Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The unfailing power which God has given us

Have confidence in prayer.
It is the unfailing power which God has given us.
By means of it you will obtain the salvation of
the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones.
Ask and you shall receive,” Our Lord said.
Be yourself with the good Lord.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Januarius of Benevento

Very little is known about these holy martyrs other than they were killed during the Diocletian persecution. Legend has it they threw Januarius onto a flaming furnace, but he was unscathed. Instead, they stretched him on a bench and beat him until his bones were exposed. When the saint still lived, they threw him and his companions to starving wild animals in the amphitheatre, but the animals would not touch them. Finally, the martyrs were beheaded and died around the year 304.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to make the angels jealous

If angels could be jealous of men,
they would be so for one reason:
Holy Communion.

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 
As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.
During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.
She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.”
Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men.
After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”
A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul.
 By Catherine Ferdinand

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Joseph was born in 1603 in the small village of Cupertino, Italy, to very poor parents. After his father died, his mother spared him no love and considered him a burden. She would often abuse Joseph, which caused him to become slow and absentminded. He was forgetful, and wandered around the village with his mouth open, causing him to become nicknamed “Boccaperta,” or “the gaper.”

When he was seventeen, Joseph went out in search of a job. However, the abuse he suffered as a child caused him to lack self discipline, and he never lasted long. The first two times he tried to enter religious life, he was turned away, but the third time, the Conventual Franciscans of Grottella accepted him as a stable boy. Joseph came closer to Christ, and often did extreme fasting and acts of mortification. He was ordained in 1628 after a five-year struggle with his priestly studies.

During the seventeen years Joseph remained at Grottella, God worked many amazing miracles through him. Over seventy times, people saw him rise from the ground while saying Mass or praying and he often went into ecstasy and would be completely rapt up in talking with God. Joseph became so famous for these miracles that he was often followed by large crowds of people and had to be kept hidden.

From 1653 until his death, Joseph was placed in complete seclusion from the outside world, restricted from writing letters and receiving visitors. Though he was isolated from humanity, he became even more loved of God: his supernatural manifestations had begun to occur daily, and his seclusion left him free of distraction to pray.

Joseph fell ill and died in 1663. He was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1776.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

If you have this, you will not be damned

 Charity is that with which
no man is lost, and
without which
no man is saved.

St. Robert Bellarmine

Sept. 17 -- The Stigmata of Saint Francis

The Stigmatization of Saint Francis, by Rubens
Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to “that rugged rock ‘twixt Tiber and Arno”, as Dante called La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the full meaning of the Passion so deeply entered.
It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) while praying on the mountainside, that he beheld the marvelous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says an early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart.
Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint’s autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear and simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than many another historical fact.
The saint’s right side is described as bearing on open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward. After the reception of the stigmata, Francis suffered increasing pains throughout his frail body, already broken by continual mortification. For, condescending as the saint always was to the weaknesses of others, he was ever so unsparing towards himself that at the last he felt constrained to ask pardon of “Brother Ass”, as he called his body, for having treated it so harshly.
Worn out, moreover, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind.
During an access of anguish, Francis paid a last visit to St. Clare at St. Damian’s, and it was in a little hut of reeds, made for him in the garden there, that the saint composed that “Canticle of the Sun”, in which his poetic genius expands itself so gloriously. This was in September, 1225.

St. Robert Bellarmine

Roberto Bellarmino was born into impoverished Tuscan nobility at Montepulciano on October 4, 1542. He was the third of ten children born to Vincenzo Bellarmino and Cinthia Cervini, a sister of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who later became Pope Marcellus II. Educated at the Jesuit College in Montepulciano, he entered the Society of Jesus at the age of eighteen. After studying philosophy at the Roman College, he taught first at Florence and then at Mondovi. He began his theological studies in Padua in 1567, but was sent to Louvain two years later in order that he might obtain a fuller acquaintance with the heretical teachings of the time.

Bellarmine was ordained a priest in Flanders and quickly obtained a reputation both as a professor and a preacher, attracting Catholics and Protestants alike by his sermons. In 1576 he was recalled to Italy, and entrusted with the chair of Controversies recently founded at the Roman College. He proved himself equal to the arduous task, and the lectures he delivered were later compiled into his most renowned work, “De Controversiis” - Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Bellarmine's monumental work was the earliest attempt to systematize the various controversies of the time, and made an immense impression throughout Europe. It dealt such a blow to Protestantism in Germany and England that special university chairs were founded in order to provide replies to it. Theodore of Blaise, an important Protestant leader who succeeded Calvin, acknowledged that “This is the work that defeated us.” So numerous were the conversions wrought by it that Queen Elizabeth I of England decreed that anyone who was not a doctor in theology was forbidden to read Bellarmine’s writings under penalty of death. To the present day, it remains an uncontested standard of orthodoxy that has yet to be superseded. In recognition of this, Benedict XV gave Bellarmine the title of “Hammer of Heresies” in 1921.

In 1588 Bellarmine was made Spiritual Father to the Roman College, but in 1590 he went with Cardinal Gaetano as theologian to the embassy Sixtus V was then sending into France to protect the interests of the Church amidst the troubles of the civil wars. While in France news reached him that Sixtus, who had warmly accepted the dedication of his “De Controversiis”, was now proposing to put its first volume on the Index. This was because he had discovered that it assigned to the Holy See not a direct but only an indirect power over temporal authorities. Bellarmine, whose loyalty to the Holy See was intense, took this greatly to heart; it was, however, averted by the death of Sixtus, and the new pope, Gregory XIV, even granted to Bellarmine’s work the distinction of a special approbation. Gaetano’s mission now terminating, Bellarmine resumed his work as Spiritual Father, and had the consolation of guiding the last years of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who died in the Roman College in 1591. Many years later he had the further consolation of successfully promoting the beatification of the saintly youth. It was also at this time that he sat on the final commission for the revision of the Vulgate translation of the Holy Scriptures.

In 1592 Bellarmine was made Rector of the Roman College, and in 1595 Provincial of Naples. In 1597 Clement VIII recalled him to Rome and made him his own theologian as well as Examiner of Bishops and Consultor of the Holy Office. “The Church of God has not his equal in learning,” he stated when making him a Cardinal in 1599. Bellarmine’s appointment as Cardinal Inquisitor soon followed. In 1602 Bellarmine was appointed as the Archbishop of Capua and consecrated by Pope Clement VIII himself, an honor usually accorded as a mark of special regard.

Three years later, Clement VIII died, and was succeeded by Leo XI who reigned only twenty-six days, and then by Paul V. In both conclaves, especially that latter, the name of Bellarmine was much before the electors, greatly to his own distress. The new pope insisted on keeping him at Rome, and the cardinal, obediently complying, demanded that at least he should be released from an episcopal charge the duties of which he could no longer fulfill. He was now made a member of the Holy Office and of other congregations, and thenceforth was the chief advisor of the Holy See in the theological department of its administration.

