

Happy Feast of St. Enda!

St. Enda was the brother of St. Fanchea.  She convinced him to quit his warring activities and to marry.  He was engaged, but before long, his fiancee was found dead.  When this occurred he went to Rome to become ordaned to the priesthood.  He returned home to Ireland where his brother-in-law, King Oengus, gave him land to build a monestary.  This was Ireland's first monestary, so St. Enda is considered the founder of Irish monasticism.
There isn't much information on St. Enda, but I like his story.  He went from a warrior, to a fiancee, to a monk.  What can you say?  He certainly let God guide his feet.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feast of St. Joseph

Happy Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary!

How fitting is this, on the day I hopefully finish catching up--St. Joseph, husband of Mary, head of the Holy Family.  My 2 year old is better, no more fever, and spring break is over.  Onward and upward, life resumes and we begin with Joseph.

Well, this was how I started my post, then...little man started feeling icky again and my big boy needed mom. What can I say, I am a work in progress, but my littles come first, even when it's the big boy who is 12.  Little man is napping, so I will do what I can.  St. Joseph, chaste husband of Mary, mother of our Lord and savior.  We know from scripture that he was a carpenter, they had little, they were not rich, he came from the line of David (great King of Israel), he was caring and compassionate, he followed God in everything without question, he loved Jesus and was concerned for his safety, and he was a "righteous man."

I am so incredibly happy to have St. Joseph in Sacred Scripture and in the Church, but I wish I had more.  I wish I knew how he was as a father. When the baby screamed in the middle of the night, did he hold him, or was that Mary's job?  Was he nurturing and loving in teaching Jesus and rearing him?  I'm sure he was, God chose him out of all of the men in the world, but on some level, I just wish I had more.  (Selfish, isn't it.  I ask more of the ancient literature that chronicles God and his people both before and after Jesus.) Maybe I ask to much, I just wish I had more of an example for marriage and parenthood.  The calling to be married and parent isn't always easy, the questions are difficult and the instruction is hard.  Don't get me wrong, it is the MOST rewarding thing I can imagine.  I am happy, except when the 2 year old refuses to use the bathroom, or then in the midst of his tantrum, misses the potty and hits me, but all things considered I am extremely lucky and happy.  I love the hugs and kisses.  I cannot imagine life without the wonderfully misspelled I love you notes from my children.  I love celebrating the wins and hugging after the losses.  These are the things that make life.....well.....LIFE.

Where does this leave us?  This sketchy outline of who Joseph was early in Jesus' life.  What does this show us or teach us? What do we do now?  Well, we rely on the church and her teachings and we follow the outline we have of Joseph.  We know he would want us to work.  To do our jobs to the best of our ability, without fear of getting dirty.  We know he wants us to respect everyone who is out there providing for their family.  His job was not glamorous, he got dirty and worked hard.  That type of work is not for everyone, but everyone should have a deep respect for that type of work.  Not just carpenters, but construction workers, garbage men, plumbers, electricians, janitors, office workers.....etc....the list is endless.  Have respect for all men and their occupations.  Respect all and help all.  Mary and Joseph didn't have an easy life, they were uprooted as soon as Jesus was born.  They moved, resettled and later returned.  Help those who are new in your community to settle in and make their home.  Love your family~take care of them.  Last, but certainly not least, LOVE GOD, respect God and follow God in all you do.

http://www.fathersforgood.org/en/index.html

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Saint Patrick

Happy Feast of Saint Patrick!

I usually try to find saints that I know nothing about, and try to expand my knowledge, but today is St. Patrick's Day and, well, I really like St. Patrick.  Two of my children were baptized on his feast day, my oldest and my youngest, so he just holds a special place in my heart.

