Saturday, July 22, 2017

Broken things are precious

Mary Magdalene . . . did not do what you and I would do.
She did not pour out the precious perfume drop by drop
as if to indicate by the slowness of the giving
the generosity of the gift
She broke the vessel and gave everything, for love knows no limits.
Immediately the house was filled with perfume.
It was almost as if, after the death of that perfume and the breaking of the bottle,
there was a resurrection.
Broken things are precious. We eat broken bread because
we share in the death of our Lord and his broken life.
Broken flowers give perfume. Broken incense is used in adoration.
A broken ship saved Paul and many other passengers on the way to Rome.
Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, called “the penitent”, was a woman of great beauty who was known as a sinner, but was touched in her soul by the merciful power of Our Lord Jesus Christ and made a great conversion. Scriptures speak of the Lord driving out “seven demons” from her, symbolic of the seven capital sins (Mark 16:9).

Thinking to trick Our Lord, she had been presented to Him by the Scribes and Pharisees whilst He was teaching in the temple. Mary Magdalene had been caught in adultery and the Law of Moses was quite clear as to its punishment: death by stoning. In silence, Our Lord began to write with His finger on the ground. At their persistent questioning, He lifted Himself up and replied: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” and stooping down, He returned to His writing in the dust. One by one they left until none remained but the Judge and the Accused. “Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more” (John 8:10-11). From that moment onwards, her heart was won over completely.

At the house of Simon the Pharisee, the repentant Magdalene poured costly ointments on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair (John 7:38). On her action being censured by the host, Our Lord said in her defense: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much” (John 7:47).

Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany whom the Lord raised from the dead after four days.

She along with the Lord’s mother and other holy women stood at the foot of the cross unafraid for herself. She it was also that, along with others first discovered the empty tomb after the Lord’s Resurrection. And it was to Mary Magdalene that the Lord first appeared after He was risen.

After the martyrdom of the Apostle James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalen, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact claimed in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, known as La Sainte-Baume, or The Holy Cave. In this cave she lived the life of a penitent for thirty years until her death. Today, at this site, there is a shrine where her relics are venerated.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Statue Cries Human Tears: A Miraculous Warning

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

On July 21, 1972, newspapers around the world published this photograph from New Orleans showing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima shedding tears.
The best source of information on the matter is found in an article with the title: "The Tears of Our Lady Wet My Finger" by Fr. Elmo Romagosa. It was published on July 20, 1972, in the Clarion Herald, a New Orleans weekly, distributed in eleven Louisiana parishes or counties.


The 3 Shepherd ChildrenThe background to this event is universally known to Fatima devotees. During 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to Lucy, Jacinta, and Francisco, three shepherd children In Fatima, Portugal. The authenticity of these visions was confirmed by the miracle of the sun, witnessed by a whole multitude, even as the Virgin spoke to the three children.
In general terms, Our Lady charged the little shepherds to tell the world that she was deeply upset by the wickedness and corruption of men. She warned that if men did not amend, a terrible chastisement would come that would annihilate many nations. Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The Holy Father would have much to suffer.
The punishment could only be avoided if men converted, Russia and the world were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and men did the communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

In view of the above, a question naturally comes to mind: Were Our Lady’s requests heeded?
In 1942, Pius XI consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lucy said the consecration lacked some characteristics Our Lady had requested. I do not intend to analyze this complex subject here. I simply mention, in passing, that whether Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia was heeded is open to debate.
As for Our Lady’s second request for an amendment of life, it has so obviously been neglected that no further comment is necessary.
Our Lady stated that obedience to her requests was a condition to avoid the apocalyptic punishments that she predicted. Therefore, since her requests have not been irrefutably kept, it is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady promised that, after the punishments, “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace.”
Of the three Fatima children, only Lucy survived beyond her childhood. She became a Carmelite nun in Coimbra. Under her supervision, a sculptor carved two statues that reproduced as closely as possible the facial expression of the Most Holy Virgin as she appeared at Fatima. Both of them were called “pilgrim statues” and have been taken around the world by priests and laity. One was in New Orleans, where it shed tears.
Father Romagosa, author of the above-mentioned report, was told of the statue’s tears by Fr. Joseph Breault, M. P., the statue’s custodian. However, he was reluctant to admit the miracle and thus asked Father Breault to call him if any further weeping occurred.
Father Breault noticed moisture in the eyes of the Pilgrim Virgin statue on July 17 and immediately called Father Romagosa, who reached the statue at 9:30pm, bringing along photographers and reporters. In fact, they all noticed the moisture in the eyes of the statue, which was soon photographed. Father Romagosa then touched his finger on the moist surface and collected a drop, which was also photographed. According to Father Breault, this was the thirteenth weeping he had witnessed.
At 6:15 the next morning, Father Breault called Father Romagosa saying that the statue had been crying since 4am. Father Romagosa arrived shortly afterwards. In his words: “I saw much liquid in the Our Lady of Tearsstatue’s eyes, and a large drop hanging from the tip of her nose.” This drop, so graciously hanging, was captured in the famous photograph that came out in the press.
Father Romagosa adds that he saw “a tear move as it slowly formed on the lower eyelid.”
However, he wanted to eliminate all doubt. He noticed that the statue had a crown fixed on its head by a small metal connecting rod and thought: can it be that water was poured into the hole where the crown is fixed on the statue, and this water drains into the eyes?
Once the weeping ceased, Father Romagosa removed the crown from the statue: the metallic connecting rod was entirely dry. He then inserted into the hole a wire wrapped in a special paper which would absorb any liquid that might be there. The paper remained absolutely dry.
Still not satisfied with his efforts, he poured some water into the hole. Yet the eyes remained absolutely dry. Father Romagosa then turned the statue upside down. The water he had poured into the hole drained normally. He was finally convinced that no water could come through the hole in the statue’s head into her eyes, and there simply was no other hole.
Father Romagosa knelt. At last, he believed.

Our Lady of Tears Banner

These mysterious tears show Our Lady of Fatima crying over the modern world, as Our Lord once cried over Jerusalem. Tears of most tender affection, tears of deep pain for the punishment that will come.
It will come in God’s due time if mankind does not reject immorality and corruption. It will come if we do not fight especially against the self-destruction of the Church, the cursed smoke of Satan that, according to Paul VI, has penetrated even into the sacred places.
There is still time, therefore, to stop the punishment!
But, some will say, these thoughts are not those for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I answer: Is it not better to read this article now under the tender manifestation of our Mother’s prophetic sadness than to live through the days of tragic bitterness that will come if we do not amend?
If they come, I am convinced a special mercy will be shown to those who, in their personal lives, have taken the miraculous warning of Mary seriously. I offer my readers this article so they may benefit from that mercy.
It is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon mankind. Yet, furthermore, Our Lady promised that, after the punishments:

"Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be a certain period of peace."



God loves to be bothered

Our dear God loves
to be bothered.