Bellarmine became one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation and the period will be forever marked by his method of confronting heresy: he understood that one cannot do away with a heresy by only preaching the truth; it was also necessary to attack and smash the error. By this method he converted heretics, bringing them back into union with the Church. The profound spiritual treatises that emanated from his pen earned for him the title of Doctor of the Church. But while he was a champion of orthodoxy and a brilliant polemicist, Bellarmine was also a man of capable of dealing with the most sensitive souls guiding them to sanctity as he did with St. Louis Gonzaga. This prodigious apostolate could only spring from a great calmness of spirit and deep interior life.

His death in the summer of 1621 was most edifying and a fitting end to a life which had been no less remarkable for its virtues than for its tremendous achievements. Accordingly, there was a general expectation amongst those who knew him intimately that his cause would be promptly introduced and swiftly concluded. However, reality proved to be otherwise. Although he was declared Venerable in 1627, technical obstacles arose in regards to the beatification process, delaying the progress of his cause for 300 years. Bellarmine was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930 and declared a Doctor of the Church and patron saint of catechists the following year.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The best prayer

We do not have to talk very much
in order to pray well.
We know that God is there in His holy tabernacle;
let us open our hearts to Him; let us rejoice in His Presence.
This is the best prayer.

St. John Vianney

Pope St. Cornelius

Cornelius was elected to the papal dignity during a time in which both the Church and civil society were in great turmoil. About the year 250, Rome was ruled by the Emperor Decius, who savagely persecuted Christians. He ordered all Christians to deny Christ by offering incense to idols or through some other pagan ritual. Many Christians refused and were martyred, among them St. Fabian, the Pope, while others burnt the sacrificial incense in order to save their own lives. In hopes that Christianity would fade away, Decius prevented the election of a new pope. However, he was soon compelled to leave Rome to fight the invading Goths and, in his absence, the papal election was held.

By 251, the Church had endured fourteen months without a pope when Cornelius was elected, much against his will. After the persecution, the Church became divided in two. One side, led by the Roman priest Novatian, believed that those who had stopped practicing Christianity during the persecution could not be accepted back into the Church even if they repented. Under this philosophy, the only way to re-enter the Church would be re-baptism. The opposing side, headed by Pope Cornelius, did not believe in the need for re-baptism. Instead, he believed the sinners should only need to show contrition and perform penance to be welcomed back into the Church. Novatian resisted Cornelius and declared himself Pope – thus becoming History's first antipope.

Later, during that same year, a synod of western bishops supported Cornelius, condemned the teachings of Novatian, and excommunicated him and his followers. When another persecution began in 253 under Emperor Gallus, Pope Cornelius was first exiled and then died as a martyr.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our Lady of Sorrows

About this day, Abbot Prosper Guéranger comments how the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom God predestined to be the Mother of His Son, was united in her person to the life, mysteries and suffering of Jesus, so that she might be a faithful cooperator in the work of Redemption.

He notes that God must consider suffering to be a great good since He gave so much suffering to His Son, Whom He loved so much. And since, after His Son, God loved Our Lady more than any other creature, He also wanted to give her suffering as the richest of all presents.

On the solemnity of this feast, we primarily remember Mary on Calvary where she suffered the supreme sorrow of all sorrows that filled her life. Indeed, so great was Mary's grief on Calvary that, had it been divided among all creatures capable of suffering, it would have caused them all to die instantly.

If the Church limits the number of sorrows to seven, it is because this number has always symbolized the idea of totality and universality. To understand the extent and suffering of Our Lady, one must know the extent of her love for Jesus. Her love as Mother of God only augmented her suffering. In fact, nature and grace came together to produce profound impressions on the heart of Mary. Nothing is stronger and more pressing than the love that nature gives a mother for her son or that grace gives for God.

These considerations help us understand the role of suffering in our lives.

We see we are not alone in our suffering. In fact, the immensity of the crosses suffered by Our Lady was so great that we might also say she suffered not seven, but all sorrows. She is Our Lady of All Sorrows since no one suffered more.

While it is true that all generations will call her "blessed," to a lesser but immensely real degree, all generations may also call her "sorrowful."

Thus, we need to understand better that when sorrow enters our lives, it is a proof of God's love. And when we are not visited with sorrow, we do not have all the proofs of God's love for us. It is in sorrow that our mettle is tested. Moreover, one finds a note of maturity, stability and rationality in those who suffer and who suffer much. And so we should understand that when adversity, difficulties, misunderstandings, bad health and conflicts visit us, we must not see them as things that should never happen. To suffer is normal in this vale of tears.

If she, whom God loves so much, suffered, how much more should we suffer. The one who is loved by God and Our Lady suffers because God will not refuse to give him that which He gave abundantly to the two whom He loved most: Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady.

Thus, we must see temptations, trials, stress and so many other sufferings as something normal in life. We must ask that sufferings pass but when they persist, we must bless God and Our Lady.
Photos by: Mflito

They give us joy

We grow weary of sense goods
when we possess them.
Not so of spiritual goods.
They do not diminish, they cannot be harmed,
they give us a joy that is ever new.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What is the life of the soul?

The life of the body
is the soul;
the life of the soul
is God.

St. Anthony of Padua

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

With great clarity the Gospels show us how much our Divine Savior in His mercy pities our pains of body and soul. We need only to recall the awesome miracles He performed in His omnipotence in order to mitigate these pains. But let us never make the mistake of imagining that this combat against pain and sorrow was the greatest gift He dispensed to mankind.

For the one who closes his eyes to the central fact of Our Lord's life — that He is our Redeemer and desired to endure the cruelest sufferings in order to redeem us — would have misunderstood His mission.

Even at the very apex of His Passion, Our Lord could have put an end to all those pains instantly by a mere act of His Divine will. From the very first moment of His Passion to the very last, Our Savior could have ordered His wounds to heal, His precious blood to stop pouring forth, and the effects of the blows on His Divine body to disappear without a scar. Finally, He could have given Himself a brilliant and jubilant victory, abruptly halting the persecution that was dragging Him to death.

But Our Lord Jesus Christ willed none of this. On the contrary, He willed to allow Himself to be led up the Via Dolorosa to the height of Golgotha: He willed to see His most holy Mother engulfed in the depths of sorrow. And, finally, He willed to cry out those piercing words "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46), which will echo down through the ages until the consummation of the world.

In considering these realities, we come to understand a profound truth. By granting each of us the grace to be called to suffer a portion of His Passion with Him, He made clear the unequaled role of the Cross in the lives of men, in the history of the world, and in His glorification. Let us not think that by inviting us to suffer the pains and sorrows of the present life, He thereby wished to dispense each of us from pronouncing our own "consummatum est" at the hour of our death.

