Quote/s of the Day – 4 January – The Memorial of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) and St Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877–1940) the “Apostle of the Abandoned Tabernacles”
“God is everywhere, in the very air I breathe, yes everywhere but in His Sacrament of the Altar He is as present actually and really as my soul within my body; in His Sacrifice daily offered as really as once offered on the Cross!”
“Our Lord Himself I saw in this venerable Sacrament . . . I felt as if my chains fell, as those of St Peter, at the touch of the Divine messenger.”
“How sweet, the presence of Jesus to the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace and balm to every wound.”
St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821)
“My faith was looking at Jesus through the door of that tabernacle, so silent, so patient, so good, gazing right back at me… His gaze was telling me much and asking me for more. It was a gaze in which all the sadness of the Gospels was reflected; the sadness of ‘no room in the Inn”; the sadness of those words, “Do you also want to leave me?”; the sadness of poor Lazarus begging for crumbs from the rich man’s table; the sadness of the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, of the soldier’s slap, of the spittle of the Praetorium and the abandonment of all.”
“The Heart of Jesus in the tabernacle looks at me. He looks at me always. He looks at me everywhere. He looks at me as if He doesn’t have anyone else to look at but me.”
St Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877–1940)
“Apostle of the Abandoned Tabernacles”
Thought for the Day – – Tuesday of the Third Week of Eastertide – Today’s Gospel: John 6:30–35 & the Memorial of Bl Andrés Hibernón Real O.F.M. (1534-1602) ) ‘Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration’
Meditation on the Blessed Sacrament by St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) – Most Zealous Doctor
Meditation, wherever it is made,
But it seems that Jesus,
especially delights in prayer,
made before the Blessed Sacrament.
Did he not leave Himself for us
in this sacrament to be food for our spirit
and to be present for all who seek Him?
We cannot all make pilgrimages
to the places where Jesus lived
but the Lord who died for us
on the cross of Calvary
now dwells in person,
in the tabernacle – waiting.
We need not await a command
as we would of an earthly king,
to enter His presence –
He is waiting for us
to lay before Him our wants
and to seek His help.
So that we may taste
the sweetness of His presence,
it is good to empty ourselves
of earthly desires.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46: 10
What pleasure is found in spending
a long time before the altar
where the Lord dwells!
What heavenly sweetness the Lord
allows us to taste and enjoy!
What should we do in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist?
We should stay there, not to enjoy
sweetness and consolation
but to give pleasure to God
by making acts of love, saying
O my God, I love
and desire nothing but You.
Grant that I may always love You;
then do with me and all I possess,
as You please.
These acts of love,
even when made without sensible delight,
please god greatly.
For good people often have to bear
with distractions and dryness in prayer.
As for distractions,
of these we must not make much account.
It is enough to drive them away
when they come.
Do not on this account leave off prayer.
Saint Francis de Sales said:
“If, in meditation, we do nothing but drive away distractions, our meditation would be of great profit.”
And as for dryness:
this is the greatest pain
for those given to prayer,
for we find ourselves without
any sensible desire of loving God.
Added to this, at times, is the fear
of being separated from God
because of our sins.
There is the feeling
of being in utter darkness
without any way of escape.
At such times let us unite our desolation
with that which Jesus suffered on the cross.
If we can say nothing else,
it is enough to say,
at least by an act of the will:
My God, I desire to love You. Have pity on me; Leave me not.
PRAYER of one in deep affliction.
My God, I love You tenderly though I feel You far away. I will seek You ceaselessly lest from You I stray. AMEN
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the best ways to spend time with Jesus. There is so much noise around us these days. Spending a quiet hour with Jesus in humble adoration will bring many graces and blessings to you. Things that you have never even considered before will now be made present to you. Bad things that would have happened to you will now not happen. Here are some thoughts about what Jesus is asking you during this time. As He told Peter, “Could you not spend one hour with me?”St. Peter Julian Eymard tells us all how to spend an hour in Adoration!
“MY CHILD, you need not know much in order to please Me; only love Me dearly. Speak to Me as you would talk to your mother, if she had taken…
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the best ways to spend time with Jesus. There is so much noise around us these days. Spending a quiet hour with Jesus in humble adoration will bring many graces and blessings to you. Things that you have never even considered before will now be made present to you. Bad things that would have happened to you will now not happen. Here are some thoughts about what Jesus is asking you during this time. As He told Peter, “Could you not spend one hour with me?”St. Peter Julian Eymard tells us all how to spend an hour in Adoration!
“MY CHILD, you need not know much in order to please Me; only love Me dearly. Speak to Me as you would talk to your mother, if she had taken you in her arms. Have you no one to recommend to Me? Tell Me the names of your relations, of your friends; after each name add what you wish Me to do for them. Ask a great deal: I love generous hearts that forget themselves for others.
TELL ME about the poor whom you want to help, the sick whom you have seen suffer, the sinner whom you would convert, the persons who are alienated from you and whose affections you wish to win back. For all recite a fervent prayer. Remind Me that I have promised to grant every prayer that comes from the heart; and surely the prayers are heartfelt which we say for those whom we love and who love us.
HAVE YOU no favours to ask for yourself’? Write, if you like, a long list of all your wishes of all the needs of your soul–and come and read it to Me. Tell Me simply how self-indulgent you are, how proud, how touchy, how selfish, how cowardly, how idle; ask Me to help you to improve. Poor child! Do not blush! There are in heaven many saints who had the same faults as you; they prayed to Me, and, little by little, they were cured.
DO NOT hesitate to ask for the goods of body and mind–for health, for memory, for success. I can give everything and I always give when the gifts would make souls more holy. What do you want today, My child? Oh, if you knew how I longed to do you good!
HAVE YOU no plans to interest you? Tell Me about them. Do they concern your vocation? What do you think of? What would you like? Are you planning some pleasure for your mother, for your family, for your guardian? What do you wish to do for them?
AND HAVE you no thoughts of zeal for Me? Are you not anxious to do a little good for the souls of your friends, for those whom you love and who, perhaps, forget Me? Tell Me who interests you, what motives urge you, what means you wish to take.
CONFIDE TO Me your failures; I will show you the cause. Whom do you wish to see interested in your work? I am the Master of all hearts, My child and I lead them gently where I please. I will place about you those who are necessary to you; never fear!
HAVE YOU nothing to annoy you? My child, tell Me your annoyances, with every detail. Who has pained you? Who as wounded your self-love? Who has treated you contemptuously? Tell Me all and then say that you forgive and forget; and I will give you My blessing.
DO YOU dread something painful? Is there in your soul a vague fear which seems unreasonable and yet torments you? Trust fully in My providence. I am here, I see everything; I will not leave you.
ARE THERE about you friends who seem less kind than formerly, who neglect you through indifference or forgetfulness, without your having consciously done anything to wound them? Pray for them, and I will restore them to you, if there companionship is good for you.
HAVE YOU no joys to tell Me? Why not confide to Me your pleasures? Tell Me what has happened since yesterday to console you, to make you look happy, to give you joy. An unexpected visit has done you good; a fear has been suddenly dispelled; you have met with unlooked for success; you have received some mark of affection in a letter, a present; some trial has left you stronger than you supposed. All these things, My child, I obtained for you. Why are you not grateful? Why do you not say, “I thank you?” Gratitude draws benefits and the benefactor loves to be reminded of His bounty.
HAVE YOU no promises to make Me? You know I read the very bottom of your heart. Men are deceived but not God; be frank.
ARE YOU resolved to avoid that occasion of sin, to give up the object which leads you astray–not to read that book which excites your imagination; to withdraw your friendship from that person who is irreligious and whose presence disturbs the peace of your soul? Will you go at once and be kind to that companion who annoyed you?
WELL, MY child, go now and resume your daily work. Be silent, be honest, be patient, be charitable, love very much the Blessed Mother of Jesus; and tomorrow bring Me a heart even more devoted and loving. Tomorrow I shall have new favours for you.”
With Ecclesiastical Approval
“I love You Lord Jesus, my love above all things. I repent with my whole heart for having offended You. Never permit me to separate myself from You again, grant that I may love You always and then do with me what You will!”
Our Morning Offering – 7 April – The Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year C
Prayer in Honour of the Eucharistic King By St Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
O Jesus, King of all peoples and all ages,
accept the Acts of Adoration and praise,
which we, Your brothers by adoption,
humbly offer You.
You are the “Living Bread which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world,”
Supreme Priest and Victim.
On the Cross, You offered Yourself to the Eternal Father
as a bloody sacrifice of expiation,
for the redemption of the human race
and now, You offer Yourself daily upon our altars,
by the hands of Your ministers,
in order to establish, in every heart,
Your “reign of truth and life, of holiness and grace,
of justice, love and peace.”
O King of glory, may Your kingdom come!
Reign from Your “throne of grace”,
in the hearts of children,
so that they may guard untainted
the while lily of baptismal innocence.
Reign in the hearts of the young,
that they may grow up healthy and pure,
obedient to the commands of those who represent You
in their families and schools and in the Church.
Reign in our homes,
so that parents and children may live in peace,
in obedience to Your holy law.
Reign in our lands,
so that all citizens,
in the harmonious order of the various social groups,
may feel themselves children of the same heavenly Father,
called to co-operate for the common good of this world,
happy to belong to the one Mystical Body,
of which Your Sacrament is at once the symbol
and the everlasting source.
Finally, reign, O King of kings
and “Lord of lords,”
over all the nations of the earth
and enlighten all their rules in order that,
inspired by Your example, they may make
“plans for welfare and not for evil.”
O Jesus, present in the Sacrament of the Altar,
teach all the nations to serve You with willing hearts,
knowing that “to serve God is to reign.”
May Your Sacrament, O Jesus,
be light to the mind,
strength to the will,
joy to the heart.
May it be the support of the weak,
the comfort of the suffering,
the wayfaring bread of salvation for the dying
and for all,
the “pledge of future glory”
Quote/s of the Day – 17 May – Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter, C and the Memorial of St Paschal Baylon OFM. (1540-1592) “Seraph of the Eucharist” – Patron of Eucharistic Congresses
“God is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is, in the glory of Heaven.”
“There is no more efficacious means than this (Eucharistic Adoration) for nourishing and increasing the piety of the people toward this admirable pledge of love which is a bond of peace and of unity.”
“O Father Eternal God, Grant me faith and courage. Son, wisdom of the Father, grant me light and make me wise. Holy Spirit, beloved of Father and Son, inflame my heart and purify my soul, that I may approach this majestic Sacrament, with faith and love.”