St. John Vianney

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Born in Brindisi in Italy and christened Julius Caesar, the future saint’s father was Guglielmo Rossi, and his mother Elisabetta Massella, both excellent Christians.

His parents entrusted the boy’s education to the Conventuals of Brindisi where he showed early signs of a shimmering intelligence and a gift for oratory.

When twelve, his father died, and he pursued his studies in Venice with the Clerics of St. Mark, under the supervision of an uncle. In 1575 he was received into the Capuchin Order and was given the name of Lorenzo. Once professed, Brother Lorenzo studied philosophy and theology at the University of Padua.

Lawrence had a prodigious memory, and mastered most of the European languages and Semitic tongues. It is also said that he knew the entire original text of the Bible, a feat deemed miraculous. He is also renowned for his complete refutation of the doctrines of Martin Luther, as well as his work in defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary of whom he was an ardent devotee, and in whose name he worked all his miracles.

In his lifetime he filled all the posts of his order. As a great preacher, he was invited to preach all over Europe. Always seeking to move hearts, he adapted his preaching to his audience with enormous success. The sermons he left fill no less than eight volumes. Because of his knowledge of Hebrew, Pope Clement VIII assigned him to the instructions of the Jews, and due to his knowledge of the language, and powerful reasoning combined with his great kindliness, brought many into the Faith.

He founded houses in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, despite many obstacles placed by heretics. As the fame of his sanctity preceded him wherever he went, people flocked to hear his sermons.

In 1601 Lawrence served as chaplain for the army of Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor. In this capacity he was present at the battle of Albe-Royal against the Ottoman Turk’s force of 80,000, while the Christian army had 18,000.  Prior to the battle, hesitating at these odds, the leaders sought the holy chaplain’s advice. The saint took full responsibility for the outcome, and in a glowing speech communicated to them his own confidence. Aged and enfeebled, he mounted a horse, and, crucifix in hand, led the charge. The Turks were defeated, but regrouping, attacked again a few days later. Again the chaplain led the attack to complete victory.

Lawrence died in a mission in Lisbon on July 22, 1619, as he had predicted.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

If Judas had gone to Him...

Jesus purified Magdalen and pardoned the triple denial of Peter.
He opened heaven to the good thief.
In truth, I assure you,
if Judas had gone to Him after the crime, Our Lord would have received him with mercy.
How, then, would He not pardon you as well?

The Book of Confidence—Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent

St. Apollinaris of Ravenna

Apollinaris was possibly born in Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria.
Consecrated bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter himself, he won many converts by his preaching, and the numerous miracles he wrought attracted the attention of the officials.
Furious with his success, the idolaters beat him cruelly and drove him from the city. The Christians found him half-dead on the seashore, and cared for and concealed him for a time. However, recaptured by the authorities, he was forced to walk on burning coals and then exiled from the city again.
Remaining in the vicinity, Apollinaris continued his work, journeying to the Roman province of Emilia.
Returning a third time to Ravenna, he was captured yet again and hacked with knives. Scalding water was poured on his wounds. He was beaten on the mouth with stones because of his persistence in preaching, flung into a dismal dungeon and left to starve. There, he continued performing miracles, teaching and preaching, silencing the oracles that dared to debate with him.
Imprisoned for three years, he was finally returned to Ravenna for a fourth time, and was martyred under the persecution unleashed by Emperor Vespasian. He died prophesizing that the persecutions would increase but that the Church would ultimately triumph.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to gain strength

I shall spare myself neither care nor labor nor vigils
for the salvation of souls.
My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His divine help;
I can do all in Him who strengthened me!
His power is infinite, and if I lean on Him it will be mine;
His wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel I shall not be deceived;
His goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed on Him I shall not be abandoned.
Hope unites me to my God and Him to me.
Although I know I am not sufficient for the burden, my strength is in Him.
For the salvation of others I must bear weariness, face dangers, suffer offenses,
confront storms, fight against evil.
He is my Hope.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Macrina the Younger

Macrina was born in Caesaerea, Capadoccia, her parents being Basil the Elder and Emmelia. Her grandmother was St. Macrina the Elder and her three brothers were eminent figures in the Church: Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste.

Macrina’s parents arranged a marriage for her but her fiancé having died before the wedding, the bride turned to religion.

Well known as a holy woman and instructor of young women, she is honored as one of the most prominent nuns in the Eastern Church. Her ascetic way of life had a profound influence on her brothers. She purposely gave up classical education in favor of the study of Scriptures and sacred writings.  Her brother, Gregory of Nyssa wrote a life entitled, Life of Macrina, in which he describes the holiness of her life.

With the help of her younger brother, Peter, she turned her family estate at Pontus into a convent, where she died in 379.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

God always speaks to you when...

God always speaks to you
when you approach Him
plainly and simply.

St. Catherine Labouré

St. Camillus de Lellis

Camillus was born on May 25, 1550 in the region of Abruzzo in the Kingdom of Naples. His father was a mercenary soldier and seldom at home. His mother, Camilla, though good was also timid and had trouble controlling her morose, hot-tempered son.

At seventeen, being tall for his age, Camillus joined his father in soldiering. Leading the rambling, ambulant life of a mercenary, he acquired the wayward habits of the profession, especially the vice of gambling.

Still, Camillus’ mother had instilled in him a respect for religion. After his father died repentant, and his regiment disbanded in 1574, he found himself, at twenty-four, destitute because of his gambling. He was offered a shot at reform when a wealthy, pious man, noticing the tall, lanky young man in town, offered him employment at a monastery that he was building for the Capuchins of Manfredonia.

Despite his aggressive nature and gambling habits, the guardian of the monastery saw another side to Camillus, and continually tried to bring out in him his better nature. Finally moved by the good friar’s exhortations, Camillus underwent a deep spiritual conversion.

Refused admission by the Capuchins because of an unhealed leg wound, he traveled to Rome where he began to serve the sick at the Hospital of St. Giacomo while attempting to lead a penitential and ascetic life.

Hearing of St. Philip Neri and his great gift with souls in need, Camillus sought his spiritual direction and was taken in by the saint.

He soon discovered that helping the sick was the cure for his wayward habits, and the only thing that gave him true joy.  He began to gather a group of men around him who had a desire to help the sick for love alone and not for pay. Feeling the need to be ordained, he studied under the Jesuit Fathers and was ordained in 1584 at the age of thirty-four.

Thus Camillus de Lellis, former wandering soldier and professional gambler, established the Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Sick. His group was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, and officially raised to the status of a mendicant order by Gregory XV in 1591. On their black habit they wore a large red cross which became the first inspiration for today’s Red Cross.