Saint Patrick was born in Britain, son of a deacon and grandson of a priest.  At that point you know, he is either destined for greatness or destined to rebel against it.  At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and was sold into slavery.  For 6 years, he tended to flocks, as part of his servitude.  During this time, he had a profound religious transformation and in the summer of 407, he was told in a dream to escape.  He did and traveled around 200 miles to leave on a ship transporting Irish hounds.  The ship landed in France and Patrick entered the local monastic institution and was taught, most notably, by St. Germanus of Auxerre. He had a longing, better said, as a spiritual calling to return to Ireland to help them in their faith.  Patrick had very little education and was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge, but gained the essentials of faith and was familiar with scripture.  Perhaps, this lack of formal education was part of what made him such an amazing missionary.  Patrick was the second missionary bishop appointed to bring Christianity to Ireland.  For 29 years, Patrick traveled among the 5 kingdoms of Ireland and won the conversion of nearly the entire Irish people.  His main accomplishments were:  promoting native clergy and integrating Christianity into the Celtic culture.  As with most successful missionaries, he was simple and heart felt in his teachings, my favorite being the clover to describe the trinity.

What can I say, we all know the stories, casting the snakes out of Ireland, the clover....St. Patrick is just one of those who's life is ingrained in us.  So, instead of me, trying to find a way for his life to be an example for ours, I am just going to share some of his prayer....The Breastplate of St. Patrick:

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three,

I bind this day to me forever. 
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river; 
His death on the Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgement hour,
The service of the seraphim, confessors of faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarch's prayers, the Prophets' scrolls, 
all good deeds done unto the Lord, and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's lift-giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at evening,
the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks, 
the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need. 
The wisdom of God to teach, His hand to guide, 
His shield to ward, the word of God to give me speech, 
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force, 
the natural lusts that war within, the hostile men that mar my course;
or few or man, far or nigh, in every place and in all hours, 
against their fierce hostility, I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles, against false words of heresy, 
against the knowledge that defiles, against the wizard's evil craft, 
against the death would and the burning, the choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, til Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, 
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three, 
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Feast of Saint Matilda

Happy Feast of Saint Matilda!

Saint Matilda was wife of Henry the Fowler who became the King of Germany in 919 a.d.  Upon her husband's death in 936, her sons fought it out for the throne, Matilda supporting her son Henry, but Otto was elected.  Both sons criticized her for her extravagant charities.  She gave them her inheritance and left to her summer home.  Her presence was requested by Otto's wife, so she returned to intercede between her power hungry boys.  Matilda prophesized Henry's death, and when he died, she gave herself to building convents and a monastery.  Otto left for Rome to be crowned Emperor in 962 (he is often thought of as the first Holy Roman Emperor).  Much of her remaining life was spent in the monastery were Henry was buried.

There really isn't much information on St. Matilda.   She was a Benedictine Oblate and Queen of Germany and her son was (possibly) the first Holy Roman Emperor.  Those are all facts about her life, but what is supposed to move us, encourage us, and help us in our faith formation?  What do we do with saints like this?  Saints that we really cannot relate to?  Trust me, there is nothing for me to relate to here.  I am nowhere near being a queen and I do not have the ability to give so extravagantly that my kids banish me......or wait do I?  Maybe I don't have the ability to pay for the complete construction of monasteries or convents.  Maybe I don't have millions to give and power to throw around, but I do have.  I have food that I cook and clothes my kids grow out of.  I have.  I really do, and I suspect, even if you don't have the way Matilda did, you have something as well.

I was truly embarrassed this past week by someone else's giving, as I was sitting there judging.  Yes, I was judging the fact that they don't live in accordance with the scriptures, the way I know and was taught them. They have a "non-traditional" family.  I guess that's how we are supposed to say it.  I was wondering how and why.  I know they are a great family, and don't get me wrong, I am happy to call them friends, but when the questions arise from my children, it is hard to explain how we can be friends with someone who doesn't live in the way the church says we should.  I tell them that we are not called to judge our neighbor, but to love our neighbor.  I show them the bible verses and explain the church's standpoint.  Then we go on living and being friends.  But this was one of those days, when I was sitting there judging their relationship and family and yet again, why I am forced to explain this to my kids.  That is when we started talking about what all we had been doing recently.  They told me about their recent experience feeding the poor, not in a shelter or at the food bank, but going to them, where they live.  Yes, they had found out that there is a day when the shelters are closed and the homeless have nowhere to go and nothing to get.  Yes, those that I had been judging, found that need and filled it.  Wow....and I call myself a Christian.  What had I done over spring break with my kids?  We went to a movie and filled in things that needed to be done, but we hadn't helped anyone, and this is Lent.  We are all called to give, to help those in need.  Find where you can help.  I am determined to find where I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

St. Fina

Happy Feast of St. Fina!