St Paschal Baylon (1540-1592)
“Seraph of the Eucharist”
Saint of the Day – 4 May – Saint Jose Maria Rubio y Peralta SJ (1864-1929) aged 64 “the Apostle of Madrid” and “Father of the Poor” – Professed Jesuit Priest, Confessor, Professor, Preacher, Spiritual Director, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, Prayer and the Poor, endowed with the gifts of miracles, prophesy and bilocation. Born on 22 July 1864 in Dallas, Spain and died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez, Spain.
José María Rubio was born on 22 July 1864 in Dalías, Spain. His parents were farmers and he was one of 12 children, six of whom died at a young age. He was given a Christian upbringing and in 1875, began secondary school in Almería. As José María felt called to become a priest, he transferred to the diocesan seminary in 1876 to continue his academic pursuits. In 1878 he moved to the major seminary of Granada, where over the years he completed studies in philosophy, theology and canon law. On 24 September 1887 he was ordained a priest.
At this time, he also felt called to become a Jesuit but since he was impeded by circumstances – he took care of an elderly priest who needed assistance – he could not fulfil this wish for 19 years. In the years after his ordination, Fr Rubio was also busy as a vice-parish priest in Chinchón and then as parish priest in Estremera. In 1890, the Bishop called him to Madrid, where he was given the responsibility of synodal examiner. He also taught metaphysics, Latin and pastoral theology at the seminary in Madrid and was chaplain to the nuns of St Bernard.
In 1906, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land the previous year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Granada. On 12 October 1908 he made his religious profession.
Fr Rubio was exemplary in his pastoral ministry, sustained and nurtured by his profound spiritual life. The Bishop of Madrid called him “The Apostle of Madrid” and the faithful sought him out from the early morning hours for confession and to receive spiritual direction.
He was known for his incisive, simple preaching that moved many to conversion . He also had particular devotion to the poor, always providing them with the material and spiritual assistance they needed.
Through his preaching and spiritual direction, Fr Rubio was able to attract and guide many lay people who wanted to live their Christian faith authentically and assist him in the mission of helping the poor. Under his guidance, they opened tuition-free schools which offered academic formation as well as instruction in various trades . They also assisted the sick and disabled and tried to find work for the unemployed.
Fr Rubio was always the heart and soul of all of these works but he remained in the background, preferring to let his collaborators take centre stage. For this reason and to help them develop well, the gifts that God had given them, he gave the laity the main responsibility and taught them to live and act like the Apostles of the Lord Jesus.
Fr Rubio also organised popular missions and spiritual exercises in the poorest zones of the city, because he believed the poor must be helped fully, both spiritually and materially and that they must be encouraged and loved for who they are – for their own human dignity.
The most important aspect of the apostolate for Fr Rubio was prayer, adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was the centre of his entire life. The love of Christ was what Fr Rubio wanted to give to the poor. For him and his collaborators, prayer came first and it was through this intense prayer life that they received the strength to minister in the poorest and most abandoned areas of Madrid and to assist the people spiritually.
Fr José María Rubio died on 2 May 1929 in Aranjuez. He was beatified on 6 October 1985 and Canonised on 4 May 2003 on both occasions by St John Paul II….Vatican.va
St Jose Maria was a withdrawn and a modest man, of great charity and tireless devotion to work. He excelled as a preachre and as a regular confessor, which caused long lines of faithful who were looking into it further support and spiritual help. His effectiveness and reputation grew quickly throughout the city. He was noted for his love of the poor, who came forward for help. He developed his evangelical work in towns and suburbs and founded and organised several associations such as the “Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart,” the work of the “Marys of the Tabernacles” and social schools in Ventilla neighbourhoods, aided by young teachers Juan and Demetrio de Andrés, known as “Ventilla Martyrs” killed during the Civil War, 1936.
Miracles of St José María Rubio
VISIT TO A DYING MAN While confessing, a lady came and gave him the directions to a man who had to confess soon, as he was dying. That evening, Father Rubio went to visit the dying man and following the directions, he had to go to a third floor without a lift. When he finally arrived, knocked and asked for the gentleman, “It’s me” the gentleman said “but I think that someone has played a practical joke on you, as you see I’m in perfect health. Come on, man! have a drink and relax after you have had to climb so many stairs.” Entering the room, Rubio saw a portrait on the wall and while the man served him a drink. Father Rubio said that the lady was the one who sent him. The man laughed and said that the lady was his mother who died some years ago. Then, the gentleman said; “Look, anyway, as you are here, I’m going to confess because it’s been years since I entered a church and so your journey will not have been in vain”. He confessed and died that night.
THE SEAMSTRESS A seamstress from Madrid confessed that her father hated the faith and considered the Christian religion a swindle and a lie. Thus, she was afraid of the eternal damnation of her father. Father Rubio said that she should not be worried, as her father would be saved.
Some days after the confession, during a retreat and preaching, this seamstress came late. At the moment when she arrived, Father Rubio paused for a moment in his speech and said in loud voice: “At this very moment one of you just received a very special grace. Really very, very big. In a few days you will know what it is and whoever of you has received this, that lucky person has to thank our Lord Jesus Christ”.
All women who were there present took note of the time and day, as he was already famous for these prophecies that were fulfilled. The seamstress in a few days noticed that her father died holy and just at that time when Father Rubio was preaching, her father was confessing and receiving the last sacraments.
During his life miraculous events were reported, such as bilocation, healings, prophecy some, perhaps legendary but others ratified by numerous witnesses. What dominates is the testimony of his example and his word, next to the message that holiness is available to all who simply surrender to the will of God. His ultimate favourite and motto was: “Do what God wants and want what God does.”
Other Christians, most notably the Eastern Orthodox, some Anglicans and some Lutherans, believe in the Real Presence, that is, they believe, as we Catholics do, that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the altar (though only Catholics define this change as transubstantiation).
However, only the Catholic Church has developed the practice of Eucharistic adoration. Every Catholic Church contains a Tabernacle in which the Body of Christ is reserved between Masses and the faithful are encouraged to come and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Frequent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is a path to spiritual growth.
The practice of Eucharistic adoration on earth not only brings us grace but prepares us for our life in Heaven. As Ven Pope Pius XII wrote in Mediator Dei (1947):
“These exercises of piety have brought a wonderful increase in faith and supernatural life to the Church militant upon earth and they are reechoed to a certain extent by the Church triumphant in heaven which sings continually a hymn of praise to God and to the Lamb “who was slain.”
This month, why not make a special effort to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament? It doesn’t need to be long or elaborate – You can start simply by making the Sign of the Cross and uttering a short profession of faith, such as “My Lord and my God!” as you pass a Catholic church. If you have the time to stop for five minutes, all the better.
“A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent in sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
“When you want to find me, come near the tabernacle.”
Saint of the Day – 3 April – Blessed Maria Teresa Casini (1864–1937) – Religious Sister and Founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Priests known as Little Friends of Jesus , Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, of Prayer especially for priests. Also known as Sister Maria Serafina of the Heart of Jesus Pierced and Mother Maria Teresa. Additional Memorial – 29 October (Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, diocese of Frascati, Italy, based on the date of her baptism). Born on 27 October 1864 in Frascati, Italy and died around 5am on 3 April 1937 at Oblate monastery on the via del Casaletto in Grottaferrata, Rome, Italy of natural causes, aged 72.
Maria Teresa Casini was born on 27 October 1864 to Tommaso Casini and Melania Rayner as their first born daughter, she was baptised on 29 October.
She travelled to Rome for her studies at the Santa Rufina boarding school that the nuns of the Madams of the Sacred Heart conducted. She received her First Communion on 7 May 1878 which solidified her vocation. Due to a period of ill health, she had to leave school and return home for recuperation.
Shortly after she turned eighteen, she responded to her vocation and met Father Arsenio Pellegrini who became her guide and her spiritual director and who served as the Abbot of the Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata. Despite entering the convent, ill health forced her to leave, though she attempted to enter once again yet failed due to the death of the foundress after which the institute she joined ceased to exist.
In due time, she became a nun after entering the monastery of Sepolte Vive in Rome on 2 February 1885. Casini only started to live in Grottaferrata with fellow entrants from 17 October 1892 onwards. On 2 February 1894, she founded the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It was not until 1925 that Casini started the special work of the “Little Friends of Jesus” in order to promote and to cultivate the vocations of prospective priests. The group’s special character came to life when Cardinal Francesco Satolli requested Casini and her congregation to take up new and vigorous apostolic work. This group also worked for the sanctification of all priests and so the group opened a boarding school for males in order to please the Lord’s request for good and wholesome priests.
Throughout her life, Casini offered “the oblation of herself, in faithful response to the Love that overflows from the open Heart of the Savior, and which she imparted to so many daughters and priests”. This even earned the praise of Pope Pius X in 1904 who wrote: “In order to bring about the reign of Jesus Christ, nothing is more necessary than the sanctity of the clergy. God bless these sisters for their selfless love for these men of God, for through them, through the sacraments, we are fortified and purified for the journey”.
Casini grew ill in the final years of her life and she died in 1937. Her final words were: “I am peaceful. I feel God is near me”.
Casini’s order continues to flourish on an international level in places such as Africa, the United States of America, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, India, Guinea Bissau. The Generalate is in Rome and the Motherhouse is in Grottaferrata, Italy.
The first of the males of the Little Friends of Jesus that Casini herself oversaw was ordained as a priest in 1938.
Blessed Maria Teresa was buried in the chapel of the Zealots of the Sacred Heart in a nearby cemetery and her remains were re-interred at the Generalate of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart in Grottaferrata on 20 May 1965. She was Beatified on 31 October 2015 by Pope Francis. The Beatification recognition was celebrated at the Piazza San Pietro at the cathedral in Frascati, Italy, presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato. Her Beatification miracle involved the 25 – 27 June 2003 healing of the brain lesions and trauma of Jacob “Jack” Ronald Sebest, a five year old drowning victim in Youngstown, Ohio.
The Oblate Sisters are called to live and to participate intimately in the Oblation of Jesus to the Father, to repair and console His Pierced Heart, with an intense life of prayer and unconditional gift of ourselves, so that Priests may be holy. They also care for retired and convalescent priests in special homes which they administer.