By the time of Camillus’ death in 1614, his order had spread throughout Italy and into Hungary. He was canonized in 1746.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.
A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.
"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.
The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.
The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"
He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."
"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."
The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.
He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

This fills the angels of Heaven with admiration

It is an arid fight, with neither palpable beauty nor defined poetry.
In this fight, one sometimes advances in the night of anonymity,
in the mud of indifference or misunderstanding
amidst storms and bombardments unleashed by the combined forces of
the devil, the world and the flesh. But fear not,
this fight fills the angels of Heaven with admiration
and attracts the blessings of God.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Clement of Okhrida

Clement of Okhrida was a convert of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of Moravia and Pannonia.

At the invitation of the Bulgarian ruler, Boris, who had accepted Christianity in 865, Clement and his other companions including St. Nahum, St. Sabas and St. Angelarius, helped evangelize Bulgaria. Sts. Cyril and Methodius are also counted as two of the seven apostles of Bulgaria because though their official jurisdiction was over Moravia and Pannonia, they also kept an eye on the Bulgars, most of whom were heathens until formal evangelization began with the acceptance of Christianity by Boris.

Clement seems to have been the first man of the Slavic race to receive the episcopate. He became Bishop of Velitsa, close to Okhrida where he established a monastery. He was regarded as the founder of that see which became very important in subsequent history.

St. Clement is venerated in Bulgaria as well as Russia as a wonder-worker.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel


By Plinio Maria Solimeo

One day, a long time ago, walking the streets of Rome, three outstanding men of God bumped into one another. Friar Dominic of Guzman was recruiting members for the Order of Preachers, later known as the “Dominicans,” which he had founded. Brother Francis of Assisi, the Poverello, had just brought together some men to serve what he called Lady Poverty. The third, Friar Angel, had come from Mount Carmel in Palestine, and was called to Rome because he was a great preacher.
Illuminated by the Holy Ghost, the three recognized one another, and during the conversation made many prophecies. Saint Angel, for example, predicted God would give Saint Francis the stigmata. And Saint Dominic prophesied, “One day, Brother Angel, the Blessed Mother will give your Carmelite Order a devotion that will be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers a devotion that will be called the Rosary. And one day she will save the world through the Rosary and the Scapular.”
On the spot where that meeting took place, a chapel was built which exists in Rome to this day.1

Mother and Splendor of Carmel
It was on the celebrated Mount Carmel, on the coast of Palestine, that Saint Elias, the “Prophet of Fire,” saw the little cloud that, in a period of great drought, was a forerunning sign that a redeeming rain would fall upon the parched earth.
Through a supernatural intuition he figured that the simple cloud, in the form of a human footprint, symbolized that blessed woman, later mentioned by Prophet Isaiah in chapter 7, verse 14 (“Behold a virgin will conceive, and bear a child . . . .”), who would be the Mother of the Redeemer.
From her virginal bosom would come He who, washing with His blood the earth dried out by sin, would open the life of grace for mankind.
According to tradition, the Order of Carmel, of which Mary is the Mother and splendor, was born from the followers of Elias and his successors.
And, in Isaias’ words, “[T]he glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron” (Is. 35:2).
From Palestine, the hermits of Mount Carmel moved to Europe, laying down roots in several countries, including England, where Saint Simon Stock lived.

Saint Simon Stock: Noble and Holy
Saint Simon was born in 1165 in the castle of Harford, in Kent, England, thanks to the prayers of pious parents who were both very virtuous and from the highest nobility. Some authors believe they were related to the royal family.
His mother consecrated him to the Blessed Mother before he was born. Before breastfeeding him, in gratitude for her happy delivery and asking special protection for her son, the young mother would offer him to the Virgin Mary and say three Hail Marys on her knees. What a beautiful attitude by such a noble lady!
The boy learned to read at a very tender age. Like his parents, he began to pray the Little Office of Our Lady, and soon also the Psalter. At the age of seven, the young genius started to study fine arts at Oxford College and was so successful that his professors were surprised. At that time he also received his First Communion and consecrated his virginity to the Blessed Mother.
Persecuted by his envious older brother, and heeding an interior voice that gave Saint Simon a desire to leave the world, at the age of twelve he left home and found refuge in a forest where he lived entirely alone for twenty years in prayer and penance.

The Carmelite Order
Our Lady then manifested to Saint Simon her wish that he join some monks who were to come to England from Mount Carmel in Palestine, “especially because those religious had been consecrated to the Mother of God in a special way.” Simon thus left his solitude and, obeying another order from Heaven, studied theology and received Holy Orders.
He devoted himself to preaching until 1213, when two Carmelite friars finally arrived. He was then able to receive the habit of the Order in Aylesford.
In 1215, as the fame of Saint Simon’s virtues reached the ears of Saint Brocardo, Latin General of the Carmelite Order, he wished to make Simon lieutenant general of the Order. In 1226, Saint Brocardo appointed Saint Simon vicar-general of all Carmelite provinces in Europe.
Saint Simon had to face a real storm unleashed against the Carmelites in Europe, which the devil raised with men supposedly zealous for Church laws. On various pretexts, those men wanted at all cost to suppress the entire Order. But the pope issued a bull declaring the existence of the Carmelite Order to be legitimate and in accordance with the Lateran decrees, and allowed it to continue to establish new houses in Europe.
In 1237, Saint Simon participated in the General Chapter of the Order in the Holy Land. In 1245, in a new chapter, he was elected the sixth prior-general of the Carmelites.

The Great Promise: You Will Not Go Into the Fire of Hell
If the papal bull had momentarily placated the wrath of the enemies of Carmel, it did not stop it completely. After a period of calm, the persecution started again with more intensity.
Devoid of human aid, Saint Simon resorted to the Blessed Mother with all the sadness of his heart, asking her to help his beleaguered Order and to send a sign of her alliance with it.
In the morning of July 16, 1251, he was begging in earnest the Mother of Carmel for her protection, reciting a beautiful prayer he had composed, Flos Carmeli.2 As he reported to his secretary and confessor, Father Peter Swayngton, suddenly,
the Virgin appeared to me with a great retinue, and, having the habit of the Order in her hand, told me, “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire . . . . It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace. Whoever dies clothed in this Scapular will not suffer eternal fire.”3
That most special grace was immediately distributed in places where the Carmelites were established and confirmed by many miracles to such an extent that the enemies of the Brothers of the Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel were silenced.
Saint Simon attained old age and extremely high holiness, working many miracles, and also receiving the gift of tongues. He surrendered his soul to God on May 16, 1265.