Saint Fina was a beautiful young woman who came into her family at a time when they were poor (from the accounts I read, it didn't seem to have always been that way).  She, like many other saints we have read about, was extremely giving.  Although she had very little, she saved some of what she had for those less fortunate than herself.  This is not where her sainthood lies though.  Her father dies while she is still young and near the same time, she is struck by a sudden illness, which leaves her paralyzed.  She he is forced to lay on a plank (yes, a stiff board) for 6 years unable to move.  During which time she is often left alone while her mom goes to work or begs.  She is also covered in what seem to be hideous sores, which transpose her beauty into something that her neighbors and friends do not want to see.  This leaves her alone for long stretches of time.  During this time she keeps her eyes fixed on the cross and repeated "It is not my wounds but thine, O Christ, that hurt me".  What would happen to a young girl in this position?  I would have prayed for a miracle, honestly, I know I am not a strong as St. Fina.  At this point her mother suddenly dies, leaving her totally and completely alone.  Only one friend would still come and attend to her, Beldia. Fina and Beldia spoke of St. Gregory the Great and his sufferings, so Fina began to pray for his intercession. She prayed for peace in her affliction.  St. Gregory came to her and told her she would be given rest on his feast day.  On that day, they found her dead.  When they removed her from her plank, they found it covered in white violets.  The entire town attended her funeral, at which were noted many miracles.  One of which was St. Fina, dead, reaching up and healing her friend, Beldia's hurt arm.  


As I have already said, I'm not anywhere as strong as St. Fina.  I would love to say, that any time I have been ailing, I didn't complain, but that would be an all out lie.  I complain, I fuss and I don't resemble her in the least.  She is a great example of a peaceful illness.  Not peaceful as in lack of pain and suffering, but peaceful in heart and spirit.  While I pray I never have an extended illness or die a slow and lingering death, I pray that if I do, if I ever have to face my mortality in that manner I can do it with the same grace that St. Fina did.  I pray I can accept God's will in every aspect of my life, especially those areas that are the most difficult to accept His will in. I pray that God will lead my life, and that more importantly, I ALLOW God to lead my life.  I'm sure this has always been an issue, but for me it seems to be so difficult.  Our world tells us to grab the bull by the horns and take charge.  Stepping back is quite a leap and quite our of character for our society.  This Lent, I vow more than every to accept God's will with more grace and acceptance than I ever have and to do so with a happy heart.  




Monday, March 10, 2014

Feast of St. John Ogilvie

Happy Feast of St. John Ogilvie!

http://www.sconews.co.uk/news/4423/howson-painting-for-cathedral-unveiled/

St. John was raised as a Calvinist in Scotland in 1579.  He left Scotland in search of education and found the Catholic Church, to which he was admitted at the age of 17.  He decided to join the Jesuits and joined in 1610.  His wish was to be sent home to Scotland and minister to them there.  He was finally sent and was very successful at converting his fellow countrymen.  Later he was betrayed by someone posing as a Catholic and was imprisoned.  There he was tortured as the authorities tried to get names of other Catholics in Scotland, which he refused.  He was convicted of high treason after his 3 trials, since he still swore allegiance to the Catholic Church and was guilty of converting Protestants to the Catholic faith.  He was hung at the age of 35.  As he was led to be hung he spent time in prayer, pushing his own ladder away.
http://smallpax.blogspot.com/