From their Constitution:
“The exclusive pursuit of God – which is the goal of our community life – is the foundation of that spirit of prayer that must characterise our whole existence as
Christians, religious and Oblates. From the spirit of prayer, springs prayer itself as the source and fundamental expression of our community and personal life because “the Oblate’s life is intimately tied to the altar.” In founding the Institute, Mother
Teresa wanted to root it in faith, prayer and that unconditional gift of herself to priests, which knew no limits in our first sisters, if not in the consummation of life itself.
In silent and adoring prayer we express the typical attitude of our consecration and
Oblate spirituality, because with it, we join our feelings to the feelings of Jesus Himself, which are an endless act of love and an unceasing supplication to the Father for the Church and for its priests. Our individual prayer finds its climax in daily adoration. It brings us close to the altar, seen as the true source of our specific mission in the Church: suppliant and atoning prayer for the holiness of priests.”
“The life Jesus leads in the Sacrament of His love and which the Oblate must imitate and make her own is this – a life of generous and limitless sacrifice… a life of incessant prayer …a life of obedience… a life of poverty…”….Blessed Mother Maria Teresa
Saint of the Day – 12 March – St Luigi Orione FDP (1872-1940) aged 68 – “The Advocate of the Poor and of Orphans” Priest, Preacher, Confessor, Writer, Apostle of Charity, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, Marian Devotee and Founder of Sons of Divine Providence Congregation, the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, Blind Sisters, Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, Contemplative Sisters of Jesus Crucified – born as Aloysius Giovanni Orione on 23 June 1872 at Pontecurone, Allessandria, Italy and died on 12 March 1940 at San Remo, Imperia, Italy from heart disease. Patronages – the Sons of Divine Providence, the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, Blind Sisters, Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, Contemplative Sisters of Jesus Crucified, the various related Lay apostolates, Tortona and Pontecurone. His body is Incorrupt.
Luigi Orione was born in Pontecurone, diocese of Tortona, on 23 June 1872. At thirteen years of age he entered the Franciscan Friary of Voghera (Pavia) but he left after one year owing to poor health. From 1886 to 1889 he was a pupil of Saint John Bosco at the Valdocco Oratory (Youth Centre) in Turin.
On 16 October 1889, he joined the diocesan seminary of Tortona. As a young seminarian he devoted himself to the care of others by becoming a member of both the San Marziano Society for Mutual Help and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. On 3 July 1892 he opened the first Oratory in Tortona to provide for the Christian training of boys. The following year, on 15 October 1893, Luigi Orione, then a seminarian of twenty-one, started a boarding school for poor boys, in the Saint Bernardine estate.
On 13 April 1895, Luigi Orione was ordained priest and, on that occasion, the Bishop gave the clerical habit to six pupils of the boarding school. Within a brief span of time, Don Orione opened new houses at Mornico Losana (Pavia), Noto – in Sicily, Sanremo and Rome.
Around the young Founder, there grew up seminarians and priests who made up the first core group of the Little Work of Divine Providence. In 1899, he founded the branch of the Hermits of Divine Providence. The Bishop of Tortona, Mgr Igino Bandi, by a Decree of 21 March 1903, issued the canonical approval of the Sons of Divine Providence (priests, lay brothers and hermits) – the male congregation of the Little Work of Divine Providence. It aims to “co-operate to bring the little ones, the poor and the people to the Church and to the Pope, by means of the works of charity” and professes a fourth vow of special “faithfulness to the Pope”. In the first Constitutions of 1904, among the aims of the new Congregation, there appears that of working to “achieve the union of the separated Churches”.
Inspired by a profound love for the Church and for the salvation of Souls, he was actively interested in the new problems of his time, such as the freedom and unity of the Church, the Roman question, modernism, socialism and the Christian evangelisation of industrial workers.
He rushed to assist the victims of the earthquakes of Reggio and Messina (1908) and the Marsica region (1915). By appointment of Saint Pius X, he was made Vicar General of the diocese of Messina for three years.
On 29 June 1915, twenty years after the foundation of the Sons of Divine Providence, he added to the “single tree of many branches” the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity who are inspired by the same founding charism. Alongside them, he placed the Blind Sisters, Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. Later, the Contemplative Sisters of Jesus Crucified were also founded.
For lay people he set up the associations of the “Ladies of Divine Providence”, the “Former Pupils”, and the “Friends”. More recently, the Don Orione Secular Institute and the Don Orione Lay People’s Movement have come into being.
Following the First World War (1914-1918), the number of schools, boarding houses, agricultural schools, charitable and welfare works increased. Among his most enterprising and original works, he set up the “Little Cottolengos”, for the care of the suffering and abandoned, which were usually built in the outskirts of large cities to act as “new pulpits” from which to speak of Christ and of the Church – “true beacons of faith and of civilisation”.
Don Orione’s missionary zeal, which had already manifested itself in 1913 when he sent his first religious to Brazil, expanded subsequently to Argentina and Uruguay (1921), Palestine (1921), Poland (1923), Rhodes (1925), the USA (1934), England (1935), Albania (1936). From 1921-1922 and from 1934-1937, he himself made two missionary journeys to Latin America – to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, going as far as Chile.
He enjoyed the personal respect of the Popes and the Holy See’s Authorities, who entrusted him with confidential tasks of sorting out problems and healing wounds both inside the Church as well as in the relations with society. He was a preacher, a confessor and a tireless organiser of pilgrimages, missions, processions, live cribs and other popular manifestations and celebrations of the faith. He loved Our Lady deeply and fostered devotion to her by every means possible and, through the manual labour of his seminarians, built the shrines of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona and Our Lady of Caravaggio at Fumo. In the winter of 1940, with the intention of easing the heart and lung complaints that were troubling him, he went to the Sanremo house, even though, as he said, “it is not among the palm trees that I would like to die,but among the poor who are Jesus Christ”.Only three days later, on 12 March 1940, surrounded by the love of his confreres, Don Orione died, while sighing “Jesus, Jesus! I am going”.
His body was found to be intact at its first exhumation in 1965. It has been exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the shrine of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona ever since 26 October 1980 – the day in which St Pope John Paul II inscribed Don Luigi Orione in the Book of the Blessed…. Vatican.va
St Luigi was Canonised on 16 May 2004 by St Pope John Paul II.
Saint of the day – 13 January – Blessed Francesco Maria Greco (1857-1931) Priest and Founder with Servant of God Raffaela De Vincentis (Sr Maria Teresa De Vincenti (1872-1936) of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Sacred Scripture, Apostle of Charity, devotee of Eucharistic Adoration, the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Born on 26 July 1857 in Acri, Cosenza, Italy and died on 13 January 1931 in Acri, Cosenza, Italy of bronchitis. Patronages – the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts and Acri.
Francesco Maria Greco, was born on 27 July 1857 in Acri, in what was then the Diocese of San Marco e Bisignano. Preparing for his father’s profession, pharmacist, while still a student in Naples he felt a call to the priesthood. At that time, while visiting the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, still under construction, he asked for the grace of becoming “a learned priest for doing good ministry.” He conquered the resistances of his parents and was ordained a priest in 1881. In Acri he became arch-priest-pastor of the Church of St Nicholas, from 1888 to his death.
In the light of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, for whom he had a special devotion, he carried out intense and fruitful pastoral work. Living and working in Acri in the late 1800s, Fr Francesco realised that religious ignorance was the greatest problem his parishioners and townspeople face – for the less they knew about God, the further from Him they remained. Together with his sister, Maria Teresa, he began a catechetical program to teach children, young people and adults about the Catholic faith. The most dedicated catechist was Raffaella De Vincenti, who later became the faithful collaborator of Blessed Francisco, in the Institute’s foundation, on 21 November 1894, through her profession of the vows, of chastity, poverty and obedience, through which she received her religious name of Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Hearts.
Others soon followed as young women from Acri and nearby towns heard of the catechetical work to which she and Fr Francesco had devoted all their energies. The Institute “… founded out of a spirit of charity, namely the love of God”, has as “its principal purpose catechetical instruction in parishes .”Through its apostolic works, this Institute, gives witness to the charity of the Sacred Hearts directed in a special way to children and young people who are in need of human and Christian formation.
Always full of priestly concern for others, this blessed man founded the Caritas hospital which he entrusted to his sisters.
He also co-operated to the good performance of his diocese, making himself available to requests from Bishops, who held him in high esteem. He taught Dogmatic Theology and Sacred Scripture in the Seminary of Bisignano and was its Rector for three years, while at the same time the fulfilling his role as pastor. Surrounded by wide fame of holiness he fell asleep in the Lord on 13 January 1931.
The cause of beatification began in 1960, was given in 1999 to Fr P Luca De Rosa, OFM, general Postulator. The servant of God was declared Venerable on 19 April 2004. On 21 January 2016, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the causes of Saints to promulgate the Decree of recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession, thus allowing for his Beatification which took place on 21 May 2016. The Beatification recognition was celebrated at Cosenza, Italy, with Cardinal Angelo Amato as the chief celebrant. The beatification miracle involved bringing Nina Pancaro out of a coma in which she had lapsed following a severe illness and surger. While comatose, she was visited by a dream of Father Francesco who healed her and woke her up.
Saint of the Day – 10 January – St Léonie Françoise De Sales Aviat (1844-1914) was a professed religious and the co-founder of the Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales alongside Blessed Louis Brisson (1817–1908), Teacher, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, Prayer and Charity. Born in Sézanne, France on 16 September 1844 and died on 10 January 1914 (aged 69) in Perugia, Italy, she was baptised on 17 September in the local parish church. Patronages – Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales, Marne, Aube, Sézanne, Teachers.
Léonie Aviat was born in Sézanne, in the region of Champagne (France) on 16 September 1844. She attended school at the Monastery of the Visitation in the city of Troyes, where Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis, the superior and Father Louis Brisson, the chaplain, exerted a decisive influence on her. Having thus been formed at the school of St Francis de Sales, she prepared herself for the mission with which she was to be entrusted – the foundation of a Congregation committed to the Salesian spirituality and to the evangelisation of young workers.