If we do not understand the role of the Cross, if we do not love the Cross, if we do not live our own Via Crucis, we will not fulfill Providence's design for us. And at our death, we will not be able to make ours the sublime exclamation of St. Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up to me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day." (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Any quality, however exalted, will avail nothing unless it is founded on love of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With this love we can obtain all, even if we find heavy the holy burden of purity and other virtues, the unceasing attacks and mockeries of the enemies of the Faith, and the betrayals of false friends.

The great foundation, indeed the greatest foundation, of Christian civilization is that each and every person cultivates a generous love for the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Mary help us to accomplish this. Then we shall have reconquered for her Divine Son the reign of God that today flickers so faintly in the hearts of men.
Photo by: GFreihalter

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Demons and souls in human form

The vision of hell as described by Lucia dos Santos:

Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth.
Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers,
all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised
into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke,
now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and
amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.
The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to
frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.

St. John Chrysostom

John – later surnamed Chrysostomos, meaning “golden-mouthed” so called on account of his eloquence – was born in Antioch in Syria around 347. Raised by his widowed mother, he studied under Libanius, a famous orator of the period.

In 374, he joined a community of hermits in the mountains south of Antioch. After four years under the direction of a Syrian monk, he left them, and for the next two years he lived as an anchorite in a cave. The conditions of his crude abode and the severity of his mortifications caused him to become dangerously ill, and he was obliged to return to Antioch in 381. John was ordained a deacon that same year and for twelve years afterwards he served as a deputy to Bishop Flavian.

Upon the death of Nectarius, Archbishop of Constantinople, John was selected for that see by Emperor Arcadius. In this position, Chrysostom did away with many expenses which some of his predecessors had considered necessary to the maintenance of their dignity and devoted the money saved thereby to the relief of the poor and the support of hospitals for the sick and infirm. He also undertook the reformation of the clergy of his diocese by means of zealous exhortations and disciplinary actions which, though very necessary, were somewhat tactless in their severity. John added effect and force to these endeavors, by conducting himself as an exemplary model of what he desired so ardently to impress upon others.

Chrysostom was banished from Constantinople in 403 after he delivered too zealous a sermon against immodesty and vanity. The Empress Eudoxia took his words as a direct insult against herself. His exile was of short duration however, because a slight earthquake that shook the city was taken as a terrifying sign by the superstitious lady. Shortly afterwards he was again banished for preaching against the disorder, impropriety, and superstition occasioned by the public games commemorating the raising of a silver statue of Eudoxia in front of the great church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom. He was exiled to a remote place called Cucusus in the Taurus Mountains of Armenia, where he suffered greatly from the heat, fatigue, and the cruelty and brutality of his guards. The local bishop, however, vied with his people in showing the aging patriarch every mark of kindness and respect.

When a council was called by Pope Innocent and the Emperor Honorius to restore him to his see, Chrysostom’s enemies instead imprisoned the appointed papal legates, and sent him into further exile in Pityus at the eastern end of the Black Sea. He suffered intensely from his forced travel in the scorching heat and wet weather. When he and his escorts reached the Church of St. Basiliscus in Comana in Cappadocia, the clergy there, seeing he was close to death, took him in, changed him into white garments and administered Extreme Unction to him. He died the next day, September 14, 407, with the words "Glory to God in all things" on his lips.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What Our Lady Said at Fatima on September 13, 1917



A crowd estimated at 20,000 observed atmospheric phenomena similar to those of the previous apparitions: the sudden cooling of the air, a dimming of the sun to the point where the stars could be seen, and a rain resembling iridescent petals or snowflakes that disappeared before touching the ground.
This time, a luminous globe was noticed which moved slowly and majestically through the sky from east to west and, at the end of the apparition, in the opposite direction. The seers saw a light, and, immediately following this, they saw Our Lady over the holm oak. 

 


Our Lady: Continue to pray the Rosary to obtain the end of the war. In October, Our Lord will also come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus, to bless the world. God is pleased with your sacrifices, but He does not want you to sleep with the ropes; wear them only during the day. (The children were wearing ropes around their waists as a sacrifice for sinners.)
Lucia: They have requested me to ask you for many things, for the cure of some sick persons, of a deaf-mute.
Our Lady: Yes, I will cure some, others not. In October, I will perform a miracle for all to believe.
And rising, she disappeared in the same manner as before.




Read:  Sixth Apparition

Most Holy Name of Mary

“God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the sea – mare. He gathered all his graces together and called them Mary – Maria,” writes the great Marian apostle St. Louis Marie de Montfort in his renowned work, Treatise on True Devotion to Mary.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary was first celebrated in Spain in 1513. Granted by Pope Julius II to the diocese of Cuenta in Spain, it was assigned the date of September 15, the octave day of Our Lady's Nativity, on the papal calendar. The feast was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples In 1671.

In 1683, Vienna was besieged by Turkish invaders. Jan Sobieski, the devout King of Poland, came to the assistance of Vienna with an army that was vastly outnumbered by that of Mustapha. Early on the morning of September 12, having himself served at Holy Mass, the King entrusted himself and his army to the Virgin Mary, imploring her blessing upon himself and his troops and her assistance in the upcoming conflict. Then rising from his knees, the "Northern Lion," as he was called by the Turks, said aloud: “Let us now march to the enemy with an entire confidence in the protection of heaven, under the assured patronage of the Blessed Virgin.” And charging upon the enemy camp, they defeated and routed the Muslims completely. The Turkish forces were overwhelmed and Vienna was saved under the banner of Mary Most Holy.

In a letter to Pope Innocent XI announcing the victory of the Christian army over the Muslims at the gates of Vienna, King Jan SobieskI immediately attributed the victory to God and not to his own efforts, and paraphrased the words of Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” – "I came, I saw, God conquered!" In commemoration of this glorious victory over the Muslims, and in thanksgiving to God and honor to Our Lady for Their aid, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast of the Holy Name of Mary to the Universal Church that same year.

Although the feast was originally celebrated on September 15, in 1911 Pope St. Pius X decreed that it be celebrated on September 12.

Mary is the star...

“And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:27).
Let us also say a few words about this name, which means “star of the sea” and is most
suitably fitting for a virgin mother. For she is most appropriately compared to a star, because,
just as a star emits its rays without being corrupted, so the Virgin
gave birth to her Son without any injury to her virginity. When the star emits its rays,
this does not make it less bright, and neither does the Son diminish his Mother’s virginal integrity.
She, therefore, is that noble star risen from Jacob, whose ray gives light to the whole world,
whose brightness both shines forth in the heavens and penetrates the depths.
It lights up the earth and warms the spirit more than the body; it fosters virtues and dries up vices.
Mary, I say, is the distinguished and bright shining star, necessarily lifted up above this great broad sea,
gleaming with merits, giving light by her example.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Monday, September 11, 2017

How to govern the world

A man who governs his passions
is master of his world.
We must either command them or
be enslaved by them.
It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.