The Sabbatine Privilege: Free of Purgatory on the First Saturday After Death

In addition to this special grace of eternal salvation, connected with the Scapular, Our Lady gave another, which became known as the Sabbatine Privilege. The following century, on March 3, 1322, she appeared to Pope John XXII, communicating to those who wear her scapular, “As a tender mother, I will descend into Purgatory on the Saturday after their death and will deliver them and bring them to the holy mountain, into the happy sojourn of life everlasting.”4
What are, then, the specific promises of Our Lady?
1. Whoever dies clothed with the Scapular, will not suffer the fire of Hell.
What did Our Lady mean with these words? First, on making this promise, Mary does not mean that a person who dies in mortal sin will be saved. Death in mortal sin and condemnation are the same thing. Mary’s promise undoubtedly translates into these words, “Whoever dies clothed in this Scapular, will not die in mortal sin.” To make that clear, the Church often adds the word “piously” to the pledge, “He who dies piously will not suffer the fire of Hell.”5

2.
Our Lady will free from Purgatory the person wearing her Scapular on the first Saturday after his or her death.
Although this privilege is often interpreted literally, that is, the person will be freed from Purgatory on the first Saturday after his or her death, “everything that the Church has officially stated on several occasions to explain these words, is that those who fulfill the conditions of the Sabbatine Privilege, through the intercession of Our Lady, will be freed from Purgatory shortly after death, and especially on Saturday.”6
In any case, if we are faithful in observing the words of the Blessed Mother, she will be much more faithful in observing her own, as shown in the following example:
During the preaching of some missions, a young man who was touched by grace decided to quit his life of sin and receive the Scapular. Some time later he lapsed again into disorderly passions and became even worse. Nevertheless, he kept wearing the holy Scapular.
Being the mother that she is, the Most Holy Virgin struck him down with a serious illness. During his illness the young man dreamed that he found himself before the most just tribunal of God, Who condemned him to eternal damnation for his perfidy and his wretched life.
In vain did the hapless young man argue with the Supreme Judge that he was wearing the Scapular of His Holy Mother.
“And where are the customs that match this Scapular?” God asked him.
Not knowing what to answer, the unfortunate young man turned to Our Lady.
“I cannot undo what my Son has done,” she answered.
“But, Madam!” The young man exclaimed, “I will change!”
“Do you promise?”
“Yes.”
“Live then.”
At that point the patient awakened frightened to death by what he had seen and heard, and resolved thenceforth to wear Mary’s Scapular with greater seriousness. Indeed, he was healed and joined the Order of Premonstratensians. And after an edifying life, he surrendered his soul to God, as the chronicles of the Order narrate.7

The Scapular and Fatima
Is the Scapular related to Fatima in any way?
Yes. After the last appearance of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, the seers saw three different scenes. In the first, the Mother of God appeared as Our Lady of the Rosary, standing by Saint Joseph and holding the Child Jesus on her lap. Then, she appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, by the painful Christ on His way to Calvary. And finally, she appeared in glory, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, as Our Lady of Carmel, with the Scapular in her hand.
“Why do you think Our Lady appeared with the Scapular in that last vision?” Lucia was asked in 1950.
“That’s because Our Lady wants everyone to wear the Scapular,” she replied.
“And this is why the Rosary and the Scapular, the oldest, most privileged, universal and valuable Marian sacramentals are more important today than in any past period in history.”8

Origin and Historical Evolution of the Scapular
Both the Scapular (from the Latin scapulae, shoulders), and the monastic habit and liturgical vestments developed from lay clothing.
Over time, the monastic Scapular evolved until the twelfth century when it attained its present form, becoming an integral part of almost all monastic habits, including the Carmelite one. But it did not have the meaning that it later acquired, as we shall see.
With the development of the First Orders (monks or friars), there arose the Second Orders (nuns), and then the Third Orders or Oblates, formed by single or married lay people living with their families.
Members of the Third Orders were bound to the First Orders by vows or promises according to their state, and participated in the spiritual benefits of the Order.
These Third Order members received a simpler religious habit, which they wore every day or, more commonly, only on Sundays and religious feast days.
Later came the Confraternities for lay people unable to join the Third Orders.
According to Father María Simón Besalduch, the Confraternity of Our Lady of Carmel is as old as the Scapular.

The Scapular Protects a Young Lady from the Devil
A young lady went to confession to the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney.
Before she began her confession, Saint John Vianney said to her, “Remember a few days ago in the ballroom a good-looking young man who danced with all the girls but you? And you felt ashamed? And remember you saw sparks coming off his feet when he left? Know that it was the devil in human form, and the only reason he didn’t dance with you is because you were wearing the Scapular. Thank the Blessed Mother for that.”


Notes:
1. Cf. John Haffert, Maria na sua promessa do Escapulário (Edições Carmelo, Aveiro, Portugal, 1967), 265–266. [back to text]
2. In Latin, that beautiful prayer says, “Flos Carmeli, Vitis florigera, Splendor Coeli, Virgo puerpera, Singularis; Mater mitis, sede viri nescia. Carmelitis da privilegia, Stella maris!” (Flower of Carmel, blossoming vine, Splendor of Heaven, incomparable and singular Virgin! O loving and ever virgin Mother, give Carmelites the privileges of thy protection, of Star of the Sea!). [back to text]3. Monsignor Paul Guérin, Les Petits Bollandistes (Bloud et Barral, Paris, 1882), 592. [back to text]4. Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, Enciclopedia del Escapulario del Carmen (Luis Gili Editor, Librería Católica Internacional, Barcelona, 1931), 243-293. [back to text]5. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 34. [back to text]
6. Id. at 112. [back to text]
7. Father Simón Ma. Besalduch, OCD, supra note 4, at 167. [back to text]
8. John Haffert, supra note 1, at 269, 272. [back to text]

You may not have time tomorrow

Today God invites you to do good;
do it therefore today.
Tomorrow you may not have time, or
God may no longer call you to do it.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”. In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and flowery beauty.

It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without its stains.

In the twelfth century, St. Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.

St. Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St. Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”

This privilege is extended to lay persons who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.

This practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Acquiescence to evil

The refusal to take sides on great moral issues
is itself a decision.
It is a silent acquiescence to evil.
The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty
lack fire and conviction,
while those who believe in dishonesty
are full of passionate conviction.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, “The Seraphic Doctor”, was born Giovanni di Fidanza in the vicinity of Viterbo, Tuscany in 1221. Nothing is known of his childhood except the name of his parents: Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Fidella.

Legend has it that when seriously ill as a child, his mother took him to St. Francis of Assisi. As the saint prayed over him, he was shown the infant's future spiritual greatness and exclaimed, “O, buona ventura!” O good fortune!”

He entered the Franciscan Order at age twenty-two and after taking his vows, was sent to Paris to study under the great Alexander Hale, and then John de la Rochelle. In Paris he became close friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, and both received their doctorate at the same time. Like St. Thomas, Bonaventure was held in high esteem by King St. Louis IX.

Already while in Paris he was a great preacher and discourser and wrote Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, a work covering the whole field of scholastic theology. He wrote extensively on philosophy and theology throughout his life. It is said of St. Bonaventure that he united in himself two elements: tender piety and profound learning, from whence proceeded all that is most noble, sublime, great and beautiful in the Middle Ages.