The beginnings came in the year 1866. This was the time when large industrial concerns were attracting an underpaid labour force to the cities. This was also the case in the city of Troyes, where textile mills engaged young girls of rural extraction. Father Brisson, a zealous apostle and already one of the forerunners of the great social movement that developed at the end of the 19th century, had opened a centre, in 1858, to welcome young girls working in the textile mills in order to give them a complete education, both human and Christian. Unable to find a suitable directress and a stable supervisory staff for this centre, known as the “Workers of Saint-François de Sales”, with God’s inspiration, he decided to establish a religious congregation. He found in Léonie Aviat an incomparable co-worker, in whom he discerned a vocation to the consecrated life as well. Indeed, upon completing her studies, the young lady left the Visitation monastery with the firm intention of returning to it as a lay Sister. But Father Brisson and Mother Chappuis advised her to wait. Obedient to what she regarded as God’s will, she received a special sign from Him a little later, one that couldn’t be mistaken for an illusion – obliged to go to the factory, where glasses were manufactured and repaired, in Sézanne, her native city, an inspiration enlightened her mind and guided her decision. The sight of the workroom filled with young factory workers busily engaged in their work beneath the watchful and maternal gaze of a supervisor aroused in her heart the desire to take her place among them in order to counsel and guide them. This attraction would press her even more strongly the day that Father Brisson invited her to visit the “Workers ofSaint-François de Sales” which he had founded in Troyes.
On 18 April 1866, she joined the “Oeuvre (Workers of) Saint-François de Sales”, with one of her former classmates of the Visitation, Lucie Canuet.
On 30 October 1868, the young foundress was clothed with the religious habit and received the name of Sister Françoise de Sales. This name was a sign indicating what would be her life’s work, as she herself expressed it in the form of a prayer in her personal notes: “St Francis de Sales, you have chosen me to be at the head of this little group; give me your spirit, your heart… Grant me a share of your union with God and of that interior spirit which knows how to do everything in union with Him and nothing without Him” (August, 1871). The “little group” which she guided placed itself under the protection of the saintly Bishop of Geneva and completely adopted his method of spirituality and of pedagogy, hence, the name that it chose for itself – the “Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales”, which means offered to God and to the neighbour by means of their whole life.
On 11 October 1871, Sister Françoise de Sales professed her vows and the following year, she was elected Superior General of the new Congregation which was thus canonically established and able to expand rapidly. Under her guidance, the community grew in numbers and the social apostolate developed. At the same time, grade schools were opened in parishes and in Paris the first boarding school for young ladies was also opened, an establishment which Mother Aviat directed for eight years. The apostolate of the Oblate Sisters thus extended to the different classes of society and to all forms of education and, from the very first years of its foundation, to the missions to the nations, as well.
In 1893, after a period of effacement which brought to light her humility, Mother Françoise de Sales was again elected Superior General, an office she held until her death. During this time, she endeavoured to develop the apostolate of the Congregation in Europe, South Africa and Ecuador, while lavishing her untiring solicitude on every community and on each of her Sisters. In 1903, she had to cope with the persecution directed against religious orders in France. While maintaining the houses of her Congregation that could be maintained in France, she transferred the Mother House to Perugia, Italy. In 1911, she secured the final approbation of the Constitutions of the Institute from Pope St Pius X.
On 10 January 1914, she died in Perugia with serenity, totally entrusting herself to God. To the very end, she remained faithful to the resolution made at the time of her Profession: “To forget myself entirely”. To her daughters in every age, she left this very Salesian precept: “Let us work for the happiness of others”.
The beatification miracle came from Cape Town in South Africa and concerned the January 1976 healing of Vincent Kesner who was a child stricken with cancer that had been deemed incurable. The canonisation miracle concerned the cure of Bernadette McKenzie (aged fourteen) from Philadelphia in the United States of America from paralysing spinal disease.
Léonie was Beatified on 27 September 1992, at St Peter’s and Canonised on 25 November 2001, also at St Peter’s and on both occasions by St Pope John Paul II.
Our Morning Offering on the Memorial of St Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877–1940) the “Apostle of the Abandoned Tabernacles” – 4 January
St Manuel has written much, 3 volumes full and many prayers and devotions related to Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Eucharist but thus far, only 1% of his works have been translated from the original Spanish. So today we pray via St John Paul, another great advocate of Eucharist Adoration and the Holy Eucharist.
Prayer for the Spread of Perpetual Adoration By St Pope John Paul (1920-2005)
increase our faith in the Real Presence of Your Son,
Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
We are obliged to adore Him,
to give Him thanks
and to make reparation for sins.
We need Your peace in our hearts
and among nations.
We need conversion from our sins
and the mercy of Your forgiveness.
May we obtain this through prayer
and our union with the Eucharistic Lord.
Please send down the Holy Spirit upon all peoples
to give them the love, courage, strength and willingness,
to respond to the invitation to Eucharistic Adoration.
We beseech You to spread Perpetual Adoration
of the Most Blessed Sacrament in parishes around the world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Help us to spread the glory of Your Son through Perpetual Adoration.
On 2 December 1981 St Pope John Paul II inaugurated Perpetual Adoration in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St Peter’s Basilica with a Mass. At the end of the Mass following exposition of the Blessed Sacrament he prayed, in part: (see above) (L’Osservatore Romano, Dec. 14, 1981))
Stay with Us By St Pope John Paul (1920-2005)
Stay with us today
and stay from now on, everyday,
according to the desire of my heart,
which accepts the appeal of so many hearts
from various parts, sometimes far away…
Stay that we may meet You in
prayers of adoration and thanksgiving,
in prayers of expiation and petition
to which all those who visit this Basilica are invited…
May the unworthy successor of Peter
and all those who take part in the
adoration of Your Eucharistic Presence
attest with every visit and make
ring out again the truth contained in the Apostle’s words:
‘Lord, you know everything.
You know that I love you.’
Thought for the Day – 29 October – The Memorial of St Gaetano Errico (1791-1860), Founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Day by day, city to city, village to village, among both the poorest and those of high esteem, he saw the hunger each possessed to know that sin was forgiven, that God’s mercy was infinite and that they were loved. Countless souls found a merciful listener, the embodiment of God’s promise of peace and renewal, in Fr Gaetano, in the Confessional.
“The priest, Gaetano Errico, dedicated himself to this sacrament with diligence, assiduity and patience, never refusing it nor counting the cost. He thus entered among the group of other extraordinary priests who tirelessly made the confessional a place to dispense God’s mercy, helping men to rediscover themselves, to fight against sin and make progress in the spiritual life.
The street and the confessional were the two particular places of Gaetano Errico’s pastoral work. The street was the place that permitted him to offer his customary invitation: “God loves you, when shall we meet?” and in the confession he made their encounter with the mercy of the heavenly Father possible. How many wounded souls did he heal in this way! How many people did he help to be reconciled with God through the sacrament of forgiveness!
In this way St. Gaetano Errico became an expert in the “science” of forgiveness, and concerned himself with teaching it to his missionaries: “God, who does not wish the death of the sinner, is always more merciful than his ministers; so be as merciful as you can and you will find mercy with God!”
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at Canonisation Mass, October 2008
He found his own encouragement on his knees in prayer . . . indeed it was prayer and the hours he spent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that strengthened and renewed him and kept the fire of his love for God ever burning.
Let us rediscover the great grace of the Confessional and the immense joy of Eucharistic Adoration for ourselves!
Saint of the Day – 19 October – St Peter of Alcantara OFM (1499-1562) – Franciscan Friar and Priest, Mystic, Ecstatic, Writer, Preacher, Reformer, Hermit, Apostle of Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, the Passion and Charity, Miracle-worker – born in 1499 at Alcantara, Estremadura, Spain and died on 18 October 1562 at Estremadura, Spain of natural causes. Patronages – Nocturnal Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Brazil (named by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1862), Estremadura Spain (named in 1962), night watchmen, watchmen.
His father, Peter Garavita, was the governor of Alcantara and his mother was of the noble family of Sanabia. After a course of grammar and philosophy in his native town, he was sent, at the age of fourteen, to the University of Salamanca. Returning home, he became a Franciscan in the convent of the Stricter Observance at Manxaretes in 1515. At the age of twenty-two he was sent to found a new community of the Stricter Observance at Badajoz. He was ordained priest in 1524 and the following year made guardian of the convent of St Mary of the Angels at Robredillo. A few years later he began preaching with much success. He preferred to preach to the poor and his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, breathe the tenderest human sympathy.
Having been elected minister of St Gabriel’s province in 1538, Peter set to work at once. At the chapter of Plasencia in 1540 he drew up the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants but his severe ideas met with such opposition that he renounced the office of provincial and retired with St John of Avila into the mountains of Arabida, Portugal, where he joined Father Martin a Santa Maria in his life of eremitical solitude. Soon, however, other friars came to join him and several little communities were established. Peter being chosen guardian and master of novices at the convent of Pallais. In 1560 these communities were erected into the Province of Arabida. Returning to Spain in 1553 he spent two more years in solitude and then journeyed barefoot to Rome and obtained permission of Pope Julius III to found some poor convents in Spain under the jurisdiction of the general of the Conventuals. Convents were established at Pedrosa, Plasencia, and elsewhere; in 1556 they were made a commissariat, with Peter as superior, and in 1561, a province under the title of St Joseph. The reform spread rapidly into other provinces of Spain and Portugal.
In 1562 the province of St Joseph was put under the jurisdiction of the general of the Observants and two new custodies were formed. Besides the above-named associates of Peter may be mentioned St Francis Borgia SJ, St John of Avila (Doctor of the Church) and Blessed Louis of Granada O.P. In St Teresa of Avila OCD (Doctor of the Church), Peter perceived a soul chosen of God for a great work and her success in the reform of Carmel was in great measure due to his counsel, encouragement and defence. It was a letter from St Peter (14 April 1562) that encouraged her to found her first monastery at Avila. St Teresa’s autobiography is the source of much of our information regarding Peter’s life, work and gifts of miracles and prophecy. According to St Teresa of Ávila, it was a very common thing for him to take food only once in three days and that sometimes he would go a week without eating.
Perhaps the most remarkable of Peter’s graces were his gift of contemplation and the virtue of penance. Hardly less remarkable was his love of God, which was at times so ardent as to cause him, as it did St Philip Neri, sensible pain and frequently rapt him into ecstasy. The poverty he practised and enforced was as cheerful as it was real and often let the want of even the necessaries of life be felt. In confirmation of his virtues and mission of reformation God worked numerous miracles through his intercession and by his very presence. Besides the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants and many letters on spiritual subjects, especially to St Teresa, he composed a short treatise on prayer, which has been translated into all the languages of Europe.
Download the book here: http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/A%20Golden%20Treastise%20of%20Mental%20Prayer.html
He was a man of remarkable austerity and poverty who travelled throughout Spain preaching the Gospel to the poor. He wrote a Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, which was considered a masterpiece by St Teresa, St Francis de Sales (Doctor of the Church) and Louis of Granada.