St. Dominic de Guzman

St. Paphnutius

After spending many years in the desert under the direction of St. Anthony, Paphnutius, the holy confessor of Egypt, was made a bishop. Paphnutius suffered persecution under the rule of Emperor Maximinus, which is said to have been the bloodiest persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire. After his right eye was gouged out, and his left knee hamstrung and mutilated, the bishop was condemned to work in the mines for refusing to comply with traditional Roman religious practices.

When the persecutions ended about the year 313, Paphnutius returned to his priestly duties, bearing forever the evidence of his sufferings. He was most ardent in defending the Catholic faith against the Arian heresy. As one who had confessed the Faith before persecutors and under torments, he was an outstanding figure of the first General Council of the Church, held at Nicaea in the year 325. He died about 350.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Rosary Saves Man’s Life on September 11

A man from New York who had fallen away from the Catholic Church and not gone to confession in years was met at a Fatima Home Visit presentation given by Custodian, Jose Ferraz.  
After the visit, the New Yorker took home a Rosary and Rosary Guide and started praying it and going to the sacraments again. Months later, on September 11, 2001, he was in the World Trade Center at the very moment when the terrorist attack took place. 
Seeing the fireball and smoke from the crash, the man fled his office and tried running down the stairs to safety. However, he met a big obstacle. The fire doors had locked and he was trapped in the stairwell, listening to the screams of burning people who were still inside the building, unable to escape death.
It was awful—horrific. Any attempt to pry open the fire doors with bare hands would be futile.
With Our Lady’s help, instead of panicking, he felt calm. He grabbed his Rosary and started praying to the Blessed Mother for help.  And within minutes, firemen reached his floor, broke down the fire doors and set him free. He ran downstairs to safety, his prayers answered thanks to the power of the Most Holy Rosary.



Click Here to: Request a Fatima Home Visit

What is the first step downward?

No soul ever fell away from God without giving up prayer.
Prayer is that which establishes contact with Divine Power and opens
the invisible resources of heaven.
However dark the way, when we pray, temptation can never master us.
The first step downward in the average soul is the giving up of the practice of prayer,
the breaking of the circuit with divinity,
and the proclamation of one’s owns self sufficiency.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Nicholas of Tolentino

In the small Italian town of Sant’ Angelo, a couple prayed for a child at the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari. They prayed for a son and promised to dedicate him to God if their prayers were answered. In the Spring of 1245, Nicholas was born.

When he was still very young, Nicholas received the minor orders of the secular clergy in fulfillment of his parents' holy promise. However, he wished to dedicate more time and energy to God’s work, and in the year 1264 he was accepted by the Augustinian Friars. By 1270, he had been ordained a priest. He soon became renowned for his generosity and the miraculous cure of a blind woman. He performed his priestly duties in many different houses of the Order. Once, thinking to remain at a monastery near Fermo, he heard a voice calling to him whilst he was praying: “To Tolentino, to Tolentino. Persevere there.” Without hesitation, Nicholas left for Tolentino.

He spent the remaining thirty years of his life preaching on the streets of Tolentino, converting criminals, comforting the dying and caring for the sick – sometimes miraculously curing them. He died in 1305 after a year-long illness. Petitions for his canonization began immediately. Pope Eugene IV canonized him in 1446, and his relics were rediscovered in 1926 at Tolentino.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Helpful tip to reach perfection

Man’s salvation and perfection
consists of doing the will of God
which he must have in view in all things,
and at every moment of his life.

St. Peter Claver

St. Peter Claver

Peter was born in 1581 in Catalonia in Spain. He joined the Society of Jesus when he was twenty, and was sent to further his studies at the college of Montesione in Majorca. There he met St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, who predicted Peter would go to the West Indies and save souls. At his request, in 1610 he was sent to the South-American port city of Cartagena in modern-day Colombia, to complete his theological studies, and was there ordained to the priesthood in 1615.

At the time, Cartagena was the main slave market of the New World. Africans by the thousands were being shipped in from the Congo and Angola and it was estimated that one third of them died in transit due to their harsh treatment and the foul conditions of the voyage. Other Jesuits had been working among them prior to Peter’s arrival in 1610, but whereas they visited the slaves where they worked, Peter met them at the wharf. Most often he boarded the slave ships before they even docked, going down into their filthy and disease-ridden holds to treat the terror-stricken human cargo. Infants and the dying, he would baptize immediately; to the others he offered food, clothing and medical assistance; with the help of interpreters, he taught them about the sacraments and how to pray, educating them in the Catholic faith before baptizing them. In the course of forty years, Peter instructed and baptized over 300,000 slaves.

When making his solemn profession as a Jesuit religious in 1622, Peter signed the document in Latin as was the custom, and added the phrase, “aethiopum semper servus” – servant of the Ethiopians (i.e. the Africans ) – after his name, thereby making his total dedication to them official in the eyes of God as well as in fact. His missionary zeal and dedication embraced every form of misery. There were two hospitals in Cartagena at the time, one housed general patients and the other lepers and those suffering from St. Anthony’s Fire, an illness that produced infected boils, seizures and spasms, diarrhea, parenthesis, itching, mania, nausea and vomiting. He became renowned for his miracles, and converted many with his kind and caring ways.

Peter spent himself unstintingly and truly became the Apostle of Cartagena. In 1650 he fell gravely ill, and four years later on September 8, the birthday of Our Lady, he died, the last years of his life spent in his cell because his body never fully recovered from illness. He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and declared patron of all missionary work among the Africans by the same pope in 1896.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Today, sorrow turns into joy

The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God
is a day of universal joy,
because through the Mother of God,
the entire human race was renewed,
and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve,
was transformed into joy.

St. John Damascene

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Many days passed before Almighty God finally completed the masterpiece of His creation. For nine months, the soul of Mary had given form to her virginal body, and the hour, the moment, of her joyful birth approached. As the suffocating Palestinian summer neared its end, the mellowing sun poured abundant torrents of golden light on the opulent plain of Samaria, ripening the rich orchards of autumn fruit. On a magnificent September day, with nature adorned in radiant beauty, the most Holy Virgin came into the world in the white-walled city of Nazareth.

She was probably born in the same house where the great mystery of the Incarnation later took place and where Jesus spent most of His childhood and youth in work and prayer. The angels did not acclaim the coming of the glorious Queen with hymns of joy as they later did the birth of the Savior. Invisible to the eyes of mortal men, the angels considered it an honor to mount guard around the humble crib over which Saints Joachim and Anne lovingly watched. The prophecy of Isaiah had come to pass. The root of Jesse, ten centuries removed, had sprouted a new branch. On this same branch in but a few years more would blossom the eternal Flower, the Incarnate Word.