Another martyr for the faith.  Where does this lead us?  What does this mean we are supposed to do? Not all of us are called to stand firm for our faith, to the point of facing death.  Maybe I am naive, but I do not foresee that in my country or life.  I know there are people all over the world facing that life right now, but I am not.  What does a martyr's life tell me to do?  I must actually give the credit for this to my parish priest.  Somehow, through the insanity of me with children at mass, I caught, what I assume was the main point of what seemed to be an endless homily.  We are not called to do the impossible, we are called to do the ordinary.  We are called to pay attention and notice when things do not fit with our Catholic faith and we are called to say something at that point.  We are called to not ignore or go along with something contrary to our faith.  We are called to investigate to lead others.  We are called to point out the issue and to try to remedy the situation.  So for all of you who, like me, don't rock the boat, that is the problem.  We don't rock the boat, so nothing happens, nothing changes and the world goes on ignoring the true church of God and we melt into obscurity.  I guarantee the Protestants, Baptists and Lutherans would not ignore their church being blasted on TV or at school, neither should we.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

Happy Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity!

Writings of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity live in writings by both Perpetua and her teacher Saturus.  This is amazing to have, since the events took place in the 200s (yes--around 1800 years ago)!!  The account is known as the Acts of Pepetua and Felicity or the "Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity."  This will be a must read and the website attached to the link above carries many of the church's early writings.  It is a must for those wanting to dig deeper into the early church.  Onto the story at hand.  Perpetua was 22 years old, and we assume a widow and mother of a small child, when she decided to become a catechumen.  Her decision meant a possibility of death, due to the persecutions of Septimus.  Perpetua was baptized and soon after imprisoned, along with 4 other catechumens, which included 2 slaves (Felicity was one of these).  Perpetua was known for receiving messages from the Lord and was by him at her baptism to pray for endurance in the face of trials.  The prisoners were treated to extreme heat in the prison, as well as overcrowding and brutal treatment.  Perpetua was pained by the absence from her baby, but Felicity was 8 months pregnant while enduring the punishment.  Some deacons paid off the guards and had the martyrs moved to a better part of the prison, where Perpetua could have her baby stay with her and receive visitors.  When examined and sentenced before the judge, Perpetua's father pled for her to recent and deny her faith, but she refused.  She was sentenced with the rest of the martyrs to be thrown to wild beasts.  While still in prison, she had visions of her deceased brother in what sounds like purgatory, so she prayed for him unceasingly, even through her suffering in the stockades, until she had visions of him drinking from a golden bowl that never emptied.  Felicities time was also full of torments.  She was fearful that she would not give birth before the day of execution.  This was an issue, because it was against the law to kill a pregnant woman since you'd be spilling innocent blood.  (Amazing, how such a brutal time held life in the womb as precious, but today, in our modern and educated society, life in the womb is not even acknowledged as life.)  Two days before the martyrdom, she gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted by a Christian family.  The strength and leadership of the Christians, especially, was noticed by those working the prison.  Even the warden later became a Christian.  The martyrs met their end with pride, joy and dignity.  The men were attacked by bears, leopards and boars.  The women were stripped and made to face a rabid heifer.  The crowd was appalled by the treatment of the women, so they were dress and their throats cut in front of the crowds.  Perpetua's last words were "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."

These 2 women, as well as the other martyrs, show us so many wonderful lessons for our lives. 
*The value of life, even in a society that did not value life, an unborn child held value.  It held such value that his mother could not be killed, even during the persecutions.  This was not a culture that valued life, their recreation was watching the loss of life. 
*The order of their lives JOY--Jesus, Others, You
*Leadership-Leading others to Jesus, not by force, but by example.

I hope to lead my life in the manner of these amazing martyrs.  As I heard one person say the other day, our lives should be lived so that seeing the separation of our lives from our faith is impossible.  That our everyday lives should be so intertwined with faith that there is no line of separation and that to try to divide ourselves from our faith would be the very end of us.  What a concept!  What a goal!


From the blog: 
http://thepathlesstaken7.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-post.html
it contains comics on the life of St. Perpetua