While in prayer and contemplation, he was often seen in ecstasies and levitation. On his deathbed, he was offered a glass of water which he refused, saying that “Even my Lord Jesus Christ thirsted on the Cross…” He died while on his knees in prayer on 18 October 1562 in a monastery at Arenas.
He was Beatified on 18 April 1622 by Pope Gregory XV and Canonised on 28 April 1669 by Pope Clement IX.
Sunday Reflection – 7 October – Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
The Beating Heart of the Church –
the Eucharistic Heart of Christ.
This is what Pope Benedict XVI said on 10 June 2007:
“Today’s solemnity of Corpus Christi, which was celebrated last Thursday in the Vatican and in other countries, invites us to contemplate the supreme Mystery of our faith – the Most Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the altar. Every time that the priest renews the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in the prayer of consecration he repeats: ‘This is my Body…this is my Blood.’ He lends his voice, his hands and his heart to Christ, who wanted to remain with us in order to be the beating Heart of the Church.
But even after the Celebration of the Divine Mysteries the Lord Jesus remains present in the tabernacle. For this reason, praise is rendered to Him especially through Eucharistic Adoration, as I sought to remind everyone in the recent Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (see nos. 66-69) following the Synod on this topic. In fact, there is an intrinsic connection between celebration and adoration. The Holy Mass is in itself already the greatest act of adoration on the part of the Church. ‘No one eats this flesh,’ St Augustine wrote, ‘unless he has first adored it’ (Com. on Psalms 98,9; CCL XXXIX, 1385). Adoration, apart from the Holy Mas, prolongs and intensifies what has taken place in the liturgical celebration and makes it possible, to receive Christ in a real and profound way.”
Saint of the Day – 29 September – Blessed Luigi Monza (1898 – 1954) Priest, Founder of the Secular Institute of the Little Apostles of Charity, devotee of Eucharistic Adoration, Apostle of Charity – born on 22 June 1898 in Cislago, Varese, Italy and died on 29 September 1954 in Lecco, Italy of a heart attack. Patronage – the Little Apostles of Charity.
Father Luigi was born on 22 June 1898 in Cislago between Varese and Milan. The child appeared very frail and was baptised immediately. Fortunately his health slowly improved and over the years he grew stronger. In May 1913 a serious accident radically changed the life of the Monza family, his father Giuseppe fell from a tree and became paralyzed. He confided to his parish priest, Fr Luigi Vismara, that he had long felt the desire to consecrate himself to the Lord in the priesthood.
In September 1913, thanks to the help of his parish priest, Luigi left for the Salesian Missionary Institute of Penango Monferrato near Asti. On returning home for the summer holidays after the school year 1915/16 he found the family situation deteriorated. In fact, his father was completely disabled and forced to bed and Pietro, the eldest son, had been called to fight on the eastern front. Luigi decided not to leave the weight of the family only on the shoulders of his mother, as sister Giuseppina had entered the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea.
Fr Vismara came to his aid again and managed to get him into the Collegio Villoresi of Monza. When everything seemed resolved, on 16 January 1917, he lost his father and was later called in the army. When he was discharged, he resumed his studies. Cardinal Tosi ordained him a priest on 19 September 1925. He was assigned to the parish church of St Maurizio in Vedano Olona, in the province of Varese.
Fr Monza immediately became part of the parish life. His method was based on personal witness as a direct form of evangelisation, on the exercise of charity, on the formation of a community capable of living in loving relationship with each other. He founded a school for the teaching of French, to allow migrants, almost all headed to France or Switzerland, to learn the basics of the language with which they could communicate in the new country. The most successful activity was the sport of the “Viribus unitis” soccer team. In May of 1926 the fascists formed the Vedanese Sports Union, with the evident intention to oppose the “team of priests”. They preceded to provoke unrest and triggered a series of violent attacks that, despite the mediation of Fr Luigi, culminated in the arrest of eight young men of the oratory. Even Fr Luigi was arrested along with Fr De Maddalena and despite the intervention of the Curia had to spend four long months before the two were released. After his release, the diocese decided to temporarily transfer the young priest to the parish of St Mary of the Rosary in Milan and then assign him to the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles in Saronno, where he arrived in November 1928. It was in this family environment that Luigi formed the first oratorian nucleus, initially constituted by no more than thirty boys. In a short time he constituted a choir and his house became a classroom to study and a room for singing and recreation.
On 30 October 1936, Fr Luigi took part in the first official meeting that began the institute that from that day took the name “La Nostra Famiglia”. So he got busy buying a house and, with great personal sacrifice, he managed to buy a land located in Vedano Olona on which the first stone was laid on 29 August 1937.
In the meantime he was appointed parish priest of the church of San Giovanni alla Castagna di Lecco, a suburb of the city. Within a few months he managed to win the sympathy of the parishioners by being loved and appreciated for his human and spiritual gifts. At the centre of the parish life he placed Eucharistic adoration that he practised assiduously and with which he “infected” his parishioners. And from the many testimonies that have remained of the period of Lecco, it is clear that in the ministry of Don Luigi the preaching, characterised by great simplicity, was also of great importance. With the arrival of Fr Monza to St John the Catholic association, already present in the parish, had new stimuli and new vigour; in fact he dedicated himself with great care to the development of all Catholic organisations.
After the World War II, true peace was still far away. In Vedano the displaced returned to their countries and the house of La Nostra Famiglia remained available for new initiatives. In January 1946 Professor Giuseppe Vercelli, director of the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute of Milan, proposed to Clara Cucchi to take care of the re-education of abnormal psychic children. This activity, which was well inserted in the spirit of the Institute, was extremely challenging and risky for the small community, composed of girls who were free of pedagogical medical knowledge. But Don Luigi and Clara let themselves be guided by events, perceiving in the Vercelli proposal a sign of God’s will.
In those years the heart problems of which Fr Monza suffered for some time were accentuated, aggravated by the loss of his mother on 17 April 1953. On 25 August 1954, when returning from the house of Varaz, Fr Luigi, began to suffer pain that within a few hours increased. The doctor had him hospitalised for he had suffered a serious heart attack. His condition deteriorated and on the morning of 29 September 1954, he received the Viaticum and died by saying, “My Jesus, mercy … “….Vatican.va (translated).
Blessed Luigi was beatified in Milan on 30 April 2006.
Quote/s of the Day – 2 August – The Memorial of Sts Peter Faber (1506-1546)
and Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868)
“Take care, take care, never to close your heart to anyone!”
“Seek grace for the smallest things, and you will find grace to accomplish, to believe in, and to hope for, the greatest things. Attend to the smallest things, examine them, think about putting them into effect, and the Lord will grant you greater.”
“To find God in the works, compared to finding Him in prayer, is often like the actual execution, compared to the mere desire.”
St Peter Faber (1506-1546)
“Eucharistic adoration is the greatest of actions. To adore is to share the life of Mary on earth when she adored the Word Incarnate in her virginal womb, when she adored Him in the Crib, on Calvary, in the divine Eucharist.”
“When we work hard, we must eat well. What a joy, that you can receive Holy Communion often! It’s our life and support in this life – receive Communion often and Jesus will change you into Himself.”
Saint of the Day – 5 July – St Anthony Mary Zaccaria C.R.S.P. (1502-1539) – Priest, Founder, Philosopher, Doctor of Medicine/Physician, Renewal of the Forth Hours’ Adoration Devotion, Preacher, Administrator, one of the early leader of the Counter Reformation. Founder of the The Clerics Regular of St Paul (the Barnabites) and the Angelic Sisters of St Paul.
Today we celebrate the life of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria. A renowned preacher and promoter of Eucharistic Adoration, he founded the order of priests now known as the Barnabites.
In 2001, the future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote the preface for a book on St Anthony Mary Zaccaria, praising the saint as “one of the great figures of Catholic reform in the 1500s,” who was involved “in the renewal of Christian life in an era of profound crisis.” “St Anthony”, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “deserves to be rediscovered” as “an authentic man of God and of the Church, a man burning with zeal, a demanding forger of consciences, a true leader able to convert and lead others to good.”
Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born into an Italian family of nobility in Cremona during 1502. His father Lazzaro died shortly after Anthony’s birth and his mother Antonietta – though only 18 years old – chose not to marry again, preferring to devote herself to charitable works and her son’s education. Antonietta’s son took after her in devotion to God and generosity toward the poor. He studied Latin and Greek with tutors in his youth and was afterward sent to Pavia to study philosophy. He went on to study medicine at the University of Padua, earning his degree at age 22 and returning to Cremona.
Despite his noble background and secular profession, the young doctor had no intention of either marrying or accumulating wealth. While caring for the physical conditions of his patients, he also encouraged them to find spiritual healing through repentance and the sacraments. He also taught catechism to children, and went on to participate in the religious formation of young adults. He eventually decided to withdraw from the practice of medicine and with the encouragement of his spiritual director, he began to study for the priesthood.
Ordained a priest at age 26, Anthony is experienced a miraculous occurrence during his first Mass, being surrounded by a supernatural light and a multitude of angels during the consecration of the Eucharist. Contemporary witnesses marvelled at the event and testified to it after his death.
Church life in Cremona had suffered decline in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The new priest encountered widespread ignorance and religious indifference among laypersons, while many of the clergy were either weak or corrupt. In these dire circumstances, Anthony Mary Zaccaria devoted his life to proclaiming the truths of the Gospel both clearly and charitably. Within two years, his eloquent preaching and tireless pastoral care is said to have changed the moral character of the city dramatically.
In 1530, Anthony moved to Milan, where a similar spirit of corruption and religious neglect prevailed. There, he decided to form a priestly society, the Clerics Regular of St. Paul. Inspired by the apostle’s life and writings, the order was founded on a vision of humility, asceticism, poverty, and preaching. After the founder’s death, they were entrusted with a prominent church named for St Barnabas and became commonly known as the “Barnabites.”
St Anthony also founded a women’s religious order, the Angelic Sisters of St Paul and an apostolate, the Laity of St Paul, geared toward the sanctification of those outside the priesthood and religious life. He pioneered the “40 Hours” devotion, involving continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
In 1539, Anthony became seriously ill and returned to his mother’s house in Cremona. The founder of the Clerics Regular of St Paul died on 5 July during the liturgical octave of the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, at the age of only 36.
