September 22, 2017

Saint Padre Pio on Prayer

Saint Padre Pio
Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions you should only speak to Him with your heart.
— St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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Prayer for St. Padre Pio’s Intercession

Almighty ever-living God, who, by a singular grace, gave the Priest Saint Pius a share in the Cross of your Son and, by means of his holy ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy, grant that through his intercession we may be united constantly to the sufferings of Christ, and so brought happily to the glory of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, together in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2017 | Day 2

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 23, 2017

Saint Therese is known for her "little way," which is simply the idea of seeking holiness in the ordinariness of our everyday lives. She teaches us to do the ordinary with extraordinary love. This is the essence of St. Therese's spirituality.

Today we pray for the relationships in our lives. May we be more loving with our family, friends, coworkers, strangers, and God. We ask for the strength to do small things with love and to see everyone as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth. Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day Two

Loving God, you loved St. Therese’s complete trust in your care. Help me to rely on your providential care in each circumstance of my life, especially the most difficult and stressful.

I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you together in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For more about this novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

Saint Padre Pio on the Value of Suffering

Saint Padre Pio

Padre Pio was a man of immense spiritual gifts and insight. As a Capuchin priest, his ministry was marked by prayer and piety. His suffering was constant. He bore the stigmata of Our Lord’s Crucifixion with their attending agony, and was beset by demonic manifestations. His observations below teach us that our suffering is of immense value when joined with Our Savior's sacrifice and born with humility.

The greater your sufferings, the greater God’s love for you.
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When we suffer, Jesus is closer to us.
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The storms that are raging around you will turn out to be for God’s glory, your own merit, and the good of many souls.
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Every sacrifice which your soul makes, every good it does is directed to God for the sanctification of all.
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True and substantial devotion consists in serving God without experiencing any sensible consolation. This means serving and loving God for His own sake.
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How unbearable is pain when suffered far from the Cross, but how sweet and bearable it becomes when it is offered close to the Cross of Jesus!
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If we earnestly endeavor to love Jesus, this alone will drive all fear from our hearts and soul will find that instead of walking in the Lord’s paths, it is flying.
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Don’t be daunted by the cross. The surest test of love consists in suffering for the loved one, and if God suffered so much for love, the pain we suffer for Him becomes as lovable as love itself.
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He wants you entirely for Himself, He wants you to place all your trust and all your affection in Him alone and it is precisely for this reason that He send you this spiritual aridity, to unite you more closely to Him.
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Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence. He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles. He is always there, close to you, encouraging you to fight your battle courageously. He is there to ward off the enemy’s blows so that you may not be hurt.

St. Pio, you shared in the cross of Christ, help us do the same in humility.

St. Padre Pio and the Stigmata of Our Lord’s Passion

Padre Pio

Perhaps the most distinguishing mark of Padre Pio’s holiness was bearing the stigmata, through which he shared in the suffering of Christ. Initially, our Savior’s sacred wounds, though felt by Fra. Pio, were not visible. On the morning of September 20, 1918, after celebrating Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Grace next to the friary, Padre Pio retired to the choir stalls in thanksgiving. Kneeling in loving adoration before the outspread, bloodied figure of Christ crucified, he experienced a peacefulness which invaded his whole being, a peacefulness, that he later described as "similar to a sweet sleep". What happened next is recorded in a letter Padre Pio wrote barely a month later to fellow friar Padre Benedetto:

"It all happened in a flash. While all this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious Person, similar to the one I had seen on August 5th, differing only because His hands, feet and side were dripping blood. The sight of Him frightened me: what I felt at that moment is indescribable. 'I thought I would die, and would have died if the Lord hadn't intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The Person disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were pierced and were dripping with blood."

The stigmata would remain with Padre Pio for the rest of his life. Unbeknownst to many, he felt the crown of thorns pressing into his scalp and the agony resulting from Jesus’ scourging. But by far, the most excruciating affliction he endured was the grievous shoulder wound from Christ carrying the cross. It bled constantly, causing him indescribable pain that could not be relieved. Padre Pio confided this torment only to his confessor and the future Saint John Paul II, Fr. Karol Wojtyla.

