Friday, October 21, 2016

The Largest Bouquet Ever!

By Antonio Fragelli

Fatima, Portugal – On October 12, 2016, more than 25,000 red and white roses were offered to Our Lady of Fatima. Fatima being a center of pilgrimage, such an amount of roses attracted many a pilgrim to inquire the reason for such an enormous offering.
America Needs Fatima held its 10th year of Public Square Rosary Rallies in the United States and for every Rally Captain who committed to holding a Public Square Rosary Rally we delivered ONE RED ROSE in his or her name. We also offered a WHITE ROSE for every devotee of Our Blessed Mother who chose to sponsor a Rosary Rally by giving a donation to help make this enormous effort possible.
As the day approached for the offering, the weather forecast was the worst possible. In Portuguese the expression used by was, “aguaceiro e trovoadas” which can be translated into “pouring rain and thunder.” The odd thing was that all the other days of the week had been beautiful, sunny days.
We had lots of praying to do, beseeching our good Mother to push the clouds away. And she didn’t let us down! As the time came for the delivery, 2:00 p.m. on October 12th, the clouds moved away and even parts of the sky became blue. The sun became as warm as her smile and we were able to make the offering of a massive bouquet of roses to Our Lady and remain as dry as the pilgrims were after the Miracle of the Sun.

As we carried the massive vases in one by one, I had time to reflect on what this offering meant in today’s world. In the very spot where I stood Our Mother came to deliver a heavenly message of warning and salvation for our times. And here I was, 99 years later delivering more than 25,000 roses in thanksgiving to that same Mother. These roses I carried represented thousands of children of Mary who gathered throughout America to publicly and proudly pray the Rosary for America – just as Our Lady had asked of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco nearly a century ago.
The beautiful roses basking in the Portuguese sun stood in sharp contrast to a world deep in moral trouble, a world that seems to move more and more away from God and His Divine law. It can only be by the grace of God that in such a sinful world, here at Fatima a huge act of love and devotion to Jesus and Mary could take place today.
Together with the rose offering our hopes and prayers went up to the Queen of Heaven beseeching her to hasten the fulfillment of her promise that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

O sinner, be not discouraged

 O sinner, be not discouraged,
but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities.
Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will
that she should help in every kind of necessity.

St. Basil the Great

St. Hilarion

Hilarion was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha, south of Gaza. He was converted to Christianity in Alexandria and baptized at fifteen.

Visiting St. Anthony of the Desert, he lived with him for two months, but finding the desert hermit’s cave only a little less populated than the city, because of the continuous flow of people seeking the saint’s help and guidance, he retired into the desert of Majuma, in Palestine.

For years he only ate fifteen figs a day, and for an occupation, he tilled the earth and made baskets. His first abode was a small hut woven of reeds. Later, he made himself a cell, one so small that it was more like a tomb. As the years passed, he found he needed more nourishment than figs alone provided and included a few vegetables and bread in his diet.

In 356 he was informed by revelation of the death of St. Anthony. He was sixty-five and was so afflicted by the number of people who crowded to him that he resolved to leave Palestine. From then on, he became a pilgrim of solitude, seeking to be left alone with God. But though silent, his miracles spoke loudly and people sought him out in whatever wilderness he fled to.

Finally, after trying several remote places, including Sicily, Hilarion wished to go into a country where not even his language was understood. And so his friend, St. Heyschius, took him to Dalmatia. But again miracles defeated the saint’s intent of living alone. Fleeing to Cyprus, his popularity followed him there, so traveling inland a dozen miles and climbing to an inaccessible but pleasant place, he at last found peace and quiet.

After a few years in this spot, he died at the age of eighty. Among those who visited him in his last illness, was St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, who later wrote of him to St. Jerome. He was buried near Paphos, but St. Hesychius secretly removed his body to Hilarion’s old home of Majuma.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you...

Beginners in the service of God
sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault.
When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God
and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness,
are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.
Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire;
if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant.
So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God,
and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of charity
and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear.

St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross

Paul Francis Danei was born on January 3, 1694, at Ovada, a small town in the then Republic of Genoa. He spent his youth at Castellazzo, in Lombardy, where his parents had taken up their residence when Paul was only ten years old. It was in Castellazzo, his father's native town, that Paul received his first inspirations concerning the work for which God had destined him. From his earliest years the crucifix was his book and the Crucified his model.

Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino. He made great progress in both his studies and in the practice of virtue. His early attraction for Our Lord Crucified grew naturally into an ardent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At the age of fifteen he left school and returned to his home at Castellazzo, and from this time his life was full of trials. In early manhood he renounced the offer of an honorable marriage as well as a good inheritance left him by an uncle who was a priest. He kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.

Inflamed with a desire for God's glory he formed the idea of instituting a religious order in honor of the Passion. The Bishop of Alessandria, his director, clothed him in a black tunic bearing the emblem of Our Lord's Passion, and barefooted and bareheaded, he retired to a narrow cell where he drew up the Rules of a new congregation according to a plan made known to him in a vision. He was still a layman and had no companions to form a community but drew up the rules during a five day period in December, 1720. Writing in obedience to his confessor, Paul narrates how Our Lord inspired him with the design of founding the congregation, and how he wrote the Rules and Constitutions. "When I was writing," he says, "I went on as quickly as if somebody were dictating to me. I felt the words come from my heart".

In 1725, on a visit to Rome with his brother John Baptist, his constant companion and co-operator in the foundation of the institute, Paul received from Pope Benedict XIII permission to form a congregation according to these Rules. The two brothers were ordained by the same pope in the Vatican basilica on June 7, 1727. After serving for a time in the hospital of St. Gallicano they left Rome with permission of the Holy Father and went to Mount Argentaro, where they established the first house of the institute. They took up their abode in a small hermitage near the summit of the mount, to which was attached a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. They were soon joined by three companions, one of whom was a priest.

At the first general chapter of the institute in April of 1747, Paul was elected, much against his wishes, as the first superior general; he was to hold the office until the day of his death. He became a model to his companions in all their endeavors. Sacred missions were instituted, new foundations and numerous conversions of sinners, seemingly hardened and hopeless, were made, “yet he never left off preaching the word of God, burning as he did with a wondrous desire for the salvation of souls" states the Brief of his Beatification of October 1, 1852. He was untiring in his apostolic labors and never, even to his last hour, remitted anything of his austere manner of life, finally succumbing to a severe illness, worn out as much by his austerities as by old age.

Constant personal union with the Cross and Passion of Our Lord was the prominent feature of St. Paul's sanctity. But devotion to the Passion did not stand alone, for he carried to a heroic degree all the other virtues of a Christian life. For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his sons. The body of St. Paul lies in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul, Rome. He was canonized on June 29, 1867.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A heart steadfast and unconquered

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out;
give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God,
understanding to know you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Sts. Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions

The first missionaries to North America arrived in 1608 in Acadia, Nova Scotia. They were the Jesuits Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé, who began work among the Souriquois Indians. This phase of the work of preaching the Gospel was brought to a standstill in 1613 as a result of an English raid.

After things had settled down, the indefatigable Governor of New France, Samuel Champlain, continuously asked for missionaries from France. At his request, several Franciscans came in 1615. These labored heroically, but in need of additional help, appealed to the Jesuits. In 1625 three Jesuits landed in Quebec: Jean de  Brébeuf, Charles Lalemant and Ennemond Massé returning from France.

Others joined the missions including: Antoine Daniel, Isaac Jogues, Charles Garnier, Noël Chabanel, René Goupil, Jean de Lalande, and Gabriel Lalemant.

By the late 1640's, after years of heroic perseverance, oftentimes in appalling circumstances, the Jesuits were making a considerable number of conversions mostly among the Hurons. The Iroquois, deadly enemies of the Hurons, considered the missionaries targets, and indeed massacred the seven mentioned above and also Jean de Brébeuf. Some of them were tortured beyond belief before being tomahawked, beheaded or having their still-beating hearts wrenched from their chests. Having survived the first round of tortures, Fr. Isaac Jogues had returned to France maimed, but he chose to rejoin the missions and finally met his death by martyrdom like his companions.

Canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, the martyrs are, collectively, the secondary patrons of Canada. Sts. René Goupil, Isaac Jogues and Jean de Lalande are considered the first U.S. saints because they were martyred in upstate New York.