At thirty-five Bonaventure was chosen General of the Franciscans, and restored peace in the place of disturbances generated by internal dissensions. While some friars were for an inflexible severity, others were for a more relaxed rule. The saint steered the wise road of balance, reforming and restoring the spirit of his order and writing a life of St. Francis. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas once entered Bonaventure’s cell while he was writing this biography and found him in ecstasy, “Let’s leave a saint to write about a saint,” said the Angelic Doctor.

In 1265, Pope Clement IV nominated Bonaventure to the archbishopric of York, which the saint humbly turned down to the acquiescence of the Pope.

But in 1273 Pope Gregory X elevated him to ecclesiastical dignity, and made him Cardinal, Bishop of Albano. At the Council of Lyons, he was the Pope’s right hand in preparing the matters to be addressed. Before the council began, St. Bonaventure abdicated the office of minister general of his order.

The Council of Lyons was instrumental in the effective reunion of the Greeks, a union desired by Emperor Michael Palaeologus. St. Thomas died on the way to this council, and St. Bonaventure was the council’s outstanding figure. But amidst his triumph, Bonaventure died rather suddenly during the night of July 14-15. According to the chronicle of his secretary, Peregrinus of Bologna, discovered in 1905, Bonaventure was poisoned.

He was canonized in 1482, and declared Doctor of the Church in 1588.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Jacinta of Fatima: Suffering to Save Sinners



+ March 11, 1910: Jacinta is born
+ From May 13 to October 13, 1917: the Blessed Mother appears to the three little shepherds
+ October 1918: Jacinta’s illness begins
+ February 20, 1920: Jacinta dies


A mystery to many
“Why should I read an article about Jacinta?” you may ask. “What can I get out of it? I already know everything about Fatima: the Blessed Mother appeared in Portugal to three little shepherds in 1917, told them to pray the rosary, and Jacinta was a very lucky little girl even though she died very young... she is now another little angel among the angels! How does it concern my life? How can I relate to a little girl who lived almost 100 years ago? Will I find it interesting at all?”
As you read this article you will discover that which is still a mystery to many, namely, why, during the apparition of July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to the three children: Lucia, 10, Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7.
Yes, the Blessed Virgin showed Hell to a little girl of seven, with demons in the form of horrible monsters, and souls of the damned burning in a huge fire! Why would she do such a thing?
That vision transformed Jacinta’s life: from then on she agreed to suffer so that sinners could convert, and therefore avoid losing their souls forever. As you read these few pages, you will see how the love of neighbor, including sinners, can lead a child to a heroic acceptance of suffering.
And how she suffered! Small, ignorant, poor and sick, through suffering Jacinta is transformed into a giant of virtue, a universal model of wisdom, inner richness and strength.
I am convinced that Jacinta has something very special to convey to you. Read her story, look her in the eyes, and discover for yourself what her questioning look suggests.

“How I have pity for souls who go to Hell!”
The concept of eternity was one of the things that most impressed Jacinta in the vision of Hell. At times she would stop in the middle of a game and ask her cousin,
“But look. So, after many, many years, will Hell still not be over? And you never get out of there?”
“No.”
“Even after many, many years?!”
“No. Hell never ends. Neither does Heaven. Whoever goes to Heaven never leaves. And those who go to Hell don’t either. Don’t you see that they are eternal, that they never end?”
Also:
“And those people burning there do not die? They do not turn into ashes? If we pray a lot for sinners, does Our Lord deliver them from there? And with sacrifices too? Poor ones! We will pray and make many sacrifices for them...How good that Lady really is! She has already promised to take us to Heaven!”
The vision of Hell had caused Jacinta such horror that all the penances and mortifications she could make seemed little to prevent a few souls from falling into it.
How could Jacinta, so small, understand and accept such a spirit of mortification and penance? Lucia explains,
“It seems to me that it was first by a special grace God wished to grant through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; secondly, by seeing Hell and the terrible state of the souls that fall into it.
“There are people, even pious ones, who do not want to talk about Hell to children so as not to frighten them. But God did not hesitate to show it to a seven-year-old child, knowing that she was going to be horrified, I would almost venture to say, to the point of dying of terror.”
Often, Jacinta would sit on a stone, and plunged into her thoughts, would say:
“Hell! Hell! What pity I have for the souls that go to hell! And the people burning alive there, like wood in a bonfire!”
Then, shuddering, she would kneel down, clasp her hands and recite aloud the prayer which the Blessed Virgin had taught them:
“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”
“There are so many who go there!”
Jacinta remained on her knees for a long time, repeating the same prayer. From time to time she stopped to call her companions:
“Francisco, Francisco, are you praying with me? We need to pray a lot to deliver souls from hell. So many go there! So many!”
One day Lucia went to see her cousin and found her sitting in bed, pensive.
“Jacinta, what are you thinking about?”
“About the war that is to come. So many people will die! And almost all will go to hell! Many houses will be razed and many priests killed. Look, I am going to Heaven. And as soon as you see that night light the Lady said will come before [the war], make sure to flee there too!”
“Don’t you see that one can’t flee to Heaven?”
“It’s true! You can’t. But do not be afraid! In Heaven I will pray very much for you, for the Holy Father, for Portugal* so the war does not come here, and for all priests.”
At other times, she would ask,
“Why does Our Lady not show Hell to sinners? If they only saw it they would no longer sin to avoid going there! You must tell the Lady to show hell to all those people [present at Cova da Iria at the time of the apparition]. You will see how they will convert.”
Then, somewhat dissatisfied, she would ask Lucia,
“Why didn’t you tell Our Lady to show hell to those people?”
“I forgot,” she replied.
“I did not remember it either!” Jacinta said sadly.
At other times she also asked,
“What sins do these people commit to go to hell?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps the sin of not going to Mass on Sunday, stealing, saying ugly words, cursing, swearing.”
“And they go to hell just because of a single word?!”
“Of course! It’s a sin!”
“What would it cost them to keep silent and go to Mass? What a pity I have for sinners! If only I could show them hell!”
And then she would take Lucia by the arm and insist,
“I am going to Heaven, but you who stay here if Our Lady lets you, tell everyone what hell is like so they don’t sin anymore and don’t go there.”
At other times, after a period of reflection, she would say,
“So many people falling into hell, so many people in hell!”
To reassure her, Lucia would remind her:
“Do not fear; you are going to Heaven.”
“I am,” she said peacefully, “but I wanted all those people to go there too.”

Suffering to Save Sinners
Jacinta would not miss any opportunity of making sacrifices to obtain the conversion of sinners.
When Jacinta would not eat to mortify herself, Lucia would tell her:
“Jacinta! Come on, now eat!”
“No. I offer this sacrifice for sinners who overeat.”
And when, already very affected by illness, she would go to Mass during the week, Lucia tried to prevent her:
“Jacinta, don’t come, you cannot. Today is not Sunday!”
“It does not matter. I am going for the sinners who do not even go on Sunday.”
And if she happened to hear unseemly words uttered by some people, she would hide her face with her hands and say,
“O my God! Don’t these people know that by saying these things they can go to hell? Forgive them, my Jesus, and convert them. Surely they do not know that, with this, they offend God. What a pity, my Jesus! I pray for them.”