Saint of the Day – 4 July – St Elizabeth of Portugal T.O.S.F. (1271-1336) Queen Consort, Franciscan Tertiary, Apostle of Charity and Peace, political negotiator and mediator – also known as Elizabeth of Aragon, Elisabet in Catalan, Isabel in Aragonese, Portuguese and Spanish and The Peacemaker, born in 1271 at Aragon, Spain and died on 4 July 1336 at Estremoz, Portugal of a fever. Patronages – Coimbra, Diocese of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Cathedral of La Laguna.
Elizabeth means “Promise of God”
Saint Elizabeth was the daughter of King Peter III of this kingdom and niece of King James the Conqueror, great-niece of Emperor Frederick II of Germany. They gave her the name Elizabeth after her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
Her formation was formidable and from the time she was very young she had a notable piety. She was taught that, in order to be truly good, she ought to include mortification of her likes and whims along with her prayer. She was careful to order her life toward the love of God and neighbour, disciplining her habits of life. She did not eat between meals.
She was married at the age of 12 to King Dionysius of Portugal. This was a great cross for Elizabeth because he was a man of little morals, being violent an unfaithful. But she endured heroically this trial. She prayed and offered many sacrifices for him. She always treated him with goodness. They had two sons: Alfonso, the future king of Portugal and Constance, future king of Castille. Saint Elizabeth even educated the natural sons of her husband with other women. The king, for his part, admired her and permitted her to live an authentic Christian life, to a certain degree. She would rise very early in the morning and read six psalms, attend Holy Mass and dedicated herself to manage the duties of the palace. In her free time she met with other women to make clothing for the poor. She dedicated the afternoons to visiting the elderly and ill.
She made possible the construction of hostels, a hospital for the poor, a free school, a home for women repenting from a sinful life and a hospice for abandoned children. She also constructed convents and did other good works for the people. She would lend her beautiful dresses and even one of her crowns for the weddings of poor young women.
Saint Elizabeth would frequently distribute coins from the Royal Treasury to the poor so that they could buy their daily bread. On one occasion, King Dionysius, suspicious of her actions, began to spy on her. When the queen began to distribute money among the poor, the king saw and, infuriated, went to reclaim it. But the Lord intervened, in such a way that, when the king ordered that she showed him what she was giving to the poor, the coins turned to roses.
The son of Elizabeth, Alfonso, had a violent character like his father. He was filled with anger at the preference his father showed to his natural children. On two occasions he promoted a civil war against his father. Elizabeth strived for reconciliation between father and son. On one occasion she went on pilgrimage to Santarem, a Eucharistic miracle and, dressed as a penitent, implored the Lord for peace.
Then she went to present herself on the field of battle and, when the armies of her spouse and son were about to engage in battle, the queen kneeled between them and, on her knees, asked her husband and son to be reconciled.
Some of her letters have been preserved, which reflect gospel values and audacity of our Saint. To her husband:“Like an infuriated wolf that is going to kill your Little son, I will fight so that the arms to the King are not unleashed against our own son. But at the same time, I will first make sure that the arms of the army of my son are destroyed, before they are fired against the followers of his father.”
To her son: “By the Blessed Virgin Mary, I ask that you make peace with your father. See, the soldiers are burning houses, destroying crops and breaking everything in pieces. Not with weapons, my son, we cannot fix the problem with weapons, but rather with dialogue, continuing negotiations to fix these conflicts. I will make the troops of the king go away and that the demands of the son be attended to but please remember, that you have a most serious duty to your father as his son and as a subject to his king.”
She obtained peace on more than one occasion, and her husband died repentant, without a doubt due to prayers of his wife.
Because Saint Elizabeth had such a great love for the Eucharist, she dedicated herself to study the lives of the Saints who were most notable in their love for the Eucharist and especially Saint Clare. After becoming a widow, Saint Elizabeth divested herself of all her riches. She went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, where she surrendered her crown to the Archbishop in order to receive the habit as a Claretian tertiary. The Archbishop was so moved by this act of the Saint that he gave her his pastoral cross to help her on her return to Portugal. She lived her last years in the convent, dedicated to Eucharistic adoration.
When a war broke out between her son and her son-in-law, the King of Castille, Saint Elizabeth, despite her old age, undertook a long journey by dangerous roads and obtained peace. Nevertheless, the trip cost her life. Feeling herself close to death, she asked to be taken to a Claretian convent that she herself had founded. There she died invoking Our Lady on 4 July 1336.
God blessed her tomb with miracles. Her body can be venerated in the Claretian convent in Coimbra. She was Canonised on 25 May 1625 by Pope Urban VIII.
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, pray for peace in our world!
Saint of the Day – 4 June – St Filippo Smaldone (1848-1923) Priest and Founder of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, Preacher, Catechist, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration and Our Lady, Apostle of Charity and especially of orphans, the blind and the deaf, Spiritual Advisor and Director – Born on 27 July 1848 in Naples, Italy and died on 4 June 1923 in Lecce, Italy from a combination of diabetes and a heart condition. St Filippo is best known for his extensive work with the deaf, the blind and orphans, during his lifetime. Father Smaldone was a gifted preacher known for his commitment to proper Catechesis and to the care of orphans and the mute, which earned him civic recognition. Patronages: Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, Deaf people, Mute people. He was Beatified in 1996 by St John Paul and Canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on 15 October 2006 in St Peter’s Square.
Filippo Smaldone was born in Naples on 27 July 1848, at a time of political and social turmoil in Italy as well as for the Church. Notwithstanding the social, political and religious unrest that surrounded him, he decided to dedicate himself to the service of the Church and become a priest.
While he was still a philosophy and theology student, he became involved in helping the many marginalised people and deaf-mutes in Naples, who at the time were without appropriate forms of assistance. His dedication to the apostolate did not leave him much time to study and it was with difficulty that he passed the examination for Minor Orders.
After a period of time in what is today known as the Archdiocese of Rossano-Cariati, where he could concentrate on his studies, he returned to the Archdiocese of Naples in 1876. There he continued to study and to work with deaf-mutes and was ordained a priest on 23 September 1871.
Fr Smaldone dedicated himself to the priestly ministry through evening catechism classes and visiting the hospitalised and homebound sick. During a plague epidemic he too caught the contagion but he was miraculously cured through intercession to Our Lady of Pompeii, for whom he cherished a special, lifelong devotion.
In addition to his parish ministry he continued his pioneer work in the education of deaf-mutes; however, he met many obstacles during his work and became discouraged, at one point wanting to change ministries and head for the foreign missions.
But it was his wise confessor who convinced him that his true mission was in Naples among the people who needed him most. Thus, he gave himself without reserve to this apostolate and made it the principle object of his mission.
Armed with the great experience he had acquired through the years, Fr Smaldone went to Lecce, Italy, on 25 March 1885, where he founded an institute for deaf-mutes with Fr Lorenzo Apicella and a group of Sisters, he had specially trained. This was the basis for the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, which rapidly took root and flourished.
After founding the Lecce institute, which became the Motherhouse of the Congregation he founded, in 1897 Fr Smaldone opened other institutes in Rome and Bari, Italy. Due to the great need, Fr Smaldone soon expanded his work to include blind children, orphans and the abandoned in his institutes.
Signs of the great work he accomplished for love of God and neighbour were both external and internal trials. In fact, one of his favourite sayings was: “The Lord sends us trials and tribulations to settle our debt to Him”.
From without he had to defend himself against the anti-Church municipal council; from within, he had to deal with the departure of the first superior of the new Congregation he founded, which provoked a long apostolic visit on the part of the Holy See.
The crucible of trials thus tried this holy man of God and found him and his works worthy. He continued to strive, with fatherly affection, to educate his deaf-mute students and to give the Salesian Sisters a complete religious formation.
Fr Smaldone also served as confessor and spiritual director to priests, seminarians and various religious communities. He founded the Eucharistic League of Priest Adorers and Women Adorers, and was superior of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales.
He was appointed a canon of Lecce Cathedral and at one point was awarded a commendation by the civil Authorities.
Fr Filippo Smaldone died of a serious diabetic condition with heart complications on 4 June 1923 at the age of 75; he was in Lecce and surrounded by the affection of the Sisters and many of the needy whom he had served throughout his life.
St Filippo’s Ccanonisation cause commenced in an informative process that opened in 1964 under Pope Paul VI and concluded its business sometime after this. The introduction to this process titled him as a Servant of God. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints validated this process in Rome on 23 May 1989 and received the Positio in 1989 which allowed for theologians to approve it on 3 February 1995 and the C.C.S. to likewise approve the cause on 16 May 1995. St Pope John Paul II declared Smaldone to be Venerable on 11 July 1995 after the pope confirmed that the priest had indeed lived a model Christian life of heroic virtue.
The miracle needed for beatification was investigated and then validated on 7 May 1993 while a medical board later approved it on 1 June 1995. Theologians also assented to this miracle on 27 October 1995 as did the C.C.S. on 12 December 1995. St John Paul II issued formal assent needed and deemed that the healing was a miracle attributed to Smaldone’s intercession on 12 January 1996 while later presiding over Smaldone’s Beatification on 12 May 1996.
The process for a second miracle spanned from 2000 to 2002 at which point it received validation on 4 April 2003 before receiving the assent of the medical board on 3 February 2005; theologians assented to it on 17 May 2005 as did the C.C.S. on 17 January 2006. Pope Benedict XVI approved this on 28 April 2006 and Canonised Smaldone in Saint Peter’s Square on 15 October 2006.
Thought for the Day – 4 June – Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, Year B and the Memorial of St Filippo Smaldone (1848-1923) – Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration and of Charity
Speaking of: Eucharistic Adoration
“St Filippo Smaldone, son of South Italy, knew how to instil in his life the higher virtues characteristic of his land.
A priest with a great heart nourished continuously on prayer and Eucharistic Adoration, he was above all, a witness and servant of charity, which he manifested in an eminent way through service to the poor, in particular to deaf-mutes, to whom he dedicated himself entirely.
The work that he began developed thanks to the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, founded by him and which spread to various parts of Italy and the world.
St Filippo Smaldone saw the image of God reflected in deaf-mutes and he used to repeat that, just as we prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament, so we should kneel before a deaf-mute.
From his example we welcome the invitation to consider the ever indivisible love for the Eucharist and love for one’s neighbour. But the true capacity to love the brethren, can come only, from meeting with the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.”
Pope Benedict XVI on the Canonisation of St Filippo Smaldone, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 October 2006
The Solemnity of The Body and Blood of Christ “Corpus Christi” – 3 June
Happy Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God! What a Gift we celebrate today!