The day the Queen of Heaven was born ranks as one of the most beautiful in history since it announced to condemned mankind the long-awaited time of liberation. The birth of Mary begins the work of Redemption. In her crib, the mother of the Savior illuminates the desolate earth with the grace of her first smiles. Jesus will soon appear and, with His Precious Blood, will erase the sentence of our condemnation. The world which has suffered so much from the ravages of sin will finally delight in the joy of liberty and peace. Slavery will everywhere be abolished, and human dignity will henceforth be respected. Like a flowing stream, graces will spring forth in abundance from the sacraments. We have but to approach and draw from them — without limit — pardon, courage, and life everlasting.

The God who hid in Paradise will descend to earth and never abandon mankind. After His Ascension, Our Lord will remain among us under the Eucharistic veil until the end of time. Christ will visibly reign over the glorious souls of the resurrected elect. Such are the great joys the birth of Mary announces. “Thy nativity, O Virgin Mother of God has announced joy to the whole world.”

According to certain traditions, no one in the small town of Nazareth where Saints Joachim and Anne lived paid heed to the new arrival. Although the blood of King David flowed in her veins, her family had fallen from its ancient splendor. Who noticed these impoverished people?

Anne and Joachim had been childless for many years, but the Lord had at last answered their prayers. They saw their daughter Mary as the measure of His celestial goodness to them. Little did they suspect, however, the veritable treasures the Most High had instilled in the soul of their child. They could not have imagined the wonder of her Immaculate Conception. They did not realize that the Mother of the Redeemer now lay in their loving arms.

The Jews of the time were plunged in discouragement. The voice of the prophets had not been heard for years. Having lost their political freedom, they believed Divine Providence had abandoned them.

It was then that the hidden work of infinite Mercy began to be accomplished in their midst.

If only the obscurity of Our Lady’s birth would teach us to make little of human greatness! Let us keep a Christian perspective of indifference toward the fleeting vanities that Christ Himself shunned in His Mother’s birth. Were these important, surely He would not have refused them to His mother.

This great mystery also teaches us never to lose heart. The Immaculate Mother came into the world at a time when the Jews had lost hope. Indeed, they thought all was lost. Let us reap the benefit of this lesson. We often become discouraged when, calling on heaven to assist us, our request is not immediately granted. Sometimes God waits until we are on the brink of the abyss before extending His hand of mercy. So, let us not become discouraged and cease praying! The Almighty will intervene at the very moment when we believe ourselves completely abandoned. If we have confidence — an unlimited supply of confidence — we will be greatly rewarded!
First Photo by: Ralph Hammann

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.
Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.
One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.
But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:
“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”
No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:
“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”
No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed.
Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful.
St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Rosary, the Devil and the Queen

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.
Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.
One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.
But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:
“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”
No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:
“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”
No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed.
Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful.
St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”

Far more dangerous than any external enemies

 Our own evil inclinations
are far more dangerous
than any external enemies.

St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Clodoald of Nogent

After the death of the Frankish king in 511, his realm was divided among his four sons. Born in 524, Clodoald was the youngest son of Clodomire, second son of the king. When Clodomire died in battle, leaving his section of the kingdom to his own three sons, the princes were sent to Paris to live with their grandmother, St. Clotilda.

Until Clodoald and his brothers were of age, their portion of the kingdom was supervised by their uncle, Childbert. However, he was greedy and wanted the kingdom for himself, and he decided to have his nephews killed.

His two brothers, Theodoald and Gunther, were murdered, but Clodoald escaped to a monastery in Provence. In due course, the prince placed himself under the discipline of St. Severinus and lived as a hermit, never attempting to reclaim his kingdom. Instead, until his death in 560, Clodoald relentlessly evangelized the people of Nogent in which vicinity he had established a monastery.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stories of Mary 18: Drugs, Children, and the Rosary

September 8 is a most happy and joyous day!
For that day was born to us the Mother of God;
and so a special two-article entry for you:
for meditation; for edification.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
A Meditation for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary

Prelude To The Nativity of the Virgin Mary
Many days passed before God finally completed the masterpiece of His creation. For nine months, the soul of Mary had given form to her virginal body, and the hour of her happy birth approached.
As the suffocating Palestinian summer neared its end, the mellowing sun poured abundant torrents of golden light on the opulent plain of Samaria, ripening the rich orchards of autumn fruit. On a magnificent September day, with nature adorned in radiant beauty, the most Holy Virgin came into the world in the white-walled city of Nazareth.
She was probably born in the same house where the great mystery of the Incarnation later took place and where Jesus spent most of His childhood and youth in work and prayer. The angels did not acclaim the coming of the glorious Queen with hymns of joy as they later did the birth of the Savior. Invisible to the eyes of mortal men, the angels considered it an honor to mount guard around the humble crib over which Saints Joachim and Anne lovingly watched.
The prophecy of Isaias had come to pass. The root of Jesse, ten centuries removed, had sprouted a new branch. On this same branch in but a few years more would blossom the eternal Flower, the Incarnate Word.
Her divine Son would soon appear representing a new dawn of hope upon a world plunged for four thousand years into the darkness of pain and death.

The day the Queen of Heaven was born…
…ranks as one of the most beautiful in history since it announced to condemned mankind the long-awaited time of liberation. In commemorating this great event, the Church bursts forth in its enthusiasm: “Thy nativity, O Virgin Mother of God,” sings the Church in its liturgy, “has announced joy to the whole world”—Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo, gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo.9
Indeed, we seem to forget in what horrible distress the world lay prostrate before the coming of Christ.
The sin of our first parents had borne the fruit of death. Until the coming of the Savior, the curse of the Almighty lay heavily upon sinful humanity. Adam had eaten of the forbidden fruit in the wild hope of becoming like God. With terrible irony, God stripped him of his magnificent privileges and reduced him to extreme misery.
As a consequence of sin, the ancient world was founded upon oppression of the weak and disregard for human dignity. The greater part of mankind was subject to the torments of slavery. Even Rome, the proud bearer of civilization, considered the multitude of its slaves as but an immense herd destined for slaughter.
Indeed, masters had the power to send their slaves to their deaths solely to amuse themselves. The refined patricians of the Imperial City would sometimes use these poor souls as fodder for the salt-water eels they raised. Nothing satisfied their gluttony more than these delicious marine eels, fattened on human blood.
The distress of souls was even more acute. Adam had supposed that he could do without God. He unappreciatively spurned his Sovereign Benefactor. God, in return, withdrew from His creature.
He did not abandon mankind altogether, however, but spoke to him at rare intervals, announcing the future coming of a virgin who would crush the head of the serpent under her immaculate heel. He raised up prophets from among the people, yet He hid Himself within His inaccessible light.
Moreover, the Lord had not allowed the source of grace to cease entirely. He did not refuse His pardon to the repentant sinner, granting it under the sole condition of a perfect contrition. Even so, amid the temptations of the flesh and deprived of the abundant spiritual help now available to us, the weakest souls fell by the thousands into the infernal pit.
The birth of Mary begins the work of Redemption
Poor men of ancient times! They keenly sensed their weakness and vulnerability, and they searched in intense anguish for some way to gain supernatural assistance in their necessity.
God, a spiritual Being, escapes man’s rude senses, so men made idols in which to place their utmost hope. Alas, these statues were deaf and did not hear the heartrending cries arising from forty centuries of distress.
Yet, this terrible nightmare wherein mankind struggles dissipates like a dense nocturnal fog before the sweet morning light. The quadrant of eternity marks the hour of its infinite mercy. The birth of Mary begins the work of Redemption. In her crib, the mother of the Savior illuminates the desolate earth with the grace of her first smiles.
Jesus will soon appear and, with His precious blood, will erase the sentence of our condemnation. The world which has suffered so, will finally delight in the joy of liberty and peace. Slavery will everywhere be abolished, and human dignity will henceforth be respected. Like a flowing stream, graces will spring forth in abundance from the sacraments. We have but to approach and draw from them—without limit—pardon, courage, and life everlasting.
The God who hid in Paradise will descend to earth and never abandon mankind. After His Ascension, Our Lord will remain among us under the Eucharistic veil until the end of time, when the Real Presence will leave the destroyed tabernacles. Christ will then visibly reign over the glorious souls of the resurrected elect.
Such are the great joys the birth of Mary announces. “Thy nativity, O Virgin Mother of God has announced joy to the whole world.”
The birth of the Blessed Virgin was, then, one of the foremost events of history. Let us now examine how the birth was received and draw lessons from this meditation that will benefit our interior lives.