The three little shepherds knew children of two poor families who begged for alms from door to door. Seeing them one day when leading her flock, Jacinta proposed to Lucia and Francisco:
“Shall we give our lunch to those poor people for the conversion of sinners?”
And she ran to take her lunch to them.
Of course, in the afternoon, the three little shepherds got hungry. To remedy that, Francisco climbed up a green oak tree and filled his pockets with long, sweet and nutty acorns. But Jacinta suggested that they could instead eat acorns from great oaks to make the sacrifice of chewing something very bitter.
That became one of her usual sacrifices. She also gathered olives before the brine bath that would cut down their bitterness. The acorns and olives were so bitter that one day Lucia said to her:
“Jacinta, do not eat that, it’s very bitter!”
“That’s why I eat it, to convert sinners.”
Jacinta seemed insatiable in offering sacrifices. In her generosity as a little victim, all she thought of was to suffer to save sinners. For this end, she frequently accepted the harsh conditions of life as it presented itself.

Everyday Sacrifices to Save Sinners
Jacinta's mother knew well her little girl’s repugnance for milk. One day, she brought her a cup of milk and a nice bunch of grapes.
“Here, Jacinta,” she told her, “if you can’t take the milk, just leave it and eat the grapes.”
“No, mother, I do not want the grapes, you may take them. Let me have the milk.”
And without showing the slightest repugnance, she drank it. Her mother was happy, thinking that her daughter's distaste for milk was gone. Then Jacinta told Lucia:
“I craved those grapes so much, and it was so hard to drink the milk!” But I wanted to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord.”
One morning, Lucia found her with an altered countenance and asked if she felt any worse.
“Tonight,” she replied, “I’ve had many pains and wanted to offer Our Lord the sacrifice of not going back to bed, so I did not sleep at all.”
Another time she confided to Lucia,
“When I am alone, I get out of bed to say the prayers of the angel; but now I can no longer reach the ground with my head because I fall. I pray only on my knees.”
Concerned, Lucia mentioned it to the confessor who knew how to guide her. He ordered that Jacinta should no longer get out of bed to pray but say all the prayers she wanted in bed, without tiring too much. She hastened to pass the message on to Jacinta, who asked:
“Will Our Lord be pleased?”
“He will,” I replied. “Our Lord wants us to do what the pastor tells us.”
“Then it’s fine; I will never get up again.”

“I saw the Holy Father crying, and people insulting him”
On one very hot day, the children spent the siesta hour on the well at the back of the garden of Lucia’s house. Jacinta asked her cousin,
“Haven’t you seen the Holy Father?”
“No!”
“I do not know how it happened! I saw the Holy Father in a very large house, on his knees, in front of a table, with his hands on his face, crying. Outside the house were many people and some threw stones at him, others cursed and told him many ugly words. Poor little Holy Father! We have to pray a lot for Him!”
Another day, two priests who had gone to interrogate them explained who the Pope was and asked the children to pray for him. Jacinta then asked Lucia,
“Is he the same I saw crying, and of whom the Lady spoke in that secret?”
“Yes.”
“Certainly that Lady also showed him to these priests! See? I was not mistaken. We must pray a lot for him.”
In fact, Jacinta was taken with such a love for the Holy Father that every time she offered one of her sacrifices to Jesus, she added:
“And for the Holy Father.”
At the end of each rosary she always recited three Hail Marys for the pope and sometimes would say,
“I wish I could see the Holy Father! So many people come here and the Holy Father never comes.”
Another time, the three little shepherds had gone to their favorite rock hollows on Cabeço hill, where the angel had appeared to them. Prostrating with their foreheads on the ground, they fervently recited the prayer he had taught them. After a moment, Jacinta arose and asked,
“Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying with hunger, who have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And many people praying with Him?”
After several days, she asked Lucia:
“Can I say that I have seen the Holy Father and all those people?”
“No. Don’t you see that it is part of the secret and they would soon discover it?”
“All right, then I won’t say anything.”

Jacinta’s illness
One year after the last apparition, towards the end of October 1918, Jacinta fell ill, followed by Francisco.
The flu epidemic affecting so many people at the time was undoubtedly the cause of her very strong bronchopneumonia, which never healed but degenerated into an infected pleurisy with an external abscess, and ultimately tuberculosis.
On the eve of her illness, she said to Lucia,
“My head hurts so bad and I am so thirsty! But I do not want to drink in order to suffer for sinners.”
Despite her pain, she would not complain. Her only confidante was Lucia:
“I feel such pain in my chest! But I do not say anything to my mother; I want to suffer for Our Lord in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father, and for the conversion of sinners.”
One morning, when Lucia came to see her, she asked,
“How many sacrifices did you offer to Our Lord tonight?”
“Three: I got up three times to say the prayers of the angel.”
“I have offered Him many, many; I do not know how many, for I had many pains and did not complain.”


At the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourem: “I am not going there to be healed”
On July 1, 1919, Jacinta, who had been ill for almost a year, was taken to the hospital at Vila Nova de Ourem, the same town where she had been imprisioned by the Mayor back in August, 1917.
Her father carefully arranged her thin and feverish body on the back of a mule for the three-mile journey from their hamlet to the town.
She knew very well that she was not at the hospital to be cured, but to suffer for the conversion of sinners. The Lady had told her so.
Along the way she remembered a visit the Lady had paid to her and Francisco when she was doing a little better and would spend her day sitting on her brother's bed. Immediately afterwards she had called Lucia to tell her,
“Our Lady came to see us and says that she will soon come to take Francisco to Heaven. And she asked me if I wanted to convert more sinners. I told her I did. She told me that I would be going to a hospital and would suffer a lot there; that I should suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the love of Jesus. I asked her if you were going with me. She said no. For me this is the hardest part. She said that my mother was going to take me and I would be there alone!”
The poor little girl was extremely afraid of staying alone in a place she imagined to be terrible. So she added:
“If you only went with me! The hardest thing for me is to go without you. Maybe the hospital is a very dark house where you cannot see anything, and I will be there suffering alone!”
And then she immediately returned to the only thing that really mattered:
“But it is all right; I suffer for Our Lord’s sake, to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father.”
In fact, the Saint Augustine Hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem was all white and flooded with light. But the treatment Jacinta received there for two months could do nothing to improve her health, and she suffered greatly.
What had begun as the flu in October 1918 had turned into tuberculosis, which affected one of her lungs. An abscess had formed and a wound opened on her left side through which oozed foul-smelling pus.
She received few visits, as distance and daily occupations prevented her mother from visiting her youngest child as often as she would like. When she came to see Jacinta, she asked if she wanted anything. Of course, what Jacinta wanted the most was to see Lucia and converse with her.
So, as soon as she could her mother brought Lucia with her, not a small complication as she had to make a round trip of more than twelve miles in a single day. This trip was made, not in a car or by train, but as all the poor traveled, by donkey cart.
As soon as Jacinta saw Lucia she kissed her with joy and asked her mother to leave them together while she went shopping.
“Do you suffer much?” Lucia asked her.
“Yes, I do suffer; but I offer everything for sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
And she began to speak enthusiastically of Our Lord and the Blessed Mother:
“I am so glad to suffer for Their love! To make Them pleased! They love very much those who suffer to convert sinners.”
The visit went by quickly and when Jacinta’s mother asked her again if she wanted something, she asked her to bring Lucia again when she came to visit.
The second time around, her cousin found her suffering with the same joy for the love of God, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for sinners and the Holy Father.
Lucia wrote, “It was her ideal; that was what she talked about,” adding:
“She was only a child of ten. As for the rest, she already knew how to practice virtue and show her love for God and the Blessed Virgin by practicing sacrifice.”
In Lucia’s opinion, she had an intimate and meticulous knowledge of the profound meaning of the message which the three had received:
“It seems to me that Jacinta was the one to whom the Blessed Virgin communicated a greater abundance of grace, knowledge of God and virtue.”