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. The feast of Corpus Christi is a celebration of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. It parallels the celebration on Holy Thursday in commemoration of the institution of this Aacrament. When the Eucharist is carried through the streets in solemn procession, the Christian people give public witness of their faith and devotion toward the Sacrament of the Eucharist
In 1246, Bishop Robert de Thorete of the Belgian diocese of Liège, at the suggestion of St Juliana of Mont Cornillon (also in Belgium), convened a synod and instituted the celebration of the feast.
From Liège, the celebration began to spread and, on 8 September 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull “Transiturus,” which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.
At the request of Pope Urban IV, St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Doctor of the Church, composed the office, the official prayers of the Churc, for the feast. This office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymns Pange Lingua Gloriosi and Tantum Ergo Sacramentum.
The feast is also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession, in which the Sacred Host is carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. There the Eucharistic Lord, held in the monstrance by the priest, is escorted by candles, canopies, incense, choirs, altar servers, and worshipers. The faithful venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by, with Benediction celebrated along the way.
The feast of Corpus Christi is one time when our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is exposed not just to faithful Catholics but to all the world. This is a time when Catholics can show their love for Christ in the Real Presence by honouring Him in a very public way. It is also a wonderful way in which we can show our love for our neighbors by bringing Our Lord and Savior closer to them. So many conversions are a result of Eucharistic Adoration experienced from inside the Church. How many more there would be if we could reach those who only drive by the church in worldly pursuits.
“Corpus Christi reminds us first of all of this:, that being Christian means coming together from all parts of the world to be in the presence of the one Lord and to become one with him and in him. The second constitutive aspect, is walking with the Lord. ,This is the reality manifested by the procession that we shall experience together after Holy Mass, almost as if it were naturally prolonged by moving behind the One who is the Way, the Journey. With the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus sets us free from our “paralyses”, He helps us up and enables us to “proceed “, that is, He makes us take a step ahead and then another step and thus sets us going with the power of the Bread of Life.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Corpus Christ 2008
Throughout our lives, if we were raised Catholic, we were taught reverence for the Eucharist. But “reverence” is not enough. Most Catholics reverence the Eucharist, meaning, we genuflect, kneel and treat the Sacred Host with respect. But it’s important to ponder a question in your heart. Do you believe the Eucharist is God Almighty, the Saviour of the world, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity? Do you believe deeply enough to have your heart moved with love and profound devotion every time you are before our divine Lord present before us under the veil of the Eucharist? When you kneel do you fall down prostrate in your heart, loving God with your whole being?
Perhaps this sounds like it’s a bit excessive. Perhaps simple reverence and respect is enough for you. But it’s not. Since the Eucharist is God Almighty, we must see Him there with the eyes of faith in our soul. We must profoundly adore Him as the angels do in Heaven. We must cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” We must be moved to the deepest of worship as we enter into His divine presence.
Ponder the depth of your faith in the Eucharist today and strive to renew it, worshiping God as one who believes with your whole being.
I devoutly adore You, O hidden Deity, truly hidden beneath these appearances. My whole heart submits to You and in contemplating You, it surrenders itself completely. Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgement of You but hearing suffices firmly to believe. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – 17 May – St Paschal Baylon O.F.M. (1540-1592) professed Franciscan Religious Brother of the Order of Lay Brothers Minor, Mystic, Contemplate, Apostle of the Eucharist and Mary, Apostle of the Sick and the poor, known as the “Seraph of the Eucharist”, “Saint of the Blessed Sacrament, “Servant of the Blessed Sacrament.” St Paschal was born on 24 May 1540 (feast of Pentecost) at Torre Hermosa, Aragon, (modern Spain) and he died on 15 May 1592 (feast of Pentecost) at Villa Reale, Spain of natural causes. Patronages – cooks, shepherds, Eucharistic congresses and organisations (proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII on 28 November 1897), Shepherds, Male Children and Priesthood Vocation, Eucharistic Adoration, diocese of Segorbe-Castellón de la Plana, Spain, Obado, Bulacan, Philippines. Attributes – The Eucharist, Monstrance, Franciscan habit. Like his holy father of the Franciscans, St Francis of Assisi, St Paschal is best known for his strong and deep devotion to the Eucharist, which manifested in his childhood.
In Paschal’s lifetime the Spanish empire in the New World was at the height of its power, though France and England were soon to reduce its influence. The 16th century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano, Salvator of Horta, St John of Avila and many others.
Paschal’s Spanish parents were poor and pious. Between the ages of seven and 24 he worked as a shepherd and began a life of mortification. He was able to pray on the job and was especially attentive to the church bell, which rang at the Elevation during Mass. Paschal had a very honest streak in him. He once offered to pay owners of crops for any damage his animals caused!
In 1564, Paschal joined the Friars Minor and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life of penance. Though he was urged to study for the priesthood, he chose to be a brother. At various times he served as porter, cook, gardener and official beggar.
Paschal was careful to observe the vow of poverty. He would never waste any food or anything given for the use of the friars. When he was porter and took care of the poor coming to the door, he developed a reputation for great generosity. The friars sometimes tried to moderate his liberality!
Paschal spent his spare moments praying before the Blessed Sacrament. In time, many people sought his wise counsel. It was Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, that gave St Paschal great wisdom. He was hardly able to read and write but he was able to hold intelligent conversations with learned doctors in theology. Some of the theologians felt that Paschal was inspired by God. The priests of the monastery used to ask his advice about preaching. When the saint spoke about the Birth of Jesus and the Last Supper, it was as though he had been present at these events.
On Whit-Sunday, in 1592, St Paschal turned fifty-two years old. He knew that death was near and tried to put his habit on but being very weak he fell to the floor. Just then, a Brother entered. He placed the habit on Paschal and put him in bed.
During this time the monks told Paschal that Mass had started and his heart was filled with joy. As the monastery bell was ringing for the Elevation of the Host, the dying saint said, “Jesus, Jesus,” and then breathed his last. The news of his death spread like fire over the whole country.
On the day of St Paschal’s funeral Mass, a wonderful miracle took place. Paschal opened his eyes from the coffin and looked at the Host and the Chalice during the elevation of the Mass – He adored God publicly, even though he was dead.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about St Paschal, are the strange happenings known as the “Knocks of St Paschal.” At first, the knocks came from Paschal’s tomb. Later they came from relics and pictures of the saint. Sometimes the knocks have come as a kind of warning, to let people know that a terrible event was about to take place. It is also said that in Spain and Italy, those who are devoted to St Paschal, are warned about their death, days before, so that they may have a chance to receive the Last Sacraments.
People flocked to his tomb immediately after his burial; miracles were reported promptly. Paschal was Canonised in 1690 and was named patron of Eucharistic congresses and societies in 1897.
More on St Paschal here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/saint-of-the-day-17-may-st-paschal-baylon/
Saint of the Day – 26 April – St Rafael Arnáiz Barón O.C.S.O. (1911-1938) 9 April 1911 in Burgos, Spain – 26 April 1938 in Dueñas, Palencia, Spain – Religious Brother of the Cistercian Monastery of the Strict Observance (Trappists), Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Artist and Writer. Known as Brother María Rafael. Patronages – against diabetes, diabetes mellitus, World Youth Day 2011.
St Rafael Arnáiz Barón was born in Burgos, Spain, on 9 April 1911 into a well-to-do Christian family. He was the eldest of four. As a boy he attended several schools run by Jesuits and his sensitivity to spiritual topics and to art was apparent from boyhood. These qualities were remarkably well balanced giving him an open, joyful attitude to the world, combined with exuberant good humour, respect and humility.
Bouts of fever and pleurisy interrupted his education. When he had recovered his father took him to Zaragoza to consecrate him to Our Lady of the Pillar and his family moved to Oviedo where he completed his secondary schooling.
In 1930 Rafael embarked on architectural studies in Madrid. It was in this year that his deeper commitment to Christ began. After completing his secondary schooling, that summer he had spent a holiday near Avila at the home of his uncle and aunt, the Duke and Duchess of Maqueda. It was they who introduced him to the Trappist Monastery of San Isidoro de Dueñas whose beauty and prayerful atmosphere attracted him.
Rafael was a talented artist, His pictorial powers both in concept and in actual completion were considerable and he was far from fussy. His teacher says of him:
“He was magnificent in the art of decoration and had done some truly outstanding pieces . . . both in oils and in watercolour, he worked to large design and without fussiness; he needed only a few highly descriptive brush strokes to bring it off; he knew how to give strength and setting to all he did. He had a very exact sense of colour and in some of his pictures he was able to achieve the most difficult tints. One peculiarity was that when Rafael did landscapes, he preferred to completely exclude from them any sign of people; none of his works contain a single human figure that could take or distract from the luminosity of the whole.”
He was called up but declared unfit for active duty. He decided to abandon his architectural studies in Madrid and seek the mystery of the “Absolute” in this Cistercian Monastery of the Strict Observance, which he entered on 16 January 1934 and joyfully received the white habit. He was 23. He said upon entering that this decision had not been prompted by suffering or disappointments but rather by God who, “in his infinite goodness” had given him far more in life than he deserved. Rafael felt deeply suited to the monastic rhythm of Gregorian chant and the Liturgy of the Hours. He wrote many letters to his mother, who after his death collected them in a book and to his uncle and aunt with whom he had a close friendship.
Four months after entering the monastery, after an austere Lent, he was smitten by a serious form of diabetes mellitus which forced him to go home for treatment. Indeed, he was obliged to go back and forth between his home and the monastery again and again between 1935 and 1937. It was at the height of the Spanish Civil War.
Thus, on his final return to the monastery, he was made an oblate, taking the last place and living on the fringes of the community. Canon law at the time did not permit a person in his condition of poor health to take monastic vows.
The Virgin Mary was the love and consolation of Rafael’s life. “It is a pity,” he wrote, “that David [the psalmist] didn’t know the Most Holy Virgin! What marvelous things he would have said about her! A heart as big as his would certainly have been full of love for Mary! Mary! If only I knew how to write!”
He died in the monastery’s infirmary on 26 April 1938 after a final attack of the disease at only 27 years old. He was buried in the monastery cemetery and his remains were later translated to the Abbey Church.
Despite his brief life, he embodies the Cistercian grace in a remarkably pure way. From beginning to end he let himself be led through a series of bewildering contradictions and perplexities illness, war, the inability to pronounce his vows, abnormal community relations until he totally renounced himself. Humiliation was his constant companion.