Upon Padre Pio’s death, all visible signs of the stigmata disappeared. Padre Pio’s detractors charged that he kept his wounds open with carbolic acid. (According to some accounts, his stigmata would ooze painfully while saying Mass and on certain holy days. As a result, Padre Pio wrapped the wounds in cloth beneath fingerless gloves.) In the face of such accusations, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI and St. John Paul II, all affirmed Padre Pio’s holiness and ministry.

Prayer in Honor of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Remember your mercies, O Lord, and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants for whom Christ your Son, through the shedding of his Blood, won for us salvation. The agony of his Passion was the result of our sin. Yet by his wounds we have been healed and all of your creation redeemed. In Christ's name. Amen.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Priest, Stigmatic & Mystic

St. Padre Pio

Memorial - September 23rd

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, (1887-1968) better known as Padre Pio, was the 20th century Capuchin priest, stigmatic and mystic, who during his lifetime, was a spiritual father to innumerable souls. He is the only priest in the history of the Church to receive the stigmata — the divine marks of predilection — from our Lord’s Passion and Death. Thus, for much of his priesthood, Padre Pio suffered the spiritual, emotional and physical anguish of Christ’s holy wounds.

In addition, he was given the miraculous gifts of bilocation, transverberation, (a divine piercing of the heart indicating union with God) the odor of sanctity, the ability to read souls, the ability to see and communicate with spiritual beings, (i.e. guardian angels, demons, the departed) and the capacity to write and comprehend languages foreign to him. Moreover, his brother Capuchins testified under oath that he levitated, healed by touch, and experienced divine ecstasies while praying, as well as, horrific nightly demonic manifestations, during which, he was beset by devils who would beat, torture, mock and humiliate him.

St. Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in the farming village of Pietrelcina, Italy, and baptized the following day. His parents, Grazio and Maria Forgione. were deeply devout Catholic peasants. At the age of 5, Francesco dedicated his life to God. The Forgione family attended daily Mass and prayed continuously. Although Francesco’s parents were illiterate, they memorized Sacred Scripture and taught its wisdom to their children. At 15, Francesco entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, taking the name Pio. His prodigious intellect and spiritual giftedness were apparent. Four years later, he made his first profession. On August 10, 1910, at the Cathedral of Benevento, he was ordained a priest.

While praying before a cross on September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the stigmata. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following World War II, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, pray, and provide spiritual guidance to all who sought his wise counsel.

The humble Capuchin friar was renowned for his personal sanctity, miraculous interventions, and prayerful celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Beginning in 1922, the Holy Office, (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) began restricting Padre Pio’s public ministry while the supernatural events surrounding his life were investigated. The future saint was forbidden from celebrating Mass in public and hearing confessions. In 1933, Pope Pius XI ordered the Holy Office to reverse its ban, saying "I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed." Afterward, Padre Pio’s faculties were restored in full.

In 60 years of religious life, spent at San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio dedicated himself to prayer, and to the ministry of reconciliation and spiritual direction. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, his physical body testified to the selfless sacrifice and boundless love of God especially for the sick in body and in spirit. Padre Pio’s daily activity centered on the sacraments of Confession and Mass. Holy Mass was the source and summit of his calling, the moment of closest communion with Christ. In the words of Saint John Paul II: "[St. Padre Pio] felt called to share in Christ's agony, an agony which continues until the end of the world."

From his youth, Padre Pio suffered from poor health. In the last years of his life, he declined rapidly. Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio died at age 81. He was canonized by St. John Paul II on June 16, 2002. His incorrupt remains lie in a crypt in the church of Saint Pio, located beside San Giovanni Rotondo. Almighty ever-living God, who, by a singular grace, gave the Priest St. Pio a share in the Cross of your Son and, by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy, grant that through his intercession we may be united to the sufferings of Christ, and so brought happily to the glory of the resurrection.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2017 | Day 1

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 22, 2017

Saint Therese of Lisieux, you said that you would spend your time in heaven doing good on earth. Your trust in God was complete. Pray that He may increase my trust in His goodness and mercy as I ask for the following petitions…

(State your intentions)

Pray for me that I, like you, may have great and innocent confidence in the loving promises of our God. Pray that I may live my life in union with God’s plan for me, and one day see the Face of God whom you loved so deeply.