Back from the hospital
After two long months in the hospital of Vila Nova de Ourém, she returned home. She never complained or showed impatience during the daily care required by the open and infected wound on her side.
In September 1919, despite her lamentable state, Jacinta was still moving a little. Weakened and emaciated, she went to Mass at the church of Fatima. But the Cova da Iria was too far away for her feeble strength.
In October, a friend of the family found her in a pitiful state, remarking: “The little one is skeletal. Her arms are woefully skinny. She continually burns with fever. Her appearance inspires compassion.”
She was again the object of endless visits and questions from people who came to see her now that she could no longer hide.
“I offer also this sacrifice for sinners,” she said with resignation. “I wish I could go to Cabeço to say a chaplet in our grotto! But I am no longer able to.”

A new visit by the Blessed Mother: “I will die all alone!”
Again the Blessed Virgin came to see Jacinta, bedridden, to announce new crosses and sacrifices. She hastened to break the news to Lucia:
“She told me that I am going to Lisbon, to another hospital; that I will not see you again, or my parents; that, after suffering very much, I will die alone but should not be afraid, as she is going to take me to Heaven.”
Jacinta wept as she kissed her cousin:
“I’ll never see you again. You’re not going to visit me there. Look, pray a lot for me, as I am dying alone.”
“Do not think about it,” I told her one day.
“Let me think, because the more I think, the more I suffer; and I want to suffer for the love of Our Lord and for sinners. And then I do not care! Our Lady is going there to fetch me to Heaven.”
She was also worried she still had not been able to receive communion:
“Am I going to die without receiving the hidden Jesus? If only Our Lady would bring Him to me when she comes to get me!”
And when Lucia asked her what she would do once in heaven,
“I am going to love very much Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and siblings, and for all those who have asked me to pray for them.”
If asked whether she needed anything, she replied:
“No, thank you very much, I need nothing.”
After people left, she would say to Lucia:
“I'm very thirsty but do not want to drink; I offer it up to Jesus for sinners.”
On another occasion, Lucia found her kissing an image of the Blessed Virgin and saying,
“O my sweet heavenly Mother, will I then die alone?”
The poor child seemed frightened at the idea of dying alone. To console her, Lucia recalled,
“What do you care if you die alone, if Our Lady will come fetch you?”
“It’s true! I do not care at all. I don’t know what will happen to me ; sometimes I do not remember that she’s coming to get me, just that I will die without you standing by me."


Lisbon and the death of Jacinta
In mid-January, 1920, Canon Formigão, a priest who had been present at several of the apparitions and had been able to question the seers with tact and precision, returned with a doctor from Lisbon, a pious soul who came to pray at Cova da Iria with Lucia. He then met Jacinta and her parents.
Although they told him that she had shown no improvement after the two-month stay at the hospital in Vila Nova de Ourem, and that they knew the Blessed Virgin would soon take their little Jacinta to heaven, the doctor finally convinced them to send her to Lisbon.
Knowing that the use of all possible remedies to cure the little patient was not opposed to the will of God, her parents agreed and her father went to announce their decision.
Jacinta was saddened by the news but accepted it with resignation.
Her father explained to her that they had to send her to Lisbon so people would not say they had refused a treatment that could have cured her.
“Oh, daddy! Even if I recover, another illness will come and I will die. If I go to Lisbon, you can bid me goodbye.”
Shortly before Jacinta left for Lisbon, where she knew she was going to die away from her family, finding her immersed in her memories, Lucia told her,
“Do not be sad that I am not going with you. It is a short time; you can spend it thinking of Our Lady, Our Lord, and often saying these words that you like so much:
“My God, I love You! Immaculate Heart of Mary! Sweet Heart of Mary!”
“That’s right!” she answered in a lively way. “I will never tire of saying them until I die! And then I will sing them many times in Heaven!”
Before leaving her home forever, Jacinta asked her mother to take her to the Cova da Iria, where she wanted to pray again and see the place where the Blessed Virgin had appeared.
With the help of a neighbor who lent a mule, they made the journey which they had traveled so often in the past. The little one got off of the mule a little before arriving in order to pluck a few flowers. These she placed in the little chapel that had been built where the little green oak once stood which served as a support to the Queen of the Universe.
She prayed on her knees for a long while, and then, rising, showed her mother the trees over which the Lady would pass when she went back to Heaven.

Departure from Fatima
The day of departure for Lisbon, January 21, 1920, finally arrived. Jacinta’s farewells to her dear Lucia were poignant. She embraced her for a long time, weeping and saying,
“We’ll never see each other again! Pray a lot for me, until I go to Heaven. Then, there, I will pray a lot for you. Never tell anyone the secret, even if they kill you. Love Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary very much, and make many sacrifices for sinners.”
Then Jacinta departed with her mother to take the train to the capital.