How the birth was received in heaven…
The holy Fathers of the Church express the impact of the birth of the Immaculate Virgin on the invisible world by describing the heavens overwhelmed with wondrous admiration. The angels were at a loss to find adequate praises for acclaiming the adorable Trinity for having created her who was the beloved Daughter of the Father, and who would become the Mother of the Word Incarnate and the Spouse of the Holy Ghost.
Nor did they weary of admiring the beauties of their queen. The blessed spirits, who rejoice at the conversion of a single soul, rejoiced upon seeing the appearance of the sure Refuge of Sinners. They knew that Mary would one day be the Gate of Heaven who would never refuse entry into the eternal kingdom to those who invoked her with confidence.

…in Limbo
The Fathers also note the immense sigh of relief of the just in limbo, those who had died since the beginnings of the world, as well as the furor of the demons in Hell, who saw the approaching end of their tyrannical reign.

…on Earth
How was the birth of Mary, which delighted heaven and terrified the fallen angels, received on earth?
The birth of Saint John the Baptist several years later was accompanied by miracles that vividly impressed the popular imagination. The inhabitants of Judea asked themselves with admiration: “What will become of this child whose arrival in this world is hailed by so many prodigies? What, then, will this child be?”
The sublime mission of Mary far surpassed that of the Precursor. Yet, nothing extraordinary indicated to the multitudes that she who was promised to sinful man immediately after the fall and whom the prophets had announced throughout the centuries was born. In fact, the Immaculate Virgin was born amid universal indifference.
According to certain traditions, no one in the small town of Nazareth where Saints Joachim and Anne lived paid heed to the new arrival. Although the blood of David flowed in her veins, her family had fallen from its ancient splendor. Who noticed these impoverished people?
Anne and Joachim had been childless for many years, but the Lord had at last answered their prayers. They saw their daughter Mary as the measure of His celestial goodness to them. Little did they suspect, however, the veritable treasures the Most High had instilled in the soul of their child. They could not have imagined the wonder of her Immaculate Conception. They did not realize that the Mother of the Redeemer lay in their loving arms.
The Jews of the time were plunged in discouragement. The voice of the prophets had not been heard for years. Having lost their political freedom, they believed Providence had abandoned them. It was then that the hidden work of infinite Mercy began to be accomplished in their midst.

The Lessons
These facts speak for themselves and teach us an obvious lesson. Would that the obscurity of Our Lady’s birth teach us to make little of human greatness! Let us keep a Christian perspective of indifference toward the fleeting vanities that Christ Himself shunned in His Mother’s birth. Were these important, surely He would not have refused them to His mother.
This great mystery also teaches us never to lose heart. The Immaculate Mother came into the world at a time when the Jews had lost hope. Indeed, they thought all was lost.
Let us reap the benefit of this lesson. We often become discouraged when, calling on heaven to assist us, our request is not immediately granted. Sometimes God waits until we are on the brink of the abyss before extending His hand of mercy. So, let us not become discouraged and cease praying! The Almighty will intervene at the very moment when we believe ourselves completely abandoned. If we have confidence—an unlimited supply of confidence—we will be greatly rewarded!

The heavenly dawn
Saint Thomas of Villanova explained in a sermon that Mary is the heavenly dawn, not only for the world, but especially for each individual soul. He recalled the great truth taught by Catholic tradition that a soul imbued with devotion to the Blessed Virgin carries within it the sign of predestination.
Do you firmly desire to be saved from final damnation? Then faithfully honor Mary. Do you wish to guarantee the salvation of those who are dear to you? Obtain from them the promise that they not fail to recite some prayer to Mary every day.
Catholic Tradition states that a servant of Our Lady cannot perish: Servus Mariae non peribit. He will forever sing the mercy of Jesus and of His holy Mother.
This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from Crusade Magazine, November-December, 1999; a Special Edition dedicated almost entirely to the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of a work by Fr. Raymond de Thomas de Saint-Laurent as a token of reparation for the many blasphemies and insults that are continuously hurled against them.

An Impressive Story of the Rosary: 
Of Drugs, Children, and the Rosary;by ANF member Mr. J.S. – Centennial, CO. March, 20 (2 minute read - Enjoy!)


Back in 1981, I visited a Franciscan convent down in Channing, Texas, and stayed overnight.

I had seven children and three were on drugs. After the nuns retired, I went to their chapel to pray to Our Lord for those of my children on drugs. I don’t know how long I was before the tabernacle and then the thought occurred to me, “Was He even bothering to listen to me because I was just a week-end Catholic?”
Then I saw a light burning before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I went to it, got down, and asked her, “I don’t know if your Son over there was listening to me, but He’ll listen to you. Take off your veil, throw it over Hell and don’t let any of my children fall into it.”
I didn’t see her, but she spoke to me out loud, not just in my heart. She said, “The answer is so simple. Just go before my Son in any church or chapel where He is physically present. Pray my rosary to Him for my intention and if you do this regularly all your children will be okay.”
This happened on the night of Feb. 13, 1981. At that time only one of my children was interested in practicing their Faith. I started back to daily Mass and praying her rosary to Him for her intention at a personal Holy Hour made regularly.
Today, 31 years later, six of my seven children are trying to practice their Faith. All five daughters married in the Catholic Church, no divorce, and one of my two sons is now a priest…and he was the worst of my children growing up.
That is something I can safely say is the power of the rosary said before the Blessed Sacrament.


This Story of the Rosary is a true story from Letters to ANF.