Saint Therese, you were faithful to God even unto the moment of your death. Pray for me that I may be faithful to our loving God. May my life bring peace and love to the world through faithful endurance in love for God our savior. Amen.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Novena Day One

Loving God, you blessed St. Therese with a capacity for a great love. Help me to believe in your unconditional love for each of your children, especially for me.

I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For more about this novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

September 21, 2017

The Different Classes of Unbelievers Against God and God's Church [From the Baltimore Catechism]

Council of Nicea

The eight classes of unbelievers are as follows:

1. Atheists, who deny there is a God;

2. Deists, who admit there is a God, but deny that He revealed a religion;

3. Agnostics, who will neither admit nor deny the existence of God;

4. Infidels, were never baptized, and who by want of faith, refuse to be so;

5. Heretics, were baptized Christians, but do not believe all the articles of faith;

6. Schismatics, are baptized and believe all articles of faith, save papal authority;

7. Apostates, who reject the true religion, they formerly held, to join a false one;

8. Rationalists and Materialists, who believe only in material things.

(From the Baltimore Catechism #3 Lesson 30 - Q. 1170.)

Outside the Church There is No Salvation

The straight forward but constantly misinterpreted doctrine that "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus": "Outside the Church there is no salvation", is the source of much confusion among many Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In brief: A person enters the Church through baptism. Salvation is what God bestows upon those who seek God with a sincere heart, moved by grace, and attempt in their striving to do God’s will as they understand it compelled by their conscience which should be in total accord with the Church's Magisterium, Her dogmas and Her beliefs.

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus has been infallibly defined three times by popes and councils, (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302, Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) and piously believed by the faithful in every age of the Church's existence.
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Prayer for the Church

Remember O Lord, Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which Thou hast purchased with Thy precious blood. Confirm and strengthen it, enlarge and multiply it, keep it in peace, and preserve it unconquerable by the gates of hell forever. Heal the schisms of the churches, quench the ragings of the heathen, speedily undo and root out the growths of heresies, and bring them to naught by the power of Thy Holy Spirit. Make it faithful always, in imitation of You. Amen.

September 20, 2017

God’s Love Perfects Us Amid Pain, Suffering & Despair

The Carrying of the Cross

By Father Thomas Mattison

We have been conditioned by years (centuries?) of teaching to think of love/charity as a virtue, something to do or not. But St. John tells us God is love. He does not tell us that God does love. I want to suggest that this is the insight – although never spoken – that makes Israel think of God as Elector/Electing; having no other identity than the one who chooses his own people. I do not think that we go far wrong when we assert that the only God we know is the one who loves/chooses us. With those observations in mind, I might like to revise the translation of John’s phrase and say that God is Loving, not as an attribute, but as the very dynamic of His being. You may want to reread this paragraph in order to forge ahead.

If God is Loving, then all of creation is something like a love letter. You and I are words in that love letter. I don’t mean to sound like a song from the Seventies, but we must bite the bullet on this one and admit it: Unloving undoes creation and undoes the unlover. Whatever is must be love or it is not. I want to show you two examples of that.

As Jesus hung upon the cross, He experienced, with all the sensitivity that only a divine being could possess, what it means to be un-loved by priests and procurators, by disciples and strangers. In this moment when everyone and everything seems bent on un-loving/unmaking Him, He calls out to God who is Loving, “Why have you abandoned me?” Why does love feel so unloving?

At the end of her life, Therese Martin [St. Therese of Lisieux], as her intestines we rotting away from tuberculosis, ventured the observation, “I did not think that love could hurt so much.”

Each of them knows that to be is to be loved, and each of them affirms that even being in pain is being loved. The clarity of their understanding at first baffles us; then it makes us gape in wonder.

This is where real virtue begins. If pain or hostility or weakness or ignorance or poverty or disgrace or guilt means that one is unloved, then love is not worth the trouble. But if one is loved even in such untoward circumstances, then these circumstances are but a paring away of all that is not essential to life and love, allowing life and love to be seen in its purest form that we call resurrection. You might want to reread this paragraph too. (Or think of all the times the weight trainer tells you to go for the burn or to work to failure.) These are terribly clarifying (or maybe just terrible) thoughts. They reduce the whole of life and living to just one thing. But no other reduction allows for the same unified and coherent vision of reality.