His one desire was to live in order to love: to love Jesus, Mary, the Cross, his Trappist monastery. His reputation for holiness spread rapidly throughout Spain and his grave at San Isidro became a place of pilgrimage where many favours were received.
On 19 August 1989, at the World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela, John Paul II proposed Bro. Rafael as a model for young people today and beatified him on 27 September 1992, in Rome. In his Homily at the beatification Mass, the late Pope said of this Spanish Trappist that he set an example, especially for young people, “of a loving and unconditional response to the divine call”. (Vatican.va)
The sainthood process started in Palencia in an informative process that spanned from 28 June 1961 until 30 April 1967 while theologians agreed on 25 January 1974 that all of his spiritual writings were in full accordance with the norms of the faith. The formal introduction to the cause came later on 15 January 1983 and the late Trappist became titled as a Servant of God. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints validated the informative process in Rome on 26 June 1987 and received the Positio dossier in 1987. Theologians approved this dossier on 12 May 1989 as did the C.C.S. on 11 July 1989. The confirmation of his heroic virtue on 7 September 1989 allowed for St Pope John Paul II to sign a decree that titled him as Venerable.
The process for a miracle took place in the location that it originated in and it received C.C.S. validation on 6 October 1989; a medical board approved it on 31 October 1991 as did the theologians on 4 March 1992 and the C.C.S. on 7 April 1992. St John Paul II approved this miracle on 13 June 1992 and beatified the Trappist on 27 September 1992 in Saint Peter’s Square. The process for another miracle opened in Madrid and spanned from 9 April 2005 to 7 May 2006 before its validation on 30 November 2006. Medical experts assented to this on 13 March 2008 as well as theologians on 7 June 2008 and the C.C.S. members on 4 November 2008. Pope Benedict XVI approved this miracle on 6 December 2008 and formalised the date for the sainthood celebration in a consistory on 21 February 2009. Pope Benedict XVI Canonised him on 11 October 2009.
The miracle that led to the Canonisation was the January 2001 healing of Begoña Alonso Leon in Madrid. She was 30 and in the fifth month of being pregnant with her daughter Laura and began to feel severe contractions and headaches as well as signs of eclampsia. On 25 December 2000 – Christmas – she was admitted at seven months into a Madrid hospital due to the symptoms worsening and after an ultrasound was directed to the surgical theatre for a cesarean section. Her daughter was born in good health but Leon’s condition worsened and she was in the intensive care unit for over two weeks. Her rapid healing after this was attributed to the late Trappist whom she appealed to during her illness.
Pope’s 3rd Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness, Gives Practical Advice on How Not to Settle for Failure or Mediocrity
Jesus wants our happiness and wants us to be saints. He does not want us to settle for a bland and mediocre existence.
Gaudate et Exsultate: On the Call for Holiness in our Modern World was published today, marking Pope Francis’ 3rd Apostolic Exhortation after Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia.
The five-chapter, 98-page document can be considered somewhat of a practical handbook on how to help us achieve holiness in the circumstances of our ordinary lives. The chapters include: 1) The Call to Holiness 2) Two Subtle Enemies of Holiness 3) In the Light of the Master 4) Signs of Holiness in Today’s World 5) Spiritual Combat, Vigilance and Discernment.
Reflecting on saints, the Pope speaks specifically of the saints ‘next door:’ “Nor need we think of those already beatified and canonised” but, he stressed, “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: n their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. A holiness found in our next-door neighbors, the middle class of holiness.”
The document which stresses the need for discernment acknowledges that the Christian life is a battle. It notes that the devil tries to “poison with the venom of hatred, desolation and vice.”
Our call to holiness, it also asserts, is a constant battle. If we do not realize this, it warns, we “will be prey to failure or mediocrity.” Yet, it suggests, we can count on “the powerful weapons” God has given us, including prayer, meditation, Mass, Confession, Eucharistic adoration, charitable acts and community outreach.
While recalling some of the saints’ great examples, including St Francis of Assisi, St John Paul II, and Edith Stein, the Pope provides advice on how we can be good Christians.
The answer is clear, he says: “We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.”
The life of a Christian, the text also stresses, is a constant battle, noting we need strength and courage to reject the devil’s temptations–those “dangers and limitations that distract and debilitate”– and to proclaim the Gospel. Pope Francis also warns against that which impedes our call to holiness, such as hedonism and consumerism, noting they “can prove our downfall.”
Pope Francis concludes the work, stating: “It is my hope that these pages will prove helpful by enabling the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness.” (via Zenit)
Link to full text of Apostolic Exhortation: https://zenit.org/articles/gaudate-et-exsultate-on-the-call-to-holiness-in-todays-world-full-text/
Vatican Media has released a new video that focuses on the theme of the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate: On the Call for Holiness in our Modern World. The two-and-a-half-minute video shows how the exhortation addressed the needs of people of all ages around the world.
Devotion for the Month of April – The Holy Eucharist
The Church has historically encouraged the month of April for increased devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. “The Church in the course of the centuries has introduced various forms of this Eucharistic worship which are ever increasing in beauty and helpfulness; as, for example, visits of devotion to the tabernacles, even every day; Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; solemn processions, especially at the time of Eucharistic Congresses, which pass through cities and villages; and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament publicly exposed . . . These exercises of piety have brought a wonderful increase in faith and supernatural life to the Church militant upon earth and they are re-echoed to a certain extent by the Church triumphant in heaven, which sings continually a hymn of praise to God and to the Lamb ‘Who was slain.'” -Venerable Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) Pope from 1939 to his death in 1958.
Prayer before Holy Communion By St Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868)
Oh! Yes, Lord Jesus, come and reign!
Let my body be Your temple,
my heart Your throne,
my will Your devoted servant;
let me be Yours forever,
living only in You and for You!
Eucharistic Adoration By: St Pope John Paul II
“I encourage Christians regularly to visit Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, for we are all called to abide in the presence of God. In contemplation, Christians will perceive ever more profoundly the mystery at the heart of Christian life.
I urge priests, religious and lay people to continue and redouble their efforts to teach the younger generations the meaning and value of Eucharistic adoration and devotion. How will young people be able to know the Lord if they are not introduced to the mystery of His presence? Like the young Samuel, by learning the words of the prayer of the heart, they will be closer to the Lord, who will accompany them in their spiritual and human growth. The Eucharistic mystery is in fact the “summit of evangelisation” (Lumen Gentium) for it is the most eminent testimony to Christ’s resurrection.”
Private Eucharistic Adoration
Venerable Fr Benedict Groeschel points out in the book, “In the Presence of Our Lord : The History, Theology and Psychology of Eucharistic Devotion” that there are “four kinds of prayer most appropriate in the presence of the Eucharist, namely adoration and praise, thanksgiving, repentance and trusting intercession.” Accordingly, here are suggestions for what to do during private Eucharistic adoration.
1. Pray the Psalms or the Liturgy of the Hours
Whether you are praising, giving thanks, asking for forgiveness or seeking an answer, you’ll find an appropriate psalm. The ancient prayer of the Church called the Liturgy of the Hours presents an excellent way to pray through the Book of Psalms throughout the year.
2. Recite the “Jesus Prayer”
Say “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner”, repeatedly as you quiet your heart and mind.
3. Meditate using Scripture
Choose a passage from the Bible. read the words and ask God to let the passage speak to you. Pay special attention to anything that strikes you and ask God what He wishes for you to draw from that message.
4. Read the life of a saint and pray with him or her
Most holy men and women have had a great devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist. Therese of Lisieux, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Peter Julian Eymard, Dorothy Day. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Baroness Catherine de Hueck are just a few. Read about them and pray their prayers before the Blessed Sacrament.
5. Pour out your heart to Christ and adore Him
Speak to Jesus, aware that you are in His presence and tell Him all that comes to your mind. Listen for His response. Pray the prayer that St Francis instructed his brothers to pray whenever they were before the Blessed Sacrament: “I adore You, O Christ, present here and in all the churches of the world, for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.”
6. Ask for forgiveness and intercede for others
Think of those who have hurt you and request a special blessing for them. Ask God to forgive you for all the times you have neglected or hurt someone else. Bring before the Blessed Sacrament all those who have asked you to pray for them. Ask the Lord to address their concerns.
7. Pray the Rosary
St Pope John Paul II reminds us, “…is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Chris and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion?” (The Church and the Eucharist, 55) Ask Mary to join you as you gaze on Christ in the Eucharist and as you pray the Rosary.
8. Sit quietly and just “be” in the presence of God
Think of a visit to the Blessed Sacrament as coming to see your best friend. Sit quietly and enjoy being in each other’s company. Instead of talking to the Lord, try listening to what He wants to tell you.
Prayer before the Eucharistic Presence By Bl John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
I place myself in the presence of Him,
in whose Incarnate Presence I am,
before I place myself there.
I adore You, O my Saviour,
present here as God and man,
in soul and body,
in true flesh and blood.
I acknowledge and confess,
that I kneel before the Sacred Humanity,
which was conceived in Mary’s womb
and lay in Mary’s bosom;
which grew up to man’s estate
and by the Sea of Galilee, called the Twelve,
wrought miracles and spoke words of wisdom and peace;
Who in due season hung on the cross,
lay in the tomb, rose from the dead
and now reigns in heaven.
I praise and bless
and give myself wholly to Him,
Who is the true Bread of my soul
and my everlasting joy. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 25 February 2018 – The Second Sunday of Lent, Year B
I Place myself in Your Presence (Prayer before Holy Mass or at Eucharistic Adoration)
Bl John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
I place myself
in the presence of Him
in whose Incarnate Presence
I am before
I place myself there.
I adore You, O my Saviour,
present here as God and Man,
in soul and body,
in true flesh and blood.
I acknowledge and confess,
that I kneel before
that Sacred Humanity,
which was conceived
in Mary’s womb
and lay on Mary’s bosom,
which grew up to man’s estate
and by the Sea of Galilee
called the Twelve,
and spoke words of wisdom
Which, in due season
hung on the Cross,
lay in the tomb,
rose from the dead
and now reigns in heaven.
I praise and bless and give myself
wholly to Him,
who is the true Bread of my soul
and my everlasting joy.
“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24: 12)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in His providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”. Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.
With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).
These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.
Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.
They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerised by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!
False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognise what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.
A cold heart
In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?
More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments. All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.
Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing His praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.
Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.
What are we to do?
Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.
Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God Himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of His children. If through me, God helps someone today, will He not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.
Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.
I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyses hearts and actions and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!
The fire of Easter
Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.
One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.
During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds” and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.
With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.