What the devil does when a man dies in the state of mortal sin

We should all realize that,
no matter where or how a man dies,
if he is in the state of mortal sin and does not repent, 
when he could have done so and did not,
the Devil tears his soul from his body with such anguish and distress,
that only 
a person who has experienced it can appreciate it.


St. Francis of Assisi

St. Bega

Bega was the daughter of an Irish King. Her father had promised her in marriage to the son of the King of Norway, but Bega had already consecrated her life to Christ by a vow of virginity. A bracelet marked with a cross was given to her by an angel as a token of her sacred promise. The day before her wedding, she escaped with the help of the holy bracelet: it guided her outside to a clod of earth and she was transported across the Irish Sea and safely deposited upon the English coast at Cumbria.

She settled there for some years living in the strictest seclusion in a hut she had built in a grove of trees near the seashore. Finding herself rejected by the people living along the coast, she survived on nourishment miraculously brought to her by seagulls and gannets. In the course of time that coastline became frequented by pirates. Fearing the Viking pirates, not on account of her life or possible mutilation, but on account of her virginity, Bega left the Cumbrian coast and traveled to Northumbria where, on the advice of King Oswald (later St. Oswald), she professed her religious vows. She established a monastery at St. Bees, which later became a cell of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary at York. The people there came to revere her for her goodness and kindness, and she is still venerated in Northumbria and Scotland today.
Photo by: Doug Sim

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What does Jesus wish?

From the day He raised His standard of the Cross,
all must fight and win in Its shadow.
Far more by suffering and persecution
than by eloquent discourses
does Jesus wish to build His Kingdom.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Laurence Giustiniani

Laurence was born of noble parentage in Venice in 1381. His father having died when Laurence was still very young, his mother was left a widow at a very young age indeed. Rejecting any thoughts of remarrying, she resolutely turned her attention to her own sanctification and her young children’s early training in the practice of virtue. In this she was aided by Laurence’s innate attraction to all that pertained to God, an inclination of soul he demonstrated from his most tender years. Devoting herself to her children and to works of charity, fasting, assiduous prayer and her own mortification, the young widow was nevertheless perturbed by the extreme severity with which her son treated his body and the continual application of his mind to the exercises of religion.

In his nineteenth year, she endeavored to divert him from this course by arranging a marriage for him. However, having consulted a reliable spiritual director, prayed earnestly and humbly for light and guidance, and tested his own resolve in the matter, Laurence fled secretly to the monastery of St. George in Alga, on an island situated a mile from Venice. Here, even his superiors in this austere congregation judged it necessary to mitigate the rigor of his penances as Laurence at nineteen easily surpassed all his religious brethren in his fasts and prayerful vigils.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1406, and much against his will, he was chosen general of the Order, which he governed with exemplary prudence and sanctity. The first thing in which he labored to ground his religious brothers was a profound and sincere humility by which the soul places entire confidence in God alone, the only source of the soul’s strength.

In the year 1433 Pope Eugenius IV obliged Laurence to quit his cloister by appointing him to the episcopal see of Venice. His wisdom, goodness and charity drew crowds of people to him and his humility dissolved all forms of contention and disagreement even among the most proud. The salutary affect of his discourses and example worked as effectively among his people as it had in the confines of his cloister with his brethren: he animated the tepid, filled the presumptuous with a holy fear, raised the fearful to confidence, and inflamed the fervor of all.

On one occasion, overcome by admiration for his sanctity, Pope Eugenius IV saluted Laurence as “the ornament of bishops.” His successor, Nicholas V, in consideration of his sanctity and virtue, transferred the patriarchal dignity from the see of Grado to that of Venice in 1451, making Laurence the first Patriarch of Venice. Notwithstanding the dignity this would confer upon the commonwealth of Venice, the Venetian Senate contested it, only embracing it after the bishop personally pleaded with the senators to reject the honor, attesting his willingness to put aside the weight of the office he had carried unworthily for eighteen years rather than to feel his burden increased by the additional dignity. His pure humility and charity so strongly affected the whole senate that the Doge himself was not able to refrain from tears, and he entreated Laurence to desist from raising any obstacle to the pope’s decree. The installation of the new patriarch was subsequently celebrated with great joy by the entire city.

Laurence died in 1455 at the age of seventy-four. Before his death, he personally gave blessings to all those who had come to visit him in his illness. Canonized in 1690, St. Laurence is also revered for his great works on mystical contemplation.

Monday, September 4, 2017

How to not fear death

I die with joy,
for I desire to be united to my God.
Live so as not to fear death.
For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening,
but sweet and precious.

St. Rose of Viterbo

St. Rose of Viterbo

Born in 1235 at Viterbo in the domains of the Papal States, Rose was gifted with a profound spirituality even as a young child. Endowed by God with the gift of miracles, at the age of three she raised her maternal aunt to life. Her great love for the poor compelled her to assist them in every possible way. From her earliest years she gave herself over to prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners and at seven she retired to a little cell within her parents’ home. Rose’s health succumbed under the severe penances she imposed upon herself and the following year she fell gravely ill. During her illness Our Lady appeared to her in a dream and cured her. She was instructed by the Mother of God to be clothed in the habit of St. Francis as a tertiary, but to remain at home and be an example to her neighbors.

At this particular time, the city of Viterbo was occupied by the twice-excommunicated Emperor Frederick II. Frederick was at war with the Papacy and had sworn to conquer all of the Papal States. Inspired by Divine Providence, Rose would issue forth from her seclusion and preach in the streets and public squares of her city. With a crucifix in her hand, the young missionary would describe for the growing crowds the sufferings of Our Lord during His Passion, thereby showing them the heinousness of sin. With deep concern she exhorted them to repent of their sins and to convert. Urging them to be faithful to the authority of the Pope, Rose likewise admonished those who yielded to the Emperor. Before long, crowds began to gather in the vicinity of her home, hoping for a glimpse of her. When her father, frightened by all the attention his daughter attracted, forbade her to even leave the house to preach under pain of physical punishment, the local parish priest intervened and convinced him to withdraw his prohibition. For two years the child Franciscan preached conversion to her fellow citizens. Her ardent words were often accompanied by prodigies that stunned the crowds. The stone on which she stood to speak, for example, was seen to rise up off the ground and sustain her in midair during her preaching. While the general population was moved to conversion and penance by her words and example, the partisans of the Emperor were incensed against the young preacher and actively clamored for her death. The civil authorities, however, while they were alarmed by her public exhortations, they would not go so far as to condemn a mere child to death and instead exiled her and her parents from Viterbo. In January, 1250 they took refuge first in Soriano, where, on December 5 of the same year Rose prophesied the imminent death of the emperor. Her prediction came to pass on December 13 and soon after, Pope Innocent IV regained control of the Papal States through a stipulation in the emperor’s own will which directed that all lands he had taken from the Church be returned. Soon afterwards, Rose and her parents went to Vitorchiano. A sorceress there had greatly influenced the citizens of this hillside town and the young apostle set about her public preaching once more. Her exhortations moved the people but failed with the sorceress herself. Undaunted, Rose had an immense wooden pyre built in the public square and climbing to the top, she had it set on fire. For three hours she stood unscathed in the midst of the devouring flames singing the praises of God. Sincerely moved by the miracle, the repentant sorceress fell to her knees.