Thus, while we pray that we will be spared abandonment and tuberculosis, we can learn from these great and holy people the power of this vision to comfort even as it challenges, to bring hope even as it plunges us into deeper darkness, to inspire love even in the unloved and, to paraphrase some poet or other, to find the Lover even in the unlovely.
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Fr. Mattison is pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Manchester Center, VT.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino on God

Saint Joseph of Cupertino
Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession.
— St. Joseph of Cupertino
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Prayer for St. Joseph of Cupertino’s Intercession

Almighty God, You ordained that Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ should be lifted up above the earth and draw all things to Himself; mercifully grant, by the merits and intercession of Your confessor Joseph, that we may be lifted up above all earthly desires and be found worthy to come to Him, who being God, lives and reigns with You, together in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

The Calling of St. Matthew

September 21st, is the feast of Saint Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist, best known for the Gospel bearing his name. Information about his early years is scarce. He was highly educated. In the New Testament, he is referred to variously as "Levi" and the "son of Alphaeus." He received the name Matthew upon becoming a disciple of Christ. (Matthew in Hebrew: מַתִּתְיָהוּ‎‎ means "gift of God.")

As a publican for the Roman authorities, he collected taxes in Capernaum where Jesus is known to have resided in Peter’s house. Most tax collectors typically overcharged and pocketed the difference — a universally acknowledged practice. Moreover, they collaborated with the occupying Romans authorities in handling money deemed impure from those foreign to the People of God.

Matthew was despised by fellow Jews, especially the Pharisees who likened tax collectors to sinners, prostitutes and extortionists. As such, Jewish publicans were forbidden from marrying a Jewish woman, worshiping in the synagogue and participating in civil society. That our Savior would make Matthew, a man others thought unworthy, to be one of the foundations of His Church is instructive.

He is identified as the man sitting at the tax office whom Jesus calls to follow him: "As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "'Follow me'. And he rose and followed him" (Matthew 9: 9). Whatever his standing in the Jewish community, Matthew was the most well-educated and well-off of the Apostles. At hearing Jesus’ command, he left his interests without hesitation. It is probable that Matthew knew of Jesus and his teachings since he was from Galilee in which Jesus ministered.

Shortly after his divine summons, scripture records that Matthew and his fellow tax collectors dined with Jesus: "When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' But when he heard it, he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Mark 2:16-17) Challenged by the Pharisees for eating with sinners, Christ's answer is definitive. Jesus sought out sinners — those with the greatest need — not the righteous. Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection on St. Matthew illuminates the mind of Christ:

"The good news of the Gospel consists precisely in this: offering God's grace to the sinner! … Another reflection prompted by the Gospel narrative is that Matthew responds instantly to Jesus' call: 'he rose and followed him". …For him it meant leaving everything, especially what guaranteed him a reliable source of income, even if it was often unfair and dishonorable. Evidently, Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not permit him to pursue activities of which God disapproved." (Benedict XVI, General Audience, 8/30/2006.)

The Gospel according to Matthew is perhaps his most enduring contribution to the Church. Originally written in Aramaic, the language that our Lord Himself spoke, it speaks of Christ and His Kingdom to convince the Jews that their expected Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. Through Him, all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom spoken of by the prophets are fulfilled in spiritual terms, rather than in the political realm or in worldly terms.

According to various traditions, Matthew preached the Good News to the Jewish community in Judea, before evangelizing Ethiopia, where he received the crown of martyrdom. The king of Ethiopia, Hirticus, wished to marry his niece Iphigenia, the abbess of a convent, who Matthew converted to Christianity. When Matthew forbade the marriage, Hirticus had him killed. St. Matthew is the patron saint of accountants, civil servants and bankers. O God, who with untold mercy choose as an Apostle St. Matthew, the tax collector, grant that, sustained by his example and intercession, we may merit to hold firm in following you to the last measure.

A version of this article was previously published in September 2016.

September 19, 2017

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, Korean Martyrs

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon and Paul Chong Hasang

September 20th, the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, Saint Paul Chong Hasang and companions, courageous 19th century Korean martyrs. The beginning of the Catholic Church in Korea was unusual. Rather than resulting from the efforts of ordained missionaries, the faith was established in that country by the work — and martyrdom — of lay converts.