At the orphanage of Mother Godinho
Having arrived at the Lisbon station, three ladies came to fetch them and took them to the orphanage of Our Lady of Miracles, founded and directed by Mother Godinho, where Jacinta had to wait a little before being admitted to the hospital.
Her mother stayed with her for a few days, and after a week returned to the hamlet, leaving her little Jacinta in the care of Mother Godinho, whom all the little orphans called “Godmother.”
Jacinta’s great consolation was to discover that the house where she was had a passage to the back of the church adjoining the pulpit. She was installed on a small chair from which she could see the tabernacle and the altar, and she would stay there for as long as they would allow it.
She was admitted to communion almost every day: finally, she was able to receive the hidden Jesus in her heart!
Having noticed that many visitors were talking and laughing in the orphanage chapel, Jacinta asked Mother Godinho to admonish them about the lack of respect that this represented to the Real Presence. When that didn’t work, she asked that the cardinal be warned: “Our Lady does not want us to speak in church.”
It is certain that the Most Holy Virgin came to see her several times, conversing with her and announcing the day and hour of her death. Jacinta had someone write this to Lucia, again recommending her to be very good.
Who can tell the depth of Jacinta’s conversations with the Mother of God? Knowledge of certain future events and discernment of souls are also a small indication of what these conversations were like. Following are several examples:
She confided to Godmother that the Blessed Virgin would have liked two of her sisters, aged sixteen and seventeen, to become nuns. But since her mother opposed it, Our Lady would soon take them to heaven, something that happened shortly after Jacinta’s death.
A doctor who looked after her asked her to pray for him when she was in heaven. Jacinta said yes, but told him to be prepared, for he too would soon die.
She likewise predicted to another physician his coming death and that of his daughter.
After hearing the sermon of a priest whom everybody admired, she said, “Godmother, when you least expect it, you will see how bad this priest is.” Indeed, shortly after that the priest left the priesthood and began to live openly in scandal.
She was well aware that, even if she prayed for sinners, their conversion depended on themselves and if they persisted in sin it was their own responsibility. Thus, when Godmother asked her to pray for some people in a miserable spiritual state, she replied,
“Yes, Godmother, but those are already beyond any hope!”

The last hospital – “I am going to die”
She was finally admitted to the hospital on the 2nd of February with two ribs that were turning necrotic and were about to be removed in the hope of containing the infection in the lungs.
There she was separated from the company of her good Godmother and especially from the presence of Jesus hidden in the tabernacle and frequent communion.
Placed in a large, cold and sad infirmary with many beds, she was as sorry as ever for sinners.
She blamed some nurses and visitors for their frivolous and hardly modest way of dressing:
“What’s all this for? If these people only knew what eternity is!”
She was operated on the 10th of February.
Because of her great weakness they did not use chloroform to make her sleep, but only the local anesthetic available at the time.
Her greatest suffering, however, was to have her little body undressed at the hands of doctors, so little attentive to the admirable modesty of that little Christian girl. She cried a great deal.
Every day they had to tend to the gaping wound, which rekindled excruciating pain. As they were taking care of her, she groaned softly:
“Ouch! Nossa Senhora! Ouch! Nossa Senhora! (In English it would have been, “Ouch, Mother of God! Ouch, Mother of God)
And then she would add:
“Patience! We must all suffer to go to Heaven.”
For the rest of the time she was never heard to complain. The Most Holy Virgin, who came to see her several times in this infirmary, completely removed her pain four days before taking her away.
To her “Godmother,” Mother Godinho who came to see her once a day, Jacinta said,
“Our Lady has appeared to me again; she will soon come for me and has immediately taken away my pains.”
As her Godmother went to sit at a certain place, Jacinta protested:
“Not there, Godmother. That is where Our Lady sat.”
Shortly before her death, someone asked her if she wanted to see her mother. Jacinta replied:
“My family will last a short time and we will soon meet again in heaven. Our Lady will appear another time, but not to me, for without a doubt I will die as she told me.”
The day fixed for her departure to heaven, February 20th, a Friday, finally arrived.
About six o'clock in the evening, feeling ill, she asked to receive the last sacraments. A priest came from the nearby parish and heard her confession. She insisted that she should be given communion, but the priest told her that he would bring It the next day.
Once he left, Jacinta insisted again to receive communion, saying she was going to die.
About half-past ten Jacinta died very quietly, but without communion. Only a young nurse, whom she affectionately called “my little Aurora,” stood beside her and watched over her remains for the rest of the night.

“In Heaven I will pray much…”
“I will return to Fatima, but only after my death,” Jacinta told Godmother. She was first buried in the cemetery of Vila Nova de Ourem, in the vault of Baron de Alvaiazere, protector of her family.
Francisco was buried in the cemetery of Fatima. On September 12, 1935, Jacinta’s precious remains were transferred to the Fatima cemetery and placed in a new grave prepared especially for her and her brother. The tombstone bore this simple inscription: “Here lie the mortal remains of Francisco and Jacinta, to whom Our Lady appeared.”
Subsequently (in 1951 and 1952, respectively), the precious remains were moved to the Basilica of Fatima, where they now are.
The preparatory canonical processes for the beatification of the two Fatima seers were officially opened in 1949.
And on June 28, 1999, a decree was issued recognizing the authenticity of the miracle necessary for the beatification. Finally, on May 13, 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II went personally to the Sanctuary of Fatima where he solemnly beatified the servants of God Francisco and Jacinta Marto before a crowd calculated at 400,000. Their canonical feast is celebrated annually on February 20th, in the places and according to the norms of the law.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jacinta had told Lucia what she would do once in Heaven:
"I am going to love very much Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray a lot for you, for sinners, for the Holy Father, for my parents and siblings, and for all those who have asked me to pray for them.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The story of Jacinta Marto is not for the Catholic inclined to sentimentality. It is a story of a little girl who saw with her own eyes the Mother of God, but also Hell. As a consequence of these facts and of her correspondence to graces received, Jacinta went from being a simple little shepherd girl in the fields of Portugal to a great Saint.
She understood what really matters in this life as well as the immense importance and reality of eternity. She was called to be what the Church calls an “expiatory victim” and she accepted this calling with great love and generosity. Her life and example stand in sharp contrast with the 21st century and that is precisely why her story is so relevant for us today.
Saint Jacinta, Pray for us!

All or nothing

You cannot be
half a saint;
you must be a whole saint
or no saint at all.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha, baptized Kateri, “The Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, and a captured, Christian Algonquin woman, Tagaskouita.

Between 1661 and 1663 a small pox epidemic afflicted Kateri’s tribe. Both her parents and her brother died, and though also contracting the disease, she survived though her face was left scared and her eyesight affected. She was adopted by a paternal aunt and her husband, a chief.

At seventeen the young Mohawk girl turned down an offer of marriage, and though pressed, still refused.

Under the influence of missionary priests introduced into her tribe after the Mohawks were defeated by the French, Kateri converted to Catholicism at eighteen, and was baptized when twenty. Members of her tribe were hostile to her by reason of her Faith, but she persevered.

The Jesuit missionaries described Tekakwitha as a modest girl who covered most of her head with a blanket because of her scars.

In 1677 Kateri moved to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada under the direction of Jesuit fathers where she found peace. There, she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance and the care of the sick and the aged.

Every morning, even in the bitterest cold, young Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’clock. Once inside, she attended every Mass, her greatest devotions being the Eucharist and Christ Crucified. She undertook severe penances, seeking to mortify her flesh so as to help her soul reach union with her beloved God.

In the Lent of 1680 friends noticed that Kateri was failing. She died on Wednesday of Holy Week around three o’clock. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love You.”

As she lay still in death, those around her noticed that her scars had disappeared and her face was white and beautiful.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21, 2012.