With the restoration of the papal authority in Viterbo in 1251, Rose and her parents returned to their native city. She sought admittance to the Poor Clares at the Monastery of St. Mary of the Roses but was turned away for lack of a dowry. Humbly submitting to this decision, she foretold her admission to the convent after her death. A mere fifteen years of age, her subsequent attempts to establish a religious community near the monastery with the help of her parish priest proved equally disappointing. She therefore retired once more to a cell in her family home where she died two years later on March 6, 1252. She was first buried in the Church of Santa Maria in Podio and later in the church of the Monastery where she had once requested admission.

Her last prophesy was fulfilled on September 4, 1258 but the many miracles attributed to her intercession continue to this day. Not least among the numerous favors granted to St. Rose of Viterbo by Almighty God is the ongoing incorrupt preservation of her body. As recently as 2010, scientific research on her incorrupt body revealed that she had died of a rare heart condition known as Cantrell’s Syndrome and not of tuberculosis as had been previously thought.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Is it really love?

The proof of love is in the works.
Where love exists,
it works great things.
But when it ceases to act,
it ceases to exist.

Pope St. Gregory the Great

Pope St. Gregory the Great

Gregory was born in Rome about the year 540. His family was wealthy, distinguished and known for their piety. He was well educated and began a career in public office, becoming prefect of the city and one of the richest men in Rome by the time he was thirty.

Though he held the highest civil office, Gregory decided to give up his career, money and possessions to dedicate himself to God. He became a monk and was ordained a priest at the monastery of St. Andrew, later becoming one of the pope’s seven deacons of the Roman Church. He acted as a papal ambassador in the East for six years, and on his return to Rome, was made Abbot of St. Andrews.
In 590 Pope Pelagius died of a plague that had swept through Rome. Gregory was unanimously elected pope in the same year, but continued to live with monastic simplicity. As pope, Gregory sought peace with the invading Lombards. For nine years he strived for a settlement between the Byzantine Emperor and king of the Lombards, Agilulf, but was eventually forced to negotiate a separate treaty for the safety of Rome and the surrounding districts.

A generous and kind man, Gregory strove to ease the sufferings of the poor, feeding them on a regular basis. He converted many Jews in Rome using an uncommon method: instead of coercion, he declared that they were to be converted by meekness and charity and did not allow them to be oppressed or deprived of their synagogue. Using the same method, he converted many in England.

Gregory died in 604 at the age of 64. He humbly called himself “servus servorum Dei,” Servant of the servants of God. He is the first pope given the title of “great.”

In Memoriam: Frederick V. Porfilio

 
mr_fred_porfilio.jpg

In Memoriam:

Frederick V. Porfilio
      
September 28, 1939 — September 3, 1990

 


 
“Our Lady loves us!” In the moments when the daily routine was the most difficult, one could often hear these words escaping the lips of fellow TFP member, Frederick Vincent Porfilio, better know as “Mr. Fred.” He had a keen notion of man’s contingency and the need of an unlimited confidence in the maternal solicitude and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Frederick V. Porfilio military patches and insignia as Army paratrooper
Mr. Fred’s military
patches and insignia
from his days as an
Army paratrooper.

Mr. Fred was born of Italian immigrants in New York on September 28, 1939 and lived most of his life in the Bronx. He was a man of many talents and tried his hand at several professions. He was a taxi cab driver, carpenter, Army paratrooper, bartender and even an actor. Perhaps the fact that he never did persevere in any of them was a sure sign that Providence had other designs for this soul that would one day selflessly dedicate itself to the cause of defending Christian civilization.
When Mr. Fred met the TFP in 1975, he had already discerned the emptiness of everything the world had to offer him. Like the prodigal son returning to his father’s house, he left the world behind to embrace once again the Faith of his ancestors.
Mr. Fred Porfilio gives an interview during the nationwide petition drive for a National Amendment against the desecration of the American Flag
Mr. Fred stood out for his readiness and dedication to the many duties required of TFP members. Here we see him giving an interview in 1989 during the American TFP’s nationwide petition drive for a Constitutional Amendment against the desecration of the American Flag.

He once confided to me that, when he was aspiring to an acting career, he had to put on airs to impress the “talent sharks.” Seeing the hypocrisy in this, Mr. Fred resolved one evening to tell his would-be mentors what he really thought of them, thus closing the door forever on his acting career. Many years later, Mr. Fred would put his acting skills to good use in plays and skits for friends, youth and supporters at TFP conferences.
Mr. Fred stood out for his readiness and dedication to the many duties required of TFP members. He excelled in street campaigning and could always be counted on to shout slogans, sell magazines or distribute flyers. He was also ready to travel across the country and back when duty called.
Among his many talents were his carpentry skills. He made everything from beds to kneelers and even a huge medieval banquet table. As every good Italian, he was often found in the kitchen providing a tasty repast.

Certificate of World Record presented by the Guinness Book of Records for the Largest Valid Petition drive co-ordinated by Tradition Family Property in support of Lithuania's Independence from the Soviet Union (USSR)
The Certificate of World Record presented by the Guinness Book of Records for the Largest Valid Petition drive co-ordinated by Tradition Family Property in support of Lithuania's Independence from the Soviet Union (USSR). Mr. Fred Porfilio was a true example of dedication and enthusiasm during this campaign, giving the ultimate sacrifice of his life.
In the last years of his life, Mr. Fred stood out for his leadership qualities. He was asked to lead a “caravan,” a group of young volunteers, which would travel the country in a massive petition drive collecting signatures for the independence of Lithuania. In 1990, Lithuania sought freedom from the tyranny of Soviet communism. In a worldwide effort, the TFPs collected more than five million signatures, in what the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records termed the largest verifiable petition drive in history.
During this singular campaign initiative, the TFP caravans put in many miles and exhausting hours driving and visiting cities all across America. The caravans in the United States alone collected more than 800,000 signatures. During the long days, and the nights, the members were giving their all.
During this campaign, Mr. Fred was an example of dedication and enthusiasm. It was also at the height of this true service to Christian civilization that Divine Providence called Mr. Fred through a tragic car accident. On September 3, 1990, Mr. Fred died as a passenger in a van that accidentally went off the road and turned over in Tennessee.
God also called to Himself a young member of the caravan, Daryl Huang, who was the son of Chinese immigrants and was most dear to Our Lady in the short service he rendered to her cause.
On the anniversary of their deaths, The American TFP, its friends and supporters remember these two valiant souls and make their own the words and sentiments of TFP founder Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira who considered them as “two lilies that Our Lady harvested from the garden of the American TFP.”