For most of its history, Korea was an isolated place, rejecting contact with much of the outside world. The one exception was China, and even that was limited to the paying of taxes once a year to Beijing. However, in other ways, particularly culturally, Korea was strongly influenced by this larger and stronger neighbor to its North. Some of that influence included the introduction of Christianity.

The Jesuits, who had already established a foothold in China, managed to get some Christian literature into Korea, and the more educated members of the society began to study the faith on their own. Through their efforts, a home Church began to flourish. By 1836, when missionaries were finally able to get into the country, they found a faithful, dynamic community of Catholics numbering some 4,000 persons — none of whom had ever seen a priest. Within 10 years, the number of Catholics had increased to over 10,000 adherents.

The Korean government greeted this new faith with hostility and disdain. There were several severe persecutions that took place, particularly in the years 1839, 1846 and 1866, resulting in the deaths of some 8,000 martyrs. Among those killed in the purge of 1839 were the first native-born Korean priest, Fr. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, a lay catechist and their fellow companions.

Father Taegon was born into a noble Korean family in 1822. Both his parents were Christian converts, and his father was martyred for the faith when Andrew was 15. His father’s devotion combined with the example of other martyrs inspired the young man to become a priest. Andrew left Korea to pursue studies at a seminary in Macao, China, and was ordained six years later in Shanghai.

The Catholic community there greeted his return to Korea with great enthusiasm. Members managed to sneak Fr. Taegon past the border patrol. Sadly, he was not able to serve the people for very long. In 1846, during the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was severely repressed, and Fr. Taegon was among the thousands who suffered brutal torture and martyrdom rather than renounce his faith.

Hasang, whose parents converted to Christianity, became a leader of his local faith community after his father and older brother were martyred. As a catechist, he wrote the first catechism for the Korean Church. He composed a document entitled "Sand-Je-SangSu," a work of apologetics that explained to the Korean government what Christianity was and why it was no threat to the Korean people. He was martyred in 1839. Saint John Paul II canonized him, Fr. Taegon and 101 other Korean martyrs in 1984. Martyrs of Korea, faithful to the end, pray for us.

The 2017 Novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "the Little Flower", Begins September 22nd

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 22nd is the first day of the novena to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, more popularly known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "the Little Flower." This beloved saint is the patron of foreign missions, missionaries, against tuberculosis, AIDS sufferers, illness and loss of parents. Her perfect trust in God, deep faith and patient suffering is an example of heroic virtue for us to follow.

Saint Pius X called St. Thérèse the "greatest saint of modern times." She is a powerful intercessor whose help is sought by many. Join thousands of others around the world in praying the novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. O God, who opened your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of St. Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed and spend eternity with you in heaven.

For more about this novena including daily email reminders go HERE.

Reflection for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Reflection for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

"Latecomers"

By Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut

 (Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-39; Matthew 16:13-10)

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard often evokes a negative reaction in listeners, who feel that there is really something unfair in the landowner’s method of paying his workers. But God doesn’t think the way we think, Isaiah reminds us.

I maintain, furthermore, that this parable underscores the very ministry and message of Our Savior.

Jesus was addressing two different issues. The more obvious one is that we can’t place a price, as it were, on service for the Kingdom. The other is this: different persons respond in their own way, and in their own time, to the Good News. Even though there is always a certain urgency to conversion, it can’t be rushed.

As we can see in many of St. Paul’s letters, becoming a Christian implies a fundamental change of lifestyle. That was dramatically true in his own life, and even as an Apostle in the midst of his service to the Lord, he had to take the needs of others into account, as we see in today’s second reading.

St. Augustine’s path to a full Christian way of life took over ten years. St. Teresa of Avila describes herself as having been a fairly mediocre nun for a long time before committing herself to a serious life of prayer.

Focusing as we do on the conclusion of the parable, we tend not to notice how often the landowner goes out to hire more workers. Reversing the appeal of Isaiah to “seek the Lord while he may be found,” it is the Lord who goes out to seek those who need what he has to offer, while they may be found.

Resentment toward ’latecomer Christians’ implies that those who followed Jesus earlier have lost something, because they have carried the “burden” of the Christian life longer. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The latecomers are the ‘losers’, because they have missed so much along the way. All the saints who were ’late’ converts expressed regrets similar to St. Augustine’s famous phrase, “Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new.”

The love of God expressed through Christ’s Incarnation desires that we seek His will, ideally now, but latecomers will always be welcome.

September 18, 2017

Our Lady of La Salette’s Urgent Appeal to Humanity


On the 19th of September, 1846, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to two illiterate peasant children on the Mountain of La Salette, France, with an urgent message for the universal Church and the world to pray, repent and love God.

I make an urgent appeal to the earth. I call on the true disciples of the living God who reigns in Heaven; I call on the true followers of Christ made man, the only true Savior of men; I call on my children, the true faithful, those who have given themselves to me so that I may lead them to my divine Son, those whom I carry in my arms, so to speak, those who have lived on my spirit. Finally, I call on the Apostles of the Last Days, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in scorn for the world and for themselves, in poverty and in humility, in scorn and in silence, in prayer and in mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world. It is time they came out and filled the world with light. Go and reveal yourselves to be my cherished children. I am at your side and within you, provided that your faith is the light which shines upon you in these unhappy days.  May your zeal make you famished for the glory and the honor of Jesus Christ. Fight, children of light, you, the few who can see. For now is the time of all times, the end of all ends— Our Lady of La Salette [Source]
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Prayer to Our Lady of La Salette

Remember, dear Lady of La Salette, true Mother of Sorrows, the tears which you shed on Calvary. Be mindful of the unceasing care which you exercise to shield us from the justice of God. Inspired by this, I cast myself at your feet. Reject not my prayer, O Virgin of reconciliation. Convert me, and obtain for me the grace to love Christ above all things so that one day I may join you in eternal Beatitude. Amen.

The Miraculous Liquefaction of St. Januarius’ Blood

Martyrdom of St. Januarius

Optional Memorial - September 19th

Saint Januarius is the 4th century bishop of Beneventum, who together with his companions (his deacons Socius and Festus, and his lector Desiderius), was martyred in the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian in c. 305. Beheaded at Puteoli, their bodies were reverently interred in the neighboring cities. Eventually the remains of St. Januarius became the prized possession of the city of Naples.

St. Januarius, Bishop Martyr, and the Miracle of His Blood

St. Januarius is known for the miracle of the liquefaction of his blood, which, according to popular piety, was saved by a woman named Eusebia just after the saint’s martyrdom. At least three times a year, on September 19, (St. Januarius’ feast day) December 16, (The celebration of his patronage of the city and the archdiocese) and the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, (the memorial of the reunification of his relics) thousands gather in Naples Cathedral in hopes of witnessing St. Januarius’ congealed blood miraculously liquefy and appear to boil.

The dried blood is stored in two hermetically sealed ampoules, held since the 17th century in a silver reliquary between round glass plates about 12 cm wide. The smaller ampoule contains only a few reddish specks on its walls. The larger ampoule, with a capacity of 60 ml, is about 60% filled with a reddish substance.

When the bishop takes the sacred vial containing the saint’s head to the altar, the assembled congregation prays that the blood becomes liquid. If the miracle takes place, the officiant proclaims, "Il miracolo é fatto!" (The miracle is accomplished!) and waves a white handkerchief. The Te Deum is recited and the reliquary taken to the altar rail so that all the faithful assembled may solemnly venerate the vial.

The first recorded liquefaction of St Januarius’ blood was in 1389. The blood can be fickle and sometimes remains congealed. Liquefaction is considered a sign that the year will be free from disasters. Conversely, the absence of a miracle may portend difficulty. (On the eve of World War II, the blood did not bubble up.)

Intercession and Veneration

In 1631, an impending eruption on Mt. Vesuvius threatened the city of Naples. The people prayed to St. Januarius to spare them. The flow of lava ceased and the city was saved. Ever since, St. Januarius has been invoked against volcanic eruptions. He is also the patron saint of Naples, Italy and blood banks. The San Gennaro festival in Little Italy, New York City celebrating St. Januarius’s feast is the longest continuously running public religious festival in the United States. Eternal God, who grant us to venerate the memory of the Martyr St. Januarius, give us, we pray, the joy of his company in blessed happiness for all eternity.